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A big beautiful, bright house, so simple to build that you can do it by yourself – provided that you are willing to take on quite a bit of hard work - considerably less pricey than a conventional home, perfectly self-sustained in terms of electricity, heating and cooling, independently managing sewage treatment and even allowing for food production. This visionary and innovative concept is not the brainchild of some contemporary guru - it actually dates back to 1972, when the American architect Michael Reynolds built the ‘Thumb House’, his first sustainable home in Taos, New Mexico, entirely made of old beer and pop cans. In a way, the Thumb House was the debut of Earthship Biotecture, a company specializing in the design and construction of off-the-grid sustainable homes built with natural and upcycled materials and able to self-produce the energy required for home management. Over the last forty years, through ups and downs (the latter including Reynolds being stripped of his credentials by the State Architects Board of New Mexico), Earthship homes have crossed the boundaries of New Mexico to spread everywhere in the world thanks to supporters and fans who gave birth to an actual global ‘movement’ whose principles can be found in Reynolds’ books. In the meantime, the company’s customizable projects served as a practical guidance for the actual implementation of an apparent utopia: taking part in the evolution of the way humans live on this planet by evolving existing methods of living to respect and safeguard the planet. A gentle revolution, practically achieved home by home thanks to these passive solar homes with minimal to no reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels, constructed to use energy from the sun and rain water harvesting and built with simple techniques  and often upcycled materials such as old tires filled with sand, which are typically used for the walls. From the ‘Simple Survival Model’, affordable, safe and easy to build - and therefore also suitable for high-risk places or areas affected by natural disasters (Earthship has already launched and completed several projects in this regard) - up to the most complex and luxurious projects, you can either build your own Earthship home independently without specific skills - as shown by the story reported of this Canadian retired couple that built its own beautiful self-sufficient house – or request construction services. So how does it work? Earthship provides a complete list of designs that can be customized to include the modifications requested for permit obtainment, with construction drawings, building instructions and various books. To get an idea of what you might achieve, take a look at the amazing for-sale Earthship homes. The company also has a Biotecture Academy offering extensive training in Earthship design principles, construction methods and philosophy. Photo creditsCover image: an Earthship house in Taos, exterior, photo by Amzi Smith under CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseAn Earthship house in Taos, interior, photo by Amzi Smith under CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseThumb House: photo by David Hiser, U.S. National Archives and Records AdministrationA Brighton Earthship house: photo by Dominic Alves under CC BY 2.0 license  

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09.20.2016

The first floating hotel in Paris has opened its doors last June along the banks of the Seine. Moored at the foot of Austerlitz station and close to La Cité de la Mode et du Design, in a vibrant district which is undergoing a rapid transformation combining modernity and history, OFF is basically a floating barge with two rows of rooms (54 plus 4 suites) on two levels, a swanky bar on water offering cocktails and tapas, an interior path designed by Gérard Ronzatti, a plunge pool and a marina. Located between the Left and Right banks, with great views of the river and the play of light on the water through the huge windows, OFF has been conceived as a place offering its guests a unique experience, completed by a very accurate musical artistic direction including special playlists that give the tempo all day long, melting with the views like a taylor-made soundtrack with a very cinematic dimension. All seasons are good for stying at OFF: during the winter, the large windows will enable you to appreciate the river life while keeping warm inside, whereas in the summer you’ll be able to enjoy the 80 square-meter patio, the plunge pool and the marina. As fos the bar menu, the homemade signature cocktails and the wines are accompanied by a selection of tapas and bistronomic dishes based mostly on local products. Photos by Céline Demoux 

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09.19.2016

A beautiful purple flower that comes from Asia Minor, whose red stigmas give off a strong and enveloping aroma and tinge with yellow everything with which they come into contact. Saffron, from the Arabic word safran, is an ancient plant that reached Italy back in the thirteenth century thanks to a Dominican friar from Abruzzo. Today, Abruzzo, and more specifically the plateau of Navelli, in the province of L’Aquila, is still is one of the major production centers for saffron in Italy. A PDO-tagged product since 2005, L’Aquila’s prestigious saffron comes from the flowers grown and harvested on the plateau, from which the stigmas are removed, placed on a sieve and toasted on slightly moldering almond or oak wood cinders, and finally ground up. It takes about 200,000 flowers to produce one kilo of saffron, hence the high price of this precious spice. In the typical cuisine from Abruzzo, saffron is mainly used for flavoring and coloring fish and shellfish in traditional dishes such as scapece alla vastese, an ancient dish based on dogfish, intingolo all'aquilana, a mixture of beef marrow, saffron, eggs, cream and butter, and as a sauce with the classic saffron mussels enriched with parsley, onion, bay leaf, white wine and olive oil. Here is a small list of PDO L’Aquila saffron producers:Peltuinum Antica Azienda AgricolaVia Peltuino, 19, Prata D'Ansidonia (AQ)Azienda Agricola Castel CamponeschiVia Savini 27, L'AquilaAzienda Agricola Alessandro ZugaroPiazza della Concezione, Paganica (AQ)Azienda Agricola Papaoli AlfonsoVia Spiagge Piccole, 2, Navelli (AQ)  

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Headquartered in Adachi, Tokyo, Namiki Precision Jewel Co.,Ltd. started out as a manufacturer of synthetic sapphire jewel bearings for electrical measuring instruments. In 1983 the company pioneered the world’s smallest vibrating alert component, with a 10mm-diameter motor. In the wake of the IT revolution, Namiki became the most relied-upon suppliers of components for a great deal of computer makers worldwide. 

