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August 01, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Gifts

Summer Find: Brazilian Beach Bats
Photo courtesy of Anna Campbell

The World Cup may be over, but a Brazilian way of being hasn’t lost its luster—especially when it comes to spending a day at the beach.

That’s especially true for ShopLatitude, an e-commerce website that curates a unique collection of fashion, accessories and home-decor items sourced from designers, artisans, concept stores and hotels around the world. The site, which lets you shop by destination, officially launched Rio de Janeiro—its 14th and arguably hottest locale—this summer.

While exclusive beaded jewelry, limited-edition blouses and high-end poufs abound, this handsome Leblon beach-bat set ($250)—emblematic of the Carioca lifestyle—caught our eye as a chic, playful hostess gift. Made and designed by London-based, Brazil-inspired beachwear and accessories brand Frescobol Carioca (47 Blandford St.; frescobolcarioca.com), the set is handcrafted by artisans in the company’s Brazilian workshop using up to 13 pieces of wood in a variety of types. The bats are finished with a glossy surfboard resin and have a colorful neoprene grip, making them as comfortable to hold as they are stylish. shoplatitude.com.

July 30, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Hotels

A Modern Loft Opens in Nantucket
Courtesy of Nantucket Island Resorts

With its beachy vibe and preppy New England style, Nantucket rarely conjures images of sleek, modern design.

But that’s exactly what the beloved White Elephant hotel—an island icon since the 1920s—has done with the newest addition to its ever-expanding roster of accommodations: the Loft.

Located on the second floor of a historic brick building in the heart of downtown, the three-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot pied-à-terre eschews the traditional for an ample, open-format living space complete with a sizable kitchen-and-dining-room area, outfitted with a counter-style island and a rustic wood table, and a plush living area with a fireplace. The apartment’s neutral colors, white oak hardwood floors and 50-foot-long picture windows all maximize the airy, sun-soaked atmosphere.

Just a short walk or bike ride from Brant Point Beach, the Loft affords its guests access to the heated pool, cabanas and fitness center at White Elephant Village (White Elephant’s sister hotel). It’s the perfect balance between enjoying a true beach community and having a chic abode to call your own. Rates start at $1,800; 32 Main St.; 800-445-6574; whiteelephanthotel.com.

July 30, 2014
By Amiee White Beazley | Culture

Classical Music Goes Back to Nature
Utah Symphony

Utah is a trove of natural wonders and wild landscapes, from the Wasatch Mountains in the north to the red-sand deserts in the south. The state is also home to five national parks—Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Zion—collectively known as The Mighty 5.

From August 11 to 17, the natural wonders will host another state treasure, the Utah Symphony, which will present a series of free open-air, classical-music concerts during its first-ever tour. Led by music director Thierry Fischer, the Utah Symphony’s performances anticipate the organization’s 75th anniversary and highlight the centennial celebration of the National Park System, both of which take place in 2016.

Visitors are encouraged to tour the parks by day and enjoy the free classical concerts by night (the shows begin at 8 P.M.). Against the natural backdrop of southern Utah’s sandstone arches, spires and canyons, the 75-piece orchestra will perform pieces including movements from Dvorák’s New World Symphony and Gershwin’s An American in Paris, as well as vocal selections featuring Utah native and soprano soloist Celena Shafer, performing Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. Additional free concerts and events inside the parks include chamber music at visitor centers and outdoor amphitheaters, active excursions with orchestra members and music education opportunities. utahsymphony.org/mighty5.

July 24, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Shopping

Assouline’s New Book Boutique
Roberto Rosa

Who says brick-and-mortar bookstores are obsolete? Assouline, renowned international publisher of luxury books, has opened a new boutique in Venice—a lavish new haven for bookworms and coffee-table-tome displayers alike.

Set within the Art Deco–inspired Bauer Hotel (San Marco, 1459; 39-041/520-7022; bauervenezia.com), and outfitted with custom wallpaper, walnut bookcases and antique furniture, the well-appointed gem functions like an altar to the form. (The golden beams of light cast on the books from above and below help, of course.)

Like other Assouline boutiques around the world (including Paris, London, Miami, New York and Istanbul), the store will house gorgeously bound books on topics of fashion, art, architecture and design, gastronomy, photography, travel and lifestyle, as well as the handcrafted Ultimate Collection (volumes range between $500 and $7,000) and a selection of Assouline Vintage titles. If that’s not an argument for sitting down with a brand-new hardback, we’re not sure what is. San Marco, 1455; 39-041/240-6876; assouline.com.

July 24, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Art

Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita / The David Bowie Archive 2012.

After a successful run in both London and Toronto, the much-acclaimed exhibit “David Bowie Is” is set to hit Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) this September for the traveling showcase’s sole stop in the United States.

First realized at the Victoria and Albert Museum in March 2013, the show makes its American debut with a chronological perspective on the icon’s evolution, focusing on his creative processes—beginning with his formative years as David Robert Jones in post–World War II London—and his collaborative efforts with other artists and designers. The exhibit as a whole explores how Bowie, as both a pioneering musician and persona, influenced and was influenced by simultaneous movements in the arts.

