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Be Green, Support Local

The strength of your neighborhood is up to you. Support local independent businesses. Build a strong neighborhood. Which local businesses are you supporting this weekend?

Did you know that for every $1 spent in the US, $0.68 stays in the community vs. just $0.43 if spent at a global retailer. Money spent at local businesses also has a positive impact on the community of up to 5 times.

Don’t you love walking into your neighborhood coffee shop or your favorite store and know the person behind the counter making your coffee or be able to have a conversation with the storeowner who’s bought everything in the shop?

All of us know that Hong Kong has one of the most expensive rents in the world. Which local businesses would you miss the most if they closed? Make an effort, one person can make a difference. Help us support the best in local businesses!

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Summer Wines Star Chefs Are Drinking Now

It’s hot outside and there’s no better time than now for light summer wines to cool down and enjoy the weather. We wanted to know what the experts would recommend, so we asked! And we can’t think of anyone better than The Principal, The Press Room, Giando, and Chez Patrick to tell us what’s topping their summer wine picks. The cult classic, the famous name, and the need to know. Sshhh!

THE PRINCIPAL – 9 Star Street, Wanchai HK 
http://www.theprincipal.com.hk

White

1. Domaine Vacheron, Sancerre, Loire Valley, France, 2010 (Sauvignon Blanc). 

The Domaine Vacheron is known as the Loire Valley aristocracy in the Sancerre region. Once a name associated with light-bodied red wines, Sancerre has become recognized for the crisp and marked minerality of its Sauvignon Blanc. 

2. F.X. Pichler ‘Loibner Frauenweingarten’ Federspiel, Wachau, Austria, 2009 (Grüner Veltliner).

There are many great winemakers in Austria, but none is more synonymous with great Austrian wine than F.X. Pichler.  In fact, one author on Austrian wine who was asked to name the 100 greatest producers in Austria, in order of greatness, lists F.X. as #1.

Red

3. Domaine de la Madone ‘Le Perreon’, Beaujolais-Villages, Burgundy, France, 2009 (Gamay).

Madone’s Beaujolais-Villages has consistently received critical acclaim from Robert Parker, who writes that the Madone style is “… about as hedonistic and compelling an example of Beaujolais as readers are likely to find.” Distinguished by the unusual concentration of blueberry and black cherry, with an appealing note of braised meat that adds to its complexity. It’s the kind of red wine you could drink all summer. 

4. Alvario Palacios ‘Pétalos’, Bierzo, Spain, 2010 (Mencia).

The region of Bierzo, in the northwest corner of Spain, is getting increasingly noticed. Grapes grown in Bierzo are predominately Mencia which benefit from a cool climate, hillside vineyards, mineral-laden soil, and low-yielding old vines. All of these conditions help to make wines with great concentration, complexity, and purity.

Rose

5. Chateau Ksara ‘Gris de Gris’, Bakka Valley, Lebanon, 2011 (Grenache Gris, Carignan).

A pioneer in the introduction of high-quality vines in Lebanon. It is a fresh and intense salmon-pink wine that owes its character to Carignan and Grenache Gris.

THE PRESS ROOM – 108 Hollywood Road, Central HK
http://www.thepressroom.com.hk

White

6. Domaine Schlumberger ‘Les Princes Abbés’, Alsace, France, 2009 (Riesling).

A perfect wine for seafood and a lovely example of Alsace Riesling. Light to medium bodied. Citrus, white flower and stone on the nose. Dry with a hint of minerals on the palate.   

7. Jean Pabiot Et Fils ‘Caillottes’, Loire Valley, France, 2011 (Sauvignon Blanc).

Light bodied. Pronounced citrus and pear bouquet, and a hint of herbs. Refreshing and crisp on the palate. Delicious by itself as an aperitif. Perfect with appetizers, seafood, fish.



8. Terra Burdigala ‘La Vigne D’Argent’, Bordeaux, France, 2010 (Sauvignon, Sémillon).

Combines the rich Sémillon and highly aromatic Sauvignon. The 2010 is light bodied. Pear and apricot aromas. Crisp and direct on the palate. Truly a wine of pleasure!

9. Domaine Des Roches Neuves ‘L’Insolite’, Loire Valley, France, 2008 (Chenin Blanc). 

L’Insolite translates into unusual or extraordinary. It’s the only only white from Thierry Germain’s plot of 80-year old chenin blanc. Light bodied. Lemon and apple on the nose. Clean and refreshing with a bit of structure. A real delight.  

