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Monday, December 19, 2011

Why You Buy What You Buy. Or, "Think, Boys. Think!"

It's not easy to pick a gift that will make the right impression.

Oven Mitt

Baboushka oven mitt: practical but what does it say about you?
"The great challenge lies in making the leap into someone's else's mind," writes Dan Ariely in the Wall St. Journal.

The Duke University professor of behavioral economics says that when consumers choose gifts, they don't act rationally. And rightly so, he adds!

He divides gifts into four groups.

He calls the first "straightforward economic exchanges." You need underwear, so someone gives it to you. Not too exciting, but from an economic standpoint you get full value from it.

Another type of gift is "one that tries to create or strengthen a social connection." Ariely cites the example of bringing a bottle of wine when you go to someone's house for dinner, as a way to say thank you. This is the opposite of economic efficiency, but likely to be much more appreciated than the underwear.

A third category is the "paternalistic" gift. You select something you think the recipient should have, like a membership to Weight Watchers. This "ignores the preferences of the person getting the gift." No kidding!

His final type of gift is "one that somebody really wants but would feel guilty buying for themselves." Unless you're Warren Buffet, you should have no problem coming up with your own examples.

Ariely's best advice: "If your goal is to maximize a social connection, don't give a perishable gift like flowers or chocolate." Once the recipient finishes these gifts, there's no reason to think of you anymore.

He suggests giving something permanent that is used intermittently. That way, they'll think of you every time they use your gift. Or at least, you hope they will.

Choose carefully. You want the connection between you and the gift to be a positive one. It's not smart to give socks, a shower curtain or an oven mitt – no matter how useful these items may be – to someone you want to impress. But you knew this already.

Better yet, when you must wow VIPs and valued customers, call JASPER & JAMES at (310) 581-6710.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Artful Traveler: Musée d'Orsay –
Renewed, Refreshed, Remarkable

The Musée d’Orsay in Paris, home to a spectacular collection of Impressionist masterpieces and other late 19th and early 20th Century artworks, has reopened all of its galleries to the public after two years of extensive renovation and a dramatic rethinking and rearrangement of its holdings.
Housed in a 1900 Beaux-Arts railway station and boldly transformed into a museum in 1986, the d’Orsay has become one of the most popular attractions in the City of Lights. More than 60 million have visited over the past two and one-half decades.

New Musee d'Orsay galleries

What has changed?

For one, the ubiquitous white walls are a thing of the past. In their place are deep purple, midnight blue, red and lavendar-grey ones that critics feel are more hospitable to the vivid colors of the Impressionist works on display.

Lighting has been redesigned throughout. There is more natural light in some galleries, while the sometimes harsh natural light in other rooms has been replaced with a carefully designed artificial scheme that shows off the paintings to better effect.

Musee d'Orsay Main Hall

Unchanged, Gae Aulenti's 1986 main hall
Some of the ceilings have been removed to reveal structural beams in a nod to the building’s original industrial purpose.

Exhibition space has been expanded considerably, allowing more of the world's largest collection of Impressionist works to be shown.

What has not changed is the museum's impressive, massive arched main hall, designed by the Italian architect Gae Aulenti.

The renovations are the work of four architectural firms.

Noteworthy is the stylish Café de l’Horloge, also known as the Cafe Campana and described as an aquatic Jules Verne-inspired fantasy. It's housed in a former clock tower. Brazil’s Campana design duo is responsible for the transformation.

What's for lunch? Who cares!
Still, the main draw at the d’Orsay are its art treasures from the likes of Manet, Rodin, Courbet, Van Gogh, and Gaugin – paintings and sculptures that reside not merely in a former railway station but live on in our collective cultural memory and continue to enthrall and inspire, even as we hurtle into the vast unknown of this 21st century.

For more on the Musee d”orsay click here.
To see our other posts on Paris, click here.

Closer to home: Two singular exhibitions featuring Impressionist masterpieces have just opened in the U.S.

Atlanta’s High Museum is offering more than 100 works of art borrowed from the Museum of Modern Art in a show they are calling “Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters.” On view until April 29, it aims to reveal the connections and deep influences between modern masters of the past century.

Tip: Don't miss the Maple Bacon Brittle ice cream at Morelli's on Moreland Ave.. For more on what to do in Atlanta, read this.
At the Milwaukee Art Museum, “Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper” includes more than 100 pastels watercolors, and drawings by Degas, Monet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and others. The comprehensive overview is said to be the first of its kind in the U.S. It runs through Jan. 8.

