*notcot - 04.26.16 , 12:30 - 0 Notes

LA Love: Compartes Chocolate

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With neighbors doing construction on with two sides of our bedroom wall (it’s that time of year?) starting at 7am every day, i’ve certainly been a bit more of a grumpy zombie than i’d like to admit. BUT, luckily we’ve been trying to counteract all of that with field trips… and chocolate can never hurt! So the other day we popped over to Compartes! As fun as their wacky photocollaged chocolate bars boxes are individually (or in little clusters at stores) - a wall FULL of them is pretty mesmerizing… and bound to take your mind off anything else. And the black and white stripes inside their black and white bags are so fun to stare into! So we picked a few bars, a bunch of chocolate covered marshmallows and oreos as well as some dark cherry and strawberry clusters and headed home after construction to dive in. How can “Campfire S’mores” and “Let Them Eat Cake” and “Donuts & Coffee” chocolate bars not make you feel better?

Check out the delectable (and visual) inspiration on the next page!

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*notcot - 03.29.16 , 10:55 - 0 Notes

Belcampo Beef Blunts

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On things disguised as other things… while at Belcampo Butcher Shop in Santa Monica, i came across these faux-cigars (in wood box and all) that are 100% Beef Blunts! So of course i had to try one!

They are basically fancy slim-jims? Mini cigar shaped salamis? They are what i imagine our hardcore paleo non-smoking friends will give out at the birth of their kids. take a peek at the details and what’s inside (as well as the lovely Belcampo store!) on the next page.

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*notcot - 03.10.16 , 18:00 - 0 Notes

Unboxing: Malfy Gin con Limone

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Mmmmm… a beautiful press kit just arrived from Malfy Gin, a new spirit from Biggar and Leith. Did you know that Gin was invented in Italy - In the 11th Century?!?!?! Italian monks in Salerno infused alcohol with Juniper berries and gin was born. Over the years, my friends tend to fall in the gin lovers and the not-a-fan of gin folks… Hendrick’s was one of the first to start converting the not-a-fan group (myself included)… but Malfy Gin! It’s so… zesty? refreshing? delicious! Beyond the branding and colors that just scream summer - my first sip tasted like summer too! The crisp refreshing lemon filled flavors hit you long before you realize you’re sipping gin.

It brought me right back to being 20 in Cinque Terra. Distracted by glistening ocean views, we hiked up the trail further than we realized without packing water (i blame the last night’s activities)… and luckily came upon an older Italian man tending to his garden, who offered us a huge lemon that he cut up with his pocket knife. In any other situation, i can’t imagine devouring it as easily as we did, and while it was tart, it was incredibly sweet and juicy! That first splash of Malfy Gin on the rocks tasted just like that. Italian Riviera Summer… in a bottle? Honestly, while it looks lovely with a twist - it certainly doesn’t require it!

So back to this delicious new gin… or delightful lemony liquor (for your “non-gin” friends) - “MALFY G.Q.D.I. (Gin di Qualita Distillato in Italia) is distilled by the Vergnano family in Moncalieri, Italy, using a traditional stainless steel vacuum still. Malfy Gin’s is made from 6 botanicals including Juniper (Ginepro in Italian) and lemon sourced from the Italian Coastline,” says Biggar and Leith. I’m fascinated by the story, delighted by the branding (those colors!) and packaging (the stopper is Italian Oak!), and reaching to refill my Malfy on the Rocks as i write this.

Take a peek at all the details on the next page!

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*notcot - 03.02.16 , 11:15 - 0 Notes

Gift Guide: Easter Chocolates

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Wow - Happy March! Easter is nearly upon us… and with it come a barrage of bunnies, chicks, and chocolate! There are the childhood classics like Cadbury Creme Eggs and the Mini Eggs… and then there are all the other drugstore/supermarket options and variants… as well as all the overly ornate (and often HUGE) chocolate eggs… but i’m most curious about the modern and unique Easter Chocolate options available this year! Much like my Valentine’s Day 2016 Chocolate Gift Guide - while these CAN be gifts, i’m even more interested in the seasonal packaging and product designs! Take a look at how Easter 2016 is looking in the chocolate world on the next page!

p.s. If there are more you find or love that i’m missing - leave a comment!

