May 23, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Watches

Christie's Watch Shop

Christie’s international auction house has officially launched an online retail boutique of rare, vintage and luxury timepieces. Designed to complement the company’s record-breaking global auction sales and bespoke private service, Christie’s Watch Shop makes exceptional designs available for immediate purchase—all year round and for the first time ever.

“We have so many daily requests for specific watches that it became difficult to keep up with demand,” says Reginald Brack, Christie’s international head of watch retail. “So we launched [the watch shop] to cultivate a great supply of the world’s best watches exclusively for the online space.”

After launching earlier in May, the new venture sold 30 percent of its inventory within its first week, featuring styles from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega and Tudor. (Prices ranged from $3,500 to $58,000.) Ten blue-chip brands are currently showcased; the offerings will continue to expand.

In addition to e-commerce, the site provides a host of resources for collectors, including sections like “The Vault” (news, interviews and analysis from Christie’s specialists), “Deconstructed” (in-depth studies of choice selections from the collection) and “Videos: Dialed In” (specialist-guided tours that investigate one watch at a time).

“The advantage,” says John Auerbach, intentional managing director of e-commerce, “is that we offer clients three successful platforms for which they can consign and buy at Christie’s: auction, private sales and, now, retail.”

May 22, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Shopping

Balenciaga Debuts in Dallas
Naho Kubota courtesy of BALENCIAGA

Dallas, no stranger to singular style, welcomed its first Balenciaga boutique earlier this week with the opening of a store in the high-end Highland Park Village shopping enclave. Reflecting a new design aesthetic by Alexander Wang, Balenciaga’s artistic director, and interior designer Ryan Korban that debuted at the New York flagship last fall, the 1,150-square-foot store—the ninth outpost in North America—currently features the spring/summer 2014 ready-to-wear collection, as well as shoes, handbags, jewelry, fragrance and sunglasses.

The boutique calls to mind the couture tradition founder Cristóbal Balenciaga initiated in 1937. Small salons populate the main space. Sophisticated materials (mirrored chrome, limestone, green suede) set a glossy tone, backed by custom-made chairs and a black-and-white tiled floor reminiscent of the one found in the original Paris salon. Shelves, treated with a cracked-resin substance, have an intriguing textural feel. Everything, unsurprisingly, is in place for a purpose, right down to the dark green marble, which references the marbled patterns Wang used in his debut fall/winter 2013 collection for the label. 11 Highland Park Village, 214-273-7650;;

May 21, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Restaurants

Chefs in Rotation at Fifty Seven
Eric Wolfinger

Diners typically select their favorite restaurants based on consistency. But the newest offering from Los Angeles hospitality group Cardiff Giant throws that idea to the wind, prioritizing variation above all else. Fifty Seven—named in honor of the converted Heinz 57 loading dock that now houses the bi-level, industrial-chic restaurant and performance space for local artists and musicians—hosts a rotating roster of chefs, featuring an original menu for the duration of each residency. (The length of stay is flexible.)

“The concept is really about introducing Los Angeles to the great talent around the country,” says Beau Laughlin, CEO of Cardiff Giant. “We also look at it as an opportunity to introduce these chefs”—whome will include, he says, both rising stars and boldface names—“to the amazing ingredients that we have at our disposal here in California.”

The lineup began with Eleven Madison Park alumnus David Nayfeld, who has been Fifty Seven’s executive chef since it opened in late March. As the first in residency, he trained the staff, designed the kitchen and helped determine the cocktail and wine program, and he will offer his seasonal American menu (diver scallops, heritage pork, pickled vegetables) through May. Josh Drew, who has cooked at Quince in San Francisco and The French Laundry, will take over in June. 

“It seemed like an interesting way to introduce myself to Los Angeles,” says Nayfeld. “It’s also cool to think that, hopefully, for years to come there will be other soon-to-be-great chefs walking through our doors and that we’ll all be linked by that. In short, it’s creating legacy.” 712 S. Santa Fe Ave.; 213-816-8157;

May 21, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Art

Josef Albers in Black and White
Josef Albers

When Josef Albers, one of the art world’s leading educators and theorists, was a child growing up in Germany, he loved going to the post office with his stepmother and hopping from square to square on the black-and-white marble tiles of its checkerboard floor.

“Black and white was in Josef’s bones,” says Nicholas Fox Weber, executive director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

While Albers moved on to devote much of his work to the study of pigmentation, literally writing the book on it (Interaction of Color [Yale]) in the early 1960s, he never lost that early delight with black and white—a predilection illustrated in the exhibit “Josef Albers: Black and White” at Waddington Custot Galleries in London, the first retrospective in the United Kingdom of the artist’s achromatic work.

