Ahhhh….What a year 2010 was and how can we already be ringing in the New Year, because it seems as if we were just doing that only months ago! But the New Year it is and it wouldn’t be right to end 2010 without a bit of a recap of some of last years favorites. Mind you many of these are not new, but for me new isn’t always better. To make my top ten list a product, experience or a person has to exhibit a few key character traits, those being integrity, quality and quite possibly the effect of rendering me breathless. Price doesn’t count, some of the best experiences being almost free. But what’s important to me is the ability of something or someone to bring me to tears or raise the hairs on the back of my neck. This top ten list is filled with the things that did that to me this year.
Walking the streets of New York City is one of those things that’s always guaranteed to bring me the sort of intense passion and pleasure that transforms me, making me return to this beloved city of mine again and again. The smell of yeasty pretzels and roasting chestnuts however? If you’ve never had them, this IS the reason to visit New York . I always make them my last treat of the day. I smell them roasting long before I actually stumble upon the carts and their nutty sweetness and the smell of the fire just makes me incredibly happy. Paying for them, flirting with the vendors and then walking back to my hotel happily eating them after a long day wandering one of the most interesting cities in the world is just one of those experiences that I live for a bit like falling asleep in my husbands arms after a really wonderful day…..Everyone needs a place in the world...besides my family, New York is mine.
Another best for me this year bordered on the absolutely ridiculous and that was a meal at Nello, which I tend believe is the most impossibly pretentious restaurant in New York. We spent a lovely lunch there seeing and in our minds being seen and my husband who adores truffles ordered the truffled pasta. When Jim’s plate arrived I realized immediately that this particular lunch was going to be far pricier than we initially thought. As the waiter lifted the cloche with a flourish, the most incredible scent was unleashed, wild, primal and purely sensual …the aroma of a plate full of simply buttered pasta that was covered in paper thin shavings of fresh white truffle. It was utter perfection and if he could have, Jim would have licked the plate clean and as it was I only got one bite! The cost of this experience ? A shocking 250 dollars for just his plate of pasta. Would we do it again? Absolutely! It was flawless!
While we’re still traveling the streets of New York, lets hop over to Brooklyn and talk about CB’s I Hate Perfume’s newest release …2nd Cumming. While I’ve never smelled the 1st Cumming, I want to say that this perfume is magic. Based upon scent impressions that range everywhere from sweat , single malt, tobacco and Scottish peat and more , the incomparably gifted Christopher Brosius has created a scent that astonishes me with its overt sexuality, warmth and masculinity. I’ve never quite smelled anything like it. My husband put a bit of it on and I was quite overcome by the urge to have him drag me up the stairs to our bedroom, yet I also wanted to just lay nestled in his arms by the fireplace for awhile because it made me feel strangely safe and protected from the winter winds that were howling outside the door. 2ndCumming is a sexy, sweaty Scotsman that’s wrapped in a wool tartan , fastened with a wee bit of frosty heather. You definitely know what’s not being worn under this mans kilt. There’s also a bit of steel in this one that fuels my wildest fantasies. I can’t say anything else about it for my heads started to spin. Just take my word for it, try it http://www.cbihateperfume.com/2nd-alan-cumming.html and let me know what you think!
Speaking of lusty Scotsmen, Laphroaig in all its vintages has always been my single malt of choice. The overtly smoky, peaty quality of this lovely single malt from Islay suits me and my particular passions in a way that others do not. I’ve enjoyed it for years , ever since my father introduced me to it at the tender age of 16, saying to me “If you’re going to drink, you might as well be drinking the best”. My friends who love a sweeter smoother single malt would argue with me about this but I’m very loyal . I love it neat, drunk with just a touch of branch water in a simple crystal glass and there’s nothing else that I’d rather have in my hunting flask than an 18 year Laphroaig. No other single malt in the world mixes as well with the sweet tang of horseflesh, woodsmoke and tangled briar. For a more tantalizing look at this delcious spirit go to http://www.laphroaig.com/
It’s unusual for a TV show to hit my radar but this year Jamie Olivers “Food Revolution” did just that. I’ve always thought that the fairly adorable Brit was an interesting sort of chap, but his recent foray into the mire of American food politics left me in tears at least 99% of the time. Like all good British Knights of fabled past he journeyed into the West Virginia darkness, slaying the evil dragons of fast food and jaded lunch line ladies to bring awareness, cooking lessons and lovely food to the children and families of Huntington West Virginia. He fought the almost insurmountable odds of radio talk show hosts who hated him and swayed their opinion of him with passion and simple facts. He has been successful in his grail quest all over the United States, bringing his clear and powerful homecooked and whole foods message into our communities.
