en route

Headed away for the weekend? These items will come in handy.

iPad sleeves
Express yourself, and protect your investment, with colorful felt sleeves from Graf & Lantz. They come in 12 colors ranging from sunny yellow to serious neutrals and are made of sturdy German 3mm merino wool felt with leather detail. Hand made in LA. $38 each, available from the website.

en route: Stelton travel mug

It’s important to stay hydrated, but even more important to drink from a container free of phthalates, Bisphenol A and PVC (see more about the health risks here). The Stelton water bottle is just that, and comes dressed in a colorful washable sleeve that makes holding it a pleasure. Its 2-piece watertight top screws off, allowing you to add ice or sliced fruit, and use as a drinking glass or bottle. Available on Amazon. Don’t leave home without it! For more about plastic recycling codes click here.

Grab Guard

Here’s a little peace of mind you can carry around with you at all times. Grab Guard allows you to instantly secure your purse, briefcase or laptop bag to your chair wherever you are—restaurant, bar, coffee shop, airport—the office. Attach it to a park bench, supermarket cart, or baby stroller and be rest assured that no one can grab it and take off. Simply program a 2-digit code, pull the retractable cord, and lock. Comes in basic black, 3 hot colors, blue marble, rich mahogany or Italian marble. $19.99, available on the website.


Yerba Buena: Fresh Fruit Cocktails

Last Saturday, my cousin Paulina and I checked out Yerba Buena on Perry Street and were delighted to discover some super-fresh-fruity cocktails and great bites at the bar. Alex Valencia was on hand to mix for us and treated us to his prize-winning cocktail for Double Cross: a Cherry Tomato Gimlet. He muddled 2 very ripe cherry tomatoes with simple syrup, then added fresh lime juice and a shot and a half of Double cross vodka. After shaking with ice and he strained into chilled martini glass. I love the subtle flavors of the cherries mixed with the lime. See more photos of the other cocktails we tried and what we ate at this link.

Puro Chile: Divine Wine Store

I was invited to an organic wine tasting at Puro Chile, and was delighted to discover New York’s first exclusively Chilean wine store on the corner of Grand and Centre Streets. The space was exquisitely designed, beautifully showcasing Chile’s eco-friendly wines on stainless steel shelves (photo left) and a sexy entry area/lounge (photo right). It was quite an elegant event, with exceptional food and wines. Chef Liz Caskey of Liz Caskey Culinary and Wine Experiences hosted the tasting, and demo’d a recipe for Tuna Ceviche. Her company specializes in tours to Latin America. I loved how it was served in little bowls, which tipped into your mouth allowing the bites of fish to slide in. Summer and ceviche go hand in hand, I highly recommend put this on the menu at your next get together. But, of course, first run down to the store and get some wines to accompany! See this link for more details and photos from the tasting.

1 1/2 pounds sashimi-grade fresh tuna
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 can (14 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 minced red onion (or shallot)
sea salt and black pepper
1-2 Chilean papayas (carica), finely chopped
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Red chili or sweet red pepper, slivered for garnish (optional)

Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch cubes.

In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and lime juice, until sugar is disolved. Add the coconut milk, ginger, and red onion. Toss in the tuna to coat, season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 30 minutes for flavors to meld. Fold in Chilean papaya. For cocktail parties, serve in Chinese porcelain spoons. Garnish with cilantro, and chili, if using.

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 16-20 as spoon “bites”. Serve with either a Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.



Summer is spruce-up time, some ideas to get you going...

