After seven months of quarantine, we were more than ready for an anniversary trip. At the time, restrictions from COVID had lifted enough where we could travel to the glorious California coast at Big Sur.
I needed this vacation so much! Tired of being cooped up with no trips planned, it was time. Travel is my passion, my occupation, and honestly, what lights me up inside. I love to create the plans, to experience new places, and find adventure. I’m not ready to settle into retirement yet; there are too many fabulous destinations to visit, too much out there to learn! Don’t you agree?
Virtual Cooking Classes – What do you think of this idea?
Are you tired of the same old thing, day in and day out? Does a new type of cooking adventure sound interesting? A virtual cooking class is a great place to begin! Whether I take a cooking class touror one close to home, I have learned a ton about the craft of cooking delicious food. These types of classes not only boost your cooking talents, but there is always a surprise tip that you would have never picked up from just reading a recipe.
Are you looking for virtual cooking classes now that we are not gathering in large groups? The Food Network & Cooking Channel, along with the New York City Wine & Food Festival, have created NYCWFF at Home.
The beauty of wine and food festivals is that they enable the everyday cook to mingle with accomplished and often famous chefs while tasting bites of local restaurant food. Due to COVID-19, we aren’t able to attend festivals and do so many other things, and one of those activities is to take a cooking class with a large group of people.
However, during the Stay at Home mandate, this group of enthusiastic food lovers at NYCWFF managed to put together a cohesive, organized, and delightful cooking class series.
While safe in our homes, we can all participate in a unique opportunity to cook alongside and engage with an NYCWFF personality.
I have already taken two classes and absolutely adored the experience. These chefs are incredibly generous with their knowledge, tips, and cooking techniques. You never know what new cooking gem will be uncovered!
Our little video Cocktail Adventure has been moving along and catching speed. You all have been so supportive with your comments and enthusiasm, and we aim to please! Even our non-drinking friends are enjoying this little escape as well!
We began this adventure six weeks ago to connect with everyone stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are baking amazing new recipes, letting their creative juices flow, and investigating new personal talents. Also, liquor sales have gone up dramatically! Hello? You are making cocktails too!
Not exactly sure how we could contribute, we created Cocktail Adventures, where we film a short 4-5 minute video and offer a little cocktail history, our favorite recipes, and a travel memory that is enhanced by this drink.
My husband Craig does some research, we include our signature recipes, and I add my friendly spin on our travel memories.
Today you are in for a treat! A tasty trifecta of the perfect ingredients and stories as well as the three videos we filmed in one take. Yep, one take. Why waste time on perfection? There’s no such thing!
Travel offers so many types of learning experiences
Is learning how to make macarons a worthwhile life skill? To some, not so much, but to the rest of us, baking challenges enhance our culinary skills, create BIG smiles and a happy sense of accomplishment!
As I write this post, we are in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, and flour is at a premium. It took me two weeks to find five pounds of white flour, and I only have it because my stepfather found it for me! Whoever thought that finding baking flour would be a problem?
However, during this small window of time, many of us are turning to baking as therapy as well as a way to learn a new skill. Some are honing our baking chops to see if we can up our game as well! So far, I have tried my hand at Foccacia and Blueberry Scones – Successfully!
Just a few months ago, when flour was an ingredient I took for granted, I learned how to make macarons. I traveled to Seattle to see our daughter and included this culinary adventure. The class was held at The Pantry and was taught by Marianna Stepniewski, a skilled pastry chef, who showed us many special techniques and offered tips and tricks. After she demonstrated what we needed to do, we tried it ourselves and took turns. We divided into four groups of three and each made a flavor.
Is there really great food in Kansas City Kansas? Absolutely!
We discovered unique handcrafted cocktails at The Mockingbird Lounge, artisan popcorn at Velvet Creme, the BEST tacos, and authentic family owned and operated established restaurants that will wow every single visitor. All coupled with the nicest people I’ve met in a very long time!. Have you made it over KCK? (BTW, all the cool people call Kansas City Kansas, KCK)!
