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Dark Decadent Feast

21 Oct

Hello and happy Fall/Autumn/Halloween and if you’re in the Sounthern hemisphere Happy Spring and if you’re in the tropics Happy End-of-Rainy-Season.

THE INSPIRATION

This post is about creating a tablescape and some menu ideas for a dark themed dinner. It’s not too Halloween-ey, not overly Autumnal but rather a bit in between. I imagine this as a romantic dinner for two thrown together by a sophisticated witch who enjoys long walks crunching fallen leaves as much as she enjoys online shopping at Pottery Barn.

TABLESCAPE

I began by layering a traditional white lace tablecloth underneath a black netted material purchased at a Halloween decor store.

I then decided to cluster some synthetic and organic elements including a cast pumpkin, a white fake pumpkin interdispersed with fall/Halloween appropriate fruit and vegetables: turnip, beet and pomegranate.

I also added a battery operated off white medium pillar candle placed in a cloche for some lighting effect and to add some interest.

To complete the tablescape and add some height variation I place a clear vase with some beautiful fresh hydrangeas. The white adds the perfect classy touch but the burgundy brings the dark decadence.

The table was complete by adding two place settings of black and white dinnerware and simple clear glass flatware.

MENU

For the menu I decided on a salad, soup, light main and dessert.

DARK SALAD

This salad is a simple combination of mixed greens (I chose one with lots of purple and brown leaves) and purple (or red) cabbage. It would pair well with a balsamic based vinagarette.

To make this salad simply chop, mix and plate!

SWEET POTATO AND BEET SOUP



This thick delicious soup is made from yellow sweet potatoes and a bit of beets to deepen the colour. It can be served warm or cold.

To make the soup : Boil sweet potato and beets, blend or mash into a puree, sautee onion, garlic and spices then add puree and vegetable stock to make thick flavorful soup.

BRAISED EGGPLANT

This is the light main course: an umami fueled flavour trip. The thick meaty texture and deep flavour makes this a fantastic menu option.

To make this braised eggplant: Chop the eggplant into thick wedges

Mix the braising sauce; molasses, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, miso paste and white granulated sugar by whisking ( Mix according to your taste preference)

Using a little bit of olive oil, sautee the eggplant then add braising sauce, turn down heat and cook until thickened.

MERLOT POACHED PEAR

This one gets a chef’s kiss because it’s so good yet so simple. This is a sweet after dinner treat that requires no advanced dessert making skills.

To make the poached pears: Peel and core the pear

Bring merlot, white granulated sugar and spices (I used cinnamon, clove, bay leaf) and vanilla extract to a boil.

Add pears and let simmer until cooked and absorbed the mixture.

Let it cool and serve. This goes well with chocolate as well as a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Have a beautiful decadent autumn !

Snapshots of : MIAMI

6 Aug

These are some snapshots of a visit to Miami. Miami is a vibrant city with a kaleidoscope of cultures and warm beautiful weather. There is something for you whether you love to eat, shop, party or explore. I hope my photos bring just a speckle of the richness that is Miami, some spots to check out and tips.

Room with a view

My hotel room offered me this view onto a fairly busy street with ongoing construction and opposite a fairly new and modern apartment complex. At various times of the day I would see people walking to go grab lunch, heading to the gym with their yoga mats and popping in and out of the nearby Whole Foods supermarket.

THE SALTY DONUT

Local hotspot.

I checked out a local donut shop called “The Salty Donut” for breakfast. This place is so popular that they are rumoured to sell out of products each day. I made sure I got there super early to avoid lines and have a peaceful morning.

The display case.

This shop boasts interesting flavour combos year round such as maple and bacon, guava and cheese and brown butter and salt as well as seasonal options. Additionally, they sell some delicious coffee offering up familiar hot options such as cappuccinos and macchiato as well as cold brews and iced coffee.

 

Coffee and donut

 

My selection was raspberry and rhubarb donut, a sweet take on both fruits paired with brioche dough along with Japanese iced coffee with tangy fruity notes.

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Raspberry rhubarb donut.

 

THE SHOPS AT MERRICK PARK

 

Shopping up a storm

Miami hosts a myriad of shopping options from outlet malls to well loved off brand retailers as well as beautific outdoor malls. I visited The Shops at Merrick Park in Coral Gables where you can find US mall staples such as Sephora, Francesca’s and Pottery Barn as well as some luxury options such as Gucci and Jimmy Choo and a favourite of mine; Anthropologie.

View of the steps at Merrick Park

There are a few dining options at Merrick Park one being Brasserie Central which serves French cuisine set at moderate prices.

