There's Nothing Quite As Grand As ShopRite's Grand Tasting At NYCWFF!
Last year I started a tradition because I fell in love with the biggest of the New York Food & Wine Festival events. Lasting two days, the ShopRite Grand Tasting features dozens of the world's greatest food and wine vendors along with a giant Shoprite tasting and cooking demo booth smack dab in the center of Pier 94 where the event is held. Let me add that each vendor puts their best food forward and the restaurants participating serve some of their most widely heralded dishes. I nearly died when I tasted the medium rare Kobe sliced NY strip with chimichurra sauce at the New York Steakhouse's booth--and they gave everyone a pass to dine there at 50 per cent off to boot
My favorite sweet vendor was Norman Love Candy. These are some of the most gorgeous chocolates in the world and they are the pride of Ft. Myers, Florida. The chocolates were laid out on wood plates almost as if they were sushi and the colors of the numerous pieces on the display almost looked like a field of wildflowers. I nearly died and went to chocolate heaven when I sampled a piece that was dark chocolate with a passionfruit cream inside. It was so nice to meet some of the people behind the scenes who help create the recipes for these delights as well as the folks who help market and publicize them.
After watching Patti LaBelle make a couple of dishes from her new cookbook on the large North Stage, I stopped into the Barilla booth to check out their new super quickie pasta called Pronto--which is a ten minute no boil and no drain deal. I had the spaghetti served simply with olive oil, garlic and herbs and it was cooked perfectly al dente. I had to go back for seconds and also check out their fusilli in red sauce.
Some of the other chefs I saw doing demos and book signings included Tyler Florence, Haylie Duff, Bobby & Jamie Deen and Valerie Bertinelli. There were also handouts galore at the different booths I visited, including health snacks. I fell in love with Badia's Holy Smokes meat rub, Navitas Naturals' Chili Lime Coconut Chips, Brookside's Dark Chocolate Crunchy Clusters, the new spicier flavors of Kind Bars and three different flavors og Goodness Knows bars (which are very rich and filling but only 150 calories).
Everyone at the event got a wine glass worn on a lariat around their neck so that they could taste all 60 wine vendors at the event. I let the wine go and just tasted to my heart's content. I loved that Google Express was repped and gave everyone both 10 dollar and 20 dollar off their next purchase via coupons tucked into a large dark chocolate bar! Delta Airlines was also on hand with a friendly sommelier and the chance to not only taste great wine but to win free tickets via Instagram!
I can't wait to see what I encounter next year at the ShopRite Grand Tasting but I always know there will be something new and different to try!
John Paul Dejoria: His Latest Venture Brings Out The Bloggers En Masse!
I was lucky enough to attend John Paul Dejoria's presentation at The National restaurant's conference room about his latest investment project, Aubio Cold Sore Treatment Gel and Lip Balm. The gel is an all natural formulation that users (including people in Dejoria's office) swear makes cold/fever sores disappear overnight while the balm help prevents them. (The gel is stronger than the lip balm, and some users--including Dejoria's wife--love it so much that they have started applying it on canker sores and blemishes with phenomenal results as well.)
JPD is worth over three billion dollars but he is very selective about projects he takes on--he truly cares about the helping people and making sure the environment is not harmed by the production of his products. He has not only John Paul Mitchell hair products which have been on top of the hair game for over 30 years now, but he has Patrone, the #1 tequila in the world even though it's priced at a very reasonable $30.
Dejoria was kind enough to grant every blogger in the room a personal interview and photo op if they wanted one--and also told us about his big new "top secret" investment, which I hope to report back here about in the near future.
As we go to press, the Aubio Life Sciences people are doing research on skin products using the same botanicals as in the cold sore gel and lip balm. Hopefully, those products will beon the shelves next year. Dejoria is very hands-on with the development of these products and in the photo to the immediate left you can see him taking a meeting with Aubio execs on his company's privatejet.
You can purchase Aubio products at Target and other mass retailers. For more info, go to http://www.aubio.com.
"The "Battle Of The Bees" At The Waldorf: An Annual Event That Always Has A "Buzz" On It!
One of my favorite events that occurred during New York Fashion Week was not a fashion event at all--even though it took place at the forever fashionable Waldorf Astoria. Whether you know it or not, for the past few years, bee keeping on the rooftops of New York commercial establishments has become legal, and the Waldorf was one of the first major landmarks to have beehives on their roofs. The Waldorf does everything with style, so the hives are inside wooden cases painted to look like little hotels!
