2016: A New Hope

I am that person that loves symbolic fresh starts and the opportunity to take stock of what I have done and what I need to do. It’s a clean slate. January 1st is a glorious day to set the foundation and tone for the upcoming year.

Sparkle

After some reflection, I realized my personal and work life never had clear demarcation lines, but have always managed (for the most part) to co-exist… OR the people in my life are incredibly patient. I think it’s a bit of both. This helped me realize my hope for the new year: Prioritize better and focus. I’ve become an expert at multi-tasking, but lost much of my focus on one thing at a time…or just paying attention for more than a minute without getting impatient.

This year happens to be the start of my new 5-Year Plan. If you know me, you know about my insane, detailed plans.

Not Normal

 Closing out the last plan and seeing all that I’ve done was amazing. I realized I just do shit. I have an idea and whether it works or not, I’ll try it. I guess that’s a good thing but realize sometimes I pile so much on my plate, I get overwhelmed.

So aside from the big hope of the year, here is what I want to accomplish in 2016. Friends and family, please hold me accountable! I am putting this out there.

  • By my 35th Birthday (March 27th – Easter Sunday! Bri and Jesus celebration, haha), I want to be in the best shape of my life. That would be 100lbs – mind you, I was 103lbs at my wedding 7.5 years ago. Yikes.

Fat Booty

  • I cut my blood pressure medication by 75% in 2015. Want to cut the remaining dosage in half this year. Gotta remove this from diet.

Butter

  • Learn Spanish at Idlewild: http://idlewildbooks.com This has been a resolution for a decade. I signed up for a class that starts January 11th and have Rosetta Stone. Bueno suerto, Bri!

Spanish

  • Take a comedy class. Yup, I’ve secretly always wanted to be comedian. I think laughter is the best feeling in the world and when I can make someone laugh it feels awesome. I am not clever and I take things way too seriously so stand up comedy does not come naturally. What I do have are funny stories and content. Hope the classes will help me communicate it like my idols Chris Rock and Jim Gaffigan (side note: have you read his book Food? Hysterical). My classes start this summer and I do a show as the finale. My friends are highly anticipating this event. Might be bigger and better than one of my birthday parties. How clever is this –

Fantasy Offense

  • Do a second tour of Asia. This time it will be Thailand, Vietnam, China. Plan is for April to celebrate my 35th.

Bangkokgreat wall Vietnam

  • Continue posting on this blog and just enjoying it.

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  • FORGIVE. I would like to believe I do it well but I don’t. I am awesome at holding grudges whether I mean to or not. I also remember everything. I will probably use my next hypnosis session to work on this one…

Mood Swing

There’s my hopes for 2016. I think this summarizes it completely:

Fucking Plan

It’s amazing to think, but in the end, you really get to make your own life. 2016 is gonna be one hell of an adventure.

Give everything yourself

Love,

Brielle x

 

 

Happy New Year!

2015 was truly (another) epic year. Blessed to know and love the people I do that make my life fun and crazy memorable. Cheers to an even better 2016: Try everything, keep learning, live, laugh, travel, eat, be grateful and continue to change your world for the better. Get ready for some great updates tomorrow!

Sparkle

The 60 oz. Bone In Filet at Strip House NY

I didn’t believe a piece of meat like this could exist. It’s like finding a unicorn. Filets have always been a favorite cut of mine and if the bone is in, even better! The flavor is astonishing.

Let me introduce you to Strip House’s 60 oz. Bone In Filet – http://www.striphouse.com

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Isn’t it beautiful? Oh, that other steak in the picture is their classic strip steak, which is also delicious.

Alright let’s get technical – how is this possible?

  1. Cleave the short loin from the larger loin cuts which are often referred to as tenderloin or filet mignon.
  2. This creates 2 pieces.
  3. The front section is located in the short loin and the rear section muscle, which is usually not found in steakhouses, is fabricated into a steak and then dry aged.
  4. It is seasoned with salt and pepper, trimmed of excess age, and then the dry aged trimmings are rendered down and used to baste during cooking.
  5.  The steak is seared at 1800° before being roasted in the oven until it reaches the customer’s desired temperature.
  6. After the beef rests, the bone is removed, the steak goes under the broiler and is served piping hot.

Right now only 35 are offered weekly and the steak is not listed on the restaurant’s menu. Call ahead and reserve one. The cost is $180 and so worth it.

The meat sweats are undeniable after this meal, but it’s a decadent, delightful, meaty experience. Happy Holidays!

Best of Westchester 2016: Please Vote for Wipe Your Paws

Yup, it’s that time of year again. Best of Westchester 2016 from Westchester Magazine!

