There’s Something Lemon Going On: Pots & Co.

Upside Down Lemon Cheesecake by Pots and Co.

London Dessert Company Makes Southern U.S. Debut

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that my past two posts included recipes for a no-bake lemon cheesecake and lemon ricotta cake. Last week between voluntary lockdown (I live in Florida, the COVID-19 epicenter,) the Hurricane Isaias threat and heat, I just didn’t feel like baking. So, today’s post is about an unexpected surprise and tasty Upside-Down Lemon Cheesecake made by Pots & Co. that has made its Southern U.S. debut.

Upside Down Lemon Cheesecake by Pots and Co.
Upside-Down Lemon Cheesecake by Pots & Co. © Pots & Co.

In Pots We Bake

Pots & Co. bakes their delicious desserts in ceramic pots because it gives them depth and creaminess, plus doubles their fridge life. Once you’ve tasted one though, I doubt that they’ll be in your fridge for long! In addition, the pots are reusable and besides using them to bake something new, try something decorative. For example, check out this nice display of plants using Pots & Co. pots.

Reusable and Recyclable pots by Pots & Co. © Pots. & Co.

Dessert with Conscience

For anyone watching their weight, no dessert is guilt free. However, in times like we’re now living, I am the first person to advocate for indulging your sweet cravings! Rest assured, the portions are small enough to satisfy them without breaking the calorie-counting bank.

Most importantly, the pots and packaging are eco-friendly. Even if you don’t reuse the pots, they are recyclable. Moreover, if you add them to the regular trash by mistake, they are biodegradable and release only the Spanish clay in which they’re made of, back into the earth.

Pots & Co. desserts are now available in the Southern U.S. at Costco.
Something yummy arrives at my door! © Author

A Full Range of Yumminess

I received a box of four Upside-Down Lemon Cheesecakes, but as you know I love chocolate (check out next week’s blog for a new recipe.) I think I’ll next try either the Chocolate Fudge Lave Cake, Chocolate & Salted Caramel Lava Cake, or 70% Chocolate Ganache. You can find the complete range of flavors and heating instructions (if needed) here.

Pots & Co. eco-friendly packaging.
Pots. & Co. Upside-Down Lemon Cheesecake has eco-friendly packaging. © Author

From London to Your Fridge

Good news! Since June 15th, Pots & Co. desserts can be found in the U.S. They’ll be sold at Costco in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Yes, Florida! 🙋🏻‍♀️

In Pots We Trust

In 2014, founder Julian Dyer had a dream with determination. Having grown tired of the restaurant world, he wanted to bring proper desserts to people at home. Julian explains, “I was standing in a lemon dessert factory and there wasn’t a fresh lemon in sight. I’m a chef – this didn’t make sense. So I started making potted desserts using top ingredients.”

There’s something very nice about guilt-free consumption. In Pots & Co., we trust that quality with conscience can be a regular, if not a daily addition to our table and home. I hope you can try them and if you do, let me know in a comment below!

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” ~ Ernestine Ulmer (American Author – 1892-1987)

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

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Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe and Where You’ll Find the Best Lemons in the World

Fast and easy Lemon Ricotta Cake recipe.

Lemon Ricotta Cake is a Perfect Finish to the Summer BBQ Dinner!

Here’s the perfect way to use up leftover Ricotta cheese. This Lemon Ricotta Cake recipe is the ideal finish to the summer BBQ dinner. The “secret sauce” is the lemon rind which means that you need real lemons. Please don’t use bottled lemon juice! Keep scrolling to read where you’ll find the best lemons in the world. 👇🏼

A Little History

Woman holding freshly made Ricotta cheese.

It was impossible for me to find the Lemon Ricotta Cake’s true origin despite the many versions that are available on the internet. I am going to guess Sicily, because that area of Italy claims to be the founder of ricotta cheese. (Since my readership is largely based in Italy, feel free to comment at the end of the blog should you know differently. 👇🏼)

I love how in traditional Italian Cuisine, you can find innovative and tasty examples of how nothing went to waste. Ricotta (it’s really a curd rather than cheese) came about when someone wanted to find a way to use the whey leftover from other cheeses. In fact, Ricotta translates to “re-cooked.” One of the earliest references to ricotta was made by a Sicilian history professor.

Curious about how Ricotta is made? I suggest that you watch this video.

World’s Most Famous Lemons

Probably the biggest and best lemons in the world come from the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. Have you been there? If so, tag #LiveinItalyMag @LiveinItalyMag in your photos for re-gram consideration.

Now despite Sorrento’s claim to lemon fame, it’s believed that this citrus fruit’s roots go back to Northern India, China and Malaysia. It was the Medici’s of Florence that brought lemons to Italy and started cultivating lemons in the 16th Century. Read more here.

Freshly baked Lemon Ricotta Cake on a cooling tray.

Let’s Bake!

This cake is called Migliaccio (pudding) in Naples. The name is indicative of the Lemon Ricotta Cake’s texture. In this version, semolina is used rather than flour. Here again, is a great example of making something delicious of ingredients readily on hand.

Note: I found the original recipe on Cooking Classy

  • 1 1/3 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (scoop and level to measure)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (356g) whole milk ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter parchment.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together sugar, butter and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.

Mix in eggs one at a time (mixture will appear lumpy), blend in vanilla.

Add in half of the flour mixture and mix just until combined, add ricotta and mix just until combined.

Add in last half of the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Gently fold batter to ensure ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared springform pan and spread into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven until cake is set (a toothpick can come out moist but no batter), about 45 – 50 minutes.

Let cake cool 10 minutes then run a knife around edge to loosen any edges that may have stuck slightly, remove springform ring and continue to let cool.

Once cool, dust the Lemon Ricotta Cake with powdered sugar and serve it with fresh fruit and whipped cream, if desired.

Lemon Ricotta Cake dusted with powdered sugar.

A Ricotta Life Lesson

I’m enjoying this journey to discover the history of some of the ingredients that go into Italian dishes and desserts that I love. I hope you will enjoy joining me on this food journey too.

Quality ingredients are key. However, being mindful and not letting anything go to waste strengthens our appreciation of what we make.

Cu’ non mancia ccu’ so’ cucchiaru lassa tutto ‘o zammataru. (Those who don’t eat with a spoon will leave all their ricotta behind.) ~ Professor Santi Correnti, chairman of the history department of the University of Catania and a preeminent historian of Sicily.

If you like lemon desserts, check out this easy, No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake recipe.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Focaccia, the History of Vitello Tonnato, and a French Wine Connection

Focaccia con Formaggio made with Stracchino Cheese

Finding Liguria Close to Home

All food bloggers including me, need to take a break from the kitchen for rest and inspiration. This week’s blog post explains the reason why I tried to make Focaccia and the history of Vitello Tonnato. There’s a perfect pairing and French Wine connection explained at the end too.

Riviera Focacceria Miami: A Focaccia Tradition Born in Liguria

Feeling a little “flight grounded,” I’ve been needing another escape. A lunch get-together in Miami gave me the energy boost that I needed to return to the writer’s keyboard! If traveling to South Florida, I highly recommend that you visit Riviera Focacceria. It’s located at the Shops of Midtown Miami.

Street view of Riviera Focacceria Italiana located at the Shops at Midtown Miami. © Author
Riviera Focacceria Italiana is located at the Shops of Midtown Miami.

Currently, you can’t sit inside because of Coronavirus restrictions. However there’s a shady patio with a succulent wall on one side and animated street view on the other. To simulate an ocean breeze, try a wine “infused with the sea” and enjoy one of their seafood dishes. Your imagination and taste buds will quickly transport you to Liguria on the Italian Riviera!

Ligurian Focaccia at Riviera Focacceria Italian in Miami.
Riviera Focacceria Italian offers a shaded outdoor patio and delivery options. © Riviera Focacceria

A Focaccia First

I first visited Riviera Focacceria in 2014, (shortly after it opened) to pick up lunch to take to a meeting. The smell of freshly baked focaccia lured me in and the variety of baked yumminess on display were fascinating. Little did I know, that Miami’s best Italian sandwich was in that takeout bag! Forget Panini made from Ciabatta bread. When eating a sandwich made with homemade Focaccia, your teeth first sink through a crispy exterior. Then, they’ll descend into buttery craters to reach their final destination: delicious fillings like cheese, Prosciutto, Speck or vegetables. It’s heavenly!

When the Calf Met the Tuna Fish: Vitello Tonnato

Vitello Tonnato means veal with a tuna sauce.
Vitello Tonnato (Veal in a Tuna Sauce) is a classic dish from Piemonte. © Author

Vitello Tonnato means Veal in a Tuna Sauce. Although this partnership seems odd, think of it as the Piedmontese “Surf and Turf” — thin slices of aromatic veal served cold and topped with a creamy tuna, anchovy and capers mayonnaise. Trust me, it’s delicious and the history of Vitello Tonatto is quite fascinating.

DYK Piemonte (land of Barolo and Barbaresco) is only a one and half hour drive from coastal Liguria?

The concept of “fat” relating to meat and “lean” to seafood, as two separate nutritional entities dates back to the Middle Ages. At some point in Italian food history, a cook decided to challenge this idea and the first experiment, to no surprise, was adding anchovies to a sauce. Salt-preserved anchovies were used to boost the flavor of meat sauces and at this moment in history, an umami lover’s miracle was born!

Fast forward and some culinary experiments later, a medical researcher came up with three variations of Vitello Tonnato. Not only were they tasty, but he felt that each would benefit the digestive track.

Enjoy Vitello Tonnato with freshly baked Focaccia dipped in olive oil made in Liguria at Riviera Focacceria. © Author

By the 1950’s, Vitello Tonnato became the culinary sensation that we know today: thin slices of veal topped with a sauce enriched with a creamy mayonnaise.

You can read the full story here.

A French Wine Connection: Domaine Ménard-Gaborit, 2012 Monnières-Saint-Fiacre 2012 (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine)

🍇: Melon de Bourgogne

Pays Nantais (Nantes) is located in the western Loire Valley.
The Loire River is the longest river in France. © Shutterstock

Muscadet was on my wine newbie “to do” list. Melon de Bourgogne is the only grape used in Muscadet. The Pays Nantais region (where this wine dominates) is located in the western Loire Valley on the Loire River — the longest river in France. Additionally, it’s also 31 miles (50 km) from the Atlantic Ocean. Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine is the most famous Muscadet appellation.

Melon de Bourgogne’s history is quite intriguing. Should you wish to know more, listen to the Wine for Normal People podcast titled, “Muscadet – The Overlooked White of Loire.”

Octopus and Artichoke Appetizer at Riviera Focacceria In Miami.

Funnily, luck was on my side that day. My favorite wine guru decided that the Domaine Ménard-Gaborit wine would go well with Vitello Tonnato. We also ate an octopus and artichoke appetizer and seafood pasta.

I greatly enjoyed the new release, Contre Courant (“against the current”.) With “notes of seabreeze,” it paired perfectly with lunch. Additionally, the one that I took home, the 2012 Monnières-Saint-Fiacre, had me thinking and salivating for days!

Note: This wine is not on Riviera Focacceria’s wine list. However, they have a wide selection of quality wines that complement the Ligurian-inspired menu.

You can buy this wine at Wine by the Bay.

Just Go!

Riviera Focacceria’s central location makes it a perfect spot for lunch or a relaxing evening with full course dinner. They also offer delivery services should you be staying home during COVID-19 and need a cooking break. Check out their food and wine menus here.

My first attempt at making Focaccia. © Author

In short, here is why I tried to make Focaccia. I hope to one day get better at making this Ligurian specialty. Somethings like Focaccia though, may be best left to the experts.

At Riviera Focacceria, the spotlight is on Ligurian cuisine. Enjoy regional icons such as: Pansotti, Focaccia di Recco (filled with Stracchino cheese,) and Mandilli de Saea “silk handkerchiefs.”

3252 Buena Vista Blvd #110, Miami, FL 33137 | www.rivierafocacceria.com @rivierafocacceriamiami

A Food and Wine Journey

Our plate and glass keep us connected with Italian history and culture. That connection makes us want to visit Italy over and over again. Or, some may even wish to live there one day.

Thanks to the people who keep these gastronomic traditions alive, we can find some new experiences close to home too.

It’s the not the destination, It’s the journey. ~ Ralph Emerson

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Note: I thought long and hard about writing about a veal dish. If you’d like to know more about this subject I suggest you read this website. There is a movement for better practices in cultivating the meat and that can be read here.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make a No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake

when life gives you lemons, make an easy no-bake lemon cheesecake

Feeding Five Under 25$

There’s nothing pleasant about living in South Florida these days. This year, the stifling heat and humidity are minor burdens compared to the reality of living in Florida, the COVID-19 epicenter. We’re just sitting and watching our impending, pandemic doom. Read it to believe it here. So, when life gives you lemons, make an easy no-bake lemon cheesecake.

Here’s the recipe below and some history about this famous saying at the end 👇🏼 – just keep scrolling if you’re not making this dessert. However, I suggest that you do because it’s a great finish to a BBQ dinner.

easy no-bake lemon cheesecake

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake (Original recipe from Spend with Pennies)

La receta en español


La Ricetta in Italiano

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 7 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 package lemon Jell-O 3 ounces
  • 16 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream*
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest freshly grated

Combine graham cracker crumbs and sugars in a medium-sized bowl. Add melted butter and use a fork to combine ingredients well.

Pour mixture into a 9″ or 10″ springform pan. Use the (clean!) bottom of a measuring cup to firmly pack crumbs into the bottom of the pan and gently press up the sides. Use your fingers to pack crumbs tightly into the sides of the pan.

Place in refrigerator or freezer while you prepare cheesecake filling.

Pour Lemon Jello gelatin mix into 1 cup very hot water and stir well. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, stir cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth and well-combined.

Add sour cream and stir well.

Mix in vanilla extract.

Only once Jello mixture is no longer hot to the touch, gradually pour into cream cheese mixture. Stir slowly at first (to avoid splashing) and then increase speed until mixture is completely combined (pause to scrape down sides of the bowl periodically). Stir very well.

In a separate bowl, pour your heavy cream and use an electric mixer with whisk attachment to beat to stiff peaks.

Fold whipped cream into cheesecake mixture until well-combined.

Fold in lemon zest, if using.

Pour over graham cracker crust and transfer to refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight to chill.

If desired, top with whipped cream before cutting and serving.

fourth of july no-bake cheesecake

Notes:

I made two versions. For the second one, I used strawberry Jello because I needed a July 4th dessert. It came out pink, so I added a strawberry to the center and outlined the no-bake cheesecake with blueberries and whipped cream. Hooray for the red, but really pink, white and blue! 😊

The lemon version is a much tastier and more sophisticated dessert, because it doesn’t taste at all like Jello. Next year, I’ll just add some red food color to the original, no-bake lemon cheesecake recipe.

lemons for lemonade

When Life Gives You Lemons

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” is a memorable proverbial phrase that many of us like to pull out of our pocket and slap on like a Band-Aid, when something goes wrong. The phrase originates from a obituary titled, “The King of Jesters” penned by Elbert Hubbard who was inspired by the life of a disabled, but highly successful, dwarf actor.

In stressful times such as now, we turn to these words of wisdom and hopefully, find positive ways to escape. For me, it would be a visit to a museum, walk on the beach, or lunch with a friend. However, these simple solutions are now like unattainable luxuries as Floridians struggle to stay healthy and economically stable.