While in Milwaukee, be sure to sample the dense, sticky, chewy Morning Buns, hard to find outside of this part of the country. And, as you may well fly through Chicago, you’ll want to stop at the extraordinary Art Institute for Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” This large, absorbing masterwork enchants and mesmerizes – no matter how many times you have seen it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Perfect Companion for Your iPhone

If you're an iPhone junkie (and who isn't?) you'll want to check out this fabulous new accessory.

The iPhone Desktop Handset lets you work comfortably and efficiently all day using your sleek iPhone instead of the clunky office you phone you now have.
The anodized aluminum stand places your iPhone at a convenient angle and stays secure on your desktop using four non-slip silicone pads. It accommodates your phone vertically or horizontally, with or without a protective case.

With the handset in one hand, your other hand is free to navigate all of your iPhone's applications: calendars, e-mail, the Internet, and even games! (Hold on, Mom, gotta nuke a bunch of hateful birds... You were saying?)

The headset plugs into your phone's headphones jack. Your iPhone can charge from a computer or wall outlet via your USB charging cable and adapter while the headset is powered by your iPhone's battery.

Don't have an iPhone? The stand and headset work with any cell phone with a standard earbud jack.

We sell these for $69.95 in quantities of ten or more. Call us at (310) 581-6710 and we'll fix you up pronto.

Cast and crew gifts anyone?


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Make It a Double: A Scotch That Came in From the Cold

We recently wrote about Mongolia's main city, Ulan Bator, the coldest of any capital on our planet.

Now comes word from Scotland that whisky maker Glenfiddich has introduced a limited edition bottling blended from casks that were all exposed to sub-zero temperatures when the roof of their storage building collapsed under heavy snow in 2009.

After witnessing the damage, malt maker Brian Kinsman was inspired to create an original blend "marrying together different ages of mature Glenfiddich – some very old."

"Some of these casks had previously held Oloroso sherry and others were traditional whisky casks made of American oak," he explained. "Each one was specially chosen to make a unique contribution to the taste and aroma of the final whisky."

He calls it Snow Phoenix, "a great Glenfiddich Single Malt born of chance and adversity."

While the name may confound if you know anything about mythology, the results are another matter. They have generated rapturous reviews.

It has "an oaky, salty depth. This is one silky smooth scotch," opined one critic. Another crowed, "I poured myself another glass, for pleasure, immediately!"

Enough said.

Only 12,000 bottles of Snow Phoenix were produced, so it may be hard to find.

We think it's worth the search. Let us know what you think of it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Annals of Luxury: A Warm Reception for Cold Cash

Joy comes not through possession or ownership
but through a wise and loving heart
– Buddha

Tell that to the new money, logo-crazed strivers of Ulan Bator.

The latest luxury shopping mecca just may be this booming if remote capital of Mongolia. Or so opines The Wall St. Journal Magazine.

Vuitton: It's everywhere you don't want to be, like downtown Ulan Bator

Louis Vuitton opened a store there in 2009. It shares the same Central Mall location with Burberry, Zegna, Hugo Boss and Emporio Armani. Dunhill and Ferragamo are expected to be there soon.

"How could it be that luxury retailers have come to Mongolia?" wonders author Maureen Orth. "The country has only 2.8 million people, almost half of them living in a capital built [in the 1940s by the Russians] for 500,000, including 700,000 destitute former nomads whose gers [huts] crowd the surrounding hills."

Paris of the Steppes it's not.

Ulan Bator by day...

...and by night.

Orth goes on to explain that democratic Mongolia – independent for 21 years now after seven centuries of Soviet rule – has entered into multi-billion dollar deals to exploit its vast deposits of gold, copper, coal and other natural resources. The burgeoning nation's $7 billion GDP is projected to increase 20% annually over the next decade.

But luxury retailers don't require a large number of customers, even in this heady fiscal environment.

"One to two thousand is all you need," says Vuitton CEO Yves Carcelle in the Journal report.

That is because Mongolians culturally like to display their wealth; they are willing to spend a lot on jewelry and other luxury goods to let their neighbors know how well they are doing. Of course, while the upper classes flaunt their prosperity, most working class Mongolians barely make ends meet by toiling in mines, herding livestock, driving taxis or selling imported goods from China.

