Dinner for one

Heirloom tomatoes are the perfect homage to summer. They offer a pungency of color and flavor. They are juicy, palpable, light and luminous like a September sunset. In other words, heirloom tomatoes are exactly what you should be eating right now!

When I’m cooking for myself, I tend to experiment more on ingredients and flavor pairings, but anything “en croûte‘” is an At Home Soigné favorite.

So, I decided to make myself a galette – my friend brought me heirloom tomatoes from Kitchen At Stone Ridge that looked incredible!

Dinner for one, I thought to myself would be classic, simple and completely satisfying.

Tomatoes and goat cheese are a match made in heaven.  I decided to enhance my galette by adding red wine caramelized onions and honey. I also egg washed my galette to add that extra crunchy sensation.

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Rosé at Alderton House

Rosé wine has become inseparable from summertime soirée’s. The alluring pink drink, which has captivated us all (wine professionals & novices) comes to us in many hues of pink from all over the world!

Marketing and branding ploys such as #Roseallday and #Yeswayrose have assisted in popularizing Rosé wine and has even turned this beverage into lifestyle. Learn more about our little pink friend on June 1st at Alderton House.

Rosé at Alderton is a fundraiser for Harambee U.S.A. – a foundation dedicated to supporting education and development in Sub-Saharan nations. Taste through a variety of Rosé wines from different areas of the world with a brief seminar by…me. Food will be included!

Join me on June 1st from 7pm to 8:30pm by clicking here.

Cheers!


#athomesoigné

Feast your eyes & your appetite: Toronto 

Anticipation is an emotion I have always associated with traveling. My imagination runs wild when I begin to fantasize of adventures that may come about while exploring new city streets. My appetite grows when I wonder how other communities offer and enjoy hospitality. After all, good food, good wine and pleasant company is what unites all cultures and civilizations! With an additional dash of architectural design and style, we are ready for a weekend well spent! 

Toronto is a culturally rich city, as one would expect. It is full of youth and beauty and clearly evokes a certain standard of living. Not only is this prominent by the amount of Audi’s and Porsche’s on the roads; but the restaurants and rooftop bars have an attention to detail which tailors to Toronto’s vibrant millennial culture. For the first time in my career I have been more delighted by the atmosphere and design of Toronto eateries than I was impressed by the food. I experienced no terrible meal of course, but I found myself more in awe at color schemes and fabric choices than at flavor combinations. I am looking forward to returning and experiencing the internationally acclaimed Canoe and Aloe, but for an introdutory visit, feast your eyes and your appetite on the following:                                                                                                                                              

Make it a point to visit Colette, a more than French Bistro located on Wellington St. The interior is designed by Gianpiero Pugliese and boasts of full Parisian-style throughout the bakery, café, bar and library. The dining room and wrap around terrace decorated with topiaries and scalloped valances are beyond regal. The chandeliers which hang from a high ceiling will have you question if you are dining at Versailles. Join for Saturday brunch and begin your Toronto adventures at Colette. Savor French favorites such as a croque monsieur or madame and sip your coffee with pinkies up. 

Art Deco meets Italian Renaissance at Oretta. Located on the see and be seen King St., Oretta’s clashy pastel, jewel toned interior paired with stiking accents of gold inspire pure dolce vita. Their menu is designed for anytime of day (oretta translates into any hour) and offers seasonal Italian favorites that will please anyone. Pizzas are thin crusted and delicious, their pastas are flavorful and plentiful. Their mostly all Italian wine list is impressive. Though, nothing is more impressive than Oretta’s airy sophistication. 

For Soigné ingredients and a direct view of the CN Tower, visit Lavelle. This rooftop bar also located on King St. may give off Jersey Shore nightclub vibes at first, but those vibes will quickly turn into luxe sophistication. Chef Romain Avril helms the kitchen, and though Michelin has yet to arrive in Canada, Chef Avril is serving up Michelin quality. Cocktails are inventive and certainly pack a punch for your buck. Spend your day at Lavelle and enjoy the Canadian breeze with a view! 
 

