Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wild Olives by Todd English

Where the Wild Things Are
Being a passionate lover of all things culinary, I am always on the lookout for my next palate fix. I am an adventurous gourmand that will follow my passion beyond stereotype, the expected and the trendy. So, when I partake in a tasting of a restaurant's creation, I keep an open mind, looking for the element of that first bite that makes my body quiver with total excitement and makes me giggle like a little girl. To multiply this sensory effect, it is grand when the chef who’s created these oral explosions is himself sugar spun eye candy and a real dish!
Of course, I’m talking about celebrity chef Todd English, heartthrob and master of palate persuasion. Very few chefs have been able to connect and translate the beauty of the Mediterranean’s bounty as Chef English. He has teamed up with seasoned restaurateurs Lirim Jacobi, Dixon Li and John Watson who will take us to 'where the wild things are.'
When the full dinner menu launches on November 24, Wild Olives by Todd English will be serving Rustic Mediterranean dishes created to inspire and transport you to the sun drenched coastlines of this glorious region of the world.
On his passport to the sun, some of his creations include:
Delicious perfectly crusted savory flatbreads loaded with prosciutto and figs; palate-teasing Carpet Bagger Oysters wrapped in beef carpaccio and truffle whipped potatoes; Butternut, Brown Butter and Sage Tortelli; and Todd’s Signature Ricotta Cheesecake that lingers on the palate. The wine director does a stupendous show pairing the sublime with the perfect wines.
For reservations and information: 561-544-8000
The Shops at Boca Center, 5050 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton Florida.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Cape Cod Room....

A sublime culinary experience at The Cape Cod Room.

Removed from the hustle and bustle of trendy South Beach , Ken Lyon's new culinary destination takes flight. Located at the exclusive Bath Club on posh Miami Beach, the Miami meets New England restaurant delivers. The evening started with a warm welcome from Mr Lyon, a seasoned culinary entrepreneur and native to the "Cape", with years of experience catering to the passionate palate. This trend setter transformed the dinning room of the historical 1926 Bath Club into a sophisticated 75 seat restaurant remenisant of elegant seaside mansions hugging the New England coast line.
Once seated , the anticipation for what was to come was surpassed by the actual dinning experience. Our gracious host transported us thru a guided imagery of the region that inspired his new restaurant. He explained how the seafood fair is brought in daily from the shores off Massachusetts and Maine. Staying true to the region , the recipes are not pretentious and the chef understands that he doesn't have to reinvent the wheel, but instead, his approach highlights and elevates the fresh succulent ingredients to their highest level.
A native of the "Cape", Mr Lyon's relationship with local fisherman allow him to direct source the succulent steamers, plump belly clams and of course, Maine lobsters. Once you've tasted the Nantucket bay scallops or the Lobster pot pie, you'll have tasted a piece of heaven on earth, confirming that Mr Lyon' s vision of a New England restaurant in South Florida is like two peas in a succatash! The experience is completed with a pairing of East Coast American wines from Long Island, Virginia and New York. The final touch of this memorable culinary experience doesn't end with comforting classic desserts, such as Lemon curd with Scottish shortbread or the Indian pudding exploding with the tastes of the first Thanksgiving. The final piece de resistance is the thoughtful and playful plate of salt water Toffee that transport you to childhood and memories of family summer vacations.
The restaurant will open to the public on November 4th and will be open Wednesday thru Saturday for dinner and on Sundays for brunch. Valet parking is available. I look forwards to my next visit to the "Cape".

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nectar of the Gods

Nectar of the Gods.

This is an exotic and intoxicating cocktail that is perfect for luring your guests to the time when white and gold fabric wrapped our bodies and days were spent leisurely around bowls of fruit and flowers perfumed the gentle breezes that caressed our hair....

The Sparkling Rose

3oz SENCE Rose Nectar
4oz Champagne

SENCE RARE EUROPEAN ROSE NECTAR is a Rose nectar made from organic Bulgarian Roses and is great by itself or with sparkling water, Vodka, Tequila and of course Champagne ... 
Your Guests will never forget.

