Where To Eat, Drink, and Shop in Hong Kong

Marie France Van Damme

Marie France Van Damme

Marie France Van Damme, the woman behind the eponymous line of luxury resort wear, will be opening her first store in Hong Kong.  This Hong Kong-based globe-trotter store will showcase resort wear, ready-to-wear and accessories collections in a sanctuary that draws inspiration from Marie France’s travels and immerses clients in her global aesthetic. Originally from Montreal, Marie France has lived in Hong Kong for over 20 years and to celebrate the opening of her store, she’s also happy to share her knowledge about what to do, see and eat while visiting her dynamic city.

Here are her fine tips!

Restaurant recommendation:

Yin Yang.  Located in the heart of Wanchai, it only accommodates 30 seats. All dishes on the menu are created by Chef and founder Margaret Xu Yuan, an ex-interior designer. They get their produce on a newly acquired organic farm and create their own fruit wines. A true farm- to- table Chinese cuisine.

http://www.yinyang.hk/www.yinyang.hk/Welcome.html

 Where To Get A Drink:

The Intercontinental. If you go at sundown it’s beautiful. It’s actually where I met my husband- whenever my single friends complain about not finding someone – I tell them to go for a drink at the Intercontinental.

 http://www.hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com/

Best Hidden Gem:

The beach. From Sai Kung Street you can take a Sampan (a boat) to nearby deserted beaches. Many people do not realize that 70% of Hong Kong is protected, so there is a lot of green space and deserted beaches.

 http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g294217-d2050638-r117017614-Sai_Kung-Hong_Kong.html

Favorite Place To Shop:

Shanghai Street is fantastic for home goods- they sell understated porcelain pieces that are great for dinner parties or decorating the home.  I love to get little trinkets here, many of these pieces when situated correctly can add an understated elegance to any home. IFC is a fantastic mall to go to if you are shopping for clothes. Stanley Market is next to the beach and is in the oldest part of Hong Kong. It is an outdoor flee market, great if you are looking for deals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_Street

Best Place For Tea:

Teakha located in Sheung Wan, is a small, hidden spot where you can sit on the terrace.  It has good pastries and treats too.

 http://teakha.com/

My Latest #Beauty Obsession… #Curly Sexy #Hair

CurlyCurlingCreme[1]As someone always looking for the right product for my curly sexy hair, alas… I’ve found a product that doesn’t break the bank like my other favorite, Kerastase, or give me crunchy curls!

Enter….

Curly Sexy Hair Curling Crème, $16.95

This conditioning crème tames unruly curls and gives them strength, shape, and definition. Curls will retain moisture and hold, resulting in smooth, frizz-free curls. This product also works great to refresh second day curls. A vacation must-have.

Finnair’s Crazy Good Deals to Moscow, Dublin, and Beyond

finnair
Looking to book a last-minute summer getaway? Starting from just $609, you can fly round-trip on Finnair’s Economy Class* from New York (JFK) to selected European destinations when you book by July 31st. 
Here’s a snapshot:
  • You can’t beat these rates to Dublin, starting from just $609
  • Fares to Moscow begin at just $725
  • Fancy a visit to London? Book a flight for just $899
The summer is far from over, so get traveling!

Your St. Barth’s Cheat Sheet

Eden Rock, St. Barths

Eden Rock, St. Barths

Finally, it’s in! So, we recently went to St. Barths for the first time and now fully understand it’s irresistible appeal. Well, there’s even more to love during the summer because it’s the time when St. Barths locals and privileged insiders shift from the VIP shuffle to a quieter, more intimate pace, what the real St. Barths is all about.

Low season (July and August) is when visiting St. Barths means relaxing at deserted beaches, getting ad-hoc reservations at the best restaurants, experiencing a range of cultural events and ultimately enjoying affordable luxury at the Caribbean’s most sought after destination. 

St. Barts is one of the most varied and upscale islands in the Caribbean; with villas, hotels, spas, some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean, a wide choice of leisure activities and nautical sports, prestigious sailing regattas, a full calendar of cultural events, and the irresistible allure of great shopping. Frequented primarily by an upscale clientele, this French Caribbean island attracts discriminating travelers who favor an exclusive vacation spot.

This is how you rent a villa in St. Barths...

This is how you rent a villa in St. Barths…

St. Barts also has a strong artistic and cultural heritage, which is celebrated in the island’s many festivals. During the summer, there’s 10 days of live music with St. Barts Summer Sessions from August 5-16; and concerts of Caribbean music with St. Barts JAM Music Festival from August 15-18.

