Vina Croatia: A Croatian Wine Region Tour in Midtown

Croatia may be a country known for its gorgeous coastline and striking Game of Thrones–inspiring structures, but its vineyards and wineries, steeped in tradition and history are also a huge part of its charm and appeal. Its dramatically diverse regions from the Alps to the Danube provide a variety of wines that can please every type of oenophile. Recently, a dinner held by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce at Midtown’s Brasserie 8 ½ gave us a taste of what the Croatian wine region has to offer.

Ten flights of wines from light whites and a rosé to deep full-bodied reds were expertly paired with a citrus shrimp appetizer, a choice of filet mignon or a rack of lamb, and warm pear with maple ice cream.

The introductory wine came from the Istria region— where the cold of the Alps mixes with the warmth of the Mediterranean, producing interesting wines such as the 2016 Kozlovic Malvazija (not pictured). It is a dry golden white with notes of fruits and spices and a slight hint of saltiness – which poetically sums up the melding of the coast and the mountains.

The next wine we tasted is a must for every rosé lover. The Erdutski Rosé is made from the Pinot Black grapes of the Slavonia region and has a warm blush pink color. It’s a refreshing medium body selection with a hint of cherries.

Staying within the Slavonia region, our next white wine on the Croatian wine region tour, the Vezak Graševina was a fine example of Croatia’s principal grape variety, the Graševina. The color of this dry white echoes the colors of the golden fields that are characteristic of the Croatian valleys. Its flowery aroma mixed with a fruity bouquet with a slight mineral aftertaste will compliment a seafood meal or a white meat platter.

A different take on the Graševina came in the form of a 2016 Riesling from Vina Antonovic. This wine is an earthy blend of green apples and floral blossoms with a similar mineral taste (albeit a little sweeter than the last white); this seems to be the recognizable trait of the Slavonia region and the Croatian Danube.

 

To say that the next white wine was blessed with the sweetness of citrus, peach, and roses would not be a stretch. The Žlahtina sv. Lucija (not pictured), named for the church of St. Lucy on the island of Krk, is a golden mix of yellow-greenish hues that pair well with meat, fish, rice, and polenta dishes. It certainly enhanced the taste of our rack of lamb.

The Miraz Graševina has won multiple awards for its dry but creamy taste. The vineyard’s wine fermentation process includes extensive supervision and temperature control. Smooth and full-bodied with deeply aromatic notes, this white wine with an enchanting green-yellow hue goes well with just about everything from poultry, to seafood, and pasta dishes.

During the second half of dinner, we were introduced to some very fine red wines. First up was the award-winning Dingač Berba 2015 from Dalmatia — a region known not only for those firehouse dogs but also for the Plavac Mali grapes. The variety is grown in the sun-drenched slopes and coasts of Dalmatia and produces full-bodied reds. This black dry wine had a berry aroma with a hint of a chocolate aftertaste. It brought out the spices in our main course but can also be enjoyed with mature cheeses.

The next Croatian wine region red wine was another award-winning Plavac, the Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru. The grapes, organically grown in the picturesque slopes of the island of Hvar, come from 35 to 50-year-old vines. The wine is then aged in French barrique barrels for two years and 6-12 months in the bottle. It’s a dry red with hints of leather, pepper, chocolate, and prunes. Its earthy quality is best paired with steaks and lobsters or both for a delectable surf and turf option. Depending on how big of a company you are having or how much you can consume (no judgments), there is small, medium, and large bottles available.

The third red wine was the Ivan Dolac Barrique, named for the aforementioned French barrel it matures in, 1also hails from Hvar. It’s a dry robust wine with a berry and almost floral aroma. It’s smooth and easy on the palette and makes a nice compliment to any roast game or grilled fish.

The final Croatian wine region wine of the night was the Kabola Muškat Momjanski, a perfect ending to our Croatian wine introduction. It went well with our warm pear and maple ice cream dessert. It’s a refreshing and medium-bodied white with notes of peaches, rose, and honey with a slight mineral quality that gives it a lingering taste. This is our pick for an ideal summer wine.

You can tell a lot about a country by its wines. The wines were a spectacular representation of the different regions that make up such a fascinating country. From the Mediterranean to the Alps, each wine embodied a distinct characteristic specific to the climate and the area they came from. Based on what we’ve tasted, we’re ready to spend a lot of time in Croatia! Are you excited to visit the Croatian wine region?

