#MyVegasStyle |Vanessa Taaffe|

♫ Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire ♫

Happy 4th of July to my American readers! America is without a doubt number one on my list of ‘Must Visit’ countries. New York, Los Angeles and of course the famous Las Vegas, are all cities I can’t wait to explore. When Vegas.com contacted me to see if I would be interested in compiling a style post for a day spent at the Aria Hotel*, I jumped at the chance. Naturally, this being a fictional visit to the Aria, I went to town with the designer gear and accessories that are definitely out of my price range. Unless I get lucky in the casino that is…

The Aria Hotel Resort and Casino Las Vegas

The Aria Hotel Resort and Casino Las Vegas

 

Breakfast and Exploring

Breakfast, for many the most important meal of the day, can be spent in the Jean Philippe Pâtisserie. A floaty dress like this floral Oneness is one trend for summer and meal appropriate as it’s not too constrictive. Paired with Kate Spade cork wedges, a Victoria Beckham bag and Kwiat earrings for a bit of glamour in the morning. To coordinating, on the nails, Essie’s “She Said Yes”, for lips Clinique’s Chubby stick in the shade “Budding Blossom”, a bit of Benefit’s Hoola Bronzer to contour the cheeks, temples and jawline and a light dusting of your favourite colours from Urban Decay’s Naked 3 Palette on the eyes.

Poolside Lounging
After breakfast and some exploring around the hotel, I’d be straight to one of the amazing pools the Aria has to offer. I love the bright colours of this Hot Anatomy bikini and the tropical floral print. Of course, oversized sunglasses like these Fendi ones are a must. To keep it chic, I’d add a double lined turquoise bracelet, white wedges and a floppy white hat. To match and store all my poolside essentials, a white Michael Kors handbag. Being fair skinned sun cream is vital if I’m at the pool, a lip balm with SPF like the Body Shop’s vitamin E is also handy to have along with a compact shine controlling powder and a bright pink nail like NARS Schiap.
Dinner At Sage in Las Vegas #MyVegasStyle
Dinner time at beautiful Sage Restaurant demands a show stopper. This green Lanvin full length one shoulder dress would be my choice. For a change from my usual taste in silver jewels and accessories, I’d reach for these gold Jimmy Choo strappy sandals, a Trellis Lover gold clutch bag and Carolina Bucci ‘Mirador’ half ball earrings to round off the accessories. For some added drama a red lip like Rihanna’s from MAC, dramatic lashes with Benefit’s They’re Real Mascara and some Chanel no.5 perfume.
Night Out in Las Vegas #MyVegasStyle
If it’s a night out I was after, Haze would be my first choice. What’s a night out with out an LBD? This Herve Leger, black with grey panels and a pair of black Staurt Weitzman ‘Nudist’ sandals would be my go-to LBD-Shoe combo. To go all out with jewellery, I’d reach for a Tiffany & Co. diamond bracelet and pair of earrings. A black Karen Millen clutch and I’d be ready to party!
Let me know what your #MyVegasStyle day at the Aria Hotel would look like and which is your favourite look above!
For more info visit Vegas.com.

*I was kindly contacted by vegas.com to compose this post. I was not compensated to do so.

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Coconut Macaroons |Recipe|

Coconut Macaroons, vanessataaffe.wordpress.com

I realised that my tag line is quite deceiving. Not intentionally, of course, but I am very slack on the ‘lifestyle’ aspect of vanessataaffe.wordpress.com. Despite a few posts about Paris and Wimbledon, they are few and far between.  So today I’m sharing a delicious tried and tested recipe for coconut macaroons.  I always hear people asking what the difference between macaroons and macarons are. A post on macrons can be found here, which are hard shelled and filled with a jammy/jelly filling, typically French and varying in flavours. Macaroons on the other hand are usually balls of coconutty deliciousness.

