Archive for DESSERTS

 Tuscany on the Eastern Shore

photos: m&j

A magical evening occurred last month on a beautiful farm by the bay in Wittman, Maryland – an al fresco dinner, to which a few of us lucky souls were fortunate enough to be invited. Both the meal and setting will be remembered for a long time to come. And even more impressive than the natural beauty of the site, the graciousness of the host and hostess and the many talents of those who caught, grew and skillfully prepared the bounty of sumptuous offerings we gorged ourselves upon was the company, itself. It’s hard to recall an evening coming together so perfectly. It was supposed to rain, but instead the sun came out and set with a lovely blush to match the delicate Charles & Charles and Sancerre Rosés. Some of us had not previously met, but we are now communicating regularly and planning future escapades. The event and, indeed, the menu was only casually discussed, but suddenly it all seemed to come together as if it had been planned for months.

This is one of those great evenings that we see in photos and wish we could’ve been a part of. And, delightfully, we were. And it all came together in a relaxed and flawless manner that is the hallmark of great entertaining – thanks to the deft hand and eye (and taste buds!) of delightful Carol Bean (our hostess, chef, stylist and farmer), her charming husband Mark Connolly (a third generation waterman, who, along with his brother, caught the delicious fish we ate), Rachel Vecchio (a super-talented baker and pastry chef who supplied the desserts) and Kathy Bosin (a local blogger who graced us with her presence and charming dinner company).

We began with the lovely wine and worked in some freshly pressed & chilled watermelon juice for pacing. Then came the Red Cloud goat cheese served with grilled French bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and Carol’s special, handmade “fish” crackers with sesame seeds and black lava salt. While the whole rockfish – stuffed with lemon, garlic & fresh mint and wrapped in fresh fig leaves from one of the farm’s three fig trees – was grilling along with eggplant brushed with olive oil & sea salt. The parade of delicacies began to emerge from Carol’s magical kitchen; quinoa cakes with slow-roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes, yogurt and finished with the tiniest micro-arugula we’d ever seen, fresh honeydew melon salad with blackberries and radish micro greens – tossed with a lavender white balsamic vinaigrette, barley salad with fresh, local raw corn, slow-roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes with fresh basil and fresh feta cheese, freshly grown and made chilled cucumber gazpacho “shooters” with a hint of lemon and garlic topped with beautiful, tiny micro greens – all fresh from the garden and Carol’s French green beans, pickled in her own chive flower-infused vinegar. As we ate, drank and enjoyed every nuanced bite of these super-fresh, simple yet complex culinary delights, the dessert table started to beckon …

Carol popped the cork on a bottle of Domaine Du Pre Semele and we started nibbling dates stuffed with mascarpone cheese, rolled in chopped, dark chocolate covered espresso beans, then fresh, local peaches, soaked in a lemon verbena simple syrup, dusted with fresh lavender flowers, drizzled with balsamic reduction which had been grilled on the fire and finally ripe brown Turkish figs fresh from Carol’s incredibly productive tree, sliced over the most delicate and decadent St. Angel cheese, drizzled with local honey. It cannot be stressed how delicious this cheese was (it will be eaten again. Soon!).  And then, just when we all thought things couldn’t get any better, Rachel brought out her now famous honeyed-thyme brown Turkish fig crostatas (made with local figs picked in nearby Neavitt and honey from Sand Hill Farms) served with homemade orange blossom whipped cream and an absolutely out-of-this-world rustic peach galette (made with peaches from Caroline County, and served with lavender-scented homemade whipped cream. Wow. Wow. And wow. We are still quite floored by it all and frankly, just longing for an encore! September, anyone?

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High Tea fit for a Chelsea Queen

photos: m&j

When Betsy saw fit to give the most gorgeous, modern, subtle and tasteful set of hand-thrown pottery in the form of teacups, cream & sugar and teeny tiny spoons from abc carpet & home for m’s most recent birthday, there was only one thing to do: serve tea!  But not just any tea for these beauties would do. We brewed a fabulous pot of what we think is the ultimate – Bellocq  No 42 “Little Dickens” – laced with goodies like vanilla beans, calendula flowers, rose petals and raw cacao nibs available from our dear friends at Haven’s Kitchen, along with HK’s own freshly baked petite almond meringues, slices of girly, pink strawberry cake from Books of Wonder Cafe on 18th and fragrantly blushing white pineberries via Belgium from Eataly. After all, when you decide to do justice to high tea, one really must pull out all the stops – thanks for the inspiration, B!

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Häagen-Dazs

photos: m&j

We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to shoot with Goodby Silverstein & Partners and their wonderful client, Häagen-Dazs recently. And oh, what a delicious time we had! The collaboration was a pure pleasure and scrumptious every last step of the way – it doesn’t get any better than this, folks!