#IGiveASheet About our Planet: Innisfree X Earth Day New York Initiative

What do you give a “sheet” about? With all the problems of our world, it may be easy to remember that we all live on one planet that reacts and adjusts to what we do to it – good and bad. This next sentence bears repeating over and over – we only have one Earth, if we destroy it, we destroy ourselves. This is why we are fully supportive of the Innisfree X Earth Day New York Initiative. We had the pleasure of celebrating the Korean beauty brand’s NEW biodegradable My Real Squeeze Masks and their #IGiveASheet campaign.

As an Earth Day New York 2018 Official Community Partner, the Innisfree flagship will be one of 5 stops on the Earth Day 5K Green Tour, in honor of its new LEED Silver-Certification as a green-friendly location. Everyone is invited to visit the Innisfree’s brand experience booth and their flagship store to learn more about the brand, their special ingredients from Jeju island, their sustainability programs, and enjoy skincare samples and giveaways. You are also invited to (this is something we highly recommend you do) try out their biodegradable My Real Squeeze Sheet Masks and participate in their #lGlVEASHEET Campaign by sharing what you care about this Earth Day (check out our video below).

Watch video!

Made from 100% biodegradable Eucalyptus fibers, Innisfree’s new My Mask Collection is their latest Earth-friendly innovation. With 18 naturally derived ingredients to choose from (including 6 new flavors – broccoli, tomato, ginseng, fig, oatmeal, and cucumber), the collection offers diverse solutions for ever-changing skin concerns. So no matter what your skin is craving, Innisfree has a sheet mask for you, plus they’re only $1.80 each!! Perfectly timed with Earth Month, the launch will be spotlighted by Innisfree’s #lGlVEASHEET Campaign.

Innisfree is very well known for their green initiatives around the globe, their promotion of sustainable living, practice responsible sourcing, and their wide range of nature-derived skincare (we are so in love with their Volcanic Cluster Masks, Overnight Beauty Products, and their Green Tea product range is an absolute favorite with beauty fans).

Doesn’t getting involved in the Innisfree X Earth Day New York Initiative sound like a great way to experience great skincare products and help our planet?

You’re Invited to Celebrate National Gin & Tonic Day with The Botanist

Hey Gin lovers, did you know that tomorrow, April 9th, is National Gin & Tonic Day? To honor this highball cocktail made with gin and tonic water, Botanist Gin invites you to partake in one of many unique Botanist Gin & Tonic drinks available at a few choice locations across New York City.

On April 9th, stop by any of these four locations and order yourself any of the following Gin and Tonic drinks, made with Botanist Gin (please note these drinks are not complimentary; price depends on the bar):

    • Monarch Rooftop – 71 West 35th Street (Midtown West)
      • Featured Cocktail: Botanist & Fiery
    • Rochelle’s – 205 Christie Street (Lower East Side)
      • Featured Cocktails: Empire Botanist & Tonic, Texas Botanist & Tonic, South Beach Botanist & Tonic
    • Misirizzi – 36 East 4th Street (NoHo)
      • Featured Cocktails: Empire Botanist & Tonic, Texas Botanist & Tonic, South Beach Botanist & Tonic
    • Drink – 768 Franklin Street (Crown Heights, Brooklyn)
      • Featured Cocktail: Botanist & Tonic

If you find yourself unable to attend one of the above locations, we’ve provided you with a few unique Botanist Gin & Tonic drink recipes you can create and enjoy at home to celebrate National Gin & Tonic Day.

The Elder’s Tonic

The Botanist Gin – 1.5 oz.
Tonic Water – 4oz.
Grenadine – .25 oz.
Lime Wheel
In a cocktail glass, add The Botanist Gin and Grenadine. Add ice and top with Tonic Water. Garnish with 1 lime wheel

Fruit of Thyme

The Botanist Gin – 1.5 oz.
Tonic Water – 4 oz.
Slim Ruby Red Grapefruit Wedge
Sprig of Thyme
Squeeze grapefruit wedge into a cocktail glass and leave it. Add The Botanist Gin, then ice. Top with Tonic Water. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Poached & Tonic

The Botanist Gin – 1.5 oz.
Tonic Water – 1 bottle
Bosc Pear – 1 slice
Cinnamon Quill
Press Bosc Pear into a cocktail glass and leave in a glass. Add The Botanist Gin, then ice. Top with Tonic Water. Garnish with a Cinnamon Quill.

