The Lemongrass Boys and their sweet stuff. Lick’em cold or drink them hot!

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We meet Sam again for the second time after 2 years. He still looks the same, smiles big the same and enjoys us the same! :-D.  We’re back to Lemongrass to relish their artisan gelato, and it’s a bit nostalgic. Cono? Coppa ? Yes, please!  

Sam

Lemongrass is just next-door to our rented apartment in Via Ottaviano near the Vatican so it’s easy to go back again and again and sit there as long as we want.  To this day, I never asked why they called themselves such. But I was told there are three owners which is symbolised by the three ice cream cones printed on the paper napkins.

 

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We would come here late at night, an hour before closing time when there aren’t too many people dropping by. That gives us the opportunity to chat with the boys and exchange about the day’s happenings. Plus, their wi-fi is faster than what we have in the apartment.

 

 

 

 

Lemongrass gelato (they say gelati is plural) are made smooth & full of flavour, you can taste the natural goodness. They don’t have ice crystals that feel rough sitting on the tongue.  There are other gelateria’s nearby but according to my taste buds, Lemongrass is perfect!  It has a 4.6 rating out of 5 in customer’s satisfaction from Google and it gets top marks in TripAdvisor reviews. That’s how Sam remembers me when I reviewed the shop 2 years ago. They serve artisan ice cream made with organic ingredients. They say their ice creams  are lactose-free, egg- free, gluten-free and without dried fruits. De-li-zio-so!

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I’m losing my glamour. Eat me up!

This time, we met Mario who joined Sam in the late afternoon shift till closing time. Scooping gelato for 8 hours must be exhausting and that’s not the only thing they do. They also serve tea and hot chocolate and they brew coffee from espresso to cappuccino, latte macchiato caffelatte and more. At the end of the day, a good conversation I reckon is what they need to end the night. Tired or not, they are still all smiles!

Sam and Mario  are like Duo Penotti- that chocolate hazelnut spread with two stripy colours of milky white and caramel brown. They work in harmony almost tirelessly. When Sam is making coffee, Mario is in the front serving customers and vice versa.

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One night, I asked Sam to make me a latte macchiato cafelatte (that’s a whole lot of words to say) but I wanted it a bit cold and sweet so he came up with the idea of adding coffee gelato in it, and dusted the drink with chocolate powder.  That’s an excellent service! I don’t drink coffee but this concoction made me, and I went back for that macchiato with coffee gelato almost every night.

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delicious pastries and biscotti to go with your hot drinks: No regrets!

 

There are people you meet in life and you wish they will always be there when you go back to the same place. I know Sam plans to go to Florida in the US after his engineering studies and then hopes to be the first franchisee of Lemongrass, the gelato he loves and passionately serves  to thousands of people who come to Rome and leave again. As for Mario, I never asked where he will be the next time we are back but I know for sure, I will be seeing him in Instagram and Facebook. Sam is neither in any of those social media’s. I guess I will just have to ask around where the first Lemongrass franchise is located.

CONES

Lemongrass Gelato: Via Ottaviano 29, 00192 Rome, Italy ‘ Tel. +39 06 39723524  http://lemongrass.it/en/     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Till the sun sets: Grottaferrata & Frascati

Summer afternoons in Italy extend to long daylight and it doesn’t get dark until about 10 at night.

From Castel Gandolfo, there was enough time to visit two more adjoining towns in the Castelli Romani (Roman Castles) area. Castelli Romani is a collection of  wine-producing hill-towns to the south east of Rome.

On our way to Grottaferrata, we passed some vineyards along Marino, another small town along the Alban hills, famous for its white wine and its grape festival that is held every 1st Sunday of October. For one hour during this day, fountains will not flow with water but instead, wine for free!

Grottaferrata, we have arrived! First, another cup of espresso to boost the energy and beside the coffee shop, I spotted something that amused my eyes. A  Fiat 500L I’d be happy to test drive. I love classic cars and till now, I regret not buying the MG MGB car I once found in a Bangkok car garage because friends told me the maintenance was too high so I settled for a brand new Toyota Starlet instead.  Well, it wasn’t a head-turner.