I’ll continue to temporarily forget by escaping to my kitchen and “make lemonade (or lemon cheesecake) from lemons.” However, it’s getting harder…

If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back? ~ Steven Wright

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

You can find other dessert recipes that I’ve made at the following links:

P.S. I am very thankful for all you who have shared this recipe. I was asked to post it in Spanish and Italian, so there are links at the top of the recipe. I am not fluent in Spanish or in Italian, so I used Google Translator. So, excuse any typos! 😊

Falling in Love with Franciacorta DOCG

Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta DOCG Wines

Ricci Curbastro Guided Wine Tasting Seminar: History, Area, and Wines

If you haven’t had an opportunity to try Franciacorta, know that there are many reasons to do so. Once you’ve had just a few sips, I can almost guarantee that you’ll fall in love and possibly make this style of wine you’re preferred choice of bubbly. Today’s blog post is solely dedicated to the wine presented at the Ricci Curbastro guided wine tasting seminar.

Yes, I’ll mention the suggested pairings at the end and possibly in a future post. However, today I’ll recap the one hour, World Wine Web Masterclass seminar led by wine expert, Lyn Farmer and featuring Riccardo and Gualberto Ricci Curbastro of Ricci Curbastro Farm Estate Winery. A group of about twenty-five guests including lucky me, had a chance to learn about the history, vineyards and wines.

Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta DOCG

What is Franciacorta?

Franciacorta is a small wine-producing area in Lombardy, Italy and is also a style of high-quality sparkling wine made using the Traditional Method or when speaking about Champagne, Méthode Champenoise. Now is not the time to compare ‘apples and oranges,’ because Franciacorta has its own unique identity, so let’s first dive into some history.

Riccardo Ricci Curbastro and Gualberto Ricci Curbastro Sr.

Franciacorta History

The cultivation of vines in Franciacorta goes back very far. Think about evidence of prehistoric grape seeds and mentions in the writings of Pliny the Elder. You can read more here.

The agricultural tradition of the Ricci Curbastro family dates back to the thirteenth century.  Eighteen generations later, Riccardo leads the business alongside his eldest son Gualberto who bears his grandfather’s name.

Franciacorta received its DOCG status* in 1995 and was the first Italian sparkling wine to achieve this designation. The region consists of about 120 producers. Gualberto explained at that time, the term Traditional or Classical Method was no longer used and replaced with Franciacorta as the only word to describe the wine style.

*Read about Italian Wine Classifications here.

1908 Map Ricci Curbastro Soil

There’s Something About Soil

A few years ago when Riccardo was sorting through papers, he discovered a map that dated back to 1908. It documented the research that his grandfather and great grandfather made to decide what was the best combination in terms of grafting American roots and European varieties after the phylloxera epidemic.

“Franciacorta is the stratification of great patience and a lot of research in getting always better and better quality,” remarked Riccardo with a tone of admiration and appreciation for his forefathers.  “And, we started a long time ago.”

He explains that Franciacorta has over sixty soil profiles. For this reason it is very important that Ricci Curbastro has vineyards in three different villages because of the variations in soil. Plus, the microclimates are different between the three. I suggest you watch the full video on the World Wine Web’s Masterclass Facebook page to understand more.

“There is something pretty unique in terms of characteristics: soil and climate,” says Riccardo when explaining the area, located at the foot of the Alps and north by the shores of Lake Iseo. The area has an unusual mix of climates, including Mediterranean.

Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Brut NV
Franciacorta Brut NV (60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir) © Author

The Wines

One of the ingredients of our wine is time. ~ Riccardo Ricci Curbastro

We tasted three wines: Franciacorta Brut NV (60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir); Franciacorta Brut Satèn 2014 (100% Chardonnay); and Franciacorta Rosé Brut NV (80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay.) You can read the wine specs here.

What engages me the most about wine seminars is to hear from people who create the wines. The insights and anecdotes are a trajectory from what’s in my glass to the vineyard and history.

Franciacorta Brut Satèn 2014
Franciacorta Brut Satèn 2014 (100% Chardonnay) © Author

For example, I learned that the word Satèn (silk) is a name that is typically only from Franciacorta and infers Franciacorta’s past when they were producing a lot of silk, as well as wine. Silk is a perfect metaphor for Franciacorta Satèn: “When you touch a scarf you have the sensation of something that is smooth but, at the same time, it is a very strong cloth,” explains Riccardo noting that the first parachutes were made of silk. “The wine’s strength is like roundness and very good structure.”

Franciacorta Rosé Brut NV (80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay)
Franciacorta Rosé Brut NV (80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay) © Author

Not Just for Toasting

Lyn, Riccardo and Gualberto emphasized that the Ricci Curbastro wines go well with food and are not just for toasting at special occasions. Gualberto who grew up with Franciacorta at the table said when speaking of the Rosé Brut: “We’ve tried the best and worst with Franciacorta, but barbeque is always a good combination.”

Riccardo refers to the Rosé Brut as a “light red” and explained that the dryness, acidity and elegance of the wine balances with the richness of grilled meat.

We were drooling, when Lyn presented his 11:00 am “perfect pairing” – Smoked Salmon and Bacon-Wrapped Scallops. Yum and I need to hurry back into the kitchen lab!

Poolside with Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta DOCG wines.

Falling In Love

While I won’t write about it today, I suggest you watch the video and learn more about the Sustainable Winery 3E logo that is on the back label of Ricci Curbastro wines. You can also read more here.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I suffer from an extreme case of the travel bug. As I navigate through a perpetual state of pandemic-related immobility, virtual wine travel is now my preferred, #MyArtEscape.

Lyn commented on one of my Instagram posts that “Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta is the ultimate postcard in a glass.” I couldn’t agree more!

Once you’ve watched the seminar, read the Ricci Curbastro website to learn more, and drink the wines, I suggest that you watch this film: “F is for Franciacorta.” If you’re anything like me, you too will be ‘falling in love’ with Franciacorta.

Falling in love consists merely in uncorking the imagination and bottling the common sense. ~ Helen Rowland

F is for Franciacorta produced by the Franciacorta DOCG Consortium that celebrated its 30th year this past March.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

A Very Special Thanks for the Invitation to this Virtual Event 💕

Recent mentions of Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta in the Food Wine Travel Magazine.

A Reason for Riesling

Ingredients needed to make roast pork loin with apricots/

Roast Pork Loin with Apricot Sauce Recipe Paired with 2015 Jean- Baptiste Riesling Kabinett by Weingut Gunderloch

Roast pork loin with apricot sauce recipe.
This Roasted Pork Loin with Apricot Sauce pairs perfectly with the Gunderloch Riesling. © Author

Today’s recipe and pairing wine is taking me out of my comfort zone. This Roast Pork Loin with Apricot Sauce recipe nicely complements the 2015 Jean- Baptiste Riesling Kabinett by Weingut Gunderloch and is a perfect Sunday meal that will give you more time to relax than spent in the kitchen.

How Do You Like Your Wine?

Typically, I like white wines that are bone dry and red wines with some ‘oomph.’ When it comes to food, I prefer dishes that are savory and avoid anything sweet that goes alongside them like turkey with cranberry sauce.

Studying the Riesling wine classifications while preparing for the WSET 2 exam. Read more below. 👇🏼 © Author

Just like last week, I still have my nose in a glass and in a pile of books. If you’re not making these recipes, scroll down for some Weingut Gunderloch history and some introductory German wine vocabulary too. 👇🏼

Roast Pork Loin with Apricot Sauce (The Spruce Eats)

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 3 small cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1.5 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 boneless pork loin roast (about 4 1/2 pounds)

For the Apricot Sauce:

  • 10 to 12 ounces apricot preserves (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth (or dry sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

In a large food storage bag or glass bowl, combine 1/2 cup chicken broth, the soy sauce, minced garlic, dry mustard, thyme, and ginger.

Add pork roast, turning to coat well.

Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Remove pork roast and discard the marinade.

Heat the oven to 325 F.

Place pork roast, fat side up, on a rack in a foil-lined roasting pan.

Bake in the preheated oven, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer or instant-read food thermometer registers at least 145 F when inserted into the center of the roast.

Remove the roast from the oven, tent loosely with a sheet of foil, and let it stand for 15 minutes before slicing.

Apricot Sauce

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine the preserves, 2 tablespoons of chicken broth or sherry, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.

Bring the sauce to a boil and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 1 minute.

Slice the pork loin thinly and serve it with the apricot sauce.

Ingredients needed to make pork with apricot sauce recipe.
Just a few simple ingredients needed to make a delicious and easy Sunday meal. © Author

The Wine: 2015 Jean- Baptiste Riesling Kabinett by Weingut Gunderloch

The Weingut Gunderloch vineyards are in an area called Roter Hang which means ‘red slope’ and located in Germany’s Rheinhessen, Germany’s largest wine region.  This area had been known for producing average wines, but this reputation is being redefined by wineries such as Weingut Gunderloch. You can find out more about this area here, but to put it into a better perspective, I suggest that you watch this video.

I found this wine at Wine by the Bay in Miami and a great write-up with descriptor here. I’ll dive briefly into Riesling and sweetness below, but here are Tim Lemke’s notes:

“The nose is powerfully floral and lemony. It smells absolutely wonderful. The palate offers crisp lemon, apple and peach flavors with good balance, perfect acidity and a pleasant mouthfeel. It has plenty of fruit, and is more tart than sweet. The finish is plenty long, and features lingering peach flavors. This is a pretty tasty Riesling.”

Cous \cous is an ideal side dish to accompany a roast pork loin with apricot sauce.
Couscous is an ideal side dish to accompany the sweet pork and wine. Cook as directed on the package with chicken stock and garnish with parsley. © Author

Just How Sweet is Sweet?

As Tim Lemke describes, the 2015 Jean- Baptiste Riesling Kabinett is somewhere between dry and sweet. That hint of sweetness means that it pairs very well with the Roast Pork Loin with Apricot Sauce. Although designated as “Kabinett,” I feel that this wine is much more complex than the definition of Kabinett implies. Possibly, the aging in this case made the difference and Wine Newbie me feels like it drinks more like a Spätlese. If you disagree, feel free to leave a comment at the end. 👇🏼

Speaking of sweet, if you’re practicing for the WSET 2 exam and struggling with the Riesling classifications, here is a short breakdown of some of the things we must know: “Sprechen Sie Deutch?”

Landwein: Table wine and generally low quality. Like the category, “Protected Geographical Indication” it means that there are regulations in place.

Qualitätswein: Like the category, “Protected Designation of Origin.” Read more here.

Prädikatswein: Same as, “Protected Designation of Origin, but” this category is divided into subdivisions by levels of ripeness (sweetness.) I found it hard to memorize at first, but generally with repeated practice, it began to register:

Kabinett: Usually light wines made of fully ripe grapes.

Spätlese: Literally means “late harvest” and are more intense in flavor and concentration than the latter categories.

Auslese: Select picking of very ripe bunches.

Eiswein: Ice Wine – Wines of at least BA intensity are harvested while frozen

Beerenauslese (BA): Berries Select Picking – Individually selected, overripe berries.

Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA): Dry Berries Select Picking – Individually selected, overripe berries that are dried up on the vine, almost to raisins.

Refer to this link for more details.

Neither the wine or this recipe would have been at the top of my “kitchen lab” list, but I needed to try Riesling as part of my wine education journey. I enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone. And, once again the wine inspired the dish. There are many “Reasons for Riesling” and future wine pairings too!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Neale Donald Walsch

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Tapas, Tempranillo and Tests

Vina Olabarri Spanish Tempranillo wine pairs perfectly with Tapas.

How to Bring Travel to the Table

I’m so antsy, aren’t you? South Florida summers aren’t pleasant, so since I won’t be hopping on a plane any time soon, I need to find ways to bring travel to the table.

Try making these homemade tapas recipes and pair them with a Rioja wine.
Try making these homemade tapas recipes and pair them with a Rioja wine. © Author

Two Spanish Tapas Recipes and Rioja Wine

Take me back to Spain! It’s time relive vacation memories by making two classic Spanish recipes: Huevos Rotas (Potatoes with Broken Eggs,)  Espinacas con Garbanzos (Chickpeas with Spinach,) and drink a Rioja Gran Reserva (Tempranillo.)

I’ll get to the WSET 2 studying part near the bottom of this blog 👇🏼. It’s important too, so keep reading…

Huevos Rotas is a tapas dish made of potatoes and topped with eggs, that's easy to make.
Huevos Rotas (Broken Eggs) rest nicely on top of these deliciously seasoned potatoes. © Author

Huevos Rotas (NY Times Cooking)

Traditionally, this is a Tapas dish and not a side or breakfast!

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes or 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 pounds new potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces if necessary
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  •  Lemon wedges, for serving
  •  Flaky sea salt, for serving

In a measuring cup, combine the olive oil, paprika, red-pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, a generous grind of pepper and 1 cup water. Put the potatoes in a large skillet and pour the olive oil mixture over them. Then, bring the potatoes to a boil, then cover and cook on high until the potatoes are fork-tender, 6 to 9 minutes.

Uncover and turn the heat to low. If the potatoes are sticking or dry, add more olive oil. Next, arrange the potatoes in an even layer, cut side down if halved, then add the onion and garlic surrounding the potatoes. Finally, cover and cook until the potatoes are golden-brown and the onions are softened, 4 to 6 minutes.

Stir the potatoes (if they’re sticking, add more oil). Make 4 nests in the potatoes and crack an egg into each. Season with salt and pepper and then, cover and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny, 4 to 6 minutes.

To serve, break the yolks gently with a serving spoon, then scoop some potatoes and an egg onto plates or into shallow bowls. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and flaky salt.

Chickpea salad or Garbanzos Espinacas con Garbanzos in Spanish is easy to make and delicious.
Chickpea salad or Garbanzos Espinacas con Garbanzos in Spanish is easy to make and delicious. © Author

Spanish Chickpea Salad (Adapted from NY Times Cooking)

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1-pound cans chickpeas, drained (liquid reserved)
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup prosciutto cut into strips (optional) – I skipped this part and substituted baby spinach
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, simmer the onions and garlic in olive oil until they are soft but not browned. Add the chickpeas, crushed tomatoes, parsley, oregano, cumin and prosciutto, if using, and simmer for 30 minutes more.

Taste the mixture and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. If it does not seem moist enough, add a little of the reserved chickpea liquid or some olive oil, or both. Serve lukewarm with a green salad and good bread and butter or garlic oil.

Note: Since I was serving Serrano ham and Manchego cheese on the side, I skipped that part and substituted baby spinach instead. Simply stir in about 2-3 cups into the chickpea mix until the spinach wilts, but still keeps a bright green color.

Enjoy some Spanish Tapas with this Rioja wine by Viña Olabarri. © Author

The Pairing Wine: 2004 Viña Olabarri Gran Reserva

80% Tempranillo, 12% Graciano, 8% Mazuelo

I love Spanish wines, but the majority that I’ve tried are quite powerful. They work well with Spanish and Latin food that’s not spicy, but seldom would I think to drink one without food. However, the 2004 Viña Olabarri Gran Reserva is definitely a Rioja wine that I’d sip while reading a good book. I’ve never had a Gran Reserva wine before, so it was a treat to experience a wine that had been aged for 36 months in French and American oak barrels, plus cellar aged for another 36 months!

Here are the tasting notes provided by Viña Olabarri:

Color: Deep ruby red color with subtle brick red hues on the rim from the ageing process.

Bouquet: Intense aromas of black fruit and spices, with a mineral hint.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, integrating beautifully the rich ripe fruit with the sweet spices provided by the oak.

A pleasant, clean aftertaste of remarkable harmony.

A Little History

Viña Olabarri was founded by Pablo Olabarri Bikandi, who since 1958 spent long periods of time in Haro; due to his love of Rioja wines, in 1985 he decided to buy an old 19th century winery in Calle las Bodegas, in Anguciana.

As a result, the need for bigger, more modern facilities to make the wines took him to build a new winery in the outskirts of Haro in 1989, with capacity to hold 4,000 barrels and up to 800,000 bottles.

His son, Luis Olabarri is currently in charge of the winery.

