I guess there truly is nothing more special than being home for the holidays. To be back in Rhode Island has given me a definite sense of peace that I just didn’t get anywhere else out of the many places I have lived. When I was a kid my family definitely got into the holiday spirit, from decorations to music and of course food. Every Christmas, my Dad took us to Jones tree farm to go walk on the farm and find the very best Christmas tree we could find, of course followed by my mom having hot chocolate ready when we returned home. Decorating the tree was my favorite part we would all decorate eat something amazing and listen to Johnny Mathis (my Mom’s favorite holiday singer haha). As a kid I would lay under the tree and just loved how soothing the lights on the tree made me feel. My Dad would always take me sledding. I would lay on his back and poor guy had teeth marks in his head every time we hit a bump. I once spent a Christmas in Florida and although it was great to be on a warm beach in December it was definitely not the same as the cold, a lit fireplace and watching the snow drop and having a snow day from school. Something about the rugged coastline of New England and the houses with plaques saying “built in 1877″ just always made me feel at peace so thank you New England for all your beauty. Happy Holidays everyone!!!
So yes for the second time, I watched Marley and Me. Why ??? I must be crazy because that movie always makes me cry the entire movie but at the end makes me realize how lucky we are to have our four-legged friends. When I grew up I had an English Setter named Chippy. My mother was allergic so Chippy had a huge pen and dog house and lived outside except in storms of course! He was my best friend . My mother would always scream my name and there I was laying in his doghouse sleeping with him or trying to feed him dirt with a spoon as I pretended I was really giving him food … Sixteen years later chippy died of old age he was also my Dad’s hunting partner and best friend we were all a mess he was a part of our family. Well a few years later my dad tricked my mom and got Bear, a Springer Spaniel, another love of my life. He got the puppy and left him in the yard for my mom to find, who was doing dishes and heard this crying haha. That was my dads plan all along. She yelled there is something crying in the yard of course he went and grabbed this beautiful little baby and that was it she fell in love. For the next 17 years Bear was a part of our family and loved all of us unconditionally and dad took him hunting all the time. He was the outfielder for when my Dad would pitch to me and Bear would retrieve the balls . Well as Bear grew older another dog passes to heaven he will always be with me. As an adult I got my first dog Named Cranston a beautiful Cocker Spaniel, and boy did he go through everything with me I had him for 17 years of my adult life until I had to put him down which was the worst thing I ever had to do but he loved me more than anything in the world and I loved him. It took me 3 years to even think about getting another dog and there he was another Cocker Spaniel baby boy named Maximu and he is with me and now 5 years old . He is my favorite thing in this world and I am so very blessed to have him with me everyday loving me the way he does. Love your four-legged friends they want nothing but love and well food and water haha and some bacon once in a while…
Ok so lately since I have moved I can’t stop looking for mushrooms they are everywhere . The funny thing is growing up in new england I just never really thought to look for things like mushrooms until I went to maine and had some of the greatest chanterelle,Black trumpets and my now new favorite Lobster mushroom . Thanks to David Spahr who has taught me to open my eyes around me and look at what is growing . Since I moved to Rhode island I send him pictures everyday I have become a pain in the ass wondering what are the types of mushrooms I keep finding haha. After all I am a chef so I would like to know what I am cooking so I don’t poison the people I cook for . I live in a woodsy neighborhood so the neighbors are probably wondering who is this crazy girl that keeps inspecting our trees and grounds. Open your eyes everyone they are out there and delicious . This summer David is going to take me foraging for seaside vegetables another thing I never thought to look for . I just love the idea of what nature has growing around us that we didn’t plant !!!pretty cool.
Some of you know I have moved from New York City to my favorite place Bristol Rhode Island . There is something about this place as I have told you before that just makes me feel at home . I was born in Connecticut and then tried out a few places to live . I am a Sagittarius and I guess we are known for traveling a lot being restless which in some cases is true but you always have a place that just makes you feel at home and Bristol is the place for me. I went to live in Brooklyn for a JOurney of getting on the food network and I was not going to stop till I did 6 years later and three shows down I thought do I really need to live in ny anymore ? For anyone out there with a dream go for it ,work hard it will happen . Am I done with working hard hell no I will have a show on that network and I will not stop UNtil I get one. Living in Rhode Island is Just close enough to NY and closer to my Job in Maine in which case I hope everyone comes to the Pearl this summer to eat some true New England food . There is no point to this story except to let you guys (my friends) know where I am and my crazy thoughts and to just go for it if there is something out there you want to do in your life..
I went to Gulf shores Alabama for the first time . My good friend Martie Duncan Aka (southern Peach) wanted me to explore and learn about gulf seafood since I insist the east coast has the best seafood in the world .. I was lucky enough to have Alabama tourism be so kind to take me out to their waters and go on a shrimping boat that was so cool I saw dolphin swimming behind the boat and watched them drag up shrimp and all other kinds of seafood and the best part everything was thrown back in to live. The shrimp were gorgeous made me hungry right then and their haha. Then we continued to see the raking of oysters and yes opened one on the spot and chugged it down. It is true what they say about southern hospitality everyone I met was so nice and proud of where they come from which you all know me I am a super proud New Englander.. The following days I was able t stay in a beautiful condo on the beach and wait for my fellow cast maits to try to win an oyster cook of for charity.. I was joined by Nikki,Linkie and Emily where we got to get down and dirty in the kitchen there were three categories Raw,Rockefeller and Cajun so we made A braised swiss chard in local beer then added the cream,bacon and cheese they were delicious. The next categorie was Cajun where we did an Andouille sausage butter with Cajun spices and andouille bacon crumbles and the final was the raw we did a Honeycrisp apple,pink peppercorn and sage mignonette. all super good however we did not win mind you we should have hahah . There were over 40 teams most representing Alabama in the end of this experience I learned that hopefully we are all proud of where we come from and that this country is so beautiful everywhere you go and the people are amazing so thank you Martie Duncan and thank you Alabama for showing me a wonderful time I am truly blessed . I still think that the east coast has the best seafood haha.. But that will never change.
