From the Love Boat to a Courchevel Chalet

A new hot spot has emerged in Atlanta Georgia: St. Cecilia. Taking the place of the old tungsten lights, chrome and neon lights, fur coats and big hair glory days of BluePoint, St. Cecilia has gone through a dramatic makeover, that shows her age, but in a new fresh, kind of way. All the way down to her wood trimmed bar with beautiful sky high wall of wine and liquor, lean table styles with a variety of seating arrangments, heights and chair mismatches, to the soft color pallet, it indulges your Ohm senses without overpowering them, so your focus can be on the art of conversation.
St. Cecilia’s extensive wine list includes a good mix of old and new world choices, enough to satisfy the pretentious tastes, but not to overwhelm or intimidate vino novices (and first daters) with books the size of War and Peace.
The dinner menu features a good variety of dishes in primi and secondi piatti. I only tried the mushroom risotto and some of the salami selection and both were quite good, but I did hear friends complain about the overpriced and undersized hamachi. Two coin sized slices for $13? Yeah, I’d say…
As it was before when it was Bluepoint, St. Cecilia seems to attract an affluent crowd of 34 plus (give or take a few botox years) and maybe it should be a consideration of the owners that some of these paying customers, albeit looking like they are in their late 20s, are still human and are in need of reading aid when it comes to the menu. So, perhaps a little larger and less fancy fonts will do the trick and keep the guy who forgot his readers, but not his fat wallet… happy. Just a suggestion.

The ambiance is what will keep this place full especially in the winter months, as it has this cozy Courchevel chalet kind of feel. You can almost imagine the slopes on the other side of Peachtree road and the models turned snow bunnies flocking in straight from the runways of London and Paris (these are actually in abundance here)

The interior structure is very similar to the Bluepoint layout, so plan your bathroom breaks early. A couple of drinks later, climbing up dimly lit staircase all the way to the top in four inch heels, and getting into a corridor with no lights, can result in either a sprained ankle (God forbid!) or getting into the men’s room by mistake. They are so close together and at some point in the night going left or right may sound exactly the opposite to the ambidextrous, and mishaps can easily happen. Also, it’s a long way to the top of the mountain (staircase) and through the dark woods (corridors) to add an additional dextrality test – do we really need to wonder how to close these double doors with a little hook, only to find out that there is a gap between the them?

All in all the establishment at this point is at 4 stars: all perfect sans some kinks that we should attribute to being so young and still finding its perfect style. 20140118-120055.jpg20140118-120108.jpg20140118-120119.jpg


Positively Radiant [Orchid] in 2014

Positively Radiant [Orchid] in 2014

It’s official! The color of the year is “Radiant Orchid!” The soft enigmatic magical lavender purple replaces last year’s Emerald, which in turn pushed the Tangerine Tango off its plushy 2012 throne.
Regardless of how pointless you think this may be, there is a lot of hard work and many people and influences behind this decision.
Pantone, the world’s leading authority on color and its “Color of the Year” has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.
And it’s not like they just pick a color from a box of crayons.
The color of the year selection requires careful consideration. To arrive at the selection, Pantone quite literally combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films that are in production, traveling art collections, hot new artists, popular travel destinations and other socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sports events that capture worldwide attention.

“While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”

What Radiant Orchid item will you wear?
How will you incorporate Radiant Orchid in your decor?
I know I will start with a gorgeous Radiant Orchid lip color to brighten up my Holidays! How about you?

Cooking My Heart Out: On pumpkins, fall, fashion, school and Grandma

It’s Fall, my favorite season! Just look at its brilliance, abundance and color! There is nothing like fall! It’s like the Goldilocks of all seasons.  I love it!


Pumpkins are about as close to the top of my list of favorite things about fall, as a round heavy shapeless and hard to cut vegetable can get. Besides the fact that they are so good for you, they are also a fashion inspiration. I can pretty much find all pumpkin colors in my closet.


But my favorite thing about the pumpkins, is the desert that my grandma used to make for me.