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09.15.2016

A short break and at an unusual time of the year, the wish to disconnect from everything and everyone, a desire for unforgettable experiences. There are many reasons that can push us to travel solo and redefine ourselves beyond the reassuring borders of our familiar surroundings for a few days or a few weeks. Some call it alternative travelling, yet it is actually about being free to create your own vacation, to explore new destinations, new lifestyles, and to be a a temporary new version of yourselfOn a scenic trainIf you too are of the opinion that there is no better way to enjoy the beauty of the trip, the landscapes and the passage of time that traveling by train, it's time to hop on a scenic train. Try the vintage British-built B Class steam locomotive that rides along the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connecting New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling in India. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this short path of 80 km inaugurated in 1881 is famous for its vertical drop: it starts from 100 meters above sea level and gets to an impressive 2,200 meters, allowing you to admire the snowy peaks on the way. Yoga ... in IbizaWho would have thought that Ibiza is the perfect destination for Yoga lovers? Mostly known for its wild nightlife, the island has actually much more to offer than its world-known  clubs, DJ sets and foam parties. Between Es Cubells and Cala Carbó, for example, Yoga and meditation enthusiasts gather every summer at the many Yoga centers such as Hot Yoga Ibiza, and there are tour operators specializing in (inner) wellness travel. Getting to know your truest self, step after stepRemember Wild, the film based on a true story in which the protagonist crosses the United States from north to south in a journey if self-discovery? In a way, it truly captured the spirit of the increasing number of solo walkers who follow classic tracks such as the Camino de Santiago in Spain or engage in solitary walking tours along other paths across the world to face a truly fatiguing physical and psychological challenge that will hopefully bring them to some kind of enlightenment. Spend it like KerouacJack Kerouac spent the summer of 1956 in a fire lookout tower in Washington Desolation Peak. Hard to tell if he wrote some of his most remarkable pages during the 63 days spent on the top of the tower, but surely it must have been quite an experience. Today, after decades of neglect due to new technologies which have made them almost useless, some of these towers have been restored and are available for rent to individuals, for short and alternative holidays. The Forest Fire Lookout Association provides a list of the towers for rent, which can often be reserved at a bargain. Fire lookout tower: photo by Signal Minor under CC BY 2.0 license 

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09.13.2016

We all claim to love Mexican cuisine and yet our experience is often limited to world-famous dishes such as tacos and guacamole, and we do not realize how many surprises the flavors, the aromas and the textures of this rich and varied culinary traditions can offer. A triumph of intense flavors, spices and colorful decorations where Aztec and Maya traditions meet the Spanish cuisine of the Conquistadores, the local gastronomy is mostly based on  corn, which is used in many dishes including the famous tortillas, similar to crepes stuffed with meat, peppers, beans, cheese and more. Beans are another regular feature of Mexican cuisine served as a side dish to pork and chicken or accompanied by rice. The cuisine from the Oaxaca region is one of the most famous in Mexico; among its specialities are mole, a thick sauce made of peppers, dried fruits, spices and chocolate, tlayudas, corn tortillas accompanied by typical regional ingredients, and grasshoppers seasoned with salt, garlic and other spices. San Miguel de Allende is yet another not-to-be-missed foodie destination, renowned for its top-notch traditional gastronomy and its amazing food markets. Fragrant and spicy, Yucatecan cuisine delights the palate with the unique flavors of this region, combining many of the elements used by traditional Mayan cuisine - corn, chocolate, wild turkey, pumpkin, peppers and tomatoes - with European ingredients like pork, oranges imported from Spain and Edam, a traditional Dutch cheese. One of the most interesting dishes and perhaps the least known of traditional Mexican cuisine is chiles en nogada, which is served in every home across the country on Independence Day, September 16. Its origins are lost in myth: legend has it that some nuns of the order of Santa Clara invented a dish to honor the arrival of Agustín de Iturbide, the first Emperor of independent Mexico, in the city of Puebla and the tricolor flag, which inspired the main ingredients of the recipe: green chiles poblanos, white walnuts and red pomegranate sauce. Each family believes to be in possession of the secret receta of this unusual and surprising dish, whose sensual goodness lies in the filling of ground beef mixed with fresh and dried fruits, almonds and spices, all bathed in a sauce of minced Castilla nuts, almonds, milk and Marsala.To taste an excellent chiles en nogada, head to Hosterìa Santo Domingo in Mexico City, a historic and renowned - but not too touristy - restaurant where this specialty is served all year round. La casa de las Sirenas is another excellent address in Mexico City, a central restaurant housed in a 17th century building where you can sample alta cocina mexicana in a lovely atmosphere, enjoying a nice view of some of the city’s major sights from the terrace. A few blocks away from the Frida Kahlo Museum, Los Danzantes is a perfect restaurant to sample regional Mexican cuisine made with local, seasonal ingredients, including insect-based dishes such as the famous empanadas de escamoles (stuffed with edible larvae) of Coyoacan. We also recommend a taste of tamales, a typical dish made of corn dough stuffed with meat, wrapped in corn leaves, and steamed cooked. Finally, to get to know the Mexican food culture you must try at least once the ritual of breakfast or desayuno, which is often a synonym for chilaquiles, a super-energetic of tortillas, tomato sauce, chicken, onions, cheese, and sometimes eggs too. In Mexico City, it can be enjoyed at Cafè El Popular, a tiny and crowded bistro in the old town. Photo creditsChiles en nogada: photo by Madeleine Ball under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseTamales: photo by Diana Ponce Navarrete under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license 

