Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Travelogue: Palm Beach

To say December was a busy month, would be quite an understatement.  Moving halfway across the country is no small feat.  I had a little time to catch up on all the magazines that had been piling up unread on my flight to Florida.  One such magazine was Elle Decor, the December/January issue, that I had not devoured it the second it arrived in my mailbox, is design blasphemy, I know.

But it couldn't have felt more like kismet that their travel feature was on Palm Beach, the destination I was quickly heading towards as I read the article.  The article's map with it's tips on where to eat, what to do, and where to shop was just what a girl needed to unwind, as the experts had already done the research for me.

Image via Elle Decor
If I could sum up Palm Beach in one word it would be opulent.

I had the opportunity to take in all of it's Gilded Age glory epitomized in the Flagler Museum (the once oil baron's Palm Beach mansion, now a museum).  The decor was as well suited for an American mansion as a castle in Europe.  When I thought there was no such thing as too much Carrara marble I was proven wrong--whole walls, pillars, floors of carrara marble enshrined almost the entire entryway, and when I say entryway, I mean the largest room in this oversized mansion perched on the intercoastal waterway.

Flagler Estate

Magnificent Courtyard

Dusk on the Waterway

It's hard not to revert to childhood when you are in a house of this size with so many rooms, imagining rounding up a group of people to play a game of hide-and-go-seek.

For more Gilded Age delights, there is the iconic Breakers Hotel, it's imposing stature greets you on your drive up and continues as you walk in to the lobby and traverse it's long hallways.  We had lunch overlooking the ocean, and I found a couple stealing a dance in one of the many ballrooms.  How romantic!

Breakers Hotel

Then, there is the shopping.  With Worth Avenue rivaling Rodeo Drive there is no better place to get your fill of designer stores with a few local boutiques.  The town was still decorated for the holidays, a beautiful christmas tree decorated to the hilt juxtaposed against a Chanel store--does such a sight only exist in Palm Beach?
Worth Avenue

And a visit to Palm Beach doesn't seem complete without taking home something Lilly Pulitzer.  I happened to find flats for a killer deal at this store.

There is also the design mecca, Celerie Kimble Interiors nearby.

One of the greatest treats besides catching up with family, was a night at Cafe L'Europe (also on the Elle Decor restaurant list), this was already set on the itinerary as my uncle can often be found playing clarinet with the piano virtuouso who is practically an institution at the restaurant.  As a piano player, and lover of Chopin, sitting amidst the melodic notes of my favorite Nocturne, with a glass of Muscato in my hand and a dessert quartet was pure heaven.

Cafe L'Europe harkens back to a time past, the setting and service seem more 1940's Europe than 2000 something Palm Beach, but one look at the surrounding restaurant patrons brings you back to reality--yes, they do look stereotypical Palm Beach night-on-the-town.

To top it off, I finally got to try Baked Alaska, a dessert that I had never really given much thought to until I saw Chef v. City Palm Springs.  This show happened to star a family friend who owns the fabulous desert restaurant Tropicale (also formerly Barbara Streisand's chef) as he vied for a chance to beat out the Chef on this Food Network show.  One of the challenges was to make Baked Alaska, hence, my craving.  I just had a sneaking suspicion that Cafe L'Europe was the type of place that whipped up Baked Alaska.  I was right, and it didn't disappoint.

Images via Travelmoon


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