Monday, April 28, 2014

The Nose - Searching for Blamage

The Nose - Searching for Blamage is a fascinating documentary about perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri and his creative process for the final fragrance in his Nasomatto line. The fragrance was coined "Blamage" even before it was created, and the tongue-in-cheek name stems from the idea that many successful fragrances are the fortunate byproducts of mistakes. Hubs and I watched this film on Sunday at the Hot Docs Film Festival and let's just say director Paul Rigter really succeeded in awakening the audience's sense of smell while watching this film.

After the screening, the audience was treated to a brief Q&A with the director and the perfumer himself!

One member of the audience won a prize. :)

After the Q&A, Hubs and I chatted briefly with Alessandro... and he even sniffed us! I was oddly excited about this. :P

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. I thought it was fun, lighthearted, humorous, interesting, and thoroughly entertaining. Hubs loved it too, but then again, he loves anything to do with scents. The Nose - Searching for Blamage runs for a mere 53 minutes, and there is a nice short film called The Fish Tamer (23 minutes) that precedes it. If you are interested, there is one more screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Sat May 3 at 1pm and advance tickets are still available. Oh, and just a heads up to anyone with scent allergies or sensitivities: there are little handkerchiefs passed around before the film that are sprayed with quite a strong fragrance. If you've seen this film or are planning to watch it, please let me know! :)

Note: I purchased tickets to this film.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

March 2014 Dior Secret Diva Unboxing

The Secret Diva subscription service provides you with 12 Secret Admirer boxes, one for each month of the year in 2014. This service is intended to be gifted to a loved one (hence, Secret Admirer), but I just bought it for myself. Products can range from skin care to cosmetics to fragrances. Dior is expensive and this subscription is no exception. The auction priced the 2014 Secret Diva subscription at $600. You are not guaranteed a value in each box, but judging from some of the 2013 unboxings from likesthelook, there are a number of months where the value of the product exceeds the monthly "price" - in any event, 100% of the proceeds go to charity so I view the price tag as a donation and I am not too concerned about the value in each box.

The Dior Secret Diva box is supposed to arrive on (or before) the eighth of every month, since 8 was Christian Dior's favourite number. Once again, this month's box arrived a few days ahead of schedule... although I was a bad blogger and didn't write the post until now. :) This box was shipped via UPS and it contained a letter informing me that I have a secret admirer, hehe. There was one full size product included in this month's box. It was packaged beautifully in a "luxe couture gift box" and tied with a ribbon. The box is really thick and heavy duty... photos don't do it justice. I am definitely going to re-use the boxes for storage or gift giving. I received a very big box this month so I was excited.

My third Dior Secret Diva box contained the Capture Totale One Essential Skin Boosting Super Serum. This serum got great reviews on Sephora and it is very expensive so I am happy I got a chance to try it! The letter I received in the box reads as follows:

This month, Dior is pleased to offer you Dior's revolutionary detoxifying booster, One Essential. Every day, 7 billion toxins build up in your skin and without detoxification, no treatment can work optimally. One Essential boosts the effectiveness of any skincare used afterwards by up to 4x. Use it as an additional step day and night on clean skin before the rest of your treatment. In addition to increasing the benefits of your regular skincare, your skin will appear luminous and radiant.

The description and good reviews got me even more excited about this product! Unfortunately, when I looked the product up on Paula's Choice, I was a little disappointed to see that it got a poor rating. Apparently, this product just doesn't do what it claims to do... plus it includes not-so-good for your skin ingredients like alcohol and fragrance. I decided to try it anyway and used it consistently for a few weeks (in the evening only).

The serum is very light with a milky colour and it has a strong perfume scent. I need 3 pumps to cover my entire face and neck. Much to my surprise, the first couple of days of using this product, I thought I noticed an improvement in the way my skin looked and felt. However, with continued use, I have to say that it didn't really change my skin much at all... not sure what it was during the first couple of days of use. I stopped using it while I was on vacation but now that I'm back, I will continue to use the product until it's done. I will not be repurchasing it but I'm still happy I received this product in the Secret Diva box because it's not something I would ever purchase for myself... although, technically, I did purchase it for myself. Hmm...

Have you ever invested (or would you ever invest) in a high end serum?

For more information about this and the Polished Diva subscription, please click here!

Click here to see all my Polished Diva boxes
Click here to see all my Secret Diva boxes

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dinner at Luckee

Run, don't walk, to Luckee... Susur Lee's new restaurant!