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09.13.2016

'Kobe Beef' is a general term for the beef from the Tajima strain of the Japanese Black cattle, raised in the Prefecture of Hyōgo. The place of origin of the cattle is one of the criteria that need to be met in order to get a Tajima Beef designation. Other criteria include the males having being castrated and the females being heifers – not having given birth. But the most distinctive trait of the meat is its fatty, well-marbled texture. A Japanese chrysanthemum mark is stamped on the beef that has been officially certified as Kobe beef. What you see in the West labelled as Wagyū is something else. Outside Japan, the beef only needs to have 50% Japanese DNA to be labelled as Wagyū. In Japan “Wagyū” is used only for the cattle raised in the country, and each variety of Wagyū bears a different name. Oi NikutenEstablished in 1887, it is long-standing meat shop and a restaurant. The butchery is on the ground floor. You can taste the carefully selected meats in the steak-house and the shabu-shabu restaurant on the upper floors. Kisshokichi HontenHere you can have premium Kobe beef at a reasonable price, with no need to share. The menu offers a wide array of steaks and beef sushi. Ohta YaThis yakiniku restaurant is run directly by the Ohta Ranch. The meat is served grilled. You can savour it in the fashion of your choosing: spare ribs, steaks or offal. The yakiniku style will leave the delicious flavour of the Kobe beef intact. 

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09.08.2016

Along with renowned Maximilian-, Ludwig and Prinzregentenstraße, Brienner Straße is part of the network of luxury shopping streets in the city of Munich, as remarkable as its more dazzling ‘sisters’ despite its shy and unassuming nature. And perhaps it is precisely its understated beauty that makes this street so unique - the perfect destination for those who love to go shopping without neglecting the history of the city. Since the eighteenth century, the Wittelsbachs, who led the Kingdom of Bavaria for more than 700 years, could count on a wide main road about 5 km long and bordered by a graceful row of linden trees that led from the heart of Munich’s current “old town” to their beautiful summer residence, the Nymphenburg Palace. So in a sense the designation of Brienner Straße as Fürstenweg, i.e. "street of the princes” or "main street", was written in the stars, as was its elevation to the rank of Prachtstraße, a fashionable street where real life happened between strolling ladies and merchants, a place still that has stories to tell. For anybody visiting Munich, it is definitely worth taking some time to follow in the footsteps of the royals, retracing the main stops along the route once travelled by their beautiful horse-drawn carriages. Königsplatz - The King’s Square Iconic, austere and unique: in heart of Maxvorstadt, the extraordinary Königsplatz went through plenty of changes before gaining its reputation as one of the world’s most impressive squares. Originally designed by famous architect Leo von Klenze in 1814, it is framed on three sides by Neoclassical-style buildings: the Propylaea (the west city gate of the "Athens on the Isar river", as King Ludwig I renamed the capital of Bavaria), the Glyptotek (a collection of Greek and Roman sculpture masterpieces) and the Staatliche Antikensammlungen (National Collections of Antiquities). In summer, the huge square struggles out of its austere clothes and turns into an open-air stage for outdoor concerts. Karolinenplatz - A Book Lover’s DestinationNamed after Friederike Wilhelmine Karoline von Baden, the first queen of Bavaria (1806), this nice square can be reached by leaving Königsplatz behind and crossing Arcisstraße. Dominated by a 29-meter high memorial stone built out of molten guns from the Napoleonic Wars, Karolinenplatz is at the intersection of radial roads and surrounded by several historic buildings. Among them is the renovated Baroque Freyberg-Palais (5, Briennerstrasse), owned in the late nineteenth century by German publisher Hugo Bruckmann and his wife Else, who used to host major personalities of the literary scene such as Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Rainer Maria Rilke. Wittelsbacherplatz - Where Art FlourishesBacked by a good dose of tenacity and curiosity, you will certainly not be disappointed by the look of Wittelsbacherplatz; before treading its cobblestones, though, cross the Square for the Victims of National Socialism, recognizable by Andreas Sobeck’s memorial to the victims of Nazi violence, featuring an eternal flame in a cage, and stop at Cafe Luitpold. The latter, ranked among the three most important literary gatherings in Europe between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, is still the main point of interest of Luitpoldblock, the first commercial building outside the city walls. A little further on you will eventually find Wittelsbacherplatz, which prides itself on being one of the most remarkable squares of the “luminous” Munich, as Thomas Mann described the city. Once there, slowly wander through the craft shops, the art galleries, the famous porcelain workshops and boutiques under the gaze of the equestrian statue depicting Maximilian I. Right here, in an area that is devoted entirely to art according to the motto “Mode raus, rein Kunst” ("fashion out, art in") and that over time has become one of the most exclusive shopping districts in the Bavarian capital, the brand new Slowear store has opened its doors combining fashion and art in a genuine embrace of beauty. Photo creditsGlyptotek in Königsplatz – photo by High Contrast under the CC BY 3.0 DE licenseKarolineplatz – photo by Benson.by under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseWittelsbacherplatz – photo by Florian Adler under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseLuitpoldblock – photo by Luitpoldblock under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license  

