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?

GIVEAWAY: Give Her the Gift of Teleflora Mother’s Day Flowers

Mother’s Day is about a month away and we want to help you celebrate the most important women in your life. How would you like to win free Teleflora Mother’s Day flowers to give to the woman who gave you life, shares your life, or just generally makes your life special? This Mother’s Day, Teleflora’s paying tribute to moms everywhere with their “Love Makes a Mom” campaign, which celebrates sacrifices and fearless acts of love. They’re also honoring moms everywhere with an assortment of gorgeous Mother’s Day bouquets.

 

The new Teleflora Mother’s Day 2018 collection of bouquets are housed in gorgeously designed keepsake vases and containers. The lineup, now available for sale at www.Teleflora.com in standard, deluxe or premium size options include classic arrangements bursting with bright colors with subtle stylish touches. There is something beautifully unique for every mom on your list. We are featuring five of our favorite floral bouquets are, which one of you lucky readers can gift. Read all about them below and enter our giveaway.

HEART’S PIROUETTE BOUQUET (available for $94.95)

Celebrate the greatest mom in the world with this elegant treasure overflowing with soft pink roses, fragrant white lilies and lavender cushion spray chrysanthemums nestled in an exquisite azure glass vase.

WINGED BEAUTY BOUQUET (available for $59.95)

Bring all the elegance of a peaceful Victorian garden into the home with this spectacular Teleflora Mother’s Day arrangement. A luxurious mix of pink roses, chrysanthemums, and soft purple accents are nestled within a gorgeous ceramic vase featuring soft brushstroke lines and an embossed hummingbird medallion mom will love.

ALL EYES ON YOU BOUQUET (available for $74.95)

Honor her timeless devotion with a stunning floral arrangement filled with fresh roses, pink lilies and a variety of purple blooms. Delivered in a hand-blown one-of-a-kind glass vase, this piece is sure to make an unforgettable impression on Mother’s Day.

WILDFLOWER IN FLIGHT BOUQUET (available for $39.95)

Remind her how special and beautiful she is with this whimsical French garden inspired floral arrangement. Wrapped in a poetic script and a striking dragonfly in midflight, this exclusive glass cube brings together an old-world charm and contemporary European style.

COUNTRY BEAUTY BOUQUET (available for $49.95)

Surprise her with the rustic charm of a beautiful floral bouquet brimming with crème carnations, fresh pink blooms, and seasonal stems. This 2-in-1 gift arrives in a functional hand-glazed stoneware crock that is perfect as a decorative piece and is also FDA-approved to safely serve and store food.

The Teleflora “Love Makes a Mom” Mother’s Day campaign is part of Teleflora’s overarching “Love Out Loud” platform. The campaign will introduce three sixty-second videos featuring fearless moms who earned their title with incredible displays of love in the face of adversity. Launching on April 30, just in time for Mother’s Day on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, each Teleflora Mother’s Day video will focus on the stories of various moms with unique backgrounds or challenges.

One reader will win a $75 gift code, with free delivery service fee included, to shop for Mother’s Day flowers on www.Teleflora.com (there is no cash value). The one-time use code expires on May 11, 2018, is not valid on sale items, and cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion codes. To enter this giveaway, see the Rafflecopter entry form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Truly Refreshing: Truly Spiked and Sparkling Water

Let’s face it, enjoying a cocktail or two is always fun, but it does tend to leave you a little dehydrated. After we enjoy a few cocktails, we always find ourselves reaching for a glass of water to combat the decrease of our body’s natural anti-diuretic hormone (we all have it….it’s why you go to the restroom more often). This is changing! We were recently introduced to a new light and refreshing low-calorie, clean and simple spiked sparkling water. Yes, we did say spiked sparkling water. Say hello to Truly Spiked and Sparkling Water, a spiked sparkling water with a little kick…or rather, a buzz.

When trying to diet or just eat and drink healthy, alcohol is usually one of the first things added to your “can no longer enjoy anymore” list, but with Truly Spiked and Sparkling Water, there is no need to make that sacrifice. Truly Spiked and Sparkling Waters are just 100 calories and 2 grams of carbs per serving, gluten-free and made with simple ingredients, with nothing artificial – no artificial flavors or sweeteners of any kind. It is the is the lowest-calorie and lowest-carb spiked sparkling water available at only 5% ABV. This is a great alternative to light beer because it has fewer calories and carbs than beer. It’s also a great alternative to the heaviness of cocktails or wine, plus it’s better for you than beer, wine or cocktails.

Truly Spiked and Sparkling Water comes in eight truly refreshing flavors – the above newest flavor Wild Berry (a mix of California strawberries, raspberries and Marion blackberries that brings a hint of the natural sweetness and juiciness of fresh picked berries); Colima Lime (a slightly tart taste with a crisp, subtle sweetness); Pomegranate (a crisp and refreshing drink with a hint of juicy pomegranate); Grapefruit & Pomelo (citrusy, tart and tangy with a hint of sweetness from the Pomelo fruit);  Lemon & Yuzu (a refreshing delight of juicy lemon tartness and fragrant Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit); Sicilian Blood Orange (a refreshing, sweet, mellow and delicious taste from the exotic cousin of the traditional orange); Blueberry & Acai (sweet and tart blueberry mixes with the exotic and antioxidant-rich Brazilian acai berry); and Raspberry & Lime (a thirst quenching blend of the ripe sweetness from California raspberries and the crisp citrus twist from lime.

