Lever House WINE CLUB / bordeaux

BASICS Bordeaux is made up mostly of large vineyards that grow and produce the wines. The label Mis en Bouteille au Château means “bottled at the chateau.” These glamorous reds are extremely refined and age gracefully. Bordeaux is governed by a set of regulations known as Appellation Contrôlée (AC). Almost all red Bordeaux is blended. Red wine grape varieties are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. White varieties are: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. 2005 seems to be the year everyone talks about as the best. Ranks: Cru Bourgeois, then Cru Bourgeois Superieur, then Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel.
PICKS I described this as “easy” and “perfect” the 2005 Chateau Lascombes Margaux ($80). A tie for second place: 2004 Les Fiefs de Lagrange Saint Julien, which was still a little young, ready next year, and 2003 medoc Chateau Looudenne Cru Bourgeois Superieur ($19). Others worth mentioning: 2004 Chateau Cantemerle Haut Medoc ($55), priced right and is a classic example; Chateau Haut-Beausejour, Sainte-Estephe Cru Bourgeois ($22), smack finish, from more limestone in soil; Chateau de Pez, Sainte-Estephe Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel ($28), very earthy, like a wet forest; 2002 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou Saint Julien, full bodied, a masculine wine to drink while relaxing or before going to bed. See more Lever House Wine Club in the OUT AND ABOUT section.

Lever House WINE CLUB / australia

BASICS Australia grows a huge assortment of grapes. A lot of their vineyards must irrigate because of low rainfall, however terroirs are starting to be mapped out in certain areas. Adelaide Hills is a cool climate area that is getting a lot of attention now. South of Adelaide is Clarendon Hills, old-school producers with 10 vineyards: Brookman, Hickinbotham, Sandown, Blewitt Springs, Clarendon, Liandra, Piggott Range, Romas, Astralis and Kangarilla.
PICKS Loved Giaconda, a 2006 chardonnay by Natua Vineyard, from Victoria, the best by far. A decent, good drinking everyday white was Jim Barry Silly Mid On, from Adelaide Hills, also a 2006. We tried 5 wines by Clarendon Hills, which were all good: two grenaches were my favorites, a 2004 Blewitt Springs, and a 2003 Hickinbotham; a syrah 2004 Moritz, very full and fruity, great to drink on its own; a merlot 2004 Brookman had a nice bite to the finish, and a great cabernet sauvignon called Sandown, 2004. See more Lever House Wine Club in the OUT AND ABOUT section.

Lever House WINE CLUB / spain

BASICS Spain’s famous grape is called Temperanillo, which creates a wine of low acidity and less of an alcoholic content, and is used to make riojas. The term Crianza is applied to a rioja when it has spent one year in a cask, and is at least three years old. The grape is usually blended with other reds, such as Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, and Mazuelo. White varieties: Godello, Albariño, Treixadura, Verdejo, Malvasía.
PICKS The two whites that impressed me were the 2006 Viña Godeval, from the Valdeorras region, made from the godello grape, which was heavy with a sweet touch of honey, and the 2006 Naia from Rueda, which was nice and crisp, acidic on the tounge, with a hint of almonds and a great smell. It was my first choice for the whites, made from the verdejo grape, which is considered to be the finest for white. Of the reds, the 2006 Valtosca, Syrah from Jumilla made the cut, which tasted like the most appealing cough syrup you could ever have—and I mean that in the most complimentary way—so soothing and sweet. It’s soil is high in minerals. The 2005 Alto Moncayo Veraton made with 100% grenache from Campo de Borja is grown in the high mountains on super old vines—my tasting notes only say “yum”—plus I really love the label, which is a mosaic of all the colors of the soil. See more Lever House Wine Club in the OUT AND ABOUT section.


RECIPE / strawberry gazpacho with basil

Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park created a buzz at the sub-zero showroom in May with this refreshing and delicious recipe for gazpacho:
4 med strawberries
4 oz olive oil
2 oz country bread
Sprig of thyme
1 clove garlic
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 pounds of strawberries, plus 4 med strawberries
3 oz tomato juice
1 1/2 oz red wine vinegar
Hot sauce
crouton garnish:
1 slice country bread, diced in 1/4” cubes
1 TB olive oil
1 sprig of thyme
1 clove garlic
to finish:
Extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
4 basil leaves
1. Make ahead for garnish: cut 4 strawberries into quarters, place on parchment. Let dry in 195º oven for about 2 hours.
2. Toast the country bread in a pan with 1 oz of the olive oil, thyme, and garlic until golden brown.
3. Dice the rest of the ingredients, combine with tomato juice, vinegar and rest of olive oil. Marinate for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.
4. Put everything in blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a china cup.
5. Season with a couple drops of hot sauce.
6. To make croutons for garnish: Toast bread with olive oil, thyme and crushed garlic in sauté pan. Season with salt.
7. To create dish: ladle the soup in a cold bowl. Garnish with croutons, 4 diced fresh strawberries and the dried strawberries. Finish with basil, drizzle with olive oil and crushed black pepper.