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*notcot - 02.26.16 , 12:40 - 0 Notes

Martinis in Tins

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What’s up with marTINis? Literally martinis in tins… stumbling around the internet last night, i found the adorably packaged martini tin from Continental Delicatessen in Newton, NSW… then hunting for more i found the Fisherman’s Can Martini from Hotel Megaro’s Bar in London. But that’s pretty much it! Have you had any? Take a peek at what i found on the next page - they are both more interesting because they have lovely labels of course too!

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*notcot - 02.25.16 , 17:20 - 0 Notes

Wonderboo: Luxury Dog Food

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How adorable is this luxurious Wonderboo Premium Dog Food Truck? It’s like a Louis Vuitton inspired Piaggio Ape… and it might be cruising around London now handing out samples!

While the Ape is definitely what pulled me in first - and i can’t seem to decide how i feel about the branding… there’s a very Rodeo Drive, luxe lingerie/jewelry, purse dog vibe going on… it is very consistent and eye catching! From product to logo to concept store to… mini truck and Land Rover Defender! This Swedish luxury dog food brand launched last year and is currently available in Sweden and the UK. (So no luxury taste testing for Bucky quite yet.) They offer Swedish Ox and Swedish Cod flavors, and have recently added food for big dogs and puppies too. Of course they also have Wonderboo Accessories including luxury jewelry (for humans) and leather leashes and collars (for dogs). Take a look at the details on the next page!

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*notcot - 02.10.16 , 20:12 - 0 Notes

Trader Joe’s Coffee: Brew In The Bag

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Trader Joe’s Pour Over Coffee that you Brew In The Bag! As usual - Trader Joe’s has fun with the graphic design on their private label goods. How could we resist trying out this adorable Pour Over Coffee that you brew in the bag? Just add hot water! Also - we much as Shawn’s all about the chemex and fresh stumptown… it’s pretty good! Supposedly the quality falls somewhere between a traditional pour over and french press.

A bit of research quickly shows that the danish company behind this fun packaging and concept is Grower’s Cup. They have this setup for both coffee and tea - as well as specialty kits (like Irish Coffee!) and you can even find some on Amazon. While not necessarily something you need at home - it’s perfect for on the go, especially camping! AND… the cheap, flat packaging is REUSABLE! Just scoop out the grounds and refill.

See more pictures of all the details on the next page.

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*notcot - 01.23.16 , 04:02 - 0 Notes

Gift Guide: Valentine’s Day Chocolates

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Mmmmm chocolate. It should come as no surprise that i love a good piece of chocolate… especially a beautifully wrapped or designed piece of deliciousness. A quick search for chocolate on NOTCOT.org brings up quite a bit - as does looking for chocolate on NOTCOT.com! Over the last 10 years, that’s a lot of chocolate.

Well Valentine’s Day is around the corner (or so marketers want us to think, since Christmas is over) - and since historically, chocolate and V-day go hand in hand - being one of the biggest chocolate selling holidays, that means loads of special packaging and chocolate offerings coming up every February. And it has already begun! I found so many Valentine’s 2016 chocolate specials, and have rounded up the most interesting (and delectable) ones in this roundup. From incredible box graphics, to chocolate frogs, lovebugs, oysters, champagne corks, cigars and more…

So whether you need to get started on ideas and planning early, or are just curious to see what i found researching chocolate tonight… see it all on the next page!

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*notcot - 11.23.15 , 21:35 - 0 Notes

Tasteologie: Thanksgiving Inspiration!

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Anyone else still deciding what to cook for Thanksgiving? While figuring out our menu, and exploring options to spice things up or surprise people a bit… here’s some of the fun i found on Tasteologie! Click the pictures to find out more.

*notcot - 10.27.15 , 10:30 - 0 Notes

Halloween: Food With Eyes

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On hilarious food trends happening at Tasteologie… FOOD WITH EYES! Some adorable, some creepy… all amusing! To find out more and make your own - click the squares!

*notcot - 10.22.15 , 13:03 - 0 Notes

British Museum of Food: Bompas & Parr

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Here’s the latest from London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw as she shares more awesome happenings in London!