Red

10. Domaine De La Madone ‘Le Perréon’, Beaujolais-Villages, Burgundy, France, 2011 (Gamay).

The Principal recommends the 2009, and The Press Room the 2011 – there’s never too much of a good thing! Light bodied. Red fruit on the nose. Very fruity on the palate. Can be served slightly chilled. 

CHEZ PATRICK DELI – Star Street / Stanley Plaza / Causeway Centre
http://www.chezpatrick.hk

White

11. Domaine de la Noe, AOC Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie, 2011.

Crisp and refreshing, has a fruity and exotic note. Perfect with seafood such as shells and fish.

Rose

12. Château d’Esclans, Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence, 2012. 

A blend of Grenache, Rolle, Cinsault, Syrah, and Mourvedre grapes. Pale pink in color, the aromas are fresh and fruity. On the palate, it is bone dry through the finish. The name really suits the delicate nature of this wine! 

GIANDO – 1F, 1 Lung King Street, Fenwick Pier, Wanchai HK
http://www.giandorestaurant.com

White

13. Les Cretes, Valle d’Aosta DOP, Chardonnay 2011.

Brilliant, straw yellow hue. Ripe melon and papaya with almond milk on the nose. Lush, ripe fruit on the palate surrounded by a core of bracing acidity. Rich mineral finish with tropical fruit overtones. Perfect with aperitif and soups and pasta, fish, and roasted meat.

14. Argentiera, Poggio Ai Ginepri, Toscana Bolgheri Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah 2011.

Intense straw yellow color. On the nose fruit and nearly sweet hints of pear, banana, apricot and melon besides the freshness of citrus fruits. The palate is fresh with fruity aromas. Intense and at the same time very balanced with a long fresh finish and good aromatical and mineral character.

15. Majolini, Franciacorta, Brut.

A wine with a clear personality, well defined, but with something that’s enigmatic (due to that decisive percentage of Pinot Noir). Enveloping, dry, and determined. Perfect with fish, seafood, and delicate first courses. Also an excellent aperitif.

16. Sorrentino, Lacryma Christi, Coda di Volpe & Falanghina DOC 2010.

Full-bodied, pleasant and elegant, dry and persistent. An assertive acidity in perfect balance with the structure of the wine. Great matching with fish dishes in particular shellfish.

 

A huge thank you to The Principal, The Press Room, Chez Patrick Deli, and Giando for sharing their favorites with all of us!  

 

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Guest Blogger – Sabrina Sikora: Meet my Hong Kong!

We are so excited to hand the reins to The Little Black Book over to Sabrina Sikora aka the insanely talented and down-to-earth model-turned-photographer and Sassy Girl. Sabrina shares with us her favorite things in Hong Kong - yes that means, bookmark this page! And be sure to check out her amazing photos for inspiration.

Without further ado, here’s Sabrina . . . 

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Hong Kong is a place that has to be discovered. It can take years to do this properly and even when you think you know the city, it can turn around and change just like that! July 1st marks my sixth anniversary in this fine metropolis and I feel like I have only begun to get to know her! It has literally taken years of wandering down hills and up alleys, all the while toting a camera or three, but I’ve found a few gems that I’d like to share with you! Meet my Hong Kong! 

Eat:

The restaurants in this city come and go like I have never seen before. Just when you start to crave a food, the menu and venue have changed! One classic that I frequent, maybe a bit too often, is Tokio Joe in LKF. The spicy tuna can turn even the most trying day into a victory! For dim sum Sunday’s, I love The Square (below) where I always order two portions of char siu bao, much to my better half’s chagrin!

When I am looking to carbo load, I hit up Posto Pubblico (below) and eat anything and everything they offer that is covered in their incredible homemade red sauce.

There is something to be said for great grab and go healthy food, which is why I turn up at Mana (below) ordering my usual 4-topping flat at least once a week!

Once I’ve had my veggies it’s time for dessert! Those who know me know I never turn down sweets! This was a sticking point with my agency in my modeling days but I would rather put in more time on the treadmill then give up sugar! My treat of choice is the red velvet cupcake from Sift. I’m a long way from my hometown of Macon, Georgia but with just one bite and I’m home!  

Shop: 

Life as Sassy’s style blogger has me flitting from shop to shop all day long- a task I take great delight in! A few of the standouts for me are off street level so they take a bit more effort to get to. Polkadot (picture below) is a one-stop shop for dresses that are perfect for HK’s heat! I love the colors and prints from Cameo and the versatility of What the Frock?! They also have the Bejewelled Bespoke line, which makes for a fantastic gift.

