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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Father's Day is June 21, and Dad Needs a Cartier Pen

Pop's a cool guy, right? So give him a Father's Day gift that he'll use every day – and think of you when he does.

We recommend Cartier's famous Diabolo ballpoints, rollerballs, and fountain pens. A gift of one of these fine writing instruments – with their excellent performance on the page, streamline Art Deco-inspired design, and signature blue cabochon tipped caps – will tell dad how much you appreciate everything he has and continues to do for you.

Several styles and colors are available, starting at $295. One of our favorites is this handsome Diabolo in blue lacquer with platinum accents:
Add Image
Your choice of ballpoint ($410), rollerball ($455) or fountain pen with 18kt gold nib ($610).

It's also available in black with gold or platinum accents:

These start at $315 for the ballpoint.

If Dad works in the movie or music business, then you're going to want one of Cartier's limited edition Cinema (just out) or Rock & Roll models:

We we offer three Cinema motifs – 35mm film (shown), clapper and "The End" – starting at $670 and in ballpoint only:

Cartier introduced the Rock & Roll pens in 2007. There are only a few left. This beauty with a guitar on the clip is $750.

There are several other music themed designs, as well.

All Cartier pens come in the jeweler's impressive signature red gift box.

We offer these and other Cartier pens by special order only. Please call us at (310) 581-6710 well before Father's Day to avoid disappointment.

We also carry fine pens from other makers, including Dunhill, Delta, Conway Stewart, Visconti, Omas, Porsche, Pelikan, Michel Perchin, and many others.

For more gift ideas, click right here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Annals of Luxury: Bling Goes Bust

No doubt wishing that they hadn't spent all that money doing you know what, many rappers and their followers no longer have the cash for flash. Those gaudy necklaces and brazen adornments are too costly, reports the Wall St. Journal.

"The recession is cramping the style of hip-hop artists and wannabes – many of whom are finding it difficult to afford the diamond-encrusted pendants and heavy gold chains they have long used to project an aura of outsized wealth," says the Journal.

Rather than forsake their flamboyant folderol altogether, some celebs are quietly asking their jewelers to use cubic zirconia and less precious metals and stones.

"Hip-hop luminaries with the cash to keep it real are appalled," the Journal adds.

And you think you have problems?

If you want to know who's flush and who's flat broke, read all about it here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

New! Silk Robes by Taryn Rose

Ten years ago Carol took a chance on a pair of shoes by an unknown designer named Taryn Rose. Though they were expensive, Carol bought them because she knew that Nordstrom would stand behind the brand.

Flash forward a decade. She still wears her Taryn Rose loafers, the most comfortable shoes she owns. And they look as if they were designed just yesterday.

Taryn Rose is now a well regarded luxury brand, with boutiques in Beverly Hills and New York and carried by top merchants like Saks, Neiman-Marcus, Harrod's and many others.

We are pleased to report that the designer has just launched a new line of chic robes fashioned from yummy silk charmeuse. These richly colored, two-tone garments (like the one show here in two shades of blue) are reversible.

Inspired by Hollywood screen legends whose names they bear – Rita, Audrey, and Marilyn – these are chic pieces that go from night wear to night club in style when you add a mini skirt or pair of skinny jeans.

Bones & Roses robes are just hitting shops and are a bit hard to find. Can't wait for yours? Call us at (310) 581-6710 and we'll point you in the right direction.

$225. S, M, L. By special order only. Please ask us about colors and styles currently available.

For more gift ideas, click right here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Miss Whistle, PG, and the Wayward Fax

What brand of tea is the most satisfying regardless of price? For our money, it's PG Tips.

We've been enjoying it daily for 20 years now and still prefer it to all others. The British do, too; it's the most popular tea in England. And it's not expensive at all.

We were introduced to it long ago by our English secretary, the capable, accomplished and good natured Miss Whistle. That is just one of many things for which we will ever be grateful to her.

(Another is the time she cried on the phone to a complete stranger to retrieve a fax that we mistakenly had sent to the wrong party and which would have compromised us had it fallen into unworthy hands. Of course that was the year we got our first fax machine and were unaware of the damage it could inflict–on us. What an unfortunate mess might have resulted were it not for the courageous Miss Whistle! But we digress.)

PG isn't what you call a gourmet product. Britons of all classes consume large amounts of it with regularity. We've tried more expensive teas, but none is as pleasurable or as comforting as dear old PG.

In the U.S. you'll find PG at better markets and wherever British products are sold. (A note of warning: Be sure to check the expiration date on the package for freshness.)

