Blantyre Estate to Transform into Hogwarts for Halloween

blantyre harry potter halloween party

Every Harry Potter fan’s dream is to have dinner in the great hall at Hogwarts, and now you can, sort of. Indulge in a Harry Potter filled night at Blantyre’s Gilded Age Manor House, located in the Berkshires. Blantyre’s is modeled after an ancestral home in Scotland, a source of inspiration for J.K. Rowling, so this is the most fitting backdrop for a Harry Potter Halloween party. Blantyre’s is also where John Williams wrote the original score for the Harry Potter films–could it get more perfect? Recently renovated, the Tudor-style estate will make you feel as if you are walking the halls of Hogwarts.

Blantyre estate harry potter halloween party

A Magical Night for All

For guests 21 and over, the night will include cocktails, as well as a buffet dinner with vegetarian options, seafood, a selection of house made charcuterie, and more. The night will be completed with every Harry Potter fan’s dream dessert menu, Chocolate Frogs, Golden Snitch Cake Pops, and Bertie Bott’s Beans. If you’ve always secretly wanted to try those oddly-flavored jelly beans, now’s your chance! The night will be completed with live entertainment and dancing. It’s as if you’re being transported to Hogwarts’ Yule Ball.

blantyre estate harry potter halloween partyWhen the party is over, you can head back to your room or cottage at the Blantyre estate and enjoy the rest of the night recapping the magical party, or having a Harry Potter movie marathon. The Relais and Châteaux estate has cottages and rooms located throughout the property, as well as a spa. So, dust off your wands and clean your robes, and join Blantyre’s for their Halloween party on Saturday, October 27th. If you are a fan of the books, the movies, or both, this is a night for you.

DART to the Finish Walk for Children

Roots and Shoots (Greenwich High School Community Service Club)

Dana’s Angels Research Trust (DART) brought together friends and supporters for its first-ever DART to the Finish charity walk held at Greenwich Point Park. Dana’s Angels Research Trust was founded by Andrea and Phil Marella of Greenwich after two of their four children, Dana and Andrew, were diagnosed with the rare childhood disorder Niemann Pick type C disease (NPC). Dana sadly passed away in 2013 at age 19. But Andrew, who just turned 19 in June, is faring better due to being enrolled in a clinical trial to slow or halt the progression of the disease.

NPC is so rare that only about 500-600 children in the U.S. are affected. This devastating genetic disorder, often called children’s Alzheimer’s, robs a child of the ability to live a long, healthy life, often becoming fatal in the teenage years. But Dana’s Angels Research Trust is helping to change that fate. As a non-profit organization, DART raises funds to support pivotal NPC research—research that may also help millions suffering from Parkinson’s disease, HIV/Aids, Ebola, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders that appear to be related to cholesterol. The funds raised by DART to the Finish will support additional NPC research and clinical trials.

Radio personality Scott Shannon of WCBS-FM kicked-off the walk; Senator Scott Frantz and Representatives Fred Camillo and Mike Bocchino also attended to show their support.

Photographs by Emily Masino

Creating a Beautiful Garden Space

Here are two allées of trees—red buds and linden trees. They take guests from the front yard to the back.

Designing a landscape is a bit like getting dressed, says Janice Parker, principal at Janice Parker Landscape Architects in Greenwich, CT. You have to know what you will be doing, the environment you’ll be doing it in and who you’ll be doing it with. When the award-winning landscape architect was commissioned to design the property for this waterfront home she needed a plan that was both practical and beautiful. Privacy screening was a must, as was room for parking cars and storing a large amount of gear (skiing, sailing, kayaking and the like). The design had to integrate three buildings and a new structure, with additional storage for the active family’s sports equipment. 

Parker incorporated the family’s stone sphere sculptures collected from the New York Botanical Garden’s antique fair. “Any time people have an object or sculpture they love I’m happy to work it in,” says Parker. “Three hundred and sixty-five days a year it’s going to be a strong element wherever I put it. It domesticates a space and gives a sense of scale—makes the space comfortable.”

What techniques did you use to tie the project’s elements together?

We really designed it as you would design a floorplan of a house. On a smaller piece of property, we like to think about the room outside. It’s very different from a pastoral grand landscape. We changed the parking, changed the entrances to the house, we reorganized terraces to create a new floorplan. Then we chose a strong, comprehensive planting plan throughout with lots of hydrangeas and grasses so it looked like one hand created it.