Sub-Zero / a showroom that cooks

One of my favorite restaurants in NYC, Eleven Madison Park, did a live cooking demo at the Sub-Zero showroom during the ICFF show with Chef Daniel Humm. They featured a recipe for Strawberry Gazpacho with Basil (see recipe) which was refreshing and an interesting departure from tradition. This showroom has to be seen to be believed, and has on-going cooking demos hosted by Chef Coleman Titelbaum. See the website for the schedule and to make a reservation at an upcoming cooking demo.

Good Earth COFFEE + Rowenta Coffee Maker / perfect pair

I love good design and I adore organization. This Rowenta coffee maker, designed by Jasper Morrison, defines both with its sleek and efficient design which puts all the necessary parts where you need them. I wish everything in life were like this. Under the lid are the filters, scoop and removable basket. All that’s missing is a good organic coffee. Enter Good Earth, the maker of great organic teas with a new line of organic coffees. My favorite, Mystic Blend, is a dark roast that has an extremely smooth, balanced flavor that will get you and your guests goin’!



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"matching sweets to drinks to scent"


This restaurant scores points with me for its beautiful design, which included a mosaic staircase and lace-patterned bar, both illuminated. I was accompanied by my charming friend, Vera Eisenberg, a.k.a. "the strudel queen". You have, no doubt, seen her artful food stylings on various Food Network shows. The Restaurant Week menu was interestingly divided into 2 categories, one featured an assortment of "bar food", where you were able to sample 4 small plates, which is the route my friend chose. I stuck with tradition, and had an appetizer of watermelon gazpacho, which tasted exactly as you would expect—like a sweet, juicy, summer melon. For the main course, I sampled the short ribs, which was an extremely rich, delicious and decadent contrast to the soup, which made it all the more enjoyable. For dessert, my chocolate sorbet seemed a little washed out. But then again, I find eating sweets at the end of a meal unnecessary. Vera had the panna cotta dessert, which I believe was flavored with lavender—that had a light, slippery texture and was nicely sweet. We visited this restaurant after attending a delicious sauvignon blanc wine tasting at Morrell's, which we enjoyed so much that we giddily and tipsily ordered 3 cases to be delivered to our homes! If you want to get in on wine tastings in your area check out this link.

RESTAURANT Denver: 1515 Market St / fine dining meets honky tonk

1515 Market Street, Denver, CO I ended my trip in Denver on a high note, food-wise that is. This place had a split personality, consisting of a funky bar downstairs and a dining area with fancy glassed-in wine room upstairs. I must have arrived at an odd hour (9:30?)—as the serious diners upstairs were on their way out and the serious drinkers downstairs had not yet arrived. Faced with the option of dining categorically solo, I almost chose to exit, but then opted to sit in the downstairs bar—which totally worked in my favor. I had the super cool and friendly staff all to myself and at my beck and call. My luck continued with my picks from the menu. The dandelion salad was extremely fresh and vibrant, with perfectly balanced tastes of bitter and sweet and textures of crunchy and creamy. They did not skimp on the portion of the Three Styles of Duck, which consisted of a confit leg, spring roll, and rendered breast. I don’t think my photo does justice to the Pollock-like styling of the dish whose components' flavors played to each other so beautifully. Having been so impressed by the offerings so far, I re-examined the menu and came across Cold Caesar Salad SOUP with bacon foam, croutons, tomato concassés, and caesar dressing. What? How did I miss this item? Though I had already done two courses, I decided that I HAD to try this, and was more than pleased with the outcome. This soup all-of-a-sudden made gazpacho obsolete, and upped the ante for sophisticated summer fare. My compliments to Chef Chris Laramie.

RECIPE / avocado chicken salad

Why not substitute avocado for mayo the next time you do a chicken salad? You’d be adding unsaturated fat, and a combination of 20 vitamins and minerals. Plus it tastes great. Chop up a baby yellow squash, some roasted yellow pepper and a grilled lemon chicken breast. Scoop out half of a really ripe avocado, mash it into the chopped mix, add a dash of cayenne pepper. If you don’t have the squash, a chopped up cucumber (remove seeds) would add a refreshing twist.

