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Valentine’s Day & Lunar New Year Gift Guide 2015

[Translate] If you’re looking for gifts for your Valentine or a person who is celebrating Lunar New Year, here’s some ideas that might appeal to various types of people who like savory to the sweet but all in good taste (pun intended) and some items are luxe. Chocolate & Confections FIKA is a Swedish cafe and chocolate brand that opened its doors in 2006. Swedish tradition and appreciation of a coffee-centric lifestyle served as inspiration for founder and co-owner Lars Åkerlund who saw an immediate love connection between Sweden and New York. FIKA is an award winning chocolate brand as..

Bourbon Miso Pecan Brownies (Gluten Free, Butter Free)

[Translate] I love fudgy brownies. But I’ve been wondering over the years as I’ve been baking these rich, fudgy squares does it really require the half pound of butter in that batch, even if I do melt a substantial amount of chocolate? After some naval gazing and an opportunity to collaborate with Four Roses Bourbon, I had an eureka moment. I know it sounds insane to not bake with butter (and I do love my butter) but for the sake of curiosity and experimentation, you can have a fudge-y, dense brownie. Partially inspired by the macaron cookie, you can create..

Baba al Bee’s Knees

[Translate] Valentine’s Day is coming up and the award winning gin, Bluecoat American Dry Gin has asked me to create a Valentine’s Day inspired cocktail. Instead of doing another cocktail, I wanted a challenge and create a boozy cocktail dessert. Everyone knows baba al rum is a French classic yeast-risen cake soaked in lots of sweet rum syrup and possibly served with a side of fluffy whipped cream. Technically, this yeast cake is a great sponge to soak in any booze or flavored syrup you can dream of. I thought, “Why not something with gin?” Bluecoat gin is a beautiful,..

Blueberry Almond Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Lemon Compote for National Blueberry Pancake Day

[Translate] I may be early for National Blueberry Pancake Day (that day in the U.S. falls on January 28th) but I always feel like there’s never a bad day to make a batch of these babies and eat them. There’s something comforting about having a small or tall stack of these warm, fluffy, slightly crisp cakes with a few bright bites of blueberries at home and at your leisure. I have collaborated with Driscoll’s to highlight their fresh, high quality blueberries and incorporate them into my blueberry almond buttermilk pancakes. I wanted to emphasize the blueberries even further by making..

Emily (Brooklyn, NY)

[Translate] For someone who does not live in Brooklyn, it takes a certain restaurant for me to haul my fanny and make a trek past Williamsburg or Dumbo. (To those who are not familiar with NYC geography, both neighborhoods are the first subway stops in Brooklyn.) However, I did make it far into Clinton Hill for Emily. Why? The food is great. Despite the fact it’s a pizza-forward restaurant, they do create some very good small plates and an insanely great burger. (The latter I will get to soon.) The style of pizza is essentially the New York-Neapolitan. It’s thin..

New Year’s Eve Eve Dinner at Gramercy Tavern

[Translate] As long as you might have learned by now, my dear readers, Gramercy Tavern is my perennial favorite restaurant in New York City. Besides the fact it’s consistently a 1* Michelin restaurant and firmly believes in serving seasonal food philosophy and as local as possible, the food (both sweet and savory) is incredibly delicious, service was approachable yet professional, and it feels rustically refined here. We went to there for the eve of New Year’s Eve just to celebrate without the crazy hubbub of crowds. Except that was the Platonic ideal. Many diners packed in but it makes for..

Afternoon Tea at The Jefferson (Washington, D.C.)

[Translate] We had afternoon tea at the posh landmark hotel, The Greenhouse at The Jefferson in Washington, D.C. The Jefferson is an historical luxury apartment building built in the Beaux Arts style by French architect Jules de Sibour. This building was converted to a hotel in the 1950s and eventually in 2007 with the current owners renovate the historic structure to a level worthy of its namesake – and its equally sophisticated present-day guests. The staff at The Greenhouse is gracious and professional. The details of the dining rooms is stunning from the thick velvet drapes, black and white tiles,..

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (Washington, D.C.)

[Translate] I’ve come to realize during my trip to D.C. is the renaissance of artisanal doughnuts. Doughnuts that are meticulously made by hand and in small batches. Another great doughnut destination is found in the Metro-Downtown Center called Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken. THey are convenient if you are either giving your credit card a workout with the many department stores and shops in the area or if you’re working here since the business district is not too far from here. Astro Doughnuts is a storefront shop that sells nine flavors (when I was there) and during the late weekday..