Wine study time at desk to prepare for the Wine & Spirits Education Trust exam.
I’m preparing for the WSET 2 exam with some delicious “homework!” © Author

It’s Test Time!

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I’ve had my nose in a glass and a pile of wine books for some time. I started the Society of Wine Educators Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) course, but was finding it difficult. Although I can master self-study, I really needed to begin my wine journey with some guidance.

One good thing that’s come from the COVID-19 pandemic, is that there has been a plethora of new opportunities to learn online. I’ve wanted to take a Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) course for some time, but found it difficult to find the time. Also, since Florida Wine Academy is located in Downtown Miami, getting there once I finished my workday would have been a challenge. Shortly after participating in a couple Florida Wine Academy’s free Zoom webinars, they announced that the WSET 2 would be offered online. I immediately registered!

Registrants have the option to purchase the wine packs through them, but I found the required wines either near my home or at Wine by the Bay in Miami.

The course is six weeks and I’ve completed that part and now am studying for the exam. It’s been an exciting journey so far and the most important thing I’ve discovered, is that I’m still a Wine Newbie and loving it. This trip will take a lifetime and just when I’ve mastered one part, I realized that there’s so much more to discover.

This education is brain stimulation and tasty and I look forward to many more food and wine pairing weekends!

Wine Newbie Resources

Here are some additional resources that I found useful to enhance the WSET text and workbooks:

“The discovery of a wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars.”

― Benjamin Franklin

If you have a useful wine education resource to share, feel free to post it in a comment below. Plus, if you have your own Spanish tapas recipes or a Rioja wine to share, tag me in your photos on Instagram! Or, let me know how you bring travel to your table.

Follow @AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Past Blog Posts Related to Spain

When the Wine Inspires the Dish

Domaine Arnauld Baillot Pinot Noir

Thinking in Reverse

Today, I’m going to talk about how a delicious French Pinot Noir inspired me to make Broiled Salmon with Beurre Blanc. Be forewarned that if you’re counting calories, this classic French dish is rich in butter and cream and will take a bit of time to prepare. Overall, it’s an easy weekend meal that’s sure to please.

I’ve reversed the order of my previous posts leaving my personal reflection about this past week out of quarantine, until last. I think it’s important, so I hope you make it there. 👇🏼

Most of the time when I prepare a meal, I turn to Google or my favorite Wine Guru for advice to find the perfect pairing. Now that I have a little bit more knowledge about wine than I did six weeks ago (I’ll get to that next week), I’m doing the opposite. Needing to practice the WSET Systematic Approaching to Tasting (SAT) each weekend, I find a quiet moment to sit and analyze the wine: it’s color, aroma, taste, and do a bit of background research on the winemaker’s website or read some reviewer’s tasting notes. Then, I figure out what dish will work.

The Domaine Arnaud Baillot Bourgogne “Haut Tartre” 2018 pairs perfectly with broiled salmon with a Beurre Blanc sauce. © Author

The Wine: Arnaud Baillot – Bourgogne “Haut Tartre” 2018

100% Pinot Noir

It’s extremely difficult to find information about Domaine Arnaud Baillot. They don’t have a website, but you can follow them on Instagram. You also won’t find reviews, but that could easily impede your visceral reaction. Despite how much you may know about wine, a simple like or don’t like is a great start. Then, you can research this area of Bourgogne (Burgundy) to further understand how expressions of Pinot Noir from here differ from other areas of the world.

I found this wine to be rich, yet refreshing. It brought back childhood memories of eating juicy summer cherries after a morning of picking at Niagara-on-the-Lake – lip smacking delicious! There were hints of strawberry, cherry candies, and dark chocolate. The wine had a lovely finish. I’d happily drink it on its own, simply paired with the summer sunset!

If you’re an expert reading my wine newbie descriptor, feel free to write a more in-depth review in the comment box below. Remember, that I’m just practicing. 😊

Domaine Arnaud Baillot is located in Beaune, the heart of the Côte d’Or. Owner and winemaker, Arnaud is passionate about the diversity of wines the Burgundy region has to offer. He and his wife Laure (grandaughter of Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat in Chambolle-Musigny) produce a spectacular range of villages and crus Burgundy wines.

You can find some of Arnaud Baillot’s wines at Wine by the Bay in Miami. (The owner, Stefano BTW is the above-mentioned “Wine Guru” and my wine mentor.)

Read how to make Salmon with Beurre Blanc Sauce.
Broiled Salmon with Beurre Blanc Sauce, Fennel Salad and Roast Potatoes. © Author

Salmon with Beurre Blanc (inspired by the Morton’s Steakhouse recipe posted on Delish.)

  • 1 teaspoon clarified butter or olive oil
  • ¾ heavy cream
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat the clarified butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it softens without coloring.

Add the wine, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the wine reduces and the liquid coats the bottom of the pan. Add the cream and simmer, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until reduced by half.

Reduce the heat to low and begin adding the butter, a tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition. Do not allow the cream to boil once the butter is added.

For the salmon, I brushed each side with olive oil, sprinkled the salmon with salt and pepper and broiled each side for about 7 minutes.

Place the Beurre Blanc sauce on the dish, top with the salmon and garnish with lemon slices.

The George Floyd protests have shown as that we need to pause.

Thinking in Reverse

Today, I’m thinking about “thinking in reverse.” My pairing menu was planned and the blog written in reverse order. Thinking in reverse may initially feel like walking backwards: it makes us uncomfortable. However, it leads to greater creativity and maybe better and long-lasting solutions. Read more here.

It’s now Week 2 of the return to the “new norm.”  

It’s also now just past one week of international protests, which is a term that I would rather say than “civil unrest.” Writing about food and wine seemed trivial last week – kind of self-indulgent, so I paused and spent the week listening and thinking.

COVID-19 reminds us that there are forces beyond our control and millions of people worldwide stopped daily life to protect each other from accelerating the pandemic’s impact. With respect to the protests, it’s time to pause and listen. We can’t reverse history, but it’s time to think in reverse.

Let’s determine what we value most and re-examine our values.

“Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.”

― Terence McKenna

Follow me on Instagram @AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Where’s the Beef? It’s Time to Make Choices.

Homemade Hamburger Buns and Bernaise Sauce Recipes

Two Favorite Beef Dish Recipes, Syrah Wine Pairing and a Rant About Choices

It’s now Week 1 of the, “we don’t have to stay-at-home anymore” order and my Week 11 at home. If it wasn’t for continuous rainy days, I think there’d be a lot more people outside enjoying all that South Florida has to offer. Before I get to the homemade hamburger buns and Béarnaise Sauce recipes, plus the Northern Rhône Syrah wine pairing, I thought I’d talk about making choices that we can or will make during the COVID_19 pandemic.

Where’s the Beef?

DYK the history of this slogan? It was part of a 1984 advertising campaign for Wendy’s. Ironically, this fast food chain recently announced that it was short of or had run out of beef at some of its restaurants. If you’re a marketing geek like me, you’ll find this story interesting and see how this catchy campaign set Wendy’s apart from its competitors.

Seems like everyone has something to say lately and our voices are amplified through social media because the reality is, no one can really hear you through a mask and we can’t get together like we used to. People reluctant to head to the beach or restaurants are called cowards (or much worse) by some, and the ones out frolicking around like immortals are named pillars of mass death by others. Yes, that is the extreme POV, but I’m not making it up – just check out the conversations on Facebook.

Filet Mignon with Roast Potatoes and Spring Mix with Pecans, Camembert Cheese & Apricots. © Author

Beef Choices

True to my Canadian nature, I’m more on the reserved side: quietly working and entertaining myself at home thinking that my stay-at-home actions are for the greater good. My biggest indulgences these days are a good meal and bottle of wine.

I love filet mignon, but at $13-$20 per pound, it’s a splurge meal. Rather than thinking that the cost of eating a prime cut is at least double the expense of at least one family meal, I put that rationale aside. I’m lucky to have this liberty, but If you prefer to stick to ‘Feeding Five Under 25 $,’ choose recipe one because there’s nothing better than a juicy hamburger to satisfy our craving for beef.

If you’re not interested in the recipes, be sure to scroll down and read about the ‘Que Syrah Syrah’ wine pairing and my conclusion about making choices.


Fast and Easy Hamburger Buns. © Author

Homemade Hamburger Buns (Original recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.)

The recipe as stated worked best for sliders. If you want full size hamburger buns, double up the ingredients. Either make your own hamburger patties or buy prepared ones. I served the hamburgers with homemade guacamole and potato chips that I sliced whole potatoes with a mandolin.

  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt and enough flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let rise. Divide into 12 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Preheat oven to 425°.

Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake until golden brown, 8-12 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Filet Mignon with a Béarnaise Sauce and Smashed Potatoes (Both Recipes found on Food Wishes.)

Notes: While hamburgers don’t take long, both the Smash Potatoes and Béarnaise Sauce take quite a bit of time, so make this on a day with lots of free time. It’s a great opportunity to listen to a podcast since you shouldn’t take your eyes off of the Bernaise Sauce!


Béarnaise Sauce means lots of butter! © Author

Béarnaise Sauce

Compound Butter

  • 1/4 cup chopped tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter

Use a mortar and pestle to combine the ingredients. Wrap the compound butter in plastic wrap and refrigeration while you make the Tarragon Reduction.

Tarragon Reduction

  • 1 cup fresh tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 rounded teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup water

Simmer the tarragon leaves and peppercorns (or ground pepper) in the liquids until you have about 3 tablespoons of reserved liquid. Gently squeeze all of the liquid through a strainer so you have a clear broth.

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar reduction
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon caper tarragon compound butter
  • salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, optional

Add 2 egg yolks and tarragon reduction to a stainless steel bowl or pot and whisk until combined. Add all of the cold butter cubes and whisk together on medium heat. Keep whisking until the color lightens and it thickens.  Add the compound butter cut into cubes and keep whisking until combined. Remove from heat and add salt if desired.

Note: I seared the filet mignon (coated lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper) with a tbsp of butter and one of olive oil and then finished the meat in the oven set to 425 ° until medium. You can grill them too.

You can watch Chef John’s video for help.  I made the Compound Butter before the Tarragon Reduction. I suggest using room temperature eggs.


Smash Potatoes can be made ahead. © Author

Smashed Potatoes (All Recipes)

  • 3 ½ pounds medium yellow potatoes, washed
  • ⅓ cup kosher salt
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the Infused Butter
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, or to taste
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or to taste

Place potatoes into a 5-quart stockpot and cover with 3 quarts of cold water. Add kosher salt and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and drain well. Let potatoes cool just until they’re safe to handle.

Transfer potatoes onto a sheet pan and continue cooling to room temperature. Make 4 or 5 shallow cuts down the sides of each potato, about every inch or so, to ensure the skin splits evenly when smashed. Refrigerate until completely chilled and ready to smash; 8 hours to overnight is best.

Combine butter, sliced garlic, rosemary, and thyme in a small pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts and begins to bubble, and garlic softens and starts to turn translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C). Line 2 metal baking sheets with silicone baking mats (such as Silpat®) and generously brush on some of the infused melted butter.

Remove potatoes from the fridge and gently smash each between two pieces of plastic using a flat, heavy object until 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides, being careful not to break potatoes up into small pieces. Transfer onto a sheet pan, being careful not to overlap potatoes. Very generously drizzle and brush most of the melted butter on top.

Bake potatoes in the preheated oven until well browned and crunchy around the edges, 35 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the pan with the remaining garlic and herb butter back over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until garlic starts to turn a very light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

Carefully transfer potatoes onto a serving platter and scatter over the golden brown slices of garlic. Crumble the toasted herbs on top if desired. Serve immediately.


Que Syrah Syrah: Crozes-Hermitage Selection Silène 2017, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave | 100% Syrah

Every day I learn something new about wine. However, each day I also realize that I still know very little. If you’re a wine newbie like me,  I think that one of the first things you question is the high cost of certain wines and how to justify the expense. It’s a safe assumption that if you have an opportunity to pay more for a wine made by a top producer, you should. However, if you can’t, I am learning (thanks to Wine by the Bay) that some winemakers offer affordable choices that allow you to experience for example, a winemaker’s expression of a vineyard or grape variety; or a winemaking style. These offerings also don’t compromise quality for the sake of affordability.

You could say that today’s wine is like the hamburger substitute for filet mignon – multiplied exponentially! Domaine Jean-Louis Chave wines fetch anywhere from $20.00 to more than $8,000.00 per bottle! Needing to taste a Crozes-Hermitage for the WSET 2 class, I luckily found myself at the lower end of the price spectrum. However, this wine is fantastic and since I’m nowhere near being one who can judge, I suggest you rely on these recommendations by two reputable wine critics: Erik Asimov and Josh Raynolds.

Crozes-Hermitage Selection Silène 2017, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave | 100% Syrah © Author

Bright violet. Mineral-accented cherry, boysenberry and smoky bacon aromas are complicated by suggestions of olive and candied flowers. Energetic and focused for the vintage, offering concentrated bitter cherry, cassis and violet pastille flavors braced by a spine of juicy acidity. Closes sappy, smooth and quite long, with sneaky tannins and a lingering suggestion of juicy black and blue fruits. Drink date: 2022-2030. Score – 92. ~ Josh Raynolds


The Whatever Will Be, Will Be Philosophy Isn’t That Comforting

Freedom of choice, too many choices, making choices, and no choice. It’s just too easy and I think irresponsible to say, “Que Sera, Sera?” Whatever choice you make today may greatly affect what happens tomorrow.

Freedom of choice is also freedom to decide when you do not want to choose. ~ Simona Botti.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Nanaimo Bars, Butter Tarts, and Why I Blog

Two Canadian Dessert Recipes and More

Today’s blog pays tribute to my mother and includes two cherished Canadian desserts: Nanaimo Bars and Butter Tarts. My Mom wasn’t a very good cook, but she loved to have people over for dinner and no one ever turned down an invitation. The problem with my mother’s cooking was that she was too limiting, for example: lesser quality ingredients to save money; less salt because sodium isn’t good for you; and she was British. Let’s face it, when it comes to food England isn’t France or Italy. Growing up, I suffered through a fair share of Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, Bubble and Squeak, Bangers and Mash, Trifle and Plum Pudding while silently wishing that I was born Italian.

Learn how to make Nanaimo Bars and Butter Tarts.
Nanaimo Bars and Butter Tarts © Lisa Morales

On the other hand, my frugal Mom could bake and she never skimped on butter, sugar, chocolate, or whatever ingredient was needed to make dessert. The best part about mediocre suppers (as a Brit says) was that on special occasions, we could eat at least two kinds of desserts and Christmas was a sugar smorgasbord! It’s these memories that inspire today’s dessert menu — just keep reading a little more…

Crozes Hermitage Pinot Noir is a perfect pairing for these Canadian desserts.
The kitchen is where we deal with the elements of the universe. It is where we come to understand our past and ourselves. ~ Laura Esquivel | © Lisa Morales

It’s now Week 10 of the now relaxed, stay-at-home order. Since I’ve always worked remotely and anyone who I deal with is also doing the same, there’s nowhere yet to really go. I’m not so sure either if I’ll be heading out soon for a socially distant lunch, shopping spree, or nail appointment. Will you be?

In May I Mourn

Today, marks nine years since my Mom passed away. As soon as May arrives, it’s like a dark cloud sits over me. No matter how fast I run from this cloud, it follows me. Like so many people in these current circumstances, who are saying their last goodbyes from a distance, I can relate. My Mom lost her battle with cancer one week after Mother’s Day. I sat in my backyard while she was at a hospice center in Canada, when we cried through one of our last conversations – a Happy Mother’s Day wish. It wasn’t happy, but what could I say?