Lever House WINE CLUB / champagne

PICKS I must say this was my favorite of all the tastings, and they were all grand. From Pommery, the driest and peachiest of the lot, we had the Reims Brut Royal, the 1998 Brut Grand Cru, and the Reims Brut Rose. Krug MV was slightly heavier on the tounge and had hints of walnuts and smooth bubbles. Ruinart Rose had a superb taste, but was a little flat to me. My absolute favorites were all from Louis Roederer, the Reims Brut Premier was quite bubbly, the Blanc de Blanc was smoother, with finer bubbles, and the 2002 Reims Brut Vintage Rose was tops—due to its excessive evaporation, it literally danced in your mouth! Almost like drinking air. Check out their beautiful website to see how they grow the grapes. Very educational! See more Lever House Wine Club in the OUT AND ABOUT section.

Lever House WINE CLUB / burgundy

BASICS The region produces Pinot Noir for red wine and Chardonnay for white. Burgundy is composed of small-scale growers. Négociants, who do not own a vineyard, but have stakes in rows of grapes, finish and bottle the wines. Terroir refers to the soil, the climate, and the angle to the sun, which gives specific characteristics to the wine and is how the wine is classified. Grand Cru is considered the best and must age for 5 to 7 years. Premier Cru is second and must age for 3 to 5 years. Villages must age for 2 to 4 years, and is sometimes blended.
PICKS Of the whites, I really liked the 2006 Puligny-Montrachet, Jean Marc Boillot, a nice winter white, with a vanilla, perfumey smell. Out of the reds, the 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin Emile Geantet was smooth, with a “dirty” smell—this would be great decanted along with a steak. Everyone in the group was raving about the Domaine Chanson Beaune Greves, which comes from a single vineyard. See more Lever House Wine Club in the OUT AND ABOUT section.

Lever House WINE CLUB / napa cabernets

PICKS What can I say? I lost my notes from this tasting, but have photos of my favorites. I remember vividly, how I was in reverie over the 2004 Reverie; Honig, a vineyard that developed sustainable practices for the area, like using solar power, reducing water usage, and composting the skins, got my vote for their 2004 from Bartolucci Vineyard; and the 2004 Opus One came in as my third choice. Arnaud’s vote was for V Madrone, made by Christopher Tilley. With super cherry and plum notes, it concentrates on terroir from Napa floor and shows great potential for aging! See more Lever House Wine Club in the OUT AND ABOUT section.

Lever House WINE CLUB / learning the easy way

I didn’t know much about wine, except that I truly enjoy drinking it. So, this past winter, that lack of knowledge prompted me to join the Lever House Wine Club, conceived and hosted by sommelier Arnaud Devulder. The 15-week experience turned out to be divine, housed in the ultra-cool back room at Lever House. Each week, a different group of learned and sophisticated guests would savor Arnaud’s cavalier, yet informative, presentations into the many worlds of wine. Arnaud had a knack for mixing expensive wines with surprising picks for everyday enjoyment, under $20. Tasting was done in an ascending sequence, leading to a crescendo, which allowed your brain to grasp the basic flavors, yet focus on the subtle differences. Arnaud has intimate knowledge of his subject, having lived at various vineyards, and can speak about it on any level—be it about the sensual qualities or knowing the specifics on terroir, winemaking practices, and prices. See my recaps of each session for some basic facts about the various regions and my favorites of each tasting. I can’t wait for the next session! Check out arnaud.com for information on the next phase of the club.



You can enjoy this pretty little cake from Chef Jennifer Jasinski at Bistro Vendôme, in Denver, or employ your own baking talents, wherever you are...

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 lb butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 tbl vanilla extract
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 Combine and sift first 4 ingredients.
2 In mixer with paddle attachment, place butter and sugar, mix until smooth. Slowly add each egg and mix until incorporated.
3 Into mixture, alternate between adding flour mix and buttermilk, mix until smooth. Add vanilla and poppy seed and continue to mix.
4 Take a cake pan and spray with coating. Pour mixture into the pan so it is about 1.5 inches high. Bake at 325ºF for 15 minutes or until cake bounces back to touch,

White Chocolate Mousse Topping
1lb 6 oz white chocolate
1 cup strawberry puree
1cup heavy cream
3 1/2 sheets gelatin, softened
1 quart heavy cream
1 Chop chocolate and place in mixing bowl.
2 Heat puree and cup of cream together, pour over chocolate and mix with a whisk
3 Add gelatin and continue to whisk and cool.
4 Place the quart of heavy cream in a mixer bowl and whip until medium peeks are formed.
5 Slowly fold the chocolate into the cream mixture until fully incorporated, chill until it completely sets up.

To assemble: Cut desired shape out of cake and brush with simple syrup. Pipe mousse mix on top of cake and garnish with fresh strawberries.