Inhale,   Maude   aka  The Diva

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pleasuring the Senses.

I recently enrolled in a lesson dedicated to pleasuring my senses. I know, it sounds erotic, and It was. Eating and tasting, savoring and swallowing where all parts of what I was instructed to do. First with my eyes open, then with my eyes shut. 
      The lesson: How to taste Chocolate. 
It's a matter of fact, tasting chocolate is an art that involves letting go and using all five senses. There is no holding back, just reckless abandon. I planned on taking my time, so I prepared. First I had to look at the chocolate. What color was it and did it have a sheen. Next, I was instructed to listen. As I broke off a piece, I was to notice the density of the snap. Was it a "crisp" snap or a "blunt" sound? Then, I placed the piece of chocolate between my fingers. I was asked to describe how it felt like in my hands and between my fingers. Was it smooth or brittle? Sticky or grainy? After feeling the surface of the chocolate , I brought the piece up to my nose. Closed my eyes. Inhale. What did it smell like? Did it evoke any memories or did the aromas remind me of something? With my eyes still shut, I placed the chocolate in my mouth. This is where the fun began. I took a small piece, laid it on my tongue and gently pressed my tongue against roof of my mouth. Just light bites until it broke down. I noticed the different texture and flavors play on my palate. Did I sense bitterness, acidity or astringency? With the aromas slowly moving up behind my nasal passages and the perfumes enveloping my head, what did the flavors remind me of? Did the chocolate taste fruity, floral , nutty or like coffee? How did the taste of the gentle roasting effect the cacao? This is when I was able to discern the intensity and complex nature of the chocolate. The flavors lingered long in my mouth and finally opening my eyes, as if coming out of a dream, I realized the pleasure that I had just experienced in a room full of strangers... Intoxicating!

In chocolate,     Maude   aka The Diva

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ruby Rhubarb.... Sexy Thing

This is my Divalicious version of the stew

Persian Rhubarb Stew

INGREDIENTS 1 1/2 lb Stew meat 1 lb Rhubarb; cut into 1″ pieces (use fresh if possible) 1 c Chopped parsley (Italian flat leaf) 2 tb Dried mint 1 tb (heaping) Tomato paste; (1 to 2) 1 yellow onion,chopped 1/4 ts Turmeric; (1/4 to 1/2) 1 pn Saffron (crushed with back of spoon in a cup)dissolved in hot water 3 tb Lemon juice 1/2 ts each Garlic and onion powder Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS Brown meat and onions. Add tomato paste and stir into the meat, add turmeric, garlic and onion powder,salt and pepper.Stir to incorporate to meat. Add 3 cups water and cook one hour. Meanwhile, in a seperate pan, add some oil and saute parsley and mint until fragrant but not brown. Add to stew with dissolved saffron broth. Cook another hour. Add lemon juice and rhubarb. Cook until rhubarb is tender but not falling apart.

Cooking times are approximate. Always taste your food to adjust seasoning. Meat should be almost falling apart, but rhubarb shouldn’t. There should be about 1-1/2 cups liquid in stew at end of cooking time. Serve over hot Basmati rice. Enjoy!

Monday, May 11, 2009

With the Excitement...

I got so excited with my previous post that I forgot to finish it.... and post the recipe. I like this recipe because it's different and you can make it the day before for less entertaining stress. 

The Perfect Pick Me Up: Strawberry Tiramisu 

1 1/2 cups strawberry preserves, my choice is Bonne Maman
1/2 cup plus 5 tablespoons Grand Manier or Cointreau, divided, plus a swig for you(optional)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 pound Mascarpone cheese, best at room temp
1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, or regular granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, Nielsen Massey is my choice
1 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh plump strawberries, divided
56-60 crisp ladyfingers

Whisk preserves, 1/2 cup Grand Manier, and orange juice in a bowl, set aside. Place Mascarpone and 2 tablespoons Grand Manier in a large bowl and fold just to blend, set aside. With an electric mixer or by hand if you missed your workout,beat the cream, sugar, vanilla, and remaining Grand Manier in a separate large bowl until you have soft peaks. Now, stir some of the whipped cream mixture into the Mascarpone mixture to lighten up the cheese. Once it is mixed together and lighter, you can now FOLD in the remaining whipped cream. Set aside and refrigerate if not using right away.

