Ooh, my favorite!

Totokaelo Seattle
June 28, 2012, 10:01 am
Filed under: Art and Design, Fashion, Home, Seattle, The Finer Things

An upscale lifestyle store in Seattle…on Capitol Hill? For real? No way!

Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

Totokaelo (toh-toh-kye-oh) is a gorgeous new store on The Hill, but the shop itself has been around for a while (you may recognize it from its smaller location in Pioneer Square). Featuring quality artisan wares from around the globe alongside some high-end designer goods, Totokaelo is a beautifully curated boutique with pieces at all price points…though the higher end is where it skews.

I was really happy to see the selection of artisan Japanese ceramics I’d been eyeing online but had hesitated buying without seeing and touching first. (They were as gorgeous as I’d hoped.) Beyond housewares there’s lots to be seen, and even if that’s ALL you’ll be doing Totokaelo is a great afternoon window shopping excursion.

There will be plush towels, Japanese ceramic housewares, and gorgeous furniture…

…there will be designer trinkets and toys…

…there will be clothing, jeans and jewelry…

…and there will be shoes!

Soap Box moment: While some on The Hill see the addition of this store as a swing in the pretentious and materialistic direction, I welcome the boutique with its celebration of artisan crafts and grown-up style. If we’re talking about the downside of “the gentrification of Capitol Hill” let’s turn the argument toward the poor city planning and the BARRAGE of cheap condos and apartments, and all of the mediocre restaurants and bars popping up down every street and on every corner. So there. I’m done now.

Bespoke Chanel Silk Scarf Chandelier
June 19, 2012, 11:25 am
Filed under: Art and Design, Home, The Finer Things

Opulent to no end. Each one is made to order and adds white glove packaging and delivery. The shade is a Chanel scarf and the draping chains are pearls and gold-plated vintage beads. Very boudoir-esque, no?

Special order at Vivre $9,200. [Yes. Seriously.]

François Pralus Barre Infernale Lait
May 31, 2012, 10:25 am
Filed under: Chocolate, The Finer Things

François Pralus Barre Infernale

Like coffee, chocolate is a luxury item that’s become so easily accessible that it’s easy to forget that for about $20 we have access to the best the world has to offer. Seriously, this is mind blowing! In a time where faster, cheaper goods reign supreme we have the ability to reallocate a few dollars here and there to appreciate the finer things and indulge in excellence…like, for example, this epic bar of chocolate.

I use the term chocolate bar only in the most literal sense: it is in the shape of a bar, and it is made of chocolate. In terms of the conventional sense, trust me when I say that there is nothing conventional about this chocolate.

This is the François Pralus Barre Infernale Lait. I’ve been struggling to find the best way to characterize this, but it’s been really tough. In the classic sense (and according to François Pralus) it’s a praline, but I think it might help most people stateside to think of this as a bon bon of sorts, with a truffle-ish center. (Did you catch that?)

The progression of textures and tastes is euphoric. The outer chocolate shell boldly encases and yet blends into the most sumptuous, buttery, and decadent chocolate hazelnut center. In short it’s the perfect fat: as it hits your palate it’s one cohesive bite, but almost immediately it coats your tongue and oozes sexy hazelnut chocolate. The addition of the toasted whole hazelnuts is the perfect bit of tannic crunch.

This is NOT excessive-cocoa-butter-waxy-bland, just pure decadence. I’m not saying this is an exact comparison, but when talking about this with my guy the word foie gras did come up. So yeah…there’s that.

I purchased this from Cacao in Portland for $22. It’s worth every cent not just because of its artisan craftsmanship and quality (and size), but also because it’s so decadent it’s meant to be savored. You’ll just want to slice a few pieces off at a time and store it away from anything too warm or cold. If you’re looking for this in Seattle, check out Chocolopolis in Queen Anne, they also have it online for $19.

UPDATE [December, 12]: This guy is getting hard to find. Try here.

In case you’re curious here’s a cheeky little how-to:

If this wasn’t enough to convince you I’m not sure what else there is! All I can do is beg you to skip the chocolate from Trader Joe’s and indulge in something better every now and then. Trust me, the endorphins you’ll get from this are priceless!

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