Check out Snow from St. Barts, a brand originally launched in 2007 and returning after two years in standby. The collection designed by Liliane Jossua aims at strong personalities who juggle chic with a scheduled life. Snow St Barth capsule collection is all about those made-in-France essential pieces, all in leather too. Until Christmas, deals may be few and far between, but when planing next year and thinking about summer, hotels on St. Barts also offer special packages. At Eden Rock, the Eden Bliss includes accommodations for 6 nights, lunch for 2 at the ‘Sand Bar with Jean-Georges’ on a day of your choice, dinner for 2 under the stars at ‘On The Rocks with Jean-Georges’ on your evening of choice and cocktail at sunset on your evening of choice.

Hotel Christopher

Hotel Christopher

Hotel Christopher offered a Gold package, which included 5 nights’ accommodations, room and buffet breakfast, welcome drink and minibar on arrival, and 150 € resort credit per day for food & beverage at Taïno and Mango.

Le Toiny is another gem which, this year, offered the Island Breeze package, where guests are invited to enjoy a three-, five- or seven-night stay in a One-Bedroom Villa Suite with newly renovated private pool and terrace, and sweeping ocean views. Guests will also enjoy a three-course dinner at the hotel’s beloved Restaurant Le Gaiac, two 60-minute spa treatments in Le Toiny’s Spa Cottage or the privacy of each guest’s own villa, and a Smart rental car to explore the island. Also included are daily full American breakfast, private round trip transfers, and a bottle of chilled Rosé and gourmet refreshments upon arrival.

The Hotel Carl Gustaf and Il de France also announced Summer packages. If villas are where you prefer to unwind this summer, most villas on St. Barts are rented weekly at 30-50% less than the weekly rate during high-season. Premium Island Vacations, SiBarth, and Villas Caribe are all viable options. Just be aware: it’s island time on St. Barth’s so if anything breaks, you may not get things fixed until you’re probably ready to leave. Trust me, I know.

Now for your list of places to go and things to do, here you go!

CLUB: Le Ti St Barth – for Friday or Saturday night dinner/drinks/dancing.  Make the reservation now. Go late.  The other option: The Yacht Club.

FAVE BAR: Do Brazil – sunset drinks for sure and on Sunday the best.

DIVE BAR: Le Select – Gustavia – fun, local, nothing special but good for a dinner if the bills from all these other places is getting too high. This is where Jimmy Buffet wrote “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” Do with that information what you will (eg. have a burger, since that’s all they have).

SLOW & LAZY SPA TIME: Le Sereno Spa and restaurant – great views from restaurant – Sereno is great and very chill.

CHAMPAGNE AND LUSH LUNCH: Nikki Beach – lunch – awesome and go for it on Saturday, DJs, tables in the sand, etc. Nikki Beach = Applebee’s of the international jet set.

THE BEST RELAXING EASY BEACH LUNCH: Les Plages –  its on the beach by Eden Roc (and the airport to catch those flying planes). They usually have DJs, tables in sand, paninis and decently priced food and  drink for being right on the water. It’s similar to Nikki Beach, but more casual and a warmer vibe.

SANDWICHES/PICNIC: Kiki et Mo‘s – cheap eats

NICE FANCY BEACH LUNCH: Ilse de France on Flamands Beach (my 2nd favorite on the island). Follow with with sunset drinks at Taiwana next door.

DINNER:  Have a lovely dinner at Eddy‘s in Gustavia – they had a beautiful garden and authentic creole food.  There’s also Bar Bat for sushi.  The crepe and sandwich place places in Gustavia are good if you’re wandering around the shops.  Have dinner one night at Eden Rock and make a reservation overlooking the water. It’s overpriced for the quality of food (like the majority of the island), but worth it.

Bonito is also a place to hang. Chill, without the pomp and circumstance, this cozy joint in Gustavia is the the place to be.

From Sibarths to Villas Caribe, check out what private villas have in store. I know I do...

From Sibarths to Villas Caribe, check out what private villas have in store. I know I do…

BEACHES

Saline: sublime, but can get a little windy

Gouverneur: much like Saline. Gorgeous, perfect waves, but sometimes a little windy too.

