Venice: Inside Il Palazzo

Reggie Nadelson discovers a ravishing boutique hotel Seated in a white leather armchair in her boat, the Phoenix, Francesca Bortolotto Possati looks out at the canal as the wind whips around her. A long-limbed blonde wrapped in a camelhair coat, she has an utterly Venetian face; her large blue eyes look a little dreamy, a little languid, as her driver pulls away from the dock. Behind those eyes, though, is a businesswoman who, like many others in this town past and present, thrives on a mixture …[Read more]

If I were a carpenter…

Did you ever notice how books breed? It’s a well-known fact that when you’re re-doing your bookcases – with me, that means once every 18 years – the books seem, overnight, to reproduce. Books have babies. Old books, even. Young books also produce offspring, often bigger than themselves. I don’t know how this happens. The only solution is to employ a really great carpenter who understands the problem of the book boom. I have one. And I’m keeping him against the odds, because he …[Read more]

Hawaiian Fish Tales

In seafood shacks, at gourmet tables, and especially during a stomach-defying live-fish auction, Reggie Nadelson discovers the true—and a new—Hawaii. It's 5 a.m. at Honolulu's fish auction, and I'm eyeballing a quivering Hawaiian opah, a pink and silver moonfish, round and flat as a plate. Nelson Aberilla, a quality-control manager at the auction, cuts the tail off a tuna, sticks in his hand, pulls out some flesh, squishes it in his fingers: Is it firm enough? Fatty enough? He offers me a fistful. …[Read more]

Mastering the Art of Cake Decorating

For her latest culinary escapade, pays a visit to Ron Ben-Israel for tips on crafting a dessert almost too pretty to eat. "Elton John’s people just called and asked me to make his birthday cake—what should I do?" says Ron Ben-Israel when he calls to postpone my cake-decorating lesson. For Elton, I let him off the hook. A few weeks later I’m in Ron’s Manhattan loft where he designs and makes voluptuous, witty works of edible art—bowers of flowers, replicas of designer shoes. In the sunny …[Read more]

Making Scents

Florentine master perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi lets Reggie Nadelson in on the secrets of his art—and his city "Luxury is having something no one else has, "Lorenzo Villoresi says, sounding a bit like a Renaissance prince handing down a proclamation on the nature of things. In his case, the nature of things is in the scent. Come to his atelier in an ancient Florentine palazzo, and Villoresi—one of the last great artisanal perfumers of Europe—will design for you a couture fragrance that no one …[Read more]

“Consuming Passions”: Santa, Baby

You could call this The Twelve Days of Christmas for the famous, the very famous and the hyper celeb. This is about what they give and what they want. It is the season, after all, of celebrity. With the holidays come the albums, the TV specials, the special songs – think Cliff Richard! Think the vision of all these fairy-tale people discussing the meaning of it all. Well, Hark the Herald Angels, but if I’m not mistaken even Pee-wee Herman once, in the 1980s, delivered himself of a Christmas …[Read more]

“Consuming Passions”: The Sales!

“Mery-llllll, I found the shoes in your size, come over here! Meryl? I got the Man-o-llllllos, hurry up!” So shrieks the lady from New Jersey across the floor in Bergdorf Goodman’s shoe salon (trust me, they call it a salon), as she pounces on several pairs of shoes on a sale rack. All of a sudden, I lose my interest. I no longer covet the Manolos, the Jimmys, the Emmas, the Christians; whatever the shoe, however much I had wanted it the week before last, however much I felt that it was …[Read more]