Full Samurai Armor Suit, $5400 via Bureau of Trade 'Japan Rising' Collection

The New York Times T Magazine calls Bureau of Trade 'A treasure trove for Japanophiles', it might be because the site calls its current collection 'Japan Rising'.

It would be a misconception to think of Bureau of Trade as exclusively Japanese as items offered could be from Africa and many other points. 

You will probably not wear this Full Samurai Armor Suit at next social function you attend.


It is offered by Jay-Spenser.com who vouches for the authenticity of this $5,400 item.

Samurai Regalia for Tokyo Thursdays # 253

Previously: Tokyo Jazz Notes offers Up to Date Tokyo Jazz Concert Listings and New Jazz Releases

(* Image from 'Bureau of Trade' site)

One Way Streets and Red Lights Take new Meaning, Knafeh for Breakfast , Beirut 10 Do's and Don'ts by Salma Abdelnour

No Middle East city having yet been featured in 10 Do's and Don'ts, I jumped on the opportunity to ask Salma Abdelnour to offer her take on Beirut which is the main character in her recently published memoir Jasmine and Fire 'A Bittersweet Year in Beirut' (Broadway Books-Random House, June 2012).

Beirut 10 Do’s and Don’ts By Salma Abdelnour


-Before you head to any restaurant, bar, club, shop, or obscure art gallery in Beirut, make sure you find out what city landmark it’s near—for instance, is it next door to a famous old hotel, across from a big theater, or behind a historic café? Beirutis, obsessed though they may be by the trendiest new thing, tend to give directions by referring to famous old sites—never mind if those places haven’t actually been open for decades. Street names and building numbers are mostly irrelevant in Beirut, since you’ll rarely find signs with useful information like that. Landmarks are usually all you have to go by. Looking for the new February 30 bar? It’s in a little alleyway near the old Liban Poste building in Hamra. Want to find The Gathering restaurant? It’s down the street from the electric company headquarters, aka “shirket al kahraba,” in Gemmayzeh. 

- Get to The Gathering (see above) early in the evening, i.e. before 8pm, if you want to luck into a table for dinner. The name makes it sound like a ‘70s cult, but the restaurant is uber-hip, combining an Italian trattoria, a wine bar, and a salumeria in a trio of gorgeously renovated old Lebanese houses set around a breezy courtyard. The food is fantastic—made with mostly organic local ingredients—and the design is super-cool, and everyone wants to be there; alas the place doesn’t take reservations.


- Have lunch at Tawlet, (some dishes above) where each day the offerings focus on a different region of Lebanon, and are likely to include dishes you won’t see in any other restaurant in Beirut. The lunches (Tawlet is not open for dinner) are served on an abundant buffet counter in the sunny dining room, and owner Kamal Mouzawak—who is also responsible for starting the Souk El Tayeb farmer’s market downtown on Saturdays—walks around greeting guests. If you’re feeling more adventurous, take a daytrip to the new sister-restaurant Tawlet Ammiq in the Bekaa Valley.

- Stop by Saifi Gardens, in an out-of-the-way corner of the Gemmayzeh neighborhood, where you’ll find a mellow Lebanese café called Em Nazih overlooking a pleasant garden. Directly above the café (climb a few flights of stairs) is a rooftop bar called Coop D’Etat which, unlike many bars in Gemmayzeh, attracts a cool crowd more interested in kicking back over drinks and local indie-band music than in dressing up and getting sloppy-hammered. 

- Take a walk through the Mar Mikhael neighborhood and hit some of the eclectic hangouts there: for instance Internazionale, a new bar that has on one of its walls a giant mural showing the inside of a crowded 1960s Alitalia flight, complete with cigarette-puffing passengers.

- If you plan on treating a group of friends to dinner, secretly slip your credit card to the maître d’ as soon as you walk into the restaurant. The Lebanese can be generous to a fault, and they’ll often fight over who gets to pay the bill—and if you speak up a nanosecond too late, you’ll lose. In some cities on Earth, this would all sound very puzzling. But in Beirut it’s normal: People like to play host. More and more lately, people will agree to split the bill—especially if they’re a group in the habit of dining together. But if you’re intent on inviting your friends out and picking up the tab, be quick on the draw.

- Try to sneak into the American University of Beirut campus (you technically need a campus I.D. to get in), or take a stroll through the Sanayeh Gardens nearby. Besides the Corniche—the wide boulevard along the Mediterranean—those are among the very few outdoor pedestrian spaces with actual trees and flowers still left in Beirut. 

