Friday, November 7, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

I'll admit it. Pretty much every year I wind up making my own birthday cake. That may sound a bit nuts, but how else can I insure that we have a (mostly) milk-free cake complete with organic flour, healthy oils and pasture butter without driving some poor baker crazy?

The truth is, I don't mind one  bit. It's fun and I would have to spend a lot of money to get a cake up to my standards. Don't even think about grocery store cakes—they need not apply.

 Maybe one year I'll go for one of those crazy fondant creations that have been touched by god and everybody for days before they hit your lips, but for now I love my organic, home made cakes.

This one is classic vanilla with a bit of coconut milk and coconut shreds. I layered it with orange marmalade and then made a butter cream icing thickened with more coconut milk.  

Mary Jo Shore, Nick D'Annunzio and Dana Shear

I didn't do everything. It was iced with some help from Maria Paba and friends, who decorated it probably better than I would have. I usually slather on the icing, dripping it all over without care because I care way more about how my food tastes and what's in it, than how it looks. But aesthetics are nice too and they did a great job surprising me when they brought it out!

My helpers! Diego Osorio, Maria Paba and a friend who is an amazing chef
We didn't stop with the cake, my husband and I made everything we put out that night, which included a full dinner sticking to a Persian- Middle Eastern theme. I always seem to go that route for parties, don't ask me why. We served pistachios, home made hummus, Jujeh kebob (Lemon-Saffron chicken kabob), saffron rice, a Persian chicken and prune stew and even a second dessert: a rose-water and bread pudding made with coconut milk and challah. Unfortunately, the moment we put it on the table everyone started eating so I don't have any shots of the beautiful food.

Hadley Henriette and Iran Issa-Khan

Of course, it's not really just about the food as much as the friends who come out to help you ring in yet another year on planet earth. (YEA - I made it!)

Jessica Anderson, Alex Cohen and gal pal

Christian Roth and Eric Domege 
Hadley Henriette, Violet Camacho and Sarah Mirmelli

Alicia and Mike Piazza, and Violet Camacho
Lesley Griffin and Hadley Henriette

Karelle Levy, Yannick Henriette, Erin Parish and friend

Michael and Mary Jo Shore

Justin and Adina Gould

It's Party Time!

Photos by Eduardo Ford

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Dinner in Périgord

Everyone is a little bit jealous when I tell them I'm going to France for Christmas. And maybe they should be, but probably not for the same reasons they think. The weather is cold and it rains a lot but even so the country side is beautiful. Unless we go into town, there isn't much shopping or even movies. But there is some of the best food in the entire world.

This is because we are in Périgord, considered the most gastronomic region of France. Not only are we living amongst the vineyards of Bordeaux, but this is the home of fois gras, black and white truffles, and local caviar. Fresh apples, lettuces and organic vegetables are everywhere, visible from the side of the road. Even the oysters come from just down the road, less than 2 hours away. 

A 2007 Bordeaux Pomerol

For the French, or at least my in-laws, Christmas isn't really about presents if you are over 13 years old. It's about sitting at the table and eating… a lot.

Lucette, my mother-in-law who is in her 70's, still cooks fabulously and is not in the least bit intimidated by making an elaborate, multi-course meal for many. 

This holiday we were only six at the table, but she still served up more than fifty local oysters, cooked with butter, parsley and garlic to kick off the meal. 

Then came gambas, steamed and served with a mustard-mayo sauce. 

Next came a fois gras the size of your head, served with crusty baguette. This particular one was procured by father-in-law Frank on Christmas Eve. He went to the farm where the geese are raised, which apparently belongs to a friend. He assures us it's very humane and there's nothing remotely "factory" about the place. I believe him. 

There will be plenty of fois left over.

Bring on the roast duck! This was as good as it looks..

Especially with chestnut and prune stuffing..

And "gras" which is gravy that they more correctly call "fat." Since I don't eat fois gras, I figured I had some calories to spare and used half of this vessel on my plate. 

 Cooked, shredded fennel made a nice side dish.

In case we didn't get enough chestnuts in the stuffing, there was a giant bowl of sweet chestnuts to eat on the side. 

