Mar 4, 2015

Wardrobe basics: striped shirt and slip-ons

I'm not sure what took me so long to add a striped tee to my wardrobe. I'm always drawn to them while I'm shopping but have never actually picked one up. That all changed recently while I was in Copenhagen. I spotted this shirt hanging in a tiny store, walked right in, walked right out no more than two minutes later with the shirt in hand. Turns out, it was from Armor Lux. Ah, of course. I loved the thick weight of it and how it was stiffer than a normal cotton tee. I changed right into it for dinner that very night.

Armor Lux seems to be a bit harder to find in the U.S. but Mark & Graham carries this particular style (mine is the Navy & Cream). I really love how basic it is; there are no bells and whistles to it and it's a great contrast to the other solid neutrals in my closet. I recently felt the Everlane version in person, and it's a great accessible alternative. It's also made from a nice weighty cotton and has a nice neckline. I have this softer number on my wishlist (just seems so easy to wear!), but I'm trying to take it slow or my whole closet will be stripes in no time.

I've also been living in black sneakers, as you may recall from this post. The obsession continues with the addition of these slip-on versions (quicker for TSA!) to my collection. What I really love about these pairs from Common Projects is that I can walk miles upon miles in them (they do require some breaking in, however) and still feel somewhat 'cool'. I mean, I love my Nikes and all, but can't help feeling a bit scrub-ish in them.

This particular pair also comes in a polished black leather version or a perforated version (which would be great for warmer weather). If $400+ sneakers aren't your cup of tea (it does seem crazy but for something I wear every day, it seems more reasonable to me than a $700 pair of heels that get worn ~5x a year), there is no shortage of wallet-friendlier options out there, including this pair from Emerson Fry and these from Vince.

Beyond the basics, I'm still struggling to find what will work for me, long-term. I live in a uniform of jeans and oversized sweaters. I don't want to hop on trends or be impulsive in clothing purchases, but I feel very boring recently. Step one this spring – add color. Will report back.

Mar 2, 2015

Aman Tokyo

Truthfully, I don't know where to begin to describe the experience I recently had at the new Aman Tokyo. What can you really say when you think the only downside of staying there is that it makes you want to hole up, enjoy all of its amenities, and not leave to actually explore Tokyo? And so, my best strategy is probably to let the photos do the talking, though even those don't quite give you the feeling of being there.

Located in Tokyo's financial district on the top six floors of the 40-story Otemachi Tower, the Aman Tokyo is the first vertical Aman property. So along with being guaranteed sweeping views in the rooms, you can have breakfast with a view of Mount Fuji. I opted for the full Japanese breakfast my first morning and couldn't have been happier. What really made the Aman for me were the grand common spaces (not at all to say the rooms were lacking in any sense) and the careful attention to and play of light, space, and shadow throughout. A photographer's dream.

Don't miss out on the spa or infinity pool – a two-hour seasonal treatment was the icing on the cake during my stay. Aman Tokyo, I hope we'll meet again.

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Aman Tokyo as part of my partnership with ANA.

Feb 18, 2015

ANA x Noma Japan

They say it doesn't snow very often in Tokyo. But on the day of our lunch at Noma at the Mandarin Oriental, it was coming down hard and the view from the 37th floor was all that much more magical. I'm among this lucky group of diners thanks to the partnership between ANA and Noma and the larger ANA By Design campaign. It's hard to write about Noma (you know, the No. 1 restaurant in the world) in a way that doesn't feel trite, and having not been to Noma Copenhagen, I'm lacking a bit of context for this meal. But what I can say for certain is that I've never had so many unfamiliar tastes and textures in a single meal as I had with this one. Every bite was a surprise and a learning experience. Maybe that says more about my inexperienced palate (which I didn't realize was so inexperienced until this meal) than it does about Rene Redzepi's food; but in any case, when your meal starts off with a freshly-killed Hokkaido shrimp jumping off your plate onto the floor, there's a high level of novelty involved.

"This one is a little less athletic," the server jokes as she puts down a new shrimp for me. Luckily, I had no more runaway dishes for the rest of the meal. If I were to write about every course, this would quickly become a dissertation, so I'll only point out a few highlights (though, that's a bit hard when everything feels like a highlight). Even the first dish, the unripe strawberries with sake lees, comes with this great story of how Rene and Lars (head of R&D) had to negotiate for 7 hours with this passionate strawberry producer who refused to sell his white strawberries because he spent his whole life perfecting his red strawberries. Later in a conversation with Rene, he notes how people here [in Japan] are reaching for the sublime and they respect it so tremendously.

The main inspiration for how they organized the flavors of the menu was based on shōjin ryōri, or traditional temple cuisine. There is a focus on vegetables, which is always welcome in a long tasting like this. Some of my favorite dishes included the tofu steamed with wild walnuts, the pumpkin with cherry wood oil and salted cherry blossoms, and a turnip cooked in shiitake mushrooms with roasted yeast broth. Another surprising dish was the aerated scallop (that looked nothing that like scallops I've known and had) which was dried for two days and served with beech nuts and kelp. Talk about umami. Our rice dish (traditional at the end of kaiseki) came in the unexpected form of dessert: rice crisps with sake ice cream.

We had a chance to chat with Rene during a little tour of the kitchen (where we watched ants being cut into thirds). We talk about how easy it is to fall in love with Tokyo, how the best things are here but it's not too pretty and has a gritty undercurrent; how everything has meaning here and how it's been amazing to be part of a culture like that; how the concept of Omotenashi - an inner desire to perform an altruistic task but never expect anything back - is so prevalent in everything here .

Fueled to go back to work [in Copenhagen], Rene says he can't see them not doing something like this again – "It was a really a life experience that makes not only our restaurant better, but us happier."

Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with ANA - All Nippon Airways. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of ANA.