Coconut Macaroons on teastand, vanessataaffe.wordpress.com

When I found this recipe online it instantly reminded me of the Belfast Continental Christmas Market. Every year there is a lovely man from Holland who sells amazing macaroons! His macaroon stall is my favourite stall at the market. While this recipe is not as sophisticated, the result is delicious. It is especially tasty if you love coconut.

What you need

½ cup (3 oz) room temperature butter
¾ cup (6 oz) sugar
3 eggs
6 cups (400g) shredded / dessicated coconut
Jam, Lemon Curd or any condiment of your choice

Coconut Macaroons ingredients

Preheat your oven to 180c/ 350f. In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.

Butter and sugar

Add in the eggs one at a time until well beaten and mixed.

Beaten eggs butter and sugar

Once you’ve added the eggs mix in coconut with a spoon.

Mix in the coconut

At this point you will be left with a yellow-buttery mixture. On a baking sheet lined and greased drop scoops of the mixture. At first I used an icecream/potato scoop but it wasn’t doing the trick so I used a spoon. I found this was the most difficult step of the recipe. I varied between the spoon, scooper and my hands. Rolling the mixture into balls was the easiest and then, using the spoon or your fingers, make an indent for your filling.

Coconut macaroons cooled

Bake for 20-25 minutes. The macaroons should be golden brown with dark brown spots in places once they’re ready. Remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the baking tray. Place on a wire rack to ensure the macaroons are completely cooled.

Cocnut Macaroons vanessataaffe.wordpress.com

Once cooled, add your jam or condiment of choice to the indention you made. I used raspberry jam and lemon curd. Alternatively you could use Nutella. Without a jam these are quite dry so make sure to pair them with a condiment of sorts.

Enjoy with tea, coffee and friends!

The Laduree Paris Macaron Experience

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Macarons anyone? In my second instalment of Paris food adventures, I bring you Paris’ famous macaron house Laduree, located right in the heart of the Avenue de Champs Elysee. After some not so extensive Googling, I came across Laduree’s incredible website and decided to add it to my list of stops.  Step through the elegant green and gold doors and you’ll find yourself in a dimly lit room with an amazing ambiance and, as you would expect the smells inside were divine. The left side of the shop is dedicated to selecting macarons and pastries. The right side, a cosy restaurant with luxurious patterned wallpaper and lamp lit tables.

Laduree Macarons Paris

The décor both inside and outside was superb. The interior was full of lush green carpets and pretty tiles. Soft lighting and delicate lighting fixtures hanging from the walls and ceilings really compliment the produce on display which was the undoubted star of the show. My trip was during the end of January so the windows were all geared towards Valentine’s Day. Nina Ricci had collaborated with the company to design a pink and gold covered strawberry macaron. These were on display in the shop window and for sale inside at the counter. The packaging for this was beautiful red Nina Ricci heart box or rounded box, which ever you preferred, costing €55 upwards. Definitely a present for someone who appreciates their macarons!

Nina Ricci Laduree Window

Nina Ricci Laduree Paris Window Valentine's Day

After randomly stumbling upon Piere Herme another famous macaron house in Paris, I was glad I waited for Laduree. While the produce in Piere Herme looked lovely, Laduree was an unforgettable experience. The customer service was excellent. The Laduree staff members were extremely friendly, helpful and professional. Not having a clue which macarons I wanted to try, my server described a selection of his favourites and the more random flavours like orange blossom, “like something my grandmother would make me eat at her house.” I forgot to make a note of the 6 flavours I ordered, I know raspberry, chocolate and even the orange blossom were in the mix somewhere. They taste as good as they look!

Laduree Macarons Paris

Laduree Macarons Paris

Price wise, it cost €15.80 for 6 mini macarons. Crazy as some might think that is, the customer service was incredible and the product even more so. The packaging was amazing and you got to choose from three different boxes. I went for the traditional green but there were other options available.

Laduree Macarons Paris

Laduree is a must for any foodies out there or lovers of luxury macarons! Let me know if you have been or plan to go to Laduree.

