Saturday, August 30, 2014

Happy Labor Day!

While it may be the unofficial end of summer, I'm making the most of it and heading to Maine for the week!  My goal is to eat lobster at least once a day…..full report when I return!

Wherever you may be spending this holiday weekend I hope you enjoy some fun in the sun, an extra glass of wine or two and soak up the last few bits of summer!

Image via

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Bachelorette Wine Tasting

I mentioned on Monday that I was out on Fire Island for my friend Karen's bachelorette party last weekend.  We decided to kick off the weekend with a little wine tasting.  

Favors for the weekend appropriately included Govino wine glasses (decorated with bling), sunglasses, and Ibuprofen for the morning after :-)

I set up the welcome station out on the back porch which we later turned into the perfect hors d'oeuvre and tasting table.  

I wanted to showcase 2 varietals in contrasting styles to really encourage the girls to decipher what and why they liked or didn't like a certain style of wine.  

The lineup included 2 sauvignon blancs and 2 chardonnays:
1.  Kim Crawford 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand
2.  Laurent Gerard 2013 Sancerre from the Loire Valley
4.  Hayman & Hill 2012 Chardonnay from Monterey, CA
We tasted from lightest in style with the NZ sauvignon blanc to heaviest with the CA buttery chardonnay.

The majority favorites were the two sauvignon blancs.  The Kim Crawford was typical of a NZ sauvignon blanc; bright citrusy and full of pink grapefruit while the Sancerre was more mineraly with hints of stone and wet earth. 
My favorite was the Bourgone Blanc by Olivier Leflaive, maybe I'm just partial after visiting the domaine back in May!  The Hayman & Hill was a bit too much for everyone but did a good job in showcasing a classic full-bodied California Chardonnay (but probably didn't do much in my quest to gain followers of the varietal!)

Best part was that each bottle was under $20!

The fabulous bride-to-be!

It was such a fun way to start the weekend, if anyone is looking to plan a party or wants to include a tasting at an upcoming event feel free to message me at!  I'd love to help you plan!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Farmer's Market Fresh Peach Cake

It's Monday, it's the last full week of summer, let's make the most of it! 
I often find that when I go to the farmer's market my eyes are much bigger than my stomach, causing me to buy bags of fresh peaches, nectarines, corn, tomatoes, that I can't possibly finish on my own, but they just look soooooo good. 
Inspired by Clara, I brought this cake out to Fire Island for my dear friend Karen's bachelorette this weekend and it was a huge hit!  More to come on bachelorette festivities, but if you're like me and are looking for something to do with all those extra peaches from the farmer's market, I highly recommend this cake!  Not too sweet, perfect for breakfast (or post beach snack or late night munchies!)


Fresh Peach Cake
slightly adapted from Clara Persis
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1heaping cup Greek yogurt, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced (3 medium sized)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square or round baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the Greek yogurt and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon.

Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans.

Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes (I found mine needed the full 55), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Keeps for up to 4 days on counter top, tightly covered

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Raphael 2013 Chardeaux

I just got back from my last weekend out in Montauk; how did the summer go so fast??  For our last night of porch-side drinking, my housemate Ethan was sent on a mission to the wine store.  Knowing my propensity for chardonnay, he picked up a blend from Northfork local, Raphael Vineyards.  

The 2013 Chardeaux is a blend of 90% chardonnay and 10% sauvignon blanc.  Aged in stainless steel, this interesting blend was crisp and clean.  The chardonnay provides a foundation of fruity stone-fruit and round structure while the sauvignon blanc adds just a touch of minerality and a stoney-ness that complimented just perfectly; causing my porch-side drinking companions to proclaim their affection for a grape variety they never thought they could like!  A chardonnay for those we like to refer to as ABC (anything but chardonnay) drinkers!  

I paired the wine with a mixed grill of shrimp in lemon and thyme, fresh ahi tuna steaks, and grilled romaine.  Summer perfection!

