Retail Therapy: {Le Labo, San Francisco}

You know us- we’re always on the hunt for new visual eye candy. That can sometime require a little manual labor…ok, by that we just really mean getting off our butts and out of the office,  but the effort is always totally worth it. One of our favorite things to do is to just walk a neighborhood to look at new window installations, check out the latest collections and  scope out any recent additions. Recently, Team Apartment 34 decided to take a trip Fillmore Street, to not only rejuvenate our minds, but also our senses!

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Amidst all of the beautifully decorated shops that line Fillmore, Le Labo, a boutique fragrance store, not only catches your eye with its gorgeous interior, but also lures you in nose first with the delicate blend of delicious smells. We’ve popped in and out of the store before, but this time we went with a mission of finding a signature Apartment 34 fragrance – that everyone on the team would love!

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Immediately walking into Le Labo, you’re met with sensory overload {in the best way possible!}. First the interiors- delicate bottles of tiny fragrances line the tin tile-covered walls {making up for a perfect #shelfie shot!} and the natural light by the window floods into the rustic chic but homey decor. Mixed materials, industrial lighting, a cardboard coffee table and the awesome campaign-esqe sofa are just the right mix of industrial charm and contemporary craftsmanship!

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Our main goal for the day was to pick out a signature Apartment 34 scent. We learned all about the intricate process behind Le Labo’s art of mixing fragrances- from the necessity of “human touch” behind the products {they pick each rose and hand pour each candle!}, down to the naturally compounded perfumes and individualized labeling that each customer receives. The label was the easy part- we’re packaging obsessed. But choosing a fragrance for one person is hard enough- so imagine the struggle we faced with an entire team- six different noses, trying to decide on a single favorite!

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Here’s what the tally came down to:

-We loved the Rose 31 {btw, the number indicates how many “ingredients” are in each fragrance}, a feminine-meets masculine scent named for- you guessed it- the Centifolia rose! Romantic and mysterious- it smells amazing.

-Santal 33 is another one of Le Labo’s iconic scents and a major customer favorite. It was no wonder that we all gravitated towards this one. With notes of cardamom, iris, ambrox, sandalwood, we definitely felt the “American west” vibes.

-Ylang 45 was a strong, darkly floral scent. We liked this one for its sharp, woodsy notes.

Pin 12 is a sophisticated and subtle blend of pine and amber – a perfect unisex fragrance.

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The verdict? We narrowed it down to the Santal 33 home candle and the Pin 12 fragrance. Being home decor obsessed, in the end, we found a way to get the best of both worlds- Pin 12 home scent- a light and woodsy breath of fresh air for any pillow or rug. We now keep it in the office and spray the sofa in our reading corner to refresh the air every time inspiration is getting stale and senses could use a re-boost!

Le Labo is the ultimate luxury, whether you’re treating your body or your home, it’s amazing how confident and sophisticated you’ll feel walking out of there with such a mature and luxurious scent on your skin. And if anyone ever tells you different, riddle them this: “Beware of those who have no weakness for women and perfumes.”

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick 

3 Food Blogs You Need to Follow

It’s crazy that I’ve been blogging for almost 8 years now and I STILL come across blogs – not just any blogs, AMAZING blogs- that I’ve never seen before. These three food blogs not only have me salivating over the recipes, but also over the delicious food styling! If you’re hungry, proceed with caution.

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The Bonjon Gourmet is a local food blog based out of San Francisco, but you would never guess it. Featuring moodier images and recipes like brown butter and bourbon peach dessert, the soul and richness of each dish looks and feels like it’s from a far off, magical place. This indulgently delicious blog is the perfect place to go when you’re craving a treat yourself moment!

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Holly & Flora is a spectacular visual feast. From garden to kitchen, the ingredients and recipes on this blog come alive in a fresh and effortless way! In fact, you’d think that the founder Jayme’s kitchen was indeed outdoors, due to the mesh of gardening and cooking, styling and foraging. But more than food, you’ll find our favorite: garden-to-glass cocktails. Surprised? Don’t be. Jayme is a sommelier and a mixologist! Talk about credentials!!

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This Green Gazpacho from Earth Feast looks like it belongs in a magazine. The light and contrast just adds to the scrumptiousness of the styling of this plate. That side of fresh vegetables, the drops of yogurt and drizzle of olive oil all add to the complexity. And even though we’ve never even tried this dish, we would bet our next dinner that it tastes as good as it looks!

What are some of your favorite food blogs? Do share- we’re hungry!

image 1 via The Bonjon Gourmet // 2 via Holly & Flora // 3 via Earthy Feast

Great Taste in the Revolutionary City

​There aren’t many things I love more than travel and good food. The best scenario is when the two combine! So when I had the opportunity to jetset across the country to attend Colonial Williamsburg The Taste Tradition food festival over Labor Day, I jumped at the chance. Fine dining & cooking lessons with a little American heritage thrown in on the side? Sounded damn fine to me! So off we went to learn about historically influenced culinary traditions, drink good wine {and bourbon!} and generally have a fab time staying in one of the nation’s must unique destinations.