Rioja RESTAURANT / Denver

Rioja, Denver, CO The team of Chef Jennifer Jasinski and partner Beth Gruitch are wowing downtown Denver and pulling out all the culinary stops with Rioja. Jennifer makes each dish a work of art with complex pairings that impress and delight. Her experience with opening restaurants for Wolfgang Puck inspired her to design the open kitchen, which is a hotbed of activity and pulls you into the excitement of the prep. Whereas Bistro Vendôme (see OUT+ABOUT), their sister restaurant, offers comforting french fare, the dishes in Rioja are a unique taste experience. For instance, the tartare here was made with tuna accompanied by marinated apple and fennel salad and crispy apple chips. All the homemade pastas are to die for! Try the candied lemon gnocchi with butter poached crab or her signature dish—a duo of artichoke tortelloni which is stuffed with goat cheese and artichoke mousse, sits in an artichoke broth, and even has artichoke chips! Cocktails also offer distinctive flavor combinations. For those who prefer slightly tart drinks, there’s the Pomeginger (see photo), made with vodka, pomegranate juice, ginger, and twist of lemon. I could go on and on, but I insist you try it for yourself. Bring your appetite and your loved ones here for a special celebration, or just make one up!

Denver: BISTRO VENDOME / magnifique!

Bistro Vendôme, Denver, CO For a taste of France via Denver come to Bistro Vendôme. Chef Jennifer Jasinski and partner Beth Gruitch will coddle you with their combination of warm hospitality and great fare for a positively memorable night out. Jennifer, who for 10 years opened restaurants for Wolfgang Puck, has a way with proteins, and as a sworn carnivore, I was thrilled to sample a gorgeous array of charcuterie and pates, followed by a steak tartare topped with quail egg (see photo), and still had room to savor the pepper-seared foie gras served on an onion tart with sauteed peaches. A salad of roasted yellow beets rounded out the meal, whose ingredients were unbelievablly flavorful and came from nearby farms. Speaking of which, Jennifer uses as one of her vendors a cutting-edge aeroponic farm called Grow Anywhere (see photos). Owner Mark Haberer developed the growing techniques, which use no soil or pesticides, and whose greens can be cut and shipped to the restaurant in a matter of hours. His array of greens, sprouts, and mini vegetables were used in many of the dishes at Bistro Vendome, and the team’s other successful restaurant, Rioja (see OUT+ABOUT). And for all you bakers out there, Jennifer shared her recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Cake. This sumptuous little cake’s poppy seeds add a surprising crunch and has an ultra-light white chocolate mousse topping, which was welcome treat at the end of the meat-fest. See EXPERTISE section for recipe.


MY NIGHT OUT WITH BOB / gramercy park sampler

I am extremely fortunate to have a neighbor, whose company I adore, and whose tastes and desires I share. We have identical apartments and are both in the process of finishing a renovation and decorating the space, which is the subject of endless discussion and debate. This is the first in a series of our meanderings, which I stake out as research for future entertaining venues and inspiration for design. On Thursday, July 31, we began our evening at 8, with a cocktail and snack at Wakiya. The place was pretty packed so we parked ourselves along the banquets at the entrance, giving us a straight view of the center of the restaurant, which was bedecked by long red tassles. It seemed kind of strange to have a row of tables in this area, but people didn’t seem to mind. Our choice of the passion fruit/mango martini was a good one, cool and refreshing, and as it was quite dark, I took a few sips before I noticed that there was a slice of star fruit garnish, which I thought was a nice touch. From the dim sum menu, we ordered the shrimp and chive plus the shrimp and chicken dumplings, the latter was the hands-down winner. The decor was a bit too “wintery” for our taste, the darkness a downer on such a beautiful summer evening, so we made a move to Japonais for part two of our evening. As we entered the crowded bar area, two seats became immediately available, which I always take as a good sign. We continued our sampling with lobster spring rolls with mango relish and blood orange vinaigrette, which is a favorite of mine. A flaky crust surrounds a chunky tube of lobster, which comes to the table piping hot. So delicious and satisfying, we got a second order. Also good was the Spicy Mono, an octopus roll topped with spicy tuna tartare and sweet eel sauce. For our nightcap, we headed over to Veritas, where we winded down with the staff. As usual, we were lovingly hosted and entertained by manager Tim Bellardo. Yoshi Takemura recommended a 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, Cliff Lede, which ranked highly as the perfect summer wine. We will be back for dinner soon...