For dessert? More chestnuts served up glazed, chocolates and an assortment of candies. So blissed out was I that I forgot to photograph…. but here's an idea of what it looked like...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Discovering St. Germain

Champagne and St. Germain in carafes

 At our big Jac Henri launch party we served St. Germain, the famous French liqueur that is gaining traction in the chicest circles. The storied brand, which was established in France in 1884, is quite new again. At the party, one socialite guest told me she had recently been to a $2 million wedding where bride insisted on a St. Germain-Champagne cocktail to make the celebratory toast, as if to let me know we were right on target.  While our little shindig paled next to that one, St. Germain was perfect with the French, hand-crafted concepts of Jac Henri wallets. The liqueur is made from elderflower that is hand picked in the French Alps and taken by bicycle to the distillery.  In case you're not too familiar with elderflower and wondering what St. Germain tastes like, I would say there is a heavy note of lychee and a light note of citrus. It is slightly sweet enough on it's own to do well simply with club soda and a twist of lemon. At the party, however, we served three prescribed cocktails from St. Germain, each more potent and tasty than the next, with none overly sweet. Just right for this goldilocks.

(Garnished with Edible Flowers)
2 bottles of cucumber infused tequila*
1 bottle PLUS 1 cup of StG
1.5 cups fresh squeezed lime juice
1/3 bottle of sparkling wine

*Cucumber infused tequila:
Slice cucumbers into punch bowl and add 2 bottles of Corzo Silver Tequila. Cover and let sit at room temperature. 


2 bottles of Grey goose vodka
1 bottle of St Germain
6 cans of lychees WITH juice (save some lychees for garnishing)
3 Lemons cut into wheels



we served it in crystal for extra beauty

For Party Pix:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Launching Jac Henri Slim Wallets On Kickstarter

Yannick Henriette, my husband, has been making wallets for a while now. He made the first one years ago when he couldn't find a wallet slim enough for his taste. A lot of people told him to carry a card holder,  but they aren't secure and can't contain cash, so it really wasn't a solution. Neither was a rubber band that a lot of people do. So he made his own, and the Jac Henri Slim Wallet was born, even though we didn't name it that until seven years later. He carried it the entire time and got a lot of compliments as well as requests from friends to make one for them. Almost everyone who has carried one has totally loved it. (there's always that one dentist, isn't there?) And encouraged us to go on Kickstarter. So we did. Click on the link below and out the site. If you like what you see, please pledge and share with your friends!

I Love My 2013 Mercedes GLK

When I'm not driving it myself, I'm taking pictures

I am always writing about cars because I love them. So, needless to say, I did a lot or research before buying my newest, the Mercedes 2013 GLK. Sure, it helps that it was Motor Trend's SUV of the Year, but I had already made up my mind before it was given that distinction. So what sealed the deal? It's better priced than the Audi Q5 that I also love, and much cooler than the Lexus RX or Lincoln MKX, both of which I was seriously considering.

There were some sacrifices made - I don't have GPS, real leather seats or park distance control, all of which my pervious 2006 X3 did have. Of those, the only one I find myself missing is the park distance control. Once you become reliant on the beeps, it's hard to go back - that's all I'll say. I did get keyless start, which I love and the sunroof which I was a little worried about because, when closed it is only covered by a screen and not a solid cover, a concern I also had with the Audi Q5. So far it hasn't been that hot, but we'll see how it does this summer in the Miami heat.

As for driving - it's amazing! So much smoother than my BMW X3 was, but you can still feel the road, unlike a Mercedes ML AMG we once owned. The GLK has both Sport and Economy options, you can choose your drive depending on your preference or mood. Fuel economy is not bad at all, especially compared to previous GLK models.  I find myself averaging about 19-20 MPG in town and 24-25 MPG on the highway.

Speaking of the highway, this little truck was meant to go fast and truly seems happiest at 80 mph. Seriously, it's not just an excuse to speed, which I'd never do ;) And it turns on a dime. I have driven many cars, both mine and as tests and I can honestly say I've never experienced such an amazing turning radius. Never. Not even in the Mini. And, at only 178" long, it is a dream to drive and park in South Beach. The engine cuts off when you hit the brake for more than a few seconds to save fuel, and while at first it was a bit disconcerting, I'm totally used to it now, and it makes me feel "green."

