Saturday, January 31, 2009


I feel like I need some glamour in my life and somehow that made me think of how much I want a pretty headband. I don't know why, I just do. Two cute ones from Urban Outfitters, both just $24:

I am also in dire need of the perfect red lipstick. Haven't found one yet ... If anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

restaurant week diary: park avenue winter

My last Restaurant Week meal for Winter '09 was a place I'd long been intrigued about: Park Avenue Winter. I love the restaurant's concept. It changes decorations and menus with the seasons, which is a very clever thing to do in a city that suffers from dining A.D.D. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the Park Avenue Winter experience and am looking to try the place out during Spring, Summer and Autumn, as well.

I was very pleased to see that the restaurant had solid food to back up the gimmick. The RW menu contained some regular items on the menu, which I always appreciate. And I love em a lil extra because they threw in $6 glasses of wine in the RW menu, and bless them, the glasses were almost as big as soup bowls. I came back to work a little, um, happy, to say the least.

It was really hard to decide on an appetizer because everything seemed so good—and they were! I ordered the porcini ravioli with swiss chard and gorgonzola cream. It was exquisite. The ravioli was perfectly done and the taste of porcini was heavenly against the gorgonzola cream. I wasn't excited by the swiss chard, but ate all of it nevertheless. After I had finished the ravioli, I couldn't help it, I had to do the scarpetta—I sopped up the remaining cream with one of the fresh warm rolls on the table and enjoyed every bite.

I stole a bite of Vanessa's salmon tartare, which was delicious, as well. The salmon was so fresh and tender. For my entree, I had the sliced filet mignon open-face sandwich. I ordered my steak medium rare and recall thinking that I probably won't get what I want because we all ordered steak but Ludette and Vanessa asked for medium. To my delight, my steak was perfect. See how pink the center of the meat is in the picture. Just lovely. I enjoyed the horseradish cream, which delivered a pleasant zing but was not at all overwhelming.

The one slip-up of the meal was that they brought me the wrong dessert, but I was willing to wait. I watched Vanessa dig into her banana parfait, which she seemed to enjoy. Ludette was very pleased with her warm walnut gingerbread cake with apple puree, spiced raisins and cinnamon. My dessert was totally worth the wait though because it was phenomenal. I ordered the pannacotta, which came with what seemed to be a lemon-flavored foam and the pièce de résistance: mini cotton candy with a bit of spice hiding in the sweetness. I absolutely loved it. The pannacotta had the perfect amount of sweetness that kept me digging in. Coupled with the sour, sweet and spicy flavors brought by the foam and the cotton candy, it was mind-blowing. I can say that this is the best dessert I've had in my life, and that's really saying something. It's not even on the regular menu and I really think it should be! Calling Executive Pastry Chef Richard Leach. You are a god, but I would worship you if you kept this dessert around.

Hopefully the cotton candy springs up next season. Looking forward to seeing the place transition from this ...

... to this!

Park Avenue is located at 100 East 63rd Street at Park Avenue New York, NY 10021. Tel. 212.644.1900

DABA Girls blog

Have you seen this? My interest was piqued after reading the New York Times feature on how women dating finance guys are coping with their new lifestyle that no longer involves bottle service at Kain, dinners at Megu and shopping allowances for Bergdorfs. At first I wanted to choke them with their Hermes scarves (ok I kinda still do), but the blog is actually a pretty entertaining read. Check it out!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Multiway dress

In these tough times, we have to shop smart. One very smart fashion investment, I feel, is this multiway dress by Butter by Nadia at Calypso. I remember seeing the many options and just being flabbergasted ... Now that's a dress worth splurging on. This would be a dream to pack on a vacation. The black one sells at the regular price for $270.
In tawny and navy, you can get it on sale for just $199. Worth every penny, for sure!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

no tears. not for us.

Blockbuster has been messing with me. First I get a broken DVD of Love, Actually, then yesterday I got the original Thomas Crown Affair rather than the new version (starring Pierce) that I ordered. It was the right sleeve paired with the wrong DVD. I was pleasantly surprised by the second "mistake" though. In my mind, I imagine there's a movie junkie working at the Blockbuster distribution center who's on a mission to show clueless customers like moi what they're missing by not ordering the originals. This sneaky connoisseur could be swapping An Affair to Remember with Love Affair, and switching Infernal Affairs with The Departed.