M & B & T

The Botanist Gin – 1.5 oz.
Tonic Water – 4-6 oz.
Fresh mint leaves
Press mint in a glass and leave in a glass. Add The Botanist Gin, then ice. Top with Tonic Water. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Eye Contact: Bridges Aderhold and Clear Eyes Pop-Up Gallery

There’s so much that is said about our eyes; they are the windows to our souls, they display your true emotions and who you are, are symbols of protection, and more.  We guess that is why eyes have been the source of inspiration to many. That was our thought when we attended Miami “eye guy” and famed photographer, Bridges Aderhold and Clear Eyes Pop-Up Gallery in New York City.  The evening featured a walk thru the Clear Eyes sponsored, My Shining Moment gallery, featuring eye portraits by Bridges Aderhold.

Bridges Aderhold photographs the eyes with a close-up lens. For his personal project, he used his artistic eye to capture the essence of well over 12,000 people through their eyes. We got up close with a few of his photographs at the Bridges Aderhold and Clear Eyes Pop-Up Gallery.

“Photographing the eyes of people eliminates preconceived notions of any individual and gives each person the human condition of honesty. This project has allowed me to connect with people from all over the world.” – Bridges Aderhold

This wonderful project makes teaming up with Clear Eyes, the #1 brand in eye relief from irritation, redness, burning and mild dryness, for this pop-up gallery inevitable. Who better way to celebrate eyes than an eye photographer and eyecare brand to show the beauty and mystery behind our eyes. We had the amazing opportunity to speak with Bridges Aderhold at the Pop-Up Gallery with Clear Eyes in New York, and of course, get our own eyes photographed. (Editors Note: Forgive the audio at the beginning, attendees were very vocal and nothing we tried was able to get rid of the background noise without removing Bridges’ answers. A general transcript of the first question and answer is below the video)

Q: What do you see when you photograph someone’s eyes?

Bridges: “I’ve photographed well over 12,000 people…the thing that I’ve noticed is you strip them down to themselves. Normally when someone walks into a room, you look at what they’re wearing, maybe where they’re from, maybe what their color is, and gender is. As soon as you photograph their eyes, it takes away all of that. You can’t see what they’re wearing, you can’t see where they’re from. It’s just about their eyes, it’s just who they are and that is what comes out in these pictures.”

Bridges’ eye introspective featured men, women, and even a few pets. The photos tell thousands of unique stories without words or clues. Looking at the gallery, you realize how extraordinary eyes are, down to the tiniest detail. We noticed the symmetry in ours, someone else noticed how large their pupils were. The exhibit showed how the colors, shapes, and expressiveness of eyes can be distinctive and intriguing.

Bridges’ photography project did more than reveal the beauty and individuality of thousands of eyes — perhaps they are the window to your soul — it led him to his shining moment. He reflected on his experience saying, “it helped me see the world through other people’s eyes.”

We can tell you every attendee was excited about attending the Bridges Aderhold and Clear Eyes Pop-Up Gallery and getting their eyes photographed. The above photograph perfectly interprets Bridges’ answer to our first question. We love how attendees (not just this group), got photographs of themselves with other people’s eyes. As you can see, we all want the experience of seeing life through others’ eyes.

We admit, before the Bridges Aderhold and Clear Eyes Pop-Up Gallery event, we never really paid attention to our eyes. We know what they look like in relation to other things (makeup, eyewear, etc) but not how we see them. If you closed your eyes, could you describe what your own eyes look like? What are your thoughts on the Bridges Aderhold and Clear Eyes Pop-Up Gallery event?

What’s New for Spring and Summer Travel at Busch Gardens

Still wondering what to do over spring break? Busch Gardens may be the perfect place. Thrill seekers, beach bums, animal lovers, foodies, concert enthusiasts, and those looking for a bit of everything can find it in the Tampa theme park. We got a taste of it two weeks ago when animal ambassadors and representatives from Busch Gardens Tampa Bay came to New York armed with VR headsets and a lively presentation to give us the latest scoop on all the new and exciting changes happening.

Rollercoaster lovers rejoice—Busch Gardens is an adrenaline lovers’ dream. Named the Coaster Capital, it offers some of the most adventurous rides in all of Florida. Opened in the summer of 2016, the Cobra’s Curse features a 30,000-pound snake with a 70-foot vertical lift that takes riders around 2,100 feet of snaking, spinning, and sometimes backward barreling tracks at 40mph. If your motto is “the faster, the better”, then Busch Gardens’ three-launch homage to the fastest land mammal, the Cheetah Hunt, is your ride. Appropriately starting at the Cheetah Run, guests speed through 4,400 feet of track at 60mph careening racing over bystanders and actual cheetahs.