Why I Blog? © Lisa Morales

The Reasons Why I Blog

Yes, I won’t deny it – I do blog for SEO. What writer or business owner doesn’t? However, my “call to write” is because of the following:

  • I write because I can express myself so much better than in spoken words.
  • I want to be heard because sometimes the people closest to me aren’t listening. I also want to be heard by others and I do appreciate the feedback received on social media.
  • Expanding on the latter point, I hope that someone else identifies with my subject and is inspired to cook, bake, drink wine, learn more about art, etc.
  • Finally, I write to leave something behind. When you lose a loved one, you hold tight to memories and material things such as photos, birthday cards, letters, Fine China – anything to keep that person close long after they’re gone. This blog is for my own children. Currently, they are slightly annoyed that they can’t eat before I get the perfect photo. However, maybe one day they’ll treasure these recipes and ramblings.

Nanaimo Bars

Unless you’re from Quebec, it’s really hard to define Canadian food. However, I’m delighted to share a couple of my favorite desserts that are apparently indigenous to Canada (not England.) There’s an interesting history to Nanaimo Bars (named after a city in British Colombia) and I suggest you read it here. If you visit B.C., you can follow the Nanaimo Bar Trail! Although there are many versions of this recipe, I’ve adapted the one created by the winner of the 1986 Best Nanaimo Bar Recipe contest held by the then, Mayor of Nanaimo. You can find Joyce Hardcastle’s recipe here.

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter (preferably European-style cultured butter)
  • 5 Tbsp (75 mL) cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ¾ cups (425 mL) graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup (250 mL) shredded coconut
  • ½ cup (125 mL) almonds, finely chopped (Note: I didn’t use nuts. See Blog Bloopers below.)

1. Pour 2 cups (500 mL) water into bottom of double boiler. Place on stove over medium heat and bring water to simmer.

2. In top of double boiler; combine butter, cocoa and sugar; place over simmering water. Heat, stirring, until butter has melted and mixture is smooth.

3. Add beaten egg; stir until thick. Remove top of double boiler from heat. Stir in graham wafer crumbs, coconut and almonds.

4. Scrape into parchment paper-lined 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish. Press firmly to create even bottom layer.

5. Tip: If you don’t have a double boiler, half-fill a saucepan with water and heat over medium heat until water begins to simmer. Then, place a metal or glass bowl over the simmering water and proceed as directed.

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp (40 mL) whipping or heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) vanilla custard powder
  • 2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar

With a mixer, cream together butter, cream and custard powder. Gradually add icing sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Scrape over bottom layer, smoothing top with spatula or palette knife.

Topping

  • 4 oz (115 g) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter

In clean double boiler, melt chocolate and butter together. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. When cool, but still liquid, pour over custard layer.

Cover and refrigerate until cold. (About six hours.)

Butter Tarts are a favorite Canadian dessert. Here's the recipe.
Butter Tarts © Lisa Morales

Butter Tarts

Unless I’ve forgotten, my mother never made her own Butter Tarts. It was a dessert staple and a cheap sweet treat. There are versions of this recipe that include raisins, but I never liked them included then so certainly will not add them now.

Pastry

  • 2 ¼ cups flour, pastry flour is best to use but all-purpose will do
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening, Very cold and cut in cubes
  • 1/2 cup butter, Very cold and cut in cubes
  • 6 tbsp ice water, approximately, enough to bring the dough together

1. Pulse the cold butter and shortening into the flour sugar and salt using a food processor until the shortening or butter is reduced to pea sized pieces.

2. Sprinkle the water over the surface and toss with a fork until the water is just incorporated into the dough. Do not over work the dough; handle it only enough so that the dough stays together.

3. Form the dough into two rounds about an inch thick.

4. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for about a half hour.

5. Roll out on lightly floured surface. Cut into rounds with 4 inch cutter. Fit into muffin cups. Chill in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the filling. Cold pastry heading into a hot oven will always be flakier.

Filling

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • (Optional: ½ cup raisins, substituting, pecans, walnuts or chocolate chips.)

1. Combine all filling ingredients except raisins.

2. Mix well.

3. Sprinkle raisins in a single layer in the bottom of the pastry lined muffin cups.

4. Fill 2/3 full with syrup mixture.

5. Bake on bottom shelf of oven at 425 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes.

6. Cool completely on a wire rack and remove tarts from from pans.

Blog Bloopers

Baking is an exact science and if you want to improvise, stick to cooking. A few things went wrong:

(1) For the Nanaimo Bars, I only had a rectangle baking pan and an 8-inch round, springform pan. Because of a nut allergy, I added more graham cracker crumbs to make up the difference. With too much crust crumbs on my hands, I had to decide between discarding some of this mix to fit in the round pan or fill a rectangular pan. I did the latter and what a mistake! There wasn’t enough custard filling and spreading it thinly was a disaster (see below for the lesson learned.) I then made more ganache to cover up the mistake and avoid a sweet tragedy!

(2) For the Butter Tarts, I did not make my own crust, but plan to do so in the future so I left that part in. As you know, some items are hard to come by, so I substituted store-bought pie dough for pastry flour to make a dough from scratch. I then cut the full size pre-cut pie dough into small circles by using a glass. Note: anticipating a gooey baked mess, I also used foil cupcake liners that I later removed once the tarts had cooled.

Wine of the Week: Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Crozes-Hermitage Silene 2017 from Wine by the Bay.

(3) When conceiving a blog post, I usually plan the wine and prepare the meal before I take the photo. Because I had already opened this bottle the night before for dinner, I had just presumed that a Syrah would work with a chocolate dessert. While this pairing wasn’t bad, it wasn’t perfect. The Crozes-Hermitage Silene 2017 is a gentle beauty and a nice expression of this style. It paired well with my French-inspired dinner and I’ll write about it next week!

Can Actions Speak Louder than Words?

My mother never told me that she loved me. It’s strange to grow up never hearing those three words and although I struggle to say it myself, I make sure that the ones I love hear it maybe not every day, but enough. I honestly can’t understand why it was so hard, but as I failed to evenly spread the middle layer of Nanaimo Bars, I thought of my mother’s perfect centers: yellow and creamy and not a crumb from the first layer mixed in. (I guess it may have taken her a few times to get it right.)

It’s at that moment when I realized that maybe what she couldn’t express in words, she was able to say in her dessert making. A way for her to communicate, like writing is to me.

The kitchen is where we deal with the elements of the universe. It is where we come to understand our past and ourselves. ~ Laura Esquivel (Author of Like Water for Chocolate.)

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Resources:

If you are grieving loss  or have lost a loved one during the COVID-19 Pandemic, here are a few helpful articles.

Check out this Death by Chocolate recipes too!

Risotto, Running and REM

Wake me up because I’m tired of dreaming. It’s Week 9 of the stay-at-home order, although some of you may have started quarantine either later or earlier than me. I typically never recall my dreams, but for the past few weeks, I’ve been able to vividly retell what took place during REM before I’ve had my morning espresso. Some nights I’m being screamed at by someone because I forgot my mask, or I’m lost in a supermarket, or living back in Canada (I’ll get to that next week.)

Lockdown Dreams

I wondered if I was the only one who was having weird dreams, so after doing some searching, I discovered that scientists have documented why and how the coronavirus is affecting our dreams. There’s even a website called Lockdown Dreams and you can share your experiences with others. I’m sure that’s therapeutic for some people, but frankly, I’m tired of remembering. Why would I want to read about other people’s life-like nightmares?

Running

I began running around five years ago, but really started taking it more seriously and working on a mind-body regimen about a year ago. Where getting in a car to go basically nowhere hardly gives me pleasure, running now gives me a sense of freedom and purpose to weekends with nowhere to go. Running is my superpower. What’s yours?

Vineyard in Piemonte © Shutterstock

Daydreams Are Different

For a week I daydreamed about making Risotto with Sausage, drinking Barbaresco (see below,) and most importantly, taking a virtual trip to Italy. Thanks to Wine by the Bay in Miami, a Saturday tour of Pier Paolo Grasso’s Azienda Vitivinicola Pier (located in Treiso, Piemonte) gave me a chance to forget those stressful trips to the supermarket and an inbox filled with work requests mixed with a barrage of breaking news headlines.

The Zoom event was perfectly orchestrated by Wine by the Bay’s owner, Stefano Campanini. After signing up, a small group of “travelers” received a bottle of Barbaresco and video link to a pre-recorded demo by Sara, Pier Paolo Grasso’s wife who explained step-by-step how to prepare the dish. While we had lunch in our kitchens, the Grasso’s enjoyed dinner overlooking their vineyard! The video tour was divided into three parts starting with a 360° look of the estate; followed by the cellars; and concluding with the bottling and packaging areas. In between, we chatted, ate lunch and drank the wine pensively, but filled with excitement because we could hear insights from the winemaker himself!

Possibly it was the 14% ABV, but by glass number two, I felt like I was sitting in the same room with everyone. Imagine, guests from Washington, Texas, Florida, Quebec, and Piemonte enjoying this great experience together!

Azienda Pier by Pier Paolo Grasso – Barbaresco Riserva Piccola Emma 2007 © Lisa Morales

The Wine: Azienda Pier by Pier Paolo Grasso – Barbaresco Riserva Piccola Emma 2007

The Nebbiolo grapes used for this Riserva come from La Fenice vineyards. After vinification in steel, Piccola Emma 2007 was matured for ten years in 50hl oak barrels. Bottling took place in December 2018.

The wine sports a charming garnet color, a rich and elegant olfactory emerges, initially dominated by notes of red currant and morello cherry jams which, in a short time, reveal hints of dried violet and undergrowth as well as a slight blood tinge; a vertical balsamic vein runs through the bouquet giving it an intriguing olfactory three-dimensionality.

Note: I didn’t write this description. You can read the full review here and run it through Google translator if you don’t speak Italian. You can find some more history of the winery and a nice photo of Pier Paolo and Sara here.

Risotto with Sausage Ingredients © Lisa Morales

Risotto Recipe

If you hadn’t read this far, you would have missed out on the best part, or maybe the second best part, or equal parts. Alright, the wine and recipe tie for first place!

While it was not the first time that I’ve made risotto, it was the first time that I’ve made it with a newly opened bottle of Riserva red wine. Trust me, those tears shed from losing a half cup of Pier Paolo’s Barbaresco to this dish will quickly dry up when you taste your perfect pairing!

  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 4 – 6 cups of hot chicken stock
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp of Thyme
  • ¾ c of chopped Baby Portobello mushrooms
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 c of Piccola Emma (or quality red wine)
  • 4 sausages each cut into thirds (I simmered the sausage in a bit of water until almost cooked and had acquired a little bit of color.)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 c of grated Parmesan cheese (save some for topping the dish or shred some more and reserve until the end)
  • 1 tbsp chopped Parsley

Using a wooden spoon, gently sauté the onions in olive oil and a dash of salt until translucent.

Add the mushrooms and Thyme and stir until soft adding more olive oil if needed.

Stir in the Arborio rice and coat with oil and lightly toast.

Add the wine, stir and simmer until it evaporates.

Add the first 3 or 4 ladles of stock until the rice is just covered with broth. Let the rice gently simmer, stirring frequently.

Repeat this step a few more times until the rice is “al dente.” When you run your spoon down the bottom of the pot, the rice will separate and you see a clear line.

Remove from heat and stir in first the butter until it is melted and combined, followed by the Parmesan cheese.

Cover for a 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note: Since I had prepared this ahead of time because I had a work commitment before the trip, I left the rice warming over another pot filled with some steamy, hot water. If your rice dries up, you can add a splash of broth (or cream) to make it creamier.

Risotto with Sausage © Lisa Morales

The End Is A Beginning

This pandemic has thwarted our sense of purpose and to work without the reward of time off or a vacation is extremely hard. However, dreams help us prepare for adversity. So when you wake up, keep remembering that where the bad dream ends, there’s still a day filled with possibilities, plus a daydream or two to keep us going — This too shall pass.

“I have had dreams, and I’ve had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.” – Jonas Salk

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Note: Dr. Jonas Salk first tested his vaccine against the polio virus in 1952 before announcing to the world in 1955 that a viable vaccine against the feared virus was now a reality.  Albert Sabin followed Dr. Salk a few short years later by licensing an oral version of the polio vaccine in 1962.

Resource: Talking about your dreams may be a good idea if you are feeling anxious. Read more here.

You too can take a trip with Wine by the Bay! Visit www.winebtb.com/events.

Taco Talk on Cinco de Mayo

Fast and Easy Homemade Taco Dinner Recipe

It’s Week 8 of the Florida stay-at-home order, although things are slowly starting to open up. However, if you take a look at traffic and social media, you’ll know that people are flocking to the marinas and any open recreational spaces – public beaches are still closed. We may have to redefine “slow.”

Who’s making Margaritas? (Shutterstock)

It’s also May 5th or Cinco de Mayo. Typically, bars and restaurants are crowded with people who don’t mind invading each other’s personal space while downing Margaritas and Mexican-ish finger food. You’ll have to grab your Mexican food curbside this year and hopefully, bought your Margarita Mix and Tequila earlier than today. Since liquor sales are way up, you last-minute planners may find yourself drinking wine, like me!

May 5th

DYK that May 5th is the 126th day of the year since 2020 is a leap year? According to Wikipedia, this day marks the approximate midpoint of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and fall in the Southern Hemisphere. There are also 239 days left in the year. However, who’s counting because since the start of the pandemic, we’re just taking life one day at a time. And, even if you remember what day of the week it is, it just doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

Cinco de Mayo Parade in Chicago (Shutterstock)

Cinco de Mayo

I don’t know much about Cinco de Mayo other than it’s a day when people get drunk and eat tacos. So just in case you don’t know much more than me, I figured it’s time to dig a little into the history. First of all, it’s not Mexican Independence Day – that’s on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo officially commemorates the anniversary of an early victory by Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is not the anniversary of the defeat and expulsion of the French forces by the Mexicans, which occurred in 1867.

It’s also not a United States national holiday, but is meant to be a day to celebrate Mexican culture, plus the achievements and experiences of Mexican-Americans. So narrowing down the day from celebrating achievements and culture to a drunken, Tequila fest is really sad. However, not surprising: 💰kaching 💰.

Feeding Five Under 25 $: Making Soft Tacos/Tostadas from Scratch

Since this is a recipe blog post, I’m not going to go far into taco history. If you’d like to feed your food geekiness, I urge you to read this article by Smithsonian Magazine. Otherwise, I see tacos in this way: You can purchase a bag of Maseca® corn flour and chop up and season leftover meat, quickly feeding a lot of people for just a few dollars! So, that’s what I did.

Homemade Taco Seasoning © Lisa Morales

Taco Seasoning found on Gimme Delicious

Clean the tomatillos and cut in half. Place them half side down on a baking sheet along with the garlic cloves and peppers. Broil until charred.

  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (I used smoked paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
  • Add all the spices to a mason jar. Cover tightly and shake.

Tip: 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning is equivalent to 1 packet of store-bought taco seasoning.

Salsa Verde made with roasted green tomatoes. © Lisa Morales

Salsa Verde from Kitchn

  • 1 pound tomatillos (about 12 medium)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium serrano or jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion (1/4 medium)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons water

Note: The original recipe says peel the garlic cloves, but I left them on and then removed them from the skins once broiled.

While the tomatillos, garlic and peppers cool, chop up the onion that has been rinsed under water.

Add all of the ingredients into a blender and blend to the desired consistency.

Tostadas with chicken and sausage, served with white bean chili (recipe to be posted in a future blog.) © Lisa Morales

Soft Tacos/Tortillas/Tostadas (Found on Kitchn, but this recipe is also on the corn flour bag)

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water (hot tap water is fine)

Mix the flour and salt and then add the hot water. Stir until combined.

Knead the dough with your hands directly in the bowl. Add more water or masa (sparingly) to get the desired consistency: it should feel like playdough.

Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rest for 15 – 30 minutes. Note that it won’t rise like regular bread dough.

Roll a few tablespoons of the dough to make golf ball size balls.

Flatten with a tortilla press that is covered with plastic. ]

Note: I don’t own one so the bottom of a small pot worked and then I just tossed it by hand to thin it out a bit more. The plastic wrap separating both of the flattened ball helps.

Warm a cast iron skillet on medium heat until you can feel the heat an inch above the surface.

Cook the tacos on each side for about 2 minutes.

Remove and keep tacos warm in a dish towel.

The Filling

I’ve used, on two separate occasions, leftover beef and chicken combined with sausage as the filling. Gently warm the meat in a pan and add some of the homemade taco seasoning. Combine and add a few tablespoons of water and then simmer until the water evaporates. Remove from heat and cover the pan to keep the filling warm and moist.

Homemade Tacos with Salsa Verde, guacamole and toppings with a side of plantain chips. Use a mandolin to thinly slice green plantains. © Lisa Morales

Toppings

I used shredded cheese, homemade guacamole, salsa verde, tomatoes, sour cream and a dash of sriracha. However, choose your own and what you have on hand.

The End

If you’ve made it this far, I hope you are planning to make your Cinco de Mayo just a little more authentic and before you get drunk, think about the great things that Mexican-Americans have contributed to the US.

Mexican actor and director Gael Garcia Bernal on red carpet at the closing ceremony during the 68th Berlinale International Film Festival at Berlinale Palast.
(Shutterstock)

Mexican food is far more varied than people think. It changes like dialects. ~ Gael Garcia Bernal

Recommend Reading: Gael García Bernal: ‘The pandemic has taught me that I need something to say.’ Or, if you don’t have time to read this article, give his statement some thought: There’s something more straightforward now in how we see things – it’s stronger, more elemental and pulsating. We’re so emotionally charged. Artistic expression can affect us for the better, making us feel we’re all in this questioning together.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Tag me in your taco photos on Instagram! 👍🏻

Death by Chocolate and Wine

Here we go! Week 7 of the stay-at-home order and I’m thinking about death. How can we not think about it when we read the numbers each day in the news? Keeping the statistics in mind, there’s a high probability that someone close to us may die of COVID-19 related complications. We dart through grocery stores like the living dead, avoid eye contact, and grunt through masks only when we must speak.

I have thought about leaving the ones I love behind and spending my last moments alone. I worry for elderly family members and the people I don’t know personally, but put their lives at risk each day—grocery store workers, healthcare professionals, bus drivers, etc.

I had a high school English teacher who loved New Orleans and jazz. He once told us that if there was a nuclear war, he’d accept his doom provided that he had a steak dinner, a glass of red wine and Louis Armstrong playing.

His philosophy stuck with me and I’ve decided that if I must face my fate, my last meal will include a steak and a glass of wine, but also some form of Death by Chocolate. You’ll find a recipe for this chocolatey namesake below, but first a little…

Death by Chocolate History

The first death by chocolate took place in Mexico in the 1600’s when some rich parishioners couldn’t stop eating chocolate during Mass. This prompted a ban by the Bishop who then met his fate after drinking a poisonous chocolate concoction. Read the full story here.

Death by Chocolate Cookies (found on Delish.com)

  • 1 c. butter, softened (or shortening)
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • Flaky sea salt, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350º and line a baking sheet with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, then add vanilla. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in 1 cup semisweet chips and dark chocolate chips.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop out dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake until centers are set, about 12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Make ganache: Place remaining 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips in a bowl. In small saucepan, heat heavy cream over low and bring to a gentle boil. Pour cream over chocolate chips and let sit 5 minutes, then stir until smooth.

Dip cookies halfway into ganache and sprinkle dipped side with flaky salt. Let harden before serving.

Notes: I used milk and white chocolate because that was what was available at the grocery store. However, next time I’ll look for better quality chocolate and use semi sweet and dark as called for in the original recipe.

The light sprinkle of sea salt is key! I waited until the ganache set a bit before adding it so that it could not only be sensed (you really don’t taste salt—it accentuates the flavors,) but also be seen.

2015 Oremus Mandolás – Tempos Vega Sicilia
© Lisa Morales

The Wine: 2015 Oremus Mandolás – Tempos Vega Sicilia (100% Furmint, Hungary)

This dry Tokaji immediately triggered a memory of a late night snack at Bar Casa Julio located next to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. I ate fried calamari and drank fino sherry. Now, it would be totally incorrect of Wine Newbie me to say that Oremus Mandolás is like fino sherry. It has a dry sherry feel and I can imagine having it with lightly salted, fried seafood.

Before I return to the earth (6 feet under that is,) you’ll find me sipping this dry Tokaji while soaking up the sun. Read more here. (BTW I enjoyed Oremus Mandolás on its own and would not recommend having it with either steak or Death by Chocolate cookies.)

It can be purchased in person or online at Wine by the Bay, Miami.

Recommend Reading: Brian Freedman’s article for Forbes magazine and Taste of Hungary.

Facts: Mandolás was the first dry wine produced in the region of Tokaji. February 1 is International Furmint Day.

Let’s drink to the hard working people. Let’s drink to the salt of the earth ~ Mick Jagger

Share your Death by Chocolate Cookies photos with me by tagging me on Instagram; and let me know what meal and wine would be your “last supper,” in a comment below.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Why I Miss Spain Less

Because of my mother, I suffer from an extreme case of the travel bug. Long before the internet, my mom learned how to travel on a budget. She’d check out Fodors Travel Guides from the local library and before committing to a reservation, spent plenty of time on the phone or telex with potential hotels, airlines and tour operators. “Telex,” you ask? You’ll need to consult an encyclopedia for the answer!

I was six years old when my fearless, single mother took my brother and I on our first trip to Europe. My fondest memories include a boat ride down the Rhine, exploring the Swiss Alps by cable car, and riding a tricycle around the Eiffel Tower. (The latter was probably a reward for making us climb the stairs up the Eiffel Tower. At each level, she’d give us a candy because I am guessing we complained all of the way up!)

We had many travel adventures together until I could afford to take my own and because of her, I learned to travel on a budget and discover what fun you can have too when venturing off the beaten path.

Fast Forward

I’m now into Week 6 of the voluntary, stay-at-home order (although some people started later than me.) Never mind that I miss taking a plane–I’d give anything to go more than 10 miles in a car! Whether in the recent past or the very soon future, we will always rely on the internet to continue travelling and do so both easily and affordably.

Why I Went To Spain

There’s a few reasons why I went to Spain last year: 1) the Alhambra was on my Bucket List because I fell in love with its history after taking a Spanish Art and Architecture course at the University of Toronto; 2) a non-stop British Airways flight deal was an offer too good to pass up; and 3) Spain Revealed – James Blick.

YouTube

When it comes to travel, I do like and find TripAdvisor very useful. However, when I’m tired of reading, there’s no better place to investigate places to go than YouTube. There’s a lot of people who make travel videos and we have that one “no names mentioned,” older guy who’s been making travel video for years. However, if you are a food lover wanting to visit Spain, I suggest that you subscribe to James’ channel. Besides the knowledge that you’ll gain, it’s great fun!

I can credit his videos for discovering places to eat in Madrid and clues to live like a local, plus tips to understanding Spanish culture. Living like a local is key for me and the first thing I typically do when arriving in a new city is visit a local market.

James is the co-founder of Devour Tours that began offering food and wine-focused walking tours in 2012. Their mission (found on the Devour Tours website) is to connect curious travelers with local food and communities in a way that helps culture thrive. What began in just Madrid has expanded to include other cities in Spain, Paris, Rome and London.

James’ wife Yoly runs Flamenco Guide for anyone interested in the best place to experience flamenco.

Madrid Lockdown

Because I subscribe to Spain Revealed, I received a notification that James had posted a new video. Since returning from Spain, I had not watched any recent videos. However, this one caught my eye because there wasn’t a thumbnail, but just a still shot of unshaven James waving from, what I later learned, is their apartment’s patio.

I was so moved by his uncut announcement. “An Update from Madrid” was posted when we, in South Florida, were at the, “how bad can it really get” stage. Fear would quickly intensify as life as we knew it, changed by the minute.

Just watch the video. From both a business and personal level, James’ plea was telling and for all of us very relatable.

A New Message

As a communications and marketing professional, I’ve been fortunately swamped with work. Many businesses have had to change their marketing plan and, for example, switch in-person events to virtual ones and foot traffic to online sales and delivery.

It’s as if the sand is running faster through the hourglass as our livelihood is at stake. Since James posted the video on March 14th, I’ve kept up with his Instagram and have been so impressed how quickly they have provided a new experience for their audience. Although probably not enough, they have found a way to raise some money to help out the business and employees.

Zoomed Out

By now a lot of us might be tired of Zoom after spending a work or school day online. Devour Tours now offers some entertaining alternatives: cooking classes live demos; cool merch to add some fun to the stay-at-home wardrobe; and my favorite one, a downloadable cooking book, “Recipes from the Devour Tours Kitchen.”

I’ve already made a couple of the dishes and although my past blog posts have included recipes, I’m encouraging you to buy the cookbook to help support a Devour Tours experience that you may have taken in the past or one that you’ll take in the future.

A Different Kind of Back-to-Business

This week, Spain has begun easing some of its restrictions and many non-essential workers can return to work. However, it will take quite a bit of time before tourism returns to where it had been.

Remember that the travel industry needs our help. While you might not be ready to travel, continue to engage and support the restaurants, stores and businesses that you’ve come to know while on holiday. A like, share and review can go a long way.

If you’ve made it to the bottom of this article, here are some of my favorite Spanish spots to eat and drink or buy wine. It is these memories and new connections why I miss Spain less.

Licores Cabello (Madrid’s oldest wine shop) @licorescabello

Donde Sánchez Cosas Ricas at Mercado de Antón Martín @dondesanchez @mercadoantonmartin
Mariscos Morris in Mercado de San Miguel @mariscosmorris @mercadosanmiguel
La Cabaña Argentina @la_cabana_argentina
Lateral Santa Ana @rest_lateral
Atlantik Corner @atlantikcorner

Restaurante Ruta del Azafrán (Granada) @rutadelazafrangranada

Follow @jamesblickspain @devour_tours @flamencoguide

“Aquel que pierde riqueza pierde mucho, aquel que pierde amigos pierde aún más. Aquel que pierde el coraje, lo pierde todo.” ~ Miguel de Cervantes.

“He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more, but he who loses his courage loses all.”

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Back to Basics Breakfast Recipes

Here we are, Week 5 (or longer) of the stay-at-home order and begrudgingly accepting our new norm. One thing I know is that I’m learning to be more resourceful. Nothing goes to waste and everything gets added to the pot, so to speak.

Tip: To limit how many times that you need to visit the grocery store, make sure you buy two types of vegetables or fruit: short and long-lasting. I go through things like spinach near the beginning of the week and leave the less-perishable ones for later. Here’s a good guide to some long-lasting choices.

For this week’s “Feeding Five Under 25 $,” it’s back to basics and business. Here are a couple of fast and easy breakfast recipes that you and your loved ones can grab and go. Okay – not grab and literally go, but get on with the day from the desk at home.

Using oats makes both recipes gluten free. Use an egg substitute and non-dairy milk product to make them vegan.

Baked Banana Oatmeal Cup Recipe (found on YouTube)

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8th teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (2-3 bananas depending on their size)
  • 2 pastured eggs
  • 1.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk (or any milk you prefer)
  • Craisins (or any dried fruit)
  • ¼ Lily’s Dark Chocolate Baking Bar crushed into small chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or coat with coconut oil or butter.

In a large bowl combine oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

In a separate bowl mix together mashed bananas, eggs, and milk until well combined.

Pour milk mixture over oat mixture and stir well to combine.

Evenly divide the oat mixture between all 12 muffin cup and then top each one a piece of chocolate and a few craisins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set and cooked through.  Allow to cool and then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Baked Steel-Cut Oats with Sunflower Butter (adapted from NY Times Cooking)

  • ¼ cup sunflower butter (you can use peanut butter or almond butter, but I needed a nut-free version)
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Fresh or defrosted frozen fruit for serving.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium shallow casserole or baking dish, combine 3 cups boiling water and the sunflower butter and stir until smooth-ish. (Don’t worry about a few lumps.) Stir in oats. Season the mix with a big pinch of salt, and some cinnamon or nutmeg if you like.

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, stirring halfway through. Taste and if the oats aren’t cooked enough, let it bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Garnish with fruit and serve. (There’s no sugar in this recipe so add honey or a raw sugar if you need this dish sweetened.)

Helpful Resource

Health Benefits of Eating Oats

I know it’s getting tougher by the hour and there seems to be no end in sight. Although the stress level is high, let’s try to keep it in check, be considerate, and…

What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast? ~ Anthony Bourdain

If you make these recipes, be sure to post a photo and tag me on Instagram.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

The Socially Distant Easter Menu

If that isn’t a depressing headline, I don’t know what is. Here in South Florida, we’re into what should be Week 4 of the stay-at-home order, although the state itself didn’t declare a full shutdown until last Friday. From the looks of traffic, I’m not sure if everyone is listening.

For those of us who are heeding the mandate, the unnamed days are feeling longer and restlessness has evolved to anxiety and often, anger. I myself can fully understand why we no longer cage animals. I’m even starting to question the idea of zoo “habitats” — maybe captivity should only apply to animals that can’t survive in the wild.

Pandemic

I was curious to know when was the last time that people couldn’t go to church on Easter Sunday. DYK the year? In 1918, during the Spanish Flu. Read more here. Although dubbed the Spanish Flu, the virus originated in New York.

Feeding Five Under 25 $ — A Fast, Family Meal

Let’s face it. The people who are telling us what to do with our “extra” time, may not be managing a family indoors or feeling a pandemic-related, psychological fatigue. So, today’s meal inspiration and pairing isn’t either labor intensive or expensive. However, it will look and taste great!

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Fennel Salad and Tomato Orzo paired with Pinot Noir

The bacon wrapped pork tenderloin recipe can be found on BonAppetit.com.

  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, make a paste from the finely chopped garlic cloves, rosemary, fennel, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Rub the mixture onto the pork tenderloin and wrap the pork with about 6 pieces of applewood smoked bacon to completely cover it.

Add the whole garlic cloves to the baking pan and drizzle with olive oil.

Refrigerate for a few hours.

Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking at 425º. Since I have a double oven and the top oven is not full size,  found that 425º was too high for the entire baking time. About halfway through, I reduce the oven to 375º.

Orzo with Tomatoes (adapted from NY Times Cooking)

  • 6 cups of water (and salt)
  • 1 c of orzo (feeds 5)
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • olive oil
  • parsley and/or basil chopped (total 1 cup)
  • ¼ Parmesan cheese

Cook orzo based on package directions. Drain.

In the same pot (dried), gently sauté the tomatoes and garlic.

Stir in the orzo to coat evenly with oil and distribute the tomatoes.

Remove from heat and add parsley/basil and cheese. Cover and keep warm.

Note: this is a great prepare ahead side dish easily warmed in the microwave or on low heat stirring frequently.

Shaved Fennel Salad (from Simply Recipes)

  • 1 fennel bulb, shaved paper thin with a mandolin
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp of chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leafed parsley
  • 2 tbsp shaved Parmesan cheese

Gently toss together all of the ingredients.

Note: I prefer to top the salad with the shaved Parmesan rather than toss it in, especially if making it ahead of time.

The Wine: 2017 Comtes de Saint-Martin Bourgogne

I was looking for a French wine made of 100% Pinot Noir and turned to my favorite, local wine shop for advice: Wine by the Bay. Great value (under $25, yay), but an even greater wine that was a perfect pairing to the Socially Distant Easter Menu.  Think of this wine as that first breath of warm, spring air filled with a delicate song of new life.