Modern FLATWARE by Maarten Baptist / eat joyfully

I have been looking for years for a set of flatware that has a beautiful and unique design and is a pleasure to hold—not too heavy, not too light. On a recent trip to Denver, I finally found my unalloyed dream at Z Modern, in a design by Maarten Baptist of WAT design. This elegant and futuristic-looking set was $40 a place setting, and has the bonus of a great mouth feel when using the spoons and a knife that successfully carves into whatever you put in front of it.


Coasters by Francisca Prieto / *

Use these enameled asterisks as coasters, saucers, or under a hot plate. Industrial designer Francisca Prieto takes inspiration from typography from her time as a graphic designer and puts the shapes to good use.


FELT WALL PANELS / quiet, please!

Whether or not you have a space that needs to be insulated from sound, these wall panels designed by Anne Kyyro Quinn will add a sculptural, organic touch. What is it about felt that automatically speaks comfort? It has a certain allure that makes you want to touch it—sophisticated, yet laid back. She also makes a line of pillows, runner and placemats. that can soften any surface.


HEALTHY SNACK / ladies’ bite

I like to experiment with different things I have in the fridge, and in the name of eliminating waste, I will be open to trying unusual pairings. This test for a healthy snack turned out surprisingly well, so I thought I should record it for future get togethers. I took a Pink Lady apple and cut it into thin slices. Pink Ladies are a gorgeous bright reddish-pink and are very sweet with a slightly lemony tang. Next, I spread some goat cheese on the slices, using a brand called Il Tommasino from Italy. On top, I sprinkled a little garlic/pepper mix from Simply Organic mixes, then placed a couple of thin slices of mild onion and roasted yellow pepper. And there you have it. Rather than use an already roasted pepper from a jar, I like to sit a pepper on one of the burners while I am cooking something else, then put it in a baggie to use in salads, on a sandwich, or to add flavor to a sauce. To me, it has a cleaner, sweeter taste. Recently, I placed an already cut lemon into the baggie with the pepper to save space. Although it was not even touching the pepper, when I cut a wedge to put in my glass of water, it gave it a little zip. Food for thought...


LIGHTING by MOLO / presto chango!

For your next outdoor event, add these futuristic indoor/outdoor lights that can instantly change into the 3 shapes shown, and anything in between with a quick manipulation. Molo makes these out of a highly durable polyethylene non-woven textile which cannot tear, is water-resistant and 100% recyclable.

LIGHTING by Fambuena / eclipse'd

For a stark and moody setting, employ these lights from Fambuena, which resemble a full lunar eclipse. It is the coolest use of fluorescent lighting I have seen to date. They also make the same light with opaque blown glass. Fambuena products are from Spain and are distributed in North America exclusively by Boutique Design Products.

BOUTIQUE HOTEL The Ivy / enticingly rich

THE IVY, San Diego, CA What a nice surprise I had after arbitrarily picking this hotel on a recent trip to the Fancy Food Show. I told everyone I spoke to back home that I did not want to come home. The style was “all me!” The room came complete with not a mini, but a full bar, (center photo) with fridge and a gournet coffee maker plus a tray of goodies that included: snacks of all kinds, chocolate, mints, useful kits, a pack of cards, and audaciously, sex toys for one and another for couples. My room was on the inside of the hotel, meaning a wall of windows opened up onto a 3-story courtyard, so you got to play voyeur—or employ the light-eliminating curtain front. The bath featured toiletries from the mindfully crafted and beautfifully packaged Greek company, Korres. The glass shower door featured a cutout that you could hang the bath mat from, but also allowed you to turn on the water before you got inside. Clever. The bed, bedspread, and pillows coaxed you to dreamland, and the satellite radio that came on one of the channels on the flat screen tv completed the chilled-out feeling of the room. I asked and was given a grand tour of the hotel and was blown away by the suites, and apartment, which had a mosaic tile bathroom that was the size of a studio apartment.
TOP NOTCH Once I discovered the Quarter Kitchen, I decided that it was THE place to be, for lunch, dinner or drinks. Chef Damon Gordon, who trained with Alain Ducasse and Jeffrey Chodorow, was in charge here, and I was extremely impressed not only at the menu, but at the friendly and faultless service and by the artful display of all the dishes, as seen in my minimalist caesar salad. Even the butter was memorable. The roof bar had a great view of the city plus nice lounging areas one of which had a really cool blue-flame-on-white-rocks fire pit, that was actually necessary and a welcome perk at night, which in January were a little chilly. There is also a pool on the roof, and a private cabana that can be accessed through one of the suites, done up mod-Morroccan style.
EXTRA PERKS I could not resist taking the free gas-guzzling Escalade service down to the convention center—it was nice to arrive in style! You can also arrange to have your own butler, to pack, iron, or perform other butler services, all included in the room price.
WEEKENDS I was told that the weekends can get pretty wild at The Ivy, and was sorry that I could not be there for the festitvities. That is when the two clubs are open. Next time!