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Brooklyn “twee” artisanal products

food photos: m&j  artisan portraits: Jonathan Nesteruk for New York Magazine

After reading the New York Magazine cover story last week about the exponential rise of “twee” artisanal products coming out of dear and near Brooklyn, NY, we realized – not only did we want all of them – but we also already had a pretty fair share of these “food nerd items” on hand in our own pantry. And we happily recommend them all!

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simple crowd pleaser dessert

photos: m&j

A recent foray deep into the world of Häagen-Dazs has given us a whole new appreciation for the confectioner’s handiwork (not that we didn’t already each have a few pints of the stuff on hand in our freezers at all times, anyway). But they really do offer some truly perfect dessert items – like their milk chocolate covered vanilla ice cream bars. If you’re a milk chocolate person, nothing is better. For a fun and effortless dessert, consider whipping out a box of these and serving one to each guest with a shot of bourbon – we prefer Blanton’s. It’s a nice individual treat and the whiskey warms the body up when it must eat ice cream during these occasionally chilly & damp spring nights (which we must).

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caramelized cocoa nibs & grinder

photos: m&j

Leave it to the most inventive gift giver we know to do the traditional wooden anniversary gift and make it this foodie-friendly – a Pure Dark Caramelized Cocoa nib grinder in gorgeous, natural wood! Pure Dark roasts the hearts of their cocoa beans, leaving them nutty, caramelized and crunchy (and slightly sweet and, more importantly not bitter!) for grinding. There is nothing better on ice cream of any flavor to add just the right amount of that much-coveted crunch factor – Happy 6th and thank you, D!!

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The Breslin

photos: m&j  & The Breslin

What a great place to spend one’s seventh wedding anniversary! For absolutely delicious food and that casual vibe that we were so in the mood for – the Breslin delivered in spades. We began with some sea salt & black pepper crisps and  cask conditioned ales, a lovely seafood sausage with beurre blanc & chives and a citrus salad with herbs, delicate butter lettuces and crunchy little quinoa bits (!) and crème fraiche that excited the palate and was just so refreshing and, frankly quite a welcome and pleasant surprise at this Anglican monument to all things meat in the lobby of the Ace Hotel! We shared a savory Vinegared poussin with grilled onions, wild ramps and romesco and pan roasted dourade with beer steamed cockles, beans & monk’s beard and a side of spigarello with anchovy & chili – yum! And finished it all off with some tepid coffee (not so yum) and a delicate creamsicle sundae pudding that more than made up for the slight coffee impropriety – sweet, pink cara cara orange, yogurt sorbet, crushed meringue, candied ginger and lemon – a traditional fool turned on it’s head, if you will. Quite a lovely dinner & Happy Anniversary, my dearest!! xoxo

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teeny tiny cupcakes!

photos: m&j

Could there be a more perfect sweet birthday gift for a lady than a box of eensie weensie cupcake minis from Baked by Melissa? We do not think so! With eleven cleverly scrumptious varieties – each that perfect little bite of deliciousness and not a crumb more – a gal can really get a good many tastes for herself,  be a generous friend and do some sharing and even feel quite virtuous all the while because it is, after all, her birthday. Thank you, dear Daryl, for the perfect ending to the ever slightly less than perfect day xoxo

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goat milk caramels

photos: m&j

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What a delightful find at Murray’s Cheese Shop – Big Picture Farm Sea Salt and Pure Bourbon Vanilla Goat Milk Caramels. Handmade in Vermont with the most adorable packaging and name, to match. And, fortunately, with a creamy, soft and silky texture and buttery, sweet/salty flavor they taste even better than they look!

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Sunday Brunch at Whitehall

photos: m&j

We just enjoyed a terrific Sunday brunch with friends at the recently opened Whitehall on Greenwich Avenue between 6th and 7th Avenues, serving what they call the “new British” cuisine (which basically means fresh, locally sourced yummy food and cocktails) in a pretty, new, but made to look worn and old & comfy setting with worn white painted wood, subway tile, super cool ceiling fans and light fixtures with filament bulbs and lots of lovely branches full of spring blossoms right now – just perfect for a weekend meal with a group of hungry foodies. We particularly enjoyed the avocado toast with baby rocket, chili flakes, poached/scrambled eggs with roasted tomato, whisky French toast with roasted pineapple and vanilla mascarpone, baby gem lettuce, poached egg, crispy bacon, ouray cheese, red onion and hazelnuts with pear vinaigrette and the (total rock star) Whitehall burger with cheddar, pickled beetroot, caramelized onions, lettuce, fried egg and house cut fries –  all accompanied by delicious coffee and the requisite spicy bloodies – YUM! The meal was finished off with a fabulous butterscotch (with a hint of the actual – Scotch – whiskey spirit – just a hint!) pot de crème accompanied by the most delicate almond flour shortbread cookies, delicately sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar to share – for that perfect last sweet bite that lets you know the meal is over without totally weighing you down midday (although we could’ve easily eaten an entire, adorable little pot de crème each)! And thank you dear John, Cary, Dave, Bruce, Alexa and Daniel for letting us photograph it all before you dove in!

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