A little bit of wine info because I can’t resist an opportunity to learn. Comtes de Saint-Martin is located in Beaune where you can enjoy Bourgogne (Burgundy) wines, hike, bike through the vineyards and enjoy fine dining.

It’s impossible to find anything about this winery or the wine. Should you wish to read more about Pinot Noir, native to Bourgogne, and its distinct characteristics visit this link.

I’m never too old for an Easter Egg Hunt, especially when searching for Cadbury Creme Eggs!

A Different Kind of Celebration

Whether or not you celebrate Easter or Passover, at least try to remember that it’s Spring. Although we shall mourn the loss of many, let’s turn to the beauty of bud break and birds chirping and remember that…

“Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush.”

– Doug Larson

Recommended Reading

Follow me on Instagram @AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Where Is the Hope? Meg’s Story for World Health Day 2020

In celebration of World Health Day (April 7th), today’s blog post is dedicated to artist, Registered Nurse, wife and mother, Meg Wallace. A couple of weeks ago I asked on LinkedIn and Facebook, for local artists to share a work and statement of hope to include on my blog.

El Anatsui “Gravity and Grace” at The Bass

A Little History on #MyArtEscape

I began #MyArtEscape Instagram posts on June 10, 2014 after a visit to the Bass Museum to see the El Anatsui’s solo exhibition, “Gravity and Grace.” It was at that moment when I started documenting my visits to art museums, galleries, or art in public spaces as a means for me to escape from reality.

Art is that special place where I can leave behind deadlines, stress, arguments or sadness. The work of art must take my breath away and transport me somewhere else. I then research about the artist and his/her work and then watch how my visceral response transforms into a moment of intellectual truth.

More than 1,000 posts later, #MyArtEscape has evolved and I now focus my writing on travel, food, wine, nature, art and art fairs not just on social media, but for art and travel publications.

“Hand in Hand” by Meg Wallace

Hand in Hand by Meg Wallace

“It was a beautiful moment I captured with my daughter and hubby not too long ago,” explains Meg. “It was lightly raining at the time and it looked like they were walking on water. To me, it gives me a great sense of calm. It also brings to my mind the biblical story of when Peter got out of the boat to walk on water. When Peter began to sink in fear, Jesus reached down and lifted him by his hand. In moments of crisis, we can vacillate between being courageous and being struck down by fear. It is important to know we are not alone. We can get through this together, hand in hand.

I have no idea what the future holds, but I am so encouraged to see most of the world coming together in this crisis and helping each other through these difficult times.”

When Meg had sent this photograph and statement, her sister had been hospitalized and was not allowed visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although filled with worry, Meg’s faith helped her cope.

About Meg

I met Meg at the Home Design and Remodeling Show where she was an At Home with Art showcase featured artist. (At the time, I was the managing curator of this show activation and also did the PR and social media. I have since become the Marketing and Communications Director.)

Part of her submission was a commitment statement. Here is what Meg wrote:

“Born and raised in South Florida, I have been infused with flavors unique to South Florida.  With various cultures, comes various beliefs and artistic forms of expression. I believe art can transform and influence others in powerful ways. For over 17 years, I have volunteered with youth, abused and neglected children and women in our community. I have had the privilege of proposing and assisting with The Human Rights/ Human Wrongs campaign and Exhibition in 2012 and offering art therapy to sex trafficking child survivors at Kristi House. Art can bring hope into hopeless situations as well as instigate conversations amongst people. If I was given the chance to be an ambassador to the South Florida Art Community, I would use this platform to find a way to bring the Art Community together to help positively influence the South Florida Community.”

Meg wrote this statement in 2017, but her words seem even more meaningful today. Art does have the power to start conversations and transform our lives and community.

“Wave” by Meg Wallace

Today and always, we are thankful for healthcare professionals for taking care of us and our loved ones. Let’s also remember to thank artists like Meg who through their expressions, continue to give us hope.

I invite you to take a look at Meg’s art: mwcollections.com | @megwallace_art

Although we may feel confined during the stay-at-home order, remember that…

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. ~ Twyla Tharp

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

The Cookie Has Crumbled: Chocolate Chip Cookies and History

Feeding Five Under 25 $

It’s now Week 3 of the South Florida shelter in place order and I’m craving bad carbs, saturated fats, salt and sugar.

I’m crumbling and probably you are too. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t a hurricane that will blow into the Atlantic in a few days. This is our modern day Hiroshima — a silent and invisible cloud looming over the entire earth. We can’t just change the channel and tune it out because it’s someone else’s war. It’s a world war and we’re in it together.

That being said, I think we deserve some chocolate. If you’re home schooling the kids, the smell of yumminess baking and the reward of cookies after lunch will most certainly get them through the morning classes with ease and give you some well-deserved comfort.

I did not adapt this recipe and it’s the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe found on New York Times Cooking. Although there’s nothing original about a Chocolate Chip Cookie, with this recipe you are biting into some history (pass that DYK on to the kids!)

The History Lesson

In the 1930s, Ruth Wakefield, the inventor of the chocolate chip cookie, ran the Toll House Inn, a popular restaurant in eastern Massachusetts, with her husband. Using an ice pick, Wakefield broke a semisweet chocolate bar into little bits, mixed them into brown-sugar dough, and the chocolate chip cookie was born. In 1939, she sold Nestlé the rights to reproduce her recipe on its packages (reportedly for only $1) and was hired to write recipes for the company, which supposedly supplied her with free chocolate for life. This recipe is very close to Mrs. Wakefield’s original (hers called for a teaspoon of hot water and ½-teaspoon-sized cookies), and the one you’ll still find on the back of every yellow bag of Nestlé chocolate chips.

The Recipe

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 2 large eggs

2 cups/12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

I’m not sure who came up with the saying, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles” or “C’est la vie.” Whoever did though, probably didn’t live through a pandemic.

It’s impossible to shrug this off and small doses of comfort food or comforting are needed each day. Rather than mask your feelings, I suggest that you confront them. Here’s an article titled, “Grieving the Losses of Coronavirus” that has helped me put this into perspective and if you really need help, reach out to a friend or for professional help, but just remember…

“Chocolate is cheaper than therapy and you don’t need an appointment.” ― Catherine Aitken

If you need professional help, here are some resources:

Feeding Five Under Twenty-Five $: Easy and Vegan-Friendly, Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

It’s a sunny and warm day in South Florida and the streets are empty. I ran 4.11 miles and I saw about six people and a few cars. (Please cars, watch out for pedestrians and runners – red light still means stop.)

Beaches are closed in South Florida.

Many people are struggling to live with the new norm, “working from home.” Plus, homeschooling the kids too?

Although I’ve worked remotely for years, it’s still strange to think that I won’t be driving south to Miami for meetings any time soon. I’m starting to regret all of the times that I complained about traffic.  Seriously, who misses traffic? I do.

Work Day Breakfast: One or two oatmeal bars, fresh fruit and a homemade Tumeric Shot.

Everyone needs a fast breakfast even when working from home, because no one wants to start the day with a full inbox and a sink full of dirty dishes. Because we’re experiencing a shortage of certain food items, I’ve created a Feeding Five Under Twenty-Five $ blog series designed to give ideas on how to make food on a budget and with what is (hopefully) available in both your pantry and the grocery store.

Today’s recipe is Oatmeal Breakfast Bars. One bar along with fresh fruit and yogurt make a complete and nutritious breakfast. It’s also vegan-friendly. I adapted a chocolate oatmeal cookie recipe as follows:

Use an egg substitute and gluten-free flour if desired.

Preheat oven to 350°

  • 1 c Crisco
  • ½ c brown sugar
  • ½ c cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp of egg substitute dissolved in 3 tbsp of water
  • 1 ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ c all-purpose flour; ¼ c whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 c of old fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ c of Chia seeds
  • 1 ¼ cup of raisins or dried fruit or combo (I used just raisins the first time and then raisins and chopped dates the second time. Craisins would be good too.)
You can mix this by hand if you don’t have an electric mixer.
  • With a mixer, combine the Crisco and sugars.
  • Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Combine the oats and Chia seeds.
  • Dissolve the egg substitute in the water and whisk until smooth.
  • Combine the sugar/Crisco mix with the egg mix and Vanilla.
  • Once combined, slowly add the dry ingredients into the Crisco/sugar/egg/vanilla mix.
  • Stop the mixer and stir in the oats and dried fruit until combined.
  • Lightly grease a 9×13 non-stick pan or line a pan with parchment paper.
  • Press the mix into the pan so even on all sides.
  • Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes or until golden.

Notes:

Someone asked me on Twitter if this recipe is gluten free. Since flour is used more like a binder, I think any gluten free flour would do. I’ll give it a try sometime.

Oatmeal breakfast bar(s) with fresh fruit and a tumeric shot mixed with seltzer.

If your bars crumble, save the crumbs to add to yogurt as a topping or eat them on the spot!

From someone who works from home, I know that finding free time is just as hard as when you work from an office. I put in more hours per day than I should and take the laptop from room to room thinking that I’ll just use it to read or watch videos at night. However, I end up answering emails. If you’re like me, try to leave the laptop “at the office” and spend time reading an actual book, rather than the tablet.

Find time for this recipe knowing that you’ll have a quick and nutritious breakfast for at least the next few days. Good luck and stay strong!

“Hope makes a good breakfast. Eat plenty of it.” ~ Ian Fleming

Feeding Five Under Twenty-Five $ : Easy Flatbread Skillet Recipe

I live in South Florida and as the numbers of confirmed cases of COVID_19 continue to rise, everyone is running around trying to find the basic food and household necessities fearing that everything except essential businesses will shut down. Wait! Everything has shut down, but things are moving faster than the Florida Everglades wildfires, so I temporarily forgot.

With parents struggling to work at home and also home school the kids, there are more meals to make. Items like bread, eggs and meat are hard to come by or not available.  Rather than buy supermarket convenience food,  I’ve put my mother’s World War II “how to feed a family” strategies into place.

Periodically on my blog, you’ll find tips on how I’m, “Feeding Five Under Twenty-Five” dollars. Keep eating healthy and exercise because that will help you manage the stress.

Here’s my first “Feeding Five Under Twenty-Five” recipe:

Cast Iron Cooked Flatbread Filled with Leftover Meat

1 package of active dry yeast

2 tsp of sugar

1 c of warm water (115°) – use only ½ c of water for the yeast

2 ½ c of all purpose flour

1 tsp of salt

3 tbsp olive oil

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in ½ c of water and reserve the other half.

Wait at least 5 minutes until the yeast becomes active. The top will resemble beer foam.

Combine the flour and salt. I use a mixer with bread hook, but with a spoon is fine. Slowly add the yeast and then the olive oil and the water (you may not need all of it) and blend until almost combined. I do the rest by hand and then knead until everything comes together and you can form a smooth ball. You don’t need to knead it too much, but here’s a ‘how to’ video.

Coat your mixing bowl with about 1 tbsp of olive oil and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a (warm water) damp tea towel.

Go do something else for an hour. I chose to run outside because it’s a great way to get some Vitamin D and restore my sanity while in quarantine.

The dough should double within the hour. Punch it down and remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a tube and cut into six even pieces.

I used semolina flour, but any flour for rolling will do. Sprinkle some flour onto a rolling pin and roll into a thin disk. You can also rotate and stretch the dough like you’d do when making pizza. See this link which BTW is my favorite pizza dough recipe.

Heat a cast iron pan on medium until it is very hot (think pizza oven hot!) Add one of the rolled out dough pieces and watch it bubble up quick. Wait about 3 minutes and take a peak. You can flip it when it’s golden or get the charred look. Cook for another 3 minutes.

Note: A cast-iron pan gets very hot, so lower the temperature slightly if you think the dough will brown too quickly.

To keep the flatbreads warm and moist, wrap them in a tea towel.

I filled the flatbreads with leftover carné con papas (beef stew) from the night before. Shred the meat and chop the potatoes into small pieces. There wasn’t a lot of meat left so I added some chorizo too. Top the meat with chopped tomatoes, avocado, shredded cheese and cilantro. I didn’t have sour cream, but it’s healthier without it.

If you’ve read this far and hopefully making this recipe, I hope you’re now sharing my joy of creating something wonderful to eat. More than that, here’s a great time to stop watching the news or checking social media. You’ll have a yummy distraction for yourself and make your loved ones very happy.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Wine by Numbers: My Take on Tasting Notes

When it comes to what’s in your glass — that sumptuous work of art, do you resign to the visceral or let a wine rating or tasting note dictate your opinion?

Tasting Notes

While I understand that tasting notes are needed in the industry as a means to sort, order, classify and make a wine brand marketable, should the rest of us be controlled by this numbered rating? Must we fill our thoughts with aromas of wildflowers or forest floor before we even take a sniff or sip?

Wine Newbie Me, is not trying to diminish in any way the credibility of the world’s wine experts and big names such as Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, or James Suckling, just to name a few. In fact, I learn a lot from them and love to read their reviews and articles, especially Jancis Robinson.

Or, if you explore (hashtag) #wine and try to keep up with the ever-growing Instagram and Twitter world of sommeliers and wine lovers, you can become easily swayed by the next up-and-coming wine critic’s notes because he/she has over 30.5K followers. That’s fine I guess, but before I get called self-righteous, I do have a point…

The Mom Factor

Would you tell a mother that you know more about her child than she does? You better not — that is if you value your life! I imagine a winemaker might not be so quick to react as strongly as your mother. However, he or she is the creator of the wine: from the soil tilled, to the excitement of bud break, to the blisters on the hands. He/she loses sleep over that unexpected wind, rain or cold spell, or even Corona Virus!

The winemaker is ever present. He/she celebrates the joyful moments and courageously plows through the suffering (pardon the pun.)

He/she too can express in words the wine better than anyone else.

With that being said, I found this little poetry in motion.

Baron de Brane Margaux 2015: Château Brane-Cantenac

Henri Lurton is the composer of what he describes, “Une vraie valse de fruits rouges, arrivés à parfaites maturité. La robe est grenat, intense et profonde.” — A waltz of red fruits at perfect maturity. A garnet dress, intense and profound.

Bottles from the world’s greatest wine producers have a story to tell and when you go beyond the tasting notes and pairing recommendations, you’ll find both the history and the story. By story, I mean what is present and what the possibilities can be.

Learn more about Château Brane-Cantenac at this link.

I found the the Baron de Brane Margaux at Wine by the Bay in Miami.

“The truly free man is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving an excuse.” ― Jules Renard

Until next time… When it comes to what’s in your glass (or life for that matter,) be truly okay with “You Say Tomato and I say Toe-mah-toe” – just know what you love and love what you know.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

The “Not Another Art Basel Listicle” Guide to Miami Art Week

Top Art Fairs: The A-Z of Where #MyArtEscape Will Be.

It’s my favorite time of the year! I have all of my press credentials in place, am reading voraciously about art, art installations, events and VIP soirees. The trickle of incoming press releases has become a flood, and I’ll soon be swimming through miles of art. Hooray, Art Basel aka Miami Art Week is (almost) here!

Without delay, below is the A-Z of where I’ll be. Read all the way to the end because I’ll recall a couple of the past VIP events that I’ve had the good fortune to attend. You may also wish to follow my daily, Art Basel Instagram stories for highlights of each fair and a couple of special events.

Note: I’ve scaled down my art fair trekking from last year’s 10 fairs. As much as I’d like to see it all, I was art oversaturated and no shoes or running prep could condition me for that much walking.

Art Basel

I really don’t understand people who say that they won’t go to Art Basel like it’s some kind of art fair boycott against the 1%. Sorry, but Art Basel is the OG of international art fairs. Maybe you can’t afford to buy anything, but why would you pass on an opportunity to see a new work by huge artists like Anish Kapoor, Yayoi Kusama or my favorite American artist, Nick Cave?

