You must EAT the special Burrata pie at Keste Pizza & Vino

I went back and forth on whether sharing this recommendation was a good idea.  Just to be clear, the idea itself is amazing on all fronts: in conception, execution and of course, consumption and that’s the issue.  It is so good and is offered only in limited quantities so the more of you who make it a must, the more challenging it will be for me to feed my addiction.  For the greater good, I shall go against my better (read: selfish) judgment, and strongly encourage you to order, sample and devour the burrata pizza at Keste.  It’s on offer each week starting on Thursday until they run out.  There are a lot of reasons to love this pizza but here are the highlights: delicious chewy crust, simple, fresh sauce, perfectly Neapolitan and the creamiest, freshest burrata you’ve tasted this side of the Mediterranean.  If you fancy variety, the ‘Pizza Del Papa’ (same magical crust and topped with butternut squash cream, imported smoked mozzarella, artichoke, red and yellow peppers) is also quite memorable and inspiring. I am inspired and hungry at the mere thought.

 Keste Pizza & Vino, 271 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10014 

You must BUY and USE: Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. $23.

Given the abundance of culinary inspiration available online, I rarely find myself adding to my cookbook collection these days.  I recently made an exception and suggest you do the same.  I discovered the chef Yotam Ottolenghi when I was a London resident and was fortunate to enough to live in walking distance of both of his restaurants.  What I loved about eating at Ottolenghi (and miss now that I am an overnight flight away) was their ability to mix flavors, spices and vegetables that were far from obvious combinations and create dishes that were delicious, novel and truly memorable.  I always left a meal challenging myself to figure out how I could recreate the dish at home.  Lucky for me, this book takes the guess work out (and reduces the room for error).  Perfect for vegetarians craving inspiration, carnivores who need a reminder that eating your 5 a day can be fun, and anyone with an appreciation for pretty books, simple ingredients and complicated flavors.  

Available at Amazon:

You must EAT:  Black & White at Otto Enoteca. $11.

At the risk of stating the obvious, a dessert made of layers of milk chocolate chip and creme fraiche gelato, bits of hazelnut brittle, warm chocolate sauce and caramel crema, is delicious in the most satisfying, memorable of ways.  Otto, Mario Batali’s pizzeria just off lower Fifth Avenue, isn’t new news but a recent discovery of the ‘Black & White’ on the dessert menu is definitely my version of a headline worthy experience.   The Black & White is indulgent, airy, simple and inspired.  Paired with a coffee, this dessert might even make it worth it to skip (or sprint) past the main event.  

Otto Enoteca, One Fifth Avenue, New York, New York.

You must USE: YonKa Creme 28 Protective and Hydrating Cream. $34.
Sadly, the project of finding a face cream that covers all of the ‘antis’ (wrinkling, aging, and drying) and doesn’t come with a triple digit price tag is not an easy one these days.  If you have dry skin (or even combination), especially during the colder months, YonKa Creme 28 Protective and Hydrating Creme can be your 24-7, budget friendly(-ish) ticket to facial perfection.  Creme 28 is my first encounter with YonKa but I don’t see myself switching loyalties anytime soon.  It’s the only cream I have used whose aromatic smell (lavender, geranium and rosemary, yum!) hydrating effect and softening power truly last all day.  It works under makeup, before bed and for everything in between.  Friends who have sampled my stock are immediately amazed by its texture, application and smell…and quickly attempt to buy, borrow or steal.  To La Mer we say La BYE! 

You must BUY: Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner. $29

There is no shortage of choice when it comes to eyeliner.  For years, I bounced around from brand to brand in search of the liner that could do it all.  In all my trial (and mostly error), it was hard to find a liner whose combination of color, consistency and application met all of my needs.  The liquid variety required stillness (impossible in NYC life when most of your makeup is applied in the back of a cab or on a moving train) and couldn’t be smudged to accommodate subtle or smokier moods.  The pencils were often too dry and needed sharpening when I didn’t have the necessary tools on hand.  Chanel’s Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner is where your search ends and precise, smooth, waterproof, above the lid, and under eye lining begins! It’s self sharpening, applies easily, can be removed with little effort, and has a consistency that works for your eye-very look…smoky nights, smudged styles and clean lines!