St. Jean/Tom Beach:  This is where Les Plage, Nikki Beach, Eden Roc all sit.  One of the most charming/beautiful beaches in the world and our group favorite (Flamands below a close 2nd)

Flamands:  Where Iles de France is located, perfect to stay from lunch until drinks, then leave around 3pm to Les Plages or Shell Beach (where Do Brasil is located for sunset the sunset).

Columbier: Stunning, but a hike to get to. I didn’t go the day my friends went, but I was told to tell people that it’s a lovely hike too (that is, if you wanted to mildly torture them one hot afternoon).

For divers, check out this great scuba/snorkel operation in St. Barth:

http://www.plongee-caraibes.com/en/home.html

And for those who want to get a crew together and have a home away from home, check out these websites for villa rentals in St. Barth:

Villas Caribe

SiBarth

Wimco

Villas of Distinction

Luxury Retreats

Surfs Up in the Maldives

How's this for an over-water bungalow?

How’s this for an over water bungalow?

Surfs up, fellas! Hankering for a jaunt to the Maldives for respite from the muggy city summer? Here are some great ideas for what’s happening throughout the year, compliments of the always chic, Six Senses Laamu:

  • Surfing Season is from April through October, and with Six Senses Laamu being the only resort in this southern atoll, our surfers have the break to themselves most of the time. Daily morning and afternoon boat trips are organized to Yin Yang, an eight-foot right hander which breaks on the outer reef of the local island, Hithadhoo from the resort from April to October, with single surf passes available for US$69 per person, plus taxes.
  • Turtle Nesting and Hatching Season. From May to October, Olhuveli Island is a nesting ground for both Green and Hawksbill turtles. The female turtles return to the same beach on which they were born to lay their own eggs. The whole nesting and hatching procedure is carefully monitored to protect the females and the new youngsters.
Six Senses Laamu at Night

Six Senses Laamu at Night

  • Jaafai Experience: The cooking style of Maldives is highly influenced by both India and Sri Lanka. Gradually, rice and curries became an integral part of Maldivian food. Today, one can virtually find all kinds of food in the country. Maldivian cuisine gives you an opportunity to taste the different mouth-watering dishes with exotic flavors ranging from mild, spicy and hot to sweet. This summer, from June to October, they’re inviting guests to Hithadhoo to join a Maldivian family at their home for a few hours. Discover their lifestyle and cuisine. Listen to local stories about the past as well as learn about ingredients the Maldivians use in their kitchen. During your visit to the local island, you will also be accompanied by the sounds of Boduberu, the local drums and music. The all-inclusive price is US$220 per person, plus taxes, and departure from the resort is at 7pm.
  • Maldivian by the Sea: In July, Chef Nicholas Loubser and his brigade bring Maldivian flavors to the menu of Longitude, their overwater restaurant where you can tantalize your palate with the freshest and most delicious dishes. Maldivian by the Sea is yet another way to discover the cuisine of the Maldives, right at Six Senses Laamu. Dinners are limited to six tables so reservations are suggested, and dinner commences at 7pm. The price is US$125 per person, plus taxes.
Surfing the Maldives

Surfing the Maldives

  • Other Activities and Benefits: During May to October, many Aqua Season activities are complimentary or have significant savings
  • No Rush Hours are each evening between 6-7pm and 9:30-10:30pm at Chill bar, with resident DJ Garry Tee, our Sydney and Kuala Lumpur DJ who has created unique musical experience for events, clubs and restaurant audiences. The upcoming performances at Chill are focused on the gentler beats and sound that is complementing the overwhelming presence of beauty in both nature and design. The creative process of Garry Tee’s performances is made of personally selected tunes from the collection that spans almost 30 years.
  • Ice Cream: Enjoy delicious homemade ice cream from the Ice and Chocolate Studio, with the resort’s compliments. Savor more than forty flavors of ice cream and sorbets with a variety of toppings and sauces. 
And now for a little 'me time' at the spa

And now for a little ‘me time’ at the spa

  • Six Senses Spa: Creating awareness and enlightening guests, The Six Senses Spa at Laamu introduces additional wellness activities this summer. Six Senses Spa launches a variety of weekly workshops from Detox to De-Stress, Acupressure to Ashtanga as guests are guided through a variety to techniques and basic principles that they can implement during their stay or once they return home. Book a Six Senses Spa massage within 48-hours after arrival at the resort and enjoy an introductory 50% savings for a second person’s treatment; a perfect treat for your partner. 
  • Beach Cinema: A dream or reality? Should you like a little action or a classic movie, enjoy an unusual open-air cinema experience that takes place beneath a canopy of stars on the white sandy beach. The cinema bar is open during the film for those wishing to treat themselves with a glass of Champagne.

