Culture

Neue Galerie and Holiday Delights

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By Elizabeth Sobieski

 

When New Yorkers seek winter holiday glamour, joy and glorious exhibitions in a museum, their first thought is frequently of the Metropolitan Museum’s medieval sculpture hall, with its twenty foot spruce Christmas tree adorned with antique cherubs, towering above the baroque crèche, while classic live and recorded seasonal music wafts through the hall.

But there is a smaller museum, also on the Upper East Side, set within a Beaux Arts mansion on 86th and Fifth, which celebrates the season even more glowingly than the Met.

The Neue Galerie, with its focus on early twentieth century art and design from Vienna, Berlin, and other parts of mitteleuropa, creates an old world Christmas unique in New York.  Even its most famous artwork, Gustav Klimt’s  “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer”, one of the most revered paintings in the world, appears created  for the holidays, with its rounded gold embellishments reminding one of traditional Christmas decorations.

The Neue is also one of the most unique places in the city to shop; the warm wood paneled bookstore and gift shop are laden with Central and Eastern European tree decorations and beautifully boxed glazed gingerbread ”liebkuchen”.  Of course there are fantastic art books, but also stunning dishes and jewelry, often based on designs from before the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Even a Wiener Werkstaette (from the legendary artisanal Vienna Workshop which lasted from 1903-1932) book on flowers has a red and green cover that subtlety references the holiday.  Handsome leaping stags appear on green hot chocolate mugs.  Festive dog biscuits attract my attention, even though I am canine-less at present.  Aerin Lauder‘s Nendez Cypress candle provides the perfect winter scent.

The excellent and brilliantly styled restaurants at the Neue Galerie are imprinted with the atmosphere of a Vienna winter with various goodies under glass and drinks served upon silver platters.  The Café Sabarsky is named for the late art dealer Serge Sabarsky, who conceived of the museum along with the philanthropist and former United States ambassador to Austria, Ronald S. Lauder.  I can’t keep my eyes or mouth from relishing the irresistible Sachertortes, apple strudel, linzertortes, viennoiserie, and apricot crepes.  The Sabarsky is only open to museum members for lunch, but open to the public at dinner, while the lower level Café Fledermaus is open to all for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Both serve some of the best coffee drinks in the city, and in my mind I hear Julie Andrews singing about her favorite things.   There is also excellent savory food, including such specialties as chicken paprikas and wiener schnitzel, and live cabaret performances on certain evenings.

I attended a recent function at the Neue celebrating the generous Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, which donates contemporary art to US embassies and consulates, and was handed freshly opened chestnuts that had been roasted on an open fire.  You see what I mean about the Neue being so of the season.

The exhibition on display through January 21 (The masterpieces by Klimt, Kandinsky, Klee, Kirchner, and other artists like George Grosz and Otto Dix, whose names don’t start with a ‘k’, are on permanent display), is of two extraordinary and under known German Expressionist artists, who often employed a Christmas hued palate, Franz Marc and Auguste Macke, both killed as young men during World War I, reminding us that our most important holiday wish should always be for peace.

Los Angeles for Chocoholics

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Los Angeles for Chocoholics
By Elizabeth Sobieski

While Belgium and Switzerland are worthy of their reputations as superb centers for chocolatiers (and I do love my Teuscher champagne truffles), I truly believe that  Los Angeles has replaced Europe as the hand-hewn chocolate capital of the world.
Three small confiseries command attention with their confections being made on-site. These chocolates are fresh, fresh, fresh and natural. And shipping is readily available, if you are not able to personally visit these intimate and fragrant shops, always a treat. The John Kelly factory and store just off Sunset in West Hollywood, and its newer sister store in Santa Monica, showcase fudgy dark chocolates (and milk chocolates)
coated in various sea salts and containing all matter of nuts, caramels and dried fruit. I will admit Kelly is a favorite hang-out of mine….there are always samples to be swiped from the front counter. And while I was recovering from eye surgery, around ten boxes of the substance arrived at my door. Friends from as far away as Chicago and Miami knew how to aid my rehabilitation. Most of the chocolates are square-shaped, but there are also butterflies and frogs filled with vanilla butter, sea salt, and almonds You can watch the production through a glass window, and while all the employees are helpful, my favorite is Richard, a talented English jazz musician.

 

Back in the early 1980’s, I would stride the Upper East Side of Manhattan, beelining towards Kron’s hand-dipped chocolate-covered strawberries on Madison Avenue. Kron’s was the height of choco- desirability, and a then rare incursion into the world of dark chocolate, a world of terre rather than milk. Kron disappeared from New York…and then reemerged in Beverly Hills in 2000, (with a newer shop in Malibu)
as Diane Kron Chocolatier or simply ‘K’. The chocolate covered fruits are still a standout, and the liquor filled cordials are exceptional (I’m a major fan of the tequila). Diane’s husband Tom is the great grandson of the chocolate-maker to Emperor Franz Josef of Austria and some of his secret recipes are still in use. And Diane Kron is quick to emphasize the health benefits of chocolate. The Food Network has called Kron the “Rolls Royce of Chocolates” and their packaging is as stunning as the formulations it contains. They also sell a lovely “drinking chokolate.”

