Williamsburg Wine Bash Brings Together Top Chefs and Wineries

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Brooklyn surely has more of a reputation for serious craft brews. But wine lovers will have a very good reason to find themselves in Williamsburg next Monday, June 26.

Indeed, the Williamsburg Wine Bash will bring together more than 60 prestigious wineries, as curated by exalted Manhattan wine sellers Sherry-Lehmann, at the perpetually hip Brooklyn Bowl on Wythe Avenue. Several high-profile local restaurants will provide the gourmet eats, including Chef Andrew Carmellini of William Vale, Chef Al Di Meglio of Le Gamin, Chef Emanuele Baldassini of Antica Pesa and Wylie Dufresne’s Du’s Donuts.

All of the proceeds will go to The Firehouse, a planned community center which will foster civic and cultural engagement.

“We could not think of a better way to support the Firehouse project,” says Firehouse board chair Del Teague, “than bringing together some of the greatest leaders in food and wine that Brooklyn has to offer for an unforgettable night. It’s not often that you can have so much fun and support a worthy cause.”

VIP tickets include exclusive tastings of tete cuvee Champagnes, Grand Cru Burgundies and Super Tuscans. As well, an auction of rare wines by Kevn Vraly of Windows on the World Wine School will include the chance to bid on an incomparable Napa Valley Wine Experience, also organized by Sherry-Lehmann.

In true BKNY fashion, there will be live music performances by indie soul singer Danielia Cotton and guitarist / Rihanna Music Director Tony Bruno, as well as a DJ set by Caroline Polachek of Chairlift.

 

Du’s Donuts

WATCH: Final Chris Cornell Video for ‘The Promise’

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When Chris Cornell was found dead on May 18, it left fans and friends in considerable shock. The Soundgarden singer had carried on a successful solo career, and had a seemingly happy family life with his wife Vicky Karayiannis and their two children – and yet the conclusion was that he had committed suicide by hanging.

His final release before his passing was “The Promise,” a powerfully soulful track about the Armenian genocide and the ongoing struggles of refugees around the world.

Said Cornell of the song, “‘The Promise’ to me is mainly about paying homage to those we lost in the Armenian Genocide, but it’s also about shining a light on more recent atrocities. The same methods used in the Armenian genocide were used to carry out crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Darfur, Rwanda and right now in Syria on multiple fronts, contributing to a massive global refugee crisis. Unfortunately, the words ‘never again’ seem like just words when we recall these mass executions of the twentieth century.”

The poignant video for the song is released today, June 20 – which is, in fact, also World Refugee Day.

 

An Urbane Day in Brooklyn With Neo-New-Wave Crooner Tenant From Zero

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Tenant From Zero isn’t much concerned about the musical zeitgeist. The cultivated Brooklyn crooner, whose friends know him as Paul Darrah, draws on such exquisite influences as Prefab Sprout and Everything But The Girl to make music of almost ineffable and timeless beauty.

His debut EP,  The Nape of Your Neck, is replete with the lamentations of an irredeemable romantic. From the evocative synths, to the world-weary vocals to the absolutely gorgeous melodies, haunted ballads like “The Things You Never Said” and “Who Painted This Year Blue” could almost be called “sound paintings,” for the complexity of their emotional and aural ambitions. And throughout, TFZ’s velvety baritone recalls David Sylvian at his most sublime.

But possessing as he is of equally good taste in food as in music, we also asked him to take us around to some of his favorite dining spots in Brooklyn – with one little detour to an exalted fragrance shop.

“Aside from music,” he says, “I’d have to say that food matters to me more than anything. I like to find spots that do one thing very well.”

 

Where does the name Tenant From Zero come from?

It’s from a late ’80s film called Apartment Zero, about a bookish, nervous guy played by Colin Firth, who takes in a swarthy and mysterious roommate who systematically seduces all of the nervous guy’s neighbors. There are these older spinsters who live in the apartment building and one asks the other “Have you seen the new tenant from zero?” There was something about the way she said it that sounded so right.

Your EP The Nape of Your Neck exhibits some interesting influences: David Sylvian, The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout. What were you actually listening to when you wrote the songs?

I’ve been listening to them and similar artists like Everything But the Girl, Bryan Ferry and Style Council for a very long time; so much so that they feel like a part of my musical identity at this point. They represent a core of artists whose work I’ve returned to over many years since I first discovered them.