I was enchanted by Faye Dunaway in this movie. Proof that you don't need to be super skinny with implants to be sexy. I wasn't too keen on the super mod dresses or the elaborate hairstyles, but was blown away by how elegant she looked in every scene. Such a beautiful woman.

Steve McQueen was so dapper in the movie too. I especially love the look of the bank robbers. Suits, sunglasses, and those hats! Very cool.

I love this still from the movie, which has such a la dolce vita feel.
And I love the coat that Faye Dunaway's wearing in this scene:
Thanks for the gift of the unexpected, Blockbuster. You got away with it this time.

This Mini's SO Me!

Vivienne Tam, how could you?! How could you make the world's most adorable laptop EVER when I'm supposed to be on a spending freeze. This is the stuff that makes people go into credit card debt. This baby is the HP Mini Vivienne Tam and is my dream laptop with its 10.1" display, 2.45 lbs. weight, and 1" skinniness. It's $699.99, which is a much more attainable price than the Macbooks that I was hoping to get in a few years .... I want I want I want ...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Louboutin's got legs

If anyone out there still has a Louboutin budget and is looking to spend it, Saks has a deal for you. Cough up the dough and Saks'll throw in a pair of Kova & T leggings for free. Those are $190 leggings up there so I guess that's a nice freebie (although hey, just cos they give it that price doesn't mean that's what they're worth right?). Anyway I just love how a Louboutin shoe can make leggings and a big tee look like an awesome outfit. But obviously I won't be spending $865 on fluorescent colored peep toes anytime soon. I can look and drool though, right? That's free too.


I saw this picture of Garance Doré's sister and immediately wanted a fur coat. So I browsed and browsed the net and couldn't find anything remotely close to it. I know I should just go to the fur district here in NY but I'm a little intimidated by it ... has anyone ever gone? Got any advice?

I did find a few cute and affordable fur accessories at Saks. Both are made of fox fur, with the ring collar priced at $250 and the adorable earmuffs just $68.

Sexy time

Good god. Must. Have. This. I'm sure I can brainwash the boyfriend into contributing to the Vintage Victoria merrywidow fund ...

I just had to

DYING to buy this for someone. $18 at Urban Outfitters. There's a version that says Bitch that I'm sure one of my girlfriends would love. But this one's just priceless. Ok enough, going to bed. Night peeps.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fun stuff

I'm obsessed with kitchen-related stuff today for some reason. It must be all the time I spent at home over the weekend. Anyhow, the store with kitchenware that makes me smile everytime I see it is Pylones. This store was founded in France in the 80s and the first US store is a few blocks away from me on the Upper East Side. I love their stuff. It might get a little ridiculous if you fill your home with Pylones stuff, but I think 2 or 3 would make great conversation starters at a party. At the very least, it makes dreary tasks like sweeping up crumbs a little bit more fun, don't you think?

Somebody save me ...

I'm not a big snacker but yesterday I made the big mistake of buying a bag of Kettlecorn popcorn from Whole Foods and I haven't stopped munching on it since. I know, popcorn is a relatively healthy snack, but these things are 110 calories per cup and I think I'm halfway through the bag already ... god help me ...

Citrus Dreams

I was browsing Williams-Sonoma cookware website to look for gift ideas for my mom's birthday and chanced upon this gorgeous set of Le Creuset cookware in a citron color made exclusively for Williams-Sonoma. No, I'm not getting that for my mom; I am AGES away from affording Le Creuset. But I just looooove the look of it, and in my mind I think that I'd be capable of making some awesome things if I had this cookware (that and a kitchen the size of my current living room). In any case, if anyone out there is looking to purchase Le Creuset, Williams-Sonoma is selling their stock at 2008 prices up until January 27, 2009. This 12-piece set currently sells for $999.95, and it frightens me to think how much it'd cost at 2009 prices!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

To be a ballerina

I never realized how much I've compartmentalized my life until I saw the documentary "Ballerina" today. I spent twelve years of my life immersed in ballet, and if it had been more financially feasible to become a dancer in the Philippines, I think I might have given it a shot. But I quit ballet at 19 and moved on to other things. I've since then been a wandering intern in Europe, an editor, a biergarten hostess, a PR minion and now an international civil servant. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of something that's truly part of my soul, and that's my deep love for dance.

This documentary moved me. It follows the lives of 5 ballerinas in the Kirov Ballet, a company that's always been mythical in my eyes. They follow ballerinas who are in different stages of their career, from the dancer who has just joined the corps de ballet to a prima ballerina recovering from an injury and re-entering the stage. Diana Vishneva (pictured above) is one of the phenomenally talented women featured. What was most fascinating to me was to see the personalities behind the image you see onstage. It was also inspiring to see the passion and dedication that they have for what they do.