Many years ago, I’d come home from school, and the intoxicating aroma of pumpkin and cinnamon would fill the house. My grandma’s pumpkin rice walnut pudding was my favorite treat in the fall. She made it frequently; mainly to indulge me. And also to make good use of the enormous pumpkins we had in the yard.
Today, when I was freaking out my dogs, chopping pumpkin and making the dessert I grew up with, I wasn’t aware that it was my grandma’s birthday….I always thought her birthday is on Oct 15, until my dad asked me if I made it in her honor. I guess I did…

I posted a photo of my dish with the memory snapshot above on Facebook and several of my friends asked me for the recipe.

So here it goes:

The best pumpkin to eat is either the Green Hubbard (pictured below) or the butternut squash. Both work well. I sometimes even use sweet potatoes. They have pretty much the same consistency.


This slicing job isn’t for everyone. You MUST find either someone qualified who has done this before, or have it sliced at the store… Better yet, just find pre-sliced pumpkin, or just do it with sweet potatoes.

Or if you are like me and think that you absolutely must do it yourself, you may proceed AT YOUR OWN RISK! I do NOT recommend it for several reasons.

1. I have had friends rushed to the emergency room because they almost sliced their fingers off, trying to slice a pumpkin!!!


2. The process is extremely noisy and may scare the living daylights out of your pets. As it’s evident in Exhibit A. (“We might be next!)

Scaredy Dogs

This is what the Hubbard pumpkin looks like inside. (I like to gather these seeds, dry them on a paper towel and throw them in the garden in spring. And then wait for pumpkins come Halloween time. )


Once you’ve chunked your pumpkin, you can prepare the rest of your ingredients and begin:

Pumpkin/ Rice/ Walnut pudding

My Grandma’s recipe.


2lb Green Hubbard Pumpkin ( or butternut squash or sweet potatoes) This is the weight you need after it’s been cut and cleaned. So look for a pumpkin that’s heavier. If you have leftovers, you can make a delicious pumpkin soup.  Recipe for that will follow soon.

1 cup of Arborio rice (the one you buy for risotto, you can also use a japanese rice called Kokuho )

1 tsp of vanila

4 cups of milk


1 cup ground walnuts

5-6 TBS brown sugar

2 TBS butter


Once you’ve established who will be cutting the pumpkin and have it chunked, (the flesh of the pumpkin is easy to cut.) you can proceed with slicing the flesh in 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. They can be in any of shape the bigger chunks came out to be. There is no rule about that.. 

Get your baking dish and put a few pieces of butter at the bottom of it.

With your hand, sprinkle the dry rice to cover the bottom of the dish. Liberally, but not more than a layer of grains

Now arrange a layer of  the pumpkin slices

Sprinkle sugar, cinnamon, ground walnuts

Now again



Sugar, cinnamon, ground walnuts

Continue like this until you finish all your ingredients.

You need to top off with sugar cinnamon and walnuts and leave some of these toppings aside..

Take the milk and carefully pour on top of everything, just below the rim of the dish

Sprinkle again with Sugar, walnuts and cinnamon.

Place the baking dish on top of a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil (you want to minimize the damage to your oven. who wants to clean burnt on milk!)

Bake in preheated oven on 350 for 45 min or so… If your oven is temperamental, cover the dish with foil for 30 min at 400, then take the foil off, switch to broil on 450F to brown the top.

I am really bad with measurements. I hardly ever measure anything.. unless I bake a cake or bread. This is a very relaxed recipe. If you like rice, then put some more. I personally prefer more pumpkin.

Bottom line about the rice and the milk is that it’s 1 part rice to 4 parts liquid – this gives the rice a nice plump feel with a little crunch in the center. and it is not too dry.

so if you take 1/2 cup rice, then you need 2 cups milk

if you go for 1 cup rice – 4 cups milk

2 cups rice – 8 cups milk

etc. you get the drift.

Since I wasn’t sure where I was going with the baking, I did it a little differently.