La Fée Absinthe / go chartreuse

You’ve probably been catching a lot of buzz on absinthe over the past couple of years. You can thank George Rowley, CEO of La Fée, for bringing it out of its underground status and launching it into the limelight. Absinthe is a hostess’ dream: the color, the thrill, the accoutrement! The traditional method: rest a slotted spoon over a glass of absinthe, place a cube of sugar on it, and slowly pour 4 to 6 times the amount of ice water. This changes the color of the drink from a bright, clear green to a gorgeous, frosted chartreuse. A spoon with signature “eye” comes with your purchase of a bottle of La Fée, who have taken an ancient French recipe and come up with some exciting new ways to mix it. As a bonus to looking really cool, you can also enjoy the idiosyncratic state absinthe drinking has to offer. According to the Absinthe Buyers Guide: Drinkers of absinthe experience a double action intoxication, combining the effects of strong alcohol and a secondary effect reported to be a “clear-headed” feeling of inebriation. Chemist and absinthe expert, T.A. Breaux describes it as a push-me, pull-you effect of the various herbs, some have a heightening effect while others have a lowering effect. Try this taste combo that’s shockingly different:

La Fée Sour
1 ½ oz La Fée Absinthe Parisienne
Juice of half a fresh lemon
1 tsp sugar
1 egg white
Method: Shake all ingredients with crushed ice and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. For a longer drink, use a high-ball glass and top with soda for a La Fée Sea Fizz.


CHEF GAVIN BAKER / perfect spa lunch at Talisker Club

Try this RAW dairy-free recipe from Executive Chef Gavin Baker of Tuhaye Table Cafe at The Talisker Club:

(serves four)
4 organic zucchini, unpeeled
1 cup raw macadamia nuts
1 1/2 cups raw pine nuts
2-inch section unpeeled zucchini, chopped
2 TBS lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups plain soy milk
2 TBS fresh thyme
1/4 of small red hot chili pepper
1 TSP Sea salt
Fresh ground white pepper to taste
1. Trim the ends of the zucchini and pass over a mandolin set with a fine julienne blade. The result will be zucchini that looks like noodles. Spread the noodles out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and allow to dry slightly at room temperature for one hour.
2. Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a blender and process until smooth.
3. Pass through a chinoise and reserve until needed.
4. When ready, toss the “noodles” with the “alfredo” and divide into four equal portions.
5. Garnish with the sun-dried tomatoes and basil tops.
For more information about The Talisker Club, see OUT AND ABOUT.


DESTINATION Park City / surreal beauty at Talisker Club

I felt like I arrived on another planet when we rolled into the Talisker Club at Tuhaye. Nothing could prevent me from stopping to take some photos. There, the mountains went as far as you could see in a major panorama. This heavenly place will be home to the few who can afford to buy a piece of paradise, and is outfiited to be so. Lunch at the Tuhaye Table Cafe turned out to be THE perfect spa lunch. Chefs John Murcko and Gavin Baker, prepared a top notch amuse bouche of radish, cucumber and creme fraiche, a raw “fettucine” in a “cream” sauce (see recipe in SCOOP), a couple of ultra thin crust pizzas and one of the most delicious and light desserts that I have ever tasted: a pineapple soup by Pastry Chef Aimee Altizer. You could tell at first glance that the cafe was luxuriously and lovingly designed with its beautifully embroidered curtains and other fine appointments, but it still maintained an exceedingly relaxed vibe. It overlooked a swimming pool with those gorgeous mountains as a backdrop, and was just breathtaking. The spa was a private oasis, complete with individual bathrooms with showers, so that après treatment felt like being at home. I had the Raindrop Ritual massage. This treatment is based on Native American traditions and uses pharmaceutical-grade essential oils, each with a myriad of benefits. First, the oils were dropped and massaged into your feet, followed by a sequence of eight different oils dripped from the bottom to the top of your spine. Then the rolling massage techniques of Tibetan reflexology were put into play. The massage is designed to boost the immune system, while releasing muscle spasms and reducing inflammation. The masseuse was so incredibly earnest and serious about her craft, that I fell into an extremely deep state of relaxation, so much so, that I felt like I was coming back from a million miles away when she spoke. The Talisker Club is truly out of this world.

