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Posts from the ‘DRINK’ Category

Discovering the soul of summer…in Iowa?

As the landing gear embarked from the bottom on the plane, I found myself excited to be touching down in Des Moines. In less than a few hours we had left the big apple and were now headed deep into the heartland. This is where food GROWS, massive fields of corn and soy beans flanking the roadside, people wave when they drive past, and small railroad towns hang on with yesterday’s charm. We were in Iowa and I was ready for some family time. My husband grew up in Iowa, moving away as an adult some years back. For him Iowa holds the same hum-drum feeling that Hawaii does for me. Once you live there a while the shine wears off and it becomes mundane. That’s why I however, LOVE Iowa, with its clean air, fireflies, undulating fields and its family atmosphere. It is nothing like Manhattan that’s for sure. Regardless, I was happy to be there. This visit to Iowa was two-fold, on the upswing of life we were visiting two new additions to the family and on the down swing for a funeral. It’s amazing experiencing the circle of life so purely… However, this is not a life blog, this is a food & wine blog so let’s switch it back to what you all should know about Iowa’s’ bounty.

The next morning after arriving in town, I awoke with my nieces and my mother & sister-in-law to head north on a mission to harvest our own blueberries at The Berry Patch Farm.

The Berry Patch Farm is a small family owned farm northeast of Des Moines and oh, how excited I was to visit them because to pick your own is to pick the best! The entire way there I was contemplating recipes while carrying on a conversation with my almost three-year-old niece. It was pure heaven…Once there we were standing in the middle of a huge blueberry farm, settled into a routine, picking handfuls of plump little blueberries and dumping them into plastic buckets. All of us sweating, tasting and grinning while the morning sun beat down on our backs. We finished up before the morning sun made its way toward lunch, bellies rumbling, we had managed to pick enough berries for all of us to bring some home. Believe me folks, when I say those containers of berries for $5 at the grocery store are worth every penny! It is backbreaking labor to harvest these little gems and I couldn’t wait to use them. We packed up the blueberries, savored fresh peaches at the farm stand and headed home. The next couple of days were filled with blueberries, some in smoothies, some alone, but I was saving mine for when I returned to New York…


Hazelnut Meal Crusted Blueberry + Maple Tartlets

*adapted from the Clean Start Cookbook by Terry Walters

Serves 8-10 | Prep time: 30 minutes | Rest time: 1 hour

The Crust:

2 Cups Hazelnut Meal (you could also use almond, if using whole nuts, blanc, de-skin and pulse in a food processor)

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp Maple Syrup

1 tsp Almond Extract

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Good Pinch of Sea Salt


2 Cups Fresh Organic Blueberries

1 Cup Apple Juice (I actually juiced two pink lady apples for mine)

1/3 Cup Maple Syrup

2 tbsp Arrow-Root Powder

Zest of 1 Organic Lemon

Juice of 1/2 Lemon

1/2 tsp Almond Extract

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Good Pinch of Sea Salt (I used Himalayan Sea Salt)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F and brush a tart pan or shallow ramekins with coconut oil.

To prepare the crust, combine in a large bowl, the almond meal, maple syrup, coconut oil (if solid heat the coconut butter in a pan until melted), salt, almond & vanilla extracts and mix thoroughly with a fork until well combined. Tip the crumbly dough into the tart pan and press to form the crust. Place the pan in the oven and bake for roughly 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling, whisk 1/2 cup of the apple juice and the arrow-root powder together and set aside. In a saucepan over med low heat, combine the remaining apple juice, lemon zest, lemon juice, almond & vanilla extracts, salt and half of the blueberries. Bring to a simmer and once the liquid turns blueish red, and the apple juice and arrow-root mixture. Stirring the entire time this should thicken up pretty quickly. Once thickened to your preference add the remaining blueberries. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and refrigerate for at least an hour. I actually waited just an hour because I like tarts slightly warm. Then enjoy!!


Now to wash it all down or to sip on a hot day, maybe after a long morning of gardening…or if you want something festive sans alcohol.