 

And then there is the grandfather of all the LA small-batch chocolates. Dating back to 1942 , Edelweiss on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills is a California tradition. I stopped by at Halloween for candy corn embedded bars and chocolate covered Oreos laid out in cardboard coffins. Like John Kelly and Kron, Edelweiss also excel at chocolate coated fruit, theirs created from luscious candied fruit imported from
Australia. Do try the orange. And their chocolate pretzels are addictive. And yes, they do have a small factory on premise. Long a favorite of legendary stars, Lucille Ball was inspired by Edelweiss when she and Vivian Vance created the famous “Job Switching” episode of “I Love Lucy” (although it was actually filmed at See’s factory-see below). For a period of five years, Edelweiss was even owned by musical star Shirley Jones, the beloved and adorable Mrs. Partridge from “The Partridge Family”.

 

Although it is a large company with thousands of employees, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, no talk about Los Angeles chocolate is possible without a mention of See’s. We all know that See’s candies are omnipresent in airports and there are hundreds of See’s shops, even in Asia, but the quality has never diminished since it’s Los Angeles founding in 1921. The company is now based in San Francisco, but the
original factory, the one that always catches my eye when traversing La Cienega en route to LAX, is still up and running and this is where Lucy and Ethel fought the production line conveyer belt, mostly by stuffing the chocolates into their mouths, in 1952. I am especially fond of See’s chocolate and nut Victoria toffee, and their lollipops in flavors chocolate, vanilla, coffee and butterscotch; the lollies last a long
time and are not at all that caloric. (However I did break a tooth on one recently.
Reminder: they are to be sucked rather than bitten. Even after a pricey visit to my talented dentist, Dr. Eric Fugier, I still blame myself, and not See’s.) Berkshire Hathaway’s “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffett, says that See’s is “the prototype of a dream business.” And it’s also delicious.

Blond-It’s Must See Movies

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After a hectic day of balancing career, self-care & family, I love to settle on the couch
with a herbal tea and great movie.
These are a few of my most favorite movie classics:
My Man Godfrey
A scatterbrained socialite hires a vagrant as a family butler…but there’s more to Godfrey
than meets the eye.
Dial M for Murder
Tony Wendice hasn’t got much money to pay for his expensive tastes, but he does have
a rich wife. However, she has a lover and so might leave him – if she lives long enough.
A Star is Born – 1976
A has-been rock star falls in love with a young, up-and-coming songstress
Stars: Barbra Streisand , KrisKristofferson
Philadelphia Story
When a rich woman’s ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her
planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.
The Way We Were
Two desperate people have a wonderful romance, but their political views and
convictions drive them apart.

Blond-It’s Go To Cocktail Bar

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Bar Pleiades at the Surrey Hotel
With its numbered tables and air of seduction, Bar Pleiades is a cocktail lounge and
hotel bar evocative of a discreet rendez-vous—and the newest addition to the Café
Boulud family. Named for the beloved French restaurant frequented by Manhattan’s art
world elite of the 1970s and 80s, Bar Pleiades combines the respectful, attentive service
of a fine hotel bar with the inspired cocktail menu of a gifted mixologist.
The hotel bar and cocktail lounge décor – inspired by both fashion icon Coco Chanel
and the elegant lines of a 1930s Art Deco bar cart – features black and white lacquer
finishes, French doors and quilted walls, inviting seclusion in intimate niches. Tables at
Bar Pleiades are numbered to maintain a standard of discreet service and support
clandestine encounters. Settle into a banquette and simply relax in one of the best hotel
bars in NYC.
https://www.thesurrey.com/boulud-dining/bar-pleiades
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Blond-It’s Go To Recovery Drinks

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H2O is the cure for every beauty, fitness and wellness must. From chapped lips to puffy
eyes to breakouts around chin to pigmentation around your mouth – there isn’t an issue
you cannot trace back to lack of hydration. But – sometimes, simple pure good ol’ plain
water doesn’t just cut it. You need something a little more potent and substantial to keep
you hydrated and energized; flush off nasty toxins; and boost up your energy levels.
Here are four popular health drinks I swear by:

1 The Lemon & Ginger Infused Water

From time immemorial, lemon and ginger infused hot water has been a cult favorite for
women. We swear by the magical effects this has on your skin, metabolism and overall
energy when you kick start your day with a steaming hot mug of this holistic au-neutral
goodness. Ginger regulates digestive system so no acne or breakouts; lemon clears
your system and enhances metabolism.

2 Coconut Water

We swear by the miraculous properties of natural coconut water on your skin, nails and
hair. Need we say more? I try to keep a bottle of coconut water handy at all times. It
packs more potassium in your body than a banana and if you’re one to drink your
calories, you better make it this one!

3 The Dandelion Tea

Have you yet tried drinking dandelion root infused water with a dash of cranberry juice?
The concoction is packed with antioxidants – the best age-resisting element to occur
naturally; keeps your liver healthy and regulates digestion.

Angelini Osteria

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Since Opening, Angelini Osteria has become one of the most celebrated restaurants in
the city. Known for the highest quality of Italian authenticity.
Gino Angelini has become known as simply everyone’s favorite Italian chef in Los
Angeles, winning over the city with his authentic dishes.  
In 2001, Gino Angelini and his wife Elizabeth opened Angelini Osteria, an Italian
restaurant in Los Angeles.  Since opening, Angelini Osteria has become one of LA’s
most celebrated restaurants.    The Osteria has blazed the trail for many Italian dishes
in Los Angeles, including its famous Linguine Sea Urchin and the sought after Spaghetti
Norcina.    To this day the Osteria remains family owned and controlled.
https://www.angelinirestaurantgroup.com/home
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