Monthly Archives: April 2013

Roca brothers

The world’s best restaurant is…

TOP 50 Best Restaurants 2013

Spain’s El Celler De Can Roca edged past Denmark’s Noma and Italy’s Osteria Francescana to be named the world’s best restaurant on Monday in a ceremony in London.

It’s been a long time coming for the Girona restaurant in the northeast of Catalona, Spain, having spent the last two years fixed at the No. 2 position on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and the last seven “waiting in the wings” for its turn at the spotlight.

Steered by Roca brothers —  Joan, the chef or “architect of taste”; Jordi, the pastry chef; and Josep, the sommelier — the restaurant has built a steady and faithful fan base for its “freestyle” cooking, avant-garde techniques, and innovative ideas.

But Monday’s new title is sure to do for El Celler de Can Roca what it did previously for a small restaurant in Copenhagen years ago, and turn it into a household name for even the tepid food-lover.

Since owning the No. 1 spot three years running, Noma chef René Redzepi, for instance, has graced the cover of mainstream news magazine “Time.”

Spanish chef Ferran Adrià of now-closed El Bulli, likewise garnered near mythical status after snapping up the title of world’s best restaurant five times, inspiring a handful of books and big-budget movies.

Meanwhile, if the winners of the Best Restaurants awards are known for pushing the culinary envelope and challenging diners’ concepts of traditional dining, the Roca brothers’ award is richly deserved.

Whether it be playing with essential oils to develop a menu, trying to mimic the texture and bubbles of Cava in an oyster dish, or bottling the memories of childhood in a milky, lemon muffin perfume, the restaurant has never been content to rest on its three Michelin-starred laurels. Restaurant cuisine is described as ‘freestyle cooking’ that hinges on Catalan dishes using cutting-edge techniques.

El Celler de Can Roca

Here’s are the Top 50 restaurants in the world according to a panel of 900 food critics, chefs, restaurateurs and “gastronomes” tapped into the food scene:

1 El Celler de Can Roca – Girona, Spain
2 Noma – Copenhagen, Denmark
3 Osteria Francescana – Modena, Italy
4 Mugaritz – San Sebastián, Spain
5 Eleven Madison Park – New York, USA
6 D.O.M. – São Paulo, Brazil
7 Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – London, UK
8 Arzak – San Sebastián, Spain
9 Steirereck – Vienna, Austria
10 Vendôme – Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
11 Per Se – New York, USA
12 Frantzén/Lindeberg – Stockholm, Sweden
13 The Ledbury – London, UK
14 Astrid y Gastón – Lima, Peru
15 Alinea – Chicago, USA
16 L’Arpège – Paris, France
17 Pujol – Mexico City, Mexico
18 Le Chateaubriand – Paris, France
19 Le Bernardin – New York, USA
20 Narisawa – Tokyo, Japan
21 Attica – Melbourne, Australia – NEW ENTRY
22 Nihonryori RyuGin – Tokyo, Japan
23 L’Astrance – Paris, France
24 L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon – Paris, France
25 Hof Van Cleve – Kruishoutem, Belgium
26 Quique Dacosta – Dénia, Spain
27 Le Calandre – Rubano, Italy
28 Mirazur – Menton, France
29 Daniel – New York, USA
30 Aqua – Wolfsburg, Germany
31 Biko – Mexico City, Mexico
32 Nahm – Bangkok, Thailand
33 The Fat Duck – Bray, UK
34 Fäviken – Järpen, Sweden
35 Oud Sluis – Sluis, Netherlands
36 Amber – Hong Kong, China
37 Vila Joya – Albufeira, Portugal
38 Restaurant Andre – Singapore – NEW ENTRY
39 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana – Hong Kong, China  – NEW ENTRY
40 Combal.Zero – Rivoli, Italy
41 Piazza Duomo – Alba, Italy
42 Schloss Schauenstein – Fürstenau, Switzerland
43 Mr & Mrs Bund – Shanghai, China – NEW ENTRY
44 Asador Etxebarri – Atxondo, Spain
45 Geranium – Copenhagen, Denmark
46 Mani – São Paulo, Brazil
47 The French Laundry – Yountville, USA
48 Quay – Sydney, Australia
49 Septime – Paris, France – NEW ENTRY
50 Central – Lima, Peru – NEW ENTRY

Blue Diamond Sells for Record $9.5 million

fancy deep blue diamond

An extremely rare blue diamond sold for £6.2 million ($9.5 million) at a London auction on Wednesday, setting a new world record for price per carat.

