New York, NY
© Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
It is almost summertime. We enjoyed one week of perfectly gorgeous weather, sandwiched between two months of solid rain, and now the city is humid and sticky, a strong indicator of no reprieve before sweltering summer days are upon us.
Summertime used to be synonymous with an easy, relaxing lifestyle. School vacation, day trips, and beach days – the days moved a bit slower, the nights lasted a little longer, and I felt that I could finally inhale deeply and enjoy life. While such summer days are a bit of a distant memory, I find myself craving even just a few days of such rest, relaxation, and simplicity.
The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.
With this challenge, my mind could not help but drift towards my absolute favorite summertime dessert – s’mores. You may already be aware of my love for graham crackers and when combined with melting chocolate and a burnt, oozing marshmallow, that first bite instantly transports me to simple, summer days.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Those of you who know me or have spent any amount of time exploring this blog are likely aware of my fondness of a beverage known as bourbon. I like it in chocolate desserts and ice cream but prefer it poured neat. In the winter, I love bourbon in my apple cider; in the summer, I like mixing it with fancy mint leaves. And while I rarely express brand preferances, I usually leave little question as to my hands-down favorite: Maker's Mark.
Mike took the tour of the Maker's Mark distillery a few years ago and, since that moment, has been on the hunt for a "slam dunk" bottle - a bottle encased in a much deeper layer of the signature red wax than normal. These bottles are harder to find than just any bottle of Maker's - only one in 824 bottles showcases the extra long layer of wax.
It had been a long, fruitless hunt for almost two and a half years. Then, by chance, one Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I asked if Mike wanted to walk with me to buy wine for a party that evening. After a very rainy April, the sun was finally peeking through the clouds and I was happy to walk the extra few blocks to explore a new wine store. Mike reluctantly accompanied me, lagging along as he checked his phone for updates on the Kentucky Derby. Once at the store, I scoured the aisles for the bottle I required, when I heard a loud gasp to my right. Mike came running over, demanded, "LOOK!" and proudly showcased his discovery - the much awaited, much sought after slam dunk bottle of Maker's Mark.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Prior to this year's James Beard Awards, I had the opportunity to stop by JBF LTD, a new type of pop-up established for only the 27 days leading up to the awards. While the idea of a 'pop-up' restaurant is hardly a new concept to us New Yorkers, the James Beard version combined many elements - bringing together not only chefs to create special dinners, but also cookbook authors, food celebrities, and other people influencing the ceremony.
JBF LTD found its temporary home in Chelsea Market, where it served up small bites and sweets for lunch to enjoy as the daytime programming took place. In the evening, the space was transformed into a restaurant, where diners enjoyed the work of many influential, talented chefs.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
While strolling the streets of Charleston a few months back, the activity and pace of King Street drew me in to explore each vendor’s goods. While the seasoned New Yorker in me would normally pass by street vendors without a second thought, scoffing at the tourists pawing over the items, suddenly, in a new city, this seemed to me a perfectly acceptable practice.
And my efforts were richly rewarded. As soon as laid eyes on the beautiful detail of this necklace, designed after the gates around Charleston, I knew I had found a perfect, go-to necklace to add to my collection. As the woman carefully boxed up my purchase and enclosed the corresponding card, I caught a glimpse of the gate name - Dogwood - the Virginia state tree (and flower!). No wonder I fell in love with the necklace at first glance.
You can find this necklace and other beautiful pieces at Sea Island Jewelry in the Historic Charleston Market.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Once you chose a career in a given field (food, for example), it is interesting to think back to your childhood, to the moments which potentially shaped your future self. For instance, I remember when my mother used to make lemon bars, methodically following my great-grandmother’s recipe, in attempts to replicate a version worthy of Nana herself.
I loved watching her sift the powdery confectioner’s sugar like falling snow over the sunny, yellow custard. Biting into that tart, sweet filling sent a chill up my spine, reminiscent of the first sip of lemonade on a sweltering summer day. But for all the love I held for her lemon bars, from a very young age, I remember wanting more from the crust. I had no idea what ‘more’ might entail, but I felt such a perfect filling required an equally substantial crust.
Today, this question that once seemed so complex would be solved with a rather simple answer - bake the crust longer in order to brown the butter, yielding a delicious, flaky, flavorful base. Nonetheless, the fact that such a thought once drifted through my mind, between playing dress-up and Barbies, seems somewhat impressive.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Mother’s Day becomes more difficult with each passing year. The difficulty lies not so much in selecting the perfect card, composing the perfect words or even purchasing a special gift which, no matter the cost, will be deemed unnecessary. Rather, it is the 493.7 miles between our front doors. I want to surprise her with a big, beautiful bouquet of flowers. I want to make her sit and enjoy her coffee and Sunday crossword on the porch as I whip up a special breakfast for us to share. I want to treat her to an afternoon of mani-pedis, lunch, shopping and coffee. I want to spend the evening enjoying a simple dinner and wine, a perfect dessert and a swig of sweet Madeira.
For now, the miles and the crazy pace of life in NYC will keep us apart on the day she should be celebrated the most. The crazy part about this whole thing is that my mother is the real reason I am not there to celebrate this day with her.
When I was ready to give up on my life in New York, after a surprisingly little amount of time, she encouraged me to stay and work on making myself happy. When I wasn’t sure I could keep up the days of a full-time job followed by classes at night, I thought of all the years she did the same thing, but with a husband and two little girls.
When I sat across from her last summer, sobbing about my job and not knowing what to do next, she reminded me of times in her life that she felt the same way - that somehow everything worked out for the best, even if such a thing seemed impossible at the time. She quickly nixed the idea of my moving home for a few months to try to figure things out, “Whatever it is that you want to do, whatever next big thing I know is waiting for you in your future, you are never going to find back home. Stay here, be patient, don’t give up.” Isn’t it funny how a mother’s instinct is always right?
So today, I am wishing the woman who has, for me, always exemplified what a strong woman should be. She taught me family should always be the most important part of your life and the power of sharing dinner around a table each evening. She is my support and very best friend. And she is the reason that I cannot give her the Mother’s Day she deserves and I so desperately want to give her. I love you Mummy.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
On Thursday, I lucked into beautiful handfuls of fragrant mint. I carefully tucked the herbs away for Saturday, when I knew mint juleps would be close at hand to celebrate the Kentucky Derby. Did you know there were so many beautiful varietals of mint?
And, finally, if you combine a bit of each type of mint, muddle in simple syrup and add a healthy dose of bourbon, you wind up with my favorite type of mint: