Tag Archives: Design

Masterpiece – Kyoto, Japan

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green tea cappuccino

Masterpiece MSPC

(81)  75.231.6828
区三条通富小路東入中之町26 Nakagyo-ku
Kyoto, 〒  604-8083,


Open Hours:
11:00-20:00    Daily

Master-Piece is another of the great design stores that one should visit while in Kyoto.  MasterPiece specializes in waterproof bags; thoroughly designed with all the correct compartments, straps and details.

Master-Piece started as a company dedicated to creating all-weather gear for sailors and marine workers.  Then changing with the times to include consumer goods.  All made with impeccable Japanese quality.

This falls, once again, into a should’ve, would’ve, could’ve category; where we regret not purchasing one of the expensive, but of excellent value shoulder bags.  Yes they are not cheap; but that is exactly the point.  This is an item that will last and serve you well throughout.

If for nothing else visit the store the store in Kyoto for its small cafe with view to an amazing garden and enjoy a delicious green tea latte 🙂

There are also outposts in Tokyo and Osaka and the bags are available in luxury department stores throughout Japan.

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Bazaar – South Beach, Miami

SLS MIAMI Bazaar_025 copyFerran Adrià Olives, Modern & Traditional Liquid green olive and gordal olives stuffed with piquillo pepper and anchovy

Bazaar by Jose Andres

(1) 305 455-2999
SLS Hotel South Beach
1701 Collins Ave,  South Beach
Miami Beach, FL 33139


Open Hours:
18:00 – 00:00    Diner  – Sunday to Thursday
18:00 – 01:00    Diner  – Friday & Saturday

We are seeing more and more ‘outpost’ restaurants – where a big name chef attaches his name to a local property.  It then becomes a Where’s Waldo campaign to figure out where the chef actually is, and how much involvement he actually has, with that particular monikered restaurant.

Having been to the Jose Andres outpost in Las Vegas, we were very unsure which version of the Chef would be present on South  Beach, Miami; after all, Miami feels a bit closer to Vegas then Barcelona.

We are quite happy to report that our meal, drinks and service were at an all-time high.  In short, the dinner was fantastic!

Kudos to Chef Vargas for the day-to-day work and keeping Bazaar at the top end of  Miami dining.  Each dish was coordinated perfectly – from the stylish presentation to the exquisite  finish.  We really had a lovely meal – topped off with an extra Caipirinha (Made with Liquid Nitrogen table-side of course!!

If you find yourself in Miami – Bazaar by Jose Andres is heartily recommended 🙂

SLS MIAMI Bazaar_018 copy Dragon fruit and tuna Ceviche with, pecans, lemon juice, and hibiscus foam

Note that Bazaar has an all-day menu and is a great place to also pop into for a quick lunch.  Standouts include the Gazpacho Patricia (tomatoes, cucumbers, crouton, sherry vinegar), the Pan con tomato (perfect bread flown in daily from Spain) and the afternoon drink of choice .. Passion Fruit Up (Dark  rum , passion fruit and ginger – laurel syrup , topped with passion fruit espuma)

SLS MIAMI Bazaar_009 copySmoked Kusshi oysters, compressed apples, apple mignonette and apple foam
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_011 copySmoked Kusshi oysters, compressed apples, apple mignonette and apple foam
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_005 copyJasmine’s Margarita , pomegranate, fresh lime and Sal de Gusano with Mezcal
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_021 copyNot Your Everyday Caprese cherry tomatoes, liquid mozzarella over pesto with drops of balsamic reduction
caprese 10 copy(above photo © SLS Hotels) Not Your Everyday Caprese
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_014 copyConch Fritters ‘Café Atlantico’ with a liquid bechamel cente
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_030 copyhot and cold scallop ceviche
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_015 copyPan con tomate
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_022 copyGressini trees with truffles  and Parmesan Espuma
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_029 copyOctopus  with romesco sauce
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_023 copyGressini trees with truffles  and Parmesan Espuma
The Bazaar_Liquid Nitrogen Capirihna_Darko Zagar copy(above photo © SLS Hotels) LN 2 Caipirinha
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_035 copyPreparation of the liquid nitrogen LN 2 Caipirinha
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_032Baby Japanese Peaches fresh burrata, hazelnuts, arugula over praline
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_038Chef Vargas
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_002 copy
SLS MIAMI Bazaar_003 copy

Hotel Condesa DF – Mexico City, Mexico

Hotel Condesa DF

52 55 5282 2199
V. Veracruz N.102
Condesa, 06700
Mexico DF, Mexico


The much hyped and reviewed Condesa DF in Mexico City (DF) easily lives up to its reputation as a top design hotel. From its prime location, adjacent to a lovely art & tree filled park, in the chic Condesa district – think NYC’s West Village – to its distinctive triangular form, everything about the Condesa DF sets it apart.

The main interior is an open triangular courtyard looking up 5 flights to the happening roof-top bar and the sky above. White shutters line the interior catwalks, creating an openness during the day and a protective barrier when closed at night. Dangling down the center is a vine of silver horns, splaying out like the bells of a foxglove, emitting a low murmuring of ticking and tocking – with a grandfather clock’s steady comfort rather then an alarm clock’s annoying reminder of time passing. The restaurant’s elegant white tables fall within this surrounding whiteness with a few protected rooms along the sides for enclosed dining.  One of these contains an excellent shop filled with some of the choicest jewelry seen in all of DF – at surprisingly good prices. A second side room is a library filled with photo & design books dedicated to Mexico’s deep cultural and art scene.


We stayed in a Balcony-View Room. It was small, but well appointed with a very comfortable bed and excellent pillows (something often lacking!). The balcony turned out to be a window overlooking the tree’s that filled the street below. It was quite lovely to wake up, throw the curtains and gaze upon the flowing leaves while gathering in the fresh air and listening to DF’s ever-present songbirds.

The shower was like standing under an 80 foot water-fall – pressure that would give a Japanese Onsen competition. Fantastic!  Interestingly the toilet was the only ‘industrial’ item to be found in the entire hotel.  It could have come from a high-school or hospital.  Once again the bathroom was on the smallish side, but nicely laid out and cleverly hidden behind folding partitions.

If there was anything to pick on at the Condesa DF, it was that the room seemed designed more for a single person then a couple. There was only a single key that combined as an electrical shut-off and the safe-box was locked via credit-card over code. This made it hard to be on separate schedules. One night I ventured out to meet a friend at a local night-club. We wound up having to take apart the key ring so the room had power and I need not wake anyone on returning home. But these were small inconveniences and easily managed.


The staff was pleasant and consistently polite and helpful. Our night’s stay included one of the more expansive  and impressive continental breakfasts seen to date; containing a self serve bar of home-made granola, cereals, fruits, yogurts, along with honey, milk and cottage cheese. The was also an excellent selection of breads, alongside quality portions of smoked salmon, prosciutto, salami, white and hard cheeses, tomatoes, compotes, hard eggs, butter and creamed cheese.  Decanters of fresh orange, carrot & grapefruit juice offered a vibrant start to the day. The coffee was as good as anywhere we found in Mexico – which means not great, but drinkable (There seems to be a tendency to dilute and over-boi)l. There is also an a-la-carte menu with huevos rancheros and other delightful Mexican dishes.  Be sure to take a substantial breakfast to start your day, as you need the calories for the never ending activity that is sure to follow in the wonderful city of Mexico DF.


The steam room and “spa area” are the weak point of the Condesa DF.   They seem an after-thought,  a requirement tossed in to earn an extra star rating.   Luckily, the tempest-like shower more then makes an adequate “spa experience” and is conveniently located right in your room!

A quick note on taxis:
We have never encountered a city where the rates and hustling in taxis is so widespread.  This is something that should really be better regulated.  So if this is the kind of thing that annoys you, please keep in mind to specify you want a ‘taxi-meter taxi’ when you order a car service AND to specify to the driver to use the meter.  Otherwise the hotel (and every business in town apparently) will order what they term ‘a more elegant car’ – which is really the same car without the taaxi paint – and the rates can be up to 7 times the taximeter rate.  We paid between 20 & 120 pesos for the same ride, until we got our head around the costs.  Do not be put off by this, just know it.

Mexico City (DF) is a safe and amazing city, full of grand architecture, strong design and culinary artistry.  The Condesa DF is a lovely home-away-from-home to base yourself.  Centrally located on a quiet block in a leafy section of town; each evening we were happy to return, get cleaned up and every morning we awoke excited and energized!