Brunch at Central Michel Richard

[Translate] We had Sunday brunch at Central Michel Richard is a six-year old restaurant that still manage to cook delicious American food with a touch of French flair. This restaurant was conveniently close to the National Mall. Festively decorated and bustling with the holiday brunch crowd, our server still managed to be friendly and efficient. It’s an upscale bistro that serves a very fair priced prix fixe menu for $25 and bottomless drinks $10. We started off with drinks of Bellini, Bloody Mary, mimosa, and orange juice — all were nicely made. One of my friends started out with the..

Dolcezza Gelato & Coffee – It’s More Than Gelato Here (Washington, D.C.)

[Translate] Near our hotel in Dupont Circle when we were in Washington, D.C., one of our mornings for breakfast was at Dolcezza Gelato & Coffee. This particular location feels cozy like entering a friend’s living room and the local artwork some wit. (Dolcezza has five locations and a factory about 10 minutes outside of town and each location has its own look/personality.) Dolcezza’s philosophy is to support local farmers and make exquisite gelato. Dolcezza serves artisanal gelato produced in small hand-made batches every morning, using the best available ingredients: local fruits, herbs, eggs, cheese, milk and cream. Combining old-world methods..

Brunch at GBD (Golden Brown Delicious), Washington, D.C.

[Translate] Since we stayed at Dupont Circle, one of our weekend mornings at Washington, D.C. we had brunch at GBD, acronym for Golden Brown Delicious. What “golden brown delicious” refers to fried chicken and doughnuts. (If you have not noticed, D.C. is having a major doughnut renaissance.) When you walk past the takeout doughnut counter, you walk into the dining area where you see exposed brick wall with the restaurant’s logo and a few banquettes and two toppers along the opposite wall. The savory food beyond the doughnuts consist of fried chicken, warm fluffy biscuits, and a touch of vegetables...

Latest in Travel (Outside NYC)

Festival del Mar & Luxury Resorts Cusinart & Viceroy (Anguilla)

Festival del Mar & Luxury Resorts Cusinart & Viceroy (Anguilla)

[Translate] This is a continuation of my press trip to Anguilla. For the first/introductory part, please CLICK HERE. Many thanks again to Anguilla Tourist Board for inviting me to the fantastic press trip. Festival del Mar; A vendor’s tray full of freshly grilled Anguillan lobsters; Sailboat ready to sail off The primary reason this press trip occurred is because of Festival del Mar. This annual “festival of the sea” always occur when Easter is around and the locals and tourists alike, celebrate this long weekend by eating the fantastic, freshly caught lobsters and fish; drink up some beers or rum..
Gorgeous, Fabulous Anguilla

Gorgeous, Fabulous Anguilla

[Translate] Many thanks to Anguilla Tourist Board for inviting me to the fantastic press trip. Anguilla has everything one would want in an ideal beach wedding. Fine white sandy beaches, clear blue waters that varies in its varying tones of vibrant turquoise to dark blue depending how the sunlight strikes it, old clapboard buildings meets tony resorts (old/something borrowed and something new), and the island’s style of unfussy chic, barefoot elegance. This Caribbean island, a British overseas territory about seven miles north of St. Maarten/St. Martin, is a tiny island — a mere 35 square miles with just six traffic..
Touring Through Parts of Southern Wales, United Kingdom

Touring Through Parts of Southern Wales, United Kingdom

[Translate] Continuing on my journey in Wales, my group stopped by Llanerch Vineyard. It’s a working vineyard with a boutique hotel, restaurant and a cooking school. We took a brief cooking class with the affable and gregarious Angela Gray. We had tea or coffee with their amazing, homemade bara birth (a dense, dried fruit quick bread soaked in tea) slathered in delicious, creamy Welsh butter and buttery shortbread cookies, while getting acquainted with Angela and the school. We eventually cooked up a few Welsh dishes like lamb chops and a seafood course that had salmon and that are slightly modernized..
Amazing Week in Beijing, China

Amazing Week in Beijing, China

[Translate] Tienanmen Square Back in September, my family and I went to Beijing, China for a week. We had an amazing time at the capital city from shopping for teas and souvenirs, sightseeing the landmarks like Tienanmen Square, Temple of Heaven, and a day trip to The Great Wall of China. We stayed at the gorgeous, luxurious Grand Hyatt Beijing that was in the heart of the city and in walking distance to the main attractions like Tienanmen Square. The public transportation is very efficient and clean (unlike New York City). We also ate very well. We had very good..
Lunch at Ffresh Bar at Wales Millennium Centre (Cardiff, Wales, UK)

Lunch at Ffresh Bar at Wales Millennium Centre (Cardiff, Wales, UK)

[Translate] Wales Millennium Centre & Exterior of Ffresh Bar When I was in Cardiff, Wales, UK, one of my stops in this cool city was at the Millennium Centre, right off of Cardiff Bay. Before we had a tour of this fantastic performing arts center, we had a quick but very tasty lunch at Ffresh Bar. This restaurant is recommended in the Michelin Guide 2015 and Good Food Guide, with menus designed by the consultant chef Sean Hill of the Walnut Tree Abergavenny. (more…)
36 Hours in Cardiff (Wales, UK)

