Browsing Tag

going out


The Latest Trend in Bar: Speakeasy Can Inspire Your Next Party

pdt - please don\'t tell bar in East Village, New York

The latest trends in bar seems is inspired by the era of Prohibition. It is not surprising since it was a period where cocktails flourished. The bartenders of the time have to be resourceful and use all their talent to concoct something delicious with the spirit quality of the time.

With mixologists returning to the basics and experimenting again with fresh ingredients, it seems like a natural fit that some bars play on the nostalgia of the Prohibition era. Several bars have emerged across the United States. And you have to look where they are because they do not exhibit big neon signs to attract you inside.

Several concepts are used to make these bars feel underground. Each bar developed its own trick. When you make a reservation at Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco, you will be given a password to whisper at the door. I am going to SF at the end of the month, I will plan a visit to see what Bourbon & Branch is all about. Let’s hope my experience will be worthy of a post.

At PDT (Please don’t Tell) in East Village, you have to pass through a secret door at the back of Crif Dogs. You must enter a phone booth to identify yourself so they can buzz you inside the bar. It is the cocktail-lounge annex to Crif Dogs, a hip hot dog restaurant in New York.

I thought these are easy think to reproduce at a party. It would add something special.

Spreading the word locally

The Lab, here in Montreal, plays a low key version. The touch is visible through the bartender outfits and the theme of their special event. The Lab is owned by friends of mine; they are excellent at what they do.

+ Review on New York Magazine
+ Via New York Times


Go Steelers Go! Happy Super Bowl!

cock n bull pub in santa monica

I am not really a football fan but I will celebrate with the guys later this afternoon. I followed football when I was in college because the Diablos of Trois-Rivieres had a great team. In Quebec, we do 2 years of college before going to the university.

While we were in Los Angeles

We stopped by at a Steelers’ Fans pub for the semi-finals. We met my husband cousins and her girlfriends who are fans. We wanted to see her a little before going to the beach. We used that time to have lunch. I ate their specialty: British-styled fish and chips. I prefer the British style because the fish piece is ticker. It is easy to remove any excess beer batter.

As you can see, the place is far from stylish. But the people create a great atmosphere for the game. They have a nice assortment of local beers on tap. The fish and chips plating was typical of a pub. The food is not memorable but it tastes better than average.

steelers fans

This interior photo was taken before the game. Cock N Bull pub was packed as we left. I can imagine the vibes today.

+ Cock N Bull Pub p 310.399.9696
2947 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA, United States, 90405


Jaime Haywood’s City Guide

target :: world market :: west elm

When we travel, it is best to know the places where the residents hang out. I asked Jaime of It’s A Jaime Thing to tell us about her favorites places in Chicago. She has been more than generous by sharing her number one places.

At Home with Kim Vallee (AHWKV): What are your favorite home decor shops?

Jaime: I’m a Target girl. Other favorites of mine are Crate & Barrel, Z Gallerie, West Elm, Pier 1 Imports, World Market, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Hobby Lobby.

AHWKV: What stores do you go for housewares?

Jaime: If I had a million dollars, I’d say Williams Sonoma hands down.  I used to love Marshall Fields (a historical Chicago favorite) until Macy’s bought them out. Macy’s is great too though, I can’t complain.

AHWKV: As far as you know, what are the trendiest shops right now in Chicago?

Jaime: For beauty, I’d have to say Sonia Roselli Esthetique and Asha Salon & Spa. For unique gifts, The Afternoon in Oakbrook Mall.  If you’re in Chicago looking for clothes, we have the best shopping around!  Just take a walk down the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue, but be sure to wear comfy shoes. You’ll be shopping all day.  It’s pure shopping heaven! One of my favorites is Water Tower Place.

There really are too many stores to name. My favorite malls, Oakbrook Center located in Oakbrook, IL and Woodfield Mall located in Schaumburg also have some of the trendiest shopping – if that’s what you’re looking for.  They’re actually well-known tourist attractions, believe it or not!

AHWKV: What are your favorite restaurants in Chicago? It is for the food, the decor, the ambiance, the service?

Jaime: I promise you, the absolute best restaurant in the Chicagoland area is J. Alexander’s in Oakbrook, IL. They serve off of an American menu, with mouth-watering tender juicy steaks and delicious seafood, however you can also get finger foods or a yummy burger there too. The wait staff and bartenders are friendly and always remember you. They give you the best service, even if you’ve been there only once before or never before. The atmosphere has a jazzy contemporary feel with warm dimmed lighting. You can dress up or dress down – everyone is welcome. They pour an excellent drink and their pricing, compared to many “high end” restaurants, is extremely affordable. Seriously, if you go there, you’ll want to move here just so you can eat there all of the time. I know – I sound like a commercial, right? We just love it, it’s our favorite place!