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09.06.2016

Among the eight and a half million New Yorkers are some who decided to elevate their passions and hobbies to the status of art, no matter how bizarre. The result is a bunch of truly unique tiny museums devoted to small portions of contemporary culture, some of which are more remarkable than you would expect. MmuseummA former freight elevator and a storefront window are the chosen locations for the two tiny Mmuseumms (1 & 2) in TriBeCa, founded by Alex Kalman and his mother, artist Maira Kalman, and housing annually changing arrays of objects that seem to draw a natural history of post-modernity. Here, objects that are apparently insignificant become momentous because they ‘belong’ to crucial episodes or prominent situations. From the shoe that someone threw at George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad in 2008 to a set of fake IDs or a collection of watches once owned by Saddam Hussein, these museums invites all visitors to join in a surprisingly consistent journey through our time – regardless of the authenticity of the exhibits. Torah Animal WorldIn Williamsburg, hipsters live side by side with a huge Jewish which offers quite a few pleasant surprises, including this somewhat creepy museum (now split into two branches) collecting stuffed animals from the Torah, the Bible and the Talmud. This antique taxidermy collection has been put together in order to help children understand better the metaphors and analogies from the sacred texts, yet it has become very popular amond adults as well. American Gangster MuseumOn St.Mark's Place, in the East Village, is a door leading straight into the roaring Twenties, among a Prohibition-era speakeasy, old photographs and paraphernalia from the history of organized crime in the USA. A veritable time travel teaching visitors everthing about Prohibition, Women and Temperance, and the early roots of the criminal underworld. Troll MuseumOn the 6th floor of a Lower East Side building, in the apartment of self-proclaimed trollogist and elf Reverend Jen is the most psychedelic museum ever, an exhibition of vintage troll dolls on a backdrop of colorful walls that seem to come from a Timothy Leary experiment. With the help of her chihuahua dog assistant, Jen will illustrate her weird collection and invite you into her surreal world. Treasures in the Trash MuseumOur trash bins can tell a lot about the way we live and eat. Over 30 years ago, a now-retired DSNY (City of New York Department of Sanitation) employee started collecting, cataloguing and rearranging the most remarkable items thrown away by New Yorkers, giving birth to a unique exhibition housed in a warehouse floor in East Harlem known as The Treasures in the Trash Museum. To access, schedule a visit by emailing the NYC Department of Sanitation

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Are you afraid of needles? Fear no more. Japanese company Terumo devised a needle as thin as a mosquito’s proboscis, causing considerably less pain than a mosquito bite. A blessing for needle-phobic patients all over the world, NanoPass Pen Needles were actually created by Okano, a small-scale company headquartered in Sumida, Shitamachi, Tokyo. Unlike standard syringes, the NanoPass Needle is a stainless steel cylinder 20mm long, with a gauge of a maximum 0.25mm. That means it cannot be more painful than a mosquito bite. Its main use is insulin injections for diabetics, fast, easy and painless. This innovation won NanoPass Needle a Good Design Award from the Japanese Industrial Design Promotion Company in 2005. Okano Industrial Corporation is currently developing a extra-thin battery case for hybrid cars. 

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09.02.2016

Over the last few years, East London has become some sort of a new food mecca, and anyone willing to find out about what’s new and amazing on the London restaurant scene should definitely take a look around there. A couple of years ago, a very special addition joined the many exciting addresses of the Betnal Green area – the Typing Room, a.k.a. the new restaurant of Town Hall Hotel, in the 1910 Edwardian-style former Bethnal Green Town Hall. Once the Town Hall’s typing pool in which all communications from the mayoral, council and judicial system were put to ink, the restaurant is now the chic realm of executive chef Lee Westcott, who created his innovative Nordic-inspired dishes with fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. The result is a pure, natural and honest cuisine with a touch of sophistication, perfectly matching the sleek and yet laid-back ambience of the East London restaurant where meals are consumed among polished marble-topped tables, parquet floors, charcoal-grey walls and an open kitchen. The service, while apparently informal (waiters wear jeans and Oxford shirts), is thoroughly attentive and professional. As for the food, the menu opens with a set of ‘snacks’ that set the ground for the meal with small but intense flavor combinations, whereas the main dishes (à la carte or in a tasting menu) are built around very unique taste combinations – “Isle of Wight tomatoes, chamomile, ricotta & almond”, “Yeasted cauliflower, raisins, capers & mint”, “Smoked eel, chicken, radish & bread consomme”... To top up this incredible explosion of flavors, go for a deliciously traditional cheese selection accompanied by spiced pear chutney and bread.  