TV host and famous foodie Ted Allen emceed the 2015 "Battle Of The Bees" event just a hundred feet away from the Waldorf beehives (and lovely herb gardens). He called on several food experts/journalists (Chef Amanda Freitag, Food & Wine restaurant editor Kate Krader, Food Network Maqgazine food director Liz Sgroi and Yahoo! Food senior editor Stephanie Smith) to judge which famous landmark made the best honey on their rooftops.
The judges deliberated in a very intense way for ten or 15 minutes. While many Waldorf guests will tell you that their homemade honey is fantastic (it is very rich and dark, and many guests get to take little glass jars home from their stays), the Whitney Museum won. The Waldorf did actually win the Battle Of The Bees two years in a row but several of the judges noticed that the Whitney's rooftop honesy had a bit of a fruity flavor and that seemed to make it "special to them." The winner got a gorgeous Baccarat crystal award to take back to their establishment and put proudly on display.
As I guest, I was mainly interested in the wonderful array of desserts served with Waldorf honey including a wonderful Fig Tartlet, Rooftop Honey Mousse, Lime Cremeux and Rooftop Honey Mascarpone Cheese. I hope that some of these unique desserts become available to regular diners at the Waldorf's eateries.
Maybelline smoky eye pencils being applied on models at Nicole Miller show.
More Incredible New York City Events!
New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017--It Always Makes September Colorful!
I love Fashion Week although it is not quite what it used to be. I adored when they had the tents at Bryant Park and then later at Lincoln Center. The dreary Moynihan Station and Skylight Studios are very industrial looking and even when dolled up with art, fashion, celebs and models, these venues look like garages. In fact, I believe that Moynihan Station is where mail trucks are kept in use when Fashion Week is not on, LOL!
My favorite parts of NYFW this year were the lounges and my first forays backstage at the Nicole Miller Show at Skylight and Vivienne Tam at Moynihan. The publicists for Phyto hair products, CMMPR, actually invited me to Nicole Miller and I was excited to see 23 models get an exciting beach hair look (long with slight crimping done by blowdrying the model's hair while raking fingers through it). Phyto Phykokeratine Repairing Spay and Phyto Intense Volume Mousse were applied to the model's heads while wet. Head hairstylist Tomo Jidal talked to me about how he came up with the look--he said he wanted the girls to look "casual, chic and rock and roll at the same time." I admire him for such creative styling and have to agree with him that Phyto are the greatest products on the market right now--tens of thousands of salons would agree with me. Tomo's fave finishing product is Phyto Phytovolume Actif Spray which he finished all the models off with at the Nicole Miller show.
At Vivienne Tam, the legendary designer herself was running around backstage doing interviews for two hours before the show and she gave journalists full access to her and her staff, which I greatly admire. I was invited backstage by the Purple PR, publicity team for Stila and to say I went nuts when I saw the long rows of table featuring hundreds of pieces of makeup is an understatement. I was lucky enough to go to Stila's launch of their Fall/Winter line at Sirena in the Maritime Hotel a couple of months ago and the eyeshadow palette given to me at the event called Perfect Me, Perfect Hue in Light/Medium has been a staple in my makeup wardrobe. I also love the Stila Convertible Color Dual Lip And Cheek Cream given to me then and I noticed that both the aforementioned products were used on the models in the Vivienne Tam show to create a soft apricot eyelid and lip. Faces were done with a very slight bronze look. This soft look was perfect set against Tam's brightly patterned pieces (many featuring butterfly and flowers and some having matching bags). I was excited to meet Maybelline head makeup artist at this show and learned how to create a simple smokey eye look by mixing Lasting Drama Waterproof Pencil in Smooth Charcoal and Glazed Toffee!
Show wise, I also enjoyed FTL Moda at 440 Tenth Avenue which I loved because they feature burn victims and other disabled people as models. The flashy and formal looks of Marlene H'Couture in this show really caught my eye. Some of her pieces seemed inspired by female rockers and some by flamenco dancers. Her looks are for those who love to be bold and the center of attention.
Serena William for HSN is another show that has an incredible buzz around it--and is the only show that ever starts on time! I enjoyed getting to see Williams' extreme diversity of styles on the runway, from everyday "athleisure wear" with an edge to sexy black dresses. Serena Williams "showed" a part of Style 360, which is held at Metropolitan Pavillion West and not only includes dozens of shows by a great diversity of designers, but a fashion lounge as well that included such great brands as OtterBox phone cases, Musteaev Cosmetics, Chapstick and Duracell this year. Those sitting in the front row of Williams' show got a special gift card that got them a limited edition new phone case at the OtterBox booth.
