Monday, August 06, 2007
I Want These Shoes.

J Crew is king of preppy -- great for basics, but rarely inspiring and any pieces that ever crawl towards the verge of fashion-forwardness are almost always enormously overpriced (read: Talitha Getty-inspired maxi-dress, originally priced at a ridiculous $495, now down to $299 and I bet it's still not exactly flying off shelves - at prices like that, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want a print that you'd get sick of after wearing it once), but occasionally they do have some things that make me go weak in the knees. Pricey at $250, so I'll have to wait and see if they go on sale at some point. But they are fabulous. They look like they're your great-great-grandmother's dancing shoes from when she was the belle of the ball in the 1920s or something (okay I totally made that up because there is not the faintest chance any of my great-great-grandmothers wore shoes like that but maybe one of you do!)

They look gorgeously vintage, like they've been loved and lived in and danced in, except that they're NEW! i couldn't bring myself to wear real vintage shoes, that's just a line i don't think i could cross, so i love finding shoes that look vintage but with the assurance that no one else's gross sweaty feet have been in them before yours :) and these shoes, i would love them with all my heart but i wouldn't have to cry if i got them a little scuffed up!


My Greatest Pleasure: Chocolate

Major apologies are in order, I've been completely completely MIA. It's been a busy summer!

But here's a short post, because I'm addicted to chocolate and I love to travel, so I wanted to share this little piece from USA Today (well, really, the article's from about a week ago but I just found it today) about the 10 best places in the world to eat chocolate -

"The processing of the cocoa bean with sugar — and later, milk — were two of the most inspired ideas in gastronomic history"
-- Clay Gordon, publisher of and author of the upcoming Discover Chocolate

1. Colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Va.

On the first Tuesday of each month (except summers), the Historic Foodways program at Colonial Williamsburg presents "Secrets of the Chocolate Maker," a re-enactment of the way chocolate was made in 18th-century America. "Stay for the evening and partake in a chocolate-themed dinner featuring Colonial-era recipes," Gordon says. 800-447-8679;

2. L'Etoile d'Or

"Many consider L'Etoile d'Or (The Golden Star), near the Moulin Rouge in Paris, the best chocolate shop in the world," Gordon says. "Owner Denise Acabo is known for carrying the crème de la crème of French chocolate brands. In fact, many of the country's best premium brands can be found only in her store; most notably, hers is the exclusive Parisian outlet for chocolates made by Bernachon, the grandmaster chocolatier of Lyon ("

3. Eurochocolate
Perugia, Italy

"In October of each year, the Umbrian city of Perugia plays host to Eurochocolate, the largest chocolate festival in the world," Gordon says. "More than 1 million chocolate lovers sample the wares of hundreds of exhibitors during the nine days of the festival. Perugia is also home to Etruscan Chocohotel — the only hotel dedicated to chocolate, from chocolate-themed bed linens to an enticing chocolate menu in the restaurant.";

4. Naked Chocolate Café

The obvious place for an American chocolate pilgrimage may be Hershey, Pa., but you can have a genuine chocolate experience without leaving Philadelphia. "Naked Chocolate Café offers three kinds of rich, liquid chocolate: drinking, sipping and dipping," Gordon says. "After sampling a dazzling array of ganaches, you can take home your selections in a colorful and artistic edible box." 215-735-7310;

5. La Maison du Chocolat
Paris and New York

"House of Chocolate" founder Robert Linxe carries on the tradition of his native Bayonne, where French chocolate was born after making its way across the border from nearby Spain. "Both the New York and Paris boutiques offer 'courses for initiates' into the chocolatier world, in which La Maison is known for its attention to craftsmanship," Gordon says. 212-744-7117;

6. Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker
Berkeley, Calif.

First-tier artisan chocolate manufacturer Scharffen Berger hosts factory tours that show all the stages of making chocolate, from the bean to the bar. "Scharffen Berger, now marketed by Hershey's, is the purveyor of the broadest range of high-cacao-content dark chocolate made in America," Gordon says. 800-930-4528;

7. Choco-Story Museum
Bruges, Belgium

"Browse the more than 40 chocolate shops in this romantic city of canals, but leave time to visit the Choco-Story Museum," Gordon says. "Housed in a meticulously restored medieval building, it portrays the history of Belgian chocolate and offers unique after-hours workshops in the arts of making pralines and sculpting chocolate. Plan to come in early April, to enjoy the annual Choco-Late festival."

8. Ganong Chocolates/Chocolate-Fest
St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

"Since 1873, the Ganong family has practiced the chocolate confectioner's art in Canada's oldest continuously operated candy factory," Gordon says. "Try to make it to 'Canada's Chocolate Town' for August's Chocolate-Fest. And any time of the year, taste my favorite Ganong invention: Chicken Bones, which are cinnamon candy straws filled with very dark chocolate." 506-465-5616 or for the festival; 506-465-5611 for thechocolatier

9. Cadbury World
Birmingham, England

"From humble beginnings in 1831, Cadbury has grown into a leading multinational confectionery corporation," Gordon says. "The company town it created for employees was a tremendous success in social pioneering, serving as a model of management-worker relations — and for the Hershey company and city in Pennsylvania." Cadbury World is an award-winning, chocolate-themed multimedia attraction.

10. After the Rain spa

"The Swiss eat more chocolate than any other nationality, a testament to the well-deserved reputation of Swiss chocolate," Gordon says. In the land that invented milk chocolate, there is even a spa where treatments feature a chocolate bath — a soak in milk, grated chocolate and cocoa bean oil — as well as a chocolate body wrap. Other spas around the world also are beginning to incorporate chocolate for its beneficial antioxidant properties.


So I've had Cadbury's hot chocolate in England, but I haven't been to Cadbury World. I was in Switzerland in June and I made sure to buy lots of chocolate to eat, but sadly failed to try chocolate spa treatments while I was in Switzerland this June (but I'm pretty sure soaking in chocolate might be a little too extravagant for me at this stage in my life). So in the forthcoming years of my life, I am going to make it my goal to actually hit some of these chocoholic destinations around the world. Maybe see what La Maison du Chocolat in NY can teach me? And definitely go to Philly, if only for the Naked Chocolate Cafe (how sexy is that name? It has a total beatnik vibe like "Naked Lunch" by William Burroughs. Or the Naked Chef.) And next spring when I'm in Europe I will do my very best to be in Bruges for the ChocoLate festival! Exciting :)

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