Click here to see my post on Dinner at Le Schmuck Paris.

Dinner at Le Schmuck Paris

Photo courtesy of Stouring.fr

Leaving the lights and glamour of Paris behind is never an easy task! Neither is settling back into the routine of college and work again. After a mini break with my friend to the romantic city of lights, I thought I would share my recent French cuisine experiences with you.  No better way to kick it off than with Le Schmuck. A super chic and relaxed restaurant tucked away in the 6th arrondissement, Le Schmuck offers a cool and desirable dining experience in the heart of Saint Germain.

leschmuck

I was here during late lunch time about 2 o’clock. There was one waiter serving the whole floor and two gentlemen who later sat outside with their cigarettes and coffees, how very French! Service was a bit slow to start. It was close to 10 minutes before we got a menu. That said it was busy and from there on in the service was very attentive. Our waiter was very friendly and looked more like a Dior model than a waiter. The atmosphere is very relaxed and chilled in Le Schmuck. You can expect to hear a mix of mellow, laidback tunes with a bit of Kanye West’s slower less aggressive numbers.

For main course myself and my friend both ordered burgers, cooked to order. Both came with skinny French fries and a lightly dressed garden salad. I had originally ordered a chicken and chorizo dish to try something different but they were all sold out.  A warning for those of you who freak if they see ‘red’ in their meat, I  ordered my burger “medium” which, if I’m honest was a little bit too raw for me but it was still juicy and tasty minus the slightly red colour when I cut into it. The burger itself was garnished with cheese, lettuce and a mayonnaise sauce and tasted divine.

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Onto the piece de resistance, dessert! Homemade French toast (made with thick, fluffy brioche) with salted caramel and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  This was heaven on a plate and the main reason I took a trip out to Saint Germain. I saw this dish on a blog I follow ages ago last year and since then I was hell bent on tasting it. It was definitely worth the wait.The caramel was  incredible and worked so well with the french toast. Two foods I would never have thought to put together…De-licious!

French Toast at Le Schmuck

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 I also ordered a raspberry, passion fruit and orange juice mocktail which was sweet and sugary. The restaurant also doubles as a cocktail bar with an extensive cocktail menu, which would be perfect for a girly night out or as a general night out.

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Price wise, I thought  Le Schmuck was reasonable. This all depends on your budget and expectations. Personally I wasn’t shocked that it cost €19 for a burger. I had read reviews online complaining about the pice but location, service and the quality of the food considered I thought these were a bit harsh. If money is an issue I would advise just ordering a delicious dessert instead.

Le Schmuck

Shabby-Vintage-Chic comes to mind when I think of the décor. The restaurant and toilets have printed wallpaper full of birds, stripes, and trees. There are also rugs or tapestries hanging randomly along the walls along with mirrors and framed pictures. There are numerous sofas and floral printed chairs that you might find in your Granny’s house, added to this the chandeliers hanging from a faux vine ceiling it sounds higgledepigglty but it all merges seamlessly.

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Overall I was thoroughly pleased with Le Schmuck and it more than met my expectations. A brilliant fine dining experience and a must try for anyone who wants to splurge on good food in Paris.I will definitely be back! For more details visit http://www.schmuckrestaurant.com/

Let me know if you have ever eaten in Le Schmuck and if you enjoyed your experience there,  good or bad.

It’s Time For: Wimbledon

Rackets at the ready please!

Image

Summer is officially in full swing now that Wimbledon has hit our television screens.  (Yes, I know, terrible tennis puns are unnecessary.) Coverage from the prestigious All English Lawn Tennis  Club for the next two weeks will focus on world class players, the underdogs, shock early exits, which this week included Rafael Nadal, celebrity spectators and of course,  strawberries and cream.