And never mind that Ulan Bator was founded in 1639 as a Buddhist monastic center. That was then. Today's boom town is another story.

Read Orth's article here.


If you're planning to go Ulan Bator, better think twice. While your shopping excursion to Mongolia will earn you major bragging rights at any dinner party, be aware that the city is noted for it's extreme isolation. It's not close to anywhere and hard to get to. It's also the coldest capital city of any nation in the world.

Monday, May 23, 2011

This Just In: Bang and Olufsen's Massive 85" 3D HDTV

If you've done all of the research, agonized over your decision, and went ahead and spent $3,000 or $4,000 for a new, state-of-the art 55" 3D LED HDTV, prepare to be disappointed.

Those pesky folks at ultra high-end electronics manufacturer Bang & Olufsen have just introduced their super luxurious 85" 3D set, larger than anything else available for the home market.

The BeoVision 4:85 lists for $85,000. That's a $1,000 per diagonal inch. If you are waiting for a Groupon coupon, you cannot afford this baby.

What you get for the price of a well-equipped BMW is a mammoth TV that, according to the company's press release "incorporates state-of-the-art performance within audio, video, magical moving mechanics and intelligent home integration."


Actually, there's a lot of advanced technology packed into this TV and its accompanying sound system. You will have to decide for yourself if it amounts to $85,000 worth.

To get one, you'll have to schedule a visit from a B&O custom install team who'll carry out an assessment of the structural strength of your floor and walls, as the plasma TV weighs nearly half a ton. It sits on a motorized stand that will raise, lower, turn and tilt the screen.

Following the visit you'll go over a multi-page checklist detailing the installation options. The set comes in your choice of colors — silver, black, red, blue, dark grey, or gold (with matching remote, of course) — since, as the editors of Sound & Vision magazine note, "if you're forking over this kind of cash, you want it to match your couch and curtains."

What you do not get for $85,000 are B&O's proprietary active shutter 3D glasses, which you must have in order to enjoy the full multi-dimensional experience. Those cost $149 each, and it's good to know that you can buy as many pairs as you want at any Bang & Olufsen store worldwide.

Sound & Vision's review is here. Bang & Olufsen's website is here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Living to Eat: The World's 50 Best Restaurants

So you think you know restaurants?

You've dined your way through the finest that New York and Napa have to offer. You know what soft openings are because you get invited to them. When a hot new place comes to town, you get a table at 8:00 pm. (This sentence, "We only have 6pm or 10pm," doesn't exist in your world.)

Maven that you are, you'll recognize many of your favorites on The San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants of 2011 list.

Or will you?

The annual awards have just been published in Britain's Restaurant magazine, a co-sponsor along with San Pellegrino.

Noma's squid legs with potatoes, mayonnaise, brown butter

Topping the list this year is Denmark's Noma for a second year in a row and succeeding El Bulli, the 2006-09 winner. Even if you haven't been there yet, you might have heard of it. It's been getting a lot of media attention lately, especially from the British press.

Chef Rene Redzepi uses only seasonal, locally foraged ingredients – nothing imported, including olive oil. Some of his creations: beef tartare with a tarragon emulsion and wood sorrel; fresh cheese with axel berry shoots and watercress; and radishes in edible soil.

Restaurant magazine says that dining at Noma is an "emotive, intense, liberating way of eating." (Affective writing like that just makes you want to drop everything and jump on the next flight to Copenhagen, doesn't it?)

You also might know The Fat Duck and The Ledbury in Britain, Pierre Gagnaire and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee in France, and Le Bernardin, Per Se, Daniel, and Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York. (Although we cannot recall Momofuku, while popular, making anyone else's best restaurant pantheon).

From here, the road moves into unfamiliar territory, at least for a lot of Americans.

Not many will have heard of the modernists Mugaritz and El Celler de Can Roca, two of the five Spanish restaurants on the list. Or Le Quartier Francais in South Africa, Chez Dominique in Finland, or Amber in Hong Kong?

And then there's Biko in Mexico, Iggy's in Singapore, Astrid y Gaston in Peru, De Librije in Holland, or Steirereck in Austria.