36 Hours in Cardiff (Wales, UK)

[Translate] Riding First Class on Rail Europe; Looking down High Street Visit Wales recently invited me to fly over and have a week-long trip to explore southern and western parts of their beautiful country. The first stop was Cardiff. Cardiff is the Welsh capital, located in the southern part of Wales. This city was largely built during Britain’s 19th-century coal boom and was generally not considered one of the country’s most attractive cities. But times are changing. Major regeneration projects since the 1990s — a new performing arts center, a revamped waterfront and a 74,000-seat stadium, to name a few..
Chapel 1877 (Cardiff, Wales)

Chapel 1877 (Cardiff, Wales)

[Translate] Exterior, interior, and architectural details of Chapel 1877 I recently went to a press trip to South Wales and had an amazing time. While I will write an appropriate introductory piece about the great city of Cardiff in the next post, I’m going straight to one of my dinners at Chapel 1877. Chapel 1877 is a buzzy restaurant in Cardiff, Wales that opened in 2008. It was former Pembroke Terrace Chapel and it’s respectfully restored the church’s beautiful French Gothic architectural details (it’s a Grade II listed building). The restaurant is divided into three spaces, a bar dining area,..
Afternoon Tea at The Jefferson (Washington, D.C.)

Afternoon Tea at The Jefferson (Washington, D.C.)

[Translate] We had afternoon tea at the posh landmark hotel, The Greenhouse at The Jefferson in Washington, D.C. The Jefferson is an historical luxury apartment building built in the Beaux Arts style by French architect Jules de Sibour. This building was converted to a hotel in the 1950s and eventually in 2007 with the current owners renovate the historic structure to a level worthy of its namesake – and its equally sophisticated present-day guests. The staff at The Greenhouse is gracious and professional. The details of the dining rooms is stunning from the thick velvet drapes, black and white tiles,..
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (Washington, D.C.)

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (Washington, D.C.)

[Translate] I’ve come to realize during my trip to D.C. is the renaissance of artisanal doughnuts. Doughnuts that are meticulously made by hand and in small batches. Another great doughnut destination is found in the Metro-Downtown Center called Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken. THey are convenient if you are either giving your credit card a workout with the many department stores and shops in the area or if you’re working here since the business district is not too far from here. Astro Doughnuts is a storefront shop that sells nine flavors (when I was there) and during the late weekday..

Recipes

Many Uses with KitchenAid – Blender, Pasta Maker, and Convection Oven

Many Uses with KitchenAid – Blender, Pasta Maker, and Convection Oven

[Translate] KitchenAid Convection Digital Countertop Oven & Diamond Blender; Pasta Excellence Set Our friends at KitchenAid sent me their amazing household products of the Diamond Blender, Countertop Digital Convection Oven, and Pasta Excellence Set (pasta stand mixer attachments since I own their Artisan Stand Mixer). Since spring is finally here and how can’t you not feel inspired to cook and bake anything? Strawberries are one of the ingredients that are prominent in spring and for breakfast, I like making smoothies besides my cup of coffee. It’s quick and easy for my busy mornings shuffling to work. I made batches of..
Jalapeño Havarti Cheese & Cauliflower Crustless Quiche

Jalapeño Havarti Cheese & Cauliflower Crustless Quiche

[Translate] PARTNER POST – Get creative with any of Castello’s uniquely crafted cheeses. Click here for a $1 off coupon to create your own gourmet masterpiece. Castello Jalapeño Havarti cheeses; Jalapeño Havarti & Cauliflower Crustless Quiche Castello Cheese is an historical cheese brand that started since 1893 and they create more than 40 different types of delicious cheeses. I’ve recently been selected to be one of Castello’s collaborators to come up with a unique recipe with their jalapeño havarti cheese that’s more than just a grilled cheese sandwich or cheese dip. Havarti cheese is a Danish-style cow’s milk cheese that..
Pistachio, Yuzu, Chocolate Feuilletine Cake

Pistachio, Yuzu, Chocolate Feuilletine Cake

[Translate] Chinese New Year (or what others would generalize this holiday, Lunar New Year) is coming up this Thursday and if you really want to make a dessert to impress your family and friends, this pistachio, yuzu, chocolate feuilletine cake, would be it. I chose these flavors centered on the pistachio. Even though pistachio is my favorite nut and flavor, in Chinese New Year traditions, this nut means happy nut and symbolizes happiness. Thankfully, my family isn’t staunchly stuck on tradition; I’ve incorporated a mix of Chinese tradition with French pastry technique for this dessert. (more…)