“His constant reinvention and strategic image management help us understand the popular culture of today,” explains Michael Darling, the museum’s James W. Alsdorf chief curator. “We also feel it is important to look outside the realm of the visual arts for clues to what is important in contemporary culture, and David Bowie’s career is a compelling analogue to what has been happening in other creative fields over the past 40 years.”

More than 300 items will be on display as part of the immersive experience, including costumes, photography, album artwork, handwritten lyrics, original fashions and set designs culled from Bowie’s decades-long career. Some highlights include his Freddie Burretti–designed Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972); clips from films and live performances, including his appearance on Saturday Night Live (1979); and previously unseen storyboards and tour footage. Tickets go on sale July 31; exhibit runs September 23 through January 4, 2015; 220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-280-2660; mcachicago.org.

July 23, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Drinks

Tea Two Ways: New Approaches to a Centuries-Old Drink
Courtesy of Silk Road Teas

Americans are rarely behind the times when it comes to cultural trends, but our relationship with tea has lagged since the very beginning. Fortunately, two stateside enterprises are attempting to change all that, taking wildly different approaches from opposite sides of the country.

The Innovator: PressTea (New York)
Coffee’s had its third wave, so why not tea? This year-old café from Taiwanese founders (and cousins) George Kuan and siblings Richard and Patty Chen is leading the charge with espresso-style drinks made of proprietary blends of black, green and Rooibos teas sourced in Taiwan, China and India. Using an entirely new mechanism that resembles an espresso machine, these young experts are turning out clever riffs on hot and cold coffee classics. Consider a black “teapuccino,” with rose simple syrup; a Formosa macchiato; a Rooibos latte or an iced-coffee-style Mont Blanc chai, each made from a thick, concentrated shot that uses seven to ten times more tea than the average sachet. The result is a delicious, wholesome concoction that any third-wave barista would appreciate. New for the summer is a collection of FizTeas (carbonated iced tea), including green-tea lemonade, pineapple chai and mango Rooibos. Their tea-infused pastries, also made in-house, shouldn’t be missed. 167 Seventh Ave. S.; 212-888-6666; presstea.com.

The Traditionalist: Silk Road Teas (San Rafael, California)
Don’t mistake “traditional” for “conventional”—this outfit is anything but. Founded 22 years ago by a traveler in search of the very best teas, Silk Road—now owned and run by husband-and-wife team Ned and Catherine Heagerty—sells the finest-grade tea available in the United States. Their rare and artisan offerings are all small-lot (limited quantity), domestic grade (highest quality), unblended (from a single plant) fresh teas (minimally processed according to local custom), picked every year at the end of March (the time of the coveted first pluck) and sourced directly from China’s remotest farmers. Their inventory, as a result, is entirely unique, the flavor profiles complex and nuanced, vibrant and unadulterated. It takes only one pot of their very rare (and very expensive) Snow Dragon or Drum Mountain Clouds & Mist ($380 a pound) to taste the difference. 415-458-8624; silkroadteas.com.

July 23, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Restaurants

An Art-Inspired Pop-Up Dinner Series at Quince
Coutesy of Quince

Michelin two-star restaurant Quince may be closing its doors temporarily on July 25 for renovations, but that doesn’t mean fans won’t have access to its award-winning cuisine from chef Michael Tusk until its September 19 reopening. In the interim, Quince is launching curATE, a pop-up dinner series at nearby Hedge Gallery (hedgegallery.com) running July 30 through August 30.

The five-course tasting menu will change every week to reflect the rotating exhibitions displayed on Hedge’s walls, courtesy of five San Francisco galleries—Fraenkel Gallery, Anthony Meier Fine Arts and Jessica Silverman Gallery among them. Consider, for example, Jessica Silverman’s “White Is the Warmest Color” showcase, for which a selection of white-themed works inspire Tusk’s menu of white gazpacho, white-peach salad, Dover sole and other similarly hued dishes (August 13–16).

“Without being too obvious, I wanted to reflect each artist’s vision and theme for his or her respective installation,” says Tusk. “It was really important for me to allow room for interpretation without being too direct. I always enjoy surprises in both art and food!” 501 Pacific Ave.; Wednesday–Saturday evenings; $50 for reception and gallery viewing (6:30 P.M.); $199 for reception and seated dinner (7:30 P.M.); $110 optional wine paring; sfcurate.com.

July 22, 2014
By Robert Khederian | Art, Arts + Culture

Bottega Veneta Photographs Culture in Shanghai
Photo courtesy of Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta may be best known for its sumptuous woven leather goods, but the Italian label is quickly establishing itself among art connoisseurs. Five art exhibitions have already been produced by the brand out of the second-floor gallery space of its Yifeng Galleria boutique in Shanghai, and earlier this summer it unveiled its sixth: A collection of photography by seven artists entitled “Pleasures of the Imagination.”

“I’m delighted with the latest exhibition and hope our clients find it inspiring,” says Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier. “Photography is one of my passions, so I’m particularly pleased with how well these exhibitions have been received by everyone who has visited.”