We walked up to the town’s main sight, the peaceful  abbey Monastero Esarchico di Santa Maria di Grottaferrata. I am so glad that in Italy, I can go inside a church without paying an entrance fee. Say my prayers and admire the beautiful frescoes created by great masters.

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Pretty little thing. Fiat 500L

 

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Entrance and side wall of the Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata
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Exterior of the church that was completed in 1024
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The “wishing” fountain

 

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A good spot to make a wish with new friends
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Statue of St. Nilus the Younger (San Nilo di Rossano), Patron saint of the Abbey

As the sun begins to drop, so is the heat and many elderly people settled on benches under huge trees licking on ice creams and enjoying a relaxing time. We made our way to our final destination, Frascatti, an attractive historic hill town and also known for its white wine. It is the most-visited of the Castelli Romani because of its many inexpensive restaurants serving local specialities. It is definitely more crowded than Grottaferrata with the number of cars parked on all sides of the streets.

The most imposing building in Frascatti is the grand Villa Aldobrandini, with gardens that are open to the public. The palace dominates the town taking centre-stage above the central piazza in faded splendour. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful subject to photograph.

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Villa Aldobrandini at sunset

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Fountain on the main square, Piazza Guglielmo Marconi

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Façade of Cathedral San Pietro Apostolo on Piazza San Pietro. A good place to watch the day go by when the sun goes down.

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We saw the long shopping street with many stalls selling all sorts of fun things from toys to food and even vacuum cleaners. You can’t miss the gelaterias that are so inviting.

Before taking our journey back to Rome, we stopped by Eden Pasticceria beside the cathedral for cold drinks and a little buffet. It was a short time to sit down with Walter and Lina, Andrea’s parents who have been very good hosts to us during this day (read my earlier blog on Castel Gandolfo), and let the children be by themselves at the steps of the cathedral.

We may not be able to speak each other’s languages but Google translator made it  possible for us to understand one another. It was a fun day of accomplishment!

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Eden Pasticceria outdoor Bar        Photo: Francesco Posati

The night was getting dark and we started walking back  to the car, passing many of the townsfolk and local visitors who are out to enjoy the milder temperature of the evening and to enjoy themselves with some street music & entertainment & street dining. We said goodbye to Lina, Rebecca and Arianna as they drove back home, while Walter and Andrea took us back to Rome.  That feeling of exhilaration wells out inside me. We met new friends who made us feel relaxed and treated us with generosity of their time.  This has been one memorable day worth remembering. An Italian experience away from the usual (crowded) tourist destinations.

*Meeting the Fanfarillo family came about because of networking. It started with author Margie Miklas who I met through her blogs on Italy, specifically the one about Rome. She met a lady who showed her Rome and I  asked if Daniela Fanfarillo would also be willing to be our guide when we arrive Rome just after the first week of August.  Margie introduced me to Daniela but who was then in New York, and in turn she introduced  us to her teenage nephew Andrea in Rome.  With my teenage daughter not wanting to  do anymore museum visits or do any walking tours,  Andrea has been a great friend to Sam who wanted to do teenage activities and meeting others her age.

Thank you, Margie for connecting me to Daniela. Thank you, Daniela for sharing  Andrea to us. Through him, it allowed Sam to meet  new (Italian) friends ( Bobby & Flavio too) and experienced a different visit to Rome. It also made us meet Andrea’s family we know will be our friends for life.

 

Margie Miklas, author: https://www.amazon.com/Margie-Miklas/e/B0094YY3LA  https://margieinitaly.com/2017/08/30/a-psychological-thriller-critical-cover-up-coming-soon/

Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata: Corso del Popolo, 128, 00046 Grottaferrata RM, Italy.

Cathedral San Pietro Apostolo: Piazza S. Pietro, 2, 00044 Frascati RM, Italy

Eden Pasticceria: Via Cesare Battisti 22, 00044 Frascati RM, Italy  http://www.edencaffe.it/locations/eden-frascati/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castel Gandolfo: Crackling hot (it’s the porchetta) to your delight! Take 2!