They vaguely call it “sophistipop.” But there is a brand of urbane, world-weary pop music that seems lost to time. Do you recognize any specific ideological peers?

I’m not a fan of the term “sophistipop,” as it suggests a kind of elitism. For me, what draws many of the artists together is a shared sense of melancholy, atmosphere and introspection, as much as production and arrangement. I’ve always referred to these artists as “private music,” or music that is meant for one on one listening rather than for crowds. I aspire to the likes of Bill Withers, Paul Buchanan, Tracey Thorn or Destroyer. What Dan Bejar/Destroyer did with the Kaputt album still leaves me breathless; it became my reason for living for awhile.

What are some of the personal highlights of the record for you?

I’d have to say “Who Painted This Past Year Blue.” Steve Morley’s trumpet work on that one just crushes me.

Who would you most love to collaborate with?

I think I’d like to work with Erland Oye from Kings of Convenience. His sense of pop, especially in his Whitest Boy Alive project, was just so perfect. I would also love to sing a duet with Feist.

 

Tenant From Zero’s Favorite Spots in Brooklyn

Lucali, Carroll Gardens

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that my regular spot for pizza every weekend is Grimaldi’s, which is near and dear to our hearts. But Lucali is quite simply the Platonic ideal of pizza. They don’t do trendy topping combinations or try to appeal to diet restrictions. You arrive at their dimly lit spot, which could easily double as a farmhouse somewhere in Umbria, and you eat what they have or be gone. I’ve never had a pizza either here in the US or in Italy as mind blowing as their pepperoni/mushroom pie with basil. The crust is perfectly crisp, and all of the ingredients – including the sauce and cheese, especially the ricotta – is absolutely fresh. When you’re taking your first few bites, conversation will cease – because you will not just be eating, you will be approaching The Divine.

Ganso, Downtown

Ramen for me is my comfort food on cold and rainy days. Ganso does a beautiful job with their ramen broths, which are all delicious and inventive. The ramen with braised short ribs is outstanding. They also have a great collection of beers – the “Ginga Ninja” pairs perfectly with their Ganso Shoyu.

Rucola, Brooklyn Heights

Including Rucola was only partially based on their food, which is great; they do brunch/lunch really well. The slow-roasted pork sandwich with one of their excellent cocktails and a good book might be one of the best dates-for-one you ever have. But what I especially appreciate about it is the location, because when you’re done eating, you can stroll down Dean Street, quiet, tree-lined, four-story old houses. There is a serenity that’s contained on that street that you can’t quite find in a Brooklyn Heights that’s become strewn with tourists on weekends.

Faun, Prospect Heights

I stumbled upon Faun while strolling through Prospect Heights one weekend, I was intrigued by the menu — the stinging nettle pesto spoke to me. Also the chef came from Vinegar Hill House, which is always good. The interior is dark wood and off white walls, with a lovely outdoor garden dining area. It’s simple but elegant and not too loud. The artichokes are fresh and cooked perfectly, the bacala filled ravioli with a simple butter sauce is insanely delicious. They also have a really interesting Italian wine list, not run-of-the-mill choices; whomever created it has a very good palette.

Botanica, Red Hook

In a city like New York, I appreciate quiet more and more. What I like about Botanica is that late on a Sunday afternoon, you could walk in and have a delicious cocktail at one of the edges of Brooklyn and listen to Sarah Vaughan or Brian Eno and not be disturbed by loud chatter and phones. That’s not to say it’s a church or anything, but that the staff and space itself values quiet. They just want you to relax.

Twisted Lily, Boerum Hill

A couple of blocks from Rucola on Atlantic Ave is one of the finest fragrance shops in NYC. They don’t do the really big names that you can get everywhere, but instead specialize in smaller, more idiosyncratic brands (Andree Putman, The Different Company). And the incredibly welcoming Christa and Carla who manage the shop know the backstory on all of the designers. For instance, Christa knew that I loved Hinoki from Comme de Garcons, and introduced me to a scent called LAVS by UNUM, which smells like an exclusive incense of amber and jasmine from the Vatican. She provided the scent’s fascinating backstory — the UNUM line was created by Filippo Sorcinelli, the former atelier for Pope Benedict, who went on to create a line of fragrances under the acronym LAVS (Laboratorio Atelier Vesti Sacre).  Sorcinelli is also a liturgical organist who plays concerts in churches all over Italy…and what are you doing with your life?

