The new breakfast fun: pancake cereal!

Not sure you’ve seen it yet – it’s all over the web and social media these days: pancake cereal! It’s just a new and fun breakfast item, and so easy to DIY at home.

I found this tutorial online:

Looks yummy, right? I made it for my family, and they LOVED it. Here’s the recipe I used:

And if you don’t feel like whipping up the batter from scratch – I have alternatively used Bisquick (their “enriched” pancake batter recipe on the box), and it worked just fine. Enjoy!

Dreamcatcher Maya teaches make-up application

We all know that we immediately FEEL good when we know we LOOK good! And as we all can use a little bit of “uplift” these days – here’s to you, courtesy of hair and makeup artist Maya of Dreamcatcher Artistry.

The Science of Wine demystified: Trione Whites!

A guest post by Henry Trione of Trione Winery

Trione Lineup: The Whites

Trione Vineyards & Winery grows both Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay grapes in the Russian River Valley AVA, on the River Road Ranch.

This ranch is right in the middle of the appellation, a prime climate and soil for these cooler climate varietals. The two varietals are distinctly different! From their intrinsic character to the winemaking process, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay each take separate paths to the bottle and on entirely different schedules. To explore the differences, let’s start with their flavor profiles and work our way back to the crush pad.

When someone asks me, “What is your favorite wine varietal?” I reply, “What is the occasion or food pairing?” Applied to the white varietals of the Trione lineup, it is necessary to consider the flavor profiles of the respective wines. In the words of the Trione winemaker, Scot Covington, the River Road Ranch Sauvignon Blanc tastes like the following:

White peaches, nectarines and mandarin zest are the first hints on the nose. The acidity and sweetness on the palate are in perfect balance. This wine is mouth-watering and leaves one craving for fresh oysters, sourdough baguettes, aged gouda, a sandy beach and a setting sun.

I could not have described it better myself, but if I had to define this wine in one word it would be floral. (While also leaving me craving a sandy beach and setting sun, of course!)  Sauvignon Blanc is considered an aromatic white grape, light and refreshing with just the right amount of residual sugar to balance the natural acidity. This differs from the richer qualities of Chardonnay and the slight oak flavor imparted from the mixture of new and “neutral” French oak barrels in the winemaking process. In Scot’s eloquent words:

Bottled poetry is the description of the 2017 Trione Chardonnay. Burgundian in style of both nose and palate. Rich and inviting, this wine offers a complex mix of toasty baguette, warm melted brie; silky but with the structure demonstrating the aging potential. The 2017 Chardonnay is tasting great now but will be awesome for the next 5-7 years.

So what do you enjoy these varietals with? The answer is a resounding whatever you like! Personally, Sauvignon Blanc is light and refreshing enough that it can be a stand-alone wine, not requiring any paring to enjoy. The Chardonnay, on the other hand, is a fuller-bodied wine and in my opinion better served with seafood, poultry and lighter pasta dishes. If you want to pair the Trione Sauvignon Blanc with anything in particular, I recommend cheese or oysters. The sweet-tangy characteristics of the wine seem to do these foods justice.

Working backwards, we can see how we arrived at the individual attributes of these varietals, aside from their intrinsic qualities. Unlike the Sauvignon Blanc, the Trione Chardonnay tastes slightly oaky. To achieve this quality, the winemaking process employs the use of 40% new French oak barrels and 60% neutral barrels that have been used in one to two previous vintages already and thus do not impart all that much oak flavor, but still create a softer mouth feel than if it were produced in stainless steel. The oak compliments the grape’s natural hardiness relative to the Sauvignon Blanc grape. So, the winemaking process is quite different, and takes much longer for the Chardonnay. Without getting into the nitty-gritty, the Trione Chardonnay spends 12 months in French oak barrels, while the Sauvignon Blanc is harvested about the same time in the late summer or early fall, and already bottled by April. As Scot mentioned in the quote above, the Chardonnay is suited to age a number of years because of its robustness compared to the Sauvignon Blanc, which in my experience does not benefit from aging. Harvesting the grapes, however, is on a similar schedule. Both Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are considered early-ripening varietals. This is because they do not need as much time on the vine to achieve the appropriate sugar content.

The differences between the two white varietals in the Trione lineup, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, can be attributed to both nature and nurture. Nature gave the fruit different qualities, and the nurturing of the winemaking process further developed these distinctions. The result is a wine appropriate for different situations. One is light, refreshing and floral, the other is full-bodied, rich and creamy. How you choose to enjoy, is entirely up to your personal taste, and the best way to determine that preference is to experiment for yourself.

The most exclusive coffee in the world: Kopi Luwak

Have you ever heard of “Kopi Luwak?” It is the rarest coffee in the world, and also the most expensive (up to $700 a kilogram!), and its production method is – to say the least – highly unorthodox: it consists of partially digested coffee cherries, which have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus).

It is therefore also called civet coffee. The cherries are fermented as they pass through a civet’s intestines, and after being defecated with other fecal matter, they are collected.

A specialist offering this coffee right here in the Bay Area is my friend Bill Choi of Travelin’ Joe who actually introduced this exotic topic to me. Contact him for a tasting! (travelinjoeespresso1@gmail.com). So far, so good…

Only bad thing is that the coffee is now mass-produced by keeping the civets in cage batteries, force-feeding them so they produce, well, you know what. It’s animal cruelty, plain and simple. So IF you indulge in this unique specialty, just make sure to choose the “wild” and not the “farmed” variety. And here is Jack Nicholson enjoying HIS.

