March 22, 2013
Photo © Gilles Bensimon
Sofitel New York continues to amp up its artsy presence with yet another on-site photography exhibition, this one following last fall’s Brigitte Bardot–themed display. The newest offering, on display in the lobby through April, is a partnership with renowned fashion and celebrity shutterbug (and former international creative director of Elle magazine) Gilles Bensimon.
Titled “Elles,” the photo showcase features some of Bensimon’s most iconic pictorials, with 25 of the world’s most celebrated women from art and entertainment, including Charlize Theron, Cindy Crawford and Audrey Hepburn. “It was difficult to pick only 25,” Bensimon explains. “But I tried to choose a series of women that reflected a range of personality, age, style and attitude. I think that visitors to the hotel will respond to the photographs and will understand the unique beauty of each of my subjects.”
The works in the show, which have never been exhibited in the United States, continues its run after Manhattan, making stops at Sofitel satellites across the country, including Washington, D.C. (May through June), Chicago (July through September) and Los Angeles (October through the end of the year). 45 W. 44th St.; 212-354-8844; sofitel.com.
March 21, 2013
Photo courtesy of Trump SoHo New York
The Empire State has made some serious headway in the hammam world as of late—see our piece on the Glenmere Mansion from the January/February issue. But it’s not just countryside estates that excel at the traditional Turkish and Moroccan spa treatment. Trump SoHo New York has featured authentic luxury hammam treatments—beloved by uptowners and downtowners alike—since it opened in 2010. The spa’s versions involve lying on a heated Calacatta-marble platform as an attendant softens skin with hot and cool water, a bubble treatment and an application of rhassoul clay before a thorough full-body exfoliation with handmade kessa mitts.
Ivanka Trump fell in love with hammam while on business in Istanbul and couldn’t wait to incorporate the treatment into her own spa. “The entire room floods as the hammam attaché washes your body with black soap made of crushed olives and olive oil,” she explains. “It’s exotic and blissful.” 45-minute Turkish hammam treatment, $100; 75-minute Moroccan hammam treatment, $160; 246 Spring St.; 212-842-5500; trumphotelcollection.com.
March 20, 2013
El Encanto by Orient-Express
Opened on March 18 in the hills of Santa Barbara, El Encanto—92 bungalows set amid seven acres of lush, manicured landscape—is an iconic destination poised to continue its coastal-California reign. An escape for the likes of Clark Gable and other Hollywood notables for nearly 100 years, the property highlights two styles of architecture, California Craftsman and Spanish Colonial Revival, and is the product of a $134 million renovation that included both aesthetic and eco-friendly upgrades. (Orient-Express worked closely with the Historic Landmarks Commission and the County of Santa Barbara’s Building and Safety Division to ensure the changes stayed true to the original.)
Each of the bungalows features a singular design, a private patio or garden and awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean. Tie-ins to the hotel’s surroundings appear often. At the concierge desk, a piece of art by Damien Hirst—an abstract depiction of butterfly wings done in a silk-screen made with diamond dust—nods to the hotel’s location along a butterfly migration route. Plants like wisteria and jacaranda hit full bloom this time of year, and the seven-room Spa at El Encanto offers a signature treatment that includes a body scrub of Pinot and Cabernet grape seeds, brown sugar and Kaolin clay.
On the culinary front, two gardens, one for regular produce and one specifically for Japanese herbs, propagates the local approach. El Encanto’s own Holstein cow, Ellie, produces milk used to make a special cheese exclusive to the hotel, and executive chef Patrice Martineau executes dishes like dashi-poached local halibut with rosemary flowers and the hotel’s fabled Floating Island dessert of meringue and crème anglaise. The setting is so picturesque, guests are encouraged to explore the environs, like the nearby American River, which is within biking distance and perfect for a picnic. Rooms start at $525; 800 Alvarado Pl.; 805-845-5800; elencanto.com.
March 20, 2013
Teresita Fernandez, Night Writing
Opening on March 22 at the four-month-old Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the exhibit “Pattern: Follow the Rules” riffs on a theme that is close to home—its host building’s exterior. The museum, designed by architect Zaha Hadid and located on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, features steel pleats that envelop it in a light-reflecting skin. Essentially, pattern at its best.
“The architectural element referred to… as a ‘feat of digital engineering’ echoes elements of the paintings, photographs, sculptures and installations that make up ‘Pattern: Follow the Rules,’” says Alison Gass, curator of contemporary art.
One of those pieces, a string drawing called White Wave (2013) by Alyson Shotz, is comprised of thread strung in a pattern around nail heads pounded into the wall, the string and its shadows forming a surprisingly complex viewing experience. Developing her vision via computer, Shotz and her work illustrate another aspect of the exhibit: how the digital world—in particular the repetition and proliferation of pictures, according to Gass—is changing how we interact with and experience art and life in general.