My Impromptu Recipe (Pumpkin Rice Walnut Pudding 2)

Armed with my knife and meat tenderizer, I chopped the  green Hubbard pumpkin in chunks.

Arranged it on a cookie sheet sprinkled with brown sugar and baked it for 30 min.

Meanwhile, I boiled 1 cup rice with 4 cups milk, 3 tbs sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract (but not all the way… i.e. I didn’t let it absorb all the liquid)

Then I put little chunks of a tbs of butter on the bottom of a baking dish

Poured the whole milk-rice mixture in the dish

covered it with the “pumpkin puzzle” (once it was baked it was even easier to slice it in little squares and trapezoids)

Put all the ground walnuts on top, sprinkled with the rest of the brown sugar, added cinnamon, some more milk to fill the dish, and baked it for about 20 min (until the liquid got absorbed and the top was browned)

Now that I’ve done it both ways, I still prefer the original recipe. The one I made today is very good , but I’ve done it the original way, and I will go back to doing it like Grandma. It is a more incorporated taste and I guess I am just partial to the sentimental value of a layered look and taste.

I miss you Grandma. Happy Birthday! You would have been 98 today.


“Gravity” To Open The 70th Venice International Film Festival

“Gravity” To Open The 70th Venice International Film Festival

The highly anticipated flick Gravity is slated to open in Venice at the anniversary La Biennale. Famed director of Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, and Y Tu Mama Tam Bien director Alfonso Cuaron, directs Hollywood heavy weights George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in this suspense sci-fi thriller. 

This year’s main jury is led by director Bernardo Bertolucci (“Last Tango in Paris”) and includes Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and French actress Virginie Ledoyen.

Unusually, two documentaries are among the 20 films vying for the top prize. One is “The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld” by Errol Morris, about the former U.S. Defense Secretary who oversaw the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Other U.S. contenders in the competition are “Parkland” (by Peter Landesman), starring Zac Efron, about the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated; “Joe” (by David Gordon Green), where Nicolas Cage plays an ex-convict who encounters a teenage boy; and “Night Moves” (by Kelly Reichardt and starring Jesse Eisenberg), about three environmentalists who conspire to destroy a dam.

Judi Dench plays a mother searching for the son taken away from her decades earlier in Stephen Frears’s “Philomena,” also in the official competition.

Screening outside the official contest is a documentary about cyclist Lance Armstrong and Italian director Ettore Scola’s movie on the life of fellow filmmaker Federico Fellini.

The full line up:


Algeria, France, 94’

Adila Bendimerad, Nassima Belmihoub, Ahcene Benzerari, Aïssa Chouat, Mourad Khen, Myriam Ait El Hadj


Italy, 104’

Antonio Albanese, Livia Rossi, Gabriele Rendina, Alfonso Santagata, Sandra Ceccarelli


Greece, 99’

Themis Panou, Eleni Roussinou


UK, Australia, 107’

Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver


Italy, Switzerland, France, 90’

Elena Cotta, Emma Dante, Alba Rohrwacher, Renato Malfatti, Dario Casarolo, Carmine Maringola


Canada, France, 105’

Xavier Dolan, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Lise Roy, Evelyne Brochu


USA, 104’

Scott Haze, Tim Blake, Nelson Jim Parrack


UK, 94’

Judi Dench, Steve Coogan


France, 77’

Louis Garrel, Anna Mouglalis

UK, USA, 107’
Christoph Waltz, Matt Damon, Mélanie Thierry, David Thewlis, Lucas Hedges, Ben Whishaw, Tilda Swinton


Israel, France, 84’

Yuval Scharf, Sarah Adler, Uri Gavriel, Norman Issa, Yussuf Abuwarda, Shady Srur, Assi Levy


UK, USA, 107’

Scarlett Johansson


USA, 117’

Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Ronie Gene Blevins


Germany, 175’

Alexandra Finder, David Zimmerschied, Pia Kleemann, Chiara Kleemann, Horst Rehberg, Katharina Susewind, Lars Rudolph


USA, 92’

James Badge Dale, Zac Efron, Jackie Earle Haley, Colin Hanks, David Harbour, Marcia Gay Harden, Ron Livingston, Jeremy Strong, Billy Bob Thornton, Jackie Weaver, Tom Welling, Paul Giamatti


Japan, 126’



USA, 105’

Donald Rumsfeld (documentary)


USA, 112’

Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, James Le Gros


Italy, 87’



Chinese Taipei, France, 138’

Lee Kang-sheng, Lu Yi-ching, Lee Yi-cheng, Chen Shiang-chyi.