Other wonderful restaurants in the Chicagoland area include Rosebud Restaurant if you like Italian food, The Oven Grinder for their fabulous Chicago pizza pie, Bob Chinn’s 34th Street Fishery in Lisle, IL., if you’re a seafood fan like me, and the famous Portillo’s for Chicago-style hot dogs, beef and Italian sausage! Oh, see now I’m getting hungry!

AHWKV: Which restaurants in Chicago serve the best brunch?

Jaime: I adore La Pinta in LaGrange, IL – it’s a great tapas place. Enjoy “High Tea” at The Four Seasons Ritz Carlton in Chicago – it’s quite lovely!

My absolute favorite place for brunch though is Omega Restaurant in Downers Grove, IL., it’s been around for years, the pricing is super affordable, they are fast, the food is always good and hot and it’s just a classic around here! My family used to take me to Omega Restaurant when I was little for Mickey Mouse pancakes. I still order them! Keep in mind, if you’re staying downtown Chicago, the suburbs are only a very short train ride away – they’re easy and they run all day!

AHWKV: Where do you go on a girl’s night out?

Jaime: Well, in my early twenties, my girlfriends and I would often dance the night away at downtown clubs or even ones in the western suburbs. If you’re visiting Chicago and love the bar and nightclub scene, the intersection of Rush & Division is where it’s at.

My favorite high-end, high-style nightclub right now is Stone Lotus. Just go to have the experience of bottle service. Once. Warning, it’s expensive! Really expensive. Maybe not for Paris Hilton, but for the average girl it’s a little insane.

I really love John Barleycorn, it is also fabulously fun; but a tad bit more down to earth and a lot more affordable. If you’re looking for something a little different, head on over to The Red Head Piano Bar located downtown – so much fun! Of course Navy Pier is great too.

If you are visiting Chicago, it’s fun but drinks are expensive. It is completely normal to expect each drink to cost between $10 to $15 in the city. Once you hit the suburbs though, it goes down a little, around $7 to $10/drink, depending on where you go. Also keep in mind that if you’re driving expects to pay a lot for parking! You’re best to walk or take a cab. We have a million cabs here, no worries – you won’t have to walk too far in those high heels!

Now that my friends and I are getting older and many of us have kids (ok I don’t have kids yet – but hopefully sooner rather than later!), girls night is usually spent at each other’s homes, with good wine and good conversation! Though occasionally we still like to dance our butts off.

AHWKV: Which restaurant do you prefer for a romantic evening?

Jaime: For a romantic evening, the best places are of course, my favorite, J. Alexander’s in Oakbrook, The Signature Room and The Signature Lounge (offer gorgeous views of the city) at the 95th and 96th floors of the John Hancock building in Chicago, IL., Wildfire Restaurant in Oakbrook, IL and Rosebud Restaurant in Chicago. There are so many, those are just a few of my personal favorites.

AHWKV: What are the best places for a family dinner, possibly with young kids?

Jaime: As I mentioned before, Omega Restaurant in Downers Grove, IL is great. Buca Di Beppo is a fun family-style Italian restaurant. You can even request to sit in the kitchen! Another fun place for kids to eat is Gino’s East, for pizza. Great pizza and a fun atmosphere. I haven’t been there in a while, but you used to be able to draw on the walls – what kid doesn’t love to draw on walls?! Too much fun! Though double check that, I suppose things could have changed since then. I also think many of the restaurants at Navy Pier are wonderful!

If you’re planning on staying in the city, there are several kid-friendly places. Your best bet is to ask your hotel concierge and they’ll be able to direct you to the best one nearest you. Chicago is a pretty friendly place, people here are usually happy to help. Just watch where you’re walking, the drivers are crazy here!

Hope that makes you want to come visit my Sweet Home Chicago! You’ll surely find tons to do here if you do. From shopping and restaurants to museums, parks, zoos and the beach, you definitely won’t be bored.

Thanks so much for your interest in my blog, It’s A Jaime Thing. I really enjoyed answering the interview questions and I feel so honored you took the time to read! Have a lovely and inspiring day. Cheers!

