CHIC PLACES: RALPH'S COFFEE SHOP, NEW YORK CITY


I have been waiting so very long to come here... Does anyone remember the original Ralph's Coffee shop from years back? I do. I remember seeing it on Instagram and being overjoyed about the idea of going, however, when I arrived for girls trip in Fall of 2017 I was extremely disappointed to find out it already closed. Thank goodness I had secured a coveted reservation at The Polo Bar to get my fix, otherwise who knows what fate my girlfriends would have found me in. And unsurprisingly, Ralph's Coffee came back just in time for my trip this October, in not just one but two locations, three if you count the truck parked outside Rockefeller Center. Now all I am missing is a ticket into Ralph's Club, which was sadly only available one evening, for all the fashionistas, myself not being one of them. 





I decided to visit the Madison Avenue location, given how beautiful the green floral wallpaper looked online and because I think it's a much more attractive setup inside the beautiful Ralph Lauren shop. I think most retailers should become smarter and consider combining cafes and restaraunts into their brands, many of which have and I love them all.  For example The Skinny Dip Charleston with their frozé served in the upstairs bar/coffee shop, Mansur Gavriel with their perfectly shaded pink and flowered courtyardLa Mercerie with the most beautiful blue hued decor and French menu, and of course Restoration Hardware, with stately restaurants in Chicago, New York, West Palm Beach and Napa Valley. 




SHOP MY LOOK





But aside from my anecdotal retail consulting commentary, I really did enjoy my morning inside Ralph's Coffee, a perfect addition to the walks I like to do on the Upper East Side whenever I am in town. I could guarantee this would become one of my favorite morning go-to's if I lived here, given the equally adorable Sant Ambroeus coffee bar does have any vanilla flavoring for my almond milk lattes, unfortunately. So I was elated to order just that, along with a piece of cake to take home to my husband later, in this elegant little corner. 




SHOP RALPH'S COFFEE




Located in northeast wing of the Ralph Lauren women's mansion (how chic does that sound already), the coffee shop is perfectly bustling as you'd expect it to be mid-morning with just a bit more Ralph Lauren glamour than your average neighborhood spot. With a high vaulted ceiling, a forest green leather banquette, decorative molding and that oh-so-precious floral wallpaper I'd love to do a future powder room in, I can see why the barista said they have plans to expand. I can almost understand now why this iteration of the coffee shop plan is more successful, as I think it aligns better with what people really want; a beautifully decorated space to relax for a minute, sink into the loveliness this iconic American brand has created. As a shopper you often feel rushed, silently encouraged to purchase quickly and leave in most shops. But I think retailers could really use a more inviting space for their customers to relax while they browse and I could only assume it would incur more sales, especially if they sold a cocktail of some sort!




Fortunately for me my buzz didn't extend beyond two shots of espresso before I was on my way out to continue my day in New York City. I can only hope the Beverly Hills location gets a similar spot one day too, but until then I'll have to just enjoy all the perfectly branded merch I grabbed on my way out. 


-MGN
{all photography via Classy Jorge }

CLASSIC STYLE: 100 COZY WEATHER SWEATERS


There are few things I love more... than a cozy sweater, a good book, a vanilla almond milk latte. The cold weather (meaning 65 degrees or less in LA) has me in frenzy with all the things I get to do in order to feel warm. Eating ramen, watching The Holiday, taking a bubble bath and of course wearing one of my many warm sweaters- a privilege really. So it's not surprising that I would spend endless amounts time searching and scouring the internet and shops for essentially the same thing: the perfect sweater. Which for me requires good structure, soft fabric and typically a shorter length, since I am shorter and the cropped sweaters tend to look a little less overwhelming on me. But I also love things oversized so tucking in is always a great option. Regardless, I have rounded up a bunch of options in every price point to check out. So whether it's already snowing where you live or your love of sweaters requires strong air conditioning and iced coffee, here are the winners in my book. Enjoy!



-MGN
{photography via Elena Cuellar}

CHIC PLACES: AN AFTERNOON IN ST. HELENA, NAPA VALLEY


What a charming little place... St. Helena is, one of the many idyllic towns in the Napa Valley region. This was my second trip to Napa and second wedding to attend. The first time I hadn't really planned to explore beyond our hotel and wedding activities, so this time I was set on seeing more of the well known, well covered wine country and St. Helena was high on my list.





We drove into the charming town from Calistoga, where my friend was getting married that weekend, for lunch and little exploration. I had come across this cute hotel and restaurant during my usual Instagram research and decided it was well worth a visit, even if just to enjoy this amazing wraparound porch and fall foliage. It was almost as if we were leaf pepping on the east coast, something I am very hopeful about getting to do someday.




Las Alcobas was a gorgeous hotel that truly felt like a luxury version of a quaint bed and breakfast in a small New England town. We went for lunch to their restaurant, The Accacia House, on a Friday and it was very quiet and cozy sitting outside on the veranda. We ordered lunch without any spirits given we had an early rehearsal dinner to attend, however, if I ever came back I would most certainly want to spend the entire afternoon sitting with their special margarita and some friends. My husband ordered the burger, which he loved and I quickly decided on the lobster submarine, which I didn't really consider different from a lobster roll. The lobster was delicious, but since I ordered without reading the description, I ended up with bacon and avocado, and not the classic lobster roll I was expecting. Despite that, it was still delicious, and a good reminder to read before you order! 


SHOP THE POST



After lunch we headed into the small downtown area of St. Helena, conveniently located just down the main road from the hotel. Parking was super easy and the shops were so cute. We popped in and out of few places, one of my favorites being Woodhouse Chocolates, a beautiful space with the most decadent chocolate creations. After grabbing a brown butter ganache, a coffee toffee and hazelnut gianguja, I was ready to find a quaint coffee shop to pair with my sweet tooth. Luckily one was just a few doors down, called The Model Bakery.