 

 

WEEKEND IN OTTAWA: The Art, the Food…the Canadians

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Louis Bourgeois’ Maman at The National Gallery of Canada

The endlessly unsettling reality of domestic politics has once again left untold Americans staring longingly across the northern border – where, currently, hotsy Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presides over a stable economy, and a society that provides universal healthcare, as well as affordable education. (And, despite comparable gun ownership, no seems to be casually blowing each other’s heads off up there, either.)

Thusly inspired, we returned to Ottawa recently (where Trudeau delegates from an office at stately 80 Wellington Street), just in time for the Tulip Festival – an event they share with that other bastion of progressive egalitarianism, The Netherlands. Downtown was teeming with food and flower markets and, of course, Canadians – who, while we hesitate to generalize, just seem so incredibly well-mannered and welcoming all the time. And speaking of wonderful welcomes, we checked into the exceedingly stylish new Andaz Ottawa Byward Market amidst what was actually a pretty buzzy Friday afternoon lobby scene.

The real lure of Canada’s capital is the impossibly picturesque setting, bordered by the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal – and with grandiose 19th Century architecture lording breathtakingly over the city. But there’s also quite a lot to pack into a few days’ visit. And it’s bi-lingual, of course, so you can brush up on your French.

Canada also turns 150 this year – so it’s pretty much a non-stop party up North.

Here’s what we did.

 

The National Gallery of Canada

A genuine architectural masterpiece by Moshe Safdie (dating to 1989), you feel awed just walking into all the cold, concrete modernism that is The National Gallery of Canada. There’s a great collection of Pop Art that should be your first stop. But the current exhibition, Photography in Canada, 1960-2000, presents an absorbing look at contemporary life through the lenses of some of the country’s most venerable snappers. Don’t forget to pose for a selfie outside with Louise Bourgeois’ massive spider sculpture Maman – it doesn’t bite, but it looks like it might.

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica

From Naples to Krakow to Hamburg, you’ve seen all those uber-baroque European “Houses of God.” Still, none could prepare you for the astonishment of Ottawa’s own Notre-Dame (Cathedral of Our Lady). First, the twin silver spires, which gleam in the sunlight, as if to indicate the transmission of divinity itself. But we sat riveted within the intentionally histrionic neo-gothic interior, which suggests a path to God by means of really daring color choices. It could almost make a believer of Richard Dawkins.

Contemporary Art

There’s actually a good little scene in Ottawa. We liked the Galerie Saw, run by artists and with a decidedly socio-political bent. But we were most taken with an exhibition of Inuit (indigenous people of the Canadian Arctic) carvings at L.A. Pai, one of the city’s most influential contemporary dealers.

The Food + Drink

Ottawa – who knew? But our tastebuds were forced to shift into overdrive during our stay. We naturally dined at the Andaz’ own Feast + Revel, only to joyously discover our new favorite food ever, fiddlehead lasagna; go Canadian and also try the lamb poutine and wild boar rillette. But the city’s hottest scene is at Riviera, with its soaring-ceilinged neo-classical interior, super cute staff and life-altering dishes like venison tartare with pistachios, as well as possibly the best chicken liver pate in the universe (a big deal for us).
For lunchtime, Play Food + Wine is as fun as its name, with small plates (shiitake gnocchi, tempura eggplant) in an industrial mod setting. Though we most loved Social, a sprawling warren of rooms perfect for naughty assignations by night – but by day, we grabbed a sunny courtyard seat and indulged in the Scottish cock a leekie and a few glasses of Canadian Hinterland sparkling wine, all to a knowingly curated Britpop soundtrack. (Canada is of the Commonwealth, after all.)

Riviera Ottawa

The Shopping

Style hounds head to the Sussex Drive corridor, where cool indie boutiques like Trust Fund, Wolf & Zed and Schad offer a current view into mode Canadienne. Patrick McGahern is a legendary shop for rare and used books, should you still prefer them in physical form. Something for the home? Get your mod on at the Modern Shop, flogging designers like Tom Dixon, Jonathan Adler and Moooi.