The fancy deep-blue diamond weighing 5.30 carats sold at Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale in central London for a record $1.8 million per carat, beating the previous record of $1.68 million.

The diamond, which was bought by international diamond house Graff Diamonds, is set in a ‘Trombino’ ring made by Italian jeweller Bulgari around 1965.

“We are delighted with the price it has made,” said Jean Ghika, Director of Bonhams Jewellery. “It was a sensational stone which charmed everyone who viewed it prior to the sale.”

“Blue diamonds, especially those over 5.00 carats, are extremely rare to see on the market and continue to be highly sought-after. We are honoured to have handled the sale of such a unique gem.”

The term “fancy” is used to describe a diamond of intense colour. The blue is derived from small amounts of boron impurities within the diamond.

Beach Chairs gay

Homosexuals spend much more on travel

Two Men Walking On A Beach

Gay and lesbian travelers spend an average of nearly 60 percent more on their travels than their straight counterparts.

That’s one of the biggest findings out of a US survey by Community Marketing Inc. which specializes in the gay and lesbian consumer market. The results were released by travel trade show ITB Berlin.

After polling 5,700 respondents across the US last year, the survey found that gay and lesbian hotel guests spend an average of 57% more during their vacation than their heterosexual counterparts.

Part of the reasons offered by the market research group include the “plain” fact that gay men and lesbians travel more, own more homes and cars, spend more on electronics and have the largest amount of disposable income of any niche market.

Other findings out of the wide-sweeping survey include:

-For 40 percent of gay and lesbian travelers, a destination’s degree of gay-friendliness was identified as the main influence when planning their vacation.

-Warm weather was also the priority for 66 percent of gay men and 67 percent of lesbians; other considerations include cultural attractions, beaches and cuisine.

-Relaxation was the main goal for 50 percent of of gay respondents, while 32 percent of lesbians said spending time with their partner was their aim.

-When it comes to choosing a hotel, for 33 percent of gay and 30 percent of lesbian interviewees said the location of their hotel significantly influenced their decision, followed by price.

Meanwhile, another demographic identified as a major driving force in the international tourism industry is affluent Muslim travelers with money to spend, a market estimated to be twice the size of China’s.

Tommy Hilfiger The Muppets

Tommy Hilfiger collaboration with The Muppets

Tommy Hilfiger kids The Muppets

The Walt Disney Company has teamed up with ready-to-wear giant Tommy Hilfiger to launch a new capsule collection featuring The Muppets. It will hit stores globally from May 3.

This spring/summer 2013 collection includes colorful limited-edition t-shirts and sweatshirts with iconic Muppet characters such as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear depicted wearing Tommy Hilfiger’s latest range of clothes. This limited edition targets children from 6 months to 16 years old.

It will be available in Tommy Hilfiger stores worldwide (plus Macy’s in the US) as of May 3, or online.


Karl Lagerfeld’s Age Finally Revealed By Designer

Karl Lagerfeld Little Black Jacket

He threw a 70th birthday party in 2008 and a 79th four years later, so fashion followers might be forgiven a little scepticism following Karl Lagerfeld‘s latest pronouncement on the subject of his age.

Always a dapper figure in sharply tailored suits, high collared shirts and trademark ponytail and dark glasses, the legendary German couturier says he is in fact 77.

In an interview with magazine Paris Match, Lagerfeld said he was born in 1935 but that his mother for unknown reasons changed his date of birth on the official documentation resulting in the confusion.

