This past fall we had the great pleasure of returning to Lexington Armory for the New York Craft Beer Festival – Winter Harvest.
This year had the return of many amazing breweries, many from the New York area.
The festival also featured great food venders. The Morris Truck toted amazing grilled cheese and spicy tomato soup.
This festival we had the privilege of attending a very informative seminar on using beer in specialty cocktails and the world of bitters. Several talented bartenders showed the merits of using beer as a base, as well as covering some great beer/bitters pairings.
My favorite brewery was the 16 Mile Brewery. This brewery, based in Georgetown, DE, had quite the selection of their wonderful beers. We were able to try the Responders Ale (American Session), and the Harvest Ale (Southern English Brown Ale).
My favorite beer by far was Widmer Brothers Brrrbon. This amazing ale is brewed in bourbon barrels. It brings the wonderful taste of bourbon into an extremely drinkable dark ale. It brings a unique competitive edge to the world of craft beer with it’s bourbon twist.
Stay tuned for more information about The New York Craft Beer Best Spring Seasonal event! Get your tickets here: http://nyccraftbeerfest.com/tix
HURRY! The early bird tix are selling out quick!
Here’s a few extra pics we took!
This is my review on my November Birch Box!
I received a sample size shampoo and conditioner, Beauty Protector. It is a Protect & Shampoo and Protect & Condition. They are sulfate free and both smell sweet almost like cotton candy. It was so refreshing to smell. The shampoo was not favorite; I felt like it tangled my hair up and made it dry. The conditioner on the other end was great. It instantly detangled my hair and made it feel so soft and knot free. The conditioner states that it hydrates with shea butter and pearl powder. I would use this with my normal shampoo.
My all-time favorite item from Birch box has to be Dr. Jart+ Water Infused Beauty Balm with SPF25. It is an anti-aging tinted moisturizer that I apply under my makeup. I am obsessed with this, and by obsessed I mean I used up the sample within a week and now am purchasing the full sized one. I am in love with this. It helps even out my skin tone and hides any blemishes or marks on my face. I actually wake up and put moisturizer on under it, because in the winter my face is really dry. Then right before I apply my makeup, I put on the Dr. Jart BB cream. Then I apply my normal make up over it. This cream also helps my makeup stay on longer and no oil! I also have some red tint to my cheeks and nose, and this helps dull it down. I highly recommend this product!
Juicy Couture created another perfume, I loved their first one. Personally this one, which is called Viva la Juicy Noir, is not a favorite of mine. It has a deep scent of berry and honeysuckle. Don’t get me wrong, it smells very nice, but it is not for me.
Another great month and now I cannot wait until the next Box arrives!
To join in on the fun and excitement to receive a monthly, quarterly, or annual Birchbox, click here: https://www.birchbox.com?raf=nmsf1&utm_campaign=raf&utm_source=birchbox&utm_medium=raf_link
Boca Bacchanal Wine Weekend Getaway Gift Package, March 28-30, 2014 includes everything a wine and food lover would want for a luxury weekend away. For $925, with deluxe accommodations at Waldorf Astoria’s Boca Raton Resort & Club for 3 days and 2 nights, this decadent Boca Bacchanal Wine Weekend Getaway also includes:
- Complimentary room upgrade (based on availability)
- Breakfast at the Palm Court in the resort both Saturday and Sunday
- Welcome gift including a resort beach tote with beach towels and resort gifts
- Voucher for complimentary access to Spa Palazzo at the Boca Raton Resort & Club
- 1 ticket to the Boca Bash, Saturday March 29, 2014
- 1 ticket to the Boca Bacchanal Grand Tasting: Sunday, March 30, 2014
The Boca Bacchanal Wine Weekend Getaway gift package is available from now until January 1, 2014.
Boca Bacchanal is a festive weekend in Boca Raton which celebrates and enhances the appreciation of wine and food, Boca Bacchanal brings together world class chefs and vintners, offering their finest specialties, providing the entire community with a delightful opportunity to support the heritage education and historic preservation programs of the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum.