I bought it from the Mercedes dealership in Tampa. Yes, we have plenty of them here in Miami. But let's just say they are used to a very upscale, Latin clientele that does not drive a particularly hard bargain. Meanwhile, on Florida's west coast they gave me a much better price, and full blue book trade in value for my loaded, cream puff of an X3. Not only that, they did it sight unseen, and picked up the trade in and delivered the new car right to my office. The next day a rep from Mercedes came to my work to give me the full gadget tour. You really can't get any better service than that, nor a better car.

Amazingly beautiful and slightly retro dash
Hello Lover. Carrie has shoes, I have cars (and purses).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I love my Antenna!

Clear Stream Micron Indoor Antenna $99

One year ago we cut the cord. The cable cord that is. We called up the cable company that we would no longer be needing their services. We even went so far as to have them unwire the house. I'd like to say the plan was to stop watching TV altogether, but it wasn't. The real story is that we were tired of paying $200 a month to watch crappy reality shows that weren't even in HD unless we paid even more. Some cable companies offer HD everything automatically, not Atlantic Broadband.

I thought when we cut the cable we'd spend a lot less time in front of the television. While we do watch a little less, we watch a lot of Netflix, YouTube and, mostly, great shows in HD on our new antenna. This year I got to watch my first Olympics in high definition.. for free! What a revelation. My new favorite channels are ones I didn't even get with cable, especially Create (heavy on the cooking shows with Jacques Pepin, Julia Child and Ming Tsai). The other interesting thing is that most network channels have sub-channels you don't have with cable, like NBC has 6-1 (the usual), but also 6-2 (local videos a la Plum TV). It's certainly a case of quality over quantity. There are only about 30 channels, but unlike cable, I can almost always find something to watch, usually on one of my THREE PBS channels. One thing I don't watch is crappy reality shows. No Hunny Boo Boo, no Basketball Wives or Hip Hop and Love in Atlanta. So, if you're addicted to those, you might have some trouble, but maybe it's time you went to rehab.

Lava HD $57 Outdoor Antenna on Antenna Deals

Monday, August 27, 2012

South Beach Hurricane Survival Kit

It's easy to find checklists for hurricane preparation, batteries, cash, water yada, yada, yada. But after living through a number of storms myself, I realize "just the basics" isn't that much fun, or effective. So I'm making a list of some of personal items I've accumulated over the years which make storms -- and the inevitable power outages that go with them -- so much more bearable.

Eaton Red Cross Hand Crank Emergency Radio. $80

This is an awesome 4-in-one. I have an earlier version, but the idea is the same: a radio, flashlight, cell charger and emergency siren!  Can be used with batteries or a hand crank. Perfect for finding out where the storm is, or just jamming WVUM.

Perrier Lemon in glass bottles

I stopped buying bottled water for home consumption years ago, so why would I run and buy as much as my shopping cart will allow in a storm-induced panic? I wouldn't. Instead buy something you actually want to drink that's water-like. Something that will hydrate you, but not sit in your cabinet for years after absorbing the taste of plastic (which is what used to happen to my hurricane water). Instead, clean and fill up the bathtub - just in you wind up with a boil water notice or something like that. YOu can also keep empty gallon water bottles around and fill them with filtered water just before the storm. Et voila-- water rations with virtually no BPA!

02 Cool Battery Operated Fan $29 at

Ok, you're gonna need batteries for this, but if it's August in Miami and your power is out, well, you're gonna need it. When not in use, it folds away and is totally portable and great for other uses too.. like, uh, camping. This one is 10", mine is 14".

When you're at the store, get stuff that doesn't need to be refrigerated, like oranges, apples and raw almonds. You could even use the power outage as a chance to go on a raw foods diet. Just fruit nuts and dehydrated snacks like tasty Kool Ranch Kale Chips. If you do that you'll have tons of energy by the time you have to get back to work. Totally. Serious.

Faber-Castell Soft Pastel 72 Color Set $38

Yes, really. Art supplies are the best for storms. What else are you going to do, stuck at home, no power, no TV, not internet. Pastel! Have a contest, do a portrait of the dog, whatever, it's just fun. Don't forget to get pastel paper, eraser and a few brushes for blending too.