- Try knafeh (below) , a cakelike breakfast dish made with a sweet crumbly dough topped with melted white cheese and sugar syrup—and usually eaten wrapped in sesame bread. It sounds insanely rich. It is. But don’t miss it. It’s a classic Lebanese confection and deserves the reverence locals attach to it. Have it on a day when you’re willing to start with the heaviest meal first—and to postpone lunch for a few hours.


- Get around and see as many neighborhoods as you can in Beirut, from Burj Hammoud, the mazelike Armenian neighborhood on the east side, to Basta, a flea-market-filled area to the west—and beyond. Beirut is hard to sum up. It’s best to experience as many varied and seemingly contradictory parts of it as you can before even trying to get a handle on the place. 

- Swim. If it’s summer, buy a day-pass at one of the beach clubs along the Corniche, for instance the retro Sporting, the fancier Riviera Beach, or the (pictured below) super-sceney La Plage. (They all have rocky beaches, well-maintained pools, and outdoor cocktail bars.) If you’d prefer to swim at a sandy beach, head south to Jiyeh or to Tyre, which has beautiful public beaches that you can wade into even in winter. 



- In Beirut, don’t even try to arrive right on time for dinner or drinks. You’ll be the first one there by a longshot. But if, say, you’re going to a concert or performance and the announced starting time is “8pm sharp,” that usually means around 8:30—although it can occasionally mean 8pm sharp, for real. It’s a gamble. Usually no one in Beirut takes an exact start-time seriously. But you might want to call ahead to find out what the consequences of lateness might be. (For instance, people have been known to arrive at 8:15pm to a dance performance that actually started at 8pm sharp, and get sent away with no refund.)

- Don’t turn down an offer of something to eat or drink if you’re visiting Lebanese people in their home. At least accept a glass of water. The Lebanese are hard-wired to ply you with food and drink, and an all-out rejection of their efforts to give you things—things you may not actually want or need—will be seen as a failure to please you. Don’t try to see the logic in this. There is none.

- Don’t worry about sending a thank-you note if you’ve received a gift or you’ve been taken out to dinner. The Lebanese don’t really do thank-you notes, but a phone call or a return invitation is always appreciated—and sending a bouquet of flowers to someone’s home is a sweet (though unnecessary) gesture if you’ve been especially bowled over by an act of generosity or hospitality. 

- Try not to panic if you hear alarming shot-like noises or booms around you, unless everyone else seems to be panicking. Given Lebanon’s history, past and present, panic often seems like a wise response, but there are lots of things in Beirut that go boom—construction sounds, cars whose engines are held together by thread and scotch tape, and the ever-popular recreational fireworks. Don’t be careless about where you go in Beirut or elsewhere in the country if there’s political trouble brewing, but don’t get needlessly worked up over the city’s hyper-noisy everyday soundscape. 

- Don’t expect to get through an entire elevator ride without shuddering to a stop midway through. The electricity shuts down for a few hours each day across the city, on a rotating basis: morning, midday, or afternoon. Many buildings and nearly all hotels have generators, but there are frequent hiccups and blackouts. The electric company headquarters (see Do #1 above) is a major city landmark, but locals often wonder what exactly goes on inside that building. 

- Make sure not to miss out on taking a daytrip outside Beirut. You’ll no doubt already have the ancient Roman ruins in Baalbeck and the historic city of Byblos on your itinerary, but try to hit more relaxing destinations too, like the coastal towns of Amsheet (pictured below) and Batroun, north of Beirut. Beautiful old houses, winding little streets, and a seaside setting make for a gorgeous escape that will make you forget Beirut’s urban chaos for a few hours. 

Amsheet (1)

- Never assume a one-way street in Beirut is in fact a one-way street. Ever. Look both ways, and also up, down, front, back—any direction you can think of. Keep a keen eye out for motorcycles and mopeds, which seem to drop out of the sky. 

- Don’t expect anyone or anything to stop at a red light or a stop sign. Lately, traffic cops (who ever knew Beirut had traffic cops?) have been turning up to give the occasional ticket when someone runs a red light, but not often enough to convince people to change their driving habits so dramatically.

- As of September 2012, it’s illegal to smoke in restaurants, bars, and enclosed public spaces—so don’t light up unless you want to test your luck. How strongly will this law be enforced? Remains to be seen.

- No need to fret if you haven’t had a chance to pick up presents for everyone back home before you leave Lebanon. The shopping at the Beirut airport is actually quite good: You’ll find locally made artisanal textiles and clothing, a well-stocked Virgin bookstore, and Lebanese pastries galore, attractively packaged to give out to (sure-to-be-thrilled) friends.

Read more from Salma on Jasmine and Fire blog.