Additional tickets to all Boca Bacchanal events and further information on the package are available online at http://bit.ly/
Happy Holidays readers! It’s that time of year again, a time for celebrations with family and friends with good food and of course some great cocktails! While I love spending time with family and having all of the great food for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I can’t deny a good drink to go with it. Since I turned 21 I have been more mindful of what I drink and what I like. Between discoveries of my own and some help from cookbooks from Williams Sonoma and other companies, I feel that the following list is a great collection of cocktails that are sure to spark up your holiday get-together.
This has by far been my favorite go-to drink after a long day at work or just on any random night because it is simple. At any given time my family has a pretty good stock pile of various alcohol around because we entertain a lot. Therefore finding these three ingredients is simple. I came across this recipe by chance. I was buying St. Germain (an elderflower) to be a part of another drink but they only sold it in a special packaging which contained a nice tall measuring glass to make the St. Germain Cocktail. The three ingredients in this drink are: 1 ½ parts St. Germain, 2 parts sparkling wine like Prosecco or even a Sauvignon Blanc would do, and lastly 2 parts club soda or a sparkling water if you prefer. Though simple, this drink packs a nice punch with that hint of St. Germain and of course who doesn’t like a sparkling drink?
Clementine-Brown Sugar Old-Fashioned
If you don’t like something fruity or feel too feminine holding a sparking drink, you can definitely feel manly with this old fashioned. While it takes some prep time, there is no doubt that it’s worth it. In this case, the recipe is from a Wegmans Menu Magazine. The ingredients are light brown sugar, water, clementines, vanilla extract, then you mix that in with Angostura bitters, bourbon whiskey, and some ice. According to my brother who actually drinks this, he says that it is not only delicious but that it is less fruity than a regular old fashioned. This is definitely the drink to have in your hand on a cold night sitting by the fire. The recipe for this drink is here:
- 1 cup Wegmans Light Brown Sugar
- 1 cup water
- Clementine peel, pith removed
- Juice of ½ clementine (about 1 Tbsp)
- ½ tsp Wegmans Pure Vanilla Extract
- Dash of Angostura bitters
- 2oz bourbon whiskey
- Clementine peel for garnish
Make simple syrup: Combine sugar and water in saucepan. Heat on MEDIUM-HIGH heat until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat. Add clementine peel: let steep at least 1 hour. Stir in juice and vanilla extract. Strain and pour into serving container. (Makes enough for 10 drinks.)
For each drink: Combine 1oz (2 Tbsp) simple syrup and angostura bitters in a rocks glass. Fill halfway with ice and stir. Add bourbon whiskey; top with more ice. Stir. Garnish with clementine peel.
Spider Cider Margarita
If you are looking for something with a little more of a kick, look no further than this sneaky devil. After trying this drink in a restaurant, I looked up the recipe when I got back that night and I have been making it ever since. This concoction is made up of 2ozTarantula Azul Tequila, 4oz whiskey sour mix, and 1oz sour apple pucker mix. The combination of color in the drinks and taste makes for a very sweet and slightly sour taste all in a very bright green package. The recipe also calls for you to rim the glass with sour apple sugar rather than salt which I prefer in my margaritas. For some this drink has been too tart or sweet but if that is a flavor that you enjoy I say go for it!
I know I said I love St. Germain but by putting two recipes using it on this list I hope you see it too. It really is a great liquor to use because not only does it smell literally like flowers it also has a great light taste. I ate at Maggiano’s recently with my mother and fell in love with this drink. I will try anything with St. Germain in it whether it is a margarita (which was delicious) a sangria or even this mixed drink they always turn out great. This cocktail is a little sweeter than The St. Germain Cocktail one but I tend to like sweet or even more tart drinks. This drink has St. Germain of course, Aperol, Lime Juice, Prosecco, and some Rhubarb Bitters. This drink is sweet and tart but evened out with the sparkling Prosecco. I had this drink with a pasta and it did not ruin or affect any flavors of my dinner. This is another cocktail that is sure to please!