Looking perfect and professional on video calls – the “Five-Minute Makeup!”

Here comes a lifesaver for all you ladies working from home via videoconferencing – you are already juggling ten thousand tasks, from household to homeschooling to keeping everyone “sane” – AND you need to look polished on screen. We know that you don’t have the time for an elaborate makeup, so here is a simple tutorial by our own Jessica Morton of Miabel Artistry. Five minutes flat, and you are ready to face the world!!

Let us know how it went!!

Magical Nathaniel is teaching magic!

This is one of the very rare occasions that a professional magician reveals one of his tricks – but as Nathaniel Segal (aka Magical Nathaniel) is one of our Bay Area wedding vendor community, he shares it with us all today as a special treat. Maybe you parents watch and learn it first, then teach your kids? So they have something to share and show off to their buddies on Skype?

Let the magic begin…

And if you can’t get enough of it: Nathaniel offers online magic classes!

Gabby is working her cake magic!

My longtime friend and colleague Gabrielle Feuersinger of Cake Coquette fame made a time-lapse video just FOR US!!! How nice is that?! In case you were wondering how long it takes Gabby for the elaborate decoration of one of her masterpieces, now we know: exactly 27 seconds – on timelapse!

You’ll have to look twice and watch a couple more times to see it all what she’s doing, but even then we’ll probably miss a good part of her skill and artistry. In any case – get inspired for your own edible art!

Please click the play button to see Gabby in action.

Here is the finished masterpiece close up:

And if you need even more inspiration, here are some of Gabby’s recent creations for you to swoon over!

Ladies: Channel your inner Barbie Doll!

As we are preparing you for your next virtual cocktail party, we thought of including a tutorial on a really stunning makeup! My longtime friend and colleague Jira of Wowpretty Salon (whose hair and makeup stylists have transformed countless brides into red carpet-worthy beauties) is contributing a tutorial on how to do it – one of her stylists is taking you through it step by step:

What about you try it out and send us “before and after” photos? We want to see it!!

Let’s have cocktails together! (virtually… of course)

Why not?

Our friends Jim and Stephanie invited us “over for cocktails” last week, and it was just lovely! We all dressed up, joined in a zoom.com meeting (more of that later), and had our cocktails while catching up on things.

So… here are some of my favorite cocktails with recipes!

The Cosmopolitan:

INGREDIENTS

2 oz vodka, 1 oz cranberry juice cocktail, ¾ oz fresh lime juice, ¾ oz triple sec

Orange twist (for serving)

PREPARATION

Combine vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, and triple sec in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds.

Strain cocktail into a martini glass and garnish with the orange twist.

The Mojito:

INGREDIENTS:

10 fresh mint leaves; 1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges; 2 tablespoons white sugar, or more to taste; 1 cup ice cubes
1 1/2 fl. oz white rum; 1/2 cup club soda

PREPARATION:

Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Crush the mint and lime with a muddler; add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again. Do not strain! Fill the glass nearly completely with ice. Pour the rum over the ice and fill up with club soda. Stir, taste, and adjust sugar if desired. Garnish with the last lime wedge.

And… my favorite: the Chi Chi

INGREDIENTS:

3 oz vodka, 4 oz pineapple juice, 2 oz cream of coconut (e.g. Coco Lopez), 1 tsp (or more) confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup crushed ice

Pineapple pieces and Maraschino cherries for garnish

PREPARATION:

Combine first five ingredients in a blender; process on high speed until combined, ca. 30 sec. Pour into chilled glasses, garnish with pineapple and cherry. Serve immediately.

Lastly, the meeting format! These days, it’s videoconferencing, and we used zoom.com – free for up to 45 minutes. Just have everyone sign up for it ahead of time, send a zoom link to your event in time to all your friends, and… oh, we forgot. Dress up. And the ladies: “doll up!” Stay tuned for that – the “Barbie Doll” makeup tutorial is in the works!!

Continuing education with “Masterclass” courses

Now that I suddenly have more time on my hands than ever before (and more time than I like…) I was looking for something constructive to do – beyond my COVID-19 support & encouragement series here, that is! I wanted to widen my horizon, learn something new, and not necessarily something related to my business.

I have to give my husband credit for finding something for me, something that I didn’t even know existed: “MasterClass!” It’s a platform of online courses taught by accomplished professionals in their respective fields – chefs and pastry chefs, to start with; there is Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue; interior designer Kelly Wearstler, fashion designers (Diane von Fuerstenberg, Marc Jacobs), dancers, magicians, star architects (Frank Gehry), photography (Annie Leibovitz), acting and game theory. And many more whom I haven’t even explored yet! Each master class consists of 12-20 lessons of approx. 20 minutes – short enough to fit into my day and sometimes to even watch several in a row. This is something I am now really looking forward to every day! I already found an intuitive approach to gardening through watching “Gangster Gardener” Ron Finley (and maybe I’ll eventually develop a “green thumb” after all!) and I learned from pastry chef Dominique Ansel to make heavenly Madeleines. (BTW, all the links above lead to free sample lessons – enjoy!!)

Have a look at the course selection. The cost? You sign up for a year, and for access to all courses on the platform you pay 50 cents a day. It’s so totally worth it… and NO, I don’t get a kickback for recommending the platform. I’m simply enthusiastic!

Let me know what you think…