Dorothy Parker, Mule Variation, BABAR Cocktail Armada Fundraiser, Sunset Cruise on NY East River, July 12

It is not too late to join the hip and the curious for a 2 hour sunset cruise aboard the East River Ferry this Thursday, July 12 from 8 to 10 PM.

Dorothy Parker, Grey King and Mule Variation are some of the cocktails who made it on the list so far.

"Along with live music and a beautiful backdrop, Sunset Cocktail Armada will feature an open bar with cocktails and hors d’oeuvre by some of Brooklyn’s mixology masters and culinary heavyweights…

Cocktails designed by Hotel Delmano, The Richardson, The Drink, Manhattan Inn, The Shanty, Nitehawk, Cubana Social, The Counting Room, Bellwether, Maison Premiere, Dram and Nita Nita

Seaworthy ceviches, oysters, gazpachos, pates and more by Dressler, Diner, Cafe Collete, Hotel Delmano, D.O.C. Wine Bar, Urban Rustic, El Almacen, The Drink, Bakeri, Cafe Mogador, Teddy’s Bar and Grill, Nitehawk, and Mast Brothers, beer by Brooklyn Brewery."



8:15pm: All Aboard the East River Ferry for an evening of signature cocktails and light appetizers from a fleet of the top bars and restaurants in the neighborhood. 

8:30pm: Set Sail for a cruise down the East River with a sunset stop at the Statue of Liberty.

10:30pm: Disembark at the North 6th St Ferry Terminal

BABAR in question is not the charming elephant character from our youth. BABAR stands for Brooklyn Allied Bars and Restaurants.

You can purchase tickets via Brown Paper Tickets for $125.00 ($130.37 w/service fee)

Please Do Not Sit Couch, Desk I Would like as Birthday Present at Ralph Pucci Showroom

If you home furnishing showroom doubles as a special event space on occasion, the occasional spill or stain might ruin a good piece.

With that in mind, it makes sense that Ralph Pucci showroom in New Room opens its doors to such events while allowing only white wine and Champagne to be served.

Such was the rule at Made in New York book launch party on Thursday, April 19, 2012.

Moet was served, only natural since LVMH NY was the event sponsor, no food.

There was a strict Do Not Sit Down policy for couches on display.


I noticed desk i would like as a birthday present.


Not sure who the designer was for both pieces.

Loose Yourself in Yoshitomo Nara's World with art book 'The Complete Works'

Publishers are ready to unleash a wave of Spring 2012 books upon us and I took a little time to peruse their lists and see what I might be interested in sharing with you.

Each time I go though this process, i find books that I missed for one reason or another.

Yesterday, i realized I should have noticed Yoshitomo Nara ' The Complete Works' (Chronicle Books, November 2011), a perfect fit for weekly Tokyo Thursdays

This objet d'art is described by publisher as "the most extensive, authoritative, and beautiful expression of the artist’s work ever published." In includes "two 400-page volumes bound in fabric featuring Nara’s designs, the catalog covers all of the artist’s prolific output over the span of his career to date, including more than 4,500 paintings, drawings, editions, sculptures, photographs, and collaborations with other artists. Including new essays written by Nara himself—as well as texts from Banana Yoshimoto, Takashi Murakami, Hiroshi Sugito, and Midori Matsui—this unique reference is the definitive book on one of the world’s most important contemporary artists."


Since I have not held the book in my hands, I cannot tell for sure how many pieces that were featured in exhibit  Yoshitomo Nara Nobody's Fool at Asia Society in New York (Sept. 9, 2010–Jan. 2, 2011) are included in 'The Complete Works'. This show was first major one for artist in the U.S.

The exhibit pages introduce Yoshitomo Nara as "a leading Japanese Neo Pop artist who is internationally known for his work depicting small children and animals in solitary settings."


He also has a strong connection to the music scene and created covert art for the band Shonen Knife for example.

The $250 price tag for Yoshitomo Nara ' The Complete Works' will make some of us pause before purchasing it.

It makes for a wonderful gift.Completeworksnara

Loosing myself in Yoshitomo Nara's world for Tokyo Thursdays # 224


Love Will Tear Us Apart, Celluloid Heroes Version, Japan Society Film Festival, NY, March 2-18

(* Illustrations from Yoshitomo Nara ' The Complete Works'-Chronicle Books, November 2011- reproduced with permission of the publisher, all rights reserved)

Tantric Lovers Art Print, Art Prints as Valentine's Day Presents via Idea Generation Gallery

Besides roses, chocolate, champagne and dinner for two, art prints could be a fresh gift idea for Valentine's Day.