My favorite lounge was by Cottonelle and simply called the Cottonelle Beauty Bar. There was waxing for guests done by Spa Chicks On The Go as well as hair and massages courtesy of Priv. I loved getting to discover new skin and hair products and fell in love with a hydrating/anti-aging creme that also doubles for healing cuts called Chudo.
I had a great time at Maybelline's two-night takeover of the PH at Milk Studios. There were a lot of sweets, specialty drinks, a DJ and guests got custom matched cosmetics at five different stands. They could also lay about on the deck and see a gorgeous view of the Hudson River, the West Side and NJ. I had fun at Fashion Xstyle at Bene Rialto where I checked out drinks by Bai, assorted customized footwear (I fell in love with True Gault's Chanel inspired designs) and clothing booths and a seminar on using printers to print patterns on fabrics.
At TechStyle NYC Lounge at Home Studios, I was able to have more Bai and see my pals from Maven Cocktails--wine that tastes like liquor and is oh so fruity and flavorful. I was also loving the plantogram.com website folks and custom footwear folks I got to meet. At Caravan Style Studios in the Gregory Hotel, I got to oogle a giant spider web that took up a room the size of a studio apartment thanks to the "printer artists" at Heisel--and I also got to check out some rubbre-based clothing with web patterns. It's always great to see Val who runs Caravan and see her do great makeup, manis and 'dos on party guests.
Another Fashion Week stop I always make just like Caravan Style Studios is Angelo David Salon. This has actually become my go-to Salon in the past two years. Stylist Dion Moore follows the texture of your hair to create great "shake it and go" short looks and they also have terrific and fast makeup people. This time Amanda did my makeup--and I was so grateful to have a smokey eye that stayed on all day. Manicurist Marjanna has a secret top coat that see mixes up herself with two products that lets your mani last a full week. They have tons of OPI shades to pick from here. You can have services done concurrently, which I love as well.
I concluded my NYFW at the Ethan Rose Salon, where I was able to mix and mingle with glamorous guests, eat sushi, drink bubbly and get the world's most fabulous "Seven Day Mani" with CND Nail Products. This salon at 5 Harrison Street is famous for their superfast "three in one" services where you get a blow dry, mani and pedi in less than an hour, so I will definitely be headed back! Until next NYFW, stay fashionable!
THE NYCWFF'S SHOPRITE GRAND TASTING: Always One Of NYC's Great Annual Foodie Events!
I love the ShopRite Grand Tasting at Pier 84--it is two days of so much tasting that no other foodie event can compare to it. It is always the big finale to the NYCWFF, which is a week of tasting events and cooking demos unlike any other. Celebrity chefs from around the world converge on New York and it gives guests a chance to meet and actually cook with their favorite culinary stars.
This year the ShopRite Grand Tasting was anchored by the ShopRite booth as it always is, and in that ultra large booth is the tasting of about 30 to 40 items created with items for sale at ShopRite. My favorite was the divine Chobani creation made with yogurt, carmelized apples and walnuts, but I also enjoyed some great chicken burgers ( that looked like they were fried but were actually baked) and lot of health fruit and nut bars. I always enjoy the large Anolon booth where chefs create easy to cook and eat items using this great cookware. They made a killer pastrami and swiss cheese melt that knocked my socks off right in the middle of the Grand Tasting.
I was so happy to see my friends from Coca Cola have an adorable nostalgic stand that featured all kinds of Coke in both glass bottles and cans (it was a great place to sit down and eat your items from the other booths as well) and to hang witg my Loacker pals. They generously handed out whole packages of their famous sweets--I love their chocolate-filled wafer cookies--to anyone who wanted them!
The cooking demos were also a blast. Patti LaBelle came back this year (she is a perennial favorite) and getting to see Valerie Bertinelli at the Saturday Grand Tasting was especially fun as she is so enthusiastic about life in general. The same enthusiasm goes into her cooking.
There were a lot of restaurants represented including one of my all time favorites, the Benjamin Steakhouse, which was serving filet mignon tips and my mind was totally blown by the short ribs on top of mashed potatoes served by the chefs from the Pierre Hotel. I recently had these succulent short ribs at a Pierre event and was happy to have them a second time.
