French chef Pierre Koffmann occasionally likes to make grandiose dishes like suckling pig and pot-au-feu, but he found the meals too large for an at-home dinner party. So Koffmann and his partner, Claire Harrison, started Koffmann's Dinner Club, a series of over-the-top suppers held in the private Camille room of Koffmann's restaurant at London's Berkeley Hotel. Fourteen gourmands can sign up for the evening's five-course tasting menu and wine pairings, the details of which remain a secret until guests arrive, but we do know it's a mix of Koffmann's signature dishes and food he's never served before. While the chef toils in the kitchen, Harrison sits at the head of the table, entertaining and getting to know her company. The next gatherings are on September 13 and October 25, but book early, as places at the table will go quickly. $175 per person at Wilton Place, Knightsbridge; email Claire Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a space.
A meal made with summer's freshest ingredients and served outdoors is one of the season's more enjoyable luxuries, and this summer and fall, the West Village farm-to-table restaurant Bobo is serving just that with its Plate to Gate pop-up dinner series. Taking place at nearby farms, oyster beds, breweries and urban rooftops throughout New York, the gatherings are headed by James Beard Award-winning chef Patrick Connolly and restaurateur Carlos Suarez, who prepare themed menus based on location and date. The next event, on July 14 at Brooklyn Grange, will celebrate Bastille Day with French-style charcuterie, canapés and locally sourced meats and vegetables. On July 30 on Fire Island, they will host a buffet-style dinner of fresh lobster, clams, mussels, sausages, corn and potatoes, all cooked in a hot pit in the sand, followed by a post-meal bonfire. Visit Bobo's website or call the restaurant for a full schedule of upcoming soirees. 212-488-2626; bobonyc.com.
Ultimate Ears knows that like a fingerprint, the shape of every ear is different, so it's no coincidence that 75 percent of the world's top touring musicians use custom earphones to hear live concert feed and get the most out of any listening experience. It starts with a visit to an audiologist, who makes a mold of the client's ear (Ultimate Ears has a directory of physicians who do this). From there, the company handcrafts earbuds that fit the canals perfectly, thus drastically eliminating outside noise and acoustic interference. The technology inside the pieces is equally impressive: Depending on the model selected, each earbud can hold up to six tiny speakers dedicated to low, midrange and high frequencies. For its latest design, Ultimate Ears partnered with Capitol Records to create In-Ear Reference Monitors with a three-speaker design tuned to a flat response curve, and a tightly braided cable that reduces sound friction and eliminates the Y-joint connector. Most of the models are designed for industry professionals, but some, like the 4 Pro Custom monitors, are perfect for any audiophile. From $400 at ultimateears.com.
We didn't think it was possible, but Paris just got a little bit chicer with the July 4 opening of La Maison Champs-Elysées, a 57-room hotel (and the 19th-century home of the Duchess of Rivoli) near the Golden Triangle whose ground floor was designed by the style gurus at Maison Martin Margiela. All common areas, including the lobby, restaurant La Table du 8, red-lit bar, cigar room and garden terrace, feature artistic techniques ranging from trompe-l'oeil to silver-foiled walls. Margiela's team also designed 17 "couture" rooms bearing the fashion house's signature stark minimalism, with mostly white rooms outfitted only with zen-like basics, as well as Apple Mac Minis. Rooms from $500 at 8 rue Jean Goujon; 33-1/40-74-64-65; lamaisonchampselysees.com.
Beauty aficionadas, act immediately: Chanel's fall 2011 nail polish collection has landed online, and it will likely go quickly, as others have in past seasons (remember the Jade frenzy from fall 2009?). The makeup collection (called Illusions d'Ombres de Chanel) of eye shadows, lip colors and powder blushes is heavy on bronze, copper and platinum, and the nail polish follows suit, coming in three new and very modern hues: metallic Graphite, silver-beige Quartz and a green-gold shade called Peridot. They'll be available at Chanel department store counters and specialty boutiques starting in July but have already hit the website. Make haste! $25 each at chanel.com.