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When it comes to technology, Japan has jewels in the crown aplenty, some very well known, others enjoying quiet success on an international level, as is the case with the high-quality whistles made by Nodakakuseisha – kakusei literally means “crane’s voice”. Everyone gets extremely excited on such an occasion as the FIFA World Cup. No matter how loud the sound of cheers or vuvuzelas, the voice of a Nodakakuseisha whistle will carry over the stadium, to be heard clear and clean as a whistle throughout the venue. From the 1982 tournament on, the whistles officially adopted by FIFA have been made by this small company based in Tokyo. Established in 1919, Nodakakuseisha originally produced musical toys, such as harmonicas, glockenspiels and accordions. However, at the request of New York buyers, the company began to manufacture referee whistles in 1968. From that moment, Nodakakuseisha whistles began to be exported to the United States for educational, military and law enforcement purposes. In 1973 they made their first appearance at the Cologne FSB Trade Fair for Sports. Nodakakuseisha’s high quality has been widely recognises ever since, from the Americas to Europe and the Middle East, with more than 15m pieces sold to 45 countries. Nodakakuseisha also supplies the Paris Metropolitan Police and the NATO troops. It is fundamental for a whistle to be heard over the din or from a distance. Nodakakuseisha makes whistles for any purpose: high-pitched whistles for sports like soccer and volleyball, mid-range whistles for stationmasters and police officers and, finally, low-range whistles for rugby. 

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08.30.2016

Summer is the perfect season for new and pleasant discoveries. This year, we’d like to take you on a journey through the diverse tastes of Italian cuisine, stopping in each and every one of its 20 regions to try local products, unique delicacies and traditional dishes. A ‘poor’ and simple but very tasty dish - especially suitable for the hottest months of the year - the panzanella is a zero-waste recipe born in the Tuscan homes as a clever way to recycle bread leftovers from the previous days. The name comes from pane, bread, and zanella, bowl, and it is derived from the custom of Tuscan farmers to wet the dry bread and mix it with garden vegetables in a salad bowl. And indeed its basic ingredient is just the stale bread, which in combination with the vegetables turns into a delicious dish that can be preserved for a couple of days or more. To prepare a great panzanella, therefore, do not buy freshly-baked bread but use the stale one instead, and let it soak in water and raw red onion (possibly previously left to soak in water and vinegar) for about half an hour. In the meantime, slice the tomatoes to and season them with oil and salt to make them drench properly. Finally, mix bread and tomatoes and add fresh basil. To enrich the recipe, use your creativity and the ingredients at your disposal - vegetables, herbs, or spices. Here are a few addresses where you can taste the authentic panzanella in the heart of beautiful Florence:La PanzanellaVia dei Cappuccini, 10Hostaria del BriccoVia San Niccolò, 8Osteria del PorcellinoVia Val di Lamona, 7 Photo by Heather Katsoulis via Wikipedia under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license  

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08.25.2016

Summer is the perfect season for new and pleasant discoveries. This year, we’d like to take you on a journey through the diverse tastes of Italian cuisine, stopping in each and every one of its 20 regions to try local products, unique delicacies and traditional dishes. Apples, pine nuts, raisins and cinnamon rolled inside a simple dough of flour, water and oil. Strudel is a simple and delicious type of layered pastry which is typical of the Trentino Alto Adige region in Italy, yet it is quite widespread in Northern Europe and particularly in Austria as well. A variation of the Turkish baklava cake, it dates back to Assyrian times  and it was brought to Europe by Suktan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century.Today, the strudel comes in many different sweet and salted variations according to local ingredients and traditions, for instance it can be filled with pears, apricots and mixed berries. Yet the most popular version is the one with sweet apple-based filling, also known as Apfelstrudel, which in the case of Trentino Alto Adige is usually made with apples of the sweet Golden quality. The best way to find a delicious strudel is to buy it from one of the local bakeries, confectioneries and cafés.Here’s a small list of good places:Caffè Pasticceria RomaPiazza Santa Maria Assunta, 3, Malè (TR)StrudelStubeVia Bottai, BolzanoCafè Pasticceria KönigCorso Libertà, 168, Merano (BZ) Photo by Petr Novák under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license via Wikipedia 

