Category Archives: Entertaining

Cooking with Passion – Maura Holcomb

To cook without passion is a crime of which Maura Holcomb will never be guilty.

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Maura, a young culinary artist I had the pleasure to work with recently, allowed me the opportunity to observe her passion and love when she catered her sister’s graduation party.

She singlehandedly orchestrated and executed a flawless performance of skill, art and awe worthy of any culinary voyeur’s dream.

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As she served, there was a drum roll like feeling in the air, as when something big and highly anticipated is just about to happen, and then the crashing of the cymbal (more like crashing out several cymbals) as the band starts playing and the sun comes out. You get the picture.

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In fact she later taunted her guests with a second performance where the cymbal crashing is followed by music from the heavens with angels coming down. She did not disappoint.

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One of my biggest character defects is taking control of someone else’s kitchen. This defect will probably never leave me. Ask anyone who has invited me over for dinner only to find me redirecting the timing, preparation and presentation of their plan. I often lack confidence in others ability to create and execute a meal properly. I am known as ‘bossy in the kitchen’ yet I still seem to receive the invites (laughing out loud).

This was not the case in Maura’s kitchen. She was calm, focused, in control and, unlike myself, completely delightful to work with.

Her gift was not only to create an amazing event for her sister’s college graduation. It was to create an experience for her guests.

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Coffee with Class

I would love to share this with friends on a beautiful summer Sunday morning.

I won’t lie. Sharing this on a beautiful weekday morning would be just as nice and a bit naughty.

My new favorite food journalists – A Happier St Sebastian

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Cold Brew Bourbon Cocktail
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 oz bourbon
6 oz cold brew coffee
heavy cream to serve

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Breakfast with The Batels

We should take into consideration that it is not always what we are eating that leaves us with a memorable experience – rather, it’s all of our senses combined.

For instance, how many times have I had prosciutto and mozzarella topped with basil and served with olives on a baguette? It’s a wonderful marriage of flavors I’ve had numerous times in numerous locations. But why is it that one particular time evokes a complete recollection of a time in my life, of the people I was surrounded with, of the smell of the air and even of what I was wearing?

It was a cool May morning in 2010. Moreno had been up for hours, as he normally is on any given Saturday. He was outside when I woke. I poured a cup of coffee and joined him in the sun. He was so proud of his work in the yard and showed me all of the new fruit trees he had planted. We ventured farther back towards the wooded area of his yard passing his past botanical successes and glimpsing into his thoughts for future hopes of harvest. He spoke with all the passion of a man that could easily live off the land had he not been in this suburban surrounding. I was mesmerized.

Lorena joined us in the yard with her cup of coffee in hand. She too was never tired of watching her husband of twenty-five years beam with pride as he showed their guests around the yard.

We walked back to the grapevine-covered patio and settled into our usual chairs at the table. Lorena and I relaxed smoking cigarettes, drinking endless cups of coffee and recollecting the events of the prior evening out. Moreno disappeared but would later reappear with what seemed like our reward for a good life thus far.

A Croatian ballad about a young man at sea was playing on the stereo when Moreno arrived with rewards in hand. First a platter filled with mozzarella topped with basil and served with olives on baguettes. This was followed by a meat plate of thinly sliced salami and mortadella accompanied by a plate of fresh warm bread. A decanter of his homemade white wine, along with a bottle of a rich cabernet, was the perfect complement to this feast.

But it was not to end there. After a quick cleanup, we sat back down and Moreno appeared one last time with individual servings of sweet confections: fresh cannoli with a side of lemon curd garnished with whipped cream.

I sat in amazement as all my senses came alive. The wind blew softly around us, the music, the conversation, the food and the wine engaged us. We were living in the moment and knew it.

I have since had 8 or 10 Breakfasts with The Batels and each one proves their ability, with little or no effort, to create a warm and welcomed meal amongst the different areas of their home. I am grateful to be included.