“The rules and systems the artists have engaged embrace the conditions of contemporary visual culture,” says Gass. “Images are everywhere, and they can go on and on and on and on…” March 22 through June 23; E. Circle Dr., East Lansing, MI; 517-353-9836; broadmuseum.msu.edu.
March 20, 2013
Courtesy of Phaidon
In Paris, daily trips to the boulangerie for fresh baguettes and pastries are a way of life. Rose Bakery (46 Rue des Martyrs; 33-1/42-82-12-80) , tucked away in the Ninth Arrondissement, offers a fresh, flavorful and decidedly British take on the French institution. The bakery, where the line for cakes, tarts, quiche and salads often snakes out the door, is spare and understated, with the focus trained squarely on the seasonal, organic menu.
Rose Carrarini, the English chef who founded and runs Rose Bakery with her husband, already authored one cookbook, Breakfast, Lunch, Tea (Phaidon, 2006), which features recipes for the small meals that have become Rose Bakery staples. Her most recent effort, How to Boil an Egg (Phaidon; $35), is full of descriptions and beautiful paintings of the many egg-based dishes she makes daily. Carrarini chatted with us over coffee at her eponymous bakery about food, Paris and what comes next.
Q: Whenever I come to Rose Bakery there is always a line out the door. What is it specifically that people love so much, that keeps them coming back?
A: I think it’s simply the flavors and the trust they have that we have good-quality ingredients. The French always appreciate quality.
Q: Do you think the recipes in How to Boil an Egg can be duplicated in a home kitchen?
A: Yes, absolutely. It starts with the basics, like how to scramble eggs. I’ve learned from serving them in the restaurant—everyone likes eggs done differently. Everyone has their own special way. I’m always trying to make it simple. Even for me at home, I don’t spend a lot of time cooking. I’m not one of those chefs that spend hours in the kitchen. I really like to have things done within ten minutes. So this is a reflection on that—the way I actually cook.
Q: The design of the book is beautiful—all the painted illustrations. Where did that idea come from?
A: Well, I didn’t want photographs because every single cookbook is just photographs and recipes. I wanted something a bit unique. It had to represent the recipe, and the only way to do that was to find painters who deal in detail. So my idea was to look at botanical painters who paint flowers and vegetables, and luckily we found the perfect artist. The whole thing made it very special. I didn’t want an ordinary looking cookbook.
Q: What’s next for you and Rose Bakery?
A: There are three Rose Bakeries in Paris, soon to be a fourth. We’ll be opening in the Bon Marché. It will be a tearoom, and that’s my dream come true. We have some in Tokyo, which are doing very well, and one in Seoul as well. And at the end of the year we’ll be opening in New York. It’s going to be a completely frightening thing, but yes, it’s in the cards. New York, about ten or 15 years ago, inspired me to start cooking, so I feel a bit humble going back. It’s exciting.
March 19, 2013
Photo by Hideo Sakata
Two monumental flying phoenixes, created entirely of construction debris by prize-winning Chinese artist Xu Bing, are wintering at Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, before migrating back to Beijing. Suspended from the ceiling of the museum’s cavernous Building 5, Feng and Huang (he and she, respectively) are each nearly 100 feet long and weigh 12 tons. Visitors are free to wander underneath the mesmerizing mythical birds symbolically born from the ashes of their ancestors—or, in this case, the castoffs of urbanization.
The models are embedded with thousands of tiny lights, which look like constellations at night, and the packing crates used to ship them from China form a compelling grand entrance to the show. (A wonderful film in the next room shows how the creatures were welded together.)
Part of a larger showing of Bing’s work—a reception on April 27 coordinates with the installation of a second phase of the exhibit—Phoenix joins another piece by the artist: his so-called Tobacco Project. The huge faux tiger-skin rug is made of more than half a million cigarettes arranged (filter up or filter down) to create a pattern. The installation includes cigarette cartons and can be interpreted as another conceptual statement about consumption—and the phenomenon of ashes to ashes. 87 Marshall St., North Adams, MA; 413-662-2111; massmoca.org.
March 15, 2013
Photo courtesy of Megu Restaurant
Next week, visitors to New York’s Grand Central Terminal will travel farther than their chosen regional destination—almost 7,000 miles farther, to be precise. The second annual Japan Week, a three-day tribute to Japanese culture, art and cuisine, kicks off on March 19, with a commemorative ceremony celebrating the relationship between the century-old terminal and its newly-crowned “sister station,” Tokyo Station (only one year shy of its own centennial). For on-the-go nourishment, travelers can grab ekiben bento boxes, traditionally served at small shops inside Japanese train stations, filled with regional specialties like crab rice, beef, and rice balls. In Vanderbilt Hall, commuters can indulge in a quick drink before heading home—a Japanese tradition that is easily replicated with a pop-up tachinomiya sake bar, where guests can taste more than 90 varieties of jizake craft sake and the Japanese liquor shochu, curated by sake experts like Wasan owner Toshiyuki Koizumi and former Sakagura sommelier Chizuko Niikawa-Helton. March 19–March 21; 89 E. 42nd St.; japanweek.us.