Venice Film Festival will also feature

VENICE Classics – A selection of restored classic films and documentaries on cinema   CHANTAL AKERMAN – LE 15/8 (1973) Belgium, 42’   CHANTAL AKERMAN – HÔTEL MONTEREY (1972) Belgium, Usa, 65’   RAY ASHLEY, MORRIS ENGEL, RUTH ORKIN – LITTLE FUGITIVE (1953) Usa, 75’ Richard Brewster, Winifred Cushing, Jay Williams GIANNI BORGNA (CURATED BY) – PROFEZIA. L’AFRICA DI PASOLINI ..

OUT OF COMPETITION Feature Films – Important works by directors already established in previous editions of the Festival     SHINJI ARAMAKI – SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK Japan, 115’   ALFONSO CUARÓN – GRAVITY Usa, 90’ George Clooney, Sandra Bullock   SALVO CUCCIA – CUCCIA – SUMMER 82 WHEN ZAPPA CAME TO SICILY Italy, Usa, 80’ Gail Zappa, Moon Zappa, Diva Zappa, Dweezil Zappa, Mathild…

ORIZONTI aka NEW TRENDS in World Cinema – VALERIA ALLIEVI – QUELLO CHE RESTA Italy, 20’ (documentary)   SERIK APRYMOV – BAUYR (LITTLE BROTHER) Kazakhstan, 95’ Almat Galym, Alisher Aprymov   ENRICO MARIA ARTALE – IL TERZO TEMPO Italy, 96’ Stefania Rocca, Stefano Cassetti, Lorenzo Richelmy, Edoardo Pesce, Margherita Laterza   AGNÈS B. – JE M’APPELLE HMMM

The autonomous and parallel sections include The International Critics’ Week and The Giornate Degli Autori – Venice Days.

The official screening schedule will be announced mid-August.

The 70th Venice International Film Festival will be held on the Lido of Venice from 28th August to 7th September 2013 and is directed by Alberto Barbera.

The oldest festival in the world, MOSTRA is a competitive event for features and sorts. Two competing sections and three Prizes: The Golden Lion, The Lion of the Year, and The Lion of the Future to best director’s debut film.


How does spring smell?

How does spring smell?

Interview with Dr. Joachim Mensing, fragrance psychologist

Q: What is the reason for our wish to use fragrance?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “Fragrance and perfumes are offers for personal transformation, indented to bring us from our ACTUAL SELF – how we feel, closer to our IDEAL SELF – how we would like to feel. Behind them is the secret wish to transform our selves unconsciously to give us for example, a more feminine, more sensual, more dynamic or self-confident appearance than what we really feel. They also create a certain atmosphere and emotional setting.”

Q: How do women select their perfumes and what are their preferences?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “To choose a perfume is a very complex situation that we can only explain to a certain degree. The reason is that we smell with our emotional centre in the brain and have associations with our long-term memory. I encounter this phenomenon everyday myself. The decision seems to be somehow irrational and is taken spontaneously and connected with the remembrances and feelings that we had and would like to re-experience again. They seem to appear out of the blue. The fascination for a certain fragrance is hidden in our subconscious and linked with desires and moods that are difficult to articulate. Of course there is no doubt that there are more and very important factors for the decision
to a certain fragrance like the image, the sympathy, the packaging, advertising but also recommendations and word of mouth. Exciting is, that certain wishes and moods come up more intense in spring, e.g. the wish for change, for spontaneity and to enjoy oneself are overwhelming. We want to live a more playful and frivolous life, we want to live our fantasies, be creative and also be provocative. In the U.S. there is a definitive higher preference for fruity floral fragrance family during this time of the year.
Perfumes that seem to express this spring-feeling are e.g.
Just me, Paris Hilton
Life, Esprit
Orange Tonic, Azzaro
Daisy, Marc Jacobs Chance, Chanel”