 

French lunch

Clam chowder

 

Oysters

 

LA CENTRALE

Street view of La Centrale from the bridge.

This is described as an Italian Food Hall where diners can experience anything from casual deli style to al fresco to fine dining. The restaurants offer a plethora of options from meat based to seafood not to mention gelato and other desserts. There is also a bar situated in the centre of the fine dining hall and the kitchen where they offer classes in Italian cooking.I was able to take in the Neopolitan Pizza making class. Chef was thorough and very nice.

The kitchen.

Aprons for class.

 

Pizza

 

Outdoor seating at La Centrale.

 

In addition to the pizza making class, I had breakfast at La Centrale on a Sunday morning. There was “limitless” Prosecco for two hours.

Breakfast delights.

 

Bombolone: Jelly filled donut.

 

Delicious brunch at The Caffè.

 

Apertivo and Cocktail bar.

 

Negroni fountain (no you didn’t actually drink from it, but it looked pretty!)

 

Negroni: This stuff is strong! 

 

BAYSIDE

This plaza is a staple in Miami at this point. An outdoor mall with well known American eateries such as Bubba Gump, Five Guys and Chillis as well as more authentic cuisine stalls selling Cuban and Caribbean food as well as a more run of the mill food court. There are also lots of stores selling clothing, art and jewellery and more as well as an open air theatre with a view of the ocean hosting local performances both day and night.

Bayside by night.

 

Bayside by day: Here boats taking passengers out on day trips.

SUGAR (EAST HOTEL)

 

This decadent Asian inspired restaraunt is located on the top floor of Brickell Centre. On the outside is a beautiful outdoor bar called sugar where there tends to be standing room only. However, on the inside there is this beautiful eatery with a live DJ.

” Bottomless Champagne”- We got to drink as much as we could stomach within 2 hours.

Tasting Menu

The prices in here are on the higher side without a doubt, however a fantastic option is their “tasting menu” where you can select one item from each segment of a menu and it gives you about four or five different things to eat including dessert as well as Moet for 2 hours.

Trying a tasting menu is a bit of a pro-tip for eating at a more expensive restaraunt especially if you are there in a group because then everyone gets a little taste of everything usually at a more affordable price.


Some of the dishes and the view from our table.

 

BRICKELL CENTRE

This is a shopping and lifestyle centre located in Downtown Miami. Here you can find luxury shopping stores such as Gucci, more affordable ones like H&M and Zara, makeup shops like M.A.C and Sephora not to mention some amazing restaraunts including the aforementioned La Centrale and Sugar rooftop bar and restaraunt. Surrounding the main centre are also more shops and restaraunts. This is a great place to spend an afternoon as well as finding something to do at night.

A view of Brickell City Centre from a bridge.

 

Brickell Centre is partially open air making it more relaxed.

View from across the waterway of Brickell City Centre.

 

OUT AND ABOUT

Just out and roaming Miami City you get to enjoy a lot of unique architectural designs from the Art Deco buildings on South Beach, the sunny sky scraper apartment buildings with beautiful windows and glass balconies and of course, the flyovers curving and weaving like a 1960’s artist’s rendition of ” The Future”.


Flyover going across the water.





A view of the buildings .





A metro station.




View off Brickell Centre from across the water.




View from beneath.


Waterway and apartment buildings.



A mural

 

SOUTH BEACH

If you go to Miami, you have to at least check out South Beach, Miami Beach. It’s definitely one of the more popular spots in this city and that does mean it’s often crowded but I still reccomend. On South Beach you can find restaraunts galore, museums, shops, bars and clubs meaning there is definitely something for everyone there. If you are interested in architechture you will be amazed by the Art Deco buildings dispersed around this area with an actual Art Deco district for your viewing pleasure.

Street view of South Beach, Miami Beach.

The beach.

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Delicious seafood pasta at a restaraunt in South Beach.

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Dining out on South Beach.

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Art Deco style building.

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Shops in South Beach.

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A shot of Collins Avenue.

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Bustling nighttime in South Beach.

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The famous Ocean Drive and the Art Deco welcome centre.

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The clock: people take photos here as proof that they’ve been to Miami Beach.

 

Those are some of my snapshots of Miami, obviously this city has so much more to offer but these were some highlights for me. If you’re thinking of visiting definitely do it!

 

ON Trend: NEON Moment

26 Jul

So… NEON, ammirite?

Neon is out and about this year especially this summer. While brightly hued clothing, jewellery and even makeup isn’t new having had moments of insane popularity throughout the past 30 years or so 2019 is definitely a year for Neon to shine.This year Neon is popping up in little and big ways on the runway, in stores and on the streets.