One source worth considering is Idea Generation Gallery (London) which offers prints of art and photos from its past shows via their Culture Label online shop.

Amongst them is Tantric Lovers (part of it below) by Nigel Waymouth (June 1967), £240.00.


This piece is part of a 100 signed-numbered run.

Early morning-late night lovers are stars of 5am Alexander Palace, 1964 (John 'Hoppy' Hopkins), £75.00

The larger Culture Label catalogue offers other Valentine Day Themed items at all prices (not all to my taste).

For macaroon fans, there is Mr. Raccoon Loves a Macaroon plate, hand drawn by Jimbobart, £25.00

(* Tantric Lovers image and print © Hapshash and the Coloured Coat , all rights reserved)

Creative Chefs Pick Color, Texture, Size, Flavor of their Veggies thanks to Ugglarps Gront Farm

Fortunately (unfortunately), since last September, I have more stories on the cutting board than time to write them, a number of them related to my visit to Copenhagen for Nordic Feed Food Conference.

One of the presentations we had at Carlsberg brewery for Saturday program was by Mikael Jidenholm who runs a farm in Sweden thanks to whom chefs around Europe and beyond can pick color, texture, size, flavor of their vegetables like a painter chooses colors on his palette.

Flying vegies

Mikael Jidenholm talked to us both about local Swedish vegetables and herbs and also his own creations. Mikael  is the owner of Ugglarps Grönt farm in Halland (southern Sweden).

If my memory and my notes do not fail me, they offer no less than 29 different types of carrots (including one below).


They keep an updated online catalogue (with images) of what the farm has to offer at a certain point in time.

A small part of what they sell is foraged.

Of course not everyone of us can afford to order from Ugglarps Gront farm.

Should you put a price tag on creativity?

(* Ugglarps Gront website is in Swedish)

14 Macaron Flavors at Le Petit Paris, 1 at Whole Foods, Montclair Shopping

I shared my Les Petits Macarons Interview with a client and today she asked me to pick 15 macaroons (macarons) for her.

I called my local Whole Foods and was chagrined to find that they offered only one flavor, coconut, and it was not store baked.

I went back to my local search board and was pleased to see that a recent addition to the Montclair food scene, Le Petit Paris, had no less than 14 flavors, all store made.

I picked 2 each of 7 flavors including Coquelicot, Cherry, Hazelnut-Chocolate, Pistachio and to round the 15, one Jasmine Green Tea macaron.


Le Petit Paris also offers a number of pastries, sandwiches and cappuccino, espresso, hot chocolate served in Paris themed cups.

The shop opened 6 months ago is the creation of a French couple from Paris.


Macarons are $2.75 a piece

My Date with Grands Crus Bordeaux 2009 Vintage Tour on January 25, 2012 in New York

Keeping January tradition alive, Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux members take a tour around the U.S with their 2009 vintage.


Union bordeaux


They will make 4 stops in the U.S starting with Los Angeles (Jan 20) then Miami (Jan 23), New York (Jan 25) and Chicago (Jan 26).

They then cross the border into Canada for Toronto Tasting on January 27.

Amongst the many producers featured are Leóville Barton, Gloria, Batailley, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Lynch Bages, Orme de Pez, Pichon Longueville, Prieuré-Lichine.

I will have l'embarras du choix (too many choices) as we say in France when I visit the tour on its New York stop.

The afternoon trade/media sessions are followed by tastings opened to the general public.

You can purchase Tickets Online here for New York ($ 95 per person) and there for Chicago ($ 50 per person)...Wine selection might vary depending on city.

During last year's tour we interviewed two demoiselles de Bordeaux, first Emilie Gervoson of Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion and later Anne Le Naour who runs Bordeaux Wine Show for Credit Agricole CA Grands Crus.

Tickets on Sale, Noosa Food and Wine Festival 2012, Queensland, May 17-20

There are good restaurants in Las Vegas and a lot of star power at food fests like NYC Wine & Food Festival yet everything must taste better when you stage your event in gorgeous beach settings as is case with Noosa Food and Wine Festival in Noosa, Queensland, Australia.

Tickets for the 2012 Edition (May 17 to May 20) went on sale Monday, January 9, 2012.


Hottest ticket must be Qantas Best Dinner in the World:

"A stellar seven course degustation dinner with matching wines presented by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Master of Wine and hosted by Matt Preston. Featuring internationally acclaimed chefs - Mark Best, Fergus Henderson, Alvin Leung, Davide Scabin, Ben Shewry, David Thompson and Seiji Yamamoto..."

For more travel details check Visit Noosa and plan your stay.

If I needed an excuse to head for Australia, it would be a good one.

I wish it was not so far.