Zavo Restaurant & Lounge New York

Okay… today’s the first day where I’m really feeling the cold. I’m a Midwest girl at heart, so the winter season doesn’t bother me much, but in New York, with the humidity AND the cold? It feels much more cold than normal. So what to do on a freezing day like today? I’d say just stay inside, but if you get cabin fever like me and need to get out of the house, you should go and check out ZAVŌ. A luxurious new Mediterranean restaurant that engages all of your senses, it’s the perfect location too after marathoning through a shopping spree. Got your holiday errands all checked off yet? If not, it’s cool. Me neither. Why not sit down and take a break in between with a glass of wine at my new favorite spot in Lenox Hill?

Zavo Restaurant & Lounge

Zavo Restaurant & Lounge

A stylish and seductive multi-level celebration of Mediterranean cuisine and culture, ZAVŌ elevates the dining experience. Amidst tastefully appointed decor and lighting, the menu is just as scrumptious. Savor a cocktail at the sleek marble bar or unwind on the outdoor terrace. We sat in the dining room section with a pleasant ambience and excellent service. The staff was so sweet to give us a complete tour of their almost 1-year old restaurant in Lenox Hill (UES). ZAVŌ’s second floor is accessed via a private entrance on East 60th Street. Ascend the sweeping staircase to the intimate piano lounge, bar and refined private dining rooms, they offer unparalleled, five-star catering services cultivated from their deep expertise with corporate and special events. The Chef’s special selected menu changes daily to reflect their fascinating and unique live entertainment such as 50 Shades and Venetian/Masquerade Nights and others. It’s a great space for holiday parties right now, and even a wedding reception! The second floor can accommodate roughly over 200 people, and the decor alone will have you swooning.

We tried the crab cakes and grilled octopus for our appetizers which were cooked to perfection. Literally soft as butter, with wonderful taste concoctions to go with the seafood such as hummus, yellow pepper, and more. For our main course, we tried the branzino fish with grilled squash and zucchini, and the braised short beef with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. The fish was excellent as well as the beef. The beef and asparagus were a tad dry and could have used more sauce, but the flavors were all there. Their sancerre wine was also quite good. But we were so full, we opted out on dessert. Gotta keep that holiday figure, somehow! ;) Overall, a wonderful dining experience. On the super plus side? It’s right across the street from Bloomingdale’s - the perfect spot to hang your hat and grab a bite after your holiday shopping!

LOVE & XX’S,

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An Alexander in London

WEARING: SAKU NEW YORK BLUE BOMBER JACKET |  ODETTE &ODILE TWIGGY WHITE 
SUN SHADES | FOREVER 21 HOT PINK RIBBED SWEATER-KNIT CROP TOP |
EGO SKYE KITTEN HEEL SOCK BOOT | GENUINE PEOPLE BELL BOTTOM CROP JEANS | GUCCI BELT | 
MEDUSA MINI BLUE CLUTCH/CROSSBODY

THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY SAKU NEW YORK

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When it comes to working with photographers, I'm quite selective. There's really only been one person aside from myself that photographs street style for me, and that is my husband, but when I had to travel to London and he had to stay behind, I needed to find someone reliable and with quality (which my standards can be very high... eek!) but when a new friend of mine from this year recommended someone she had worked with, I took a look at her Instagram and was immediately open to her style and vibe. But like any first encounters, they can be a bit awkward, even nerve-wracking to some, but Elena and I had commonalities such as a passion for photography, both Eastern European, and same headstrong go-getting kind of attitude. We broke the ice quickly. 

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But when the time came to shoot, her camera suddenly was not turning on. At first, we (I know a thing or two about cameras) both thought it was just the battery/sensor that had a small dust or something on it and we tried to clean it. Nothing. We took out the memory card and restarted the camera again, and tried many other crazy things one photographer will try to get the camera to work (this is definitely part of the problem in the digital world, yeah?) again, but to our dismay, nothing was happening. We finally ended up at a camera repair shop about a five-minute walk in central London.

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 When we arrived, Elena saw a man with a Canon body similar to hers, and immediately wanted to test his battery on her body. He was happy to do so, but it still didn't solve the problem. Her camera was still not turning on. A technician in the shop finally assesses her body and battery and can confirm that there is something wrong with the body. She was disappointed as everything was fine that morning (as I know me, myself, a photographer will check to make sure everything is working before even leaving the house!) and on top of working with me, she had 3 more clients that day. She tapped away into her phone before the man with the Canon, named Alexander, popped in once more.