Moscow Tea Room

If you’re going to pick one place for a night that will remain forever hazy in your mental recall center, Moscow Tea Room is absolutely it. As you might have guessed, it’s not a tea room at all. Rather, it’s a decadent, pre-Bolshevik watering hole done up in a sort of faded Czarist opulence – though a little too earnestly plush to be kitsch. There is a cocktail list, but whatever – drift your eyes straight over to the “Spirits” section of the menu, where you’ll find 19 expertly-chosen vodkas listed by shot price. Our unimaginably lovely Arab expat bartenders Zainab and Kianna (Seriously, how can you have those names and not be a reality show?) poured us ice cold Russian Standard Platinum and impressively expounded on international political matters and their love and loyalty for their adopted country. One of the best bars anywhere, period.

Stay: Andaz Ottawa Byward Market

We’d done time at the Andaz hotels in New York, WeHo, Mayakoba – but the Andaz Ottawa is easily our fave. As you enter, there’s a tiny area for check-in, leaving the rest of the lobby for lounging and socializing – of which there was much. Rooms smartly have huge floor-to-ceiling windows, all the better to frame the awesome scenery all around. And the bathrooms…cool, modern and surprisingly spacious.
The hotel’s (literally) crowning feature, though, is the rooftop Copper Spirits & Sights. Ottawa, apparently, has not exactly discovered the joys of skyward tippling – so the bar was a sensation upon opening. There’s an enclosed indoor area, an expansive, comfy-furnished outdoor terrace, and a killer cocktail list. Tequila aficionados should order the Copper Skyline; but we couldn’t resist with the bourbon-and-smoked-glass Last Man Standing. And there’s that view.

 

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Sexy New Hotel Garuda Single + Video ‘Till it Burns Out’

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With names like Manila Killa and Candle Weather, Indonesian duo Hotel Garuda seem destined for great things. And indeed, they’ve already done high-profile remixes for Lorde, Banks and Lana Del Rey, racked up 30 million plays on Soundcloud, and been a regular presence on the Hype Machine charts since their 2014 debut.

Their new single “Til it Burns Out” is a sultry, seductive  profession of undying love, featuring an alluring vocal by Welsh singer Violet Skies. “I will wait for you / Until the stars burn out / Until the moon falls from the sky,” she intones with convincing passion, over a slow, sensual groove.

“‘Til It Burns Out’ happened,” explains Manila Killa, “because we were looking to do something different and surprise our fans. Both of us take heavy inspiration from experimental, underground, and indie music so we wanted to incorporate all of that in this next single. We hope that our fans enjoy the song as much as we had fun making it.”

BlackBook premieres the video here.

 

Star Chef Matthew Kenney on His New plnthouse at 1 Hotel South Beach

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Matthew Kenney’s NYC culinary mini-empire was as hot as it gets around the turn of the Millennium. His Monzu, Mezze, Canteen, Commune and Commissary perfectly embodied the new generation of restaurant-as-mediarati-social-incubator, galvanizing the in-crowd from Soho to the Flatiron to the UES.

Along the way, the star chef discovered something a bit more ideological: the joys and benefits of the plant-based lifestyle. Indeed, his 2004 book Raw Food World was just the first of seven he authored on the subject. He eventually decamped to, of all places, Oklahoma City, and began an experiment which became a philosophy – opening the world’s first plant-based culinary school – Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy – which he moved to Santa Monica in 2012.

1 Hotel South Beach

His Plantlab brand now oversees restaurants from LA to NYC to Bahrain and Miami, where his new plnthouse has done the impossible: made the already super hot 1 Hotel South Beach even hotter. We already loved 1HSB for its breezy chic style, plush Bamford Haybarn spa, and gorgeous, ocean-facing pool. (Celebs the likes of Adrian Grenier, Jessica Alba, Ellie Goulding and superstar DJ Steve Angello agree.) Now Kenney joins STK and Tom Colicchio’s Beachcraft, making the hotel one of the city’s top culinary destinations.

The casual-chic plnthouse veritably presents a new paradigm for veggie-focused cuisine, with dishes like French lentil pâté, a carrot ginger kelp noodles bowl and sprouted garbanzo hummus (see recipe below) – all perfect for maintaining the Miami beach bod, of course.

BlackBook caught up with the chef for a rather philosophical discussion about it all.