Hull the berries and slice in half, leaving a hand full whole for decor. Spread 1/2 the preserve mixture over the bottom of a 3 -quart oblong dish or in seperate serving pieces or 13x9x2 baking dish. Add enough ladyfingers over the preserve to cover the bottom of the dish. Now, spoon more preserves on top of the ladyfingers, then spread 2 1/2 cups of the Mascarpone mixture over that. Arrange some of the berries over Mascarpone and repeat the process until you finish with the Mascarpone as your last addition. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 6 hours or overnight. 
Slice remaining berries and arrange over the tiramisu and serve... DONE

It will be Love at First Bite,
                                                     Maude,   a.k.a    The Diva

Pick Me Up...

  The Spring and Summer's bounty of fresh vegetables and fruit is rolling in. I find it so exciting to be able to have these jewels available at my fingertips. They inspire me to cook off the hook and let their colors, shapes and flavors take center stage. It is one of my favorite times. I love to explore the outdoor markets, meet local farmers and who knows, maybe get picked up. After all, you never know where you'll meet someone. And thats exactly what happened to me . I was picked up! This is how it happened; 
 I was strolling along the many stands in awe of the beauty of the bounty, minding my own business and not giving much thought to anything. And then , all of a sudden, we made eye contact. I stopped in my tracks and stood there for just a moment. I knew it was all over. I knew a that moment that we had to be together.There was an unquestionable attraction. My blood rushed and my heart beat faster. I felt excited. As if under a spell, I was being lured by the aroma, the color, the shape.  It tickled my nose, opened my eyes and ignited all sorts of thoughts into my head. Then we came face to face. I was fixated. There IT was, basket after basket overflowing with red, juicy, ripe strawberries. I asked the farmer,"may I"?. "But of course", he answered as he gestured with his hand to be his guest. I took just a moment to choose the One. Then, as I brought the One towards my lips, it only took a little gentle pressure for the perfectly sweet, red juices to squirt in my mouth. I knew that this was heaven on earth and that there was no denying it.... it had to be. The farmer knew exactly was going on. He'd witness this kind of love at first bite before. No need for words and the rest as they say, is history.

Friday, May 1, 2009

And the award goes to...

   I have to come out and say it up front. I am a self-proclaimed passionate foodie and perhaps what some might think is a food snob. Ok, it’s out of the bag. So, when I have the pleasure to eat great food, I don’t tend to forget it. I have what you might call, food memory. You know that feeling you get when you close your eyes and you remember the smell of the intoxicating aromas of a certain dish or when you start to salivate at the memory of the perfectly balanced bite of something divine. Yes, I think your getting the picture. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it leaves its stamp.

  I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of having this experience when Chef Zach Bell of CafĂ© Boulud cooked an incredible dinner for a group of us. Talented, innovating, creative, knowing of his craft, respectful, and passionate don’t even begin to describe the man. So when I found out that Chef Zach was nominated for a James Beard award, the most prestigious award in the culinary world, I was elitated with joy. I recently had the honor to sit down with Chef Zach.


ME: What does a James Beard Award mean to you, and, when you win, what are you most grateful for?

ZB: It’s a great honor to be recognized for the work we’ve done here. I’m most grateful for the energy, confidence, motivation and love from my wife, Jennifer.


ME: What does it take to be a great chef?

ZB: As referenced from Sun Tzu’z The Art of War - "Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage and sternness."

ME: What is your kitchen mantra?

ZB: An excerpt from my Laws of the Kitchen :

"You must love to do this for a living-no question. You must love to stay late or come early if it is necessary to get the job done. You must love to practice only the best, most perfect techniques in order to produce a product you are proud of. Your end product is a direct reflection of how much love and respect you have for yourself and your work."