I don’t know why Jamie Oliver has chosen us, but I’m assuming that it’s his passion for eating well and living beautifully that’s enabled him to see and become dismayed about the many ways that we are compromising ourselves and our children through the food and lifestyle choices that we’re making everyday. I’m grateful to him for bringing to me about 10 hours of the best TV that I’ve watched in years. While I’m at it, his magazine “Jamie” is one of the best food mags that I’ve read in years. It’s original, creative helpful and printed on recycled paper. Yes, I have the most enormous crush on him. He has the perfect combination of charm, brains, gardening and knife skills that I find completely appealing in a man and his accent doesn’t hurt at all! You can find out more at http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution/petition
This year for Christmas both my husband and son were the delighted recipients of waxed cotton jackets from J Barbour & Sons. This company is astonishing in terms of the quality that they provide, from a wonderful product that does everything that it’s supposed to in the hunt field to a lock tight product guarantee and the ability to send your Barbour back at anytime to have it repaired and reproofed if anything nasty happens to it. They make coats for hunters and fishermen and they make the worlds sexiest long coat for riders like me who want to stay warm and dry but look absolutely dashing astride. My son who is the biggest snob that I’ve ever met (in an Indie sort of way!) has sworn allegiance to Barbour as he puts it “Forever” . His jacket is a fashionably edgy sort of jet black that fits him like a glove and Jim’s is slate blue to match his impossibly gorgeous eyes. Go to their site athttp://www.barbour.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=content.view and feast your eyes. I’m sure that you’ll find something you’ll love there!
Chanel Eau Premiere was a wonderfully fragrant surprise for me this year. I used to wear the venerable No. 5 all of the time as my “go to” LBT and pearls perfume but sadly about 5 years ago it turned against me. So you can imagine my delight when I cautiously tried a sample of the No. 5 Eau Premiere gleaned from the September issue of Vogue and my husband’s eyes rolled delightfully into the back of his head. Wanting a second and possibly more rational opinion I wafted my wrist under my 23 yr olds nose who smiled and said “hmmm do you think that you can somehow get Cassie to smell that and let me know if she likes it?” What ever they’ve done to create Eau Premiere is fabulous and in my mind completely outdoes the original. To borrow a quote from the divine Marilyn Monroe, ”What do I wear in bed? Why Chanel No.5 of course.” What else? Why there’s nothing else!