For something to wear under it all, I head to Sheer (below) and stock up on little lacey luxuries. To top the look, a trip to The9thMuse is necessary and also happens to be my kryptonite. I am simply powerless against the draw of sparkling gems and jewels and the call of the vintage clutches.

For an endless array of vintage dresses, I scour the racks of Me&Gee in Central. Ellermann, Loveramics (first picture below), and Kapok (second below) are my go-to’s for all those hard to buy gifts, though I usually end up leaving with something for myself. Once you see the cake pedestals and floral teapots on display at Ellermann, I bet you won’t leave empty handed either! 

Perhaps it would be best for my wallet if I just did my gift shopping through Giftwell. It would surely keep me focused and I could just order the gift card and skip the whole “but wouldn’t it look great in my house too” debacle that happens every time! 

Do:

My time is usually spent on set shooting, retouching the photos that were just shot, or writing about what is in those photos for my blog, or Sassy, or both! It is such a joy to really love what I do and not have it feel like work. This is why I am typically working on something either photography or Sassy related in my spare time. When I do chose to put down the camera and step away from the screen I can typically be found reading fashion mags at a café or the rare alfresco lunch spot.

Two personal faves include Agnes B. on Gough Street and the Dead End Cafe (below) on Po Hing Fong. Order the iced chocolate and the hot chocolate, respectively.  

I also thoroughly love a little pampering and indulge at, well, Indulgence (below)!

Speaking of pampering, there is nothing better than slipping into a late night foot rub at Gao’s (below) after a Saturday night dinner. The sound of those fake little birdies chirping is oddly enchanting! 

But all this unwinding must have some sort of physical counterpart which is why on the weekends I head to the American Club to do just enough exercise to keep me in my favorite skinny jeans! But my favorite way to burn the cals is just to walk endlessly around Hong Kong. Those staggered stairs offer quite the cardio!

There is something so incredibly magical about this ever-changing city that I can’t seem to get over. New neighborhoods coming to life, alleys that lead to secret parks, the street art that begs to be instagrammed, and the foods that need to be tasted all keep me coming back for more year after year. This, along with the immeasurable other secluded offerings that are just begging to be uncovered, is why I love Hong Kong and why I am proud to tell her story though photos and words to all those who have yet to fall head over teeteringly high heels for her! 

About Sabrina: Sabrina Sikora began her career as a professional model in 1999.  Since that time, she has worked with companies such as Harper’s Bazaar, Sports Illustrated, Maybelline and Chanel.  Modeling has afforded Sabrina the opportunity to travel the world, living and working in cities such as New York, Shanghai, Milan, Miami, Los Angeles and now, Hong Kong!  In 2004, Sabrina began working as a professional photographer. Building on her love of photography and fashion, Sabrina moonlights as the style blogger for Sassy Hong Kong. Sabrina covers everything from store openings and collection launches to designer profiles and how-to columns. She can frequently be found style-stalking on the streets of the shopping mecca that is Hong Kong.

A huge thank you to Sabrina for opening up her own little black book to us! If you run into Sabrina when you head out to any of her favorite spots, be sure to say “hello!”

To follow and check out Sabrina’s work:
www.sassyhongkong.com
www.sabrinasikoraphotography.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/sassyhongkong
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Sikora-Photography/166047693447910

 

 

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10 Picks to Update Your Summer Wardrobe

In celebration of the official start of summer this past Friday - the summer solstice aka the longest day of the year - here are some favorites we have been eyeing for to update the summer wardrobe!

We can’t get enough of these Vanessa Bruno Cabas bags (from Rue Madame). Just like the winter version, they come in all sorts of colors and textures for the summer. Here are the khaki with fuschia sequins and mustard in suede. These are the perfect bags to take to the beach and for everyday use. Also a great way to accent an outfit.

We love this African print and cut on this Claudie Pierlot dress from Rue Madame. This will be your summer go-to. Love the comfortable but still tailored look. Great for the beach and perfect for that weekend getaway. To dress it up for a dinner or a business meeting, a nice navy blue blazer or cardigan will do the trick.  

Summer is all about being comfortable, taking the time to travel and explore, and taking it easy. These espadrilles will help you do just that. And they are not just any other summer shoe. These Soludos espadrilles (from Konzepp) have been seen on the likes of Rachel Bilson, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth. A very stylish alternative to flip flops. 