ME: How do you describe your cuisine?

ZB: I merely try my best to execute Cuisine du Marche to the best of my ability– (French – American Cuisine that is Market Driven.)

ME: Your favorites tools?

ZB: Victorinox 3” serrated paring knives and 10” serrated utility knife – before you get to make the pretty things – you have to bust ass on the rough prep – these guys are monsters.

ME: Secret ingredient?

ZB: Plum seed oil

ME: If you were an ingredient, what would you be?

ZB: Good French Dijon mustard – smooth and spicy all at once

ME: Who are your kitchen heroes?

ZB: Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Paul Bocuse

ME: And chefs you would like to cook with?

ZB: Anne Sophie Pic, Jean Francois Piege, Guy Martin…the list is endless as there is something great to be learned from everyone.

ME: What do you see as the upcoming culinary trends?

ZB: A serious return to bistro and country cooking, this time it is not a fad or trend – the game now is who can cook the best and keep it the most affordable at the same time!

ME: What inspires you ?

ZB: Vegetables and the their constantly changing seasons…

ME: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

ZB: Doing my thing here in Palm Beach….I love it here.

ME: If you weren’t a chef what would you be doing?

ZB: Never even really had a chance to think about it… cooking didn’t ask when it chose me

ME: What do you think about the south Florida culinary scene?

ZB: I think it has been on a strong roll the last couple years as the general public is demanding higher quality artisanal products.This new thinking is one of the major benefits this industry has received from the Food Network and like programming.

ME: What do you eat when at home?

ZB: Very simple things grilled pork chops, roasted broccoli, simple pastas…


My sincere thanks and best wishes to Chef Zach …. Rock it at the Beard awards!

And the heat goes on.....     Maude   a.k.a THE DIVA

Monday, April 6, 2009

In my own little world

 I spend so much time thinking and sorting all the flashes of creative thought and fantasy that enter my mind. It's like being in my own little world of conversations, my own motion picture. One thought enters and I'm sitting in New York city at Da Silvanos restaurant having a beautiful plate of homemade pasta as Silvano himself is pouring some Nero D'Avola wine into two glasses. One for him and one for me. He's telling me about the recent trip he and his wife took to Italy and how they fall in love all over again not only with the country but with each other.
  Then all of a sudden my mind wanders to India and I imagine the smell of the streets filled with the aromas of toasted spices and the anticipation of eating fresh hot Naan. I see so many beautiful faces. Great big smiles. Hands of all sizes reaching out for some sign of charity. But, all is good. I am grateful and blessed. At that moment, I wish I had a bag filled with gold coins and I wish to find an immediate solution to end world hunger. "One day", a small voice whispers from within,"one day no one will go hungry".
  After a long deep breath and within a flash, I'm back in Switzerland. Actually, in Lausanne at a lake front restaurant. I'm sitting outside on the flower filled terrace that overlooks the lake. The sun is warm but the light breeze is refreshing. Once again, my wine glass is full. Placed before me is perfectly grilled fresh Perch drizzled with a floral extra virgin olive oil perhaps from neighboring Liguria. The dish is very simple but unforgetable. The chef is telling me how the fish was caught no more the an hour ago... Wait, a sigh. I must hold on before I go any further and start to fantasize about dessert, I must come back to reality and center myself again. Oh! but why must I? I like my own little world...

Until we eat again, Maude

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Loosing my Virginity

 I love it when I have finally figured things out.  Like setting up my new blog when I really don't know much about computers. God knows it's taken me several hours. I feel like I've reach that milestone and that nothing can stop me now. No more fear, no more excuses, no more anything. I'm  a blogger now. I get to experiment and express myself and see where this takes me. It's like loosing my virginity. I cant go backwards and say that I've never "did it"... and now that I have,I don't want to. 

  I'm looking forward to sharing with you my passion for all things culinary and the lifestyle and experiences that comes with it. I'm excited to engage in conversation and be challenged by you and for you to share your passions and experiences with me. So, from one food lover to another, stay tuned...
 Maude  aka... The Diva