  • Dates: December 5-8 at the Miami Beach Convention Center
  • Global focus: 269 leading galleries from across the world to exhibit, with 20 galleries joining the fair for the first time
  • 18th edition and 500,000 square feet of exhibition space
  • Meridians: A new sector located in the Grand Ballroom of the Miami Beach Convention Center. Curated by Magalí Arriola will bring together around 30 projects that push the boundaries of a traditional art fair layout.
  • Day Ticket: $65.00; Students and Seniors $45.00

Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139 | www.artbasel.com/miami-beach

Art Miami

I said it last year and I’ll remind you again, Art Miami came first! It’s a sophisticated and intellectually stimulating art fair. You’ll find just about all of the highly collectible and blue chip artists’ work sought by wealthy collectors that you would find at Art Basel. Art Miami also makes great efforts to spotlight Miami galleries, museums and artists. Support local!

  • Dates: December 3-8 at the Art Miami pavilion in Downtown Miami
  • Milestones: Returning for its 30th edition, Art Miami is recognized as one of the preeminent international modern and contemporary art fairs, Art Miami will showcase an array of iconic and important art works, dynamic projects and special installations from more than 170 international galleries from nearly 22 countries representing 69 cities.
  • The Platinum VIP Preview on December 3rd will benefit the Perez Art Museum Miami.
  • Adult Admission $55.00; Seniors $35.00; Students (12-18) $35.00

The Art Miami Pavilion, One Herald Plaza @ NE 14th Street, Downtown Miami. On Biscayne Bay between the Venetian & MacArthur Causeways | www.artmiami.com

Aqua

Sister to Art Miami, here’s the perfect example of supporting local and emerging artists. I love this fair and most of the art is affordable for people like you and me. They offer some great programming too and I’ve enjoyed in the past, sitting down and listening to one of their talks. Looks like this year guests can enjoy visual performance art.

  • Dates: December 5-8
  • Held at the Aqua Hotel in South Beach, the unique setting (open courtyard and rooms transformed into art exhibition spaces) has become a favorite gathering spot for collectors, curators and art lovers to discover fresh talent and acquire new works while exchanging cultural ideas and forming meaningful connections.
  • Milestones: Presenting its 15th year and last year recorded the strongest sales and attendance to date.
  • Adult Admission $25.00; Seniors and Students $20.00

Aqua Art Miami at the Aqua Hotel, 1530 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139 | www.aquaartmiami.com

Bathtub art piece seen at Design Miami 2017

Design Miami

If I’m not staring at new works by Porky Hefer at Southern Guild, you’ll find me swooning over very expensive ceramics or an Armani Casa living room. A girl can dream right? Since I love sculpture, functional art (and I know artists and designers hate that term) makes so much sense. I want to fill my house with objects that I can touch and maybe use now and then.

  • Dates: December 4-8
  • Updates: Design Miami will take place for the first time in the newly completed Pride Park with its entrance directly facing Art Basel at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The reconfigured fair tent will have a glass façade at the entrance to house the new Design Forum presented by SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design.) Occurring alongside Art Basel in Miami and Switzerland, Design Miami/ has become the premier venue for collecting, exhibiting, discussing, and creating collectible design.
  • Now in its 15th edition, Design Miami 33 galleries and 14 Curio presentations from 13 countries, including three galleries exhibiting for the first time.

Convention Center Drive; Between 18th and 19th Streets, Miami Beach | https://miami2019.designmiami.com/

NADA

I really love NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) too. Maybe’s it’s the Ice Palace’s interior black walls and curated gallery spaces that make me feel like I’m walking through Soho on an autumn day. These curated spaces appeal to the intellect, but don’t feel shy to ask questions. There are millions of artists and you can’t know them all.

  • Dates: December 5-8
  • Presenting its 17th edition, NADA will showcase a diverse selection of local, national, and international galleries with 136 exhibitors representing 56 cities from 25 countries. The fair continues to grow in the 17th edition, welcoming 28 first-time exhibitors and 71 NADA Member galleries.
  • Adult Admission $20.00; Seniors and Students $10.00

Ice Palace Studios, 1400 North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33136 | www.newartdealers.org

PULSE Art Fair

Last year was my first year at PULSE. I must admit, it’s a little out of the way and parking is not easy. Yes, you can do valet at the Eden Roc if you’re okay with the fee. However, don’t let that stop you. You have options: shuttles run between the main fairs and you can park further south and take a rideshare. The galleries are worth any little inconvenience.

  • Dates: December 5-8
  • Milestones: Celebrating its 15th anniversary and announced its new fair director, Cristina Salmastrelli. Visit over 60 globally-renowned galleries and artists. New this year is PULSE Perspectives, a dual language programming series presenting talks and tours in English and Spanish. Find a variety of programming and also a wellness lounge and restaurant in partnership with Eden Roc/NOBU Hotel Group.
  • Adult Admission $35.00

Indian Beach Park, 4601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach 33140 | https://www.pulseartfair.com/

SCOPE Miami Beach

Here’s a great fair for young collectors and who can resist the location right on the South Beach sand? You’ll find works that are bold and gutsy, rich in statements about society and the many complications that we face today.

  • Dates: December 4-8
  • Returning to Miami Beach for its 19th edition, SCOPE will welcome 134 diverse contemporary exhibitors featuring The New Contemporary, a genre that stands as a critical contribution to both global politics and local community engagement. New to the pavilion this year is OASIS, an experiential multidisciplinary program located in our expanded Atrium. OASIS will present daily programming featuring large scale installations, music performances, and panel discussions while continuing our long-standing commitment to wellness.
  • Adult Admission: $40.00

801 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139 | https://scope-art.com

UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach

If I had to choose a favorite art fair, UNTITLED, ART would be it. I really enjoy visiting galleries that focus on curation. The Untitled team is made up of curators, designers and architects providing not only an overall cohesiveness in the quality of galleries it selects, but in the fair design itself. It’s a pleasant and stimulating place to be. The natural light flows in through the skylights. I just love how each gallery is set back differently and the concept is open – not boxy like other fairs.

  • Dates: December 4-8
  • Find a collection of 126 international galleries and nonprofit spaces from 28 countries and 57 cities make up the 2019 roster, carefully selected by Artistic Director and Curator Omar López-Chahoud.
  • Adult Admission: $40.00

Ocean Drive and 12th Street, Miami Beach | https://untitledartfairs.com/miami-beach

Flashback

Here’s a look back at some of the events I’ve attended in past years.

Albedo by Tomas Saraceno for Aerocene Opening Brunch | Art Miami 2018
Pharrell Williams Private Concert at 1 Hotel South Beach 2019
Perrier Jouet Champagne Dinner at Leynia, Delano Hotel (South Beach)
Jeff Koons Unveils Ballerina and Pluto and Proserpina at Oceana Bal Harbour

Put on your comfy and stylish shoes and I’ll see you there!

Read my past and future published articles here and follow @AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape for daily Art Basel, Miami Art Week updates.

Polka Dot Mathematics: Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins

As I am writing this blog post, the Instagram hashtag Yayoi Kusama (#yayoikusama) has 850K related posts and @yayoikusama_ (which I presume is the artist’s official Instagram) has 31.3K followers. There’s plenty of unofficial accounts and a variety of Yayoi-ish hashtags. Search Yayoi Kusama news on Google and you’ll find 40,400 results. Switch to “All” and there will be more than 7 million results.

It’s infinite and that’s Yayoi Kusama.

There’s nothing that I can write that hasn’t been written before about Kusama, who has lived through a turbulent, personal history for nine decades. Today, I can only relate my personal experience and it was a magical one!

I adore polka dots and my daughter’s first Easter outfit was a navy blue dress with white polka dots. The hat had a matching fabric sash. I loved it and she hated it. I tried for all of her preschool years, to force polka dots on her, but failed.

Before even knowing anything about Yayoi (can we be on a first name basis?), I was drawn to one of her pumpkin sculptures at a gallery participating in Art Basel Miami. A man looked at it pensively while I wondered what he was thinking.

A couple of years ago a friend recommended to see a documentary about her life. I did plan to watch it, but it got bumped off the long list of things to do. Over time, I would hear other Yayoi murmurs and rather than research, I would just recall those dots.

Then, recently I received an email that I must go see All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins at the ICA Miami. Without thinking twice, I purchased two tickets for $30.00 for myself and a friend, and squeezed that one minute experience, which I might add entails a 2.5 hour round trip car drive, into my busy schedule. Yes, if you are blinking at the last sentence: it translates to $15.00/person for a 60 second, solo view of Yayoi’s Infinity Mirror Room.

In order to prepare for the visit, I finally watched Kusama: Infinity and I suggest you do the same.

Connecting the Dots

Between that first work of art that I saw to some last minute research, I gained a compassionate understanding of Yayoi Kusama’s life and career. To think that at ninety years old, she walks to her studio almost every day and meticulously and obsessively creates dots on canvas or other two or 3-D mediums, fascinates me. Her therapy became #MyArtEscape.

It was reported in January, 2018 that over 75,000 people visited With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever at David Zwirner in New York. At ICA Miami, they receive 20 people per thirty minute time slot and hundreds line up on Thursdays when entrance is free.

I imagine during Art Basel/Miami Art Week attendance will skyrocket. Multiply those figures by the amount of people who will visit any of the Infinity Rooms around the world, from today until a closing date of probably never, means that Yayoi’s artistic legacy will be limitless.

Buzz Lightyear said, “To infinity and beyond” a remark embraced by children and adults alike. How often do you see Facebook posts, “I love you to infinity and beyond?” Infinity is the fictitious place (or non-place to be exact) that we dream to reach.

For Yayoi, infinity may once have been a location to escape like fields of flowers or an infinite reflection of polka dots, but now it’s eternal hope for her and us all.

And, as we make the most out of our 60 seconds, immersed in that infinite field of spotted pumpkins, we can reach Instagram immortality by the click of our iPhone. Or, if we leave our phone behind (which I plan to do next time),  our imaginations will be forever sealed in that magical spot/polka dot.

Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. ~ Yayoi Kusama

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Meet My Soul Sister

About This Town by Artez | Calle de Fuencarral 31, Madrid

Puerta del Sol, Madrid

A brief visit to Puerta del Sol in Madrid was Instagram worthy, but crowded with shoppers. The stores were mostly American and there were the familiar fast food restaurants. I was disappointed.

About This Town by Artez

However, my eye caught sight of this colorful mural. “About This Town” depicts a girl holding a pile of books with a bird and its birdhouse balanced on top. There’s a plant behind her or maybe she’s holding that too.  The eye happily travels up and away from the crowded street to appreciate the blue sky above.

Born in Serbia, Artez painted this mural in four days to be a part of the 2019 Urvanity Art Fair. On his website, he explains: “This mural tells us the story of Madrid, a place where visitors from all around the globe are welcome to come and enjoy the vivid artistic and cultural content that this city has to offer. Positioned in the very centre of the town, this mural creates a contrast with the pedestrian shopping street in which it is located. Instead of carrying shopping bags, girl depicted on the mural is holding a pile of books important for the history and culture of the city, and a plant with a small birdhouse that is inviting all the “birds” to come and feel like home!”

A closer look reveals the title of one book Miau by Benito Pérez Galdós (considered to be one of Spain’s most famous writers since Cervantes) and another references the painter Francisco Goya. Possibly this reference is a commentary about the maladies of society.

I would say that a deeper reading surfaces from Artez’ mural. Possibly, the tourist should spend more time getting to know Madrid’s history and culture.  Or, maybe it’s the Spaniards who should pay more attention to Madrid which may be selling its soul to the tourist industry. Who knows?

In any case, she’s my soul sister. I’ll give up shopping bags for a pile of books any day. And, if my nose isn’t in a book, I’ll be birdwatching with my zoom lens pointed to the sky.

El hombre de pensamiento descubre la Verdad; pero quien gozan de ella y utiliza sus celestials dones es el hombre de acción.

~ Benito Pérez Galdós

The man of reflection discovers Truth;  but the one who enjoys it and makes use of its heavenly gifts is the man of action.”

#MyArtEscape @AllegoryPR

Eating for the Gram at Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

It’s Foodie Friday and unlike last week, I’ve eased back into routine ready to tackle deadlines and a long ‘To Do’ list. Although the memory is far from my taste buds, through the joy of social media I can savor and share with you another yummy experience.

Speaking of social media, I have a love/hate relationship with it. While for years I’ve valued its marketing potential, affordability and used it long before many others did (and nah nah to all of those people who thought I had nothing else to do with my time), I feel it imposes on private me.

Our decision making in so many ways, is formed by social media, whether you’re a: ‘I’ve got nothing to hide’ user like me who likes, comments, follows and unfollows every day: or those silent stalkers (what I like to call them), who claim they don’t have time or like social media, but have an active account and silently watch what everyone is doing all of the time. Which one are you?

While preparing for the trip to Spain, I turned to YouTube rather than reading travel blogs because after spending a whole day reading and writing, it was nice to just let pictures and sound fill me with information. Plus, how great is it to know that there’s so much more to watch about travel than Rick Steve’s Europe? A lot of my travel decisions were influenced by Devour Tours co-founder James Blick and wife Yoly. The two of them are so cute, so if you are not familiar with their YouTube channel, Spain Revealed, check them out!

Because of all the hype, I was debating whether or not to visit tourist infiltrated, Mercado de San Miguel. If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I greatly enjoyed visiting the humble, Mercado Anton Martin. However, since I planned to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid and Plaza Mayor anyway, I figured that a good lunch stop would be nearby, Mercado de San Miguel.

Note: For me, Google Maps did not work in Madrid. Whether, it was tech ignorant me or because everything in Madrid is an abundance of circles (or maybe squares,) using my phone for directions seemed to get me where I needed to be, four times longer than it should have. After two days of trying, I just parked the phone and relied on remembering landmarks and talking to people. Besides, the old fashioned way is so much nicer. Get your face away from the phone and enjoy getting a little lost because asking for help in Madrid, seems to always turn into a nice, five minute conversation.

Like I said in my last blog post, it’s good to enjoy getting comfortable with standing room only and that’s all you’ll get when you visit Mercado de San Miguel. However, that is a large part of the experience. Food and social gatherings are synonymous in Madrid. And while millions of us share our food experiences on social media to connect with others, here is the ultimate, in person, communal opportunity. The energy is impressive and contagious. Although they must answer the same questions every few minutes, the vendors treat each customer courteously and share their joy of food with speed and efficiency.

And when eating in Madrid, as the travel experts also claim, you can find great quality food and better prices elsewhere. Unless it’s something you really can’t do without, I suggest you avoid those 15 Euro tapas. However, to not go would be a shame.  Plus, here’s a place where it’s totally okay to pull out your camera and capture every moment — just be courteous of others who want to get up to the counter just as much as you because they’re hungry. Things move very quickly and I greatly enjoyed this rhythm and pace. Don’t miss it!

Amaiketako

Tip: You can buy a glass of wine (or another libation) and walk around with it to as many stops as you like. Just don’t linger and eat at a stand where you didn’t buy any food. The outer perimeter of the market is lined with a glass counter with enough space for your small plate and glass. Again, elbow room only makes for a great social experience and ‘yum’ is the international language!

Here’s some of the highlights:

La Hora del Vermut

La Hora del Vermút: If you know me, you know that I don’t really drink. Ha, you may exclaim after checking out my Instagram. Me and alcohol don’t really get a long, so I limit even the amount of wine I drink and it’s consumed almost always with a meal.

I must thank James Blick for having me try something new. Spanish Vermouth is a must-try when in Spain and I had a dry option with some delectable olive tapas at La Hora del Vermut. Make it your first stop.

Read more about Spanish Vermouth here.