Sparkling Thai Basil + Lime Agua Fresca

I large (32 oz.) mason jar (could use individual size pint jars)

A couple of sprigs of Thai Basil or any other basil for that matter

Juice of 1 lime

1 part sparkling San Pellegrino or sparkling water

1 part pure filtered cold tap water

A dash of agave syrup if you like it sweet

Add everything to the mason jar, shake it up, taste for sweetness and pour over fresh ice! Enjoy!

Kelsey Byus + Fred Scott of Locally Grown Clothing


Now for some other notable places to check out while in the Des Moines area. The local farmers market on Saturday morning. This farmers’ market showcases incredible farm raised meats and fresh produce abound, not to mention a plethora of street food vendors. Although I would like to see more organic produce available, it is the perfect place to take the kids, they won’t even know you are teaching them about vegetables! And if you are really wanting to support the slow food, green, organic, whatever-is-healthiest-for-us-and-the-environment-movement then head over to see these guys…

Kelsey Byus and Fred Scott of Locally Grown Clothing Co. are hip, young and very much into the grassroots message driven lifestyle. They rally behind the resurgence of Farmers’ Markets and the renaissance of local agriculture across the country. Supporting local business and empowering folks to think about what they wear, buy, and eat are at the core of their message. Feel free to check them out and support some very cool midwest boys, and of course the environment!

Enjoy the sunshine this summer, eat your blueberries, and sip some of that delicious aqua fresca we talked about, I’m off to the park!



Light up the sparklers! 4th of July Wine+Toast…

The Wine…

For this star-spangled relaxed weekend spent grilling while the neighborhood kids play with snap-pops and sparklers, I will be drinking two wines. One a pinot noir from California and a rosé from France. This particular Pinot Noir is more “new world” in it profile than “old world”. Let me explain, basically new world refers to the US, Chile, Argentina, Africa, and a few other countries. In a general sense, these wines are typically “fruitier” and less acidic due to weather, production methods and physical location. However, not all new world wines are made big, bold, with heavy oak and sometimes a little sweet so knowing something about a specific winery/producer really helps here. If unsure about a wine, ASK! Most local wine shops or even your local Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods can help out when deciding. Now the French wine I am in favor of is “old world”. In fact, France has been the benchmark for wine production for so long, no one can remember a time when they weren’t the leaders. Now depending on where in france the wine is from, a different result is achieved. Wines from the northern regions will be “brighter”, more crisp and acidic and wines from the southern parts is obviously less. Of course all are considerably different by comparison so I encourage you to TASTE! TASTE!! TASTE!!! This will only help you choose the right wines for your palate, because we all like different things and that’s okay.

2009 Luli Pinot Noir, St. Lucia Highlands, California (great with grilled meats & fishes)

2010 Moulin Gassac Guilhem Rosé, Languedoc, France (perfect all around wine, but excels with veggies, eggs, fishes, poultry)

The Toast…


To her we drink, for her we pray,

Our voices silent never;

For her we’ll fight, come what may,

The stars and stripes forever!


Wedding Toasts You Ought to Know…

The Sweet & Thoughtful:

Here’s health to you and wealth to you, Honors and gifts a thousand strong:

Here’s name to you and fame to you, Blessings and joy a whole life long!

But, lest bright Fortune’s star grow dim, And sometimes cease to move to you,

I fill my bumper to the brim, And pledge a lot of love to you!!



The Humorous:

Here’s to the bride and mother-in-law.

Here’s to the groom and father-in-law,

Here’s to the sister and brother-in-law,

Here’s to the friends and friends-in-law,

May none of them need an attorney-at-law!


Toasts You Ought To Know…

Father’s Day is Sunday June 19th, 2011.

Thankfully I remembered this and headed out last week in search of a card. Sadly most of the shops only carried various run-of-the-mill golfing, grilling and TV remote jokes, most of which I’ve seen in  the shops year after year. Apparently, this was going to be a home-made-card kind of holiday.  So I wanted to share this light-hearted toast I came across while researching father’s day toasts. This goes out to the wives of these men and fathers.



Here’s to our wives, who fill our lives with little bees and honey!

They break life’s shocks, they mend our socks-

But don’t they spend the money!!