There’s no arguing the fact that Sam Bompas and Harry Parr are passionate about food… and architecture, technology, experiences, and where they all intersect! Their projects have dabbled in the cutting edge of food and food science as well as its history and role in our culture, and you can we’ve been covering their incredible adventures for the last 5 years. They are now embarking on a new adventure, the British Museum of Food with the tagline “from field to table, mouth…and beyond”. Get a first peek inside the opening in London’s Borough Market on the next page! You won’t believe the British menus, stunning buttferflies, massage chairs and more…

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*notcot - 10.18.15 , 00:41 - 0 Notes

Stewart & Jasper Orchards: Newman, CA

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Just pulled into a little seaside hotel in Cambria, CA as we slowly make our way down the coast from SF to LA… this road trip has been filled with little adventures squeezed in between official work commitments… including the discovery of Stewart & Jasper Orchards company store in a little strip mall off the 5 freeway in Central CA - filled with locally grown and produced treats and gift baskets. Their website says “Stewart & Jasper, a family-owned almond company on the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley, is well known for its commitment to product quality and customer service. We are an almond grower, huller/sheller, processor, exporter and retail marketer with over 60-years experience in farming and food production.” They’ve been doing their thing since 1948 and is still run by 2nd and 3rd generation family members.

On a quick gas stop in Patterson, CA, the store caught my eye and we had to pop in… I was so dazed from roadtripping for hours, i didn’t even think to take pictures, but Google Maps has it covered. You walk into the store, and you see wall to wall sweet nutty treats, beef jerky, jams, candies, and more… part of an old PICK UP TRUCK (also filled with treats and gift baskets)… and the whole back half of the store is an adorable wine/beer area! At first, I thought it was a Harry & David like brand - with fruits and gift baskets, until i looked more closely at the offerings and noticed a huge section of Glazed Almonds with flavors like: Strawberries & Creme, Cinnamon, Orange Creme Brulee, Caramel Latte, Peaches & Cream, Butter Toffee, Pralines & Cream, Birthday Cake, Caramel Apple, Snickerdoodle, Key Lime, Root Beer Float, Razberry Cheesecake, and more… and that was only the glazed almond wall! There were also quite a surprising variety of chocolate covered almonds (i.e. Dark Chocolate Chipotle, Coffee & Creme, White Chocolate Coconut), chocolate covered fruits in a range of colors, as well as more traditional basic nuts, jams, butters and far more than i can remember.

My curiosity couldn’t resist trying some Birthday Cake Glazed Almonds, Almond Smore’s Mix, and Yogurt Covered Raisins. By the time we nibbled on them up to SF, we were hooked. While I first picked them for sounding intriguingly amusing, we were more surprised by how delicious they all were! Sharing some with friends, we looked up the Stewart & Jasper Orchards website thinking it’d be easy to see the rest of the available flavors and order more online to try. To my surprise, the website only shows a slim selection of their offerings, and I learned they only have 4 stores all in the center of California. Their orchard/factory and store are in Newman (apparently you can get tours!) not far off the 5, and the other 3 stores are in Patterson (also off the 5), Modesto, and Monterey. So on the drive down, we took a little detour in Monterey to see that store, pick up treats to share, and find out more! While there we not only bought two bags full, but also learned more about the family run company, factory, and that even though they are far too busy to update the website regularly, you can call the Newman store at any time to find out more about seasonal flavors, custom gift baskets, and placing orders to ship all over the US. Since you can’t see much on the Stewart & Jasper Orchards website, take a look at some of their more surprising offerings on the next page!

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*notcot - 09.24.15 , 15:01 - 0 Notes

MARCH: Jollypop

jollypop0.jpg Here’s the latest from London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw as she explores London Design Week 2015!

Jollypop! These beautiful, natural lollipops by March have such lovely branding and packaging, and look deliciously designed. When flipping through Justine’s pictures, i stopped immediately at these and had to know more. Not only are they playful to look at - but their booth had them displayed on sound dampening pyramid foam!

Who is March? “MARCH is product invention studio based in Vilnius, Lithuania.We like new materials and technologies. We like good design. And we like good concept even better.” Martynas Kazimierenas and Egle Opeikiene definitely sound like our kind of people. I love that they go on to say “MARCH is anti-designerism. Most new designer products are unnecessary in our overproduced world. Besides, every new production have impact to the environment. New products have to be better in their concept, not just appearance. MARCH is new concept + new technology + new material = new goodness.” We need more designers who think like this.

Ok - but back to those Jollypops that we found at Tent London 2015… double sided cherry lollipop! And they are all handmade. see all their loveliness on the next page!

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*notcot - 08.19.15 , 02:00 - 0 Notes

Bulls Bay Saltworks

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UPDATE: The great branding was designed by Fuzzco!

I just discovered Bulls Bay Saltworks while meandering about online and these amazing line art logos of sea creatures taking on lighthouses pulled me right in. Aren’t they adorably incredible? As i started to get past that… the SALT! From how it looks, to how it’s made, to the story and incredible couple, Rustin and Teresa Gooden, behind it all… i’m late night smitten and wanting to go to South Carolina.

Here’s how they explain the salt making process, “On our home property, we evaporate water in a big greenhouse that we call the solar tunnel. Our salt is crystalized using solar and wind evaporation, harvested by hand and set aside to complete the drying stage.” As for why their saltwater is extra special, “Bulls Bay is located in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, which contains a Class One Wilderness Area and is home to one of the healthiest saltwater ecosystems and known for its acclaimed oyster clusters, clams and other seafood.” For even more details, go read up on the Bulls Bay Saltworks FAQ. For now - go lust after the lovely packaging of their products with me on the next page!

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*notcot - 03.29.15 , 10:22 - 1 Notes

Flor de Lis Restaurante - Guatemala City

flor0.jpg The ultimate meal isn’t just about the food. It’s about the flavors, the plating, the ambiance, the decor, the company, the conversation… and it all came together perfectly at Flor de Lis. Though, you know what’s impossible? Taking photos that do it all justice while armed with just an iPhone and bouncing between great conversation and delicious bites you need to taste as soon as they reach the table. So consider this post a teaser of the reality of a meal at Flor de Lis… but honestly, you need to get to Guatemala City to properly experience it for yourself (or if you’re lucky, we can get them to come do a pop up in LA! or NY? or Miami?)

Backing up a moment - i’ve shown you our amazing Guatemala adventures as well as the story of Flor de Lis’ Pingüi and our Puma Penguins… so you’ve seen peeks of Flor de Lis, but a proper post is definitely overdue! The plating is so stunning! And it all tastes… SO GOOD. To be honest, when Harold reached out about the penguins, with our few hours in Guatemala City, I had to find my way to Flor de Lis, so of course we happily accepted when Harold invited us to dinner with his fiancè and Chef Diego Ruben Telles. Chef Diego is originally from Guatemala and after cooking in Spain and training in Denmark at NOMA, he’s returned to experiment with modernized Guatemalan cuisine.

I’m not kidding when I say the meal was one of the best i’ve had in some time. Situated in Guatemala City’s modern Paseo Cayala (think mini city with-in the city complete with private security - it reminds me of a huge Santana Row with luxury shopping, homes, offices and more which will continue expanding the next few years) - Flor de Lis is a delicious modern twist on traditional Guatemalan flavors and ingredients. While Chef Diego often described the plates as ‘simple’ with regards to the minimal ingredients used, the way he transforms a single ingredient (like a carrot!) into multiple textures (think charred, powdered, saucey) on the same plate is a masterful transformation that i’d consider molecular gastronomy. In addition to using local ingredients (as local as the plants growing right next to our table!) their stunning plating includes traditional Guatemalan pottery, wood, ceramics and more in a whole new context. They want you to truly experience and enjoy the food - so while the plates may look too pretty to disrupt at first, the smell will pull you in, and once you grab a piece with your fingers and taste the sauces, the ultimate compliment is for the chef to see you licking up every last drop! Flor de Lis serves up a delicious, relaxed, beautifully modern experience all around that can’t be missed if you’re in Guatemala City. See the iPhone pics of our experience on the next page!

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