Tuesday, February 7, 2012

in good taste goes to the emerald isle!

So it's been a solid five weeks since I decided to take a huge leap (with one week's notice, none the less!) and pursue my dream of going to cooking school.  After hearing about the famed Ballymaloe Cookery School situated just outside Cork, Ireland on an amazing 100 acre farm, I knew I had found the school for me. I have such a passion for artisanal food and farm-to-table dining, and with the organic and slow food movements well underway, Ballymaloe embodies the spirit and true sentiment of producing exceptional, quality food. Learning to prepare it in a similarly authentic manner under the tutelage of Irish celebrity chefs like Darina Allen, Rory O'Connell and Rachel Allen (of the show "Bake!" on the Cooking Channel) has been both enlightening and exhilarating. And I am absolutely loving it. There is definitely something in the air in Ireland...an intoxicating charm with a bit of mysticism. It's odd only being here for a little over a month and not being able to imagine leaving...

In the meantime, here are a few pictures of where I've been working for the past five weeks (hence the lack of blog posts!) - it's truly a magical place.  Situated just a half mile from the sea near the little town of Shanagarry, Ballymaloe is a hidden gem which I am delighted to call home for the next few months. In between limited breaks in the kitchen, I hope to share some of the wonderful experiences and recipes I've learned so that you all can experience a little piece of this amazing Irish oasis...

Entrance to the vegetable garden

Magnificent hedges leading to the gardens - the oldest in Ireland!

Darina's amazing garden

A peek through to the little folly...

...with a little surprise inside...

...it's completely encrusted in seashells! 
The most incredible little structure - even the "shell-delier" (chandelier) is made of shells!

Ballymaloe pigs! The school also has its own hens, a small dairy, 
and over an acre of glass greenhouses - truly a sight to be seen!

Pond with geese, ducks and swans near the gardens 
One of the little cottages for students (love the doves every morning!)

...to be continued! xx

Friday, December 23, 2011

...and a little sparkle.

Add a festive touch to your holiday by serving some sparkling signature concoctions in addition to your traditional bar offerings. These bubbly sips pack a lot of holiday punch, and nothing says "celebration" more than sparkling wines and champagnes. Simple cocktails made with bubbly tend to be easier to whip up for an impromptu get together (think champagne and fruit puree with a garnish) - the perfect answer to simple, yet elegant entertaining. Add a festive garnish (prepped before the party) and you have the makings for the perfect holiday bash! Here are a few seasonal recipes to get everyone in the spirit while adding a little sparkle to this wonderful time of year. Cheers to a very merry holiday! Enjoy!

Sparkling Cranberry Rose

Ginger Sparkler

Lush Champagne Cocktail

Blood Orange Champagne Cocktail

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

all wrapped up.

With only four days left until Christmas, it's time to get out the scissors and tape, turn on a movie with a glass of wine and WRAP! This year, I am loving simple brown paper with festive accents. Paper Source has fun silver glitter ribbon that I tied on brown paper, as well as pretty dark navy paper. I also love the plain brown paper with fun neon accents. Tie on a festive ornament or even dip in confetti for an unexpected twist sure to make your loved ones smile!  Whatever you choose, when it comes to Christmas morning, sometimes you can't help but judge a book by it's cover. Here are a few ways to make sure yours look fabulous (and are reached for first!)....

gold glitter ribbon via brunch at saks

brown paper with neon accents via martha stewart

via pinterest (unknown source)
confetti dipped wrapping via tokketok

Monday, November 7, 2011

mushroom duo.

I decided to get cozy tonight with a warm latte and Food & Wine's "Chef Recipes Made Easy" and came across some wonderful mushroom-infused recipes that I wanted to share as we are well into fall now - the perfect time to start cooking with this deliciously hearty, earthy ingredient.  Here are a couple of easy, yet elegant ways to use the tasty little morsel that is the mushroom.  The first is a delicious hors d'oeurve created by renowned Chef, Daniel Boulud (a guarantee that it's amazing!) - Warm Camembert with Wild Mushroom Fricassee - the perfect alternative to the over-used baked brie.  This creamy, French cow's milk cheese is divine when warm and gooey. Paired with the rich sauteed mushrooms, crunchy walnuts and toasted baguette, this dish is the perfect party accompaniment to warm up your guests this season. Serve with a light, fruitier red for great balance.

The second dish is equally comforting for a chilly fall evening dinner party - Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms - created by Chef Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde in NYC. Utilizing store-bought gnocchi makes for easy prep, while cooking in a rich stock and topping with fresh Parmesan cheese and truffle oil makes for a truly decadent treat.  Serve with a creamy Sicilian white or light red. Bon Appetit!

All images courtesy of Food & Wine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

stylish shelves.

There's something about endless shelves filled with books that make a space feel so comfortable and lived in.  I would love to have a stylish library with walls and walls of books one day...and hopefully a nice ladder to access them all! Here are a few photos of great personal libraries; I love the way that some are organized by color, using the books as wall art...the perfect example of beautiful, functional design. I'm absolutely in love with this first room...

Monday, October 24, 2011

a taste of fall.

There's nothing better than going apple picking in the fall with a nice treat of apple cider donuts and hot, steamy cider to warm up after a chilly day.  I made homemade donuts once with my family and have been wanting to try them again, but this time infused with some of my favorite fall flavors.  Here are some great recipes for classic apple cider donuts (from one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen), as well as little pumpkin drop donuts.  Pair either choice with fresh mulled apple cider for a comforting combo full of delightful fall flavors!

Pumpkin Drop Donuts
Photo and recipe courtesy of Lara Ferroni

Warm Mulled Cider
Photo and recipe courtesy of Real Simple

Thursday, October 13, 2011

latest obsession: cor sin labe doli bow ties

Although I'm loving the "all buttoned up" look that's currently on trend, it still makes me miss being able to accessorize with a little neckline glitz. Enter the Cor Sin Labe Doli ceramic bow tie. I can't help but love these quirky little accessories for the collar from Italian designer, Antonioli. The designers behind the bow claim that these eccentric little pieces are often even worn wrapped around the wrist as a bracelet or dangling from the neck with a collarless shirt. Who knew a ceramic bow tie could be so versatile?! Not to mention they come in a variety of colors to match all of those prefectly pressed shirts hanging in your closet. I think I may just have to splurge for the gold...

Image via Vogue.com

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

a colorful collaboration for kate.

Deborah Lloyd, the creative genius behind Kate Spade New York, has enlisted the creative services of styling maven, Brad Goreski (of Rachel Zoe fame) to aid in styling the brand's newest collections. The playful, witty styles of both Lloyd and Goreski go hand-in-hand with the modern, yet whimsically-chic edge the Kate Spade brand is so well-known for. The gorgeous prints were conceived by Australian artist, Florence Broadhurst, bringing bold pops of color and classic black + white creations - all accented with cheeky little sayings on bags and graphic tees. Here's a quick peek at the Spring 2012 preview for a little mid-week eye candy...such a happy collection!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

living room love

Rita Konig's apartment via theproperstranger

inspiration in remembrance

A fearless visionary and creative genius, Steve Jobs was more than just a highly successful entrepreneur and CEO.  He was a game-changer. The incredible legacy he leaves behind not only through his influence on the way we interact with technology, but also on the definition of personal excellence, will forever be imbedded in our culture. I will always admire his bold desire to pursue seemingly crazy and unattainable goals, and to pursue them well - so well that the results redefined what is now the future. His legacy, as well as his wonderful quote below, are dedicated to all those out there with big dreams.  Thank you Mr. Jobs for inspiring us all.

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