I enjoyed getting to hang out at the Twitter, Random House Audiobooks and Dove Chocolate booths as well. Twitter gave you a special artistic place to tweet what you were eating at the time, while Random House let you spin a wheel for a prize (the biggest being a cooking audiobook) and Dove not only gave out chocolate but also let you test out some super cool virtual reality glasses.
I love the great diversity of food experiences at the Grand Tasting not to mention all the great kitchen tips I learn so I will be going back for a fourth round next year. For more info, go to http://www.nycwff.com. Tickets for both the main floor with the tastings and the culinary demos are $185 but oh so worth it! This is an event you will talk about with family and friends all year long, and they will want to come the next time you go!
Beautiful people came out for Maybelline's two night PH bash!
Last minute smudges being removed at Nicole Miller show.
Guests have fun at Ethan Rose Salon's makeup station!
The Live Clean Baby Launch At Bouley Botanical: Flowers, Fun...And Lots Of Mommy Bloggers!
I was lucky enough to score an invite to the launch of Live Clean Baby products at Bouley Botanical in early February and it was one of the most cleverly "styled" and organized parties I have been to in a long time thanks to one of my favorite beauty pr firms CMMPR and Hain Naturals, which was the first-ever natural brand of package foods I tried back in the day when the Fit For Life Diet was all the craze. The Hain folks have expanded to natural skincare products and their Live Clean Baby line is not only very pure with biodegradable packaging, but baby's skin and hair health concerns were always in mind when formulating these fresh-smelling products. I admit that as a middle-aged adult with a sensitive scalp that often itches, I definitely will be using the new Live Clean Baby Shampoo myself! I love that all the products have plant-based formulations, and the Live Clean Baby Gentle Moisture Collection specifically helps target babies with dry and sensitive skin thanks to such ingredients as Colloidal Oatmeal, Lavender and Chamomile.
So what made the launch party so great other than the spectacular plant-filled setting of the party space known as Bouley Botanical (which really feels like a comfy living room rather than a redone storefront in a late 1800's building)? The Hain folks designed the party it be like a real life high end baby shower. Guests got to create their own gorgeous bouquets of pink, white and blue flowers (well, the ones naturally closest to blue in color) with the help of a floral team and they got to munch on delicious creations by the legendary Bouley kitchen including a stupendous avocado spread on homemade "all seed" bread, topped with microgreens. The Bouley folks brought out a couple of their legendary mini pastries at the end, which nearly blew my low carb diet for the new year, LOL!
There were great shower games as well, including one that required all guests to submit baby photos ahead of time and one called What's In Your Bag?! I probably scored the lowest at the event with a measly 56 points. Next time I will not clean out my bag before going to an event staged as a baby shower ever again, LOL!. There was also a "slide show" presentation about Live Clean Baby products from Hain execs as well which explains how they researched what mothers looked for most when buying baby products, as well as how they arrived at the final ingredient combinations for the products. One of my favorite aspects of the party was getting to post on an old-fashioned front porch swings and get my photo done by a professional photog and their high tech "photo machine" which immediately sent out the photos via email and social media.
It's great to know that this fabulous line has products that mostly retail for $5.99 and are available on amazon.com, Whole Foods and many mass merchandise stores. As I said earlier, I am going to be using a some of them myself. Many have the scent of lavender, which is one of my favorite natural scents--and I even smell a little bit of rose and other florals in the Baby Wash and I plan on using it in place of everyday hand soap on my bathroom sink!
Arthouse At Nylo: A Unique Concept Mixing Arthouse Films And Cocktails!
I was lucky enough to attend the first night of Arthouse At Nylo, a great concept that blends trendy films with an art theme with cocktails created just for the evening in the back of the lobby of the warm and comfy Nylo Hotel at the Southeast corner of 77th and Broadway. The great thing about these events is that they are every Wednesday night at 8 PM and the same movie is shown for the entire month. a beautiful space behind a curtain in the hotel is filled with comfy couches and chairs and each guest gets their own wireless headphones.
On the "premiere" night of Arthouse At Nylo, Factory Girl--the biopic on Warhol muse that premiered at the end of January 2017--was screened. The decor got everyone excited as piles of soup cans were stacked everywhere including on the coffee tables and drinks were served in Campbell's soup cans with custom labels. I had The Muse, which featured Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin, orange juice, grapefruit juice, elderberry syrup and cinnamon. My guest tried the virgin version of this as well and it was wonderfully fruity and refreshing. The second drink special for the screening of Factory Girl was the It Girl which was made of Bacardi Ocho, Averna Amaro, house made cola cordial, lime and cherry bitters. Regular bar offerings are also available as servers will come in before and after the film to take your orders.