Francis Kurkdijian’s “A piece of me “ or APOM Por Femme is astonishingly beautiful as is Monsieur Kurkdijian himself! Drenched in Orange blossom , cedarwood and YlangYlang this scent is at once beguiling and inviting , but invites further intimate exploration as it doesn’t give up its secrets all at once. I own the perfume and the candle…so lovely. The candle scents my entire living room without even being lit, but once lit glows in a way that only a candle made from the purest beeswax can do. Each candle comes with a zinc base and burns for hours. FK’s line of fragrant products is so completely original yet they hearken back to a time when perfume was intelligent and fun. There’s a bracelet, incense paper and Interior perfume and there is even a laundry detergent. But the most fun part this collection are his bubbles! Packed in small bottles with individual bubble wands they come in three scents , Cut grass, Mint and Pear. I can’t stop giving these as gifts….Yes I know. I’m such a child! Explore these treasures for yourself at http://www.franciskurkdjian.com/eng/index.php
For the finest perfume, most luscious fashions, the most gorgeous gifts, tableware and decorative accessories and then a luscious lunch to wash it all down with no other place has the ability to make my heart skip a beat like Bergdorf Goodman. Bergdorf Goodman singlehandedly has the best selection of fine china, crystal and silver to be found anywhere. There simply isn’t another fine store left in this country with the depth and breadth of selection that Bergdorf’s has. Everything is beautiful, nothing is discounted and you can actually find gifts there in all price points, not the astonishingly exorbitant prices of the wannabe (read Tiffany and Company) other fine gift departments in the city. All of my old friends are there ,Daum Crystal , Steuben and Royal Copenhagen porcelain, Bernardaud and Haviland , Ercuis and Christofle …all of the beautiful things that you can hardly find anywhere else in the world. If I have a Holy grail of gorgeous giftware, the 7th floor is it. Their collection of hotel and antique silver is astonishing, their home collections are breathtaking and their sales associates are trained and know exactly what they are talking about! At Bergdorfs you can touch almost everything without fear of having your hand slapped because they sincerely want you to enjoy the merchandise and buy it. The stationary department , the candles , the little Maison Du Chocolat counter ……every department is perfection. They will gift wrap and ship everything for you with ease. The restaurant tucked delightfully along the Parkside has possibly the best sky view in Manhattan for lunch. For your own taste of Bergdorfs go to http://www.bergdorfgoodman.com/
Well then last but not least, we’ve come to the favorite Christmas present that I gifted this year. If you’ve ever been to Paris, you’ve may have tasted the macarons from Laduree, quite possibly the most astonishing of all the French Patisseries. My sister always brings me back fabulous little care packages of these treats when she’s there, perfect almond flavored treasures filled with chocolate ganache and pistachio, passion fruit, lavander and dulce de leche etc etc... Well , one of my resolutions this year is to learn how to bake a fabulous macaron myself and now I can learn straight from the source because now there’s Laduree Sucre- the recipes. This is a jewel of a cookbook, probably too pretty to use, but use it I will because it contains all of the dessert recipes that I could ever hunger for. Eclairs, Macarons, Meringues..if you can lust after it , the recipe’s there. I am inspired and you will be too! http://www.laduree.fr/v1/index_en.htm
Well, because it’s 2011 and because I actually forgot about it…I wanted to add one more experience, one more luscious meal. In my life I am lucky enough to get to eat , drink and play in some of the most delightful places and I know that is a privilege. But lest this list be too lofty, I wanted to share my favorite meal of 2010 which is quite possibly my favorite meal every year. Burton Ohio where I used to live is home to the Great Geauga County Fair, which is the oldest county fair in Ohio. It is also the best fair that I’ve ever been to.
When we moved away from the country my husband promised me that we would always return for the fair and he’s been true to his word. This fair is the real deal, filled with wonderful farm animals, draft horses, goats and cows and they have a midway that is second to none. Every year I return for what I consider the most evocative meal that I eat all year. It is simply cornbread and swiss cheese on a stick, deep fried ,meltingly soft and slathered with mustard. Accompanying this is a tall cup homemade birch beer , fresh sweet potato fries and an ear of roasted local sweet corn dipped in butter and dusted with salt and pepper. Every year I eat this with my husband and we walk hand in hand around the huge fairgrounds nestled in a place that was our home for over 22 years. The meal costs about 5 dollars and the memories are priceless. It is the meal that I would request as my last if there were time for that opportunity.
As we ring in the New Year and bid goodbye to the old, I want to wish all of you a very happy and safe New Year. Thank you for visiting my little piece of the world here on the World Wide Web. You may never know just how much I appreciate you all but if my words can convey such sentiments, please know that you are a cherished part of my world!
I am participating in this Best of 2010 blogging event with some of the finest bloggers and perfumistas that I know! I'm honored to be in their company! Please visit their websites listed below and leave them some love!
See you next year!
The Windesphere Witch
The Very Best of 2010 image by Roxana Villa/ Used with permission
All other photographs used courtesy of their .coms