Chocolate nougat at Vienna's Steirereck
They were chosen by an international academy of some 800 chefs, restaurateurs, food and restaurant journalists and gourmands representing 27 geographic regions around the globe. Sounds impressive, but, apart from Mark Bittman, Wolfgang Puck, and Charlie Palmer, it's unlikely you'll recognize many of the members. Doubtless you will be familiar with the group's sponsor, Electrolux, famous in Europe for making high-end, high-design stoves, refrigerators and appliances – and in the U.S. mainly for producing vacuum cleaners.

Some journalists have called into question the group's choices and methodology. The list is not universally accepted as definitive.

Still, it's not necessary to approve of every establishment on the World's 50 Best Restaurants to enjoy the thought of dining at every one of them.

If you decide to try it, just make sure you have an understanding spouse, an ample supply of Pepto Bismol and a few million frequent flyer miles.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My Aunt Ceil Went to the Royal Wedding, and All I Got Was This Lousy Limited Edition Royal Crown Derby Bone China Commemorative Plate

Marriage is a wonderful institution, the old joke goes. But who wants to live in an institution?

And then there's this week's marriage of Prince William to Catherine Middleton, a monolith that reduces even the most extravagant celebrity nuptial shindig to the status of a small town pancake breakfast.

When you think of Royal Wedding souvenirs, schlocky tea towels and $25 Tesco knockoffs of Catherine's engagement dress come to mind. Who buys these pitiable gegaws? Surely not the cultivated, stylish readers of The Luxury Life!

For you, we have identified a better class of commemorative folderol. Here are a few examples:

Floris Wedding Bouquet Eau de Parfum – The 281-year-old London parfumer says that they created this exclusive scent to celebrate the royal coupling, drawing inspiration from Floris wedding fragrances of the past "whilst introducing a modern twist." The Floris shop in New York closed a few years, ago; for about $135 you can order online at www.florislondon.com.

Bespoke Royal Wedding-Themed Party Cake – Vauxhaul in South London is home to the British secret service (MI6) headquarters and Cakehole, an artisanal bakery that uses free range eggs, local fruit and, British sugar and organic flour. They're known for scrumptious treats such as peanut fudge brownies, lemon drizzle cake, and carrot cake with lemon mascarpone cream cheese icing.

For a limited time they offer a colorful salute to the royal couple made of Victoria sponge cake decorated in red, white and blue fondant, adorned with spotted teapots and sparkling jewels, then topped with House of Windsor roses. A nine-inch cake with 12 servings will set you back about $50 plus another $17 for Central London delivery. It's not available by mail. Order one from www.cakeholelondon.com about 48 hours in advance of your arrival, have it delivered to your hotel, and host your own celebration.

Royal Crown Derby Royal Wedding Commemorative Octagonal Plate
Royal Crown Derby produced this octagonal plate in a limited edition of 1500. It is "adorned at the edges in cobalt blue and overlaid in gold [with] acorns from the great oak tree, representing longevity along with the instantly recognizable Prince of Wales Plumes. At the center are displayed the ornately intertwined initials of Catherine and William." Their description, not ours. You'd know a Prince of Wales Plume when you see one, wouldn't you? About $225 at www.royalcrownderby.co.uk.

Ice London iPhone 4 Cover – The Union Jack crystal design is fashioned from (yawn) Swarovksi "elements." Also available for the iPhone 3G, if you are still among the unfortunate few who haven't yet upgraded. About $275 at www.ice.co.uk.

Halcyon Days Commemorative Limited Edition Bone China BoxPrince William and Catherine are shown on either side of Westminster Abbey on this 24ct gold-embellished box. On the side panels are the Prince’s coat of arms, with the couple’s initials, and Buckingham Palace. The box is further decorated with the national flowers of the United Kingdom: rose, daffodil, shamrock and thistle. Only 350 have been produced. About $750 from www.halcyondays.co.uk.

More on Royal Wedding souvenirs at British Vogue and The Telegraph.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Deal of the (19th) Century

It's not exactly news that antique furniture prices have been in the doldrums for a few years now.

We were visiting a week ago with a friend who runs an antique shop in Vermont, doing our best to feign interest as he complained that (1) prices had dropped to rock bottom levels and (2) that even so, no one was buying old pieces anymore.

Biedermeier desk

This 1825 Biedermeier cherrywood chest
may be out of favor, but it's still a beaut.
So we were not surprised a few days ago to read a Wall St. Journal article on the same subject.