It’s never happened to me before that I have to re-write a blog because it’s no longer there for others to read. Last night, I wrote this piece, published it and went to bed. I woke up in the morning to hear that someone cannot read a text but just a title, and can only see a feature image. It’s gone!  I love what I wrote because it was somehow a piece I wrote about our day with our new Italian friends we met in a special way during our recent trip to Rome. With much perseverance,  joy came in the form of another blogger who lives in Australia and have read my piece earlier and still has the whole article intact in her mobile phone. Lyn Douglas, thank you for your generous time in sending me the screen shots so I can re-write this piece. You are priceless!  🙂 

 

Visiting Castel Gandolfo was a casual invitation from a young man who  came as a “blessing-in disguise” for my teenage girl who hesitated to come to Rome for the third time. She wants to do teenage stuff, not go on tours  with a tour guide in the summer heat! And no more museums, she said. Despite her whining, we flew to Rome anyway,  and on the 4th day, we went to Castel Gandolfo, and we were in for a very pleasant surprise!

Earlier, we met Andrea for the very first time on our second day in Rome. It is through the introduction of two beautiful people that we came to know him and I will acknowledge these lovely ladies I have never met in person in my next blog.

It is Sunday. It is better sunny than rainy. Andrea came with his dad Walter, and they picked us up from Termini, the main railway station of Rome with 33 platforms and catering to over 150 million passengers each year.  http://www.romatermini.com/en/ https://www.raileurope.com/europe-travel-guide/italy/rome/train-station/termini-train-station.html

According to Wikipedia, It is the second largest railway station in Europe after Paris Gare du Nord Paris Gare du Nord.

We drove out of the city and along the way, we passed tall, beautiful ornamental pines that dominated the almost arid countryside Landscape (due to lack of rain) outside Rome. But as we came closer to Castel Gandolfo, it became greener revealing picturesque Italian towns we have never seen before.

At the foot of Castel Gandolfo where Walter parked, we climbed the steps and walked up the sampietrini-paved path (cut stones of black basalt) towards the hill. It was a good leg exercise for one who lives in a flatland. I only wish I could climb hills more often in the hope for longer life!

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Good walking shoes will take you up there

 

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The archway leading to Castel Gandolfo

 

In a small cafe in Piazza della Liberta, we met the rest of Andrea’s family for the first time. His lovely mother, Lina, and his two younger sisters, Rebecca and Arianna. Already, dad Walter was ordering freshly brewed espresso to perk up the early afternoon walk, in preparation for a hearty lunch of Porchetta. The introduction was warm and there’s a little bit of excitement as we meet one another face-to-face after almost 2 weeks of communicating in Whatsapp. Sam, my daughter warmed up to the girls and she enjoyed their presence.

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Piazza della Liberta and the Papal Palace

 

Castel Gandolfo is a quiet town 25 kilometers away from Rome, and about 40 minutes drive by car. It sits on top of the picturesque Lake Albano and it is also the summer residence and vacation retreats of Popes for generations when the Vatican acquired the 17th- century Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo from the aristocratic and influential Savelli family who was said that they couldn’t pay a debt to the papacy.  Pope Francis, the present Pope whose cause is to help the poor thought it too luxurious for him to spend even a night here.  In October 2016, The Papal Palace became a museum and visit to its beautifully landscaped gardens is now open to the public.

Next door to the Papal palace is the church of San Tommaso di Villanova, with its gloriously designed golden dome. It was designed by the Baroque artist Bernini, whose works you can see in many parts of Rome.

Golden Dome, Church of San Tommaso di Villanova. Photo: Software engineer Ulrich Mayring

There is not much to do in Castel Gandolfo but it is a beautiful place to savour a few relaxing hours and take panoramic shots of the area.  I really need a wide angle lens and the photos here are the results of a combined Samsung and iPhone mobile phones, and a few from my Olympus XZ-2; except for a photo I borrowed from Daily Mail and one from software developer Ulrich Mayring.