- 1 oz St. Germain
- ¼ oz Aperol
- ½ oz Fresh Lime Juice
- 3 oz Ruffino Prosecco
- 2 dashes Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters
- Build in shaker, then add ice (3/4 full)
- Shake for 30 seconds
- Add 3 oz Ruffino Prosecco, gently roll
- Strain into chilled Collins glass filled with ice
- Garnish with lime twist
If you are one who enjoys trying new cocktails I highly recommend purchasing the Williams Sonoma cookbook, Winter Cocktails. This cookbook has a variety of drinks from cold to hot, classics to contemporary that are all delicious. One in particular that I enjoyed was a hot drink called a Nutella Melt. Now, if you haven’t tried Nutella I strongly encourage you to go out and buy some because it will change your life forever. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it is a hazelnut spread with some dark cocoa in it which you can put on bread and use in various baking recipes. There is not too much work for this recipe and it is definitely worth any effort. The cold whipped cream on top of the hot chocolate feel you get from the Nutella can satisfy anyone. I even saved the drink in a container and the whipped cream separately overnight and it was just as delicious the next day. I do recommend that you have this cocktail after dinner because the flavors won’t pair as well with a meal and should really be enjoyed with dessert or even on its own. The recipe for this drink is here:
- 4 cups whole milk
- ¼ cup Nutella
- Pinch of salt
- 6 ounces hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
Bring milk, Nutella, and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until Nutella is completely dissolved. Stir in liqueur. Turn off the heat but leave the pot on the stove while you whip the cream.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream, confectioners’ sugar, and espresso powder on medium speed in a large, chilled bowl until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. (Alternatively, beat by hand using a large wire whisk.) Ladle drink into warm cups and top with whipped cream.
Hot Apple Cider
On a cold night while making s’mores by the fire, some typical drinks include some hot chocolate or apple cider. Nothing helps on a cold night quite like some Hot Apple Cider and for those that want some sort of a buzz just add some rum such as Kraken which gives it a nice spice in addition to an already classic drink. If you don’t want the added spice, you can use any dark rum though the added spice did add a nice seasonal flavor!
This is no longer another way to describe the cheesy concoction that is Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese but rather a great hot drink to have around the holiday season. This recipe is slightly more complex with a lot of different ingredients. This is another cocktail from the Williams Sonoma cookbook, Winter Cocktails. This drink is a blend of pineapple juice, dark rum, brandy, then simmered with many different spices. These ingredients simmered together create a smell and taste that I can only describe as Fall in a glass. To pair with this drink is a pineapple garnish that is simple yet divine. The flavors already in the cocktail mixed with the spices in the pineapple make for an incredible combination. Plus, the pineapple soaks up some of the drink and is great to snack on when the glass is empty. Much like the Nutella Melt recipe, because of the flavors in this drink I do recommend that you have this as an after dinner drink because it will not pair so easily with a meal but it will definitely help warm you up on a cold night! The recipe for this drink is here:
- 12 or more (3/4-inch) cubes fresh pineapple
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (a type of crushed pepper native to Syria)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Mulled Pineapple Juice:
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cups pineapple juice
- 6 ounces dark rum
- 2 ounces brandy
- 1 vanilla bean pod, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out
For the Pineapple Garnish: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange pineapple cubes in a single layer. Combine sugar, Aleppo pepper, ground cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle pineapple cubes with sugar mixture and toss to coat evenly. Rearrange pineapple in a single layer and broil until caramelized, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer tray to cooling rack. When cool enough to handle, skewer at least 3 pineapple cubes onto each of 4 short skewers or sturdy toothpicks.
For the Mulled Pineapple Juice: Place allspice, peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple juice, rum, brandy, and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard solids. To serve, place one pineapple skewer in each of 4 heat-proof cups. Ladle juice into cups.
All of these recipes range from hot to cold and classics to the more adventurous. I hope you have enjoyed looking at a variety of cocktails to try this holiday season. Whatever you choose, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season complete with great food and of course some great cocktails!
Welcome back foodie fans for the third and final installment of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. I know this may sound crazy that we spent three days in the Festival, but there is so much to experience, it could take a whole week! One aspect that we were not able to cover were the many book signings and demonstrations that take place during the week. Ahead of time, you go online to see the schedule and sign up for meal demonstrations by chefs like Carla Hall from The Chew or even learn how to be a bartender! These events do come at a price but the experience and the knowledge are more than worth it.