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08.22.2016

San Miguel de AllendeIn the state of Guanajuato, some 270 kilometers away from Mexico City, this beautiful city designated a World Heritage by UNESCO sits at 1,910 meters above sea level along the old ruta de la plata, the Silver Route that used to run from from Zacatecas to Mexico City. San Miguel has a perfectly preserved old town dating back to the 17th and 18th century, with narrow cobbled streets climbing the mountain, boulevards lined with trees, Baroque churches and historic palaces. This quiet town is perfect for a nice walk, and art enthusiasts will love it because of its many artist’s workshops and galleriesPueblaThis crowded city in central Mexico was founded in 1531 by the Spanish in the heart of a fertile valley surrounded by some of the country’s tallest volcanoes, including Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. It mostly owes its fame to the 1862 Battle of Puebla, when the French army attempted at conquering the city only to be defeated by the Spanish army with the help of the local population in what resulted as one of the most epic military exploit in Mexican history. The center, which surrounds the Zócalo (Mexican for ‘central square’), has plenty of colonial-style buildings. Among the city’s most remarkable sights are the Baroque Catedral de Puebla, the Templo de San Cristobal, the Palacio Municipal, the Templo de San Francisco, and the Salón de protocolos del Gobierno del Estado de Puebla. Yet Puebla is also a great foodie destination: its regional cuisine is deemed one of the best in Mexico, so be sure not to miss the local mole, a tasty and hot chocolate sauce with cinnamon, nuts and chillies. San Cristóbal de Las Casas In a valley surrounded by the mountains of Chiapas, in southern Messico, San Cristóbal is an ancient city where plenty of native ethnic groups of Mayan descent still live, a local language is spoken besides Spanish and people usually wear traditional costumes. San Cristóbal is also one of the best preserved colonial cities in the country, with old districts where various traditional arts and crafts like wood sculpture, carpentry or wrought iron working are still practiced. To get to know the city, adjust to its slow and ancient pace, strolling along the streets lined with colorful houses and noisy markets and savouring the pleasantly bohémian atmosphere that attracts backpackers and foreign tourists from all over the world. OaxacaThis warm and welcoming city is extremely rich in culture and history. A few miles away from it lies the archaeological site of Monte Albán, which used to be the major military and religious settling in the valley of Oaxaca, the ancient city which lived its golden era between the 6th century B.C. and the 9th century A.C. The site is so well preserved that you’ll feel like travelling back in time, and besides the view from atop Monte Albán is absolutely stunning. Modern Oaxaca owes most of its beauty to the colonial heritage; the main square is surrounded by the Cathedral and a bunch of exquisitely restored 16th century buildings turned into hotels, restaurants, galleries and museums. Yet it is in the markets that you’ll experience the most authentic soul of the city, tasting artisan chocolate, mole and chapulines, i.e. grasshoppers, which are possibly the most popular snack around here. Another must-try is the local mezcal, a distilled alcoholic beverage which is pretty similar to tequila, considered one of the best in Mexico. TaxcoThis small town in the northern part of Guerrero clinging to a high hill surrounded by mountains was once rich and famous due to its silver mines, and artisan silver workshop selling fine local jewels are still everywhere along its steep, narrow alleys leading to pictoresque squares. Scattered with historic palaces, a heritage of the New Spain period, Taxco  is surrounded by a beautiful landscape and blessed with amazing natural colors, to the point that it was awarded the title of Pueblo Mágico, reserved by the Mexican Governement to its most tourist-friendly destinations. The city is also famous for its ‘exotic’ cuisine, and particularly for the use of beetles (jumiles) for taco filling or as the main ingredient for dishes accompanied by mole sauce. Photo credits:San Miguel de AllendePhoto by Jiuguang Wang under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseCatedral de PueblaPhoto by Diego Delso under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseSan Cristobal de Las CasasPhoto by lllillji.koo under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseOaxacaPhoto by João Sousa under the GNU Free Documentation licenseTaxcoPhoto by Carlos Adampol Galindo under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license  

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08.18.2016

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08.17.2016

There comes a time when you just want to get away from the strain of everyday life and immerse yourself in nature. Popular destinations are not the best choice if you’re aiming to avoid the crowds. However, from Hokkaidō all through the Japanese Alps, the country is scattered with sweet escapes whose main attractions are the starry skies they stretch against and the lush woods surrounding them. Memu Earth HotelOpened this summer in the midst of the vast pastures of Obihiro, Tokachi, Memu Earth Hotel is composed of tents, with no ceilings or walls, offering luxury bedding in a quasi-campsite setting. You can take a shower in the facilities designed by Kengo Kuma’s studio, one of Japan’s leading architects, enjoy the delicacies Chef Yūji Tani will prepare for you using local products, and relax gazing at the stars while having a drink by the bonfire. Nonokaze ResortThe hotel is located in Tōyako, Hokkaidō and all the rooms overlook Lake Tōya. That means you can enjoy the sunrise and sunset, as well as the starry nights and nature’s ever-changing colors. You can take a swim in the lake, relax at the spa or dip in a bedrock bath. You can also reserve a private openair bath, where you can dip and unwind, enjoying the view of the night sky. When you’re finished, have a seat and savour the French and sheer Japanese treats. Yatsugatake Grace HotelThe hotel is located in Minamimaki, a village in the prefecture of Nagano, elected the third best stargazing spot in Japan, which is no surprise since the screen is the night sky above the Yatsugatake Mountain Range, where the air is clear and all luminous interferences absent. After eating in an exquisitely traditional dining room, you can borrow a telescope and enjoy the amazing view of the stars and meteor showers, with a person guiding you through the vault of the heavens. 