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Lake Albano at a glance from above

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Charming streets to dine
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Beat the heat and dine under an umbrella

Away from the busy touristic sights of Rome and a chance to appreciate an Italian village atmosphere.

 

 

For a real taste of Castel Gandolfo, we walked away from the touristic part down to Via Bruno Buozzi to taste the much talked – about Porchetta di Ariccia from Fa. Lu. Cioli, the famous and reputable Italian meat brand that has attracted a huge customer loyalty throughout the century. They are celebrating 100 years in the business, an excellent track record for a family business that has been passed on from one generation to the other. The specialty of the house? Porchetta- their exceptional crispy, golden-brown, savoury, and moist boneless pork roasted in a special oven above 250 degrees heat for 4 hours. The preparation time takes as much as the roasting and all done with precision and years of experience. It starts with the salting of the meat and binding that includes stuffing with garlic, rosemary, fennel and other herbs.

In this small but busy restaurant, you also find jugs of local wines. If they were not too heavy, I would have bought a bottle to bring back home. The freshly delivered porchetta  looked very good, smelled good, and with a beautiful company, lunch is bound to be full-filling. The dining table called for a celebration! The language barrier was never a problem and we all managed to understand one another with the help of Google translator and Andrea. La Vita è bella!

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A word of thanks for the many years of support to the family business from Fabio & Luca Cioli

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If for any health reasons or otherwise that you cannot have pork, there are other foods to try and the home-made breads are fresh and the different cheeses are very tasty!

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20170813_160247The name Cioli has always been renowned for its genuine and excellent quality Porchetta.
The company was founded in 1917 by Ovidio Cioli at the age of 17. He had an amazing intuition: he bought a pig, he deboned it, he seasoned it by using only natural flavours such as salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. Next he sew the two meat parts shut and put it into the oven at a high temperature. That is how Porchetta was born.
All the techniques regarding the production of this unique culinary product have been kept alive by the Cioli family for one hundred years and for four generations.
Currently the production takes place in our large production plant in Ariccia, Rome as well as in Union, New Jersey which was opened in 2008.
Both companies are run by Fabio and Luca Cioli.
Over the years Porchetta has received several different awards for its quality both on a national level as well as on an international level. – specialtyfood.com

Porchetta has been selected by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture (Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali)  as a traditional agricultural-alimentary product (prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale), one of a list of traditional Italian foods held to have cultural relevance- Wikipedia.

 

After lunch, Walter drove us down to the beach area of Lake Albano, a small volcanic crater lake in the Alban Hills, formed by a fusion of two volcanic craters with a depth of 170 meters.  That is very deep! And indeed, it is the deepest lake in the Lazio region.

The beach area was packed with sun-worshippers doing beach volleyball, sun-bathing and under-the-sun activities. I think white people love to alter their skin colour :-).  From down there looking up, it is a beautiful scenery to see the villas and buildings perched on the rocky hillside.

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Turquoise waters of lake Albano. A view from the top
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Sailing, rowing and other water activities on the water. A view from the beach area
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Houses on the rocky hillside. A view from the beach area
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The Papal palace, Church and houses. Photo: dailymail.co.uk

We had a wonderful time in Castel Gandolfo and while there is still enough light to see other things, we drove to neighbouring Grottaferrata and Frascatti. I’ll be writing about the experience in my next blog. https://buitenwatersloot.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/till-the-sun-sets-grottaferrata-frascati/

 

Fa. Lu. Cioli Porchetta: Via Bruno Buozzi, 00040 Castel Gandolfo RM, Italy,                   Tel.  +39 06 936 0030.

For a visit to the Papal Gardens: You can only visit on a guided tour, which must be booked in advance through the Vatican Museums website.

Serve it again, ZAM…

It’s palatable, hot as in wow! and original like nothing else. Bangkok adds another food experience to the growing number of restaurants and eateries in this dense city and it’s whetting the appetite of locals who are adventurous to try something different from their home-cooking of hot curries and spices. To some foreign visitors, it’s an  eye-popper.  “It’s not like what we have in the States!” No, it’s not. Service, please!