On this last day we decided to move in the opposite direction by starting with England and moving up towards the middle repeating any carts we felt were exceptional. In England, we stopped by and tried a cheese flight with various Kerrygold cheeses mixed with bread and a side of chutney. Kerrygold is an Irish cheese and the various blends were tasty and satisfying! We then made our way to Scotland, which is a new booth this year, to try out the Glenfiddich Scotch Flight. There were three scotches all different ages (12, 15, and 18). The people of Scotland are kind enough to also give you some water to help with the scotch. My brothers did try all of the different flights and I do recommend trying them yourself but only if you truly enjoy what alcohol it is so that you can appreciate it more. I definitely enjoyed trying out the beer flights, but I did pass on the tequila and scotch flights.
In between some of these booths was yet another food specific booth in the form of Desserts and Champagne. I controlled myself and only had one dessert which was the Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake. This dessert is so creamy on top with so much crunch with loose crumbs on the bottom making a delightful combination. I love chocolate and Nutella which peaked my interest in a chocolate hazelnut combination and I was not disappointed. This dessert was cheaper than some of the other dishes I had tried being under $2 and it was still a great portion size. There was the option for a dessert flight which was tempting but it was still early in the day and I did not want to fill up too quickly.
Working our way around the back end of the festival, we came across Brazil and Argentina where we tasted some amazing dishes. In Brazil we had Seared Scallop with Tomatoes, Hearts of Palm, and Steamed Rice. In Argentina we thoroughly enjoyed the Beef Empanada and Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree. The skewers were tender and juicy with just enough sauce to add more flavor. The puree underneath was creamy like a nice mashed potato which makes sense because boniato is a Latin white sweet potato. This combination was delicious and the Beef Empanada was equally as good. The dough was crispy and the meat inside was tender with a great mix of flavor.
In Greece we tried some of the Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey. Once again I love cheese and honey in any combination and this was slightly crispy on top and delicious. The crisp on top was nice and the cheese underneath was soft and creamy. For cheese lovers this is another great combination and a good cheese as well! While in Greece we also enjoyed some Spanakopita which was a crisp pocket with some nice crunch before reaching that delicious center. For those of you who don’t know, Spanakopita is a very traditional Greek dish. Usually it contains spinach, feta cheese, onion, egg, and seasonings. This combination is creamy inside of a nice crispy puff pastry dough.
We made our way across to Asia yet again on this day and found ourselves in Singapore. Here we had a Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut and Jasmine Rice and a Seared Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice and “Singa” Sauce. Here we also tried the recommended wine pairing with the Marques de Caceras Santinela. At the booth and even in the cookbook it recommends pairing this wine with the dishes because the spice in the dishes helps the sweet wine go down smoothly. Overall the dishes were amazing with tender meat and fish and a great combination of spice which was only enhanced through the wine. We also went back to South Korea because those Lettuce Wraps were too delicious to pass up and we also tried a Kimchi Dog with a spicy mustard sauce. Much like the lettuce wraps, the Kimchi Dog was a great flavor combination of the spice and the tender meat topped with an amazing sauce. Sadly, this is where we had to end our culinary journey at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. While there, I did learn some tips that are helpful in case you decide to make a trip to the Festival yourself!
One helpful tip is to pay attention to the company who is helping to host the event itself. This year it was Chase, the credit card company. Therefore, if you have a Chase card you can gain access to a special air conditioned lounge with soft drinks and other amenities. If you have the card you can get in for free and it’s definitely nice to escape that Florida heat!
Another helpful tip is how to pay for all of these delicious dishes. While you can always use cash or credit cards, you can also use the Disney Dining Plan. Prior to your trip to Disney you can sign up for the Dining Plan which offers various options to choose from. With the Dining Plan you have the option of having snack foods during the day. At every booth there was the option of using the dish as one of the snacks for the day. Lastly, there is the ability to use your room key which will be added to your bill at the end of your stay or you can purchase Food and Wine Festival gift cards to use. There are many different options and the possibilities are endless! For me, I felt the price was worth it because rather than spending a lot of money at lunch (there were 7 of us) we were able to try all different foods and fill up for much less while enjoying a nice walk around the park.