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Omron Sleep MeterThe new Sleep Meter HSL-101 developed by Omron is a stylish device that records the information of your sleep by means of a radio wave detector, when placed on the bedside table. All you have to do is press the “Good Night” button before going to sleep to get the detector started, and then “Show/Wake Up” when you rise. All the information on displayed, how many hours you have slept or how often you have wakened up during the nightASICS Running WatchesThis watch will keep track of the distance and heart rate while you’re running, with a sensor strapped to your chest. If you set your data and gender, you will find the best training for youBody Fat MeterTanita has created a revolutionary device that measures the thickness of the subcutaneous fat in the belly area. Style Leader SR-901 will display five levels of fat: “0.1 cm”, “up to 0.4 cm”, “up to 1.4 cm”, “up to 2.9 cm”, “over 3 cm”. This device will inspire you to lose the extra fat and sculpt your absKETTO, A Glucometer That Needs No PrickingGlucose is commonly measured by taking blood samples, usually pricking your finger. Easy to use and beautifully designed, KETTO will tell you how much sugar you have in your blood within 60 seconds, with no needles and absolutely no pain. The results will be sent to your smartphone or to your cloud. Inner Scan Dual Body MeterTanita has also created a breakthrough device that allows you to check on the condition of your muscle fibers. Working on two frequencies, Tanita Body Meter will give you precise information about the volume and condition of your muscles. It comes in a stylish design and supports Bluetooth.

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08.15.2016

Discovering a country also means learnig about its cuisine, peeping inside the kitchens of its best restaurants and becoming familiar with the taste of its traditional food. This is truer than ever in France, a country whose identity is inestricably linked with the bon vivre philosophy and which boasts one of the world’s most prestigious cuisines. Away from sparkling Paris, where all the best food from France can be easily found, are the rural regions that give birth to such delicacies. Here, food can tell a lot about the climate, the history, and often about he future of these places. Normandy and the Valleée d'AugeIn a landscape of rolling hills, green pastures, farms and orchards, traditional cuisine is obviously based on meats and cheeses - and of course hard cider. The Vallée d'Auge, not far from the city of Caen, is an extraordinary foodie destinations where hospitality is experienced at its best in the small bed and breakfasts like Les Petis Matins Bleus, where you’ll be able to enjoy a weekend-long cooking class focusing on local cuisine. Guilvinec, BretagneClinging to a promontory overlooking the Atlantic ocean, the village of Guilvinec is the largest ancient port of France, where everything revolves around the daily coming and going of the boats to and from the ocean and the restaurants serve amazing and accurately cooked fresh fish. To fully enjoy the atmosphere, take part in a fishing section or learn about fishing techniques from the fishermen at the harborProvence and the Cadière d'AzurA we get closer to the Mediterranean sea, the local cuisine becomes more and more sophisticated and bumping into a starred restaurant is almost unavoidable. If you are looking for an exceptional experience, let starred chef René Bérard be your host at Hostellerie Bérard, in one of the most pictoresque villages of the Provençal hinterland east of Marseilles, La Cadière d'Azur. Sample the chef’s prestigious cuisine or sign in for a one-week intensive cooking workshop including visits to the local markets to learn about ingredients and communal dinners on the hotel’s terrace to savour your own masterpieces.  Saulieu, BourgogneBourgogne is a crucial contributor to French cuisine, because this is where a lot of the milk for its fabulous cheeses comes from – and grazing cows are literally everywhere you look. Local cheese Epoisses, with its pungently meaty, earthy, salty and nutty flavor, is definitely a must-try. As for restaurants and hospitality, the options are endless; our recommendation goes to the luxurious Bernard Loiseau di Saulieu, in the Morvan Regional Natural Park. Mont Ventoux, ProvenceVisiting Provence without trying its wines would be pure madness. Grape Escapes offers wine tours including trips to Mont Ventoux and the vineyard village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, not far from Avignone. Each day ot the tour is devoted to the the discovery of the vineyards and the local wines through wine tastings, and the nights are spent in Mazan at the former residence of the Marquis de Sade, an ancient castle which has been turned into a gorgeous hotel. Photo credits:Architecture in the Pays D’AugePhoto by Cicero under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseEpoisse cheese from BourgognePhoto by Coyau under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseCover photo: Noah Baslé via unsplash  