Layers of soft, flowing grasses provide movement and interest without distracting from the water views. Parker also had to think about deer resistant materials when she designed this bluestone pathway from the dock to the rear garden.

What challenges did this waterfront property pose and how did you overcome them?

The land required creation of interest and varied seating areas, terraces, dining areas and recreation spaces. The realized design is based on axial lines, using stone paths and terraces with grass jointing to create a strong verdant framework. Stone terraces step down with the grade, providing a series of distinct spaces designed for family living. On the slopes to the sound there had been a lot of erosion and damage by Hurricane Sandy, these areas were revegetated with blueberry sod, which filled thickly after one season.

Parker chose a narrow space between the guest house and the main house for the bocce court, which is surrounded by clipped and tightly pruned Linden trees and plantings.

Since this enclosed garden had to go in the front yard, how did you marry the practical needs with the aesthetics?

The chicken coop, vegetable garden and bocce court all start in the front yard, which was the most level piece of the property. The garden backs into a small existing garage. We surrounded it with a stone wall and stainless steel wire and wood fence. The symmetrical layout of the Corten steel boxes is designed to produce a bountiful harvest in a small space. The bluestone slab steps that lead down to the garden are lined and retained by linear Corten steel planter boxes planted with deer resistant herbs and flowers. It’s pretty and welcoming and practical!

Had this kitchen garden been built in the backyard, Parker says, it would have been bigger with a simpler fence. As it stands now, in the front yard with stone wall surround, it’s more of an architectural and an ornamental piece.
Since the chicken coop is also in the front yard, Parker wanted a design that was beautiful as well as practical. She designed it with lots of architectural elements and details that echo the main house.

You let the natural landscape shine in this design. Why was that important here?

Narrowing the scope of plant varieties but providing a lot of plant material woven into the surrounds of the houses softens and personalizes the spaces. I have such a strong partner in Mother Nature. She takes over and makes everything lush and beautiful. In a setting like this, where the water is the draw, you have to be careful with plantings near it. The best thing you can do is know what not to do. We chose a lush amount of just a few types of plants, giving it a strong, clean feeling. 

Chef Alex Guarnaschelli Shares Her Food Guilty Pleasures

Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

Celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli cut her culinary teeth in Paris in the 1990s, took control of the kitchen at Manhattan’s prestigious Butter Restaurant in 2003, and nabbed the title of Iron Chef in 2012. Her accolades are far from simple, but sometimes even the best of us need to sit back and indulge in the uncomplicated, the childlike, and—dare we say—even the guilty-inducing.  These are what Guarnaschelli calls her favorite versions of “personal serendipity.”

Alex Guarnaschelli cookies1. Plucking a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie off the tray before it’s had time to cool, and washing it down with a cold glass of milk. “I love the combination of dark chocolate with a sprinkle of salt and sugar,” she says. “I love the smell of butter in the cookie. There is also great comfort in something my mom made me as a kid that I enjoy solo or with my daughter!”

2. Sipping a glass of iced tea (with ice tea ice cubes!) and noshing on a giant cheesy
burrito while relaxing by an infinity pool. “Heaven on Earth,” says Guarnaschelli.

3. Sneaking a bowl of homemade pasta carbonara after midnight. “What is better than some bacon and cream pasta after hours?” asks Guarnaschelli. “Sometimes after a long day, I pretend it’s a very, very early breakfast instead of a late night dinner.”

4. Taking an old-school thermos filled with white wine sangria to the beach. She says: “It’s the one time I don’t mind when there is sand in my cup!”

5. Vanilla cake with boiled marshmallow frosting, served at room temperature. “Eaten by the spoonful,” says Guarnaschelli.

6. Biting into a giant wedge of watermelon sprinkled with smoked salt. “There is
little more refreshing than watermelon,”she says. “I love when the sweet juice bumps into the crunchy sea salt. It makes me want to keep eating!”

7. A bowl of boiling hot pork “soup” dumplings.

8. Chicken vindaloo with basmati rice and lassi. “The tang of the yogurt and mango that comprise a lassi drink is mouth-watering,” says Guarnaschelli. “With a bite of the floral, buttery rice and the spices on the chicken, it cools and refreshes the palate.”

9. Eating the whole cheesy, broiled top off a lasagna, she says, “and then re-cheesing it and broiling it again to cover my tracks!”

