Summer Loving - Had me a blast !

Feeling HOT

I am aware that my blog sometimes falls behind, but then I realize it's because I am trying to pack so many things into my day, and have traveled like a maniac. My most recent destinations included London, Bahamas and then back to NYC.

Despite my whirlwind schedule, there are three things that never change – my friends get cuter, my family gets more loving and I continue to be surprised and excited by food and all the great things that come along with sharing a meal with someone I love.

New York

Let’s start with new and exciting things in New York City! This weekend I nearly had a coffee orgasm (if those exist). You know in the movies when you see a housewife on top of a washing machine... Well somewhere along those lines, but in this case I had a cup of coffee in my hand. I documented evidence above - . Their purpose "We want great coffee to be revered, yet democratic, approachable and accessible. By illuminating what is possible with coffee, we hope to change forever how you think about it. And that would be something." I can honestly say it was the best coffee I have drunk in a long time. Check out Intelligentsia Café at the Highline Hotel !

I have a confession to make – before Sandy happened (for those not in NYC, Sandy is the hurricane that removed me from my apartment for nearly a month) I really didn’t explore South Street Sea Port as I ignorantly assumed it was a tourist trap. Months later, it’s now one of my new favorite places to hang out. Firstly I nearly had a heart attack because it’s not just in Williamsburg, it’s live and loud in Manhattan. Endless stalls of great food and adult beverages. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The other new place for brunch is called Tiny's - they have to be the sweetest little family and do a mean Kale Salad. Check out Fika also for great coffee on stone street, and amazing chocolate !

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Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE black, so this summer I have tried to add some color to my wardrobe. This was spurred by an insane bet at work I have going which I have named GYM CHALLENGE. I am lucky as my close friends have coached me, and I have not been letting my evil knee recovery get in the way. I have to train every day and  the winner with the biggest % weight lost is the winner. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so competitive but the truth of the matter is I am :) and honestly doing a food journal really has opened my eyes to the types of things I eat and what my body loves and doesn't love. The coaches recommend only protein and greens in the morning as they believe that is what sets your metabolism until noon. So yes that’s right.... I am eating chicken salad, omelet (NO CHEESE or anything other than greens) and nuts, strange but I love it. Noon-3pm - Go wild if you want to eat carbs, rice etc and at night-time it’s fish/salad etc. Not rocket science but it’s a habit changing challenge. Try a food journal for a week, it will really shock and surprise you!

 Regarding adding color my new Newton running shoes and Bike helmet were a good step in the right direction. A great site to get cool exercise clothes is called Running warehouse and if you search for coupons you can get up to 20% off your first buy - Enjoy !

"I'd rather stay inside, just sipping coffee...Yuna - Coffee" is the song that matches my mood this afternoon. After a busy morning, I decided to spend a day in my apartment, and it’s amazing how organizing, buying flowers, planning recipes and throwing out old items - really makes you feel re energized.

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The pictures above involves a sleepy little town called Woodstock! I hit up this place with a few close friends for a weekend filled of Gatsby, relaxing and wine. I decided to own the kitchen and with my best friend we designed a menu for everyone, not that we were control freaks or anything...ok maybe we were BUT we wanted to make sure our country adventure had some culinary flair. If you ever want to test how strong your friendship is, buy a game called Mexican Train, it has the ability to turn the best of friends into mortal enemies lol It looks like dominos, gives you the feel of a friendly innocent game and then due to all the rules and regulations will cause a Mexican standoff. Thank God for sunlight and coffee because the day after everyone emerged back to our former non competitive selves. I believe my ability to cook the perfect steak saved me from having no best friend the next day. (Thank you Gordon Ramsey for teaching me that life skill.)

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London was mostly work and helping a friend, but I managed to get some fun times in with all my best friends and their mini me's. It's pretty crazy watching your friends kids grow up into little people, I think the biggest thing I learnt from this trip is that once you have a kid there is no sacred time anymore. While staying with my best friend, his son would just walk into the bathroom while I was showering SCREAMING Auntie Jeanette hurry up we need to build, and a kid of 3 doesn't recognize or care that you are showering or that you want some ME time, they just care about you getting your ass out of the shower to complete a building operation. My little god-daughter Amaya is well advanced in the art of high-fiving now which makes me extremely happy and Isaac who is 4 months old loves me the most as he always saves the most awesome nappies for me and even mastered the art of peeing so big he hit me right in eye. I had to give him street cred for his aim and determination. Finlay has to be my trendiest friend mini me, he is always dressed to kill and is probably the most chilled little boy I have ever met. I am worried my mini me is going to bounce of the walls.

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If you are in the Bahama's and want a memorable eating experience you MUST go to Dune.  It is described as a "Christian Liaigre wenge version of a British colonial dining room."  It is Jean-Georges Vongerichten's first Caribbean restaurant, and walking in you see a blue glass wall into the kitchen and an open-air terrace overlooking the ocean and pristine beach. The food and the service was better than I had experienced in a while. The menu featured many fresh fish and seafood dishes such as spice-crusted snapper with sweet-and-sour jus, local tomatoes, and oregano, and a lobster sandwich spiced with Bahamian goat pepper. The cocktail menu was also extensive. I tried the crab salad and Lobster tacos – something I really want to try to recreate. The lobster taco had coriander, salsa and a spicy guacamole, but felt light and really delicate. Vongerichten's second restaurant is Café Martinique, which was tucked away in the middle of chaos, nasty chain restaurants and a casino but worth hunting down.