I will never dance at the level these women do. Heck, I won't ever even be able to dance at the level I stopped at 9 years ago. But seeing that movie made me fall in love with ballet all over again, and I'm looking to bring it back into my life, if only to take a class now and then or see a show. At the very least, it's made me determined to do something good for my soul again.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I've been lusting after this top that's been appearing on Topshop's website for weeks now. When's that gonna be sold on the website? I NEED IT.

restaurant week diary: kittichai

Last night's Restaurant Week dinner was at Kittichai. I'd been wanting to go but held off for awhile because I was, I guess, a tad resistant to the idea of haute Thai cuisine. I've been to Thailand several times, eaten at both the fanciest and shadiest places, and the most memorable meal I've had remains one at a stall outdoors with traffic zipping by.

But it being RW, I went and it was a pretty nice experience. I had dinner with my girlfriend Ludette and had a great time dishing, but I'd imagine this would be an awesome date place. The perfect date dessert would be the tuna tartare, since it is delicious and interactive:

They provide you with a small cluster of tender, finely cubed Grade A tuna tartare and little pastry cups to spoon them into. The lovely yakiniku-type sauce brings such a novel flavor to every little bite. Constructing the little bites would be a cute little icebreaker on a first date.

For entrees, Ludette picked the pineapple braised shortribs in green curry, eggplant and sweet basil. I was really tempted but passed on the shortribs since I'd just had shortribs at Butter. Though admittedly, Kittichai's curried shortribs were very good and completely different in flavor to that of Butter's.
I picked the basil-crusted skate with gai-lan, cherry tomatoes, scallion and fried garlic. It was light but full of flavor and quite satisfying. I'm Asian, so I'm all about fresh fish that's prepared so that the fish's flavor is very evident and not drowned under all sorts of batter and sauce. The basil-crust imparted flavor nicely without taking away from the skate's taste. And bless them for giving me a bowl of jasmine rice. An Asian girl needs her rice.

My favorite part of the meal was the dessert. I picked the jasmine flan with coconut jasmine rice tuille. So sorry the picture below is horrible, but the flan was melting and I had to dig in. It was a bit of a shock to get the initial jasmine flavor. In the Philippines, we breathe in the scent of sampaguita (the local name for jasmine) all the time: in churches, cars, homes. Getting it in my food was a little surprising, but I loved every single bite. The crunchy tuille was also supremely satisfying. I loved how inventive and delicious this dessert was.

The good news is, Kittichai will be serving its Restaurant Week menus all the way until March 31. Year-round, Kittichai also serves a $20 prix fixe lunch and a $30 pre-theater prix fixe. But I don't know, the next time I'm there I'm gonna have to order off the menu and find out what those much-talked-about chocolate spareribs taste like ...

Kittichai is located at 60 Thompson Street, New York, NY. Tel. (212) 219-2000

Friday, January 23, 2009

restaurant week diary: butter

New York is in the throes of Restaurant Week and establishments have been packed to the gills since Monday. I guess it's understandable. After all, New Yorkers didn't decide to go on a diet; their wallets did. So now that we have the opportunity to indulge in 3-course $24.07 lunches and $35 dinners, we answer with a resounding, "Yes we can!"

On Wednesday, we went to Butter with mixed expectations. I had never been, and okay I admit it, I booked it because I wanted to see where Blair Waldorf had gotten stood up. But when I checked reviews on the place, I was mortified at the sheer number of people saying, "Don't bother!" The wait was long, service was atrocious, food was crap, blah blah blah. My stomach churned.

But guess what? Butter was wonderful! We had an early reservation (7:30PM) which I recommend if you want to keep your wait to a minimum. Service was very pleasant, as well—though I'm guessing Restaurant Week service is better all-around because these days they're just grateful to have someone, anyone, eating out on a weekday.

Now on to the food ... our party ordered 3 different apps and decided to share. The sauteed calamari with chickpeas, brown butter and lemon sauce was excellent. Just the right amount of batter, with the coating fried to a perfect crisp and the inside still tender. The cavatappi pasta with spicy lamb sausage and yellow tomato sauce was also surprisingly good. It was deliciously cheesy and the sausage gave a nice kick. Skip the beet salad.