My friend Cristina Racanelli’s pet grooming, daycare and product superstore, Wipe Your Paws (http://www.wipeyourpawsny.com/) will hopefully be winning again this year, but I need my friends and family to vote for her. The applicable categories are Dog Spa, Dog Groomer, Dog Trainer, and Pet Supplies.  Please vote for Wipe Your Paws in Mount Kisco!

http://www.westchestermagazine.com/Best-of-Westchester-Readers-Voting-2016/

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BNBs Do Dessert!

In life, if you are lucky, you have many groups of friends. Some stay in your life longer than others, but all impact and touch you in certain ways.

Let me introduce the Bad News Bitches (aka: BNBs). My husband, Keith, nicknamed us after all the adventures he’s seen us go through. It’s fitting. Trust me. We have our own coffee table book!

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These 3 women have been in my life since middle school – oh, yes, we knew each other during those awkward teenage years and have seen each other through heartbreaks, hopes, loneliness, triumphs, marriage, divorce, babies, and many trips to Miami.

My feelings of affection, admiration and love for these 3 women have only deepened over the years, and during this holiday season I wanted to showcase their talent in the dessert department.

Please note: I have no knowledge of desserts and I don’t pretend to! I’d rather eat two appetizers and an entrée and completely skip that last course… I have been known to order pasta for dessert.

I did realize with the holiday season in full swing, a post on sugary goodness would be nice. These 3 ladies are my experts and I hope you enjoy their recommendations and recipes.

Linda Gomes:

Serradura Recipe:

For my recipe I chose a traditional and easy dessert that I make with my sister in law at most holidays. She has been wonderful with embracing the Portuguese culture in her cooking to appease my brother & our family. On her first trip to Portugal she tasted one of my favorite desserts, Serradura (sawdust), and vowed to make it again at home. Now it’s become a staple dessert at every family event. It’s deliciously rich and simple to make!

http://delishdlites.com/dessert-recipes/serradura-sawdust-pudding/

 

Linda’s Favorite Bakery

As for my favorite bakery, without a doubt, it’s Magnolia Bakeryhttp://www.magnoliabakery.com/ I know its cliché, but to this day, I still ask my friends every time we go into the city, “Are we by Magnolia Bakery?”  Their cupcakes, in my opinion, are the best cupcakes I have ever tasted. There is something so unique about the buttery richness of their frosting. And let’s not forget the Banana pudding! I could (and have) eaten it by the pound! I dare you to walk by their bakery and not be lured in by the delicious smells of their treats.

Magnolia-cupcakes

Lauren DiPrima:

Too Much Chocolate Cake Recipe:

I don’t have any recipes that I’ve managed to make my own over the last few years, but this is one of my favorites:

Too Much Chocolate Cake

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Lauren’s Favorite Desserts at a Restaurant:

While I feel compelled to name something classy, I have to go with the warm chocolate chip sundae cookie.  The warm, freshly baked cookie is topped with vanilla ice cream and makes me nostalgic for the simple desserts of my childhood (when I thought that a Friendly’s sundae was a culinary delicacy).  Sadly, this is only on the seasonal menu so it is an infrequent treat for me.

My first time visiting Egidio’s was during college.   Despite sampling cannoli’s in various bakeries for the last decade, I can’t find anything that comes close to Egidio’s.  The filling is rich and creamy, with the chocolate shell providing the perfect ending!

edigos

Tricia Kosnik

Venetians Recipe:

Since it’s the holidays, my recipe contribution has to be Venetians (aka Rainbow cookies or Italian Flag cookies). I’ve been making these every single year since I was 12 years old (even further back than our Holiday dinners at Lauren’s!) and they continue to be a holiday tradition my family won’t let me give up. I’ve made them in more kitchens across more apartments than I care to count and it wouldn’t feel like Christmas if I didn’t make them.

Prep time: 2 hours (1 hour each day, with an overnight setting period)

Materials:

  • waxed paper
  • 3, 13×9 pans (just buy disposable aluminum pans)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces almond paste
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • red food coloring
  • green food coloring
  • 1 1/2 cups apricot jam
  • 1 pound bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped

Directions:

Day 1:

  • Grease 3 – 13 x 9 inch pans. Line with wax paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  • Grate almond paste or chop into small pieces.
  • Combine almond paste, sugar, butter, eggs and almond extract. Beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt.
  • Divide dough into 3 -1 1/2 cup portions. Add red coloring to one of the portions, and green to another, until you get the color you like. Leave the last third uncolored.
  • Spread the batter in the 3 separate prepared pans (they will be thin layers).
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Use the wax paper to remove cakes from pan immediately. Cool thoroughly.
  • Heat jam on the stovetop until it thins out and use a colander to remove the larger fruit pieces. Retain the more liquid jam.
  • Place green layer onto a stable surface (I use a cookie sheet) and spread with the strained apricot jam. Add the white layer and spread jam on that. Top with pink layer.
  • Cover the 3 layers in plastic wrap and place another cookie sheet on top. Weigh down the layers (to compress them and ensure they stick together when cut) with a few heavy books and place in the fridge overnight.

