Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What is a Pop Up? Chef Ludo Lefebvre Explains

If we had to vote for the most ubiquitous dining term of 2012, it would be "pop up." But does that mean the pop up trend is dead??

Mais, non! At least, not according to Chef Ludo Lefebvre of LudoBites, and of LudoBites America fame, the hit Sundance Channel TV show chronicling the chef's ascent in the dining world.

Read about the past, present and future of the pop up in this piece for Wine Enthusiast:


Monday, December 17, 2012

Hot 7: New Orleans Restaurants

There's a lot of hot stuff going on in Nola these days, especially in our restaurant scene, as I was happy to report in this round up for Fodor's.

Wondering which hot 7 New Orleans restaurants made the cut? Which eatery had a chef shuffle and which new restaurant offers "face bacon"? Scope the list here:


Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to Pair Wine with Herbs

No, this isn't a story about how herb is legal in several states. But cheers to that!

This piece for Wine Enthusiast Magazine delves into the plethora of plants Mother Nature has provided us...from basil and thyme to lemon verbena, adding spice and depth of flavor to cuisine for centuries. This Pairings story ponders the age-old question, how can we approach wine when we've got so many kick-ass flavors?


We talked to top chefs and their sommelier cohorts around North America about how to match wines to any herb-centric dish, and scored their secret recipes. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Timbaland on....Drinking

Extra Extra! Timbaland launches a spirit line! It's a ready-to-drink liqueur, Le Sutra, with a wine base. Naturally, we covered it for Wine Enthusiast Magazine in a brief Q&A session with the superstar hip hop mogul:


Timbaland and Flo Rida are pictured here with Le Sutra in hand. Good to know P Diddy doesn't have a corner on the market.

Beyond Wine: New Food Pairing Partners

We got some great tips from sommelier Justin Kuruvilla of elements in N.J. about what's next in the restaurant world: Nontraditional pairings dinners. That's right: Because we always suspected Bourbon goes with just about everything.

For tips on how to pair food with spirits, beer and sake, read my article for Wine Enthusiast here.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Perfect Pairing: Blue Crab Dip and Vouvray

Stealing things from restaurants, like salt and pepper shakers (you know who you are) is wrong, so we're borrowing a recipe instead.  Did we mention it's from one of the hottest restaurants in Baltimore, Wit & Wisdom?

This creamy crab dip makes for a perfect party snack and can be made in under 1 hour! So much for slaving in the kitchen. Oh, and we scored the perfect wine pairing to boot.

Read my Wine Enthusiast article here:


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Art Basel, Meet Champagne...

In my story for Wine Enthusiast, "Form Meets Function", Hervé Van der Straeten talks about his new piece of artwork, "Miroir", designed to celebrate Ruinart Champagne. The piece will debut at Art Basel Miami Beach.
What is Miroir, you ask? You'll have to read the story to find out!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Aww Shucks! Best Oyster Bars in New Orleans

Everywhere you turn in New Orleans, someone's serving up briny bivalves. With so many killer seafood spots to explore, we thought it was time to round up New Orleans's best oyster bars for neworleans.com.

Read my story here...napkins not included.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Mixologist of the Month: Marjan Simovics of B Bar SF

Marjan Simovics is a mixologist to watch.

Yes, he's got the de rigueur tight vest and nailed his cocktail shaking moves. But there's more: The San Fran-based bartender serves up unusual tipples, including a playful squid ink cocktail, at B Bar SF.

I profiled him recently for Wine Enthusiast as Mixologist of the Month, and scored his signature Bourbon & Berry recipe, which incorporates vinegar.

Feast your eyes here:


Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to: Make a Liqueur Foam

Ever wondered how bartenders and mixologists create pretty garnishes, set shots on fire and dream up other fancy finishes to your favorite cocktails? Each month Wine Enthusiast reveals a technique in our How To column.

This How To: Make a Liqueur Foam comes courtesy of Mr. Rain's Fun House in Baltimore, dreamed up by the talented mixologist Perez Klebahn.