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Overhearing she had to work for fashion week that day, Alexander, 'Alex', straight up offers his camera to her, with no expectations. At first, Elena refuses, even at some point offering money herself to borrow his camera. He says no and then asks for one thing in return. If she ever needed an assistant and just had the time to give him a few tips, and he was not a professional photographer, that would be the next best thing. I honestly have to say that meeting Alex and his friend Amelia the way that I did was something you don't have happen to you every day. What are the odds we'd all be in the same camera repair store in the heart of London on some random weekday in the middle of the afternoon and for this to occur? It's as if as just when I start to think that the world is just crazy and that's that, an angel descends down to earth and I mean... wow. I am still so touched by one person's kindness. All thanks to an Alexander in London, my first shoot was a success! 

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Photos by: Elena Gola

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12 Memories, 12 Years in New York City

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THIS POST IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY ODETTE & ODILE.

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Happy Friday, guys! I'm working from home and am sick as a dog. Completely congested, puffy-eyed, stomach ache and all, I still managed to crank out a post dedicating the past 12 years of living in New York City! (Cuz I'm a true f*Ck&ng New Yorker!) It's still hard to believe, but I wouldn't have made it this far without hard work, kindness and then some. I did a bigger post on my ten year anniversary (here and here) showcasing lessons learned from being here along with what kind of adventures I did to celebrate such an occasion. However, because of a bomb cyclone, freezing temps and not being in top physical shape, the idea of venturing outside to do anything is not exactly appealing right now. We did go shoot this out in the snow yesterday after the storm calmed down, and yes I froze my patooty off from it. But being from the Midwest and with the power of makeup, it wasn't so bad freezing while sick to enjoy the winter wonderland. So today's celebration is 12 memories I wanted to share since being in New York 12 years ago today.

1. My first night living in New York, I went out with one of my roommates and her friends. We went everywhere from McSorley's to Le Souk to Brass Monkey and eventually ending the night in Koreatown with the last ones standing, chowing down on some late night Korean grub. I remember even having Tteokguk (떡국) or sliced rice cake soup which is a traditional Korean dish that is eaten during the celebration of the Korean New Year. Even in my drunken haze, I wished for good luck from the rice cakes. 

2. Why did I come to New York? To join the NYPD. I'm serious. But after having my heart broken back home, and now with the opportunity to start fresh and heal from the breakup in a completely new and exciting town, I was still very much a believer in love. And I did secretly hope to fall in love before I even came here. And you know what? About a year after being here, it happened. How did I know? After our first kiss. (which was on a cobblestone road in the wee hours of the night), and when he put me in a cab to go home, this sudden rush came over me. And you know how you hear people say it's nothing like they've ever felt before? That's the feeling I had.

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3. During my days as a figure skating coach, I worked for a non-profit organization that provided skating lessons to inner-city girls that would most likely never be exposed to a sport like this. And there was one particular student who was troubled and came from a tough background. I also photographed for the Org and one day while shooting she came up to me and started asking questions about my camera. When I finally asked her interest in photography, she told me she'd probably never get far doing anything with it. I told her that was complete bullshit and that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Sure enough, she is older now and in college, but making moves and is a working photographer. We even bumped into each other in the middle of the street a few years ago where I commended her for her work and growth. It always brings such a smile to my face and I hope I had some sort of influx to her life. 

4. One of the greatest secrets in New York is a place called Fire Island. It's about 2 hours away from the city and thanks to a dear friend for introducing it to me, it holds a special place in my heart. It's one of those places where you feel you're thousands of miles away from home but you're a hop, skip and a cab back into the city. Many memories of Rocket Fuel's, lobster dinners, badminton and long perfect days on the beach. It's been a few years since I've been back and I sure do miss it!

5. If you know me, you'll know my deep passionate obsession with opera. I've been heavily involved since I was a teenager and anytime I visit the Met here in New York is such a treat. But the most memorable moment was when my husband proposed to me after an evening of Tosca and just as I was about to tell him I was profusely starving after taking countless photos of me at the parterre (plus we hadn't had dinner yet and it was a late show) he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Definitely one of those nights for the books. 