CHEF AIMEE ALTIZER / adding flower power

Pastry Chef Aimee Altizer makes wonderfully light and pretty desserts, as seen in the photo of her pineapple soup. She's part of the culinary force at the Tuhaye Table Cafe at Talisker Club in Park City, Utah, an exclusive new development that had me gaping in awe the whole time I was there. I asked her for some creative ideas for using edible flowers, and here's what she said:
• Snip off the florets on your home-grown chives, sage, or basil, to add a milder herbal flavor to your salads, soups or pasta. Makes for a prettier tomato, basil and mozzarella salad.
• Jasmine flowers are great with summer red fruit and make a heavenly cake/tart garnish.
• Grind a small amount of dried lavender for a great addition to a lemon pound cake.
• Try fresh rose petals to garnish a buttermilk vanilla panna cotta with fresh raspberries and rose syrup. This is what Talisker served on Mother's Day.
• Always make sure your flowers are from a reliable source.
You can find out more about my visit to the Talisker Club in OUT AND ABOUT.


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"entertaining with flowers"

ISI Whipper / whip it good!

You will want to put swirls and florets on everything you see once you get your hands on the mini whipper from ISI. Make your own whipped cream instantly while avoiding preservatives and additives—unless what you want to add are some flavored liqueurs, natural syrups, honey, or alternative sugars. Pastry Chef Aimee Altizer of Talisker Club in Park City suggests mixing turbinado with the cream before whipping so it can dissolve. See RECIPES + EXPERTISE for her tips on other edible flowers.

Red & Green Co TEA / budding genius

Next time your guests ask for tea, serve them the Budding Flower from Red & Green Company. A globe amaranth and chrysanthemum wrapped with young green tea and infused with the scent of magnolias will have them swooning as they watch the petals unfold in their cup. Co-founder Chongbin Zheng, an artist, grew up in Hangzou, a famous tea region of China. He travels back to his homeland to work closely with farmers to create exceptional teas which he has re-fitted in cool packages—from hermetically sealed aluminum canisters, clay jars, to bamboo canisters. He also has a knack for teapot design. Using craftsman from Chinese factories whose designs date back to the 1300s, Chongbin brings their time-honored techniques to his modern designs.

The Wild Hibiscus Flower Co / a bud down under

Another flower that caught my eye is from The Wild Hibiscus Flower Company in Australia. The flower slowly opens up as bubbles stream off it’s tips, creating a dance in your glass and adding the flavor of raspberry and rhubarb to your cocktail. Owner Lee Etherington, once a tour guide who delighted tourists with his jams, preserves and sauces made from Australia’s best indigenous offerings, developed the flower idea after hosting a group of tipsy tourists who playfully dropped one into a glass of champagne. He spent the next few years perfecting the method of preserving the flowers and although now distributed to 16 countries, the product is still hand-packed into jars to ensure that none are squashed. They are naturally preserved in cane sugar and spring water and will last up to 24 months. And if champagne’s not your thing, then see these other recipes—Australian Beef with Red Wine Hibiscus Syrup Glaze and Wild Hibiscus Pavlova Supreme—on their website.

Sweetfield's Crystallized Flowers FLORAL ADORNMENT

Your friends will think you are a baking superstar when you adorn your pastries with these real crystallized edible posies. Your only dilemma will be choosing from among the organically grown violas, pansies, snap dragons, mini roses and rose petals, each a uniquely beautiful treasure. John Clemons, founder of Sweetfields, perfected the ancient art of crystallization, so that the flowers look everlastingly fresh, and obtained a few patents in the process. With proper storage, they will last forever—so you can always have some on hand to add a light and fruity crunch to a salad, pose on top of a cupcake or float atop a glass of champagne.




click image to enlarge
"organic cocktail ingredients"

Sonoma Syrup Co / simply divine simple syrups

No bar is complete without simple syrup on hand, and these artisan mixtures bring with them the flavors and freshness of wine country. Sonoma Syrup Comany infuses the intense flavors of organically grown meyer lemons and mint, as part of their collection of fifteen natural flavorings. With a shelf life of 18 months, it’s great to have on hand, and works wonders added to ice teas, water, or your favorite cocktail. Sweeten your day with this lemony combo:

Sue Erickson's Meyer Lemon Drop Martini
1 lemon wedge
2 ounces lemon flavored vodka
3/4 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce Meyer Lemon Infused Simple Syrup
1 lemon twist
Moisten the outer rim of a martini glass with the lemon wedge and coat lightly with sugar. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and shake well. Strain into the martini glass and garnish with the lemon twist.