Here are a few pointers for making a good cup of tea:
  • For a smooth, full taste start with cold filtered water
  • Always warm the pot for a short while with some hot water; then throw it out, put your PG in the pot and refill with hot water
  • The water you use should be very hot but not boiling; let it come to a full boil; turn off the heat and wait a few seconds before making tea
  • Warm your cups, too, with hot water before pouring your tea
  • If you take milk, as the British do, warm it in a small pan or the microwave until its scalding but do not let it boil; and never use cold milk from the fridge in your tea; that's a no no!
In case you were wondering, "tips" refers to the fact that only the tips (the top two leaves and bud) of the tea plants are used in the blend. If you must know what the "PG" part stands for, look it up on their website as it's too complicated to explain here. In any case, it's not Procter & Gamble; PG is made by Unilver.

And now, something for the kiddies:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Those Were the Glory Days!

The Cannes festival started on Wednesday night. We look back at the Cannes that was.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

...And One More From Cannes Past

Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood at the Cannes Festival in 1962

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Enlightened Traveler: Santa Monica's Main St.

The tourists flock to the Third St. Promenade. Those of us who live in Santa Monica go elsewhere to dine and shop. Main St., for example.

We're pleased to see that the "wrong end" of the avenue (the stretch north of Ocean Park Blvd.) is getting a bit more interesting at last.

This morning we strolled over – with our cousins from Santa Barbara who were under mandatory evacuation orders due to the Jesusita fires – to the new La Grande Orange cafe and enjoyed a splendid breakfast. It was a "soft" opening (invited guests only) intended to give the kitchen and wait staff a trial run. Add ImageJudging from the tasty food and friendly, efficient service, they don't need any more practice. They should just open the place and brace themselves for the hordes that will descend.
We loved their perfectly timed and presented soft-boiled eggs, wonderful muffins and other baked goods, housemade muesli, and especially their Lemon Skinny, a dinner plate sized crepe-like pancake second only to Musso & Frank's famous flannel cakes, a perennial favorite of ours.
The dining room is spacious and comfortable with a pleasant terrace on two sides. There's also a cozy wine bar featuring a small selection of Santa Barbara labels.

After your meal stop in a few doors further north at Goudas & Vines to inspect their ample array of wines and imported foods, including MarieBelle hot chocolate mix (another favorite), Ravida and other premium olive oils, and a good deal more.

As for La Grande Orange, breakfast is served from 6:30 daily. It's open for lunch and dinner till 11pm weeknights and later on the weekends. Open for business starting Tuesday, May 12.

We'll be back, and often.

La Grande Orange, 2000 Main St., Santa Monica,
(310) 396-9152

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What Time Is It Here? And There? And There?

Ritmo Mundo is a young watch manufacturer whose "I-gotta-have-that!" timepieces are sold at Barneys, Geary's in Beverly Hills, select jewelers worldwide, and by our gifting company, Jasper & James.

What do we love about Ritmos?

For starters, you can't beat their fabulous styling. The Piccolo Data model combines Daliesque numerals, a wavy second hand, and Art Deco touches. Sounds crazy, yes, but it works!

New this year is the Luna, and it's stunning, too.

Ritmos are designed in Italy and manufactured in Switzerland to a high standard. (Looks are important but no substitute for quality.) Ali Soltani, the owner, does much of the styling himself.

Our favorite Ritmo for men is Ali's signature Persepolis three time zone watch. With it's large but quite elegant 50mm case, handsome wide leather strap and imperial lugs at each corner, it's a wonder to behold and a joy to wear!

One side of the case houses retro hour and minute indicators. Here is the beauty part: when you turn the case, the reverse incorporates two additional, separate time zone indicators, say Paris and Tokyo.

Four precision Swiss quartz movements power this marvel of design, functionality, and quality watchmaking.

$3,600 in all stainless or stainless with rose gold.

Buy it and other Ritmos now at www.shopjasperandjames.com

For more gift ideas, click right here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

How's Your Drink?

You'll recall that a while ago we informed you that April was National Grilled Cheese Month. Even better, it turns out that in Scotland at least May is National Whisky Month.

To us, whiskey, as spelled in America, means a double shot of premium Bourbon like Blanton's, Booker's, or Rip Van Winkle (but we wouldn't complain if you serve us Jack) imbibed neat (at room temperature) in a rocks glass.To the rest of the world, whisky usually means Scotch, and that's what they're celebrating this month in Scotland, home to over 100 malt and grain distilleries.

We don't pretend to be Scotch experts; we're happy with a snort of Johnnie Walker Black Label, which has a medium body, nicely balanced smoke and caramel flavors, and a smooth finish. One Scotch we won't be trying anytime soon is $2,000 per bottle Highland Park 40 Year Old.

That's right, $2,000 per bottle, although we understand that the Highland Park 18 Year Old has a delicate, spice-accented smokiness and extended finish similar to the 40 Year Old and is only around $90 a bottle. Sounds like a bargain to us.