Click on the link for some of the best over water bungalows around!

Rates start at $788-$900 *but hey, it’s the Maldives and you’re going luxe so why mess around?

The Best Food Trucks in America 2013… Hurrah!

Maritnation Mobile Kim Chee Fried Rice

Marination Mobile’s Kim Chi Fried Rice – Seattle

The Daily Meal is back again with 101 Best Food Trucks in America 2013. The ranking, hugely popular last year, shows us that Los Angeles, once again, dominates the list as the best city for food trucks. With 16 food trucks to the city’s name, San Francisco and New York follow close behind with 11 and 10 trucks, respectively. Last year’s victor, Kogi BBQ  (Los Angeles), slipped to #2, while Red Hook Lobster Truck (NYC) grabbed this year’s #1 spot.

Big Gay Ice Cream

Big Gay Ice Cream – NYC

First, a few notes. Only trucks were considered. If it was a trailer, or a cart, if it needed something to pull, drag, push, or carry it, if it wasn’t on at least four wheels and didn’t have the ability to move on its own power from parking ticket to parking spot, it was omitted.

East Side King

East Side King – Austin

Also, this is a list of food trucks. While a few dessert trucks ranked, they were the exceptions. If you just make cupcakes or serve coffee, you’re not a food truck — you’re a cupcake truck, or a coffee truck. That doesn’t mean you’re bad people. Nobody disputes the challenges of creating innovative desserts for mobile distribution, but with rare exception it didn’t seem fair to include trucks serving shaved ice, slushies, and ice cream with those doing full savory menus.These factors eliminated quite a few contenders. Even so, it left at least a good 270 food trucks for consideration. These were judged on three criteria: critical review, social score, and originality.

Mas Tacos

Mas Tacos Por Favor – Nashville

They consulted popular review sites and tallied reviews and critical appraisal. They analyzed trucks’ number of Twitter followers and tallied visibility on Facebook. For originality, they examined menu innovation, concept, concept relative to inception (to wit, Asian tacos have become about as original as truffle oil fries, or a beet and goat cheese salad), and how that all might play into geography.

Although many trucks from their 2012 list are featured here, several of last year’s vendors have either closed or established brick-and-mortar locations. Eliminating them from the competition left significant room for newcomers. In fact, some of this year’s additions ranked highly enough to push out some of last year’s trucks that are still open.

Red Hook Lobster Truck

Red Hook Lobster Truck – NYC

Needless to say, despite everything we know about the country’s best trucks, this list helps us discover more — an impressive, growing legion of amazing people making some terrific food on trucks across America.

1

Red Hook Lobster Truck NYC

2

Kogi BBQ Los Angeles

3

Fojol Brothers Washington D.C.

4

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck NYC
5 The Lime Truck Orange County
6 East Side King Austin
7 Rickshaw Stop San Antonio
8

The Cinnamon Snail

NYC
9

Where Ya At Matt

Seattle
10

Chef Shack

Minneapolis
11

Schnitzel & Things

NYC
12

The Buttermilk Truck

Los Angeles
13

Wafels & Dinges

NYC
14

Grill ‘Em All

Los Angeles
15

Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Boston
16

Marination Mobile

Seattle
17 Guerrilla Street Food St. Louis, MO
18 Bernie’s Burger Bus Houston
19 The Grilled Cheeserie Nashville
20 Roli Roti Gourmet Rotisserie San Francisco
21 Slidin’ Thru Las Vegas
22 The Grilled Cheese Truck Los Angeles
23 Country Boys/Martinez Taco NYC
24 KOi Fusion Portland
25 Fivetenburger Oakland
26 Fukuburger Truck Las Vegas
27 Korilla BBQ NYC
28 Only Burger Durham, NC
29 Sam’s ChowderMobile San Francisco
30 Mas Tacos Por Favor Nashville
31 Chairman Bao Bun Truck San Francisco
32 Basil Thyme Washington D.C.
33 GourMelt Reno
34 The Peached Tortilla Austin
35 The Eatsie Boys Houston
36 Oh My Gogi! BBQ Houston
37 El Camión Seattle
38 Vizzi Truck Los Angeles
39 Border Grill Los Angeles
40 Seoul Sausage Los Angeles
41 5411 Empanadas Chicago
42 Seabirds Orange County
43 Maximus/Minimus Seattle
44 Food Shark Marfa, Texas
45 Pepe Food Truck Washington D.C.
46 Crepes Bonaparte Anaheim
47 Jefe’s Original Fish Taco & Burgers Miami
48 Ms. Cheezious Fresh Made Grilled Cheese Miami
49 Sky’s Gourmet Tacos Los Angeles
50 Clover Food Truck Boston
51 Nom Nom Truck Los Angeles
52 LudoTruck Los Angeles
53 Hapa SF San Francisco
54 KoJa Kitchen San Francisco
55 Dusty Buns Fresno
56 Lobsta Truck Los Angeles
57 Riffs Fine Street Food Nashville
58 Spencer on the Go San Francisco
59 Dim Ssäm à gogo by Sakaya Kitchen Miami
60

