Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just a Walk in the Park

daria souvorova, sweet daria's, nycI woke up to an incredibly beautiful morning in a strange fog. As the evenings grow steadily darker, I see very little of the city. I was determined to spend today outside, and luckily my friend Tamar obliged to be my date for an afternoon of strolling through the city.

After spending some time at a lovely open air market full of vintage jewelry and curious objects, we decided to take a stroll across the park towards one of my favorite destinations. Usually, I follow the uneventful route across 81st street, but seeing the lovely turning of the leaves, Tamar and I decided to cross through the winding routes inside of the park.

I have visited the park countless times, and as if walking in a maze, I never seem to pass the same spot twice. I am virtually helpless in determining which direction I am walking in, but I am always greeted by a new vision, be it a romantically secluded gazebo, a shimmering lake or a brilliantly sculpted fountain.

daria souvorova, sweet daria's, nycWalking through the gently sloping hills I was hypnotized by the rustle of golden red leaves moving in wakes around my feet. Closing my eyes I could sense the movement of the leaves that remained precariously perched on their branches. It was a perfect day! A few winding pathways later, we found ourselves at the edge of a huge lake flanked by massive rock formations. Hoards of couples and children had scrambled up the sides of the miniature mountains and lounged there soaking up the last rays of this year's sunshine, watching others float by in row boats on the glimmering surface of the lake. I too climbed the mountain and I contemplated sitting in one of those boats, perhaps with a parasol or an epic sun hat wearing my most 19th century themed dress as someone I care about rowed us across the stillness of the lake. A lovely thought, perhaps I should make an adventure of it sometime.

daria souvorova, sweet daria's, nycAwaking from my fantasy, I descended, and we continued our walk across the park. The colors of the shedding trees were indeed magnificent, even more so through Tamar's somewhat rose tinted glasses. A cerulean blue sky was contrasted by gradations of orange, yellow and red. The image feels ingrained in my memory, I almost see it as I close my eyes.

Finally traversing the park, my lovely date and I headed to one of my favorite pastry places in the city. Francois Payard is a renowned, and amazing, French chef and is the owner of FC Chocolate Bar on Madison between 63rd and 64th. Payard's chocolate confections have been among my favorite treats since my friend Nancy Grimes took me there on one of our "Museum and Dessert" afternoons. Since that time, every few months, I make my way back with a new friend to experience the amazingly subtle and refreshing flavor combinations Payard has created.

daria souvorova, sweet daria's, nycFinding the shop is an experience of its own. To reach the cafe, one must go through a lavishly tacky jewelry shop and take a leather padded elevator (complete with a gilded mirror, vanity desk and pouff chair) to the fourth floor. Exiting the elevator, you are faced with a lovely light filled chamber with modern crystal chandeliers and gleaming white tables, a somewhat precious, almost jewelry shop like display shows the compact, but delightful menu options.

daria souvorova, sweet daria's, nycAmong the options are an assortment of macarons (known to be one of my obsessions), several chocolate pastries including the Louvre (which is in fact incredibly reminiscent of the chocolate pyramid I treat myself to every time I visit the Louvre) and a selection of verrines (including my favorite, le verrine du japonais which stands out for its yuzu citrus mousse).

daria souvorova, sweet daria's, nycSooner or later, I always find myself in Union Square, no matter where I began my daily journey. I trace my own footsteps each week wandering through the booths at the farmers market and visiting and revisiting my favorite shops along the way. I am always on the lookout for moderately priced bees wax tapers and vintage-esque brass candlesticks to house them. I can't tell why every candle has to be tinted and scented, I am most fond of of the delicate natural scent of burning cotton wick against bees wax, the golden glow of the wax illuminated by the flame is overpowering.

daria souvorova, sweet daria's, nycABC carpet on Broadway and 19th has always enchanted me with an incredible collection of objects. I can't even fathom to afford a spoon, no less a dining set from there, but every other week, as if by clockwork, I can be seen circling through the eclectic displays picking out the delicately handmade objects that would fill out my dream life.

It is a treat to live in a city where one can see so many beautiful things in one afternoon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cire Trudon: The oldest candle maker opens a shop in NYC

It has been very well established that I have an obsession with history and culture before the twentieth century. The romance of bustled dresses and gilded chandeliers has always had an overwhelming hold on me.

Candles have had an incredible influence over the history of humanity. From lighting the courts of kings and emperors and overseeing the prayers of countless to perching on the paper hat of one of the greatest sculptors of the western world (Michelangelo would often mount a candle on his head to continue working through the night,) candles have enabled innumerable historic events and progressions.

In 1643, a salesman named Claude Trudon arrived in Paris. Thanks to a fruitful marriage, Trudon became the owner of a shop on Saint-Honoré. In addition to groceries, the shop offered a variety of waxes and candles for domestic and clerical use. In the dawn of Louis XIV's reign, Trudon opened his first family based manufacture of candles. Cire Trudon's business exploded through Louis XIV's dynasty and his candles were a staple in Napoleon's studies, embossed the halls of Versailles and the bed chambers of Marie Antoinette and overseen the prayers of an entire nation for countless generations.

Expanding and improving with every decade, Cire Trudon candles sport a vegetal mix wax, which combined with the best of imported, home woven cotton wicks provide an incredibly clean and smooth vehicle for a collection of beautifully imaginative, high end perfumes. The candles are famed for burning clear and never dripping.

The 54 Bond Street shop is the first Cire Trudon location outside of Paris, an incredible resource for Trudon's many American connoisseurs. After spending an entire day dutifully picking out the candle of my dreams online, my dear friend Tamar and myself arrived at the brand new Bond street shop, thrilled to be in a room with so much history. I found myself in tears being told in a cool Parisian accent that the store I was looking forward to visiting all day was closed. I am sure I looked quite a mess, since Robert, cigarette and wine glass in hand, offered to give us a tour of the small shop and allowed me to buy my candle.

Smelling each flavor, hidden under a shimmering bell jar, I was surprised at the delicacy and uniqueness of each of the signature flavors. A light citrus cent with a woody undertone, named Odalisque, won me over.

"Enclosed in citrus and wood bark, the orange blossom weaves a painter's dream from which escapes the pale volute of smoke from a narghile. As an orientalist painting, furiously romantic, the vigorous scent of hte cade, and solar splinter of citrus fruits, come out as a thin blade in the silky shadow of vanilla."

Every night I fall asleep to the peaceful scent of citrus flower and the undeniable hint of a rich and flourishing history.

(Credits to HypeBeast for many images Cire Trudon for historic information.)