OPI Neon polishes, Huda Beauty 9 pan Neon eyeshadow palettes, Orange bag by Zara.

Okay, so neon is popping and happening but you aren’t really a neon person so how can you incorporate this trend into your style? I would say a little goes a long way. Sure you can dress yourself from top to bottom in bright orange, hot pink and acid green, that’s cool but if you’re a little less…loud, you can try little accents here and there.

A great way to incorporate neon is with smaller clothing pieces like bikinis or cropped tops or jewellery pieces like earrings.

You can also add bright neon pops of colour with your makeup like a pink lip or orange eye or accessories like a wristlet or socks.What neon items do you plan to pick up? Have an awesome day!

Lunch at La Centrale

19 May

Lunch at La Centrale restaurant: Carne

I recently visited Miami and decided to have lunch at La Centrale. La Centrale is an Italian food hall located in the Brickell Complex in Downtown Miami offering everything from deli style food, brunch, lunch, dinner and cooking classes. I ate at the “Meat” Ristorante (even though my meal had no meat)

La Centrale as seen from the street

La Centrale’s three floors as seen from Brickell Centre

I ate the “CRESPELLE AI FUNGHI” described as porcini and oyster mushrooms , crepes and parmigiano fondue.

Menu

It was delicious. It was like a casserole of crepes, mushrooms and cheese. The crepes had a dense, slightly sweet milky flavour which contrasted well with the umami flavours of the mushrooms and cheese.

La Centrale is moderately priced and offers a variety of food fare all day. If you are in the area, 10/10 would recommend.

Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!

Easter Tea Cake

31 Mar

Hello and Happy Easter to all who celebrate! Today I’m asssembelling a cake that I think is perfect for Easter. It’s a Victoria sponge with the traditional strawberry jam and iced and decorated to add a little Easter flare.

Victoria sponge is a well known English teatime staple. It comprises of two layers of sponge cake sandwiching strawberry jam and often times, whipped cream. It can be served in typical cake slices or in rectangular finger sandwich style slices.

For this cake, I used the jam but not the whipped cream and topped it with icing rather than the usual dusting with icing sugar.

WHAT YOU NEED

1) Sponge cake– I used a Waitrose package mix but use whatever recipe or package you prefer.

2) Strawberry jam– Or any other flavour jam you want.

3) Icing– This is plain old icing sugar and water mixed to a fairly thick consistency. I chose to dye mine the faintest pink.

4) Toppings/ Decorations– I used fresh strawberries (sliced) to go with the strawberry jam and Cadbury’s mini candy coated chocolate eggs.

Sponge cake, strawberry jam and pale pink icing.

Fresh strawberries and candy coated chocolate eggs

WHAT TO DO

1) Slice the cake crossways in half to create two layers.

2) Spread a generous layer of jam over the surface of the bottom layer– The cake will absorb some of the jam so use enough to take that into account but not so much that it leaks out the side of the cake.

3) Place the top layer over the jam and place in fridge for at least 15 minutes to let it “set”

4) Spread icing over top of cake allowing it to naturally run over edges.

5) Place iced cake in the refrigerator and let the icing fully set.

6) Once icing has set proceed to adding decorations– I used a very thin layer of icing to stick on the eggs.

And there you have it! A delicious Victoria sponge with a little twist. This is perfect for Easter Tea, (or brunch or lunch for that matter). Also, with a different topping it’s great as a birthday cake or a cake for any other occasion.

Have an awesome day and an awesome Easter!

Pineapple Pops

27 Aug


Hello. Today I bring a recipe that I think is fun and different…pineapple pops. The idea for this recipe came from my sister’s last birthday when I suggested she serve some pineapple slices. She didn’t end up doing that (she never listens to me) so I decided to try it out myself.

This recipe takes the delicious tropical fruit pineapple and adds a spicy, tangy flavor making it a great treat. For anyone familiar with Trindadian cuisine you will find this recipe similar to that used to make pineapple chow but served in a different way.
WHAT YOU NEED

1) A pineapple (mine was fairly small) cut into slices

2) Lime juice -I used half of a medium sized lime

3) Red pepper– I used a scotch bonnet (habanero) pepper

4) Spices– I used salt and black pepper. You can also add cilantro or shadow Beni.

5) Cake pop sticks (or popsicle sticks)

WHAT TO DO

1) Cut the pineapple into preferred size and place in a bowl

2) Squeeze juice of the lime over the pineapple.

3) Add black pepper and salt.

4) Add red pepper and any other flavourings.

5) Stir ingredients and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. I left mine overnight. You can take it out intermittently and stir and add a bit of water.

6) Once your pineapple is well seasoned add the sticks to the slices.