Hamptons pop-up: GREY AREA
For those who will be out at the east end of Long Island and looking to add a few choice pieces, head to GREY AREA from July 23rd to the 31st. The new online store for artist-designed objects is bringing its wares to Watermill, NY in the Old Stone Boys Club, a vintage car club garage on Montauk Highway. They will be open everyday from 11am to 7pm at 938 Montauk Highway. Join them for opening cocktails on Friday, July 22nd from 4pm to 9pm. The Saturday Shindig on July 23rd goes all day: featuring live music, artist food truck, a kissing booth and more. Get a peek at some of the unique and conversation-starting pieces at this link.

red collection: a picker’s paradise

Another spot to stop at along the way to the East End is Red Collection’s giant space in Riverhead. (It’s a consignment shop, so you can unload a few items too.) I have been going to their location in Greensboro, North Carolina for years, and was delighted to hear about the new New York spot. They have a fantastic selection of furniture and accessories with prices that are extremely fair. Photos of some of their offerings can be seen online at their blog. Located at 54 E. Main St.

wallpaper without commitment: Tempaper

Perk up your walls almost instantly with Tempaper, a line of repositionable wallpapers created by three women set decorators. The patterns are bold and fresh and come in brights, neutrals, and fun designs just for kids (although, I do like the giant houndstooth myself!) It’s super easy to handle, just peel a few inches of the backing off, position and press on the wall. An especially great idea for the summer rental house, as it removes absolutely cleanly in seconds. Made in the U.S.A. and sold in double rolls 20.5" wide x 33' long (covering 56.37 square feet). Photo above by Tara Striano shows the Etta pattern in subdued Pearl colorway. I put up Damsel, in hot pink, back in February for a party, then decided I liked it enough for it to stay on the wall (photo below). To apply to the counter, I just removed about 4 inches of the backing from the each end. Buy it online, or see which stores have it at this link.

yolo eco paint

The makers of Yolo Colorhouse paint, Virginia Young and Janie Lowe, took every aspect of the environment into account when creating their line of paints. But what I really love about their collection is that it makes choosing a color simple. They put their years of experience in painting murals, and painting homes into their color choices, knowing what works and what does not. Surround yourself with colors inspired by nature with The Earth’s Color Collection, whose colors coordinate perfectly from room to room. The Color of Hope palette takes color’s most basic properties to elicit different moods: creativity, imagination, nourishment, and more. See the line on their website, where you can “test” how the color looks in a room by clicking on the swatches. In New York, you can order from The Green Depot. Happy painting!

restaurant freshen up

I’m not allowed to spill the beans yet, but did want to mention that very good friends of mine are taking over a longstanding neighborhood Asian spot. They will not be doing a major overhaul, just refining a few things, and testing new items to introduce on the menu. I got to be part of the sampling and was truly wowed. The photo above shows a naruto-style roll, with the most delicious wasabi-vinegar sauce. Still thinking about it! See more photos of the tasting here, and stay tuned for more developments and special announcements.


signs of SUMMER at Gramercy Tavern, Veritas, and Cape Cod

Menus are morphing into summer-mode, the most exciting season for fresh ingredients. Here’s what I’ve come across in the past week or so: Gramercy Tavern’s cocktail: the Pineapple Painkiller. A super-refreshing mix of fresh strawberries with pineapple-infused rum and lemonade. Get one soon!. See more pics of our light dinner at this link, which happened to include the silkiest and meatiest oysters I have ever had. • Just across the street at Veritas, I discovered the Sweet Pea Gazpacho. What a welcome blend of flavors for summer from Chef Sam Hazen: A base of fresh peas, chicken stock, cucumber, garlic, and vinegar was thickened by a little bread, a fresh pea and cucumber julienne, Greek yogurt, lemon, and chives and topped with extra virgin olive oil and espelette. The surprise ingredient? Cedar smoked trout. Unique and fabulous. This soup was practically a meal in itself, but that did not stop us. We also sampled an array of other seafood delights, like Oysters Escabeche, a giant scallop, bass, and Beef in Transition—steak tartare + peppered sirloin + wrapped short ribs—a transition that I wholehearedly welcome. Decadent! See more photos from the spectacular dinner here. • Over the 4th of July weekend, I was in Cape Cod, my virgin journey. I was quite enamored with the quaitness and air of tranquility that made the weekend a truly relaxing escape. I will have to return and explore some more soon. (any suggestions for dining appreciated!) We had dinner at Summer Stock, a quaint spot next to the Playhouse and art museum in Dennis. My dinner started with a true taste of summer: watermelon slices served atop spinach, with a sprinkling of goat cheese and pickled red onions. They could have left off the goat cheese, as the portions were enormous here! See more interesting combos from our dinner here.