 

Looking for a casual but tailored buttoned down for the summer? This pinstripe one from Filippa K (available at Vie) is a great option. It’s just as casual as your denim or chambray shirt, but just a bit more polished. It has a wonderfully well-cut and clean silhouette. Perfect with shorts. 


We all need that perfect spray for the summer that refreshes everything. This Laundress spray from New York (available at 10/10 Space) not only refreshes, but also removes odor on anything from clothing to sneakers, to towels and bed sheets. It freshens with a clean, light citrus scent. It’s also anti-bacterial.

 

Adding color and accessories is a fun and easy way to instantly update your last summer’s pieces! How about these yellow pineapple-print stocking or mesh orange cap from Kapok? They also brighten your mood on these rainy days we’ve been having. We also love these colorful Timo trunks (also from Kapok) in a bold pattern. 

 
 
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Father’s Day Picks – What You Can Do For Dad

Ask not what your dad can do for you — ask what you can do for your dad this June 16th. Dads are always there for us, on June 16th let's reciprocate the helping! Here are six of our favorites to get the helping going.

1 – Dad who needs help with a bit of bling – Cufflinks from Kapok with a bit of Hong Kong history

Patinova (Hong Kong)’s: 1997 Commemorative cufflinks / Queen Elizabeth 10 cents cufflinks 

Kapok gift cards: http://giftwell.hk/merchant/30

 

2- Dad who needs help with time – Everyone needs a sleek, perfectly proportioned time piece; from Kapok  

Junghans (Germany): Max Bill Automatic Wrist Watch

Kapok gift cards: http://giftwell.hk/merchant/30

3- Dad who needs help loosening up – This shoulder, neck, jaw de-stressing massage from 10/10 Space will not disappoint

10/10 Space: The Mence Face massage relieves muscular tensions for the hectic dad

10/10 Space gift cards: http://giftwell.hk/merchant/69

4 – Dad who needs help with balance – Colorful Ergonomic chairs from Manks strenghten posture so your dad can say goodbye to those back pains

Varier’s variable balans (Norway): the original kneeling chair

Manks gift cards: http://giftwell.hk/merchant/52

 

5- Dad who needs help staying organized – it’s time to introduce dads to this new shade of green that will go well with the summer khaki’s; from Vie

Filippa K (Sweden): card case, phone case 

Vie gift cards: http://giftwell.hk/merchant/47

6 – Dad who needs help seeing the stars – Yes, the sky is the limit! Telescope from Indigo Living

Indigo Living: Decorative table telescope on tripot 

Indigo Living gift cards: http://giftwell.hk/merchant/63

 

 

 

 

 

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Four Must Visit Stores in Taiwan

Giftwell is a big fan of Taiwan. Their “slow living” mantra, local traditions, great street food, warm hospitality, and of course the quality and the creativity of their boutique stores.

We’ve been lucky enough to visit Tainan and Kaohsiung a few times the past months. Here are our top four picks of the coolest and most remarkable home-grown stores we’ve had the pleasure of visiting that should be on anyone’s must-see list. Stop by on your next visit and say hello!

Dream Makers – this is our favorite store in Kaohsiung. What is so amazing about this place is that everything is crafted in-house by the three friends who founded the business.

The focal point here is felt, which has always been one of our favorite materials – and is used to make the accessories, bags, and tech cases found in the store.

The quality really stands out here – only the best materials (e.g., clasps, leather, zippers) are used. You can feel the pride they take in the craftsmanship and creating products they really believe in. 

We love the wooden plaque on the wall: “Believe in yourself,” “Dreams don’t work unless you do,” ” If you never try you’ll never know” . . . This is the kind of place you secretly wished you had started yourself! 

Chinlun’s Things Store – Giftwell is a huge animal lover. If you are too, then you will love this place.

Besides being a fabulous concept store selling the cutest, most charming stationery, post cards, accessories, housewares in a beautifully designed space . . . 

. . . , it is dedicated to helping rescued cats and dogs.

That message is conveyed through simple but out-of-this-world cute and creative illustrations that are found on mugs, pencils, and notebooks. 

The space is really cosy and a great place to get inspired.

Zhengxing Café – Found in the old district of Tainan that is rich in tradition and heritage is a street lined with old brick houses . . . 

. . .  and Zhengxing Café occupies one of these..

It’s a store slash café slash bed-and-breakfast converted from an old traditional Taiwanese brick house. 

We love the old architectural details in the high ceiling beams, the lanterns, as well as the brick walls. You will feel lost in time in here.  

Mozi Dozen – reuses old, salvaged wood from Tainan that has its own history to create new uses such as home accessories and stationery. It is a traditional white house with beautiful exposed walls and stairs.