A trip to the Bourbon Trail… is this on your list too? Ever since our grown kids came home from college loving this delicious brown spirit, I have been paying attention. Truthfully, at the time of their discovery, I was still favoring the ubiquitous Cosmo. I then moved on from the Cosmopolitan to a vodka martini which was made up of “Chopin, up, two olives and a twist.”
However, in the last year, my favorite adult beverage is now a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, because I love the aroma and smooth flavor of a good quality bourbon.
This leads me to the story of our most recent vacation, an adventurous trip to the Bourbon Trail. We began our tour in Louisville, Kentucky, traveled over to Lexington, KY and then finished our trip in Nashville, Tennessee. Not surprisingly, it was one of our favorite trips in years!
Is learning about cheese on your bucket list? Maybe not, but let me tell you that once you know the work and craftsmanship that goes into the making of cheese, you may change your mind. I certainly did. I knew that I loved to eat and serve Italian cheese, but truthfully had no idea what it took to make authentic, real Italian cheese. A trip to the Veneto Region of Northern Italy was the best way to learn! To get all of the delicious details of my entire tour with Oldways please click ==> HERE!
Cheese glorious cheese!
I must apologize to my lactose intolerant friends, but ooey gooey, tangy, buttery cheese is divine! Pair it with your favorite wine, grate it over pasta, bake a lasagna, melt it for sandwiches, enjoy a quesadilla or just eat a chunk with a piece of fruit. Tasty cheese is big business and nobody does cheese like the Italians!
Happily touring for cheese
On my recent culinary trip to Italy with Oldways, our traveling group had the pleasure of suiting up and touring a cheese plant with our new friends at Monti Trentini. Located in the Dolomites of Northern Italy, with views of craggy stone mountains in every direction, this AMAZING facility impressed us all.
I had no idea how much thought, effort and skill, mixed with a little Italian love, went in to making cheese. The cleanliness standards are extremely important and every precaution is taken to make sure the plant is germ free. This cheese is raw, not pasteurized and therefore must be aged in order to kill any possible contaminants. We all wore special clothing and fabulous hair nets.
The milk comes from happy Italian cows that are only fed local, organic grasses, while they breathe fresh mountain air. They always use the freshest milk combined with certain techniques coupled with a strict aging process and this creates the most incredible cheese!
This beautiful Italian city is the belly of the nation and the heart of the kitchen. Bologna is a delightful maze of narrow cobblestone streets and the best location to start your visit is in the ancient mercantile center called the Quadrilatero. It’s an easy town to navigate where a popular 11th century university brings students from around the world. We were charmed by the arched covered walkways and the large brick piazzas were filled with happy tourists and locals. Why have I not visited before?
Wow! We finally had a moment to visit a restaurant called Hippo in Highland Park. Highland Park is a small, but mighty foodie town just outside of Los Angeles and it is experiencing quite an exciting renaissance. Buildings are being renovated and inventive delicious restaurants are popping up very frequently. We live only a few miles east and are so fortunate to have easy access to this incredible restaurant!
What’s in a name
Why is it called Hippo? This dining treasure is in a very large building that used to be the Highland Park Post Office. Hippo is a loose and clever interpretation of the initials HPPO.
Who created Hippo?
Hippo is the creation of Chef Matt Molina who was the Chef de Cuisine at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles where under the mentorship of the incredible Nancy Silverton, he won a James Beard Award in 2012.
Additionally, prior to opening Hippo, he started Triple Beam Pizza. TBP sits in the front of this enormous warehouse-like building and shares the space with Hippo. The delicious pizza is sold by the slice and you tell them how long your piece should be! It’s like measuring fabric at Cloth World. So fun!! The pizza is fantastic too!
I am off to Italy once again. I would continue to pinch myself, but I am beginning to bruise! Two years ago my Italian adventures began with a week-long Italian cooking immersion adventure in the hills of Tuscany, as a guest of Tuscan Women Cook.
I toured, ate ridiculously amazing food and drank Tuscan wines with delightful people. We strolled through small towns visiting cheese makers, wineries and I even spent my birthday with these new friends. Because of the relationships I made on this trip, I met Cristina, a fantastic local tour guide and she introduced me to Palio Tours. Palio Tours put together my husband’s dream trip; to see The Palio for the following summer.
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