Last night the tunes were pumping through Una Takeaway for its opening party. Despite the DJ’s turntable in the kitchen, his beats reached all the way to the back, where a new, hidden bar will soon be the go-to for grown-up guzzling.In the front of the house, Una Takeaway offers many of the favorites found on the menu at Una Pizza + Wine, located next door on 17th Avenue. Delectables didn’t stay on display long. They were far too delicious.The takeaway territory is bright and cheerful, but Frenchie the gilt-framed terrier indicates a mood swing around the corner.Tucked into a tight space at the back is the intimate new Frenchie Wine Bar, where the fabulous gathered for sophisticated sipping, including……Janice Beaton, who knows how to cut a fine cheese. Delish!The bar boasts a curated wine list, charcuterie made in-house and just 15 seats. Which makes it easy to predict a full house for Frenchie Wine Bar. Merci pour votre hospitalite, Frenchie!
When the folks from Invivo Wines sent me this happy little package recently, I thought:perfect to quench my post-polo thirst! After playing four chukkers for Team Blue Besos, despite my personal puddle of sweat and crazy helmet hair, water never seems to be my top choice for rehydration.Mellow, peachy, but not too sweet, Invivo’s Pinot Gris hails from New Zealand. Available at several Calgary restaurants and at Willow Park Wines, it recently rated 91 points (out of 100) with the Globe and Mail. Normally I’m a Sauv Blanc kind of girl, but this Pinot will do in a pinch. Invivo gets marks for invigoration.
This summer in Calgary has been unusually humid, thanks to our wet, stormy weather. Bad for polo, but great for the skin — so much so that I’d dropped my usual obsession with moisturizing. Until one day I woke up and felt as dry and cracked as this old fence — which is a charming part of the scenery at the Calgary Polo Club… but not something I want to emulate on my epidermis. So I gave a new collection of lotions and potions a try — from BVspa by Bon Vital.To start, I sloughed off dull, dry skin cells in the shower with BVspa Sugar Scrub. The pomegranate and acai berry made for a summertime fresh scent. Besides leaving my skin refreshed and smooth, I almost didn’t have to moisturize afterward — the scrub is sublime with shea butter and natural oils for a smooth finish.The rich, creaminess of BVspa’s Body Butter makes it my current nighttime fave for slathering on hands and feet before I go to sleep. Besides being deeply moisturizing with cocoa butter, shea butter and essential oils, the lavender and rosemary scent is appropriately pre-Z soothing.
Should you prefer savory rather than sweet in the skin exfoliation department, BVspa by Bon Vital also has a salt scrub to use in the shower or bath. A blend of Dead Sea salt with jojoba, olive and safflower oils, this scrub’s pink grapefruit scent will leave you exuberantly smooth and refreshed. At least, it did for me.Follow up the scrub with BVspa’s Pink Grapefruit Body Lotion. Layering scent is one time that it’s ok to get all match-matchy. Also, in the summertime (especially if you’re experiencing the heavy humidity that Calgary is this year) it’s nice to go with a body lotion, which has a lighter consistency than a butter. BVspa Body Lotions contain squalane, which is a vegetable based extract that can help prevent free radical damage that causes the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They also have jojoba oil and sunflower oil, with their magical moisturizing powers.
I’ve always loved Gucci, as my many of my shoes, clothes and four handbags will attest. It actually used to be five, until one was stolen from checked luggage somewhere between Maui and Vancouver. But that’s another story.
On to the Gucci legend, and the first book written by a direct descendant of company founder Guccio Gucci: his granddaughter, Patricia Gucci.
I vaguely recall Gucci’s sale to a faceless corporation, which resulted in diluted brand, and the subsequent clawing back up to the luxury level reserved for but a few designers in the 1000-threadcount receptors of our brains. However, I never knew the back story in detail.
So when I was approached to be one of the first to read Patricia Gucci’s memoir, I couldn’t resist. And it seems only fitting to post my review on Fathers Day. The love child of Aldo Gucci, she weaves a masterful tale of her father, from the perspective of a person who had to live in the shadows for years — a child born out of wedlock used to be illegal in Italy. Discovery would mean certain scandal, possible ruination and potential imprisonment.
Patricia traces her parents’ love story, Aldo’s battle for the business, and touches on her own rise as Gucci’s spokesperson, although I would have liked to hear more about her career. Maybe another book is coming.
Besides the gripping interpersonal drama, I discovered (not really a spoiler alert, don’t worry!) the stirrup style elements did not come from a saddle-making background — Aldo just wanted an elevated equestrian association for the brand. And, looking at Louis V, who wouldn’t?
It’s hard to resist the combination of Made in Italy and superb story-telling. Bottom line for the interlocking G, as told by Patricia? I normally don’t do memoir, but I couldn’t put In the Name of Gucci down! Two G’s up.