Q: To what kind of fragrance family do these typical spring fragrances belong?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “If you take all prestige perfumes of the U.S. market that are categorized into the six big international fragrance families:
Citrus Green,
Floral Aldehydic,
Oriental and
the dominance of the Florals in the U.S. is clear to see.
The US market is characterized (like the English) by the spectrum of beautiful floral notes, which come in all kinds of facets and crossovers, ranging from fresh-fruity to Aldehyde-brilliant, to the cozy warm interpretations of the so called Florientals. Over 70% of all fragrances belong to one or the
other Floral family. Year around the Floral –Aldeydic fragrances are dominating with a market share of close to 30%, but every spring, the fresh-fruity floral become the favorites of all Florals. The refreshing, flowery fragrance Happy perfume by Clinique is a good example.”

Q: What are the differences between a spring and a winter fragrance?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “A typical spring fragrance smells mostly of fresh notes that belong to the type Citrus Green. Their market-share in the U.S. is about 15%. But in the latin countries like Italy, Spain and Brazil, they have around 18-25 % share. The citrus green fragrances reach out to a more extrovert personality who wants to feel more dynamic and energetic. They hate the idea of professional routine and don’t want to be bored. They set a signal with these refreshing and stimulating citrus- green-aqua notes like:
Eau de Lancôme, Lancôme
Escale à Portofino, Dior
Energizing Fragrance, Shiseido
Concentré d’Orange verte, Hermès
On the contrary, a typical autumn/winter-fragrance shows the longing for romantic sensuality. It is the wish for more emotion, tenderness and comfort. It is also the expectation to be spoiled and to be cosseted. This emotional setting is covered best by the Floriental fragrances that have a market share of about 10% in the U.S. for the whole year. Even more
important for this time of the year are the Orientals in the US, with a market share of over 12% for the whole year. The Orientals express with their depth, spiciness’, warmth and mystery (many of these fragrances are loaded with intoxicating and intensive ingredients such as musk, vanilla, exotic resins and wood), which we especially cherish in the winter month.”

Q: Do spring scents contain extracts of spring flowers?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “Indeed, a lot of the citrus green family have the smell of young leaves and plants. The combination with hesperidic notes like grapefruit, lemon, orange, lime and modern aqua notes creates a sensation of fresh, ozone and southern which our long-term memory associates pre-dominantly with Mediterranean climate sensation.”

Q: Do we respectively to our nose smell different during spring time?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “This is also a fact, because we are more open to all environmental stimuli and more curious. Our awareness is more differentiated and our nose reacts more sensitive. We smell with our emotional centre in the brain, which is the circuit of hormone production.”

Q: Which fragrances would you recommend for Easter, Passover and what would be the best Mother’s Day choice?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “Easter was in earlier times a celebration of fertility and in the Christian believes, it is a time for transformation. The same is true for Passover. So fragrances that express a joy of life and new beginning fit perfectly. Most of the people are surprised about their feelings and discover a new joy of life. They want to live more intense and cherish their way of life, Fruity Floral notes like
Pretty Nina, Nina Ricci
Cherie, Miss Dior
Inspiration, Lacoste
are just the perfect fit for this kind of mood. Mother’s Day on the contrary is thankfulness, honor and homage. To show this we instinctively search for most precious gifts. Here, the Floral Aldehydic notes are defined from elegant, sophisticated and expressive top notes that show a brilliance and pureness of petals. The loved ones will be honored by an aura of respect, confidence and utter appreciation. Examples of this classic, elegant fragrance family are:
No.5 Eau Premier, Chanel
J’adore, Dior
Caleche, Hermés”