 

You once lorded over some of the hottest restaurants in NYC. Are their particular reasons you’re focusing more on California and Miami now?

In general, the health and wellness lifestyle is gaining popularity. But Los Angeles has the most health-conscious community in the country – and the wellness lifestyle is building momentum in Miami. My team and I at Plantlab wanted to continue leading the charge in the wellness realm by offering beautifully designed, nourishing, raw vegan dining experiences and bringing plant-based education to a mainstream demographic in these cities. I’m really excited to be working with the 1 Hotel South Beach, because plnthouse is their first plant-based restaurant – and we are bringing our focus on locally sourced, sustainable ingredients to the hotel’s clientele in an accessible, grab-and-go form.

What first drew you to the plant based culinary philosophy/lifestyle? 

I developed an appreciation for the plant-based lifestyle, implementing this philosophy on a personal level little by little throughout the years. I worked as a chef at several fine dining restaurants in New York City, and I was somewhat turned off by raw vegan restaurants, because I found most of them to be void of the atmosphere and culinary design that would excite the guest. I noticed a disconnect between fine dining and plant-based living, so I set out to create something that combined the two.

Tell us a bit about Plantlab.

Plantlab is a lifestyle brand my team and I created to drive the sustainable health and wellness movement forward, in a number of different ways. We offer accessibility to plant-based cuisine through our restaurants, such as Plant Food + Wine in both Venice and Miami, Double Zero in NYC, Make Out in Culver City, Matthew Kenney NM at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills and, of course, plnthouse.
As well, Plantlab is grooming the next generation of plant-based raw vegan chefs through The Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy, a culinary school offering courses in raw vegan cuisine at the highest level via nine global locations and an online “campus.” And we’ve just officially launched Matthew Kenney Wellness, offering retreat experiences that give guests the knowledge and tools to implement a plant-based lifestyle when they return home. Plantlab hosted a wellness retreat in Kauai this May, and the next venture will be our collaboration with Camp Âme at Turnberry Isle Miami…for a weekend retreat this July 7-9, including nutritional education, group fitness, spa services, and social events led by health, nutrition, beauty and fitness practitioners.

plnthouse at 1 Hotel South Beach

What are the benefits of a plant based diet? And some of the misconceptions?

Plants are nutrient-rich and fuel our bodies with the minerals we need to operate at our best. Plants not only provide the basis for optimal health, but a plant-based lifestyle also contributes to the overall well-being of the planet.
There tends to be a certain stigma surrounding the term ‘vegan’; people think it means you have to sacrifice all enjoyment around your food, and you’re definitely not getting enough protein, etc. But there’s no need for an ‘all-or-nothing’ attitude when adopting a plant-based lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be a major shift from eating meat to suddenly gnawing on raw vegetables and nothing else. You can implement more plants into your daily routine quite easily by making small tweaks.

Why was the 1 Hotel South Beach the right locale for plnthouse? Is it a philosophical alignment?

Miami is already ahead of the curve when it comes to promoting an active and healthy lifestyle, and wellness is in the DNA of the 1 Hotel South Beach; it emanates health with a certain cool factor. It seemed like the perfect location because it’s so accessible. My hope is that people living in and traveling to Miami will realize how easy it can be to integrate a plant-based diet into their busy, on-the-go lifestyles.

What can diners expect that is new and unique about plnthouse and its menu?

The menu includes salads, wraps and sandwiches, bowls, and smoothies. Any of our smoothies can be turned into meal-replacement bowls with natural super-food granola and tropical fruits, which a lot of our guests enjoy. The One Salad is quite a crowd-pleaser and includes shaved vegetables, hemp seeds, sunflower sprouts, avocado and more. We also have really great shareable plates like sprouted garbanzo hummus and yuzu guacamole with wasabi crackers.

Can you quickly sum up your culinary mission? And the mission of Plantlab?

Our ultimate goal, through our restaurants, Culinary Academy and unique programming, is to help the world move towards a more sustainable outlook on health by offering accessibility and education about a plant-based lifestyle.