Q Tonic mixer / a true tonic

Introducing the world’s best tonic water: mix hand-picked quinine, collected from the slopes of the Peruvian Andes, with Mexican organic agave, and you’ve got a 30 calorie treat. Q Tonic comes in beautifully designed glass bottles, perfectly proportioned for one drink. Besides improving your next gin and tonic, this natural Peruvian quinine has been used by herbalists for centuries to increase energy, accelerate digestion and stimulate blood flow. Try this stimulating cocktail by mixologist Wayne Minns:

Lemon Gin
2 parts premium Gin
1 part fresh Lemon Juice
Dash of simple syrup
Q Tonic
Add gin, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Vigorously shake and pour into tall glass with ice. Top with Q Tonic as desired. Garnish with a Lemon

Sence Rose Nectar / this rose is a rose

Imagine a drink made from rose petals—from ancient roses only grown in Bulgaria. The blossoms are picked for only a three-week period from the hours of 3 to10 am, when dew levels are at their peak, and converted into concentrate within two hours, to obtain the maximum flavor and fragrance. Sence is just introducing their sensuous nectar into the US market, which has the makings for a great cocktail, can be savored on its own, or mixed with other juices or sparkling water. It tastes slightly sweet, and adds an extra kick of vitamin C to your day. Sample this pretty non-alcoholic punch:

Harmony Rose Punch
Sence Rose Nectar
Organic white cranberry juice
Organic pomegranate juice
Combine equal parts of Sence Rose Nectar, white cranberry and pomegranate juice with a soft touch of fresh lemon. Optional garnish: crystallized rose petals.
[This appeared in Summer 2008 Organic Spa Magazine, organicspamagazine.com]

Modmix Organic Cocktail Mixers / mod mixers

The first organic line of mixers comes from three women who pioneered their way into the mostly male business of cocktails. Substitute these signature Modmix combos the next time you make the classics: Citrus Margarita, French Martini (adds a fruity punch), Lavender Lemon Drop (makes for a florally lemonade), Mojito and Pomegranate Cosmopolitan. Best of all, these drinks can be enjoyed with or without alcohol, just substitute some sparkling water for the liquor.

Lavender Lemon Drop Sparkle
1 part Modmix Organic Lavender Lemon Drop
1 part vanilla vodka
1 part champagne
Shake over ice, serve up in a martini glass

French Martini Pops
1 part Modmix Organic French Martini
1 part Modmix Organic Mojito
2 parts champagne
Serve in a martini glass

Mojito Fizz
1 part Modmix Organic Mojito
1 part ginger ale
1 part rum
Serve over ice in a tumbler
[This appeared in Summer 2008 Organic Spa Magazine, organicspamagazine.com]

Square One Organic Vodka / it’s hip to be square

This company goes organic all the way with their production methods, right down to the label made from bamboo. Square One Vodka is made from organic rye, and because of its minimal processing, the by-product can be sold to local dairy farms. Allison Evanow, the company’s founder, found inspiration from the cucumber water offered at many spas and is introducing this cucumber flavored vodka. Enjoy the refreshing essence of cucumber with the real thing in this twist on the traditional mojito:

Cucumber Mojito
6 sprigs of fresh mint
1 tbsp. organic agave nectar
3 tbsp. cucumber (preferably English), peeled and diced
1 lime, halved and juiced with 1 half reserved
2 oz. Square One Cucumber
club soda or sparkling water
Remove leaves from 5 sprigs of mint and place them in a cocktail shaker with agave nectar, cucumber and lime juice. Muddle with a wooden spoon or muddler for at least 30 seconds. Strain the liquid into a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Add the vodka and the lime half and stir. Fill glass to desired level with soda water. Garnish with the remaining sprig of mint.
[This appeared in Summer 2008 Organic Spa Magazine, organicspamagazine.com]

VeeV Acai spirit / berry good

Experience guiltless indulgence with VeeV’s Açaí spirit. Well known for it antioxidant properties, the açaí (ah-sigh-ee) berry packs 30 times more heart-healthy anthocyanins than red wine, AND has vitamins C and E, calcium, dietary fiber, protein, and omega 3s. VeeV mixes this exotic berry with prickly pear (a natural hangover remedy), and other natural ingredients and distills it by hand. Their distiller is one of the few in America to get at least 25% of their energy through wind and their unique distilling process uses about half the energy of other distilling methods. On top of all this, VeeV donates $1 for each bottle sold to ensure that açaí is “wild harvested” to preserve the surrounding flora and fauna and protect the biodiversity of the Amazonian rainforest. It’s delicious too! Revive your senses with this refreshing combination of fresh fruit and herbs:

Joie de VeeV
2 lime wedges
2 stawberries
3 mint leaves
2 oz. Veev
dash of sugar
club soda
Muddle 1 wedge of lime, 1 strawberry and mint leaves in a mixing glass. Put into a cocktail shaker with 2 ounces of Veev, sugar and ice, shake. Pour into a short glass, top with club soda, garnish with remaining strawberry and lime wedge.
[This appeared in Summer 2008 Organic Spa Magazine, organicspamagazine.com]