1. Budget-happy rugs at Target – starts at $279.99 USD
2. Malika Silk Medallion Print Toss Pillows at World Market – price: $24.99 USD
3. manzanita candelabra + mini taper candles at West Elm – price;$99 USD


Jennifer Mitchell’s City Guide of Detroit

In an interview, Jennifer Mitchell of Design Hole tells us the best shops and the places to visit in Detroit.

shine in royal oak

At Home with Kim Vallee (AHWKV): Which are your favorite home décor shops?

Jennifer: I enjoy:

  • Bureau of Urban Living: super cool, funky gifts, housewares, and décor
  • Mezzanine: the sell high-end European furniture and accessories
  • The League Shop: dishes, silver, accessories, and gifts
  • Vertu: vintage furniture and accessories
  • Shine: where to get cool and funky accessories

AHWKV: Where do you shop for housewares?

Jennifer: I like the Somerset Collection at Williams-Sonoma.

Two interesting shops are:

AHWKV: What are the fun places to visit in Detroit?

henry ford village :: detroit science center :: mezzanine

Jennifer: It costs only $8 per adult and $4 per youth (6-17) to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts. Until January 18, 2009, you will see art pieces from Monet to Dali and other Modern Masters exhibit from The Cleveland Art Museum.

The Detroit Science Museum is worth a visit. You should not miss the Leonardo Da Vinci: Man, Inventor, Genius Exhibition, that runs until January 4, 2009

The Detroit Zoo: I love zoos

The Henry Ford Village & Museum: This is an amazing place. Henry Ford bought up all these buildings and relocated them to this village. The Wright Bros bike shop and Thomas Edison’s workshop are there. My favorite part of the indoor museum is the area with kitchen appliances through the centuries.

AHWKV: Which restaurant do you prefer for a romantic evening?

Jennifer: My new pick is The Lark. This is a real jewel. It’s expensive, so it’s a special night to go there. But it’s beautiful and the food is the best. I can’t believe I didn’t put them first.



A Bus Became a Store for the 37th Festival du nouveau cinema

festival du nouveau cinema bus in front of ex-centris

You can convert any space into a fun party space. All you need is a little bit of imagination. Take this bus for example. I am all for it because it is about repurposed and reused items.

A two-seat section was transformed into a swing using car safety belts. I saw that kids love the swing. The handrails are ideal for hanging tee-shirts. The decor is simple yet fun.

The Festival du nouveau cinema installed this old public transportation bus in front of the Ex-Centris complex. The Festival uses the bus from STM as a retail space and an information center.

Converting old bus makes sense for temporary installations. The inside can fit a good amount of people. You use the same shelf over and over. The exhibitor simply needs to customize the decor, as any event planner will do for any party or event room.

About The Festival du nouveau cinema

The Festival explores the most innovative trends in cinema and new media. It will start this Wednesday, October 8, 2008 and will run until the 19th. Movie presentations occur in 5 venues.

p 514.847.2206 – 3536 Boul. Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H2X 2V1


Festivities for the Opening of Apple Store in Montreal

Apple's flagship store on Sainte-Catherine Street West in Montreal

Yesterday, I went to the opening of Apple’s Montreal flagship store on Sainte-Catherine Street West.

I met a few friends on my way there. I did not spent a lot. I just bought a sport armband for my iPod Touch. I selected the all black Sportsuit Convertible by Marware. I tried it this morning. It feels comfortable and sits well on my arm.

Artist Live Performances for Several Weeks

What is cool is that Apple hosts a series of free 1-hour concert at 7pm almost every night. Amongst the list, I would like to hear and see live performance from :

  • Alex Cuba – Sunday, July 27, 2008
  • David Usher – Tuesday, July 29, 2008
  • DJ Champion – Friday, August 8, 2008
  • Simple Plan – Monday, August 18, 2008
  • Alfa Rococo – Wednesday, August 20, 2008
  • Creature – Thursday, August 21, 2008

David Usher has an interesting blog called CloudiD, where he talks Art, Technology and the Communications Revolution. He writes interesting posts. David called himself an Apple freak, and he has been using Macs for music and writing since.well the beginning.

I discovered Creature at Soirees Nocturnes du Musee d’Art Comtemporain last month. My husband and I like their music. We bought their CD to play while we are driving.

Feeling Welcome

At the event, they let us in group of 20 people at a times. We entered the store through the sounds of acclaimed. It was fun. Have a glimpse of the entrance with this video filmed by my friend Laurent of Videopresse.