For those looking to get in touch with their wild(life) side, spend some time getting to know the unique residents of one of America’s largest zoos. Against the backdrop of Times Square, we were introduced to Ringo the ring-tailed lemur, Peaches the cockatoo, Willow the wallaby, Emmett the screech owl, and two Madagascar tenrecs, Spike (pictured) and Star.

We learned a lot about these animals—for example, tenrecs, which are not to be mistaken for hedgehogs, are shy nocturnal insect eaters who can hang on trees upside down using tiny sharp claws. Emmett the owl was so engrossed in the M&M billboard across the way, it was hard to get his attention and have him turn his head back 270-degrees to face our cameras. Likewise, park guests can learn more about the animals, their habitats, and conservation efforts from the many experts in the park. Additionally, park goers can also opt for a safari experience on a 65-acre open-air vehicle on the Serengeti Plain. Through a VR experience, we got a feel for the 30-minute tour that allows you to hand-feed giraffes, spot rhinos, and drive along galloping antelopes and zebras. On top of that, be ready to see some seriously adorable baby animals. The park has recently experienced a baby boom with two new giraffes, sloths, and orangutans.

If all that sounds a lot and you’d rather take it easy with some food, drinks, and entertainment, the Food and Wine Festival returns with a selection of over 65 wines, 50+ craft beers and cocktails, and delectable cuisine all while watching musical acts. The Festival runs through April 29th and will feature acts such as TLC, Flo Rida, and Boyz II Men.

And of course, what would a visit to Florida be without a trip to the beach? Luckily, St. Petersburg Clearwater beach is just a few minutes away. With plenty of hotel partners that provide daily shuttles to Busch Gardens, you don’t really have to choose between thrills and relaxation.

For more watery fun, there’s also Adventure Island—Busch Garden’s sister water park filled with water-drenched fun, combining excitement with a soothing Key West vibe. New this year is Vanish Point, a 70-foot speed slide challenging park goers to choose from one of two skyboxes that will determine how they go down 425 feet of spiraling tubes. Adventure Island also has the wet and swirling Colossal Curl, a children’s playground, raging rapids, and cabanas to relax in.

Spring Break isn’t the only time to plan your Busch Gardens getaway, there are plenty of events and themes to check out all year round. Aside from the Food and Wine Festival, there will also be a Jack Hana weekend, extended summer hours (when you can ride coasters at night), a Guy Harvey weekend, Bierfest, Christmas Town, and so much more.

NYFW the Shows: Christian Cowan FW18 Womenswear Collection

After an outstanding debut last February, the now fashion week-seasoned Christian Cowan presented another spectacular collection during the fall/winter 2018 NYFW shows. To describe the collection as lively and vivid would be an understatement. The Christian Cowan FW18 Womenswear Collection was a welcome burst of fresh, colorful air during the season that usually celebrates muted and earth tones. The collection was exuberant, a bit rascallion, and delightfully exhilarating.

For the Christian Cowan FW18 Womenswear Collection, he continued debut collection’s goal of bringing joy and thrilling glamour back to the runway. His show reminded us of the old days of Fashion Week; the days when it was called 7th on Sixth; the days of yesteryear when fashion week was held in Bryant Park before it went all about business and less about the fascinating fashions. Christian Cowan brought all those amazing moments back to the runway and we were ecstatic to experience and relive those days during his collection show.

The Christian Cowan FW18 Womenswear collection featured vibrant colors, glittering embellishments, and effortless sex appeal which conveyed an uplifting message during the energy draining and trying times we’re currently living in. This season’s show was also the perfect time to highlight Christian Cowan’s very important collaborations – a dazzling shoe collaboration with Stuart Weitzman and a party-favor inspired accessories collection made in collaboration with CHRISHABANA Jewelry.

Highlights from the Christian Cowan for Stuart Weitzman footwear collaboration included Swarovski crystal-encrusted thigh-high boots, crystal large check booties, chic sandals with a wide ankle strap similar to a wide waist belt, and classic styles like skinny ankle strap sandals and patent leather ankle booties.

As previously stated, the Christian Cowan FW18 Womenswear collection was a much-needed breath of fresh air, color, and fun. We look forward to next season to see what else the exciting fashion designer has to offer. We’d love to hear what you think about the collection. Share your opinion in the comments.