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Throughout Colonial Williamsburg The Taste Tradition program, which ran from Friday-Sunday and was spread across some gorgeous hotels and outdoor locations, we had the opportunity to interact with a ton of cool food experts. We chatted with everyone from wine and spirits makers to chocolatiers, cheese makers, mushroom growers and of course, some really amazing chefs. The locavore, seasonal, quality ingredient food movement is really taking hold in the area which was SO fun to see!

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I think my favorite seminar had to be with Colonial Wiliamsburg Executive Chef Rhys Lewis. Chef Lewis focused on creating great dishes straight from your garden {or your farmers market should you live in a loft like us!}. The CIA trained chef was not only unbelievably knowledgeable but also hilarious! He had so many great tips: for example did you know that you should use double the amount of fresh herbs for dried {and fresh are always preferred!} or that you can plant your own bay leaf tree?! I certainly didn’t know you could! Instead of buying dried leaves in a $7 jar how fun would it be to just pick your own? Adding to the wish list.

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​But must importantly, I took home recipes for some incredible dishes from Chef Lewis. My favorites included Carrot Almond Soup, Late Summer Vegetable Hopping John and Swiss Chard Banana Ice Cream. That’s right. I said Swiss Chard. I ate vegetable ice cream and I LOVED IT!

We also got to dive into the world of spirits at a Bourbon Tasting hosted by Garden and Gun Magazine {if you don’t know it, find yourself a copy now. It’s like a cross between Elle Decor and Gourmet for the South and I am OBSESSED!}. There we had the pleasure of hearing from the founders of the Bourbon Review who know pretty much everything there is to know about Bourbon. Like, it is in fact a whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. What qualifies as bourbon {the good stuff is 80% corn & 80% proof} is actually regulated by U.S. law! I think the husband enjoyed this session a bit more than I did, but it certainly got me excited to expand my palette for bourbon-based cocktails.

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I couldn’t recommend attending a food festival right before fall enough. The desire to nest is settling in big. After experiencing all that wonderful culinary inspiration I’ve been itching to get back in my kitchen and start whipping up hearty fall dishes {I’m saving favorites here!}.

Don’t think I was going to leave you empty handed. Check out my three favorite recipes from our weekend at Colonial Williamsburg Taste Tradition below!

Carrot Almond Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb carrots, peeled & diced
1 spanish onion, finely diced
1/2 C whole almonds
1 T ginger, peeled and chopped
1 T garlic, chopped
6-8 springs fresh thyme, stemmed and chopped
2 oz whole butter
1 fresh bay leaf
6 C vegetable stock

Melt the whole butter in heavy bottom pot and saute the carrots and onions over medium low heat for 4-5 minutes without browning. Add the ginger, garlic, thyme and the bay leaf and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer and cook until the arrots are tender. Blend in a blender until smooth. Use caution when blending hot liquids by leaving an air gap to allow steam to escape. Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve warm.

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Late Summer Vegetable Hopping John

Ingredients:

1 C jasmine rice
1 C filed peas, cooked until tender
1 spanish onions, peeled & diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 C carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini squah, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 T chopped garlic
1 oz butter
1 fresh bay leaf
2 C vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stainless steel sauce pot melt the butter and saute onions, celery, carrots, bell peppers over medium low heat until tender but not brown. Add the zucchini & summer squash, garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables to a 2 inch pan to cool. In the same pot combine the rice, the fresh bay leaf and the vegetable stock and season to taste with salt & pepper. Simmer until the rice is tender and fold in the previously cooked vegetables and the field peas. Serve warm!
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“Going Bananas” Swiss Chard Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 bunch swiss chard, washed & stemmed
2 T butter unsalted
2 C banana sliced
3 C Whole Milk
3/4 C sugar
4 egg yolks
1 C heavy cream
1 t vanilla

Blanch swiss chard in a pot of simmering water until it’s wilted but still colorful and remove with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Wrap swiss chard in a paper towel and squeeze out the moisture and reserve it. Place 1 oz butter in heavy bottom sauce pot and add 2oz sugar and the bananas, cooking over medium heat until the bananas are soft. Combine the milk and 4 oz sugar in heavy bottom sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and tmeber in the hot milk in 1/3 increments and return the mix to the sauce pot and heat until you hit 165 degrees. Quickly transfer the mix into a clean bowl over ice and the vanilla the heavy cream and teh cooked bananas and stir until chilled.

Place the swiss chard in a blender with the ice cream mix and blend 30-40 seconds until smooth. Strain it through a china cap and freeze in an ice cream maker until firm. Allow to set for 4-6 hours.

Brought to you by Colonial Williamsburg. With so much to do, stay and make some history. Book your trip at colonialwilliamsburg.com. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep Apartment 34 alive!