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

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.

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Nanaimo Bars, Butter Tarts, and Why I Blog

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.

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…

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 © 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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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