 

Matthew Kenney’s Select plnthouse Recipes

One Salad Recipe

Salad
3 cups mixed greens
1 cup shaved vegetables (carrots, fennel, radish)
2 teaspoons hemp seeds
1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
1 small bunch sunflower sprouts
Chili Lime Vinaigrette Yield 389 grams
30 g jalapeno, seeded and diced
108 g lime juice
25 g coconut nectar
7.5 g salt
50 g rice vinegar
Blend everything except the olive oil. Once the mix is smooth, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
Spicy Macadamia Nuts Yield 1 cup
1 Cup raw soaked macadamia nuts
1 Tablespoon lime juice
¾ Teaspoon dark chili powder
¾ Teaspoon maple syrup
Soak the macadamia nuts overnight. The next day rinse the nuts and strain to remove excess water. Toss the nuts in the lime, salt, maple, lime and chili powder. Transfer the marinated nuts to teflex lined dehydrator trays and dehydrate until dry at 115 (approximately 24-48 hours).

Sprouted Garbanzo Hummus Recipe

Garbanzo Beans
2 cups dry garbanzo beans
Soak garbanzo beans overnight then drain and rinse. Put garbanzo beans in a flat container then cover with cheesecloth and allow to sprout overnight. Once sprouted rinse the beans then place in a rondo with 2 quarts of water. Skim any foam while beans are cooking.
Hummus
2.5 Cups sprouted and cooked garbanzo beans
2 Cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
¼ Cup tahini
½ Tablespoon salt
¼ Cup olive oil – poured in slowly
Put the everything except the olive oil in food processor and start blending. Slowly pour in olive oil until smooth.
Yuzu Guacamole
Yuzu Guacamole
2 Avocadoes
2 Teaspoons salt
¼ Teaspoon yuzu extract
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Teaspoon rice vinegar
Garnish
Shaved daikon radish
Pickled jalapeno
Wasabi sprouts

FIRST IMAGES: Ace Hotel Chicago

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Having conquered the NYC – LA – London triumvirate, it seemed kind of inevitable that the Ace Hotel brand would go on to plant its flag in the Windy City. But rather than landing in the the more obvious hipster playland of Wicker Park / Bucktown, the new Ace Hotel Chicago will open in a more central location near Fulton Market.

Still and all, this will put the hotel just a couple of blocks from the perpetually trendy W. Randolph Street dining corridor. To that end, they have enlisted Jason Vincent (Thrillist‘s 2016 Chef of the Year), who racked up the accolades with the opening last year of his by now exalted Logan Square restaurant Giant. There will also be a rooftop bar and Chicago’s first Stumptown Coffee on site.

Interiors are by LA design studio Commune, with detailing meant to evoke Chicago architectural icon Mies van der Rohe. And as with other Ace Hotels, there will be assorted public event spaces, which will act as social hubs and incubators for music, art, tech, film and the like. Expect the hotel to be a particular galvanizing force for the local creative types.

Reservations are already being taken for an official September 1 opening – and since we love autumn in Chicago, expect to find us there. But those without the patience can book a “preview” stay, as early as July 1 – which comes with the best amenity of all: the right to stay you stayed there before everyone else. (And 10% of the reservation cost goes to support Ace community partners Little Black Pearl, Young Chicago Authors and 826CHI

 

David Lynch Foundation and Katy Perry Launch Omaze Campaign

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Katy Perry and Transcendental Meditation wouldn’t seem at first a likely duo. But the singer actually credits deep-thinking ex Russell Brand with turning her on to it.

And so it is that she has been enlisted by the David Lynch Foundation (staunch advocates of TM) for a new Omaze campaign that is sure to set fans all atwitter with excitement. For as little as a $10 donation, participants will be entered to win VIP tiks (+ flight and accommodations) to a select Katy Perry concert, plus a backstage photo shoot and makeup session with the “Firework” girl. Neato.

The winner will also receive a certificate for two for Transcendental Meditation training, meant to permanently reduce the stress of everyday contemporary existence. In fact, the DLF uses the technique to help the likes of PTSD veterans and victims of domestic violence to reach recovery. And all proceeds from the campaign will in fact go to veterans causes and at-risk kids.

Omaze, founded by Matthew Pohlson and Ryan Cummins in 2012, facilitates charitable campaigns that offer such once-in-a-lifetime experiences as this. They’ve previously worked with such celebs as George Clooney, Jennifer Lawrence, Matt Damon and Idris Elba, amongst others.

