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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.