Day 2:

  • Melt chocolate over a double boiler (chocolate in a saucepan, on top of a frying pan of water works fine).
  • Spread chocolate over the cake and allow to set, but not get too hard (can refrigerate to speed it up).
  • When chocolate is set, trim all the edges of your “cake” so that it is a true rectangle. Then, cut the cake into 1-inch squares.
  • NOTE: It will be easier to cut the squares if you keep a glass of hot water and a towel handy. Heat the blade of your knife in the water, dry with the towel, and make each cut. Use the hot water to heat and clean the blade between cuts.

*Store cookies in the fridge for up to one week

Ven Tricia

Tricia’s Favorite Desserts at a Restaurant:

I realized that my favorite restaurants have seasonal menus, so a dessert I may have enjoyed a few months back isn’t offered today. That said, these are my 2 favorites on-the-go:

  • Levain Bakery – http://www.levainbakery.com/ I have to give it up to my neighborhood favorite, which also happens to be the best cookie in NYC. Chocolate chip walnut is the classic, but the dark chocolate chocolate is pretty amazing too. They chill the dough before baking, so you end up with a cookie crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside. The line on the UWS is ridiculous during weekends, so be prepared to wait. If you can’t stand it, Jacque Torres Chocolatier has excellent cookies for sale right around the corner.

Cookie Tricia

  • Lady M Confections – http://www.ladym.com/ The Lady M Mille Crepe cake is divine. It consists of a stack of paper-thin crepes layered with an airy vanilla cream and topped with creme brûlée. It is both decadent and light, creamy and crispy. There is a green tea version which is also very popular. Lady M has an outpost in the Plaza Food hall, as well as on the Upper East Side and Bryant Park.

Creme

Tis the season, and where my mind is this week…

Holiday Prep 12.16

Cheese Love in Madison, WI

I’ve had a love affair with cheese all my life. Growing up in an Italian household there was never a shortage of it. In my travels, I’ve had the good fortune of eating amazing cheese in Paris and Italy (can I say pure heavenly bliss!). Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d find artisan cheeses in…Wisconsin.

I have visited Madison, WI 3x in my life and have loved every trip. The people are friendly, the food is outstanding and it’s a chill, healthy, active city. But the stand out is truly the cheese – from old favorites to new gems – try them all.

I won’t bore you with cheese education, but highly recommend visiting (if you’re in town) or going on the website of the remarkable Fromagination: http://fromagination.com. It’s a cheese-lover’s paradise. They will break it down by Sheep’s Milk, Mixed/Various Milk, Cow’s Milk, Goat’s Milk and Other Selections.

Wisconsin-Cheese-Wedge

Before I begin my guide, I must thank the following people for their insight’s and recommendations on this wonderful town: John Kinder, Zachary Correa and Grant Hurless.

 Where to Stay:

  • The Edgewater: luxury hotel on Lake Mendota (Dalai Lama stayed there!) and walking distance to State Capital https://www.theedgewater.com

Edgewater

Where to Eat:

  • The Merchant: what’s not to like about a farm to table restaurant, craft cocktails and a grocery store on site? The sausages and corn fritters are a stand out. The Buffalo style cheese curds are fantastic. Wash it all down with The Regret (I prefer with Death’s Door Vodka). Comes in cocktail or pitcher style. Sharing is caring. http://www.merchantmadison.com
  • Dotty Dumpling’s Dowery: They call themselves the World Hamburger Headquarters. They do not disappoint. You seriously cannot go wrong with any burger. There is a style for everyone…or just build your own. Get the deep fried pickles and poutine fries for sides. A heart attack is also included in this meal. http://www.dottydumplingsdowry.com

dottys

  • Heritage Tavern: the brunch is exceptional. For dinner, the tempura bacon wrapped cheese curds, sumac blackened chicken and peanut oil fried whitefish (sorry folks with peanut allergies, you’re missing out!) are stand outs. http://heritagetavern.com
  • Nostrano: super fresh and simple. The salumi board is fantastic and although I normally don’t order this dish, the roasted quail is lovely. http://nostranomadison.com
  • The Boathouse at The Edgewater Hotel: cheese plate is great and cheese curds come with siracha sauce

cheese curds old

  • The Old Fashioned: CHEESE curds at their finest. http://www.theoldfashioned.com
  • Salvatore’s Tomato Pies: My mom turned me onto this type of pie. It’s all about the sauce. Enjoy building your own pie. Delicious… http://salvatorestomatopies.com
  • Rare Steakhouse: if you are in need of a classic dry-aged steak with a view of the capitol, this is your spot. It’s a classic steakhouse with all the bells and whistles you’d expect. http://rareonthesquare.com
  • Teddywedgers: A little hole in the wall serving everything in pastries. The chicken pot pie is like mom’s. The traditional is like hearty stew and the Big Cheese? No words. I wanted to take a pic of the food but ate it so fast I forgot. http://www.teddywedgers.com

Teddy

What to Do:

  • Dane County Farms Market
  • Anything outdoorsy is available (hiking, fishing, etc)
  • Eat cheese

cheese head more cheese

 

Hanukkah…and Matzoh Ball Soup!

Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, and began on Dec. 6th 2015 this year. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.

The festival is observed by the lighting of the menorah. Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel and eating delicious foods like doughnuts and latkes.

coolest-hanukkah-menorahs-9

In my food obsessed world, my favorite is Matzoh Ball Soup. It’s truly my Jewish Penicillin. In NY, there are 3 staple spots I go:

  • 2nd Ave Deli: Last year, one of my resolutions was to send 365 Gratitude letters to someone / organization that touched my life that particular day. When I tried the matzoh ball soup at 2nd Ave Deli I was so grateful for how delicious it was I sent them a letter. To my surprise, they sent a response…with the recipe! http://www.2ndavedeli.com

2nd Ave  letter MatzohChicken Soup

  • Sadelle’s: The bakery/restaurant from Major Food Group. It’s luxury Matzoh Ball Soup. http://www.sadelles.com

sadelles

  • Katz’s Deli: Classic and simply delicious. No matter when you go, there is always a wait but so worth it.

katz

 

Inspirational Quote w/o Dec. 7th

Prabal

 

Shhhhh… Pioneer Town x Joshua Tree

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A lot of people will be mad I am writing about this, but whatever.
Palm Springs is the sleepy desert retirement city 1.5 hours from LA where my Grandmother lives and will probably die. It’s not all retirement’y, there also is a thriving gay scene, and a music festival called Splash House once a year where kids take proper doses of ‘stuff’ and electronic music plays at a few well polished turds of hotels. I’ve been, twas’ pretty fun. This is also a gross understatement of the city based upon my social circle, time on earth, and sexual preference that makes those past few sentences totally shallow and probably wrong, but that’s how I know it.
 Pioneertown_california_saloon_and_bath_house
Anyway, back to the stars. So, you drive 38 minutes into the deserted mountain desert, and like a mirage, Pioneer Town appears. You’ve seen this place before, in fact, several times. Most every spaghetti western film ever made was filmed there.
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The story goes:
Hollywood, ripe with the profits of Spaghetti Westerns, pours the gas on the genre and needs to film more, so they build an entire Spaghetti Western city, including prison and post office (yes, exactly like the ones Clint Eastwood walks down with the dust in his eyes staring at the bad and the ugly). Entire set, close to LA, equals more movies, equals more money. Math.
Meanwhile, the movie stars need a place to stay, so Dick Curtis and Gene Autry build the Pioneer Town Motel in 1946. You name the star, and at some point they stopped by. 17 rooms, in the middle of Joshua Tree.
The only reason I know all of this is because the aforementioned best friend of mine, bought this place, and I have visited several times. Oh, the places you will go…
This is why I am writing a story about it:
  • Westerns are badass
  • Joshua tree is vast and beautiful
  • There are almost no laws in this part of California because it’s literally in the middle of the desert
  • When you walk outside, silence
  • At night, you can see every star in the sky
  • Literally every star
  • Garth’s Boulder Garden
  • One time Garth was invited to a wedding in California, he was on the west coast, so he started walking, and by the time the wedding started, he had walked across the united states…Yea
  • The stereotypes of taking mushrooms in Joshua Tree, is a stereotype for a very enjoyable and enlightening reason
  • Pappy and Harriets – easily the best dive bar on the planet where world class bands come to play
  • I have never met someone I did not like in this city, and I have tried..ish
  • For the most part there are no cops, and therefore no rules, definitely tested this one and confirmed it
  • The Integratron
  • If this bullet point matters, you did not comprehend the ones before it
I have to stop talking about this now, I don’t want many people to know about it, but I will do anything for Brielle; like tell people one of my great secrets.
Here is where you should stay:
Low Key HospitalityPioneer Town Motel
Well kept motel – the only motel/hotel in the entire place, right next to Pappy and Harriets, owned by one of my best friend’s who brings in artists and events from around the world to spread good vibes to the world **Highly recommended.
Party PadPipes Canyon Lodge
Title earned with dense with psychedelic art and an indoor jacuzzi surrounded by 8 beds.
Boulders with Soul – The Boulder House 
I have not stayed here, but several friends have, and had phenomenal times, great for photos .
Love, Dom
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