“My mother changed the date. It was easier to make a 3 or an 8,” he said without elaborating. “I found this out after her death and I don’t know why she did it,” he added.

The Paris-based designer was born Karl Lagerfeldt in Hamburg but later dropped the final ‘t’ for commercial reasons. His first collection in 1958 was shown under the name Roland Karl.

Lagerfeld’s Wikipedia page now states that he was born on September 10, 1935.

hublot monster luxury headphones

Hublot x Monster “Inspiration” Luxury Headphones

hublot monster luxury headphones

Monster and Swiss watchmaker Hublot have unveiled the “Inspiration Hublot” luxury headphones at Baselworld 2013.

The Inspiration Hublot over-ear headphones feature dual mono amplification, as well as the debut of Monster’s Enigma Audio Engine.

The Enigma’s chip design is said to feature high-end advanced digital noise cancellation, wireless Bluetooth with advanced AAC and APT-X codecs, direct USB audio and user-customizable sound shaping.

Monster notes that the noise cancelling technology is built around a pair of inconspicuous microphones. One can handle constant noises “like the droning inside a plane,” while the other handles sporadic noises.

The product has a brushed aluminum finish, and carbon fiber ear cups that have genuine leather padding.

The Hublot Inspiration headphone will be available globally this summer at Hublot stores for for 1,750 EUR ($2,270).

jaguar f-type desire film

Jaguar features F-Type in short film ‘Desire’

British automaker Jaguar, a company usually associated with fast cars, has debuted its first film at the London Sundance Film Festival.

Not content with making elegant, desirable sports cars and luxury saloons, Jaguar has turned its hand to filmmaking and, in particular, filmmaking that draws attention to its F-Type two-seat convertible.

The short film, entitled, “Desire,” stars Damian Lewis — best known for his starring role in “Homeland,” — as well as the aforementioned Jaguar F-Type and was made by Ridley Scott Associates (RSA).

Shown for the first time on Wednesday at the O2 Arena in front of the world’s media at the launch of the London Sundance Film Festival, the film now available for everyone to watch online.

“Desire,” set against the backdrop of the Atacama desert in Chile, is, according to its director, RSA’s Adam Smith, a tale of “betrayal, retribution, passion and greed,” and one that features a specially composed soundtrack courtesy of Lana Del Ray and exclusive men’s tailoring courtesy of Burberry.

The film also stars Spanish actor Jordi Mollà and American actress Shannyn Sossamon and was produced by Caspar Delaney for RSA.

versace logo

Versace unveiling new Versus watches at Baselworld

versace thea watch

Italian luxury brand Versace is unveiling a new collection of watches under its Versus label at Baselworld one of the luxury calendar’s biggest events.

When late last year it was announced that Versace was ending its collaboration with London-based designer Christopher Kane on the Versus collection, the fashion world was eager to hear what the Italian luxury label would be serving up next.

While Kane has gone on to focus on his successful main line (which received a sizeable investment from Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen owner Kering earlier this year), Versace chose to explore its options in new digital (“a key word that describes the Versus tribe”) and non-seasonal directions.

We’re still eagerly awaiting the clothing collection for the brand by young British designer J W Anderson, the first in a series of different collaborations, which is set to drop (according to Versace’s online countdown) in just over two weeks’ time.

The Versus timepieces include the Tokyo, Ibiza and Agadir which blend cutting-edge technology and materials with the traditional luxury of the label.

Meanwhile, four new models under the Versace label play with the brand’s motifs in a fun and vibrant way: the Vanitas, Thea, the sporty V-Race and the limited edition Dv One Skeleton show off the Versace’s vibrant design touches and also feature Swiss-made movements.

Versace Vanitas watches

Best bakeries for baguettes in Paris 2013

Parisian baker Ridha Khadher

Headed to Paris anytime soon? Expect to throw any low-carb regimes to the wind and indulge in the best breads in the world.