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08.11.2016

Summer is the perfect season for new and pleasant discoveries. This year, we’d like to take you on a journey through the diverse tastes of Italian cuisine, stopping in each and every one of its 20 regions to try local products, unique delicacies and traditional dishes. The radicchio di Treviso is a kind of crispy and bitterish chicory that has been cultivated in the area ever since the 16th century, with deep-red leaves and white streaks. It grows all through the winter mainly in Treviso and Castelfranco, and it comes in two variations: the radicchio precoce (early radicchio), less valuable and more bitter, and radicchio tardivo (late radicchio), deemed superior and distinguished by long, tapering purplish red leaves and a central white rib. Usually a basic ingredient of the delicious risotto al radicchio trevigiano, it is also a great anti-aging remedy rich in antioxidants, vitamin A and B2, it has excellent antinflammatory  properties, and very few calories. The Consorzio Tutela Radicchio Rosso di Treviso IGP e Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco IGP recommends puchasing radicchio from the following growers:Soc. Agricola Dotto GiovanniStrada Torre D’Orlando, 8, Torre D’Orlando (TV)Biofattoria MurialdoVia Cal di Breda, 67, TrevisoDotto PaoloVia Aereoporto, 7, TrevisoCooperativa Soc. AlternativaVia Cardinal Callegari, 32, Carbonera (TV)Graziotto OrnellaVia Postumia, 8, Ponzano Veneto (TV)Azienda Agricola Nonno AndreaVia Campagnola, 72, Villorba (TV)Soc. Agricola Biodinamica San Michele s.s.Via Bovon, 28, Case Scarabello (TV)Bellia ClaudioVia Tito Speri, 98, Bragato (VE) Photo by Zetagroup under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

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08.10.2016

Creative Director at United Arrows, the leading Japanese group featuring select shops throughout the country, Yasuto Kamoshita is one of the most known buyers of Japan’s fashion industry, and he was even awarded the prestigious Premio Pitti Immagine Uomo in 2013. We had a pleasant chat with Mr. Kamoshita about life, work and his vision of the Slowear brands. SJ: What do you like the most about your job?YK: I like my job for different reasons. I like making things, meeting creative people and finding new inspirations. I like seeing new places all around the globe. And I’m happy when people are happy with my creations. SJ: Among all the people you’ve met so far, who do you think had a great influence on you? Is there any episode you want to share?YK: Without any doubt, my life had a turning point when I started attending the school of Fine Arts, aiming to become a painter. I met a guy who was to become one of my closest friends. Unfortunately, he passed away. But believe me, his drawing skills were just flabbergasting. I strived to do better than him in the design class, but I was hopeless. I wasn’t bad, but talent is talent. Either you have it or you don’t. I couldn’t compete with my friend. Then I understood I had better give up the path of fine arts and pursue other avenues. SK: Besides your work and career, what do you think is important in life?YK: My motto is, everything you do in life, enjoy it to the fullest. SJ: Please tell us about your encounter with Slowear.YK: I’ve had ties with Incotex for 25 years, so I followed the Slowear re-branding every step of the way. I loved the re-naming immediately. A new wind is blowing in Italian fashion – I thought. SJ: When you’re on a business trip, what do you do in your spare time?YK: I have very little time to spare, if I’m on business. But if all the work has been done, I like to sit in my favourite café and relax. I love to listen to the sound of music, people and tableware filling the air. SJ: You’ve travelled quite a lot now. Is there any place you would like to recommend?YK: Kanazawa, on the Sea of Japan. Since we opened a United Arrows shop earlier this year, I’ve had to opportunity to go there time and again. There’s something exquisitely old-fashioned in the air, due to a large number of traditional houses still in existence. The Sea of Japan caters fish with a rich, firm, juicy flesh. No wonder the quality of the food in Kanazawa is unexcelled. Furthermore, there are so many interesting cultural events happening at the 21st Century Museum. And it’s so close to Tokyo! SJ: How do you put the slow living philosophy into practice?YJ: I don’t. My work and private life are just so hectic, day in day out. Could anyone please tell me if there’s a way I can create time? SJ: What are your recommendations for a person visiting Tokyo for the first time?YK: Personally, I like the local areas. In Tokyo, I would recommend a walk around places such as Nakano or Kōenji. Shōin Shrine is an enchanting spot where you can observe people in their everyday life. The Japanese Folk Crafts Museum is also very nice, because you can experience the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship first hand. 

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08.08.2016

Intellectuals, children, families and teachers: the Grimmwelt Museum in Kassel appeals to everyone while reaffirming the crucial role of this city, already home to the Documenta modern and contemporary art exhibition, in defining the core values of German culture. Grimmwelt (literally “Grimm world”) is a celebration of the work and the ideas of the Grimm brothers well beyond their world-famous fairy tales – from Cinderella to Little Red Riding Hood, from Rapunzel to Hänsel and Gretel, to mention a few – which unveils comparatively unknown details about these figures. The Grimm brothers were in fact also successful philologists and linguists, as well as the authors of the 33-volume first German Dictionary, one of the pillars of modern German language along with Martin Luther’s translation of the Holy Bible. The museum has been conceived as an experience that plunges visitors into German culture offering different levels of understanding from linguistics to history and tales, in a lively and uninterrupted exchange between high and popular culture, enriched by interactive games and playing spaces that manage to involve even the youngest visitors. After all, it was by drawing inspiration from different branches of knowledge and by mixing popular culture and sophisticated notions that the Grimm brothers managed to create their legendary tales, collecting traditional stories in their oral form among common people and tuning them into written works. The wide range of topics, arranged as a sequence of words simulating a dictionary, highlights the non-conventional conception of this unique exhibiting space that invites everyone to build their own links among the many ideas presented in the museum, read between the lines and discover the history and the values of a nation betwen an adventure and an happy ending. 

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08.04.2016