I was not able to try everything at these booths, though I definitely did try! All of these dishes and drinks were great representations of the countries they wanted to portray down to the ingredients. I highly recommend trying to make it to any Food and Wine Festival, but especially this one because Disney itself is quite the experience. Thank you for joining me on this worldwide culinary journey!
Hopefully I have inspired some of you to try new foods or explore the Food and Wine Festival some more. If so, you can check out these sights to look at more menus and information regarding the festival: http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/guides/epcot/events/index.htm and https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-food-and-wine-festival/. Until then, safe travels!
Hey fashionistas! I recently had a fun opportunity to attend Battle of the Runways at the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing, NJ on August 15th. The event was hosted by the Hamilton Mall’s newly appointed fashion ambassador and winner of Project Runway season 1, Jay McCarroll. Jay was accompanied by a local radio DJ for SoJO 104.9, Heather DeLuca. The fashion show was one of first of several fashion events to follow this fall for the Hamilton Mall. The event started at 5pm with free swag bags for those who signed up to be VIP at the show, as well as a meet and greet with Jay!
The swag bags included a t-shirt for the mall, sunglasses from Tilly’s, and coupons from various stores in the mall. As well as the swag bag, those who were VIP also got the chance to sit close to the stage at the fashion show. It was a great opportunity to see the latest Fall fashions up close and personal! Before the show started, entertainment was provided by local rappers,KT Boderline and South Jersey Idol winner, Angelica Cabral. Both acts got the audience energized and ready for the fashion show.
The fashion show itself started around 5:45. Models in the show were from the Barbizon modeling agency and really worked the runway. The show featured Fall fashions from stores such as Pac Sun, Macy’s, Charlotte Russe, G by Guess, JCPenney, Sears, and many others. It was a great way to see the trends for the Fall at various stores and see how to put together some great looks! It really gave me some inspiration I needed to create my own looks for the Fall. Some of the trends that really are big for the upcoming season include jean jackets, military, skulls, perplum tops, black and white stripes, boyfriend cardigans, and studs. There really are some great styles to get excited about for the Fall! All of the clothing featured in the show is now available at the retailers.
The event also included a contest hosted by SoJO 104.9 for the public to create a garment made only of clothing retailer shopping bags and SoJO 104.9 plastic banners. The contest was narrowed down to several finalists who then got to model their garments on the runway for the crowd. They really were creative and made some amazing garments! The winner, Beatriz, who was ultimately chosen by Jay McCarroll won a $200 gift card to the Hamilton Mall and will get to accompany Jay to sit front row at the Philadelphia Incubator Fashion show in September! It is such a great opportunity for an aspiring fashion designer. I had such a blast at the Battle of the Runways and can’t wait for the next event hosted by Jay McCarroll!
Friday afternoon I walked into Reservoir Bar feeling out of place in my high heels and LBD post-work. In the back of the bar by the kitchen sat my friend The Writer on the velvet couch. The back was dimly lit, and he looked quite mysterious reading a book and drinking a beer under the mood lighting. There were posters all throughout Reservoir advertising different brands of beer. My favorite had to be the Porkslap Pale Ale poster that said: Slap it Silly!
The Writer was drinking a LandShark Lager; it tasted warm and disgusting. He switched to Stella Artois which was much better. I ended up drinking a few bottles of Dogfish Head which is a craft brewed ale from Delaware. I highly recommend their 60 Minute IPA which is brewed year round. It’s called the 60 Minute IPA since it’s continuously hopped with more than 60 hop additions over 60-minutes.
I really enjoyed the overall vibe of Reservoir Bar since it’s located in Greenwich Village. Since it’s an American sports bar, I anticipated sweaty men shouting about grown-up, manly things like sports, cars, and chest hair, but it ended up being mostly local college kids. This made sense to me considering it’s located on University Place between 10th and 11th which is right by NYU and the New School. Reservoir’s prices are extremely cheap for Manhattan since you can get 20 buffalo wings for $7.95. I wouldn’t imagine staying at Reservoir the whole evening of a night out in Manhattan, but it’s a great stop in between bar hopping or before dinner. Go on and Slap it Silly at a college sports bar!