 

Karl Baim, former Australian banker and business strategist who has made Bangkok his retirement home, has left the corporate world and is now making the most of his time on his first venture in fast food, the Zambrero, Australia’s largest Mexican chain. Two months since its opening in June 2017, Karl remains positive with Zambrero Silom’s success and he is counting his blessings. With his dedicated staff of five, Karl supervises the quality control of every ingredient that comes in so that every dish that is served has all the goodness and freshness of the Zambrero brand. Karl’s enthusiasm and hands-on approach to managing Zambrero Silom is a testament of his many years in managing people and making businesses grow big. His weapon? Positive mental attitude and his faith, with the solid backing of his wife and family.

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Karl 1

This modern Mexican fast food opened its first shop in Braddon, Australia in 2005. It was the brain child of  33-year old philanthropist Dr. Zam Prince, one of Australia’s richest Echo Boomers and a second-generation immigrant of Sri Lankan heritage. It’s motto: Mexican with a mission.  For every burrito or bowl a customer purchases at Zambrero, a meal is donated to someone in need in the developing world, through their distribution partner Rise Against Hunger. While that may not be the case in all their franchise stores, the newly opened Zambrero in the Silom area, Bangkok’s financial district aims to serve wholesome & freshly prepared foods with quality ingredients and quick service topped with genuine friendly smiles.  Vegetarian? They’re serving. You can either dine-in or conveniently take the food with you.

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Zambrero bowl. All the goodness of a burrito just without the tortilla.
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Another Zambrero Bowl. White rice, lettuce, freshly made salsa, your choice of meat and sauce.
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Burrito wrapped in warm tortilla with your choice of slow cooked meats, freshly made salsa, fresh lettuce, white rice and sour cream.
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Taco. Have it crunchy or soft tortilla filled with your choice of meat, freshly made salsa and sauce.
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Zambrero meal with freshly made salsa and guacamole.
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Photo courtesy: http://raskalov-vit.livejournal.com

 

Silom area, Bangkok’s financial district has everything from banks, hotels, shopping, restaurants, recreation, Jewelry companies, the famous Jim Thompson’s silk shop (#9 Suriwongse rd.) and the quiet cultural hub Neilson Hays Library housing two art galleries (#195 Suriwongse road). Somewhere else here is the tastiest Zambrero (Silom). Two minutes  walk from CP Tower, Four minutes walk from Bangkok Bank headquarter and one minute walk from Patpong night market. The exterior isn’t typically Mexican but it’s shouting, welcome!

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120 Silom Road (off Patpong 2), Suriwongse Road.

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When in Bangkok or in the Silom area, salsa your way to Zambrero Silom. A plate of goodness never disappoints. Vamos!

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Zambrero Silom: 

120 Silom Road (off Patpong 2), Suriwongse
Bangkok, Thailand
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+66 2 234 6576

Open on Monday- Sunday. 11:00 a.m. -11:00 p.m.

Photo credits: 

Edwin Edwin van Doorn is a professional Dutch cameraman (and soundman) living in Bangkok and travels non-stop around Thailand, all of Asia & Europe. Edwin has done assignments in Australia & New Zealand  covering travel presentations & documentaries.  His portfolio include works for National Geographic,  Discovery Channel, History Channel, RTL, Animal Planet, AsiaNews Network and too much to mention here.   Telephone contact: +66 968641691.

JoJo Supasit Srisawathsak is one of Bangkok’s vibrant and talented professional photographers specialising in fashion photography & contributing to many of Thailand’s fashion magazines. At present, Jo is honing his skills in wildlife & landscape photography; 360 degrees Virtual reality.

Jo travels extensively outside Thailand and loves Iceland where he visits yearly with his mum for his landscape photography. While living in San Francisco, Jo worked as fashion photographer before moving back to Bangkok.