“There were, throughout his life, occasions when he depended on the simplicity and candor and strength of black and white as relief and reassurance,” says Fox Weber. “There is nothing like that simple balancing act of monochrome; it was home to him.”

Fifty pieces make up the show, ranging from paintings to glass items to photographs to engravings. Albers was perhaps best known for his “Homage to the Square” series of paintings; eight black-and-white examples of it are displayed in the exhibit, along with other notable items like Steps, a glass construction, and a photo collage of painter Paul Klee from 1929. (Study for Graphic Tectonic, 1941–42, is pictured here.)

Albers died in 1976, leaving behind illustrious protégés (his students included the likes of Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg), a sizable body of work and a renown for pushing the boundaries of what a simple line could do.

“His enduring contribution,” says Fox Weber, “was an ability to take minimal means and use them to maximum effect.” Through June 4; 11 Cork St.;

May 21, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Travel

Private River Cruises through France
Courtesy of Belmond

While some people prefer to keep in constant motion while traveling, others elect to put down roots, however temporary. Belmond, the hotel brand formerly known as Orient-Express, gives those who can’t choose a way to do both at once with its Afloat in France river-cruising season.

Guests can select from one of five barges—all available for reservations or private hire through October—for tailored, weeklong experiences along France’s waterways, with stops at sites focused on their preferred activities. Organizers will take note of travelers' interests (golf, wine, art, cycling) and create an itinerary to fit.

Consider, for instance, Alouette ($23,800 a couple), a four-passenger, four-crew péniche that cruises southwest France along the Canal du Midi, hitting vineyards, medieval castles and historic towns along the way. Or Amaryllis ($51,700 for six people), an eight-passenger, six-crew barge that traipses from Dijon to Saint-Léger in the north, pausing in Renaissance villages and an open-air market.

Each barge is richly appointed with large picture windows, an air-conditioned lounge, a sundeck and, in most cases, a heated swimming pool. Gourmet meals, Internet access and charming vistas are also part of the deal. 800-524-2420;

May 21, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Food

Summer Food Festivals
Courtesy of BottleRock Napa Valley

There is no shortage of excuses to indulge in excellent food these days, whether it’s a fleeting pop-up dinner by a hot chef or a five-day island event. Summer brings food festivals, and we singled out three to try this year.

  • It’s difficult to distinguish which is the bigger draw at BottleRock: the food and drink or the music. Held on 26 acres in Napa Valley, the three-day fest features numerous restaurants (La Toque, Angèle, The Thomas), a craft-brew beer garden, a food-truck alley and wine cabanas and bars, as well as music by the likes of Outkast, the Cure and TV on the Radio. May 30 to June 1;
  • Nothing signals summer like barbecue, and the Windy City Smokeout brings some of the country’s best pit masters to downtown Chicago. For three days, talent from Texas (The Salt Lick), New York (Dinosaur Bar-B-Que) and St. Louis (Pappy’s Smokehouse) joins chefs from local joints Bub City, Smoque and Lillie’s Q for a finger-licking good time. Three-time barbecue world champion Myron Mixon will even serve up a whole hog. Plenty of beer and country music are also on offer. July 11–13;
  • The Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival invites chefs from around the world to whip up regional cuisine during the weeklong event held on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. Guests can experience delicious locally-inspired dishes by chefs like Masaharu Morimoto, Stephen Durfee and Jenn Louis, but—for the first time—they are encouraged to do more with the pros, including working with them to restore an 800-year-old fishpond and cultivating taro, a local root vegetable. August 29 to September 7; 808-738-6245;
May 15, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Spirits

Courtesy of Proximo Spirits

His work has appeared on Reebok sneakers, Valentino handbags, Uniqlo T-shirts and Burton snowboards; hip-hop lyrics by Jay-Z and Rick Ross mention his name. The late Jean-Michel Basquiat, once a white-cube darling, is arguably the top artist in the pop-culture vernacular of late—and the reign continues. Six of his iconic pieces are now displayed on bottles of 1800 Tequila ($30 each) in celebration of the brand’s sixth annual Essential Artists series.

Like in previous collaborations—which include bottles by graphic designer Shepard Fairey and contemporary artist Gary Baseman—the new collection looked to highlight an inventive, influential artist. Basquiat (who died in 1988), with his radical and individual approach, fit the criteria to a T, inspiring 1800 to—for the first time ever—dedicate all six styles of the limited-edition series to a single artist.