La Casa del Bacalao

La Casa del Bacalao: Unless you hate fish, you must visit La Casa del Bacalao. Aesthetically pleasing and flavorful, try a variety and you’ll be satisfied with a nice selection of tapas for about 10 euros total.

Morris

Mariscos Morris: I know the next time that I return to Spain, I’ll be visiting Galicia. If for some reason, you can’t make it there either at least you can get a little taste of what can be expected of Green Spain’s culinary landscape at Mariscos Morris. The plates shown above (which are more like a meal portion, rather than a tapa) are 12-15 Euros each.

El 19 de San Miguel

El 19 de San Miguel: Speaking about Galicia, my glass of Vermut is long gone and it’s time for wine! Less than elbow room only, it amazed me how the nice folks at El 19 de San Miguel were able to still keep a lively conversation going on, while serving up glasses of wine and Cava. I loved the Albariño from Rias Baixas (Galicia.) It was a bit more than the other whites at 4.50 Euro, but worth the extra (and wine is still much cheaper by the glass than it is in the US.)

Tip: Buy a bottle for no more than 40 Euro (and most offered are much less) and split it with your friends or make new ones! Remember that you can carry the bottle and your glass around with you.

Amaiketako

Amaiketako: Yes, there is much more at Mercado de San Miguel than seafood, but that day I was indulging my pescatarian doppelgänger. Amaiketako began three years ago as an online store specializing in artisanal products from the Basque country. Try the Gazpacho with Ahi Tuna bits and garnished with watercress. I’ve forgotten the prices of each tapa, but I’d say about $3.50 average.

Horno de San Onofre

Horno de San Onofre: For just 2.50 Euro you can end (or begin) your San Miguel experience with a rich and creamy meringue. You’ll never go back to those crunchy and messy blobs of egg whites again. Or for 1 Euro more, find happiness on a plate with one of their Milhojas.

Café Negro: Your last stop should be a coffee to get you through the next part of your uphill and downhill day in Madrid. You’ll enjoy and value the choices at Café Negro because it’s no secret: it’s hard to find a good cup of coffee in Spain.

Tip: Save one of your receipts to get you into the restroom, otherwise you’ll have to pay.

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

Until next time, know that it’s okay to eat ‘for the gram’ because you’re part of a worldwide community united in one of life’s greatest past times. However, find balance and opt more to enjoy the day’s unrecorded and flavorful moments with friends, family or even strangers – standing room only.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

About Mercado de San Miguel: More than 100 years have gone by since the Mercado de San Miguel opened its doors as a wholesale food market. Today, this historical building stands out as one of the world’s main gastronomic markets. It allows visitors to experience the essence and most significant flavors of every corner of Spain.

  • Monday – Thursday and Sunday
  • 10:00 am – Midnight
  • Plaza de San Miguel, Madrid 28005

The Accidental Wine Tasting: Donde Sánchez Cosas Ricas

It’s #FoodieFriday and what better way to recover from the post-vacay blues than to indulge in a tasty flashback?

I intentionally planned a late morning arrival time in Madrid, so I could throw in a load of laundry and go out for lunch aka tapas/early happy hour. “Que viva España!” — after spending five days in Madrid, I have concluded that it may be “five o’clock somewhere,” but in Madrid it’s five o’clock, 24 hours a day! (No joke. Go experience it for yourself.)

Like many of you, a lot of planning goes into a vacation. Some people fill each minute with an itinerary so hectic that by the time the vacation is over they’re exhausted. Me? I have a few criteria: (1) try to stay somewhere where I can experience life as a local; (2) there has to be art nearby; (3) I’m near a local and authentic food market; (4) it’s totally possible to walk to just about anywhere I’d like to be; and (5) there’s a window or terrace with a view if I want to read or must do some work.

I may talk about the Airbnb apartment in Barrio de las Letras some other time, but if you need a great place and can afford a little more than what people expect to pay for a vacation home through this popular site, visit this link.  Shout-out to Teresa who had made my first Airbnb experience a perfect one.

Mercado Antón Martín

While travel sites and YouTube place much more emphasis on the popular Mercado San Miguel (I may write about it later,) Mercado Antón Martín is a great place to experience day-to-day life in the center of Madrid. Support local and avoid the convenience and grocery stores.

Note: There’s another market called Mercado de San Antón in the Chueca neighborhood. I popped in quickly, so I can’t give any first-hand information. It seems more chic and gourmet than Mercado Antón Martín, but not as Instagram moment-touristy as Mercado San Miguel.

At Mercado Antón Martín, you’ll find a traditional market and the early morning rush of Señoras planning that evening’s meal and grocery shopping European style that is – no Costco versions of stocking up here. And then when the butcher and seafood stalls are being washed up before closing, the market transforms into a lunchtime eatery and as the afternoon progresses, you guessed it…Happy Hour!

While circling around figuring out where to stop, one unassuming stall stood out to me as looking authentically Spanish, Donde Sánchez Cosas Rica. Owner Paz Sánchez is unpretentious and very passionate about wine and food. She prefers to say,“cosas ricas” rather than gourmet, just adding to the homey atmosphere. Quality though is not compromised and she did not hesitate to open a bottle, just so I could try something on my “regions to discover” note saved on my phone.

Tip: Enjoy the social scene and be like a local who doesn’t care for a seat or table. Stand and get comfortable with elbow room only.

Then she quickly pours the wine with a little introduction, darts off to attend another customer and then disappears (if it’s even possible to disappear in a small space) to her prep counter and returns with a plate of something yummy (cosas ricas.) “Try this,” she says in Spanish. “I just made it today” and she sets down a generous serving of bacalao (salt cod) pate. Paz is so cheerful and warm that you feel like you’re sitting in her kitchen at home. She explains that she used to have a career which had her traveling a lot, but wine is her passion and she is much happier with this business. In between glasses of wine and anecdotes, she disappears again and comes back with Escabeche of Iberia Secreto. When I saw Iberia Secreto on a menu in Granada, I just presumed it was just a cute name. However, Paz explained that Secreto is a special cut of pork. Read more here.

I asked her what dish would best be paired with the Mencia and she laughed teasingly as if to say, you can’t handle bold Spanish wine like a Spaniard? However, after a pause to think, she disappears again and comes out and says, “try this” while setting down a small plate and then introduces me to aged chorizo and cheese from the same area of Northwestern Spain. To me, the partnership made perfect sense and I was anxious to wash the bites down with the wine and ask for a refill.

Note: When I return to Spain, it will be to Galicia.

Here’s what I tasted:

2015 Ignacio Marin Elements Tierra Earth

  • Grapes: Garnacha and Carinena
  • Region: Carinena
  • @bodegasignaciomarin

2015 Vina Costeira Mencia

  • Grape: Mencia
  • Region: Valdeorras
  • @costeira.es

2018 Honoro Vera

  • Grape: Monastrell
  • Region: Jumilla
  • #bodegasjuangil

Four glasses of wine later and stomach full, I felt like a true Madrileña! When I left Paz said, “Come back when I’m less busy and I’ll sit down and teach you a lot more.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t return until the day before I had to leave and that day Donde Sánchez was packed. I waved, but I don’t think she saw me because she was too busy pouring wine with a smile and preparing  “muchas cosas ricas.”

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” ~ Julia Child

Until next time, let accidents happen and lick your plate clean.

@AllegoryPR #MyArt Escape

Donde Sánchez Cosas Rica is a retail store and bar specializing in wines, craft beers, sparkling wines, vermouth, cold meats, cheeses, pate, preserves, chocolates, jams.

  • Find it on the lower floor of Market Antón Martín
  • Santa Isabel, 5 28012 Madrid
  • Tue – Fri 12:00 – 9:00 p.m.
  • Sat 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Postscript: It doesn’t cost to drink or eat well in Spain. Paz’ store is not only a great experience, but great value. She’ll introduce you to wines that don’t break the bank, but are unique and from all areas of Spain. Her homemade tapas are delicious. Eat there and/or takeaway. Check her schedule for special guests and entertainment.

Torta di Formaggio al Limone senza Cottura

when life gives you lemons, make an easy no-bake lemon cheesecake
  • 1 ½ tazze di briciole di cracker graham (375 g)
  • 3 cucchiaio di zucchero (37.8 g)
  • 7 cucchiaio di burro fuso (100 g)
  • 1 confezione di limone Jell-O (84 g)
  • 16 once di crema di formaggio ammorbidita (250 g)
  • 1 tazza di zucchero a velo (125 g)
  • 1 cucchiaino di estratto di vaniglia (3.3 g)
  • 2 cucchiaio di panna acida (30 g)
  • 1 tazza e mezza di panna (360 ml)
  • 1 cucchiaio di scorza di limone appena grattugiata (17.07 g)

Unisci le briciole e gli zuccheri del cracker Graham in una ciotola di medie dimensioni. Aggiungi il burro fuso e usa una forchetta per combinare bene gli ingredienti.

Versare il composto in una padella a forma di molla da 9 “o 10”. Usa il fondo (pulito!) Di un misurino per inserire saldamente le briciole sul fondo della padella e premere delicatamente i lati. Usa le dita per mettere le briciole saldamente nei lati della padella.

Mettere in frigorifero o in congelatore mentre si prepara il ripieno di cheesecake.

Versare la miscela di gelatina di gelatina di limone in 1 tazza di acqua molto calda e mescolare bene. Mettere da parte per raffreddare.

Nel frattempo, mescolare crema di formaggio e zucchero a velo insieme fino a che liscio e ben combinato.

Aggiungi la panna acida e mescola bene.

Mescolare in estratto di vaniglia.

Solo una volta che la miscela Jello non è più calda al tatto, versare gradualmente nella miscela di crema di formaggio. Mescolare lentamente all’inizio (per evitare schizzi) e quindi aumentare la velocità fino a quando la miscela è completamente combinata (mettere in pausa per raschiare periodicamente i lati della ciotola). Mescola molto bene.

In una ciotola separata, versa la tua crema pesante e usa un miscelatore elettrico con attacco a frusta per battere a picchi rigidi.

Piegare la panna montata in una miscela di cheesecake fino a quando non ben combinata.

Piegare nella scorza di limone, se si utilizza.

Versare sulla crosta del cracker Graham e trasferire in frigorifero per almeno 6 ore o durante la notte per raffreddare.

Se lo si desidera, coprire con panna montata prima di tagliare e servire.

Ritorna al blog qui.

Tarta de queso con limón sin hornear

when life gives you lemons, make an easy no-bake lemon cheesecake

Ingredientes

  • 1 ½ tazas de migas de galletas Graham (375 g)
  • 3 cucharadas de azúcar (37.8)
  • 7 cucharadas de mantequilla derretida (100 g)
  • 1 paquete de gelatina de limón 3 onzas (84 g)
  • 16 onzas de queso crema ablandado (250 g)
  • 1 taza de azúcar en polvo (125 g)
  • 1 cucharadita de extracto de vainilla (3.3 g)
  • 2 cucharadas de crema agria (30 g)
  • 1 ½ tazas de crema batida (360 ml)
  • 1 cucharada cascara de limón (17.07 g)

Instrucciones

  • Combine las migas de galletas Graham y los azúcares en un tazón mediano. Agregue mantequilla derretida y use un tenedor para combinar bien los ingredientes.
  • Vierta la mezcla en un molde de resorte de 9 “o 10”. Use el fondo (¡limpio!) De una taza de medir para empacar firmemente las migajas en el fondo de la sartén y presione suavemente hacia los lados. Usa tus dedos para empacar las migajas firmemente en los lados de la sartén.
  • Coloque en el refrigerador o congelador mientras prepara el relleno de tarta de queso.
  • Vierta la mezcla de gelatina de gelatina de limón en 1 taza de agua muy caliente y revuelva bien. Ponga a un lado para enfriar.
  • Mientras tanto, revuelva el queso crema y el azúcar en polvo hasta que quede suave y bien combinado.
  • Agregue la crema agria y revuelva bien.
  • Mezclar en extracto de vainilla.
  • Solo una vez que la mezcla de gelatina ya no esté caliente al tacto, vierta gradualmente en la mezcla de queso crema. Revuelva lentamente al principio (para evitar salpicaduras) y luego aumente la velocidad hasta que la mezcla esté completamente combinada (haga una pausa para raspar los lados del tazón periódicamente). Revuelva muy bien.
  • En un tazón separado, vierta su crema espesa y use una batidora eléctrica con un batidor para batir a picos rígidos.
  • Doble la crema batida en la mezcla de pastel de queso hasta que esté bien combinada.
  • Doblar en la ralladura de limón, si se usa.
  • Vierte sobre la corteza de galletas Graham y transfiérelas al refrigerador por al menos 6 horas o toda la noche para que se enfríen.
  • Si lo desea, cubra con crema batida antes de cortar y servir.

Regrese al blog aquí.

Home Show’s Virtual Showcase Connects Homeowners with Florida Businesses

home design online through a virtual home expo showcase in florida

Find Home Design Online

Miami, FL…June 8, 2020…The Home Design and Remodeling Show now offers a variety of virtual experiences to respond to the surge of online shoppers since the start of the stay-at-home order mandated by the State of Florida.

The “At Home with the Home Show” (#AtHomewiththeHomeShow) online showcase is designed to help South Florida homeowners connect with home remodeling and improvement businesses, while giving reputable companies a platform to speak about product offerings and services by educating the consumer. The online amenities will continue to expand and serve as an additional resource to in-person Home Shows.

Although many businesses are back open, consumers have become reliant on, plus feel safer initiating their purchase decisions through online shopping. With so many choices, the search can be daunting and making the best selection also depends on selecting trusted and recommended sources.

The Home Design and Remodeling Show has been featuring businesses that would typically exhibit at either the Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach Home Shows. Select companies will be showcased by way of video interviews with their owners; blog posts, social media and Instagram lives. The video interviews take place each Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. on the Home Show’s Facebook page.

A resource guide is available via the Home Show’s YouTube channel covering topics such as:

  • All About Impact Windows
  • How Much Will Solar Power Cost?
  • The Many Benefits of Living Walls
  • Types of Hinges for Modern Interior Doors
  • How Consumer Habits Have Changed Since Coronavirus
  • Add Luxury Style to Your Home by Replacing Boring Doors
  • Top Ways to Create a Stylish Patio
  • Best Ways to Upgrade Popcorn and Ugly Ceilings

This month, the Home Show will focus on hurricane preparedness and how to protect the home.

The Home Design and Remodeling Show’s digital platform has grown to over 30,000 followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter combined and has thousands of email subscribers; plus includes a multimedia advertising campaign, sponsors and cross-promotional partnerships. For more information, visit www.homeshows.net.

About the Home Design and Remodeling Show

For the SIXTH consecutive year, BizBash named the Home Design and Remodeling Show as one of Miami/South Florida’s Top 100 Events and placed fourth in the Trade Shows, Expos & Conventions category. The Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach Home Design and Remodeling Shows have been South Florida’s largest and premier home improvement expos for over forty years. Homeowners can find a diverse range of products and solutions tailored specifically to the Florida housing market. Plus, encounter some of South Florida’s most prominent home designers and home remodeling companies. Because the Home Show features superior vendors, tens of thousands of excited homeowners attend the Home Show every year.

The Virtual Home Design and Remodeling Show

Initiated in 2020, Home Show Management has expanded to include an online showcase of some of the best home design products and services in South Florida and beyond. Home Show’s multimedia platform is your first step in home improvement. Connect with trusted sources by watching, “At Home with the Home Show” interviews and business spotlights on YouTube and Instagram Live.

Follow @FLHomeShows on Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter; and FloridaHomeShow on Facebook.

Subscribe to us on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/flhomeshows

Visit our Blog: www.homeshows.net/blog

Home Show Images by Request

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MEDIA CONTACT: lisa@allegorypr.com