View many of Jo’s works here: https://www.facebook.com/jjsupasit/ Telephone contact: +668)-1-647-6791.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIOR-rific, my Cherry on the Top!

I’ve been told I write long blogs so for this one, I thought I’ll make it partly a photo essay after all, Christian Dior the brand is so big, so well-known and so loved by many from all walks of life. Even those who cannot physically own a small piece of Dior  adore the products from glossy advertisements and magazines, so I hope the photos will be more than sufficient to express my thoughts and beautiful experience with the iconic Dior brand.

Cosmetics are personal and for me, Dior cosmetics are a thing of beauty and elegance and all-woman (I am referring to the women’s line). They are a beautiful accessory to carry inside my bag, whether it’s just a lipstick or mascara, or a miniature J’adore perfume with its floral-fruity notes, to freshen up during the day outside the house. It is luxuriously presented in an amphora-shaped bottle (minus the handles). Amphora is a tall ancient Greek or Roman jar with 2 handles and a narrow neck.

For a longer lasting experience of J’adore perfume, use the J’adore silky body oil after your bath. I do and it stays with me all day!

Although the creator behind Ja’dore is  Calice BeckerDior’s own perfumer- creator, François Demachy, says of this scent”

“J’adore is an extraordinary fragrance because it achieves the feat of being an original signature that easily appeals. Sensual without being too heavy… J’adore invents a flower that doesn’t exist, an ideal.”

“Don’t buy much but make sure that what you buy is good.”
Christian Dior, The Little Dictionary of Fashion: A Guide to Dress Sense for Every Woman

I may not be able to afford all the Dior Cosmetics line but one of the things I know about every Dior product is their good quality. A quality you can smell, touch and experience on the spot at every Dior counter.  Next to that is the presentation. Each product is presented immaculately, it makes you feel like a million-dollar customer. If you can only taste Dior with your tongue, then Dior is the Cherry on the Top of your cosmetics chain.

I have two Diorific lipsticks. They are long-wearing, in matte, and in this jewel-like gold case. It makes a girl special!

Mitzah the lipstick  (and perfume) is named after Christian Dior’s muse, advisor and friend, the alluring Mitzah Bricard, described as an extremely sensual woman with a captivating presence.

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My latest eyeshadow acquisition is this soft palette of Dior Monoshow eyeshadow.  It was inspired by the fabric textures of the brand’s fashions – matte, silky, ultra-glittery and lamé – and features super-saturated hues to deck the eyes in long-lasting colours with radiant finishes. The Monoshow eyeshadow comes in 26 beautiful  shades and there is always one that matches your skin tone.

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Diorshow Mono 756 Front row

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is now spring  and here’s a little overview of the spring/summer colours. I have a light brown skin and not all of the colours are suitable for my skin tone, but the latest from Backstage Pros Dior Addict Lip Sugar Scrub is for every skin tone. It works wonders for my chapped lips due to the cold winter weather. Lip Sugar Scrub exfoliates and nourishes with grains of sugar that melt away giving you an incredibly softer lips. It can be applied under your regular lipstick.  The sugary crystals are not sweet as sugar, otherwise you’ll end up licking your lips dry.

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Lipsugarscrub1Lip Sugar Scrub elegantly packaged, it is sugary crystals but not sweet as sugar.

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Small little necessities such as this Creme Abricot fortifying cream for nails surely does wonders for dry, hardened skin around your nails. It smells apricot as its name suggests! Having been exposed to cold weather during the winter months and this cold spring, I use a little of it since it is so rich, every night on and around my nails. For better absorption, I wear light cotton gloves to sleep. Overnight, my skin is nourished and looking good again the next day. Creme Abricot1

The iconic Dior Manicure nail care since 1963, renowned for its nourishing and moisturising properties. Its highly rich formula fortifies nails and improves resistance with visible results in just one month.

For me, a beautiful and long-lasting relationship with a brand starts with a good service and kind attention I receive. Dior Cosmetics has done just that. The Beauty Advisers I go to again and again excel in their knowledge of beauty and skin care, and years of experience with the products. Before you buy, they even test the products on your skin and give you a full make-up experience if necessary making sure you get both product and brand satisfaction. That’s added cherries on the top!