"Jean-Michel's artwork connects with people now in the same way that it did 20 years ago," explains David Stark, president of brand-management company Artestar, which worked with 1800 Tequila on the project. "It's just that the culture has caught up with him and there is broader awareness. We are happy that he continues to be part of the dialogue."

Cheers to that. Available in liquor stores nationwide.

May 14, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Food

Flynn McGarry
Will McGarry

For a chance to taste the future of American cooking, catering and event-planning company Creative Edge Parties is hosting 15-year-old chef Flynn McGarry—who is getting plenty of buzz for being young, talented and, well, young—for a two-night pop-up presentation of his eight-course Eureka tasting menu (May 19 to 20). McGarry, who has been holding dinners at his home in California since he was 12, produces what he calls "progressive American cuisine." But how does he transcend the novelty of being a teenage chef?

"McGarry is actually not about being 15 years old," says Carla Ruben, president of Creative Edge. "He truly is a culinary talent that takes a passion and pushes the limits. If anything, his youth removes all barriers that age puts up and allows him to explore ingredients in nonconventional ways."

Guests can definitely look forward to dishes that test taste conventions, including green mussels glazed with Thai curry, coconut, lemongrass and pickled daikon and scallops grilled in their shells with Champagne-fermented turnips, coffee-and-celery-root puree and smoked almond milk. And diners aren't the only ones who benefit. While Creative Edge gets to share some of its secrets with McGarry and other top chefs who come through, the house kitchen is opened up to new techniques and ideas from its visitors. "It's a win-win for everybody," says Ruben, "and a lot of fun." $150; 639 Washington St.;

May 13, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Restaurants

Dirty Habit Opens in San Francisco
Eric Wolfinger

The restaurant Fifth Floor, at the Palomar Hotel in San Francisco, turned out its fine-dining fare for 14 years in its original location, earning a loyal following and grooming esteemed chefs. It closed in January 2013 to make room for a completely new restaurant and bar concept, called Dirty Habit, which opened earlier this month.

Eager to become the go-to gathering place for San Francisco’s tech elite, the restaurant offers on a convivial, slightly mysterious vibe and a menu of small plates intended for sharing. Try the fried-lamb-belly steamed buns; chicken wings with sweet soy and chili vinaigrette; asparagus with chorizo, smoked egg and preserved lemon; a charcuterie board, with many of the meats cured in-house; or an aged rib-eye with béarnaise and asparagus. (Breakfast is also served; try the ham-and-cheese omelet and the buttermilk pancakes with banana, walnuts and maple syrup.)

Bar manager Brian Means heads the cocktail program, which tends toward the creative, with drinks like a barrel-aged Negroni or old-fashioned and seasonal choices like the Loveable Trixter (Plymouth gin, lime juice, blackberries, sage). Sounds like the makings of a regular habit to us. 12 Fourth St.; 415-348-1555;

May 13, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Events

Lake Austin Spa Resort Gets Cooking
Courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

Picturesque Lake Austin Spa Resort hosts its Culinary Experience program year-round, but this summer’s lineup of talented chefs, restaurateurs, authors and food personalities is particularly robust, thoughtfully assembled with Lake Austin’s singular dining in mind.

“We are serious about our food, and it’s one of the things our guests rave about the most,” says executive chef Stéphane Beaucamp (pictured above). “But I love seeing what the other chefs prepare, how they prepare it and their process in making their creation. It’s like getting a snapshot into their lives—where they came from and why they love to cook.”

The summer roster features food-writing team Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough (June 9–10), James Beard award–winning cookbook author and TV personality Joanne Weir (June 13), founding Food Network member Sara Moulton (June 14) and Southern-cooking expert Rebecca Lang (July 18).

The experiences feature cooking demonstrations and an array of activities that could include a tour of the organic garden, a primer on olive oil, a tea workshop, instruction on composting and even a knife-skills class. Guests staying at the resort—a 40-room hideaway situated on the banks of Lake Austin (a reservoir of the Colorado River)—cook with the chefs, swap stories (and techniques, as Beaucamp says the pros often walk away with tips from their audience) and take home recipes and, when available, signed cookbooks. In other words, it’s a food lover’s dream. Rates start at $1,720 a person (three-night resort package, including meals and activities); 1705 S. Quinlan Park Rd.; 512-372-7300;

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