When the Marriott decided to hold a battle royale, celebrating their curated bourbon flights at 250 of their finest hotels, it makes sense that Calgary would be their only Canadian stop. Because who in this country appreciates a good drink more than anyone from YYC?With four bartenders feeling the heat of battle, the lobby of the Calgary Marriott was on fire. Shelby Goodwin of The Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen came out of the gate smokin’ hot. But Madeline MacDonald of Model Milk, Michael Sheppard of the Marriott’s One 18 Empire and Kevin McKee of Marriott Scottsdale all had mighty mixes to muddle. Being polite Canadianas, we pretended not to notice that Marriott had stacked the deck with two of their own bartenders.To show she wasn’t phased, Model Milk’s Madeline struck a serious pose in between her bar-side dance moves, while the clocked ticked away on a time limit of five minutes for each round.Boozy brown concoctions of drinkable art ensued.Michael Sheppard displayed deft dexterity, and, dare I say, unusual technique for the pour? Behind him, after claiming he loved hockey, Arizonian Kevin McKee devised what he hoped would be the drink of champions.While the American contestant’s affection for hockey may have been questioned, his fans could teach us a thing or two about supporting a team. Bourbon Battles boosters! Host Heather Greene, spirit expert and NY Times short-listed author, wondered if Kevin’s fans would buoy him to the top spot. Meanwhile, Jonny Knoxville doppelgänger aka Michael took it low. Then popped up all confidence to hustle the bus to the judges.The judges, which included James Addison, vice president of global operations for Marriott in the blue button down, Nathan Head, owner of Milk Tiger, and Terry Rock, self acclaimed Man About Town, were schmoozed as well as served.
The judges had a tough decision on their hands, but they managed to sip their way through it.Ultimately, it was Shelby Goodwin of the Derrick who took home the emblazoned bourbon barrel lid. Must have been his muy caliente technique for the old fashioned. He’ll battle again at the finale in New York on June 14, representing Calgary on National Bourbon Day. Congrats Shelby! Kick some bourbon butt in NYC!
The first ever Canadian International Fashion Film Festival debuts this summer, not in Montreal or Toronto, but Calgary. The glitzy, glam launch party at Township Kitchen+Bar offered a perfect view corridor to one of the forces behind the fest.It makes sense that artist, film lover and Calgary fashion icon Katrina Olson co-founded CANIFFF, for many reasons beyond her Moschino suit. With a rich, diverse arts community and many indie fashion designers here, Katrina tells me it’s time to put Calgarian and Canadian fashion film on a festival pedestal. She didn’t come out and say it, but she might be more partial to the former, since she’s a Calgarian born and raised.As the head of Nobles Management, a modeling agency, co-founder Antonija Klotz is also a perfect fit for a fashion film festival—a metaphorical Size 0.You don’t have to be fabulously dressed to enjoy a fashion film festival — but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Cue Evie Eshpeter’s entrance in a gorgeous Eliza J skirt from stage left. The director of Jelle Public Relations is helping spread the word about CANIFFF.Fashion film festivals are taking global style centers by storm. Paris has one. So does Berlin, New York and Milan. Just what is this hot new trend? Take off your Anna Wintour-esque black sunglasses and watch the trailer:
The festival runs July 22-23 at the Glenbow Museum, for a two-day showcase of all things luxurious, life-stylish and beautiful. Right up Blue Besos’ alley! And btw if Blue Besos actually had an alley, it would be in the Meatpacking District.
When you’re celebrating the addition two new planes to the private, friendly skies, why be subtle? “Cocktails and Jets” read the invitation, speaking the language of party destiny. Canapes could only be a bonus.
But it got better. President and COO James Elian invited me aboard a shiny new Embraer Legacy 450, the latest luxury addition to AirSprint’s aviation fleet. A full-fledged teenager, AirSprint just celebrated its 16th anniversary providing fractional jet ownership (don’t call it a timeshare) in Canada.Surrounded by tiger wood paneling and creamy leather, I immediately asked the most unoriginal question I could: “What’s the strangest request you’ve ever gotten from a client?”
James, obviously an old hand at interviews, told me a passenger once wanted their jet supplied with half a dozen chocolate chip cookies. Each with six chips.
The story sounded suspiciously ready for prime time, but I was distracted by my ability to stand in wedge heels — without my hair grazing the ceiling. That, said James, is because the cabin is 6 feet tall and 6’10” wide. With seats that stretch out for snoozing, as long as you don’t mind playing footsie with the person across from you.Meanwhile, this intrepid reporter moved on to more intense, investigative questions. Like… does the loo have a view?And is the sink better than the ones in most apartments? Yes and yes. Important things to consider if you’re taking the jet to Palm Beach, because, my polo friends, this plane can get you there, direct from Calgary. Or to the Bahamas. Or to Cancun. However, if you want to say aloha to Maui with the Legacy 450, you’ll need to gas up in Vancouver. Or Oakland.Outside the aircraft, the hangar was a hotbed for high style, exemplified by marketing connoisseur Britni Weston and Avenue cover girl and creative agency head Sharie Hunter.Jory Kinjo and co went to the mile-high limit to provide the soaring tunes.The party was also a launch pad for AirSprint’s new CJ3+, but a nearby Aston Martin received more lustful looks.
