April has been a month of celebrations — which have been exciting but tiring, to say the least. In the last 30 days, I’ve hopped north and south and east and west all in the name of baby announcements, birthdays, showers, music festivals, and weddings. Throughout it all, I’ve come across some top tunes, tasty treats, great reads, and other fabulous finds that I wanted to share with you. Here are my ten favorite finds from the last month:
Continue Reading: Monthly Mood Board: April 2012 →
You didn’t think I’d let St. Pat’s pass me by without at least a mention of a cocktail, did you?
Continue Reading: Happy Hour: Cucumber-Basil Gimlet Cocktail →
Today was très amusant! I woke up to throw together a 1920s French-themed party and share it with my friends on Access Hollywood Live. Seeing as I’ve been working with Moet & Chandon a French-ified party seemed parfait. So, I donned my best 1920s makeup, decorated with a mix of modern metallics and vintage glasses, and assembled an assortment of finger foods with classic French flavors.
Here’s a few tips I passed on, a menu inspired by classic French foods, and a few behind-the-scenes snapshots of the food I prepared.
Continue Reading: 1920s French-Style Oscars Party →
Last New Year’s Eve came and went as I worked on my cookbook into the wee hours of 2011, so this year I have two year’s worth of celebrating to do. I’ll be kicking things off with this festive gingery twist on the classic Champagne cocktail. It’s a simple sparkling wine cocktail that’s so effortless…
Continue Reading: Happy Hour: Garden of Eden Cocktail →
Like a champion show dog, an exceptional cocktail comes from a high-quality pedigree: The Final Ward is one such cocktail. During a celebratory wrap dinner at Hollywood’s Eveleigh, I started talking shop with barkeep, Garrett Mikell and he suggested I try The Final Ward. But to fully appreciate The Final Ward, you have to look at its cocktail family tree.
Continue Reading: Happy Hour: Liquid Lineage →
Though fall didn’t technically start until a few days ago, I’ve been celebrating the change of season all month long. As the weather starts to cool, I’ve mixed up more substantial cocktails, made pies packed with classic flavors, and found a new favorite variety of fall fruit. Here’s a complete list of the food, props, events, and music that intrigued me this month:
Continue Reading: Monthly Mood Board: September 2011 →
Have you ever had a Bramble? No, I’m not talking about the thorny bush, but about a cocktail. If you haven’t tried it, consider this an intervention — you must have at least one before the summer is through.
I can’t remember where or when I first tried the Bramble, but I do recall that I fell for it instantly. That’s saying a lot because it’s gin-based and I’ve never been big on the often overpowering flavors of gin. But, the Bramble’s a different story. It’s a balanced mix of sweet, sour, fruity, and botanical (from the gin), so no one element overwhelms the other.
There’s something about the drink — perhaps the name or the traditional method — that has an air of an old school cocktail, but, by cocktail standards, it’s a spring chicken. The London-based bartender, Dick Bradsell, came up with the Bramble in 1984 when he added berry liqueur to a Gin Sour. Since then it has since become so popular in England some have coined it the Cosmopolitan of the UK. (Though, it must be said, that I think the Cosmo pales in comparison to the Bramble.)
And, as you can see above, this drink has as much going for it in looks as it does taste thanks to the berry liqueur that stains it an intense purple hue. But, my favorite part? The whole thing gets strained over crushed ice and looks like a snow cone, be it a very adult, boozy take on a snow cone.
Continue Reading: Happy Hour: Berry Crush →
If only it were possible to bottle summer and store it away. Then, on a whim, you could open it to let sunshine, frozen desserts, and grill smells brighten even the rainiest of days.
When I was a kid, I almost had it figured out. I’d be at my grandmother Noni’s house in late summer — where time was kept in matches of badminton and meals defined by how many grilled scalloped potatoes you ate and I’d run about with a net and jar bottling fireflies. To me, fireflies were the epitome of summer because they’d dance about in the dark and make the room so bright that I could read Nancy Drew by their light. The next day we’d let them go and I’d inevitably be saddened because I’d remember that both the fireflies and summer were fleeting.
Now that I’m older, I take a different approach. Each season, I round up the season’s produce, get crafty in the kitchen, and lock in the flavor at its prime. Over the years I’ve pickled, preserved, candied, and canned all in the name of sealing the season tight in a jar. But this year, I took a different approach and started distilling those sunshine-filled flavors into shrubs.
Continue Reading: Summer, From Concentrate →
There’s been a lot of brightness in my life this month — bright skies, bright colors, bright flavors and lots of bright ideas. Here are the ten I found stellar enough to share with you:
Continue Reading: Monthly Mood Board: June 2011 →
Road trips are where friends reveal their true colors. Yet after double-digit hours on the road, thousands of miles traveled, and getting to know my friends on a whole new level, I still adore them thoroughly. I may like them even more than when we started, but, we have decidedly different views on things — particularly when it concerns margaritas.
Continue Reading: Road Fuel: The Great Margarita Debate →