For entrees, most of our group ordered the braised beef short ribs and were pleased. The short ribs were very tender and had a rich, satisfying flavor nicely complemented by the greens and herbed white beans it was served with.

Mika ordered a wonderful seared salmon, which was seared to a crisp on the outside and left like sashimi in the middle. Absolutely amazing. The sauce was an interesting concoction of sweet garlic and parsley. We ended up trading plates after a few bites, and then continuing to steal off each others entrees. Both were so good we couldn't decide which was better.

But then, the downer: dessert. For such a well-executed meal, it's as if they left me to make my own dessert. I mean seriously. The hot chocolate float was unatractively served in a waterglass and was really just a shot of chocolate. My raspberry sorbet tasted like it came out of a store-bought pint and was very anticlimactic. The peanut butter dessert was the only one that seemed to entail any effort on their part. Ho-hum.

But all in all, it was a very pleasant experience. I really liked how they also had a Restaurant Week wine list, which was a nice touch. Come next Restaurant Week, you might want to hit up Butter. I definitely won't say don't bother.

Butter is located at 415 Lafayette Street between 4th Street and Astor Place. Tel. (212) 2532828.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I love it!

This dress has brightened up my hungover morning. How pretty is this one-shoulder frock by Thread Social? I love it a little bit more because it's in seersucker, which means it doesn't wrinkle and stays gorgeous all day long. Unfortunately, Shopbop won't let me get it because they only sell it in a size 4. And I won't let me get it either because it costs $418! Prettiness doesn't come cheap, huh?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not your mama's tights

I got my b-e-a-utiful Wolford Medaillon tights this week and I am thrilled, but it's been below freezing in NY and I refuse to let those beauties near my evil snaggy boots so they have not been worn. But I am super excited to wear them out so here's hoping temps rise soon!

My dear beloved Sonu was affected by all the Medaillon propaganda on my blog and started coveting them, but didn't want to part with that much cash for tights (Believe me, when I realized it cost $60 total, I didn't want to either but by that time I had already clicked my money away). So she asked if I'd found any other options. While browsing the Urban Outfitters site, I did find a couple of pairs with unique patterns that might interest Sonu and some other readers.

victorian vine tights for $14

pinstripe floral tights

Nothing compares to the intricacy of the design of the Medaillon tights, but if you want to wear interesting tights without holding your breath and praying to fend off snags all night, these are some unique but affordable options.

Comfort Booze

It's been so cold in New York and it doesn't seem like there's much of a reprieve coming soon. One amazing way of coping with the bitter cold is by indulging in a nice hot toddy. The taste is really similar to the European gluhwein (especially the white wine-based ones). But the best part is that a hot toddy can actually help soothe a sore throat and is really comforting if you're down with a cold. It's also just really nice if you want a nice warm drink.

We had amazing hot toddies at Angel's Share, this cozy hidden bar by Village Yokocho. I love that place. It's very cozy and everyone is very well mannered. I apologize to the patrons and bartenders because I was quite tipsy and not on my best behavior the last time I was there. I took this picture with flash, and was given a gentle reminder by the bartender to please turn of the flash. Sorry! But hey, at least you get an idea of what their bartenders look like. They're all very well-groomed and chic Japanese men with a ridiculous talent for mixing cocktails. We ordered a seasonal drink called Twilight Glow ($13), which is really basically a hot toddy. Angel's Share's recipe consists of New York apple-flavored whisky, honey, hot water, ground ginger, cloves, a slice of lemon and a cinnamon stick. It's the perfect nightcap as you'll be wanting to crawl under your duvet after the last gulp.

If you'd like to try making your own hot toddy without parting ways with your duvet, here are some good recipes from Epicurious and

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jason Who?

Jason Wu. The designer who bested out the top guns perservering to dress Michelle Obama for the inauguration ball is a 26-year-old Taiwan-born, Manhattan-based up-and-comer. Tonight, it's Jason Who? But tomorrow he'll be a household name.

In all honesty, I was not floored by any of Michelle Obama's looks today. But I do admire her guts at picking non-mainstream names. I also wonder if she made a conscious choice to pick designers with multicultural backgrounds? Toledo is Cuban-American while Wu is of Taiwanese descent. If the first lady's choice of outfits is meant to make a statement, then I think her choices echo some of what President Obama said today:

"We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth."

Alright. Now before I get too sappy here, let's feast on some pretty things that fashion's man of the hour Mr. Wu created for Spring/Summer '09 from We're ready for change after all!