Seoul Taco

St. Louis, MO
61

Jogasaki Sushi Burrito Truck

Los Angeles
62

Liba Falafel Truck

San Francisco
63

Baby’s Badass Burgers

Los Angeles
64 Taim Mobile NYC
65 Slap Yo Mama II Los Angeles
66 Red Hook Lobster Pound Washington D.C.
67 Scratch Food Truck Minneapolis
68 Latin Burger and Taco Miami
69 Le Truc San Francisco
70 Senor Sisig San Francisco
71 Komodo Truck Los Angeles
72 DC Slices Washington D.C.
73 India Jones Chow Truck Santa Monica
74 Devilicious San Diego
75 JapaCurry San Francisco
76 Streetza Milwaukee
77 Geechee Island Food Truck Charleston
78 Rito Loco Washington D.C.
79 Easy Slider Dallas
80 Cha Cha Chow St. Louis, MO
81 Lucky Old Souls Philadelphia
82 Souvlaki GR NYC
83 Quiero Arepas Denver
84 Vellee Deli Minneapolis
85 Roti Rolls Charleston
86 Bruno’s GastroTruck Smith Mountain Lake, VA
87 Hodge Podge Cleveland, OH
88 The People’s Pig Portland
89 Hey you Gon Eat or What Austin
90

Fist of Fusion

Los Angeles
91

Coreanos

Houston
92

Luke’s Lobster

NYC
93

The Southern Mac & Cheese Truck

Chicago
94

La Cocinita

New Orleans
95 Rib Whip San Francisco
96 The Flying Stove Wichita, KS
97

Pizza Buds

Nashville
98 Go Gyro Go St. Louis, MO
99 Manna From Heaven Denver
100

Coast 2 Coast LV

Las Vegas
101

Brown Bag Lunch Truck

Chicago

La Valencia Hotel: The Gem of Southern California

The La Valencia Hotel

The La Valencia Hotel

My parents took their honeymoon at the famous La Valencia Hotel, and never looked back. Just as it was then, it is now one of San Diego and La Jolla’s finest. It’s also pink. Can you really go wrong with pink stucco, palm trees, and blue skies? I’m sure you can actually, just not here.

With its rich, 87-year history, La Valencia Hotel looks to the future under new ownership and new management.  Having finished a complete room renovation in early 2013 and with many more updates planned – including a new French bistro and an elaborate spa — this 112-room vintage coastal retreat continues its role as a gathering place where generations of celebrations have taken place.  With its iconic tower, “La V” – as it is fondly known by San Diegans – is a landmark on Prospect Avenue, perched on a cliff above the sweepingly beautiful La Jolla Cove.

Talk about a pool with a view!

Talk about a pool with a view!

Built in 1926 during a revival of Mediterranean-style architecture, “The Pink Lady” is known for its beautiful courtyards, hand painted murals, exquisite Spanish mosaics, and stunning panoramic views of the Pacific. La V is also just steps away from a wide selection of luxury retail and dining options in the village of La Jolla.  Nearby attractions also include: Torrey Pines State Park, Scripps Ocean Institute, the Birch Aquarium as well as UCSD / La Jolla Playhouse, the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art and the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park.

Hollywood stars, presidents, and my parents have stayed here over the years and, as a ‘thank you and come join us,’ right now they’re offering the Suite Savings Package and you’ll receive 25% off rack rates for a 700 square ft. Suite or a 450 sq ft private, Ocean View Villa plus complimentary parking and a bottle of premium wine.  So instead of $950 a night, you’ll pay $713 on weekends and $619 on weeknights for your own sweet La Valencia Suite or Villa.

www.lavalencia.com/packages

Reservations: 800.451.0772