Villanelle 

There are a handful of restaurants in New York City that I refer to as hidden gems. These hidden gems you all learn about through various ways. What you are unaware of are the city’s precious gems. Some restaurants I enjoy so much, I tend to keep them as little secrets for myself to enjoy. Such is the case with Villanelle

Yes, the name sounds exotic, but this restaurant is much more than a clever name. Chef Nick Licata creates his own Villanelle at the namesake Greenwich Village restaurant and truly represents the meaning of word. Like the 19 lined poem depicting pastoral scenes of Italy, Chef Licata has a 19 item menu that highlights the freshest ingredients from the neighboring Union Square Farmers Market. 
My first visit to Villanelle was during the opening week in early March. Of course I was warmly welcomed by eager staff with gleaming smiles. I made myself comfortable at the bar, and the bartenders made sure I was comfortable too. Hospitable and absolutely delicious, my immediate impression was ‘I must return’! 

A few weeks later, I did return and sat at a table. Once again warmly welcomed. The difference this visit, though, was my sense of familiarity. I couldn’t help having repeat dishes from my first visit like Chef Licata’s crispy octopus. Known as his signature dish, the octopus is steamed for two hours before gently fried; served with a mouth watering pomme purée and coveted spring favorite, nettles. The house made cavatelli with black pepper is served with fresh market asparagus and a hen egg. Similar to a carbonara, the cavatelli has a subtilty that contributes to its appeal. The silky slow poached Arctic Char with sorrel, dill oil and plenty of roe is a dish I hope will be on the menu for some time. 

On my most recent visit, I once again opted for the bar. Just missing their newly launched oyster happy hour which is from 5:30pm to 7pm, I instead enjoyed the Cured Thai Snapper. This tartare style dish is accompanied by radishes from the farmers market, though that may change based on availability. The snapper is cured in a curry pulp, which is made from banana, kaffir lime leaves, kombu, thai chilies, and offers a refreshing kick! 

Desserts at Villanelle are some of the most delicious I’ve had. Chef Licata and Chef de Partie Christian Grindrod have collaboratively exposed a broad range of flavors from ingredients found at the farmers market. They bake parsnip root then butter-braise it, and serve it with white chocolate. It’s skin, thinly shaved, turns into a delicious crisp that encases the vegetable. It makes for a creamy, buttery dessert that is rich, uniquely flavored and utterly satisfying. A watermelon sorbet is served under a baked meringue crisp with fresh shelled peas which is served with a soft meringue, mint oil and fresh mint. Think pavlova, but with components more interesting than fruit. 

One of my new favorites, Villanelle is a restaurant I look forward to visiting again and again! 
Villanelle is located at 15 E. 12th Street between University Place and 5th Avenue, 212-989-2474, http://www.villanellenyc.com @villanellenyc. The restaurants serves dinner Monday – Thursday 5:30pm – 10:30pm; Friday & Saturday 5:30pm – 11:30pm; Lunch Monday – Friday 12:00pm – 2:30pm Closed Sunday. Happy Hour Monday – Friday 5:30pm – 7pm offers six East Coast oysters and a glass of wine, beer, sherry or cider for $15. 
Original publish date, May, 2017 

Holiday Soirée ideas to entice fellowship! 

December is a busy month for the at home hostess! With so many friends and acquaintances from different pockets of life, it is easy to include every one who has made your year special. Hosting a holiday Soirée may seem more daunting than festive, however. Will your Michelin starred Chef friend get along with your Yoga buddy? Will your Yoga buddy have anything to talk about with your Flute instructor? 

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to collaborate with Nicole Osibodu, the clever genius of Pink Pineapple Event Designs.

 For Affinité magazine, Nicole and I came up with ice breaker Soirée ideas to make any party merrier and bright, while bringing all your friends together. 

Enjoy!