March 14, 2013
Photo courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers
Any vintage vixen worth her bugle beads knows that scoring top-tier pieces is anything but easy. We’re talking about the sartorial standouts that radiate the panache (but not the eau de camphor) of a bygone era. Many fly to London or scour the arrondissements of Paris. But this month the vintage action is stateside. On March 19, Chicago-based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers will offer property from the Ebony Fashion Fair Collection—almost 800 lots of jaw-dropping gowns, daywear ensembles, furs and cocktail frocks curated by Eunice Johnson, fashion empress, Johnson Publishing Company co-founder and super-chic philanthropist.
Johnson expanded the Johnson Publishing umbrella in 1958 with the Ebony Fashion Fair, a touring exhibition designed to bring the high-fashion experience to small American towns like Selma, Alabama. The collection (view it here)—amassed over 50 years—is stunningly diverse, showcasing pieces by runway heavy hitters (like the jacquard dress by Christian Dior pictured here), European micro-houses and influential African American designers.
What do all the items have in common? Drama. Johnson was a fan of wow factor and it shows in sleek gowns (Lanvin, Zang Toi, Ralph Rucci, Givenchy), avant-garde silhouettes (Stephen Burrows, Issey Miyake, Christian Lacroix, Vivienne Westwood) and lots of Lurex, sequins, leather and painted silk (Halston, Mugler, Zandra Rhodes). March 19, 10 a.m.; 312-280-1212; lesliehindman.com/auctions.
March 13, 2013
André Breton, Jacqueline Lamba, Yves Tanguy
Surrealism, the 20th-century avant-garde art movement led by French writer André Breton, is easily one of the most well-known and best-represented art movements of the modern era. (Artists Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró and Max Ernst help popularize it.) It is, therefore, a credit to the curators at New York’s Morgan Library & Museum—as well as the cocurators at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—that the exhibit “Drawing Surrealism” manages to differentiate itself at all.
It does, in beautiful and surprising ways. The first major presentation composed entirely of drawings (save for a photograph or two), it is also one of the only Surrealism shows with a broad international scope. The work of Peru’s César Moro, Mexico’s Gunther Gerzso and Frida Kahlo and Japan’s Yamamoto Kansuke appears alongside that of their European counterparts. “It’s not just the usual suspects,” says curator Isabelle Dervaux.
The exhibit is loosely organized into five Surrealist drawing techniques: frottage pencil rubbings; the “exquisite corpse” drawing game (pictured above), during which each artist completed a section of a sketch without looking at what the others had done; decalcomania, spreading ink over paper before pressing it onto a second sheet to create new forms; automatic drawing, rooted in Freud and hinged on the absence of control; and collage. But despite its organization and arrangement in rough chronological order (from the late 1910s to 1950, when the movement petered out), irregularities do exist. After all, “We can’t be too rational for a movement that tried not to be rational,” says Dervaux. Through April 21; 29 E. 36th St.; 212-685-0008; themorgan.org.
March 13, 2013
Orient-Express is giving new meaning to the word “hopscotch.” Next month the company’s old-world-style Royal Scotsman, a luxe 36-passenger sleeper train, will ply the Scottish countryside on an inaugural four-night, five-day trek devoted to exploring some of the best and rarest whiskies on the planet.
In partnership with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (a specialist in the independent bottlings of single-cask single malts), the Classic Whisky Journey will bring guests to many of the country’s top distilleries, offering insider access and expert interpretation at every stop.
“We’ve long stocked more than 50 different varieties of whisky onboard, and guests often ask me to guide them through these to find their perfect tipple,” says Michael Andrews, the general manager of the Royal Scotsman and resident Scotch guru. “This itinerary blends a scenic rail journey with tailored visits to the country’s finest distilleries and exclusive tastings of rare malts.”
Peak experiences include a straight-from-the-cask sampling at Glen Ord, featuring 12-, 15- and 18-year-old Singletons (plus the very rare 23-year-old) and a visit to The Glenlivet’s newly expanded distillery for a flight of seven whiskies and a dram from a cask that has been aging since 1977.
Guests will also visit Tullibardine, which makes its Scotch in the most traditional of ways. A visit to its warehouse reveals a special cask reserved for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, which was filled on the couple’s wedding day. (No sampling of that one, sadly.) The Scotch Malt Whisky Society will have three of its own single-cask single malts on hand for formal tastings, as well as six additional offerings and as-yet-unreleased bottlings from its cellar.
Though whisky is the main event, there are other activities planned. Guests can fly-fish at Rothiemurchus Estate in the center of Cairngorms National Park, meet wild seals that cavort off the coast of the tiny village of Plockton, golf at a private course in Ballindalloch and tour Glamis Castle, where the beloved Queen Mother, mother of Queen Elizabeth II, grew up. Trip departs April 21; prices start at $6,877; royalscotsman.com.