What can I say I absolutely love Portland ,Maine. The food, the people and visually the city is gorgeous. Portland is a great food city all you have to do is walk down the street and you will gain weight haha. Every restaurant or bakery seems to be delicious and I havent really even touched the surface of this place not to mention all the local brewers you wont be drinking Budweiser in this place!! I went there to emcee a student culinary competition which gave away 6000 dollars in scholarship money .. All of it and the food was donated by true north salmon company and Andrew Lively thank you Andrew! There were three teams from smcc and boy! they are just breeding the young generation of chefs over there. The food and creativity were great but the best Part was working with the kids .. My job I think was to make the feel comfortable on stage while 200 people were staring at them . They laughed ,cooked and told jokes and won some money so all in all it was a great day for the students and myself . Portland has that old New England charm cobblestone streets ,salty air fog that rolls in and out on a daily basis and the smell of great things baking, awesome coffee roasters and some of the best seafood this country has to offer well actually in my opinion it is definitely the best seafood the country has.. but I am a fan of everything new england. Next year I hope to go back and do another event for this great food festival which showcases everything that is local ,fresh and amazing.. I urge everyone if you have a chance go to Portland ,Maine.
Last week I was asked to judge the 5th annual hood dairy cook-off in Providence Rhode island well you all know me I for sure am not gonna say no to anything in Rhode Island . They put me up at the Westin hotel they have the best bed ever haha!!! Then this contest was super fun they narrowed it down to five contestants all have to cook something using hood whether it be sour cream,heavy cream,whipped cream and so on. Thousands off people applied and I was lucky I judged just the final round and my god what these home cooks came up with I was so impressed. Things like stuffed Squash blossoms to the winner which was a cranberry lemon cello tart with maple cream and a shot of lemoncello with cranberry ice cubes .. The winner Mary jō this was here 4th year so I am glad I was apart of that event 10,000 dollar’s were up for grab haha I was so nervous for them .. I also once again met some amazing people made some great connections and now I am in Portland doing another event this time for culinary students. Have a great day all keep you posted on this event.
Last week I went to Smithfield Virgina . I got off the plane drove about an hour to the town of Smithfield . When I got out of the car the whole town smelled like smoked ham pleasantly so. I then went on a charming tour of a very beautiful and historic place and had amazing company while doing this tour. First let me say the people of Smithfield and the company Smithfield were all so gracious and kind. The hunter pr firm were amazing and Simon Majumdar we all know him as the angry Iron chef judge and the wonderful Hungry housewife Leslie green. After the tour of course we all had an appetite so we went to a quaint little joint named “the taste of Smithfield” and boy did I eat some pork sandwiches on biscuits and sweet potato biscuits and pork crackling . Then off to change and go to the Aberdeen farm on the James river to enjoy a pig picking and some sumptuous wines from Virginia.. We pull up to the most beautiful hunting lodge with stunning vies of the river. There is an assortment of meats and cheeses and a smoky meaty smell coming from a big smoker . I go over and there is a huge hog that Maynard (the groundskeeper and chef) was cooking omg!!! this was a thing of beauty well and taste . Before we ate we went on a four wheeling trip on the property that was unbelievable . The sun was going down we drove through soybean fields into the forest over wooden bridges to the rivers edge . White tail deer were running through the grass and oyster beds were popping out of the water .. On the way back to camp Maynard let me drive the four wheeler I had so much fun.. Did I mention that we stayed at the Smithfield inn and I stayed in George Washington’s room . The next day we went on a tour of the Smithfield plant s,smokehouse and innovation center . The meat is being prepared and smoked the same way for years and the animals are treated good and fed well they have changed my mind about the things I have heard. The next day they took us for a great boat ride to a great seafood restaurant and then off I went . So thank you Smithfield what an amazing trip.
The Fiddelhead Restaurant in Bangor Maine for anyone who has not been there is a must. The moment I walked in the host/owner was amazing she made me feel so welcome and excited to have me there. I walked into the kitchen to introduce myself to the chef who was lovely. I took one look in her very small kitchen which always impresses me that we as chefs especially in NY can pump out so much amazing food. I started with a glass of Lambrusco . Everything was amazing from the homemade cornbread that I could not stop eating . First I had fried cheese curds with a Red Pepper jam they were creamy, crunchy and sweet outstanding . Then I was in a Beef mood so I opted for the 12 oz Ribeye Steak with Swiss Chard perfectly cooked medium rare from a local farm and the perfect amount of fat and marbling. Then finished with a Coconut Custard pie my meal was perfect so please don’t take your time run to The Fiddelhead Restaurant now…love Maine..
Bangor Maine home of Stephen king and Husson University and my Tailgate party this weekend . First I will start by saying thank you to the most gracious people . From the moment I arrived they made me feel amazing !! I checked in and off to the chopped tailgate I went. I chose the ingredients all Maine ingredients of course ,Lobster,blueberry soda ,Maine potatoes and Maine mushrooms (Foraging is amazing in maine). The end product had to be a grilled sandwich. At the ten minute mark they asked me to jump in of course I was on that so quick haha.. I made a lobster hash with a blueberry reduction just for fun. Just being at Husson university was amazing there was team spirit in everything they do . I would be honored to return next year to their Tailgate party for a bigger and better chopped event thank you so much Husson University..