Update: My mouse stumbled onto this old WSJ blog post about how Michelle Obama gave Wu's career a big boost by wearing one of his dresses on The Barbara Walters Special. Pretty fun to read after she picked him for the inauguration ball! Good lord, his line will be EVERYWHERE after tonight!

Justice is beautiful

A lot of people have heard by now that retailers like Bloomies, Macy's, Bergdorfs and Saks started giving away cosmetics today as part of a class-action settlement charging that the retailers had colluded to fix prices on these products. You can read about it on this MSNBC article. My friend Roma, god bless her soul, emailed the article to me with a note telling me to "Go there, it's worth it." So after work today, I popped into Bloomie's and found myself in a rather intimidatingly long line on 60th and Lexington. Thank god the line moved very quickly. I was given a short list of products from Clinique, Clarins, Lancome, L'Oreal, Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Guerlain and Coty to pick from. In no time at all, I was walking out with a 30ml jar of Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief moisturizer. Very cool. To those brilliant people who filed this lawsuit, a big and beautiful THANK YOU.

This bag makes me weep

Mainly because I will never ever own it. With a pricetag of $10,500, this piece of gorgeousness by Zagliani is absolutely out of my reaches. Why save for mortgage when I can get a bag right? I wonder who buys these things in these financially unstable times ... I understand (believe me, I do) that it is crafted out of a beautiful and exotic specimen of crocodile leather. The level of detail at Zagliani is so high that they even apply silicone to their python skin to up the suppleness factor. But still. C'mon now people.

Who is it?

What I want to know is, who made Michelle Obama's inauguration outfit? Does anyone know?

EDIT: Thank god for Bryanboy! You've put me out of my misery. It's by Isabel Toledo, a Cuban-American designer.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Beat the Blues

So apparently today, Monday, 19 January 2009 is the most depressing day in history. Good lord, HISTORY? People are always slightly depressed at this time of the year because the holidays are over, the weather is shite, and the credit card bills have arrived. This year, it is extra depressing because of the financial crisis and the many job losses hitting countries around the globe.

I am grateful that I find myself quite happy on this so-called Blue Monday. I have been hit with many problems over the last couple of years but things started looking up in 2008 and I am blessed to be in a good place right now.

In any case, I'm gonna try to put a little fashion spin on Blue Monday. The gorgeous J. Crew Victoria lace blouse has been making me sad for months now because it is so beautiful but I can't bear to part with $88 for it.

So I was pretty thrilled when I found this cheapo version at Forever 21 last week:

At $22.80, there's nothing depressing about this top's pricetag. Just a little retail therapy to brighten up your Blue Monday.

The Chiconomist is on the radar

I wrote an article recently for the Philippine Star, one of my homeland's biggest daily newspapers. It's in a new section of the newspaper called "On the Radar" where the columnists are all bloggers. My column is called The Chiconomist, of course, and should come out regularly if I can churn out stories on a more regular basis. Check out my first story here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I am loving these Matt Bernson Barracuda sandals at Urban Outfitters!

I was initially disappointed that the studs were black because they would totally have a Balmain-esque look if they were in silver.

But with all this hoopla about neon being the big thing next season, I figured these sleek black patent sandals with jet black studs might be the perfect accompaniment for highlighter colors. Imagine how hot they'd look with this Alice + Olivia dress from Shopbop ...

Gonna drop by Urban to try the sandals on. I hope they fit!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Secret's out

I'm really specific about what coat I want to buy (red wool/twill and short) but Victoria's Secret is confusing me with all these other gorgeous long coats that are on clearance AND have an additional 50% off.

I want this coat, which is nice enough right?

But it looks so boring compared to this ...

... and this ...

... and this!

Ok I know that last one isn't a long coat. I really love it but it's only available in black and I have a longer black coat that's almost exactly like it so I can't get this with a clear conscience. If they had it in red, that would totally be perfect. But of course they don't ...

UPDATE! So I stopped being fussy and just bought the red twill peacoat plus this really cool bomber sweater below. Now the thing with this 50% off thing they have going is that it's only for ONE sweater or coat. So when I first put in my order, I got half off the peacoat but not the bomber sweater, which brought my total up to roughly $118 (includes shipping). That got me thinking ... what if I make 2 separate orders? By splitting my order in two, I was able to get 50% off both pieces, and only had to take a hit for extra shipping. Both orders add up to just $99.98, which means I got up to $20 more in savings! So if you're ordering more than one piece, try this trick and get more bang for your buck!

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