"The market for period pieces, including 18th-century Louis, authentic English Regency and Irish Chippendale, is ripe for the picking," says the Journal. "Consider this: A pair of Louis XVI fauteuils that were $35,000 15 years ago just went for $10,000 at auction."

There are deals to be had on English Georgian and German Biedermeier furniture, as well.

If you believe that one good piece can carry an entire room, then now is the time to get serious. Prices of good antique furniture will rebound eventually. In three, five, or ten years, a $10,000 purchase today could be worth two or three times as much.

Read the complete Journal report here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Deep Discounts on Wine Abound and Aren't Going Away

More than a year ago, The Luxury Life alerted readers to the remarkable wine discounts available through sites like winestilsoldout.com and cinderellawine.com.

Today's New York Times reports on the success of these and other wine bargain sites. The paper says that the flash wine market now comprises about $100 million per year, or about 25% of all wine sales.

Read more about how to get some great prices on very good wines in our original report and in the Times article.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Life's Little Luxuries: C'est Cheese!

National Grilled Cheese Month starts today.

With news of such staggering proportions, we're temped to shout, "Hold the panini presses!" But we will resist.

Au contraire, we take our melted cheese seriously, and so we reprint our blog post commemorating National Grilled Cheese Month of 2009:

We offer 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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Artful Traveler: Egypt's Time Is Now

There may be no better time to visit Egypt than right now.

Popular attractions such as the Valley of the Kings in Thebes, the Great Pyramids in Giza, and the spectacular Egyptian Museum in Cairo would normally be inundated with thousands of tourists each day. Newspapers here and in the UK report that these and other sites are virtually deserted.

At the same time, some airlines and many hotels have reduced prices to lure back the 1.1 million tourists who left during the revolution.

England and other European nations have lifted travel advisories. Correspondents from the Guardian, The Independent and The Wall St. Journal all say that the country is safe despite the recent upheavals and that tourists are receiving a warm welcome.

Business is business, after all.

When we were in college, we used to get very cheap flights to Africa and the Middle East by booking with British travel agencies and tour operators. To get the best deals today, you should try the same approach. (Use your frequent flier miles to get to London for even greater savings.)

For example, The Independent reports that On the Go Tours has a nine-day cultural tour of the Nile valley for £649 per person. The price includes return flights from Heathrow to Cairo on 29 March, transfers, two nights sailing on the Nile on board a traditional Egyptian felucca (sailing boat), four nights' accommodation in four- and five-star hotels, two nights on a train, breakfast each day and some meals. A local tour guide, with a degree in Egyptology accompanies the trip (+1 (866) 377-6147; www.onthegotours.com).

Hurry and go soon, because travel experts think tourism will bounce back quickly (months, not years as in Yugoslavia, for example).

Read more about Egyptian travel at attractive prices in The Independent, the Guardian, The Wall St. Journal.

For a list of international travel companies offering tours to Egypt, click

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Annals of Luxury: China Poised to Be No. 1 Luxury Market

Rolls Royce will soon sell more cars in China than in any other country.

The PRC already is the car maker's second biggest market after the U.S. (Britain, the United Arab Emirates, and Japan are numbers three, four, and five.)

The Chinese appetite for luxury cars appears insatiable. Sales of BMWs and Mercedes doubled last year. No small wonder, thanks to the rapid rise of the wealthy class in China.

A military parade rolls past a Gucci boutique in Beijing. (Photo: gadgetdan/flickr.com)

Forbes reports that only the U.S. exceeds China in the number of dollar billionaires. There are 130 in the PRC today. Five years ago, there were just a handful.

It's not just the ultra-rich that are thriving. The merely wealthy are doing quite well, too. The past decade saw a 50% annual increase in the number of Chinese millionaires, from 24 in 2000 to 1363 in 2010 – and most of them under 40 years old.

Vuitton boutique in Shanghai
Take a number! Patrons line up for Vuitton's Shanghai boutique

Expensive cars are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the super-charged Chinese luxury market.

Luxury goods companies are expanding rapidly in China to accommodate demand that will account for half of their forecasted global growth in the next 10 years, according to a study by CLSA, a leading Asian brokerage and investment group.

Before that happens, China will have become the world's largest market for luxury goods, surpassing the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

Louis Vuitton’s biggest customers are already Chinese buyers. The French firm operates 32 boutiques in mainland China. Greater China represents 28% of sales for Swatch, 22% for Richemont (owners of the Cartier and Montblanc labels), 18% for Gucci, 14% for Bulgari and 11% for Hermes.