Give a Useful Gift

I got my official Sainte-Catherine’s store opening t-shirt. I am just said that Apple went with a single size. The best practices in event treats say that you should offer tailored products. I find it is no excuses from their store designed towards a tailored service and unique customer experience.

At the least, they could have supply a woman t-shirt and a man t-shirt. We got an XL American Apparel, which means that my husband and I can fit in a single t-shirt. Useless! BTW, I went to a BarCamp MTL last fall and they gave me a small American Apparel t-shirt.

+ Apple Store, Sainte-Catherine 


Apéritif à la française 2008 in Montreal

aperitif a la francaise 2008 in montreal :: fabien maillard of mixoart

An impressive 24 countries in 38 towns celebrated the Apéritif à la française on Thursday, June 5th, 2008!

I really enjoyed my night at Apéritif à la française in Montreal. I was not alone. The evening was a big hit with 1,500 guests attending. This number includes industry insiders and the general public.

What Happened?

We tasted great food, flavorful cocktails, tasty French wines and dance to the beat of DJ Gregory from France.

Several activities besides food and drinks tasting were taken place. In front of the entrance, a series of vintage French cars were parked. There was a Citroën similar to the one lieutenant Columbo used to drive.

It was possible to book an appointment with the hairdressers to get a black tie event hairdo. I wish I did. A photograph then took a souvenir picture with your girlfriends.

Flair Bartending

My friend Fabien Maillard, one of the co-founders of MixOarT, concocted three delicious drinks at the Pineau des Charentes stand.

If you are looking for a unique bartending service in Montreal, Fabien, Sam and the rest of the MixOarT team do an amazing job. MixOarT does not only serve and invent new drinks, they also practice flair bartending. So you get a little entertaining while you are waiting for your drinks.

Flavorful Summer Cocktails

I really enjoyed Ile de Ré, a cocktail made of Pineau des Charentes, blood orange juice, fresh mint leaves and club soda. Very refreshing!

My husband tasted La Rochelle. His drink was prepared with mango puree, orange juice, pineapple juice, a dash of vanilla syrup and Pineau des Charentes.

Jerome Paradis and Kim Vallee at Apéritif à la française in Montreal

Fabien worked on past events of Apéritif à la française for Pineau des Charentes. Try his cocktails recipes at your next outdoor party. Learn how to prepare seven of Fabien’s cocktails on the recipes section of Apéritif à la française.

The party officially started at 6 p.m. and we left after midnight. The crowd was still vibrating to DJ Gregory’s master mixes.

Until Next Year

The event was sold out in 6 or 8 hours this year. My husband, my friends and I will not miss the fifth edition next year. The tender couple at the left end is my husband and I.

Where you at an event in one of the 38 cities that hosted an Apéritif à la française? If you went to one event, how it was in your city? Did you enjoy the experience?

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Apéritif à la française
Learn more: MixOarT – site in French only
Recipes: Pineau des Charentes Cocktails by Fabien Maillard of MixOarT

+ Apéritif à la française around the World on June 5, 2008


Apéritif à la française around the World on June 5, 2008

aperitif a la francaise 2007 Montreal edition

Four years ago, the first edition of Apéritif à la française was held in 13 countries and 17 cities. Since then, more cities and countries participate in this culinary experience. Montreal and Toronto in Canada plus New York City are the three North American participating cities.

The event always happens on the first Thursday of June. This year, it is today. It promotes the French art de vivre through a tasting of French food and drinks.

Big Bash in Montreal

I am thrilled since I am going tonight. I am thrilled because past events were a huge success.

These pictures were taken at the 2007 edition. The event is taking place at the Centre des sciences de Montréal in the Old Port. I purchased my tickets a month ago. Usually, Apéritif à la française is a sold out event.

I will tell you about the range of French products: breads, dairy products, cheeses, deli products, meat products, cookies and cakes, cold meats, foie gras, seafood, fruits, vegetables, champagne, wines, spirits, other soft drinks that I tried.

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Apéritif à la française
Photo credits: Apéritif à la française 2008 Facebook group photo album


Hip Beach Theme for a Wedding Anniversary Party

wedding anniversary beach party :: the shore club in miami :: bang & olufsen loudspeakers :: onfalos grill

We owe a lot to our parents. After all they gave us an environment to flourish and expand our horizon.

The customs want that you throw a big party at the 25th and the 50th anniversary. Kids should be the ones that organize it. The problem is that kids are still in school for the 25th, so they cannot afford an extravagant party. And 50 seems so far and your parents will be old.