For the city of light, that includes baker Ridha Khadher’s artisan bakery Paradis du Gourmand in the 14th arrondissement, which was crowned the best baguette marker in Paris Thursday.

A panel of judges made up of chefs, bakers, food writers and members of the public sampled 151 baton baguettes before narrowing down their choice to just one loaf.

If Paris figures in your holiday travel plans, here are the addresses of winners from years past that you may want to add to your itinerary. Note that five of the past six winners hail from the 18th arrondissement in the Montmartre area.

2012: Baker Sébastien Mauvieux of Mauvieux, 159 rue Ordener, 75018
2011: Pascal Barillon, of Au Levain d’Antan, 6 rue des Abbesses, 75018
2010: Djibril Bodian, Le Grenier à Pain Abbesses, 38 rue des Abbesses, 75018
2009: Franck Tombarel, of Le Grenier de Félix, 64 avenue Félix Faure, 75015
2008: Anis Bouabsa, of Au Duc de la Chapelle, 32 rue Tristan Tzara, 75018
2007: Arnaud Delmontel of Arnaud Delmontel bakery, 57 rue Damrémont, 75018

Best Baguette of Paris

Virgin America flirting

Virgin America in-flight flirting service

Virgin America flirting service

Virgin America has launched a new mile-high flirting service that will allow travelers to send their onboard crush a drink using the in-flight entertainment system.

The new seat-to-seat feature is being launched on all flights within the US, and is the latest innovation out of the Virgin brand to encourage flirting at 35,000 feet.

The same Red in-flight entertainment system already offers an in-flight chat service that allows passengers to send each other text messages.

Meanwhile, the new service that turns the airplane into a flying club works via passengers’ touch-screen seatback entertainment platform.

Here’s the scenario of how things could go down: Picker-upper makes a casual stroll down the aisle to verify the seat location of the pick-uppee target.

Once confirmed, picker-upper returns to their seat and sends their crush a cocktail, snack, or meal along with their best pick-up line, using the entertainment system’s digital seat map.

The object of affection also undertakes a reconnaissance mission through the aisles to scope out their admirer. If the feeling is mutual, said parties engage in a marathon session of chatting until finally someone proposes, “Your seat or mine?”

To promote the new service, Virgin America has also launched an online contest inviting travelers to share how they would use the new seat-to-seat feature along with their best pick-up line.

The top five entries will be voted on by the airline’s Facebook fans, while the top two picks will win travel packages that include a flight from Las Vegas to anywhere within the airline’s domestic network and stays at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

ferrariFF dubai

Dubai police show off Ferrari

ferrari FF dubai

Dubai police on Thursday showed off a new Ferrari they will use to patrol the city state, hot on the heels of a Lamborghini which joined the fleet earlier.

The car sporting the green and white of Dubai police was unveiled at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. It will be used by women police to patrol tourist areas.

The introduction of luxury Italian cars to the police force is being seen as a sign of economic recovery in the Gulf emirate where a housing bubble burst in 2008.

Berenice Marlohe

Bérénice Marlohe turns designer for Escada

James Bond Superyacht Regina

Luxury prêt-à-porter brand Escada has announced the sale of a dress designed with the help of French actress Bérénice Marlohe, one of the James Bond girls in “Skyfall.”

The French actress took part in designing an Escada dress with the help of the luxury brand’s creative director, Daniel Wingate.

She imagined a silk caftan-style summer dress in shades of pink with lotus print. This limited edition dress is available in the Escada boutique in Berlin as well as on the brand’s online store for €598.

The profits from sales of this dress will be donated to Lotus Outreach. This organization, supported by Bérénice Marlohe, works for the health and education of children in India and Cambodia.

Berenice Marlohe for Escada

w hotel taipei

W Hotels to Double Asian Portfolio

W Singapore Sentosa Cove

W Hotels Worldwide unveiled plans to more than double its Asian presence by the end of 2018, bringing its Asian portfolio to nearly 20 W hotels and retreats in nine countries.