To learn more about National Whisky Month and see what events Scotland has planned this month and for the coming year, just click here .

A couple of shots of this could set you back $500

Didn't Get a Reservation at elBulli Again?

Situated on a remote beach on the northeast coast of Spain, elBulli is famous for being the ultimate pilgrimage site for foodies, and a reservation that is nearly impossible to obtain. Each year elBulli is open for just six months, and receives more than 2 million requests for only 8,000 seats.

A Day at elBulli: An Insight into the Ideas, Methods and Creativity of Ferran Adria reveals for the first time the creative process, innovative philosophy and extraordinary techniques of the multi-award-winning restaurant, elBulli, and its legendary head chef, Ferran Adria. Renowned for his spectacular ever-changing 30-course tasting menu, Adria's pioneering culinary techniques have been applauded - and imitated - by top chefs around the globe for the past decade.

If you weren't one of the lucky few to get in this year (reservations were booked a year in advance), you can now experience the restaurant at home and at your leisure. This generously-illustrated 600-page ''day in the life'' features over 800 photographs, menus, recipes and diagrams, and presents a guided tour through a full working day at elBulli. The book documents the activities of each hour of the day, from dawn at 6.15 am to switching off the lights at 2.00 am.

The book is both fascinating and engrossing, brimming over with seemingly endless detail and sharp insight. We highly recommend it.

Thirty dishes are highlighted, representing a full elBulli menu. Adria shows you how he creates the restaurant's innovative cuisines over his winter break at his laboratory in Barcelona. Sample recipes include Samphire Tempura with Saffron and Oyster Cream, Steamed Brioche with Rose-Scented Mozzarella, and Coulant/Souffle of Granadilla with Cardamom Toffee.
An enormous undertaking, this monumental tome, complete with more than 1,000 photographs, chronicles one day at revolutionary eatery elBulli in northern Spain, arguably one of today's most influential restaurants. Adria, the culinary genius behind this success, along with restaurant manager Soler and brother and fellow chef Albert give the reader a firsthand look at day-to-day activities and the innovation for which elBulli is known. Lavish photographs are the main attraction in this work... A glance behind the scenes at a pivotal time and place in culinary evolution, this book will delight serious foodies, and its stunning package guarantees it will grace many a coffee table.

– Publishers Weekly

Buy it now at Amazon

For more gift ideas, click right here.

The Enlightened Traveler: New York

Your Armani suit may require alterations after a visit to the maestro's new chocolate boutique.

The New York Times reports:

Armani Dolci, on the third floor of the new Giorgio Armani store on Fifth Avenue, is a boutique that sells delectable chocolates, including little bags of foil-wrapped dark and milk chocolate eggs with creamy fillings of coffee, hazelnut and gianduja (chocolate and nuts), $15 for 3.5 ounces, $30 for 10.5 ounces.

Larger eggs, emblazoned with an “A,” start at $60 for one that weighs 7.5 ounces, and go up to $145 for one that weighs 24.7 ounces. Inside is a gift, like an Armani luggage tag.

The chocolates, made in Florence, include artfully filled bonbons ($3.50 each; boxes are $5 to $125), and bags of praline-coated almonds and dragées ($15).

Preserves, honey and spreads ($25 to $30) and tea ($25) also fill the shelves of the shop, which is just outside the Armani Ristorante: 717 Fifth Avenue (56th Street), (212) 339-5950.

The First Solar Bag Powerful Enough to Charge Your Laptop

The Voltaic Generator not only holds your laptop, it will fully recharge it, too.

This solar laptop case and charger has high-efficiency cells and includes a battery pack custom designed to efficiently store and convert the electricity generated. It will also charge cell phones, iPods, Blackberries, cameras, and most other hand held electronics.

The solar panel generates up to 15 watts using 20% efficient cells, enough to fully charge the Voltaic battery in about 5 hours.The included battery pack stores the equivalent of a typical laptop charge and automatically delivers the required output voltages.

Common adaptors are included for connection to laptops, phones and other handheld devices. Optional reconfigured MagSafe adapter available for MacBooks. Or connect via USB or car charger.

The tough, water resistant fabric is made from recycled PET (soda bottles). This great bag is large enough to hold a 17' laptop.

$499 and available in black, orange, silver

Buy it now at www.shopjasperandjames.com

For more gift ideas, click right here.

Cheap Thrills: What the Cubans In Miami Drink

We've been drinking delicious, strong, inexpensive Cuban-style Cafe Bustelo for years, and we're glad to see that the New York Times finally has caught on to our secret.

Here's another coffee tip: If you're going to France be sure to bring home a few vacuum packed cubes of full-bodied Carte Noir. It's a supermarket brand that sells for less than the price of your daily latte.

Once you taste it, you'll want to hurry back to Paris for more.