Just because the power is out doesn't mean your environmental consciousness goes out the window. The LED light runs for 2 hours straight, which is more than you need for fumbling around in the dark each night.

This little cooler keeps ice frozen for 5 solid days. FIVE. That's normally plenty of time to get the juice back on. Here's how the seasoned pros do it: empty the ice from your fridge and place in cooler a few hours before the storm so your fridge has time to make more. Then add all the most perishable items and all the other stuff you are going to want to access. Do this while the power is still ON if you can. That way you do not have to open your fridge if the power goes, which it will keep all but the most perishable items in decent shape for a day or so. One caveat: raw meat only stays safe for 4 hours in the fridge once the power stops. If you are anticipating a storm, remove all uncooked meat from the fridge and cook it. Then put it in the cooler and nibble for days!

Smart phone chargers are everywhere and with batteries lasting longer, the car charger isn't as nesesary as it once was... unless your power is out. A lot of people don't have home phones anymore, and if they do, there are electrical cordless numbers that can't be counted on during outages. Either keep a retro non electro phone around or have a car charger handy so you can go in your car and charge it up. After, of course, the 120 mile an hour winds die down. 

Because you can't color ALL day, break out some board games and rediscover some old-school fun. Although I don't know why I think it's fun, my husband always beats me. Except once, a few years ago and I still have that score card in the box. Just remember to keep a dictionary handy for disputes. 

So what's missing from the list? Plenty, I'm sure. Candles? You've already got those, right? And booze - I did not forget the booze. My advice is not to buy more, but instead to finish all those weird, random bottles in your liquor cabinet that have been sitting there forever. Somebody's going to have to eventually drink that Jagermeister and Peach Schnapps.  This way, you can all catch a little buzz without going crazy. You don't want a "Let's finish all this beer while it's cold" situation. After all, if this is a big storm, and you've chosen to stay, you might just need your wits about you, especially if you're in a house or anywhere near the eye of the storm. Good luck!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The new Big Fish: Estiatorio Milos

Milos' cold case

Everyone who's anyone has been talking about Milos, which is sure to be the hot restaurant in Sofi this season. What are they saying? That the place is beautiful, the food is exquisite and... some of the most expensive food they ever had, Greek or otherwise. One friend told me she and her husband spent $200 on a whole fish her first trip there. Sure, they give the price of the fish per pound, but if you want to stay solvent, you better ask how much it weighs. Another friend told me she went on a double date there and everyone at the table ordered freely, because they were feeling a bit "celebratory." Fortunately, her date was a big enough fish himself so the party didn't end when the bill came to $1000 per couple. True story.

So when I had a chance to go, I was excited, and a little nervous. Could it really be that expensive? Yes, and no. There is plenty to eat at different price points. Some whole fish cost more than others so if you get a big one that's $50/pound, yeah, your bill will be high, but it will also be a lot of food. Entrees are priced at the usual South Beach fancy restaurant price of $38-$45 or so, which might be a good option if you don't want any surprises. But, there are other ways to experience Milos and it's beautifully designed dining room more reasonably. The first one is the Pre/Post Theater dinner menu which runs 5-7pm Monday to Saturday and on Sunday from 5pm til close. This gives you four courses from a $49 menu filled with succulent classics like the Charcoal Grilled Mediterranean Octopus, the Lavraki (Mediterranean Seabass from Cephalonia), Lamb Chop and their famous Baklava. The other way is with the $20.12 lunch menu that is making a buzz. It offers three courses in good sizes and a few pricier options for a $10 supplement.

There is even a third, more casual option. Go for a quick bite at the marketplace tucked off to the side of the restaurant. There they sell the top quality items they use in the kitchen like sea salt, olive oil, aps and other tapas style dishes on a long communal table. I imagine affluent Sofiers might swing by and pick up Milos' version of "to go" on a causal Tuesday night. My take on the place? Go. The ingredients are obviously of the highest quality, the food is delicious, clean, perfectly seasoned.

Beautiful, but a bit cold... bring a sweater!

The secret to perfect fish

730 First Street, Miami Beach 305.604.6800