6. On a particularly early morning, I got off at Grand Central and started to head to work before I was stopped by a production company telling me I couldn't go anywhere as they were in the middle of shooting a scene for a movie. When they told me it'd be about twenty minutes before I could pass, I decided to book it in hopes that no one would notice tiny ole' me. As I started to look back thinking I was in the clear I smacked directly into a rather tall gentleman, who turned out to be Will Smith, who was shooting I am Legend at the time. He was very kind and no damage done because I managed to make it to work on time that day! One of the coolest celebrities I've ever crossed paths with. 

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7. In 2012, I lost my dad to a massive heart attack. I was crushed. About six months after, my husband and I decided on adopting a dog together but every shelter we went to didn't have any puppies. And as a first-time dog owner, I really thought it was best to raise the pup from the beginning. After countless disappointing visits, my husband decided to take us out on a day trip to a German Shepherd breeder "just to look" at puppies, given that this has always been my favorite breed. My father and I have always had a connection to these type of dogs. And this is where we met MaQ and brought him home with us on the very same day! It's probably my favorite memory in the past ten years. I literally cried tears of joy on the way home, it was the happiest moment ever.

8. Through Air BnB, I found an amazing cottage upstate in the Catskills where in between moving apartments in the city, we sought refuge up there, where there was a ravine adjacent to the house that would lead you to a sinking swimming hole. The water was so clear (and freaking cold) but our visit was well spent. I think my favorite memory from being up there was our last night when the power went out from a storm, and my husband and I sat out on the porch with candles and just talked all night, taking photographs and playing with the pup. It was perfect and so simple. 

9. It took up to five years to have my debut novel traditionally published, but after a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I will always cherish that moment of holding the first copy of the paperback in my hands. I spent four years writing it (with three jobs, a social life and then some) and another year getting countless rejections before anything happened. So it just goes to show that if you really want something bad enough, you better be willing to work your ass off for it and you better be PATIENT.

10. After about a ten-year career in figure skating (20+ if you count in the training), I gave it all up to start a new career in digital media and entered the Wild Wild West world of blogging. I remember that fleeting moment when I made that decision and thought, "Oh my gosh, was this stupid? Did I just make a huge mistake doing this?" Sure, it was really tough to walk away from skating - it was something I truly loved, but staying comfortable wasn't my idea of learning and in return, growing into becoming a stronger and better person. So the memory of jumping off that cliff so to speak will never fade. Sure, at first I was scared but any act of courage will bring out something good. I promise. It wasn't that long ago when I started out and thought, "I'll never work with a brand like so and so", or, "an opportunity like that will never happen to me" and here I am now working with global brands and am being presented insane opportunities I never even dreamed of!

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11. During my second season at NYFW, I got photographed by street photographers over a vibrant green apple bag. It was such a frenzy that I literally lost my goody bag from one of the shows in midst of the commotion! But in return, I was featured in WWD and Getty Images. I remember a sweet colleague who sent me a DM on Instagram saying she saw me in the street style section in WWD and I was over the moon! Any fashion/style blogger knows the high of not only getting photographed but featured in an editorial magazine of that caliber.

12. Last but not least, probably one of the best highlights of my career from the past year was doing my first commercial with L'Oreal and La Roche Posay! This memory taught me so much, as it was a day to be engaging, supportive, patient, and most importantly, fun! As nervous as I was, even at times thinking, "I'm not so sure if I can do this", I did it and actually really enjoyed myself! It also taught me to always challenge myself because the best thing you can still do for yourself is to surprise yourself. 

We are capable of so much more than we think we are capable of doing and I can promise you from all the memories that have been made from the past 12 years, both good and bad, from living in New York, is this: Keep going and keep pushing. Never let someone or something try to define you. You are you and that is your power. Now go and do you! :)

LOVE & XX'S,

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Le Coq Rico – The Bistro of Beautiful Birds

This post is brought to you by Le Coq Rico, but all opinions are my own.