Following shows that have examined the art of the portrait, objects of everyday life and China’s heritage, “Pleasures of the Imagination” investigates how the seven participating artists interpret modern Chinese life and culture. And while Bottega Veneta ultimately hopes to foster the next generation of artists, it also seems to be strategically differentiating itself from its contemporaries. The shopping experience offered in Shanghai, coupled with a chance to peruse a culturally relevant compilation of esteemed local talent, demonstrates the brand’s understanding of a discerning customer that appreciates quality, craftsmanship and creativity in art as well as fashion.

“Our clients have high expectations and our goal is not to just meet those expectations, but to surpass them,” says president and CEO Marco Bizzarri. “I think we have managed to give them something they truly do not get anywhere else, but most importantly, something they appreciate on a personal level.”

While we’re hoping plans for stateside shows are in the works, it’s hard not to be excited by this thoughtfully holistic interpretation of luxury shopping. Through September; 86-21/5306-7650; bottegaveneta.com.

July 21, 2014
By Shivani Vora | Restaurants

Restaurant Opening: Obicà Mozzarella Bar
Photo courtesy of Evan Sung

When the Roman mozzarella-bar chain Obicà opened a café in 2008 in Midtown Manhattan (590 Madison Ave.), the crowds came quickly and have stayed ever since. While the atrium setting serves the eatery’s four signature varieties (classic bufala, smoked, burrata, burrata with black truffle), flown in twice a week from a small farm in Italy’s Campania region, the fast-dining-and-takeout format doesn’t lend itself to lingering.

That will change when the brand’s first New York restaurant (its 20th location worldwide) opens July 24 in the Flatiron District (928 Broadway; obika.com). The 120-seat outpost celebrates Obicà’s ten-year anniversary, with its star cheese highlighting dishes like thin-crust pizza topped with spicy sausage and oozing burrata or baked pasta binded with bufala. Umbrian executive chef Enzo Nero also offers cheese-free creations, such as a bone-in breaded veal cutlet with wild arugula and black cod with rosemary chickpea puree. 

Whatever the renditions, the real surprise might be the garlic-and-onion-free kitchen. Managing partner Raimondo Boggia, who oversees the cooking, talks here about his vision for the new space and why he serves Italian sans its two most prominent ingredients.

Q: What is the concept of the new restaurant?
A:
It’s contemporary Italian cuisine that’s simple. We want to stay away from overwhelming diners with too many flavors and we want to showcase the best ingredients, both local and from Italy. The produce is mostly organic and comes from farmers in the area, and everything else like the salami, olive oil, sea salt and pine nuts comes from Italy. We pride ourselves on making everything in-house, including the breads, pastas and gelatos.

Q: The café serves a small selection of wine. How does alcohol figure in here?
A:
It’s definitely something we are emphasizing more. We have 190 wines by the bottle and 16 by the glass from all the regions in Italy. They are from small, hard-to-find producers. There is also an extensive selection of cocktails.

Q: To the real question: What do you have against garlic and onions?
A:
The food is meant to be light and fresh and we want to let our superb ingredients shine. When we cook with garlic and onions, which do taste fantastic, there is a tendency to abuse them and use them to mask other flavors. They can weigh down dishes. Our goal was to let all of our other superb ingredients shine.

Q: But aren’t they essential to Italian cooking?
A:
Absolutely not. Italy has a variety of flavors that does not include garlic and onions. The country is like an artist who loves painting with two colors. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a picture without them.

Q: It’s hard to find a recipe for a basic tomato sauce without garlic. How do you make yours?
A:
Fresh Roma tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh organic basil and sea salt. It’s delicious—as good as my grandmother’s back in Italy.

July 18, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Spirits

Spirit to Sip: Monkey 47 Dry Gin
Sidney Frank Importing

Ask Alexander Stein, founder of Black Forest Distillers, why he chose to make Monkey 47—a dry gin named in honor of the number of handpicked ingredients used to make it—and he’ll tell you it’s because he thought he could do the spirit better. After years of testing 130 different distillations in a minimalist facility in Schwarzwald, Germany, Stein and his master distiller, Christoph Keller, have done just that.

While the European market has been lucky enough to enjoy the award-winning spirit since 2010, Monkey 47 only began arriving stateside this summer. The charming, 375-milliliter apothecary-style bottles are flying off the shelves at specialty liquor stores, and bartenders are hoarding their own stocks. It’s garnered such a dedicated following, in fact, that some consumers are collecting the metal rings around the small cork stopper as a clubby, in-the-know keepsake.

Why has it struck a chord? The distinctive use of regional Black Forest botanicals like lingonberries, spruce tips and acacia certainly contributes. But there’s also the pure molasses-alcohol backbone, sweeter than the typical neutral-grain spirit used in most gins; a unique percolation process, in which a basket of secret botanicals is suspended in the still during distillation; a mandatory maturation period of at least three months in traditional German earthenware containers; and a coarse-filtration process, which maintains the spirit’s prominently floral, peppery flavor and fragrance.

Given all that, we suggest drinking Monkey 47 as unadulterated as possible, like in a gin and tonic or a martini—or, for the truest fans, entirely neat. monkey47.com.

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