Fresh off his win for Outstanding Chef at the James Beard Awards, D.C.-based chef José Andrés is temporarily transforming his Penn Quarter restaurant Café Atlántico into America Eats Tavern, an extension of the nearby National Archives' exhibit "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government's Effect on the American Diet." Opening July 4, the pop-up eatery will serve an extensively researched menu influenced by current and long forgotten American dishes like burgoo, oysters Rockefeller, Waldorf salad, bison steak and strawberry shortcake. The dishes are also part history lesson, accompanied by an explanation of the origin of New England clam chowder and the introduction of grapefruit to the U.S. A casual tavern menu will be featured on the ground floor, while Andrés will serve more fine dining options on the second and third levels. The menu will be available until the National Archives exhibit closes in January, at which point Café Atlántico will find a new home and Andrés will use the space for his next phase. At 405 8th St. NW; 202-393-0812; americaeatstavern.com.
The luxury conglomerate LVMH, which includes fashion houses Christian Dior Couture, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy Couture and Emilio Pucci and lifestyle brands such as Guerlain, Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, just announced that on October 15 and 16 it will allow guests to enter 25 of its traditionally off-limits ateliers in Europe. (Most are in and around Paris, but there are also locations in Spain, Italy and the UK.) The two-day event, called "Les Journées Particulières," will grant visitors access to workshops, vineyards, private mansions, family homes and boutiques and will show glimpses of the extraordinary craftsmanship behind making a Dior gown, a Pucci scarf or a bottle of Krug. It's also an ode to architecture and history: The jewelry and watchmaker Chaumet will open its Grand Salon on Place Vendôme, whose 18th–century, Neoclassical interior was designed by François-Joseph Bélanger and where the company's archive of sketches and ornaments will be on display. Most events will be open to the public, but some require advance reservations. lesjourneesparticulieres.com.
A stone's throw from the Merena Gardens and the famous Medina, the Four Seasons Hotel Marrakech opened June 16 on 40 acres of lush gardens. It's a modern take on traditional Moorish architecture, with riads creating a series of courtyards, arcades and walkways. The 141 rooms start at 450 square feet and are outfitted with exotic but soothing hues, handcrafted Moroccan woodwork, zellige tiling, marble bathrooms and a furnished terrace or balcony (views of the Atlas Mountains can be seen from the third and fourth floors). The suites and separate pavilions are impressive, especially the private four-bedroom, 3,765-square-foot Royal Villa, which is well suited for private entertaining with its expansive terrace and dining room for 12. There are three restaurants on the property (Provençal, Moroccan-fusion and a traditional grill) with two more to open soon, two pools and tennis courts, and the Blu Spa, a 15-room facility offering a traditional hammam experience. Introductory room rates from $475 with a $75 spa credit through September 30, at 1 Blvd. de la Menara; 800-819-5053; fourseasons.com/marrakech.
Sleeping on a set of luxe sheets is heaven, but ironing them is decidedly not. Thankfully, the new Pratesi 2.0 collection includes Infinito sheets, a set of non-iron Italian linens that can go from the dryer to the bed without wrinkling. Available in off-white with a tone-on-tone appliqué and in a beige shade (called "rope") with white detailing, the linens are a modern addition to the century-old company's elegant home fabrics. The 2.0 collection is heavy on neutral shades but also features the colorful indigo and burgundy jacquard Cina set inspired by founder Federico Pratesi's extensive collection of scarf ties. All are available on Pratesi's new website and in only three boutiques worldwide: the Pratesi store in Los Angeles, New York's ABC Carpet & Home, and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong. The first online deliveries ship July 1; pre-order now to make sure they don't sell out. Full set from $1,200 at pratesi.com.
Summer grilling season is upon us, and this year foodies nationwide can have meats previously reserved for steak havens like Cut, Spago and Ruth's Chris delivered to their door, thanks to California-based purveyors 35° Premium Aged Steaks (the name refers to the optimum temperature for aging beef). The idea started when two friends, both working in the meat industry, realized that the top-tier steaks they served to their friends—courtesy of their businesses—at barbecues were not available at retail level or by Internet order. Now they send out custom cuts of New York strip, filet mignon, porterhouse, and rib eye in addition to pork rib chops, Colorado lamb racks and T-bones in vacuum-packaged containers that allow the meat to ship unfrozen, thereby preserving flavor and tenderness. When refrigerated, the boneless cuts have a shelf life of 14 days, while bone-in varieties keep for ten. The goods come in assortments ranging from a one-week sampler pack for couples to the "Game Day," which consists of ten 16-ounce rib eyes and sirloins. Be sure to check the 35° website for cooking tips, "Meat 101" and the Adam's Rib grilling blog. For more information, call 800-355-3535 or visit 35degreessteaks.com.
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