10. Enjoying a great American staple—with a deliciously sinful twist, says Guarnaschelli: “A deep fried hot dog with bits of crispy bacon, spicy mustard and sauerkraut.”

4 Beauty Treatments to Try this Fall

fall beauty treatments

After a summer of too much sun and fun, it’s time to start taking care of yourself again. Here, the services you need to erase sun damage, nourish your skin, soothe sore muscles, and more.

Integrative Massage

Whether you’re training for your local turkey trot or the New York City Marathon (or even just hitting Soul Cycle a few times a week to get rid of those summer rosé pounds), you probably have some achy muscles this season. Relieve pain and soreness with Melinda Loo’s Integrative Massage, a customizable rubdown that focuses on myofascial release. Myofasciae are collagen webs that wrap around all the muscles in the body. Injury, overuse, stress and inflammation can cause these webs to stiffen and tighten. “Think of it like a sausage casing squeezing a sausage (the muscle) too tight,” explains Loo. “This restriction not only can make your muscles tight and less functional, it can decrease nerve function, decrease blood flow and create poor posture.”

fall beauty treatmentsLoo begins the treatment by massaging your body with a small, nubby tool called a FasciaBlaster in a fast, brush like motion (which feels good, not at all painful) to loosen up the fascia. Once the fascia is released, she uses a combination of deep tissue, stretching, trigger point and acupressure techniques to soothe the muscles. Loo’s space is low-key (it feels like you’re lying in someone’s pretty, exposed-brick office), but her treatment is nothing short of luxurious—and unlike a marathon, you never want it to end. Cost: $145 for 60 minutes.
Integrative Massage, Essential Bodywork & Wellness, New Canaan, CT

Autumn Glow Pumpkin Facial

fall beauty treatmentsPumpkin isn’t just for pies and lattes: This ubiquitous fall veggie packs antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that nourish the skin. For Derma Glow’s Autumn Glow Pumpkin Facial, the aesthetician first applies a vitamin C lactic cleanser to remove dirt and even out skin tone. After swiping on a glycolic toner, she applies a pumpkin enzyme mask for 15 minutes. “This mask not only smells delicious, but it dissolves impurities and dead skin cells while encouraging healthy skin renewal. A targeted blend of organic fruit enzymes, humectants, and antioxidants helps decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, hydrates, and refines the skin,” says aesthetician JoAnna Kopczyk. She will then extract black heads before performing a 15-minute face massage. (Not that you’ll remember this part—pretty much everyone falls asleep.) Next comes another revitalizing mask to firm and lift the skin, which sits on for 15 minutes, during which you are treated to a relaxing hand, arm, neck, décolleté and scalp massage. Cost: $105 for 60 minutes. Derma Glow Autumn Glow Pumpkin Facial, Derma Glow Spa and Boutique, North Salem, NY

Non-Surgical Hand Rejuvenation

It’s not your face that reveals your age—it’s your hands! Starting in your 40s (or even younger if you’re thin and exercise a lot) your hands begin to lose volume and look weathered. “Patients complain about tendons and veins looking more prominent,” says facial plastic surgeon Joelle Rogal, MD, of Cosmetic Surgery Associates of New York in Harrison. She uses a filler called Restylane Lyft (which was just FDA approved for use in the hands) to plump hands back up a bit, making them look younger and smoother. Here’s how it works: Rogal numbs you up between your fingers (this part stings a little), and then makes three needle pricks to create ports in which she threads a cannula to dispense the filler (a cannula is like a long needle with a blunt end and hollow middle). This allows her to direct the filler into the areas of your hands that need plumping and smoothing. After 20 minutes you’ll be to waving goodbye to your old lady hands! Results last for about a year. Cost: around $2,800. Cosmetic Surgery Associates of New York, Harrison, NY

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

fall beauty treatmentsA spattering of freckles can look charming and youthful with a summer tan, but once your bronze glow fades, you begin to see those spots for what they really are: sun damage. IPL involves shining a bright, hot light over the face (or other freckled area of the body) to target the melanin in the skin. “IPL is a highly effective light therapy for treating pigment from sun damage and age spots, as well as redness from rosacea and broken blood vessels,” says Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, of Modern Dermatology of Connecticut in Westport, CT. The treatment hurts a little (the laser feels like something snapping or pinching your skin) but only takes about 15 minutes per area. Freckles and other dark spots will get darker for up to a week and then flake off. (This process isn’t pretty so don’t plan any cocktail parties or Christmas card photo sessions for a few days post-treatment.) Cost: About $500 and more than one treatment may be necessary. Modern Dermatology of Connecticut, Westport, CT and Cosmetic Surgery Associates of New York in Harrison, NY

An Inside Look at 2019 Luxury Cars

Mercedes-Benz CLS

It’s that time, the seasons are changing, we’re in the last months of the year, and the newest cars for 2019 are making their debut on the scene. This is truly an exciting time in the auto industry, technology has reached new heights and the changes are remarkable. Whether you know every inch of the automotive world, or just enough to decide which car is right for you, technology has combined with modern luxury to create new models that have endless features to make driving safer, easier, and just plain cool.