These are handmade covers to put over Thermos type hot water bottles.

The first floor is the showroom while the second floor is a bed and breakfast, the third is where the founder lives and the fourth is their workshop. The Tainan-ese have discovered a new way to live!

 

 

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Our Star Street Event

We celebrated Giftwell's launch at Star Street this week! After all the planning and preparation, we were so excited to see the stylish crowd that came to celebrate with us.

Since Giftwell is about inspiring you to shop better and gift better, we asked each of the founders of WDSG, Manks, Vie, Russell Street, and Kapok to personally select gift ideas for the hipster, well-heeled and workaholic for Giftwell. Our hope was to showcase the breadth of unique products available through Giftwell and the diverse set of unique locally-owned businesses in Hong Kong.

We began at Manks, which has been a pioneer in introducing Scandinavian design and lifestyle to Hong Kong more than 15 years ago. You can find the most stylish kitchenwares and housewares here. Manks’ founder Paul was also kind enough to join us! Everyone loved the ergonomic chair, a gift pick for the workaholic but I think all of us could use one! 

At WDSG, Ken, one of the founders, also came by to explain the concept and amazing décor of 1920s Americana vintage. Thanks for the WDSG’s own branded beer!

The workaholic look at WDSG. What a gorgeous presentation! Every detail, every color looks perfect. It really is one of the most well-merchandised stores in Hong Kong. There’s also much more to the founders at WDSG, we hope to do a feature on them down the road, so stay tuned!

At Vie –  on the left side is the hipster look, and immediately to its right is the workaholic.  Founder Melinda also joined us. Everyone loved the colorful Swedish Hasbeens clogs! By the way, Vie is the only place in Hong Kong where you can find Humanoid and Filippa K men – yes, you heard it here first!

Check out the new Vie packaging in the silver and pink sticker – very simple yet very modern and distinctive. We love Vie for that quintessential Scandi serene and cheerful quality that feels good to be in.

At Russell Street – everyone wanted the Imogen statement jewelry. Who can blame them?

The Victoria Beckham dress in the window was the well-heeled look and a serious crowd pleaser. We love the black clutches and will be coming back to get them. 

At Kapok – with Sabrina from Sassy Hong Kong and Sabrina Sikora Photography and Vanessa from All Things Indulgent

Thanks for the wine and short bread cookies, Arnault! We love the way our white gift boxes looked next to the dark chocolate brown cupcakes.

Starting from the left are the well-heeld, hipster, and workaholic looks picked out by Arnault himself!

There were a number of events that evening so thank you everyone for taking the time to come and celebrate with us. 

And a huge thank you to all our friends, partners, and supporters for making this happen! 

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Giftwell Featured in the SCMP Post Magazine

A big thank you to the South China Morning Post for spreading the word on Giftwell!

By Vanessa Yung: Gift cards/vouchers have long been considered a go-to option for the unimaginative; including those aunts who don’t know what to buy you once you’ve outgrown Pokemon. You may have felt a twinge of embarrassment yourself when buying a card from a supermarket or department store after remembering a friend’s birthday at the last minute.

American-raised Connie Lee Fung-ping would like you to reconsider the humble gift card, though: “They are a win-win for both the buyer and the recipient.

“Two things I loved in the United States that were missing in Hong Kong were gift cards and a love for independent businesses,” she says. As she explains, her newly launched online gift-card shop, Giftwell (www.giftwell.hk) allows givers to seem more rather than less thoughtful, while supporting local businesses into the bargain.

Giftwell customers can choose cards ranging in value from HK$300 to HK$5,000, for a variety of local shops and restaurants. They can be ordered online and sent via e-mail. If that sounds a little impersonal, you may prefer, for a fee of HK$100, to have a cardboard presentation version sent to any address on Hong Kong Island. The cards are valid for two months from the delivery date – which is longer than the periods allowed for returns by most Hong Kong stores.

Lee says: “You can show someone that you remember that neighbourhood store she loves, the award-winning restaurant he talked about, that home store they wanted to check out.

“What you choose determines whether the money goes back into making where you live and work a better place.”

Frustrated by the domination of homogenous chain stores, Lee says she was determined that Giftwell should support independent businesses, including many she patronised herself. The Press Room, for example, was “one of my favourite places for brunch and the only place I could find good bagels [in Hong Kong]”.

Other partners include Flannel Flowers, Loveramics (ceramics), Kapok and Vein (fashion stores), and Manks (furniture and design).