You must USE: Vicks Warm Steam Vaporizer. $19.99

Just to prove that my ‘musts’ are musts regardless of their ‘chic-ness,’ my next suggestion is a bare bones vaporizer that can be purchased at most pharmacies.  Nothing says glamour like a humidifier! Stick with me, I promise to inspire anticipation and dare I say, *excitement*, around your next trip to Duane Reade.  It’s common knowledge that having a humidifier is essential for surviving the next few months.  Given the abundance of available brands, models and features, it took much experimentation before I realized that the simplest models work best since they are the easiest to keep clean (in our not so clean city) and are virtually impossible to break.  I’ve landed on the Vicks Warm Vaporizer as my personal favorite and here is a secret for using it to transform your apartment from a dry desert into an aroma-therapeutic rain forest.  The Vicks Warm model comes up with a  ‘medicine cup’ that is intended to be filled with Vicks products to help with colds and congestion.  After I fill the bowl with water, I pour a few drops of lavender and eucalyptus oil into the medicine cup and within a matter of minutes I feel like I’ve checked into a day at the spa.  Pick an oil, any oil….never has humidity been so essential!

You must EAT: Croissants at Patisserie Claude.  $2.50

Everyone loves carbs but sadly not everyone bakes carbs as well as the French.  Between my pangs of nostalgia for Parisian croissants and perpetual disappointment with bakeries in Lower Manhattan, my cravings for buttery bread are constant and unfulfilled…until now.  A friend recently introduced me to Patisserie Claude, an unassuming, small bakery in the West Village and I must say their croissants are truly the best I have sampled this side of the Seine.  I judge my croissants along three dimensions: butter quality, flakiness and freshness (and by fresh I do mean, ideally warm) and Claude’s offering gets a trio of gold stars.  The selection is simple, not gimmicky and often right out of the oven if you get the timing right. The space isn’t special but for me that is a part of the charm. There is no need for contrived ambiance when you get your goods so very right.  I prefer the plain butter croissant but can often be talked into the chocolate or almond varieties.  Grab your beret and get your butter (croissant) on. 

Patisserie Claude, 187 West 4th Street, New York, New York.

You must USE: Giorgio Armani ‘Face Fabric’ Foundation. $48.

I hadn’t questioned my faith in Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer for years. I didn’t think I had any reason to since it was by far the most recommended brand and lived up to its promise of providing light, easy coverage. I have a few rules when it comes to my choice in brands—always buy shoes from shoemakers (not brands that make clothes and dabble in shoes) and cosmetics from makeup brands (think Bobbi Brown, not a clothes designer) …you get the idea.  I was strongly encouraged to make an exception to my rule by a friend who suggested I sample Giorgio Armani’s ‘Face Fabric’ foundation. This exception quickly turned into a rule (read obsession).  Face Fabric is Armani’s version of tinted moisturizer and lives up to its name by having the texture of actual fabric.  Its deliciously smooth consistency allows for easy application and perfect coverage that is subtle and flawless.  It’s the every foundation—it covers, protects, enhances and perfects!

You must BUY: Timex® 1600 watch at J. Crew. $195 (plus 20% and 25% off).

I’ve never worn a watch mostly because to find one that is both affordable and compatible with an eclectic wardrobe has been an impossible task. Add to this the challenge of committing to an accessory that is meant to be worn every day and I found myself in a lifelong timepiece stalemate.  Novelty watches can be reasonably priced but are far too trendy to stand the test of time (pun intended).  Classic watches are either really expensive or really dull or a bit of both.  J. Crew’s collaboration with Timex (a metaphor for trendy class!) may be just the cure for my watch woes.  The Timex 1600 watch, technically a man’s watch, fits my wrist perfectly, is stylish enough to be worn now and elegant enough to keep forever.  Named after D.C.’s most famous address, the watch attempts to capture the legacy and history of some of 1600 Pennsylvania’s more stylish tenants.  The lightly distressed band and vintage inspired, brushed metallic dial make the watch look and feel a lot more expensive than it is…especially now: it is marked down 20% with an additional 25% off. Available in-store or online at:

You must BUY and EAT: Cilantro and Jalapeño Hummus ($3/10 oz)

I realize that my suggestion of hummus is far from novel. You don’t need me to tell you it’s a must. We have all grown to love it, dip it and spread it. But sometimes, given the sheer amount of choice and variety available at the grocery store, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, miss out on the best flavor and get stuck in our chickpea ways. I was guilty of the same and always opted for the Sabra variety given its signature smooth texture and simple, but reliable flavor.  My recent discovery of Trader Joe’s ‘Cilantro and Jalapeño’ variety has been a game changer. It brings together all of my flavor ‘musts,’ lemon, spice and cilantro, is healthy and perfectly smooth for all your spreading and dipping needs. I’ve recently tricked guests at my home who can’t believe this could be store bought given how unique, fresh and yummy it tastes. Sadly, my trick is out of the bag…but it’s not too late for you to wow and be wowed!

For those of you who don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, here is a recipe that should work if you throw all of the ingredients below into a food processor:

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans/chick peas (drained and rinsed, with 2 oz reserved liquid)
2 tbsp tahini
2 cloves garlic
1 tbls lemon juice
1 jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 tbsp lime juice
salt to taste

You must EAT: Chocolate Mousse at Buvette.  $8.

I tend to favor salty over sweet most days but every so often I come across a dessert that makes me reconsider my savory bias.  The chocolate mousse at Buvette is what (dessert) dreams are made of.  I am not well versed in the language of mousse or chocolate but I am confident Buvette’s recipe gets both very right.  Served with a generous helping of whipped cream, the mousse is thick, smooth and dropped onto your plate in the shape of dense clouds.  The texture and taste are equal parts decadent, unique and truly memorable. Available daily in the restaurant or for take-out…either way, savor, remember and dream mousse!

Buvette, 42 Grove Street, between Bedford & Bleecker Streets, New York, New York

You must BUY: Kate Spade Mittens. $65.

I purchased these last year but am most relieved to see they are back on offer.  The colorful Kate Spade collection of mittens are soft to touch, warmer than gloves, cheeky in spirit and best of all, cover the full spectrum of things you could possibly have to say with cold hands—Taxi! High five! Air quotes! Over here! These truly bring a smile to my face, even in January, when my face is generally too frozen for all facial expressions.  Now if only I could find a hat to convey the rest of what is on my mind…

You must BUY: Moroccan Oil Moisture Repair Shampoo.  $21.
For me, Moroccan Oil Moisture Repair Shampoo might be the first shampoo that lives up to its price and promise.  As most of you know, I can talk about hair products for far longer than I am comfortable admitting but I promise, this time it’s worth listening.  Well known for their signature product, Moroccan Oil, I decided to skip past the oil and head straight for the shampoo.  It’s easy to tire of shampoos—the smell can get repetitive and your hair often develops a resistance to one formula.  The Moroccan variety changes that. I never want to smell anything else (not overpowering, fruity, or tropical; just fresh, clean and universally appealing) and my hair happens to be in agreement. The result: locks that are glossy (bordering on reflective!), silky and so consistently cooperative… and all achieved without the weight of the typical moisture/repair variety.

You must BUY: The Filling Station’s Black Truffle Salt. $10.95

If black truffles make your world go around, then I strongly suggest you have The Filling Station’s Black Truffle Salt on hand.  For some time, I have struggled to incorporate the flavor and aroma of black truffles into my home cooking given my options of infused oil, butter or shavings.  Flavored oil and butter is never pungent enough  (not to mention oily and buttery) and the shavings are complicated (only work in pasta, have a limited shelf life and are expensive). The Filling Station’s Salt ticks all my truffle boxes for the first time and trust me, I have been trying for a long time.  It’s strong and accurate in its flavor, affordable and like a good delicacy, a little goes a very long way.  My personal favorite: truffle salt sprinkled on homemade popcorn or scrambled eggs.  Buy, try, love. Available at Chelsea Market or online at

You must BUY: L.L. Bean’s Wicked Good Slippers. $59 (free shipping and $10 off with discount codes aplenty).

Slippers are tricky.  They are either too clunky (uggs), expensive (uggs), overexposed (uggs) or wear in one spot (uggs!)…ok, you get the idea.  Although the aesthetic and comfort odds are stacked against you in the world of cozy footwear, I think I found the cure! To be honest, I haven’t considered an L.L. Bean purchase since my monogrammed too big backpack in junior high but I strongly suggest you consider a renaissance.  These slippers have made my feet very happy indeed- warm, soft, light and shockingly cute. Hibernation? Check. Not actually looking like a big bear while hibernating? Check!