More than half of the W brand’s global pipeline is slated for Asia Pacific, including the first W Hotel in mainland China opening in Guangzhou later this month, followed by other China openings in Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha and Suzhou over the next five years. Additional W Hotels have been announced in India, Indonesia and Malaysia. W Hotels recently opened in Singapore and Bangkok.

The W brand entered Asia in 2004 and currently has eight hotels and retreats in seven countries, including Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Maldives and Hong Kong.

w hong kong pool

Champagne Louis Roederer Philippe di Meo

Champagne Louis Roederer X Philippe di Meo

Champagne Louis Roederer Philippe di Meo

Champagne Louis Roederer has teamed up with designer Philippe di Meo to create a limited edition Jeroboam design for its prestige cuvee Cristal 2002.

Strictly limited to just 400 units, each Jeroboam comprises a distinctive clear glass bottle encased in a lattice of 24-carat gold and took four days to create by two master goldsmiths.

Each bottle will be priced at $26,000, and the first chance to purchase one will be at the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix.


Exotic travels inspired by “Game of Thrones”

Game of Thrones

Hotel bookings in the desert town of Ouarzazate, Morocco have experienced a 100 percent spike since the season premiere of “Game of Thrones,” the epic fantasy TV series that has garnered a cult following around the world.

Hotels set in filming locations such Ouarzazate, also known as the ‘door of the desert,’ and Iceland are seeing a noticeable spike in bookings since the third season of the HBO series started on March 31.

The same trend was observed when season two featured settings from Dubrovnik: hotels in the Croatian city likewise spiked 28 percent in 2012.

While Ouarzazate has seen a 100 percent increase, Iceland  — also the site of some of the show’s medieval scenes — saw a modest 13 percent hike in bookings.

The Ouarzazate area has set the scene for other epic films such as the 1962 version of “Lawrence of Arabia” with Peter O’Toole, “The Mummy,” and Russell Crowe’s “Gladiator.”

Arnold & SonTourbillon

Arnold & Son makes world’s thinnest tourbillon watch

Arnold and Son UTTE

Swiss watch manufacturer Arnold & Son has claimed ownership of the world’s thinnest tourbillon:  the new A&S8200 tourbillon caliber measures a mere 2.97 mm thick.

This is more than 0.5mm thinner than Piaget’s Caliber 600P which is now the world’s second thinnest tourbillon. The caliber is in the Arnold & Son UTTE (Ultra Thin Tourbillon Escapement) which is also now the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch at 8.34mm thin.

The A&S Cal 8200 has a double barrel configuration for 80 hour power reserve — this is unprecedented and hugely impressive for an ultra thin tourbillon caliber.

The movement diameter is 32 mm, with a massive 14mm diameter tourbillon cage.  Arnold & Son created a totally spherical tourbillon cage that is not set into the caliber, but instead rises out of the movement and an fact sits at the same height as the hour and minute hands.

The overall aesthetic is magnificent, including its clean but refined dial and its caliber finishing which includes satin-finish with hand chamfered and polished edges, and a hand engraved tourbillon bridge.

UTTE is being offered in red gold ($70,185) and also palladium ($61,075), 50 pieces each. Each movement is finished in a color to complement the case color, and each features a different Côtes de Genève pattern: rhodiumed movement for the red gold model, grey NAC-treated movement for a more contemporary look on the palladium model.

Source: Perpetuelles

corum watch

Swiss watchmaker Corum sold to China Haidian


The Swiss watchmaker Corum said Wednesday it had been acquired by China Haidian in the first purchase of a luxury Swiss watch company by a Chinese rival.

China Haidian said it had acquired 100 percent of Corum for 86 million Swiss francs ($90.9 million, 71.6 million euros).

The companies said the sale would anchor China Haidian’s position in the Swiss luxury watch sector while opening new prospects for development and positioning of the Corum brand worldwide.

“This strategic agreement fulfils the long term vision of both partners for the continued development and growth of the Corum brand,” they said in statement.