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Happy Wednesday, everyone! Yesterday I had the pleasure of experiencing the wonderful downtown restaurant, Le Coq Rico. The original Le Coq Rico (The Bistro of Beautiful Birds) is located on Monmartre's Rue Lepic in Paris. Each Le Coq Rico pays tribute to responsibly raised whole-animal poultry. This restaurant is Chef Antoine Westermann's ode to the local terroir, expressed through the flavors of wild and noble birds. Westermann spent more than a year traveling across the Northeast, particularly through the Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania, to meet farmers and learn their poultry raising philosophies. "Fowl is a world unto itself," noted Westermann. "The flavor and texture change depending on the region, breeder, age, and style of farming." The result of this exchange stands today as Le Coq Rico, NYC. Continue reading to learn more about my time at this attractive, chic bistro.

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Renowned French chef, Antoine Westermann was just 23 years old when he became the Chef and Owner of his first restaurant. In the twenty-five years that followed, he earned three Michelin stars. Then in 2006, he made the exceedingly rare decision to ask Michelin to remove his stars so his creativity would no longer be confined by the rules and regulations of the guide. Specializing in sophisticated poultry dishes, I was more than excited to try their Tuesday's plat du jour, coq au vin. One of my favorite French dishes of all time, they certainly did the bird justice. It was the best I have ever had!

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We started with lovely appetizers of deviled eggs in a bed of octopus, cabbage, and cumin salad along with a creamy mushroom soup with a confit of gizzards (YUM). For our main entrees, along with the coq au vin with egg tagliatelle, we also tried the succulent roasted chicken that is aged 120 days and is served with a side of seasonal salad. Delicious pairings of pinot grigio and pinot noir, we topped it off with dessert, their famous l'ile flotttante (Floating Island) which consists of soft meingue &  crême anglaise and three selections of ice cream: coconut lime sorbet, ginger, and vanilla ice cream. Even the espressos are spot on! A truly magnificent, fulfilling lunch! 

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The service was great, very friendly staff and super helpful when it came to making a selection. I'd recommend Le Coq Rico to anyone! But if you want to avoid the holiday crowds and nightlife scene, lunch is the way to go! And sit at the chef's counter, where you are able to watch the chefs cook for you up close and personal! The only problem with that is it might have your tummy rumbling as you wait! How many of you have experience Le Coq Rico? If you haven't yet, what are you waiting for?! ;)

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Voveti Blackberry Rosemary Cocktails

Thank you VOVETI for sponsoring this post. Elevate your entertaining this season with VOVETI Prosecco


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The other day I posted a cocktail recipe that included vodka and passionfruit. Many of you messaged me about a way to make the drink less rich in terms of liquor and also in sugar. So, in today's post, I've created a lighter recipe with VOVETI. VOVETI Prosecco is dry with hints of fruit on the palate, making it the perfect choice for an easy drinking aperitif, cocktail and to share with friends anytime. VOVETI has more bubbles than other Proseccos; the powerful pressure in each bottle creates millions of tiny bubbles, ensuring freshness and effervescence. VOVETI is a brut style DOC with tempered acidity and a fresh, graceful profile.The VOVETI bottle is sleek and modern with a unique shape that will bring chicness to any occasion. The name VOVETI is inspired by the Latin verb voveo, which means “to vow” or “to promise.” Signifying the vow are 2 orange rings, intertwined. The rings represent the harmonious marriage of classic Italian winemaking and modern luxurious taste.

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With the hints of fruit in the prosecco, I wanted to stay within that category when it came to fresh ingredients. And I've always loved blackberries with prosecco. Or any berry, as a matter of fact.To keep it from being too sweet, I worked in some rosemary. Its tea-like aroma and piney flavor definitely complement well with the blackberry and prosecco. And I've always loved them as garnish, I'm all about that evergreen decor. 

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photos + recipe by ©   Suzanne Spiegoski

photos + recipe by © Suzanne Spiegoski

Voveti Blackberry Rosemary Cocktails

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • Some blackberries

  • Few sprigs of fresh rosemary

Directions:

  1. Pour the Voveti Prosecco into champagne flutes, but don’t fill it up right to the top yet (leave some space).

  2. Add a few blackberries to each glass and use a teaspoon to lightly crush them, releasing their purple juices.

  3. Add a sprig of rosemary to easy glass and serve immediately.

And this recipe is easy-peasy. Just add a few berries into each flute glass and use a fork to gently crush them, releasing their purple juices for a touch of color. Then add the prosecco and rosemary garnish and you'll be good to go! What do you guys think of VOVETI and this blackberry rosemary cocktail? Don't forget to save this recipe for later and leave your comment down below! 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

LOVE & XX'S,

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