Guests are able to come and go as they please during the screening and complimentary popcorn is served. You do not have to be a hotel guest in order to attend. The party often continues afterwards at the nearby lobby bar.
Here is the schedule as of March 1, 2017 (As mentioned before, all screenings start at 8pm every Wednesday):
• March: Factory Girl; a window into 1960s Factory subculture in New York City, iconised in part by pop heroine and muse Edie Sedgwick and the infamous Andy Warhol
• April: Girl with the Pearl Earring; bringing Johannes Vermeer’s art to life
• May: Frida; a colorful look inside the artistic development of Frida Kahlo and her tumultuous marriage to artist Diego Rivera.
• June: 8 ½; Federico Fellini’s black and white comedy-drama that glorifies 1960s Italy
• July: George Clooney’s The Monuments Men, the story without precedent of a group of volunteers who risked their careers in order to preserve cultural treasures during World War II
• August: Exit Through the Giftshop; a look into the elusive life of Banksy, the notorious street artist
For more info, go to http://www.nylohotels.com/nyc. Just for the record, a flower market will be starting up in the hotel lobby in early spring, so expect some beautiful scents and blooms as you walk into future Arthouse nights!
The lobby at the Nylo at 77th and Broadway has really become the late night hang out in the neighborhood since it is a cozy yet expansive space with dim lighting and pretty exposed brick walls.
JOAN COLLINS ROASTED AT THE FRIARS CLUB...And Laughing Her Way Through It!
I was lucky enough to cover the red carpet prior to the special event honoring Joan Collins at the Friars' Club this week (simply titled The Joan Collins Friars Club Salute). She was wearing the mini version of her OBE medal (apparently The Queen gives you two of them in two different sizes so you can coordinate with different fashion looks) and a pretty like pinkish-mauve sequined gown with white crystal open toe pumps and long white gloves.
Abbott Jerry Lewis came onto the carpet to congratulate and hug the legendary actress but the first thing out of his mouth to her was, "Couldn't you have dressed up more?" And then he continued his classic schtick on female journalists wearing short casual dresses and flats asking, "Why did you get so dressed up?" It's great to see that Jerry is looking better than ever at 89--and more importantly, he's as wittier than ever. He walks with a cane these days but always has more energy than people in the room one-quarter his age.
Other celebs in attendance at the event were former co-star John James of Dynasty, soap actor Ron Raines of Guiding Light fame and legendary Scottish actor Alan Cumming. Events at the Friars' Club are always a 1001 laughs with great food to boot and Joan was a good sport when the comments from the podium got a little "roast-like"! This was indeed a classic night at The Friars' Club--one of NYC's remainders of the grand old days of entertainment that also serves some great old school chow!
Soft apricot eyes and lip looks by Stila at Vivienne Tam.
Leave it to Maybelline to give a great Milk Studios PH bash!
HOORAY FOR DR. MARK + HIS KM PRODUCTS--HE'S REALLY MAKING HIS MARK ON SKINCARE!
I recently attended a skin product launch event for Dr. Kenneth Mark at the Upholstery Store eatery in the West Village and started using his KM All-In-One Cleanser and KM Anti-Oxidant Boost which combine stem cells, antioxidants, peptides and revolutionary precious stone extracts that you can't find in other products and I have to say that they really made a difference in my skin. Dr. Mark promises up to a 75 per cent decrease in the appearance of wrinkles with regular use of these products as well as a decrease in blotchiness. I will tell you that some old acne scars of mine have faded and nothing at all ever seems to work for that--so hats off to you, Dr. Mark. To check out these new KM products and others, go to http://www.kennethmarkmd.com. He is known expert not only in cosmetic dermatology but in skin cancer as well. For those of you who do the Hamptons every summer, you can visit Dr. Mark in Southampton!
Bold brows, soft makeup and bold prints combined perfectly at Vivienne Tam show
Angelo David Pascreta, knowledgeable and friendly owner of The Angelo David Salon on Madison and 48th Street.
There were no holds barred looks by many designers at FTL Moda Show at 404 Tenth.
Laser printer created rubber dresses on display at Caravan Style Studio.
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