 

 

Spending a Perfect Day (+ Night) in Paris with Neo-Jazz Songstress ALA.NI

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Like many a Londoner, Brit singer ALA.NI finally tired of all the building sites and construction mess in Blighty’s capital, and made her way to Paris – where erecting ugly new skyscrapers is relegated to aesthetically-challenged bastions of business like La Defense. The creative results of the move were a glorious new album, You and I, which is a dazzling, unapologetic paean to the glory days of jazz-pop divas like Billie, Ella and, surely, Mdm. Piaf.

Her greatest inspiration, other than maybe Paris itself?

“Love!,” she exclaims. “It leads us all. In its ups and downs. The album is a tale of a love affair that takes place over a year – from the first look, the first kiss, the anticipation of what’s to come, the longing, the reality, the heartbreak and the renewal.”

To be sure, tracks like “Roses & Wine” and “Ol’Fashioned Kiss” sparkle with a sexy, retro cool, and are delightfully free of trendy embellishment. While “Darkness at Noon” is a simmering, anguished bit of noir heartbreak, just waiting for a David Lynch scene to soundtrack.

But surely our favorite is “Cherry Blossom,” the sound of new love blossoming in springtime (“Fall for me / Long for me / Always be a friend to me”), in all its languid, hopeful, sensual and unbelievably irresistible beauty.

“I wrote ‘Cherry Blossom’ whilst in Grenada,” she recalls. “At 3am, with the crickets and sea stirring, the lyrics and melody came to me. This combo very rarely happens with such ease, so I took the moment fully. The lyrics express, like cherry blossoms, the impermanence of life and love. For that moment of existence, you must embrace it all and declare yourself as lost, taken by the wind.”

She’ll be appearing live at NYC’s Rockwood Hall Music Hall June 19, and Central Park Summerstage on the 21st. But hoping to catch a bit of her inspiration, we asked ALA.NI to take us through her perfect Paris day, from the patisseries to the bookshops to a grand, historic venue where she did cartwheels onstage.

 

 

Breakfast

Parisians don’t really do breakfast. Being a Brit, if I go out for breakfast I want a large fry up! It’s all cafes and croissants here. But I’m not a coffee drinker, so its patisseries and boulangeries for me; and I am in the best city in the world for making flour and water into fantastical culinary delights. I love the cocoa bread from Maison Landemaine and anything and everything from Dalloyau. A “Millefeuille Vanille” for breakfast is perfectly acceptable. Best apricot jam to have on your croissant is Alain Millet.

 

Lunch

The Yard is my absolute favorite for lunch. Its described as “Modern French.” For me it’s a bit Scandinavian too, rustic and delicious comfort food. The menu changes every day, the best are the three times cooked potatoes, cut in a cool cross hatch design. Details, I like the details. Rabbit in tarragon sauce. Wonderful mackerel salads, grilled marrow in the bone. It’s hard to practice vegetarianism here. Great wines too.

Shop

Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse has the best chocolate in the whole wide world! Take it from a girl who wanted to marry Willy Wonka. The factory shop in Bastille is worth a visit; as a choco-phile, I often find myself in the courtyard of the factory, just sniffing the air and letting out sounds of sheer delight.
Yvon Lambert bookshop. I can spend hours in there looking at art and photography books. And fighting for the one chair in the whole shop.

 

Culture

The Phono Museum is a must visit if you have any interest in the history of music. Wax cylinders, phonographs, huge vintage twin gramophones, specially designed for those old school 1900’s bashment “soundsystem” parties! So much to see to make you appreciate that your mini iPod player has come a very, very long way.

Dinner

I love Lapérouse for dinner. Its secret little Salon Privé is dripping with all kinds of antique, scandalous bad behavior. It’s a rabbit warren of a building dating from 1766, with secret passages hidden in the walls. Wonder what they needed those for?

 

Music Venue

Chatelet Theatre is one of my favorite venues in Paris. I have seen Pina Bausch dance company there a few times, and it is magnificent because the stage is so huge. I had the opportunity to perform there last autumn and during soundcheck I was doing no-handed cartwheels across the massive stage. I just wanted to feel the space. Luckily I didn’t land on my head.

Nightcap

I’m always hungry. I have endless munchies and I’m not much of drinker, so any late night food spots are good for me. There are no 24-hour bagel shops like in London or New York, but Babylone Bis creole restaurant is like a “knock twice” speakeasy that is open from 8PM-5AM. Perfect for midnight feasting.