“Zest is the secret of all beauty. There is no beauty that is attractive without zest” –                                                               Christian Dior

FINESSE IT WITH DIOR!  Here’s my 15-year old loving Dior and and enjoying its pampering. If it makes you feel good inside and it transforms you on the outside, I trust Dior with that zesty feeling!

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Lipstick: Diorific 008 Mitzah; Lip Liner: Dior Contour that enhances lip volume.
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Foundation: The New Nude Diorskin Forever 030 Medium Beige.

 

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Dior Backstage Eye primer & Eye Shadow: Diorshow Mono 530 Gallery.

And now for the very best of Dior Cosmetics, the cream of the crop, L’or de Vie Dior skincare’s masterpiece! Because its key ingredient can only be found at the greatest vineyard in the world at the Dior Gardens producing the greatest wine, the Chateau d’Yquem and classified as a Premier Cru Superieur, the only wine that ever received this distinction to date, it’s been said that no one has rivaled its longevity, aromatic complexity and its delightful taste. The selectivity of the grapes is so high that the estate yields the lowest in the world, where each vine produces just one glass of wine each harvest. Equally, one vine of flowers carefully selected and hand-harvested  produces just one L’Or de Vie jar. Dior scientists have tapped  on the rich potential of the Yquem Sap, extracted from the rarest flowers of the vineyard producing an exceptional antioxidant known to prolong the skin’s longevity and youthful appearance. Dior calls it, “THE GIFT OF LONGEVITY.” It comes in the form of a serum, facial cream, eye & lip cream.

L'Or de Vie

 

If I have to add more cherry toppings, it will be a real Cherry, one of Dior’s long time and very experienced Beauty Consultant who has been representing the brand proudly for the last 15 years. Cher 1pica

English rose Cheryl Clow is in the very core of my Dior journey. She’s given good advice too many to resist why Dior stands out in cosmetics innovation and why the cosmetics she recommend really look good on you, and why the skin care products she recommend  work to your advantage. If it’s perfume you are looking for, she suggests you take your pick from the many choices of beautiful scents, all with a beautiful story behind them. After all, a scent is very personal. Cheryl is honest with her advise and makes sure you don’t just buy for the sake of buying. She assures you that every Dior product/s you are buying is worth what you came for. But most of all, she has ears to listen to your skin needs, recommends the best and patiently wraps your purchases as if every single time is Christmas!

Cheryl is the counter manager at de Bijenkorf The Hague, the only upscale department store in the city.

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Useful Information:

https://www.lvmh.com/houses/perfumes-cosmetics/parfums-christian-dior/

 

Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, at a news conference in Paris on Tuesday. LVMH already owned Parfums Christian Dior; it will now take ownership of the brand’s clothing, leather and shoes businesses. CreditGeoffroy Van Der Hasselt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

 

 

The Hague in Spring & the 30 square meters of France in it

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Hofvijver (Lake) and part of the Buitenhof (Outer court) Gothic buildings

Seat of the Dutch government, the King’s working palace and foreign embassies, The Hague is a very important city in The Netherlands and it is a melting pot of both the locals & foreign residents and ushers to millions of visitors from around the world that come to discover what it has to offer all-year-round: Museums, historical buildings, restaurants, shopping and then there’s the Scheveningen beach just a little bit farther with the tram or bicycle, that fills up in the summer months. I’m not venturing out that far and I’m staying within the city centre by foot.

I’m starting from the Mauritshuis,  a beautiful Baroque art museum housing some of the best of the Dutch Golden Age paintings like Vermeer’s permanent exhibit, Girl with a pearl earring, and Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. It is located just beside the Binnenhof  (Inner court) where it houses the office of the Dutch Prime Minister and the House of Parliament. When I visited here a week ago, the exhibition was called, “Slow food”- still life of the Golden Age that runs until the 25th of June 2017.