And you’re ready to serve!

For hygiene purposes you can cover your pops.

Like this!

Or this!
This is an awesome party snack. It takes something familiar and gives it an unusual twist. The sweetness of the pineapple melds together with the spiciness and acid. The salt brings out all the flavours and enriches the juciness of the pineapple.

Have an awesome day!

(Drugstore) Skincare Essentials 

21 May

Skincare has become as big an industry as makeup, with hundreds to thousands of brands pumping out some new exciting product every other week.  It can make things very confusing and you can find yourself dropping lots of money on these items.

This is my list of skincare essentials all of which may be found in a drugstore. This doesn’t mean there aren’t outstanding higher end skincare products, but it isn’t a necessity.

Before I proceed with my list let me state two important points:

FIRSTLY, Consult your family physician or dermatologist to determine the right skincare regimen for you. Skincare and makeup go side by side, however, one (skincare) falls into the realm of medicine. I’m not saying to disregard any advice given by makeup artists or gurus, however, do not take it as gospel.

SECONDLY, Having healthy skin is affected by lifestyle, so it almost goes without mentioning that you should aim to: eat healthily, exercise regularly, sleep well, limit the amount of alcohol you intake and avoid smoking.

I also want to state that many of my skincare choices come both from my personal dermatologist as well as a dermatologist who has a great, informative YouTube channel; Dr.Dray

Lastly it is worth mentioning that I have acne prone, sensitive, oily-combination skin (that’s also technically ageing). This means that if I can use it,  anyone can!

With all that stuff out of the way, let us proceed.
SKINCARE ESSENTIALS

1 Makeup remover and eye makeup remover– Yes I know these are technically two things! Makeup remover is important in breaking down as much of the cake face before you wash, making it easier. Makeup remover comes in wipes or liquid and even some oils (also technically liquid)

I have nothing but good things to say about the Garnier micellar remover, but there are loads of other brands at the drugstore. 

As for eye makeup remover I’m currently using Almay liquid remover. Another recommendation is witch hazel which is gentle, affordable and effective. 

2 Face wash– A gentle, non-exfoliant face wash for everyday use. This creates a bit of controversy as many persons especially those who wear a lot of makeup think they need a very abrasive face wash to deep clean their pores and get the gunk out. However, being harsh on your skin can ultimately result in further damage and overproduction of oil.

I have three recommendations for gentle everyday face washes: Ceruve, Cetaphil and Neutrogena Ultra gentle cleanser.

3 Day cream WITH SPF!– Do NOT leave out the SPF. This will almost surely defeat the purpose of wearing cream during the day. A day cream with SPF helps keep the skin moisturized, acts as a primer for any makeup products and most importantly protects from sun damage which ultimately leads to wrinkling and increases the risk of skin cancer. If your favourite daily moisturizer doesn’t contain SPF then add a sunscreen.

NB. ANYONE, of any skin tone, can get skin cancer, so cover up!

My drugstore day cream recommendations include: Ceruve, Cetaphil and Oil of Olay.

Sunscreen recommendation: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer sunscreen.

4 Night cream– After you’ve brushed your teeth and washed your face and getting ready to settle in for the night, put on some night cream. A cream with a glycerin base is good for keeping the skin moisturized by protecting it from drying out. You can also use the same daytime moisturizer at night (sans SPF)

Night cream recommendation: Ceruve, Neutrogena Hydro boost .

A tip for nighttime cream is to put it on when your face is still moist to avoid it drying out when the water evaporates.

5 Night eye cream- You don’t need it. Yes the skin surrounding the eye is quite delicate and can show aging before other parts of the face but your regular moisturising cream works for your entire face. I KNOW, I’ve been fooled before.

6 Retinol cream (on alternate nights)- This is optional. Retinol containing products help prevent signs of aging and it is recommended to start using at age 30. Additionally, retinol products also help treat acne, so it’s useful for many persons. When you do use retinol containing products, stil, use your regular night moisturizer and use the retinol sparingly.

Let me clarify that these retinol products have to be “prescription” strength to offer real benefit. There are some prescription strength preparations available over the counter in some places but other than that your doctor will have to write up the prescription for you.

Recommendations for retinol products: Retin A and Differin gel.

7 Lip balm– I use a thick moisturising balm in the morning and the evening to condition my lips, especially with the increased use of drying liquid lipsticks. A petroleum based lip balm also helps in the removal of stubborn lipstick.

This list is one of essentials and not exhaustive. Also, it doesn’t include products to specifically treat acne or other skin conditions. For that you must see your health care provider.

Are there any other drugstore skincare brands you know about? Let me know and have an awesome day!

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