The CLSA report says that "success, wealth and fame/social standing are highly regarded in Chinese culture and displaying this through watches, jewelry, apparel, cars and wine garner respect."

That's news? In some respects at least, it seems that the Chinese are no different than the rest of us.

Read more from the CLSA here.
See photos of Gong-Li and Lang Lang at the opening of Vuitton's Shanghai boutique here.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Enlightened Traveler: This is London

The first in a series of reports over the next few weeks
on what's new and noteworthy in London.

Just when you thought that you had to drop everything and head straight for Dubai, Shanghai, or Berlin – or risk compromising your "I've been everywhere cool and you haven't" status – along comes no-nonsense London with a few surprises of its own.

Not to be outdone by upstarts, the British capitol is on the ascendant. Or should we say, London continues to rise, perennially reinventing itself in ways that underscore its rank as one of the planet's favored destinations.

The hottest table in town for some time to come is Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Opened a fortnight ago, it is the latest conceit from the brilliant, experimental chef who brought modern British cooking to the forefront at his three-Michelin-starred restaurant, The Fat Duck.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal's dining room

This time around Blumenthal has dipped into Britain's culinary past for inspiration. He reportedly spent 18 months researching recipes that go as far back as the 1300s. Of course, he doesn't just recreate them for modern diners. What fun would that be? He has reworked them into a menu of "perplexing unfamiliarity," one that is a "startlingly original read," according to one newspaper critic.

Meat Fruit

Meat fruit


His signature Meat Fruit (c. 1500) consists of chicken livers whipped into a mousse, formed into the shape of an orange, and covered with mandarin jelly. There's also the quaintly named Rice and Flesh (c.1390) which rests braised calf tail on a bed of saffron rice, and Ragoo of Pigs Ears (c.1750) with anchovies, onions and parsley.

And those are just the starters!

The main courses sound tame by comparison. Sirloin of Black Angus (c.1830) comes with mushroom ketchup, red wine juice and triple cooked chips. There's also a Spiced Pigeon (c.1780) with ale and artichokes, Cod in Cider (c. 1940), and Beef Royal (c.1720). This last is a short rib of angus cooked for 72 hours sous vide, the vacuum sealed water submersion method Blumenthal pioneered. (Intensifies the flavors but diminishes the texture, according to those who know a thing or two about food.)

At least some of London's food critics have worked themselves into an unabashed frenzy of adulation.

"If there has been a more flawless and exhilarating restaurant opening in the past decade, I missed it," gushed Matthew Norman in The Telegraph.

Others are offering a more restrained view. The Daily Mail labeled Blumenthal’s "interpretation" of traditional British food "a brilliant and original concept," then opined, "Yet eating at his new restaurant remains an interesting experience, rather than a delicious one."

Time Out's Guy Dimond was only moderately impressed. The restaurant is just "another smart, five-star-hotel restaurant, not the culinary equivalent of the Second Coming." Apparently he didn't ask the patrons who have to wait until June to get in or the guy who already has auctioned off his booking on eBay.

You'll find Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. The airy dining room overlooks Hyde Park. Service is professional and friendly, not stuffy.

Finally, it's not cheap. Although by London standards it's not exactly exorbitant either. Check how your stocks are doing to see where you stand on the issue. Or go for the set lunch at a reasonable £28 – if you can get a reservation.

Want to know more? Here are a few recent reviews and articles from British publications: The Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mail.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is at 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA, tel. +44 (0)20 7201 3833, www.dinnerbyheston.com.

Click here to read our other articles on London.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Watch This Space!

Where have
we been?

Dear Faithful Reader,

You have noticed no doubt that we haven't posted much over the last few months. That is because we have been busy – very, very busy all Fall, in fact – finding remarkable gifts for our beloved customers.

The good news is that we've got lots of nifty new luxury products to tell you about. In addition, we're planning stories on a variety of compelling topics – hot new restaurants and shops in Paris, luxury trends in China, the array of unique, world-class museums planned for Abu Dhabi, Heston Blumenthal's celebrated new London eatery, and the $625 2,438-page book on the science and technology of cooking that is the talk of the culinary world.

Watch this space over the next few weeks for all this and a good deal more. Please come back frequently for our latest reportage.

We think that you will be delighted.