Nadal bows out of Wimbledon. Naomi Campbell pays a visit

Nadal bows out of Wimbledon Early. Naomi Campbell, Mollie King, Pippa and Jmes Middleton and Michelle Dockery all enjoy the Action on court

Nadal bows out of Wimbledon Early. Naomi Campbell, Mollie King, Pippa and Jmes Middleton and Michelle Dockery all enjoy the Action on court

Last year after my final exams, myself and two of my friends headed over to London for a mini holiday. On the third day of our trip we decided to hop on the tube and head out to Wimbledon. The tennis club is about a fifteen/twenty minute walk from the tube station so be prepared. Along the way there were Evian reps giving out free water and companies distributing free strawberries and cream sweets, which were delicious! For those of you who planning to go to Wimbledon on a whim, here is what to expect.

Queues, Queues and More Queues    

If you don’t have tickets, try to get there as early as possible. When we arrived at the “No Ticket” gate around 10 am we were greeted by a not so friendly young blonde attendant. She informed us that it was “cash ONLY” from here on in. The nearest ATM was a good walk away so make sure to have cash with you. None the less, there is a great queuing system in place. The attendants even handed us a “Guide to Queuing”!  The queue begins at the edge of a field and curves right the way round. Eventually, after you walk up and down the field numerous times you reach another entrance.  Naively we thought that this was the entrance to the grounds.  This point sees the beginning of a long walk up to the grounds.  Along the way there are more freebies including sweets, juice and water. We were also reminded numerous times that it was indeed, cash only. After two hours of queuing we reached the security checks.

Top L-R, Queues to enter the grounds, Campers setting up for the next day. Bottom Entrance to the Grounds

Top L-R, Queues to enter the grounds, Campers setting up for the next day. Bottom Entrance to the Grounds

Note: The free blister patches we were given further back were not allowed in. After a quick climb up the stairs we were finally there. It was worth the wait!

Tickets and Where To Go

Once you begin to see the roof of centre court and the exclusive roof dining areas the boring queuing atmosphere dissolves and the buzz of Wimbledon replaces it. The ticket office wizz you right through.  Once leaving the ticket area you are free to roam the glorious grounds, including gift shops where you can buy, towels, programmes, hats, even used balls. Naturally we headed straight for strawberries and cream stand, which were surprisingly cheap at £2.50 each. Strawberries at Wimbledon

Henman Hill has a great atmosphere if you’re interested in watching the games on centre court. There are multiple courts that you can view games without tickets but if you want a seat you need to be there early.

Top, The View from Henman Hill. Bottom, one of the courts

Top, The View from Henman Hill. Bottom, one of the courts

What to Bring With You

As we were completely unprepared for our outing I’ve compiled a list of a few essentials that I wish I had brought with me.

  • An Umbrella, a Light Coat, Sun cream and Sunglasses. The weather is always unpredictable so I would highly advise preparing for all eventualities. When we were queuing to get into the grounds it was cloudy and quite cold. Once we reached the courts the sun was splitting the rocks. Later on in the day it began to drizzle. Typical English summertime weather!
  • A blanket, drinks and food. If you haven’t got a ticket it’s most likely you will be on the Hill watching the action. We regretted not having brought a picnic with us and a blanket of sorts to sit on. The grass can be quite damp up there. While there are benches they’re usually full. There is no more free water once you get inside. You can buy food inside but if you have a good spot, you won’t want to leave it. Food also comes in handy when you’re queuing. There are burger and concession stands but at 11 in the morning we didn’t feel like burgers.

Despite not having the majority of what I’ve mentioned above, Wimbledon was a fantastic day out. There is so much to see and so many strawberries to eat! If you are making a trip to Wimbledon I would advise that you don’t go on a day that a British player is on court. The man ahead of us in the queue last year told us that the queues are twice as long and they often close the grounds when they’re full.

Make sure to look out for the ball boys and girls around the grounds. They walk around like little ducks in a row. If you’ve had the chance to experience Wimbledon, make sure and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

Around the grounds at Wimbledon