Summertime Cookbooks

Three ideas for healthy summer eating.

Summer = TACOS
300 BEST TACO RECIPES offers a world of flavors perfect for summer feasting. You just might spend the entire season trying them all. Here’s just a sampling: Pollo Verde Tacos, Gingered Short Rib Tacos, Green Chile Stew Tacos, Tres Taquitos with Guacamole, Spicy Chorizo Tacos, and Mahi Mahi Tacos with Citrus Salsa. The book also shows you how to make your own authentic flour and corn tortillas, salsas, and other sauces. Author Kelley Cleary Coffeen knows how to make nutritious food, having assisted in the development of healthy, ethnic recipes for Diabetics with the Joslen Center at Harvard Medical School and New Mexico State University. Available at Amazon.

Makes 8 tacos

1 cup spinach leaves, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup chopped drained canned artichoke hearts
1⁄4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1⁄4 cup chopped drained canned water chestnuts
Juice of 1 lemon

Jalapeño Cream Sauce
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 roasted jalapeños
1 TB minced fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a blender, pulse mayonnaise, yogurt, jalapeños and cilantro until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to an airtight container or squeeze bottle. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or for up to 4 days.

8 taco shells, warmed
1⁄2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese

In a bowl, combine spinach, lettuce, artichoke hearts, red onion and water chestnuts. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or for up to 2 hours to allow flavors to blend. Just before serving, toss with lemon juice and Jalapeño Cream Sauce.

To build tacos, divide mixture equally among taco shells. Top with cheese. Fold tortillas in half.

Excerpted from 300 Best Taco Recipes by Kelley Cleary Coffeen © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Cool Kitchen: Cook Zen

Summer heat makes you want to spend less, not more time in the kitchen. And if you don’t have to turn the oven on, even better. The Cook Zen pot goes into your microwave, turning it into a healthy zone for creating meals—and gets your food on the table fast, without losing nutritious vitamins and minerals. You can also prepare foods without adding excess oil, a tremendous saving in calories. Imagine serving spareribs in 14 minutes? You can also make Chocolate Truffles (1 minute cooking time), Creamy Kabocha Pumpkin (6 minute cooking time), and Spicy Coconut Chicken (9 minutes cooking time). The recipe below comes from the appliance’s second cookbook: The Cook Zen Way to Eat, which features more American-style recipes than the first edition. The pot is available on Amazon for $43.98, the cookbook for $12.29.


4 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
8 pork ribs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar

Place the olive oil and garlic in the Cook-Zen. Heat on medium-high, uncovered, for 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and heat on medium-high for 13 minutes with the steam holes set to “close.” Makes 4 servings.

Live Raw

Live Raw: Raw Food Recipes for Good Health and Timeless Beauty  For those who live raw, or want to venture into it, this new cookbook from Mimi Kirk is packed with recipes for smoothies, mocktails, soups, salads, cheeses, and more. With the help of a dehydrator, you can even create breads and pancakes. Mimi tells you how to detox, what vitamins you need daily, and how to successfully live a raw lifestyle. The recipe below from the book makes a great dip to include in your spread for vegetarian guests. Click here to order on Amazon. 


2 zucchinis, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup raw tahini
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt or to taste
Freshly milled pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Water as needed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Chopped parsley for garnish

Put all ingredients in blender, reserving the olive oil and paprika. Blend, adding water a little at a time to make a thick, smooth consistency. Taste for seasonings. A little bit more tahini, salt, or jalapeño? You decide.

Place on a flat plate and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus with a tablespoon. Add the olive oil to the well, sprinkle with paprika, and garnish with finely chopped parsley.