No need to worry about parking… … or legroom on the 450, either in the cabin or the cockpit. I couldn’t resist giving the 450 an imaginary test drive. This is your captain speaking: Congratulations on your new jets, AirSprint!
My new Get Together portable audio system is so damn good looking, it trumps any other minor issues it might have. Part of the House of Marley’s product lineup, co-founded by Bob’s son Rohan Marley, it isn’t your average set of visually unappetizing bluetooth speakers.I love its bamboo panels, front and back, along with its grey fabric accent. House of Marley builds all their products with earth-friendly, sustainable materials, like Forest Stewardship Council-certified woods and recycled plastics. Plus, Marley products support 1Love, the family charitable organization. The system instantly picked up my Google Play app from my iPad (I would prefer it to be Songza but we all know what happened there) to stream tunes wirelessly. The built-in rechargeable battery will go for 8 hours. If I stop playing on my iPad, the Get Together powers down on its own. Nice touch!
If I could change one thing, the Get Together would have an equalizer panel, because I find I’m craving more base.I grew up playing classical cello, so I’m picky about my sound. Other portable speakers in my collection are by Bose and JBL, which both offer a satisfying richness. However, ultimately, I’m aesthetically driven, and the previously mentioned brands are still too tech-dude for me. I moved the Get Together out of my large living room and into a medium-sized bedroom, and soon found the contained sound had me feeling alright.
It’s a big birthday across the pond today — the Queen of England is turning 90. She still rides her fave Fell pony, as seen in this pic from last year, and prefers silk scarves to helmets. Since most of us probably can’t make it to the 90-minute May celebration with 900 horses, what better way to celebrate lovely Liz than with a cookbook by a former royal chef?Cordon Bleu chef Carolyn Robb went straight from cookery school to cook it up at the Royal Household for thirteen years.
As you can probably guess, I hold a torch for her all her polo-playing charges. The fact they look so bummed after a loss in this photo makes me love them even more. So of course I want to see where they got their energy from during the Chef Robb days.Chef Robb advises how to cook food fit for a king in a totally down-to-earth manner, with a chapter devoted to organic food for children. Lovingly published by ACC Editions, The Royal Touch, is a collage of recipes, photos, watercolor illustrations and hand-written notes from happy royals with full tummies.
The ones from Princess Diana are especially poignant.
The book offers a bounty of recipes, from breakfast to dessert, with clear instructions and Carolyn’s personal take on each dish. Since I’ve been on a quinoa kick lately, I’ll be trying the Warm Salad of Halloumi next. With quinoa, roasted aubergine and lemon mint dressing. Mmmm. Even more delicious is a 50% discount for Blue Besos readers. Head to the ACC website to register, then enter promotional code RT50. Happy cooking!
The glorious, awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies! This is the view from the top of the gondola at Lake Louise Ski Resort, which is still open — until May 8th. To my right, you can see the lake which this part of Banff (Canada’s first national park) was named for. The lake, and Deer Lodge, our digs for the weekend, are both only five minutes from the bottom of the hill.The famous turquoise glacier-fed water is already starting to appear through the rink that I played hockey on in February. The paths around the lake are in good conditions for a hike…… but after a day of snowboarding, apres-ski at Deer Lodge, just down the road, is more tempting.First up, into the rooftop hot tub, for a gorgeous view of the sunset over the Rockies. You can just make out the Beehive, a roundish mountain next to Lake Agnes teahouse, a beautiful hike to do in the summer. Meanwhile, this truly is a hot tub time machine, because afterward you’ll find yourself inside Deer Lodge, which is like going back to 1925, the year it opened.Tilt back your glass at the bar and you’ll see this guy, which makes perfect sense, because you’re in the Caribou Lounge. Just because you’re in a UNESCO World Heritage Site doesn’t mean you can’t get a decent drink.After a day of snowboarding it only made sense to apres with a charcuterie platter. It’s something of a specialty at Deer Lodge, because parent company Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts raises its own elk, bison and beef.Now that your tummy is primed for food, mosey by the bighorn to the Mount Fairview Dining Room.The Grilled Alberta Beef with parmesan frites is delectable.If you have room for desert, I highly recommend moving to the Great Room and having it in front of the fire. There is no room service at the hotel, but you’re welcome to bring your own drinks or nibbles up to your room. Ours had an incredible view — check it out.What a wonderful weekend! See you next year, Deer Lodge!