Believe us when we say this is TRULY the refreshing go-to sparkling water for those who love staying balanced but also love a good time. The Truly Spiked and Sparkling Waters are available in 6-pack slim cans, 12-pack slim cans, and 16 oz. cans. Get your favorite flavors at Whole Foods, Target, Rite Aid, Fresh Direct, Trader Joes, Fairway, and Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts. Are you ready to be truly refreshed?

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.

Express YOU with the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM Freestyle Collection

This Spring, add some color and some much-needed flair into your daily life with the latest expressive portable Bluetooth speakers from Ultimate Ears, the WONDERBOOM Freestyle Collection. These water-proof, pint-sized must-have music accessories not only blasts amazing sound, they also float in water, they are now available in five fashion-forward colors. They may be small in stature, but the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM Portable Speakers are big on sound and are perfect for pool parties, beach trips, and camping – basically wherever you want your favorite music.

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM Freestyle Collection is about big sound and the freedom to express your style in a trendy, tough and tiny speaker. The collection, which retails for $99.99 each, is an ultimate mashup of music necessity and fashion accessory. Inspired by global music and fashion trends, the fashion-forward colors of the collection include (in order as seen above):

  • Concrete: Your look is everyday neutral but never basic. Concrete is inspired by urban texture, paint splashes, and shadows.
  • Avocado: Your style is subtle and understated. With Avocado, you’re always ready to “guac” and roll.
  • Patches: You wear your heart on your sleeve and plaster your personality through patches and pins. Patches is a punch of personality to denim.
  • Raspberry: You’re never afraid to go bold. Raspberry is fresh, hot and juicy.
  • Unicorn: Magic is your middle name. Unicorn is a delightful color melt of pastels.

Key Features of the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM include:

  1. A surprisingly big sound: The WONDERBOOM packs bright and bold sound with balanced bass into a pint-sized speaker. Enjoy your music in true 360° sound like never before.
  2. 10 hours of happiness: Enjoy up to 10 hours of battery life with this wonder portable speaker.*
  3. Double the speakers, double the fun: If you think one WONDERBOOM sounds great, you’ll love how they sound together. Turn things up by connecting two WONDERBOOM speakers together with the press of a button.
  4. Easy Play, Pause and Skip: Control your music right from the speaker. Pressing the Ultimate Ears button on the top of the speaker lets you easily play, pause and skip songs.
  5. It’s virtually Indestructible: This little beauty is also a beast. This tough little guy is drop-proof from up to five feet.
  6. It’s seriously waterproof: It is IPX7 rated (it can be immersed in water up to one meter for up to 30 minutes) and able to float on its own, the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM is the perfect companion for showers, pools, beaches, muddy fields and rainy days. If it gets dirty, just rinse it off.

With summer around the corner, the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM will show off your style and keep the music playing.

Spice Up Your Life: Spice Islands Spices, Herbs, and Seasonings

Repeat after us – when it comes to cooking, spices, herbs, and seasonings are absolutely needed. We love food, that’s why we do restaurant reviews and eat out as much as we can. The best thing about being a foodie is enjoying the various flavors, so we need our meals to be seasoned to perfection. We need much more than just salt and pepper. If you have less than ten varieties of spices, herbs, and seasonings (not including salt and pepper) in your kitchen cupboard, you’re not properly seasoning your food. But worry not, we, and Spice Islands, are here to help you. We are here to introduce you to the vast variety of Spice Islands spices, herbs, and seasonings boasting rich flavors and premium quality. Get ready to amp up your spice rack and cooking with an amazing array of wonderful flavors.

Whether you’re cooking something savory or sweet, Spice Islands spices, herbs, and seasonings have exactly what you need. They search the world for spices and herbs of the highest quality. Then they craft and package them to deliver the most authentic and intense flavor possible. It’s as if you sourced these spices and herbs out of your own garden.

Spice Islands offers everything from A to V – Allspice to Vanilla, with many spices available in multiple forms (think whole, ground, and organic). They go far beyond the basics like chili powder, basil, cayenne pepper, chives, cilantro, etc and offer gourmet options like Jamaican jerk seasoning, Louisiana Cajun, Garam Masala (a hot spice blend of Northern Indian spices), a flavorful blend French countryside blend of spices, extracts, and panko mixes.

It’s a fact that cooking with the right spices can turn any recipe from okay to absolutely mouth-watering and that’s exactly what you get with Spice Islands spices, herbs, and seasonings. Another thing we love about Spice Islands is their recipes. They offer lots of entrees, appetizer, bread, soup, salads sides, sauces, beverages and dessert recipes. They provide the level of difficulty, prep and total time, and of course the correct spices, herbs and seasonings to use for each recipe. Spice Islands is here to make cooking fun and to wow your family and friends with your cooking skills. What more can you ask for? To learn more about Spice Islands and their variety of spices, herbs, and seasonings, visit www.spiceislands.com.

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?