Rosé Sangria with Apple Brandy and Agave

Spanish or Portuguese Sangria, is why I love summer. Most often it is made with Spanish Rioja’s,which are typically lighter bodied, dry, acidic, and inexpensive. However, there are other wines that work well in this recipe such as French Gamay or Beaujolais, and even Italian wines such as Dolcetto or Bardolino. Unfortunately most of us are familiar with this wine punch labeled blankly on a drink list as “white or red sangria” without much detail on the wines or spirits used. This is due in part to lack luster ingredients on one hand and on the other hand because the sacred recipes of generations past is a “secret”. Since almost anything made at home will be fresher and healthier for you, I seldom order sangria out, unless vacationing in Spain or Portugal then do as the Romans do by all means!

The inspiration for this sangria comes from my sheer adoration of rosé. Surprisingly  I have yet to see this grace the menus of restaurants around town, but I’m sure they will catch on soon enough. I chose a bottle of highly acidic rosé from a region in France known as Chinon in the Loire Valley. Loire Valley wines are known for being high in acid with crisp citrus fruit flavors, perfect for sangria. I also skipped sugar in favor of agave syrup to keep it light and I used an apple brandy called Calvados instead of standard brandy with a few dashes of two types of bitters to round out the sweetness. Fresh fruits will be key to this recipe so don’t be afraid to pick different seasonal fruits from your local market or farm stand.

Rosé Sangria

Rosé Sangria with Apple Brandy & Agave

1 bottle french rosé

4 oz Calvados (apple brandy)

1 oz Grand Marnier Cognac

1/2 oz Blood Orange Bitters

1/4 oz Peach Bitters

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup agave syrup

1 ruby grapefruit, peeled and cut into wedges

1 orange sliced into thin rings

1 lime sliced into thin rings

1/4 cantaloupe cut into chunks

1 granny smith or pink lady apple thinly sliced

1 yellow peach pitted, and thinly sliced or cubed

Combine all the ingredients in a pitcher or large wide mouth jar and stir to combine. (Note: If you can store it in the refrigerator for a few hours or over night the flavors will only intensify.) Pour into a clear glass and top off with a few ice cubes, a splash of sparkling water and garnish with a sprig of mint!  However, you can skip the sparkling water which is more traditional of the Spanish & Portuguese sangria… Enjoy!



I was off to a friends rooftop for a fabulous dinner party last night and was pondering what to make…I knew it had to be something healthy, colorful and easy…

The idea for this dish originated from a more practical weeknight dinner I made earlier in the week with some left over veggies in the fridge.  It consisted of  pea purée with roasted asparagus and garlic with a sunny side up farm egg. So I thought why not spruce it up for a ladies dinner party? Now I love peas with their refreshing little spheres of green tenderness and let’s be frank, it’s amazingly hot outside so I don’t really want hot food so this dish had to be chilled. I roasted the garlic and bread crostini while boiling the eggs and peas. Then I  whirled them up in the blender to make the pea purée. Then I assembled them at my girlfriends place in just a few minutes!  It would be easy to make parts of this when you have time throughout the week but if not it takes about an hour to do it all at once…  Bon Appetite!


12 quail eggs, cooked, peeled and halved

1 cup vinegar

3 thinnish slices of Pumpernickel or Rye bread cut into squares

6 slices of prosciutto


1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 head purple garlic, roasted

1/4-3/4 cup vegetable stock

5-8 leaves of fresh mint

5-8 leaves of fresh basil

1 tbsp good quality unsalted butter

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A few cracks of fresh pepper

A pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt or Kosher Salt

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is heating cut the top off of the garlic and place it on a sheet of foil. Drizzle a little olive oil over top and gently gather the foil around it. Place it in the oven directly on the rack. Roast it for 45 minutes to one hour.

While the garlic is roasting get a pot of fresh water boiling. Add the peas to it and check them for doneness periodically. Once done, drain, and cool in an ice bath. If using frozen peas, thaw in a bowl then drain.

Cut the slices of bread and remove crust. cut them into 1″ x 1″ squares and place on baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil over top and season with salt and pepper. Bake alongside the garlic until just toasted. Remove and cool.