“I am very pleased with this acquisition and I firmly believe in the potential development of Corum,” China Haidian chief executive Hon Kwok Lung said in a statement.

Founded in 1955 and based in the town La Chaux-de-Fonds in the canton of Neuchatel, Corum is known for its gold and jewelled encrusted watches that start from 4,000 francs.

The Hong Kong-listed China Haidian Holdings Limited manufactures its own watches and also distributes selected Swiss luxury watch brands in China and throughout Asia.

China Haidian, which owns two of the top four domestic Chinese watch brands, EBOHR and ROSSINI, also owns the Swiss brand Eterna which has a license to manufacture and distribute globally “Porsche Design” watches. It also distributes Japanese brands Casio and Citizen in China.

sharapova porsche

Sharapova Named Porsche Ambassador

maria sharapova porsche

For the next three years, 26-year-old tennis champion Maria Sharapova will be the brand ambassador for German car manufacturer Porsche.

Russian sports personality Maria Sharapova is already familiar with the brand since she won a 911 Carrera S Cabriolet at the Stuttgart Tournament in 2012.

The CEO of Porsche, Matthias Mueller, is full of praise for the former world no. 1, who has won all four Grand Slams: “Maria Sharapova is an exceptional athlete. She combines top performance in her sports with elegance and power. These are precisely the qualities that are embroiled in our sports cars.”

The extensive campaign centered on the sportswoman will be unveiled in the near future.

GapKids 2013 DVF

GapKids 2013 Collection by Diane von Furstenberg

Gap Kids 2013 by DVF

The second collaborative collection by famed designer Diane von Furstenberg for Gap Kids and Baby Gap is set to hit stores on April 25.

“I loved the challenge of translating my designs into the first collection. It was so much fun to see little girls wearing the pieces and I’m looking forward to collaborating with Gap on this second collection.”

GapKids 2013 Diane von Furstenberg

As with the first one, this range features animal prints, primary colours and African batik-influenced patterns. “It’s very simple,” the 66-year-old says of her designs.

“It’s fun, it’s colour, it’s, ‘Oh, I want it because it’s so cute’, but then it’s got to be super practical and super flattering, so that the mothers love it and the children adore it.”

GapKids 2013

A promotional video below plays on the collection’s name, Explorers, and shows children sporting the adorable looks as they interact with animals made from brightly colored paper.

One scene shows a baby girl staring awestruck at a bright pink hummingbird, while another sees a young girl baring her teeth at a hippopotamus.

Gap Kids 2013 DVF

DVF for Gap Kids spring collection will roll out at Gap Kids, BabyGap and DVF stores and online at on Thursday, April 25.

Pomellato bracelets

Kering (PPR) Acquires Jewellery Brand Pomellato

Pomellato Jewellery

French luxury and sports brand group Kering – formerly known as PPR – said it bought Italian jeweler Pomellato for an undisclosed amount.

The company’s success is based on the personality and style of its creations with a blend of colors, stones and shapes as well as their fine Italian craftsmanship.

The Pomellato group is a profitable and growing Italian business with two brands, Pomellato and Dodo. The first positioned within the fine jewelry segment and the latter within the accessible jewelry segment.

Its distribution network includes 86 mono-brand stores (45 Pomellato, 41 Dodo) as well as approximately 600 independent points of sale around the world.

There is plenty of room for growth for this company and Kering said its expertise and resources in real estate, distribution, media and brand management will help in that area.

PPR did not say how much it paid for Pomellato, which had 2012 revenue of 146 million euros ($190 million), but a banking source told Reuters last month the deal would value the business at around 350 million, or 15 times core profit.

The acquisition comes following Kering’s recent re-branding and name change, and is the firm’s first investment since welcoming Christopher Kane into its stable of brands in January.

Within PPR/Kering, Pomellato will complement its other jewelry brands: high-end Boucheron, based on Paris’ Place Vendome, and Qeelin, a midprice Chinese jeweler PPR bought last year.