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The Girl with a Pearl Earring, Vermeer
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Still Life with meat, fish, vegetables and fruits, Jacob van Huldonck c.1615-1620 at the Slow Food exhibition till 25 June, 2017.

Just a few steps away from Mauritshuis, you approach the decorated entrance of Binnenhof and the office of the Prime Minister in the small tower on the right corner called, Torentje (little tower).

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A glimpse of the inner court
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Hofvijver and the Buitenhof

Just outside the Buitenhof are the beautiful architectural buildings, the beauty of nature and the mode of transportation.20170411_161811sig

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20170411_161500And from here, you can start your shopping spree going from one shop to the other into Hoogstraat.

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This alley on the right is called Papestraat with chic boutiques and shops. This is the street address of Dutch fashion ambassador, Michael Barnaart van Bergen, showcasing his elegant and stylish Prêt-à- porter collection in soft knits. His collection is also exhibited and available for sale at the Gemeente Museum Den Haag, renowned for its large collection of Mondrian collection, the largest in the world. The museum is a good walking distance from the city centre.

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The Black Dress by designer Michael Barnaart van Bergen on exhibit at the Gemeente Museum, Den Haag
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 Mondrian-inspired dress by designer Michael Barnaart van Bergen, Gemeente Museum, Den Haag

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“30-square meter of France” in Papestraat!  That’s the L’epicerie Du Pape, opened in October 2016, the interior is characteristic of the 1950’s French epicerie’s with Edith Piaff serenading in the background. It is owned and managed by Jasper Gramsma, a dapper Dutch entrepreneur (who once-upon-a-time worked in Marketing Communications but found it boring) created a space for his love for things French, especially its food.

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The original movie poster of the 1949 comical movie Jour de Fête (The Big Day)  behind the counter, “summarises what the store is all about,” says Jasper. Not that he is easily distracted or influenced by too much wine as François, the character in the movie. In fact, Jasper is very conversant and sober, but what he actually meant was that his shop is reminiscent of the days when life wasn’t rushed and one still finds the time to converse with the local inhabitants, and that’s exactly what he is when I enterred  L’Epicerie du Pape, to get a little piece of France.

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The different colours of the products that are carefully arranged give the shop a vibrant and cheery atmosphere with the display of French cooking essentials from olive oil, salad dressings to sweet treats – jams, biscuits, chocolates as gift-aways and many more, including a good selection of  French wines- chilled and some on the shelves.

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Easter may be over but chocolates will always be chocolates even if you still see these egg-shaped chocolates in the shop after the Lenten season.

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Picnicking may not be Dutch as Americans often do but L’Epicerie Du Pape encourages everyone to go and have a picnic in The Hague especially when the weather is good. You can rent a picnic basket for a day from the shop, complete with cutlery, table cloth and  napkins and fill it up with everything you want to have from the shop. The closest to go to from the city centre and about 10-minute walk is Malieveld, an open grass field with an adjacent deer park. It is  near The Hague Central Station. There’s Haagse Bos or if you don’t want to walk too many steps from L’Epicerie Du Pape with your basket, go to Paleistuin (Palace Garden), a park in Princessewal just behind the King’s working palace in Noordeinde (the street that runs parallel to  Hoogstraat).

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The day has been long and I continue my walk down Wagenstraat on this shopping street

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And I finish the day’s walk at the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in Spuistraat, a few distance from de Bijenkorf department store.

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Useful Information:

Gemeente Museum Den Haag:  https://www.gemeentemuseum.nl/                                          Mauritshuis Museum:    https://www.mauritshuis.nl/en/                                                          Binnenhof: The Hague City Centre                                                                                                  Michael Barnaart van Bergen: Papestraat 1B, 2513 AV Den Haag;  Tel: +31 0(70) 744 5705                                                                                          http://www.michaelbarnaartvanbergen.com/

L’Epicerie Du Pape: Papestraat 3, 2513 AV Den Haag; Tel: 070 221 0881                                  http://www.lepiceriedupape.nl/  (website in Dutch)