In just 3 simple steps, you can create a liqueur-based foam to top a holiday cocktail. We'll drink to that. Read my story here:


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Most Haunted Bars and Wineries in the US

This Halloween, it's natural to wonder about ghosts, goblins and...haunted places to grab drinks. Ever wondered where the most haunted bars and wineries in the US are located?

I searched high and low and found the spookiest places to score a sip this Halloween.

Read my story on the most haunted bars and wineries in the US for Wine Enthusiast Magazine here, including that of Hattie, who salts wine glasses at Restaurant 1833.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Best Halloween Parties in New Orleans 2012

If you're in NOLA this weekend, I hope you've come armed with a costume. People here sure love dressing up, and partying, in case you didn't notice.

My roundup for neworleans.com takes a peek at the hottest Halloween parties in New Orleans for 2012. Insert maniacal laughter here.


Celebrity Spotting: New Orleans

Where can you find Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and other Hollywood stars? Why..in New Orleans, of course!
We looked at some hot spots and under-the-radar places the stars come out when they come down South.
Since the film industry has blossomed in NOLA, celebrity sightings are an everyday occurrence in the Crescent City.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Orleans's Best Hangover Cures

It may be called the Big Easy, but there's nothing easy about an epic hangover. (That's what all those go cups  tend to produce!)

Check out the article I wrote for neworleans.com, outlining the best hangover cures from New Orleans's top authorities: its bartenders.

Yes, one of them does involve that mysterious green concoction. (It's delicious, I swear!)


Happy Healing.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bizarre Places to Find Booze

Drive-thru liquor stores? Gas stations filling up growlers? Yep..there certainly are some strange places to find the sauce in the lower 48 states.

Check out the Daily Meal for my article on the Top 5 Most Bizarre Places to Find Booze. I also outline some outrageous liquor laws.



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb!

Sure, flavored spirits have been hot this year. But with sickeningly sweet releases like cotton candy and whipped cream vodkas dominating the market, the trend left something to be desired.

Liquor giants have stepped inand stepped it up with tart-sweet cherry spirits. Want to read more about the cherry liquor trend? Check out my article for the Daily Meal here, and get your cherry popped.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Best Hotel Bars in New Orleans

Happy July everyone! If you're in the cocktail and spirits industry, you know what that means...countdown to Tales of the Cocktail, the cocktail and spirits fest in NOLA each July.

I've spent a lot of time in New Orleans over the past few years, and know my way around some of the city's best bars (shocker). Many of them just so happen to be in hotels.

Here's a round up I did for the Crescent City's best hotel bars for neworleans.com. It's a great resource for all things New Orleans. And no, you won't find them on Bourbon Street (ok, some are close by).

Here's a link to the story:


Best of all, you don't have to check in to check out these hotel bars.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tasty, Tropical Turks & Caicos

 Sometimes a girl's got to get away. Who knew the Turks & Caicos is just a 3 hour jaunt from NYC?
 It's hot in the Turks & Caicos. One might consider bottled water, but we eschewed H2O for Rum Punch hydration. You may only have a small fire escape from which to enjoy it, but here's an easy recipe to make at home:

Rum Punch
1 cup Bacardi 151
1/2 cup Myer's dark rum
1/4 cup Malibu coconut rum
2 cups each orange and pineapple juices
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons grenadine syrup

Mix all ingredients together in a (hopefully tropical-looking) punch bowl. Pour over ice cubes in any type of glass. We went for plastic (pictured) since it's safer for drunken dancing on the beach. Serves 1 very thirsty individual but makes quite a few drinks.

Wondering what the local island specialty is in the Turks & Caicos? 

 Really, it's all about conch. You can have it fried, frittered, curried or made into chowder. You can take it as a shot, some say it's an aphrodisiac, but isn't the whole island kind of one? Eat that versatile conch with rice and plantain fries. YUM.
And while every hotel offers conch in some variation, you simply must go to Da Conch Shack. Sure, it's a bit out of the way (near the airport) but you'll be watching your conch get pulled from the turquoise sea with your toes in the sand. Check out all the conch shells below!
 If you've had too much punch, sober up with a locally made Turk's head lager. Cheers!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Trying to Convince Friends to Become Vegetarians...

is shockingly easy. When you trick them.