Now, rinse the eggs in warm water and then place them in a sauce pot. Add equal parts water and vinegar (usually 1 cup each depending on your pan) just so the eggs are fully submerged. Bring it to a boil and turn off the burner, let them sit for 5 minutes. Drain and cool in an ice bath then peel carefully. This part is the most time-consuming, so just be patient…

Now for the purée, in a blender add the peas, garlic (just squeeze the garlic to release the roasted paste) veggie stock, butter, olive oil, mint, basil, and season with salt and pepper then blend until nice and smooth.

Assembling the dish: on a plate or platter, place one crostini, then a piece of prosciutto, a small scoop of the purée (I used a piping bag fitted with a metal tip but you could also use a plastic zip bag with the tip cut off), then a quail egg half on top. A pinch of salt and pepper over top and your done!!!

Provençal Rosé



What do the French drink while lunching beachside in the south of France? Rosé! Why you ask?  Because it is refreshing, usually dry (not sweet) and compliments the lighter cuisine of summer. Things like grilled octopus and fish, crisp vegetables with briny olives. Of course white wines are delicious but rosé really hits the mark on a hot summer day.

Here’s what I recommend for this recipe…2010 Domaine de la Fouquette Cuvée Rosée d’Aurore, Provence France for around $15! I bought mine at Le Du’s Wines here in Manhattan.

Although, any french rosé will do in my opinion, if you can’t find the recommended wine, look for something from Provence rather than Loire Valley or even something from the US since the Provençal Rosé has a nice balance of fruit and acid without being sweet or overly acidic. If you really want to fancy it up, try a sparkling rosé, I tend to like Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine since it’s more affordable than french champagne. I promise any of these will be the perfect complement to hot summer days spent with friends!


The long summer days and warm summer nights we have been enjoying here in New York have me thinking about summers past. When I spent a summer up in Napa while working at a winery, we had lots of friends who wanted to visit. We would grill and play bocci ball in the yard, drinking chilled wine and laughing. Occasionally it would be too hot to grill so I want to share one of my favorite recipes for backyard parties ~ sans grill. Whip this up the day before so you can enjoy a cold glass of rosé with your friends!

summer salad


(serves 4 people)

1 bunch asparagus (sliced and blanched)

1 cup peas thawed (blanched if fresh)

1 cup snap peas or fava beans (blanched & shelled if fava)

5-8 leave of fresh basil sliced into thin ribbons

5-8 leaves of fresh mint sliced into thin ribbons

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

Zest of one lemon

Juice of half a lemon

Drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil

A few cracks of fresh pepper

Good pinch of salt

0.3 LB Pecorino Foja De Noce (or any pecorino) Sliced thin and served over the salad)

20 slices of  prosciutto

4 slice of rustic bread charred on the grill or in the oven, (you could also serve this without charring)

This salad is something that you can make either the day before or an hour before you expect people to arrive. Just let it come up to room temperature before serving.

Boil water in a large saucepan. When bubbling, blanch the fresh peas, asparagus, fava beans/ snap peas individually until bright green. Careful not to over cook them as you want them to have “snap” when cooled. Remove from boiling water and shock in ice bath until cooled, drain. Then pile them into a big serving bowl. Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium high heat, careful not to burn them. Remove from heat, cool the nuts and add them to the bowl.  Zest one lemon over the top of the veggies and squeeze the juice of half over as well. Drizzle some olive oil over the top and season with salt & pepper. Thinly slice the mint & basil and add to the salad. Mix to combine.

Grab a large platter or plate for the prosciutto and other charcuterie. Plate them up nicely and drizzle with a touch of olive oil salt and pepper.  Plate the cheese on a cheese board and serve it room temperature. If charring the bread, prepare it while toasting the pine nuts, otherwise serve sliced as is with olive oil to dip in.

I usually serve this with a bottle of rosé from France or a white wine from Italy like a vermentino.

Also, feel free to make lots of this salad if you want to make great left overs. Maybe grilled shrimp or calamari would be ideal for a day after compliment.