The Enlightened Traveler: Paris

The rue Paul Bert is the latest destination for intrepid foodies and urban explorers. The FT's Simon Kuper takes us on a gastronomic tour.

Reduce Reuse. Recycle.

Watch out for those earth friendly gadgets! They may not be good for the planet, reports Wired magazine.

Every Day Is Earth Day

Wouldn't it be wonderful to find a gift that is eminently practical, beautifully designed, earth friendly, and costs just $100?

Solio, the universal hybrid charger is powerful enough to charge your cell phone, Blackberry, iPod, iPhone, camera and all of your handheld electronic products at home or on the move, anywhere under the sun.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Used by people all over the world and now available in the U.S., Solio combines efficient solar cells and a high capacity battery to collect and store power – power that is ready for you to use whenever and wherever you are.

Imagine you’re out all day on business. You can fully recharge your both cell phone twice or your phone and Blackberry each once.

Suppose you’re spending the day at the beach or in the country. You can fully charge your iPod and your cell phone.

Wait a minute! Did you forget to charge Solio before you left your house? No worries. Just open Solio’s solar panels to the sun’s rays and begin charging your phone right away. While it’s charging, you can use your phone all day. Or your iPhone, iPod or Blackberry, for that matter.

Charge It From the Wall or the Sun's Rays

You charge Solio either by plugging it into an electrical outlet (in any country*) or by exposing it to the sun’s rays. When you choose to power up by solar energy, it’s free and you’re doing your part to reduce the pollutants that contaminate our atmosphere.

Solio is lightweight and compact; it fits in your hand. Tuck it into your briefcase or glove compartment. It holds a charge for up to a year, making it comforting to have around in case of an emergency power outage.

Get the picture? With Solio, you can leave all of your chargers behind while saving money and our planet at the same time.

Buy One For Everyone You Love

While Solio is handy for everyday use, it's also great during a power outage or other emergency.

Buy it now at www.shopjasperandjames.com

For more gift ideas, click right here.

Hope For the Recession Weary

All is not lost! You can still buy a Ferrari, and luxury car manufacturers hope that you do.

Where to Shop: London

There's a lot more to London than Harrod's and Bond St. Savvy shoppers head for the chic, eclectic boutiques that line Marylebone High St. It's a hidden gem. Read our full report along with a list of our favorite London guidebooks.

April Was National Grilled Cheese Month, But It's Not Too Late to Celebrate

We offer with some fabulous grilled cheese recipes from Bobby Flay and others.

Here's Bobby's Grilled Brie and Goat Cheese with Bacon and Green Tomato.

Our favorite TV chef Tyler Florence serves up a great Grilled Cheese with Apple and Bacon.

Alton Brown demonstrates how to make his version in this short video.

From Bon Appetit magazine, here's a yummy Grilled Ham And Gouda Sandwich with Frisee and Caramelized Onions (shown here).

And just for fun you can't beat that childhood favorite, the Velveeta Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Do You Know Mulholland Bros.?

One of the nicest business cases we've seen lately comes from San Francisco's Mulholland Bros., the best leather goods company you've never heard of. It's available in soft pebble grain leather or luxe deerskin in your choice of black or brown. Waxed canvas with leather trim coming soon.

Buy it now at www.shopjasperandjames.com

For more gift ideas, click right here.

How Much Fun Is This?

Now that the Scion xB has gone pear shaped, this Nissan is the must-have cool car. The odd new Cube evokes the original Scion xB, but better and has a surprisingly luxurious ride, reports the Wall St. Journal.

Our Luxury Shopping Newsletter

In addition to this groovy blog, JASPER & JAMES publishes a bi-monthly report on all the new goodies you will want to buy for yourself or give to friends and clients. Read the latest edition here, and don't forget to subscribe if you want each new edition delivered to your e-mail box.

The Enlightened Traveler: Paris

It's possible to enjoy Paris on a budget without feeling as if you're watching your pennies. The Times of London has uncovered six brilliant, affordable small hotels, including the Philippe Starck designed Mama Shelter. We'd stay there for the name alone.

Fits All the News

The new Kindle saves paper, but will it save newspapers? Printing the New York Times costs twice as much as sending every subscriber a free Kindle, reports businessinsider.com.

Previews of Coming Attractions!

Philippe Starck designed these awesome, room-filling speakers. They'll be out in May and available at www.shopjasperandjames.com

For more gift ideas, click right here.

Where to Shop: Men's Clothes

The FT's globe trotting columnist Tyler Brule reveals his favorite men's stores in Paris, Tokyo, and Como, Italy. Click here to see 'em all.

The Fashion Magazine You Never Expected to See

Did you know that the Wall St. Journal now publishes a monthly glossy magazine. The current issue is devoted to fashion. Well worth a quick read.