I took my friend there for her birthday dinner last night and we were both wowed by the food, the ambience, the decor, and the service. Luckee is an all-day dim sum restaurant but there is an additional (sizeable) menu consisting of other Asian-inspired dishes, including the peking duck inspired Luckee Duck, which was unfortunately sold out last night. I literally wanted to try everything on the menu but we only have two stomachs between us so we opted for the Chef's Choice... basically our waiter asked us our preferences and worked with the chef to bring out a series of dishes to suit our tastes. If ordering a la carte, our waiter recommended we order one dim sum dish per person and then around 2 main dishes to share. He ended up bringing us 3 dim sum dishes and 3 main dishes. Everything was very flavourful and incredibly delicious.

We started with a little amuse bouche type dish. These are soy marinated wood ear mushrooms with pickled cucumbers and bean curd skin (I think)... very tasty with a hint of spiciness. We were also presented with three sauces including a house made Sriracha.

The dim sum menu is on a little tick-off style sheet that is separate from the main menu. I read on blogTO that there is a cart service on the weekend between 11am and 3pm. Here are the dim sum dishes that were chosen for us!

Swatow Chicken and Preserved Vegetable Dumplings - $5 - these are very similar to Ham Sui Gok except they are made with chicken & preserved vegetables instead of pork & mushrooms. These were very yummy - but this is one of my favourite deep fried dim sum dishes as is, so I may be biased.

Long Xia Gow (lobster and asparagus dumplings) - $8 - this was my favourite dim sum dish we sampled. I prefer dishes that are steamed rather than deep fried and the flavour of these dumplings was mild yet delicious. I could probably eat 10 of these.

Chicken Cheung Fun (rice roll with tofu, ginger, green onion and soya juice) - $8 - this was an interesting take on classic cheung fun. This was one of the more generous dim sum dishes and it was very filling. I think I would have preferred it without the crispy tempura, but that's probably because I prefer a lightly filled cheung fun as I love love love the outer rice layer. Can I just say how much I love the cake-stand-esque plates!

We had a welcome break before our next courses - the pacing of the meal was just right. Next up were our 3 main courses. We had indicated we liked tofu but there wasn't a tofu dish in sight. We didn't miss it though because the dishes we sampled were all on point!

Cantonese Style Ginger Fried Rice (with egg white, dried conpoy scallop, asparagus and bacon) - $16 - I love fried rice so this was one of my favourite dishes. I loved the addition of the bacon and the fried rice was also dotted with edamame, which was a welcome surprise. My friend was just ok about this one but I was bonkers over it. I wish I had more of an appetite so I could gobble it all up.

Spicy Hunan Style Fried Lotus Root and Chinese Celery - $11 - this was the biggest surprise for me and another one of my favourite dishes. I did not expect to love this dish so much because I am just ok about lotus root. I would have never ordered this off the regular menu so I'm happy this was chosen for us! The lotus root was perfectly cooked (not too hard, not too soft) and the sauce was perfectly spicy. Our dish was garnished with a chrysanthemum leaf.

Sweet Soya Glazed Scallops with Asparagus - $19 - this was our waiter's favourite dish and I am so glad we got to try this! The flavours were incredible. The scallops were very lightly battered and cooked to perfection. You could still taste their sweetness despite the strong flavours in the sauce. I'm sad I only had enough room to eat one of these. Next time, next time.

The rose scented sangria ($16/glass or $60/pitcher) deserves a special mention! Oh my goodness, if I wasn't pre-cleansing this week (I'm doing a three day juice cleanse next week... yup, it's finally happening), I could have drank an entire pitcher on my own. As it was, I was lemming for a second glass but it's good to know I have some degree of will power.

We saved a little room for dessert... we both had the mango pudding with coconut mousse ($7). It's served in a little cup with a garnish of mint and it was divine... not as sweet as the mango pudding you're used to but the tartness/acidity was a welcome reprieve after a decadent meal. The texture of the pudding is a thick creamy consistency and I would order this again.

Here we are after our meal! We had a bunch of food left so we asked our waiter to split it up so we could doggy bag every last bite. Needless to say, Hubs was a very happy camper when I got home.

Oh, and did I mention Susur Lee himself was in the house for a short while last night! We wanted to take a photo with him but by the time we were finished our meal, he was no longer in sight, gaaaaah! Luckee has not had its official grand opening (the soft opening was in early April), but both the kitchen and the front of house staff seem to be in a harmonious groove. I'm excited to eat there again. In fact, I am going to pencil in some regular visits to Luckee so we can make our way through the entire menu... and then some. Hope to see you there! :)

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