NYFW the Shows: Romeo Hunte New York Fall Winter 2018 Womenswear

What better time than Black History Month and New York Fashion Week to highlight an African American designer that’s quickly becoming a household name. He already has some A++ celebrity fans and has caught the eye of major retailers, and fashion publications. If you haven’t gotten acquainted with Romeo Hunte, get ready to have his name permanently etched into your memory bank. For this season, Romeo Hunte featured a very striking assortment of outerwear.  The Romeo Hunte New York Fall Winter 2018 Womenswear collection boasted shearlings, fox furs, mixed fur with patchwork, PVC, and reversible raincoats, and cropped jackets. Feast your eyes on all the melanin magic below:

With this Romeo Hunte New York Fall Winter 2018 Womenswear collection, we see a revised and an amped array of his existing signature outerwear styles being reinvented with bold details. Created for the powerful woman on the go, this collection features classic outerwear with transformable details and exquisite furs trimmings; shawls fashioned with textured materials, raincoats that are reversible and trimmed with fox fur, and sleek styles inspired by the combination of Aspen chic and luxe streetwear. This made for a stunning collection loaded with modern classic shapes that are luxurious, transitional and complimentary to any pieces in your closet.

We personally love any outerwear that has a dramatic flair, so of course, we adore almost all of the pieces from the collection. We want all the shearlings, that stunningly vivid yellow fur jacket, the super chic camel trench coast with fur poms, the transparent PVC and fur jacket, and the beguiling camel fur with a detachable bottom (swoon).

Romeo Hunte New York is a definitive luxury women’s streetwear brand. It’s a perfect balance of feminine and masculine silhouettes with intricate and surprising design details. We can’t wait to see more from this powerful and impeccable luxury outerwear brand. Popular pieces from the line include their signature buffalo check shawl, which is transformed in PVC and wool materials, is representative of the core elements of the Romeo Hunte brand.

What are your thoughts on the looks from the Romeo Hunte New York Fall Winter 2018 Womenswear collection? Any favorite coats you’d love to see in your closet?

NYFW the Shows: Pamella Roland Fall Winter 2018 Womenswear

It’s no surprise that women who crave sophistication, comfort, and glamour flock to the fashion collections of Pamella Roland. Mrs. Roland has continuously been a go-to for elegant, modern womenswear. Her Fall Winter 2018 Womenswear collection is no different. For this NYFW season, the Pamella Roland Fall Winter 2018 Womenswear collection is inspired by the royal jewels, history, and architecture of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Prague.

Prague boasts spellbinding architectural gems from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque era, all of which remain intact. Through embroidery, Pamella Roland incorporates ornate metallic threadwork, sequins, crystal appliques, pearls, and a variety of feathers into luxe cashmere, fil coupes, and jacquards to translate baroque-era motifs and represent the royal Prague interior in fabric form.

The main focus of the Pamella Roland Fall Winter 2018 Womenswear collection color palette is jewel tones in ruby, amethyst, sapphire, and emerald. Highlighting these deep, rich tones are metallic gold and gunmetal elements to create an authentic experience of the extraordinary and precious masterpieces that are the Bohemian crown jewels. The Pamella Roland Fall Winter 2018 Womenswear collection also incorporates Pamella Roland’s signature sleek looks (with a bit more extravagance), dramatic feminine silhouettes using tulle, and creatic fabric manipulation.

Some of our favorite looks from the Pamella Roland Fall Winter 2018 Womenswear collection include the sapphire and silver baroque motif cloqué off-the-shoulder top and pant, the emerald stretch crepe cocktail dress with pearl embroidered bodice and fringe hem, the black floor length lurex cape coat over black stretch-crepe strapless bustier jumpsuit with oversized crystal embroidery, the black lurex crepe coat with silver, ruby, and amethyst ombre sequin cocktail dress, the very striking hematite metallic embroidered baroque motif fringe gown (easily our ultimate favorite), the amethyst ombre sequin and ostrich feather kimono caped gown (our second favorite piece), and the gold threadwork embroidered gown with flounce tiered baroque motif cloqué skirt.

As we stated at the beginning, women who crave sophistication, comfort, and glamour flock to Pamella Roland, and her fall-winter 2018 womenswear collection clearly shows why. What are your thoughts on the Pamella Roland Fall Winter 2018 womenswear collection?