Recently, we spent the day testing out one of these new models: The Mercedes-Benz CLS. One of the more popular cars here in the Northeast, the coupe meets sedan 13th generation model makes driving on the Cross County Parkway feel like a Sunday drive on an empty country road. (Full disclosure: I fall into the knowing just enough to decide which car is right for me category, so more technical detail can be found here).

Our day began by heading to the Inn at Pound Ridge for brunch, then off to the women’s finals of the US Open. The first thing you notice when you get into the CLS is the spaciousness—the clean strong lines of the coupe exterior do not translate to feeling cramped in the front or back seat. Visually, the interior details are beautiful in form, from the airplane-like vents, to the continuous instrument panel. But, like all Mercedes, function is at the heart of every vehicle they design, with safety and comfort being two of the main pillars.

Mercedes-Benz CLS

When you’re driving in the CLS, there are a few features that really stood out. The semi-autonomous features with sensors and cameras so you can set the speed, take your foot off the gas, and determine how many car lengths of distance you want between you and the car in front of you. The driver still needs to pay attention, but now you have the added technology working with you to predict and prevent potential dangers (it will start to break if a vehicle cuts in front closer than the length you’ve set), and make the driving experience that much more enjoyable.

Looking to stay awake on a longer trip (or late at night?)? There is a selection of ambient lighting you can choose from all designed to make you more alert. Then there’s the energizing comfort package—basically a spa on four wheels. There are different settings that will help you feel more refreshed by engaging a massage seat to relax your muscles that might be stiff from driving, controlling the temperature in the car, playing specific music, and even aromatherapy scents.

Mercedes-Benz CLS

While I tested the CLS, there are a variety of new models available out there, check them out here.

Fun Fact:

The first road trip, was taken by Bertha Benz in 1888 from Mannheim to Pforzheim. Three years after her husband had invented what would become the first automobile, she decided to take the arduous trip in the Patent-Motorwagen Model III to shorten the travel time and see how the car performed. The inspiration for the car was initially born out of purpose—to shorten travel times so people could travel to different areas in less time and with greater ease.

Other Luxury 2019 Models to Check Out:

2019 lexus es
2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

2019 lexus es
2019 Lexus ES

Local Food Trucks

local food trucks

Caffé Bon
Launched as a unique mobile espresso bar, the traveling coffee shop has ventured into manufacturing and distributing CIÒBON, their own gluten-free hot chocolate mix, as well as catering delicious food. Click here to learn more.

Dough Girls
This Greenwich, CT-based food truck makes their own dough, sauce, fresh mozzarella and seasonal toppings for individual wood fired pizzas, from the classic margarita to a sauce-less pie with mashed potato. Click here to learn more.

M&M Steaks
Specializing in Philly cheese steaks, this Fairfield, CT-based food truck satisfies every craving for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, with a side of French fries or tater tots. Click here to learn more. 

Rice and Beans
“From Mama’s kitchen to the palm of your hand,” this Danbury, CT-based food truck follows the timeless formula of rice and beans topped with meat or veggies and an irresistible scoop of guacamole. Click here to learn more.

Trumbull, CT

restaurants in trumbull

Bianco Rosso
A contemporary Italian restaurant with a compelling, diverse menu, including American and classic Italian dishes with a modern flair. Click here to learn more.

Rye Ridge, NY

restaurants in rye ridge ny

Started by three childhood friends, Cava celebrates the flavors of their families’ traditional Greek and Mediterranean cooking in a casual, modern setting. Click here to learn more.

Rye Brook, NY

restaurants in Rye Brook

Westchester Burger Co.
With four locations in Westchester and Fairfield counties, this burger joint encourages creativity and innovation with an extensive menu ranging from classic to specialty selections, plus a customer-selected “Burger of the Month” program. Click here to learn more.