Mysteriously, since the vegetarian kick resumed last summer, several friends have become converts. How, you ask?

We're actually not sure but at a recent Sur La Table cooking class (strongly recommended), the menu was (shockingly) all vegetarian. And delicious, I might add. Not a single friend with carnivorous intentions was dismayed at the evening's dishes. (Maybe because we didn't have to do the cleaning up part?)

Just check out this vegetarian recipe for a Provençal-style tart. It's actually shockingly easy to make. Our off-dry Riesling pairing was a huge hit, too.

 (So much so our instructor kept talking about her famous lov-ahs. Wink, wink.)

Provençal Caramelized Onion, Gruyere and Olive Tart

Serves 4 as a light main course, 6-8 as an appetizer

1 sheet (9 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed (keep refrigerated until ready to use)

1 pound (about 4) Vidalia or yellow onions, cut into ¼-inch thick lengthwise slices  (about 4 cups sliced)
1 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teasp fresh rosemary leaves, plus extra tiny sprigs for garnishing
2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for serving
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, finely grated
6-8 kalamata or good black olives, pitted halved
Fleur de sel for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 400F Line an unrimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

To make the onion filling, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter and heat until butter foams. When foaming subsides, add the sliced onions and a pinch of fine sea salt, and toss to coat.

Add thyme sprigs and reduce heat to low. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized: they should be very soft and a deep golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. You may need to add a bit of water to prevent sticking.

While the filling cooks, roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured board to an 11-inch square. Lift it gently onto the prepared baking sheet, then prick the dough in several places with a fork (but not the rim). Refrigerate until ready to assemble the tart.

Once the onions are caramelized, remove the skillet from the heat, discard thyme sprigs and add the rosemary. Stir in the grated cheese and mix well to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then leave to cool until luke warm, at least 15 minutes.

Distribute the onion mixture evenly over the pastry and arrange olives evenly on top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until crust is golden on top and underneath al the way to the center (lift up to check.)

Transfer the tart to a cutting board, scatter with the extra rosemary sprigs and garnish with sprigs of thyme. Serve warm cut into squares.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Think You Know Canadian Wine?

So this is how you picture Canadian wine, eh??

Let's set the record straight about Ontario wine country once and for all, there's a whole lot more to it than ice wine (though that's pretty good, too).

Located so near to Toronto, it's a must-try for any enophile visiting the Great White North. (You should trust me, I'm Canadian.)

Here are 10 tips for touring Niagara-on-the-Lake's best wineries. Oh, and did we mention a haunted bar?


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Borgias-Inspired Libations: Machiavelli Manhattan?

Is anyone else obsessed with The Borgias?

For cocktail fans like us, we fully realize it's all about Mad Men in terms of drinks slammed per prime-time episode. But frankly, people were throwing them back in Pope Alexander VI's time, too.

Now it's obvious Manhattans were not all the rage during the Renaissance, but we could totally see our hero (Machiavelli, duh!) drinking this variation of our favorite Bourbon-based cocktail: The Prince.

The Prince

3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
2 1/2 ounces Bourbon
Dash Angostura Bitters
1 orange twist, for garnish
Pinch of edible gold dust, add for dramatic effect

Elaborate velvet puffy sleeves are not a requirement to consume.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spotted: Top Chef Tiffani Faison, Home on the Range

Guys and dolls...it's been a while.  But things have been banging.

Want to know where we've been?

Montana, y'all. AKA Man-tana. That's right New York ladies, the ratio of men to women in Big Sky country is something like 4:1 and the drinking age is seemingly as soon as you can ride a horse. (Which is like, 5 or something.)

That means a lot of eating, drinking and...fire-making.

And while we were not there to let any cowboys take us away, we did have the pleasure of attending the Montana Master Grillers weekend at The Resort at Paws Up (a luxe resort known for glamping) over Memorial Day Weekend, where Top Chefs Tiffani Faison and Ed Lee competed in a Bad Ass Burger Dash, created wine, beer and cider-paired dinners and engaged in highly imaginative karaoke acts. We respectfully chose not to post a video.

We think all that protein inspires greater range. Yeehaw!