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the sweet scoop
the sweet scoop
The best way to your Valentine’s heart may not be through fancy gifts or flowers, but through their taste buds (especially if they’re like me!). Sharing an indulgent, edible gift with the person you love can be a deliciously romantic experience—and if you’re lucky, one you can share together. Here, some of my favorite food finds to set hearts aflutter and make that special someone swoon.
Bon Vivant Valentine Box (left): This charming New York bakery specializing in classic petit fours and petit cakes offers delivery in Manhattan and shipping to the New England states. Gift this box o’ nine pretty pink cakes adorned with sugar roses and “Pour Vous” (for you) hand-piped in gold icing, flavored with bourbon vanilla and rose petal. ($54, bonvivantnewyork.com)
Lafayette Conversation Heart Éclairs (right): Lafayette’s award-winning Patissière Jennifer Yee has created a special collection of sweets for all the sweethearts in your life including this too-cute trio of signature éclairs—filled with light vanilla cream and raspberry jam, topped with strawberry glaze and white chocolate conversation hearts. ($18, lafayette.com)
Murray’s Cheese Gift of the Mongers (left): If your significant other prefers savory to sweet, then feast your eyes on the ultimate cheese and charcuterie collection curated by Murray’s mongers. Shipped in a signature Murray’s Cheese crate, this bountiful assortment of gourmet delicacies includes Vermont Butter & Cheese Coupole, Colston Bassett Stilton, La Quercia Prosciutto, Cave Aged Pyrénées Brebis, Creminelli Tartufo Salami, and Harvest Song Walnut Preserves. ($148; MurraysCheese.com)
Foods of Firenze (right): Celebrating my favorite city in the world (earmuffs NYC, you’re a very close second), this Tuscan-themed gift is perfect for all the Italian food lovers in your life—featuring Tuscan IGP Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pici Pasta, Arrabbiata Mix, Almond Cantucci, recipe for pici all’aglione (long thick pasta paired with tomato-garlic sauce), and Wisdom of Tuscany book published by Rizzoli—all packaged in a signature Eataly gift box ($75.80; eataly.com)
The Grapeseed Company (left): Pamper your special someone with this organic, botanical beauty line made fresh daily in Santa Barbara. This luxurious collection of cleansers, scrubs, moisturizers and more are crafted with grape seeds—an antioxidant rich byproduct of winemaking. (products shown: Pinot Dreams Whipped Body Butter: $14; Vino Lux Body Scrub: $20; thegrapeseedcompany.com)
Meiomi Wines (right): Nothing sets the mood for romance like popping open a great bottle of wine—or a few. And wine is a gift that almost anyone can appreciate. Right now, I’m digging the Meiomi 2014 Pinot Noir (smooth and well-balanced with rich, deep fruit flavors and refined tannins) and 2014 Chardonnay (bright and enticing with a complex palate; not your typical Cali butter bomb)—two fantastic wines from California’s most noteworthy coastal regions. Cheers! (prices vary by retailer; meiomi.com)
MarieBelle Signature Ganache Collection (left): The 9-piece signature ganache collection from chic boutique MarieBelle New York combines the finest single-origin chocolate with eclectic ingredients and artisanal techniques—artfully arranged in an elegant blue box. To die for! ($28; mariebelle.com)
Ladurée Artisan Marshmallows (center): The Parisian institution known for their colorful French macarons, pastries, and cakes also offers these darling delights. Enjoy the delicate, creamy marshmallow cubes on their own or in hot chocolate. Available in assorted flavors, vibrant violet (shown) would be my pick. ($9.50, lauduree.com)
Vosges Exotic Truffle Collection (right): Embark on a trip around the world with the Vosges signature truffle collection. This pretty purple-wrapped best seller boasts exotic ingredients like Hungarian paprika, first press extra virgin olive oil, wasabi, and Indian curry powder. Gluten-free, too!