After a little caffeine boost, and Arthur's pumpkin pie fix, we continued to explore the quiant little downtown area. We passed a nice looking oyster restaurant I wish we had time to try, popped into the local pharmacy and browsed some small boutiques. I happened to stumble into a chic jewelry store because I was so mesmerized by the turquoise chinoiserie wallpaper that I had to peep in and take look. Everything they had was absolutely beautiful, particularly all the colorful gemstones and floral creations. I am not even a huge fan of jewelry but put a chinoiserie painting next to it and I am ready to purchase. 



Another spot that caught my attention along the way was this well curated gift shop called Pennyweight, where I walked into initially for the glamorous chandelier. They have so many lovely trinkets, from cards to watches to stationery to unique and beautiful coffee table books. Given so many products are online now I have much more of an appreciation for the small boutiques and the skill it takes to sell things cohesively. The selection was perfect and I couldn't help but buy a few cards and add more titles to my growing coffee table book list. Which yes, I have running list of coffee table books to purchase based on where in our new home I might want to put them and which are worth the investment or not. I take this list very seriously, as you can see.  



Another place worth mentioning was Olivier, a cute food shop with a focus on their own olive oil and gourmet food goods, baskets and kitchen wears. They had lots of various jams, honeys and baskets, all good things for a nice vineyard picnic. It was a great place for unique gifts and any foodies or people that enjoy cooking, most certainly on my list for next time I make it back to the Napa Valley!  




-MGN

NOVEMBER INSPIRATION


The calm before the storm... It's all about to happen, the holidays that can be oh so wonderful and oh so overwhelming too. I will of course be updating my annual holidazed post regarding my thoughts about not only surviving, but thriving,  during this time of year. But before we get to all of that, I want to take this month as a nice little respite between a crazy end of summer/beginning of fall. Luckily for me, there's not too much happening this month; no travel plans, no birthdays, no major events, which feels like a great opportunity to rest up and settle in after so many weeks of chaos. We are getting closer and closer to the end of our remodel and start of real living in our new home and I couldn't be more eager to have a kitchen to eat my take out in. Perhaps I will have to start cooking now? And of course, Thanksgiving is upon us and I will continue to count my lucky stars that I basically married a chef! Happy November everyone. 

SHOP THE POST


-MGN

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CHIC PLACES: WINE TASTING IN NAPA VALLEY

We arrived in wine country... mid Thursday for my friend’s wedding. We figured we would make a long weekend out of it given the drive and therefore ambitiously left Los Angeles at the crack of dawn (3am to be precise) in order to make our 12:30pm reservation at Bouchon before an afternoon of wine tasting. It was crazy but it worked and despite the lack of sleep we actually had enough energy to last late into the evening. On the drive in we met up with our driver for the day. Full disclosure, Dryver is my husband’s company, a nationwide professional service that drives your car (or rental car in our case) so you don’t have to. It’s essentially a replacement to a black car service that’s much less expensive and way more convenient. Obviously I’m a bit biased, but I've always had a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it for any day of leisure, especially for a big day in Napa. 




Our first tasting was at Del Dotto, a winery which has three locations in the Napa Valley. The one we visited is known as the Del Dotto Estate, in St. Helena. All of the locations have wine caves but not all have an entrance quite like this! The wine cave was quite impressive, with chandeliers from Murano, Italy and beautiful tile paintings. I believe we sampled about 5-7 various red wines on our tour, in addition to the glass of rosé upon arrival and brut rosé I requested. Our guide was a bit smug but he did know a lot about wine and gave a thoughtful tour. My favorite part, however, were the lovely snacks at the end, which included cheese, charcuterie, chocolate and some yummy pizzas. I don’t exactly know a lot about wine but I do believe this should be a mandatory requirement for any and all tastings, or even just for all glasses served in a cafe, as the Italians do in the afternoon.





After Del Dotto we had a little extra time before our next reservation, so we tried our luck at Joseph Phelps, which unfortunately didn’t have any tasting options available but did let us spend some time exploring their beautiful property. It reminded me of a modern ski chalet with lots of high ceilings and beautiful wood finishes. But as stunning as the interior, the sprawling patio and vineyard view really sealed the deal for me. I could easily spend a full day here with or without wine!



SHOP THE POST




After our brief hangout at the serene Joseph Phelps winery, we headed to Mumm Napa, which I was excited about given my consistent love for their brut rosé, a staple in our household, as it's the only drink aside from vodka my husband will consume. We didn’t do a tour at Mumm but instead sat down and did a causal tasting. The patio was lively and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves as the sun was slowly setting over the beautiful vineyard. Our server was beyond amazing with such a great personality- just something to note. We ordered a tasting with about 4, maybe 5 glasses of various sparkling wines and strongly considered a cheese board order before opting to leave for pizza my husband was dead set on getting at the Oxbo Public Market




So many of these types of markets have started popping up everywhere, I've been to about three now, in Wisconsin, Santa Barbara, similar to Eataly but with various types of cuisine. They are essentially gourmet food courts to put it simply and I loved Arthur's choice at Live Fire Pizza where he ordered us a margherita pizza and bottle of brut rosé. It was delicious, but apparently, not enough, given my friend Emma and I decided we also needed a yummy cheese plate from Oxbo Cheese and Wine. We ordered The "eurotrip" cheese plate with additional charcuterie and loved it, especially the fig paste. Clearly I just can't ignore a seasonal twist! Before leaving we purchased one last bottle of wine to take home, before calling it a night. Our driver helped us get our stuff into the hotel and we settled in after our big start to the weekend!



-MGS