The sunset view just can't be beat
Stay tuned as I continue my quest to convince people they don't have to hate on chardonnay ;-)

Wine:  2013 Raphael Chardeaux
Purchased:  Montauk Liquors
Price: $22
Would buy again: Yes

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Pine Ridge 2013 Chenin Blanc + Viognier

This week, a fun new white blend for you!  I picked up this Pine Ridge on the recommendation from the clerk at Bottlerocket, recommended as an "easy drinker" it was different and tasty!  The nose was overwhelmingly honey+vanilla+white flowers.  The first sip was slightly effervescent, light, bright, acidic, with a pleasant balance of citrus, more honey, vanilla, and juicy peach.  The blend of crisp Cheninc Blanc balances the Viognier which can sometimes be too sweet for my taste.

I paired this wine with fresh grilled shrimp, veggies, and fingerling potatoes with shallots and a dijon/balsamic dressing.  Why does everything taste better off the grill???


And for dessert, grilled nectarines with fresh thyme.  Savoring every last moment of summer!!

Wine:  2013 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier
Purchased:  Bottlerocket
Price: $15
Would buy again: Yes

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Failla Tasting

This past visit home offered multiple excuses for wine tasting at new-to-me places.  I love exploring my own backyard.  One such experience was an afternoon at Failla Vineyards.  My first experience with Failla was back in March when my Dad introduced me to the label during our trip to Ohio.  

He wanted to bring me back to the winery for a formal tasting.  The tastings are held in a rustic farm house set back on the property just off Silverado Trail between St. Helena and Calistoga.  

After tasting through the wines we toured the beautiful caves and barrel storage area.  

Back to the lodge for more tasting.  We ended up tasting through all 4 of their current chardonnays and 4 pinot noirs.  It was great to see the progression of the wines, as the vineyard locations of each wine really determined its overriding characteristics.  You could taste the salinity of the ocean breezes that inhabit the Estate Vineyard at Fort Ross Seaview, and the lush ripe fruit of the Keefer Ranch.  

Next time you're in the Napa Valley I would highly recommend a tasting a Failla for a one-of-a-kind experience.  Call to make a reservation as tastings are by appointment only.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer in the City - Thoughts on the Weekend

What was looking to be a wash-out of a weekend here in the Northeast actually proved to be somewhat nice.  My first weekend in the city since early June, I forgot how magical the city can be on summer weekends.  Your choice of restaurant tables, empty streets perfect for strolling, and with lower than average temps, no humidity and little rain we got to spend lots of comfortable time outside.

Not really knowing what to do with myself on a Saturday in the city, I decided to stroll through the Union Square farmer's market.  Which reminded me of the pictures I took while visiting the St. Helena Farmer's Market back home last month.  Farmer's Markets have become my happy place.  Walking through admiring the rainbow of colors, tasting the freshest tree-ripened peach or latest culinary curiosity, I have such an appreciation for the simple pleasures and beauty to be had!

Rounding out the weekend with a stack of magazines by the pool (even if under a towel for warmth), a sunset cocktail on the roof of the met and a dinner with friends in a charming back garden was just was summer weekends in the city are made for.

Ombre sunset drinks

I hope you all had a restful and relaxing weekend wherever you may be.  

Cheers to making the most of these last few summer weekends, happy August!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Mastering the Cook's Basics

During my time at home, I took full advantage of my mom's big beautiful kitchen to try my hand at two of the "Cook's Basics" that we learned during our time at The Cook's Atelier.  Bonus points for crossing a fruit tart off my summer bucket list!

First up - the Burgundian specialty gougères.  Light, cheesy puffs of air that are traditionally served as an apèro with a cold glass of bubbly!

We paired ours with 2011 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs.  As you may know I'm not the biggest sparkling wine fan, but this was delicious.  Cold, crisp, dry, yet fruity, it was a perfect start to the night. It's made of chardonnay grapes so maybe it's no surprise I enjoyed it so much :-)  Another fun fact, the Blanc de Blancs was the first wine produced by Schramsberg in 1965.

For dessert, I made the Cook's mixed berry tart with fresh vanilla pastry cream.  I haven't had much experience with pies or pie dough but this could not have been easier.  Fresh berries from the farmer's market needed nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar to enhance their already delectable sweetness.  

So proud!

If you want to seriously impress your guests at your next dinner party I highly recommend either of these recipes, or both!


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