KitchenAid® Artisan® Series Stand Mixer: Valentine’s Day is all about love. And no other appliance has made me fall head over heels like my red KitchenAid® stand mixer. The stylish, high-performance beauty makes whipping, kneading, and blending ingredients a breeze. In striking colors like Candy Apply Red, Raspberry Ice, and Komen Pink, this dream machine is the perfect “I love you” gift for home cooks of all skill levels. (available in various sizes/prices; KitchenAid.com)
Happy Valentine’s Day my loves! XOXO
Images courtesy of Bon Vivant, Lafayette, Murray’s Cheese, Eataly, MarieBelle, Ladurée, Vosges, & KitchenAid USA
There’s never been a better time to celebrate your gals.
Galentine’s Day—created by Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”—is a day to celebrate the fierce and fabulous females in your life (cue Queen Bey), and takes place on February 13th. I mean, who wouldn’t want to become gal pals with Amy Poehler!? Why not throw in Tina Fey, too. But seriously, I absolutely love the idea of a dedicated holiday to show appreciation to all the girls that are there for you through thick and thin. And still love you no matter what.
When Ménage à Trois Vodka asked me to create an original cocktail recipe for the occasion, of course I was thrilled to get involved. For the base, I chose Ménage à Trois Berry Vodka—a smooth and mouthwatering spirit boasting sweet triple berry notes: summer-ripe raspberries, tart cranberries, and rich pomegranate. My cocktail combines some of my favorite flavors and drink ingredients (berries, bubbles, and elderflower) into a fun and festive sparkler that will add sass to your Galentine’s Day soirée. Invite over the gals and rock on to your heart’s content.
Berry Sassy Sparkler
- 1 1/2 ounces Ménage à Trois Berry Vodka
- 1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
- 1/2 ounce elderflower liqueur
- 1-2 ounces Ménage à Trois Prosecco
- 2 fresh strawberries (one sliced, one for garnish)
In a cocktail shaker, add cranberry juice and slices from one strawberry. Muddle fruit until pulpy. In a coupe, flute, or wine glass (whichever you prefer!), combine chilled Ménage à Trois Berry Vodka and elderflower liqueur. Strain cranberry-strawberry mixture into the glass. Top off with 1-2 ounces of Ménage à Trois Prosecco. Gently give it a whirl and garnish with a strawberry. Recipe makes one cocktail — multiply quantities for your gals. Cheers!
Yesterday, I had a fantastic lunch at Houseman restaurant in Hudson Square with a bunch of food industry friends, and the meal was a knockout—from the double-decker burger with caramelized onion and roasted mushroom relish to the French onion soup sandwich, and everything in between. One particular dish stood out as it was like nothing I’ve ever tasted before: the roasted-squash salad. Wow.
Tender, sweet kabocha squash gets coated with a vibrant dressing of herbs, pistachios, feta cheese, and vinegar-plumped currants—creating a bold flavor-texture punch that beautifully showcases the season. If you can’t get to Houseman to experience the real thing soon, lucky for you, Sam Sifton published the recipe for this vegetarian stunner in the Times so you can recreate it at home. Enjoy!
Houseman’s Roasted-Squash Salad
Originally published in the NY Times
Step 1: Put the currants in a small bowl, and pour the white-wine vinegar over them. Allow them to macerate for several hours or overnight, though in a pinch you can allow them to plump up while you prepare the squash. Heat oven to 450.
Step 2: Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, peel both halves (if you like: the skin of the kabocha squash is edible) and slice the squash into 1/4-inch half moons. Dress the squash lightly with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with the salt. Place the squash on a parchment-lined sheet pan, and roast until soft and caramelized, approximately 15 to 20 minutes, turning the pieces once or twice during the process. Remove the squash from the oven, and set aside to cool.
Step 3: Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl, combine the fennel seed, sumac and coriander, then
add the parsley and cilantro, and stir to combine. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, and stir to combine. You want a wet mixture and may need to add a couple of extra tablespoons of oil to get it.
Step 4: Drain the currants, reserving the vinegar, and add them to the green sauce. Add the lime juice, pistachios, cheese, 6 tablespoons olive oil and 5 teaspoons vinegar from the pickled currants to the green sauce. Taste, and add more lime juice or vinegar if you like, along with a spray of salt.
Step 5: Place squash on a warm platter, and spoon the dressing over the top.