Why not throw a big bash when the kids are able to pay for it and the parents have not yet retired? This way, it can be a real threat.

Baby boomers are cooler and healthier. Forget the golf course and throw a hip Miami club scene. If the family is not ready to travel south for the party, here are the key elements to recreate the setting around a pool or on a sandy beach.

Unisex Party Theme

Devise a theme that will appeal to your mom and your dad. This scheme uses a lot of round shapes and feminine touches. But the metal, the futurist look of the Onfalos grill and the Bang & Olufsen loudspeakers talk to your dad.

Onfalos Grill Brings Style Outdoors and Indoors

Milan Furniture Fair in April, the Onfalos grill brings a feminine look to an object that is typically associated with men. The colourful Corian trays simulate petals. Mario Bellini designed for Smartech Italia a sensual BBQ available in three formats. It is worth noting that this grill is designed for indoor and outdoor usages.

The Onfalos grill also reminds me of The Jetsons animated TV series. Without the petal trays, it shares commonalities with the robots of the 50s and the 60s.

Pump Up the Music

The BeoLab 5 with its little brother BeoLab 9 loudspeakers could pass for aliens straight from Dr. Who’s universe. We all know how men love their sound system. I will leave it to the specialists to explain the virtues of these high end speakers. What interest me is that they look better than the square box.

Remember to play music for all ages if you wish your party to last. Ask a DJ to update the beats of the songs that your parents used to dance when they were young. Make their era looks hip again. Hire some dancers to teach everyone the current moves on the dance floor.

The party concept behind this wedding anniversary is to make the party about the future, not the past.

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: OnfalosGril by Smartech Italia
Learn more: Loudspeakers by Bang & Olufsen
Learn more: The Shore Club in Miami
Via: Put Your Petal to the Metal [Dwell Kitchen Blog]


Sex and the City Contest by Miss Sixty Boutique

miss sixty cafemelies contest for sex and the city movie

If you live in Montreal, you can participate in a cool contest. Sixty Boutique and Café Méliès invite you to enter to win the ultimate girl night out!

The Prize

The winner and three of her girlfriends will be pampered starting with a make-up session and Miss Sixty shoes before assisting to the Premiere of the movie. After watching Sex and the City, you will be heading to Café Méliès for complimentary cocktails and dinner.

How to Have a Chance to Win?

You must buy something at a regular price from now until May 27th, 2008 to participate. You will be fashionable with a Miss Sixty outfit. If you like their stuff, head to one of their 3 locations in the Montreal area.

  1. Downtown, the Flagship store: 1440 Peel Street
  2. Rockland Centre – Style Exchange/Sixty boutique
  3. Carefour Laval – Sixty boutique

Good luck! In all events, I am planning to see the movie with my girlfriends.

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Sixty Boutique
Learn more: Sex and the City, the movie

+ Where to eat in Montreal?


Social dining at Kultura in Toronto

kultura restaurant lounge in Toronto

It is fun to go at a trendy restaurant with a young, well-dressed crowd, beautiful décor and most important with incredible food. That was on my agenda last Saturday night. I elected Kultura as the place to review.

My husband and I went to dinner with three of friends that were participating in PodCamp Toronto. Earlier that day, I tried to reserve a table for 2 but Kultura was already fully booked. They told us that we could eat sitting at the counter of the Lounge. That is what we did with our friends.

Everybody enjoyed the meals. Since we were sitting at the lounge, it was noisier but we could still have a conversation. Executive Chef Roger Mooking brings a new twist on multi-ethnic cuisine. The dishes surprise us with an unexpected mix of flavors. The food presentation was imaginative.

What did we eat?

The dinner menu is composed of small portion dishes. The idea is to explore and share a meal. Our friendly server recommended two to three dishes per person. For two girls and three guys, I ordered the following:

  • 2 x Duelling Tartare
  • 1 x Mediterranean Salad
  • 1 x Foie Gras Trio
  • 1 x Mushroom Orecchiette
  • 1 x Green Beans Plate
  • 2 x Filet Mignon with truffle potatoes
  • 1 x Jamaican Chicken Risotto

The amount of food was right. Kultura delivered on my expectation of great food, décor and ambiance. I wish to dine at the restaurant next time I visit Toronto. The signature drinks we tried pleased me except that the Cosmopolitan was apparently too sweet.

The third floor of Kultura is available for private party of up to 30 sitting guests. I visited it and the space creates a really nice atmosphere. Kultura is located at 169 King Street East, downtown Toronto.

Learn more: Kultura