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We are getting to the age where everyone is starting to settle down and tie the knot! What I love about my friends is none of them will ever make me endure a traditional hen or bachelorette party and I know it’s going to be something with food and beverages that will be amazing. Addie's friends organized a great event run by The Artful Bachelorette. The event was sponsored by Verve C Champagne of course and had a great find - Prohibition CupCakes. 2 great things unite to make an amazing treat. Hard Liquor in a CUPCAKE? I may have eaten a few too many of these. Some folks would think that drawing a fully butt naked amazingly handsome man would be distracting, but given how competitive my friends were we quickly averted our eyes from what was a very well endowed package to make sure we had THE BEST pictures of any group. You can see from above that we didn't mess around, and considering I never took much drawing, I picked it up pretty quickly. I wonder if while at University I had been followed around by an attractive naked man, if my grades would have improved. Hrm, I would love to hope so?

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The last place I have fallen in love with is a place called "All Good Things". The whole concept is local companies coming together under one roof in a form of a market.  You can have brunch and they have an amazing restaurant called "Le Restaurant" downstairs in a hidden cave, giving a speakeasy feel. I normally head there on Sunday to have some blue-bottle coffee and have developed a slight crush on the chef purely on the basis that he makes the BEST omelets I have ever tasted in my life. Check it out!

My last thought is around free education, one area in food that has exploded understanding Food Chemistry and the approach to new and inventive ways to cook food based on the chemical processes and interactions of all biological and non-biological components of foods. If you are interested in this topic, MIT are offering amazing free lectures online and it is not just short snippets but the real lectures from full-time chemistry majors.

Next time will all be about new juice recipes. My new juicer has landed and I am pretty excited to throw heaps of veg randomly in the machine that is bigger than a space craft and see what happens !!!

Enjoy the Sun, Enjoy Food, Enjoy Friendship and Enjoy life ! Kisses Jeanette

Yo Shorty.....(or Irish) it's your Birth-Month

The last few weeks have been classified as “The Birth Month”. If you know me then you know that the one time of the year I treasure most of all is my birthday and what an extravaganza it has been! The thing that makes me fall in love with cooking is that no matter what race, gender, job, status or city you live in, the one thing that will bring you together to laugh, cry or just be merry is: FOOD.

When I look at the last few weeks whether it was grabbing a sandwich at the distillery in Toronto, a surprise restaurant for my birthday, the champagne tasting at a random winery in the middle of nowhere miles from Toronto OR drinks at a Guns N Roses concert…I realized that a common theme and where I feel my happiest is usually when I am eating food or appreciating great drinks with old friends, new friends or even strangers. You can have a baby, go through a break up, lose your job or get a new job and what do you do? You call someone you love and you share some good food to celebrate or commiserate. We argue, we fight, we get confused...but when we come together with food and drinks all is right with the world! You would think in Ireland they could have just had a potato food festival mixed with Whiskey tasting in each town a few times a year and that probably could have solved half the troubles (To the right is a sculpture from the Distillery in Toronto)

February has been about adventures and enjoying life and I’m thinking you’ll want to hear about some of the adventures! I pride myself on my Irish story telling however I sometimes get in trouble. There is no doubt I embellish and add twists and turns for amusement. Some may say embellishing isn’t telling the truth but to see my friends’ faces light up or laugh makes it worth it.

We took a trip to Lady Gaga’s parent’s restaurant on the upper west side. I didn’t have high hopes after many failed reviews BUT I feel the reviewers were overly harsh. Given it’s the parents of Lady Gaga you would think she could have used her connections to hire them a good web developer. You can see from the website - awful frames and pictures. Honestly? It gets a 0 out of 100. That being said the restaurant is just finding its groove. The food wasn’t up to par but the price also wasn’t that of a top restaurant. Don’t get me wrong I think they need some work and timing issues to avoid disappointment but the staff and chefs were adorable. We met Lady Gaga’s mum and the head chef and it turned out one of the sous chef’s trained at FCI so we chatted them up for a good long time. It wasn’t food that made me “Gag” (a) that’s for sure but what it lacked in the food department, it made up for in service and charm. The wine list left a lot to be desired and honestly I will probably eave it for another year before going back to try again. I have added some pictures below of the food we enjoyed during the trip to Joanne Trattoria. above is some great focaccia, the family meatballs and a sea food dish.

The next adventure: Japanese chef serving Italian food (See above for some pics). My surprise birthday dinner took me to Basta Pasta, 37 W.17th street On entering the restaurant I noticed that each food station is an open mini kitchen, and the guest can see everything as it’s made. If you go there, you MUST try the Parmigiano Reggiano with Parma ham served table side from the real Parmigiano Reggiano wheel ! (See picture below). The highlight of the trip was when the Japanese waiter who considered himself a bit of an Elvis busted out a Ukulele and sang happy birthday with all his friends. Some things are priceless !

We continue the adventure with the Birthday Celebrations at my cooking school. What would you expect an Irish persons FAVOURITE food to be? Potato, right? I follow ever cliché there is on the planet and I love, love, love the potato. As Irish luck would have it, the weekend of my birthday, I flipped my French culinary book open and we were learning “POTATO”.

At this point I would like to thank the Spaniards for introducing the potato in the 16th Century to Europe and maybe not the Mexicans for the disease that caused the famine. To be honest, the Mexican’s gave me Tequila for amazing Margaritas and mole, so I think they redeemed their country since the famine.

I walked into cooking school and got a warm welcome with fresh coffee, Lamington birthday presents and share cake and croissant’s with my newly found cooking friends. Chef David explains today’s foods, which range from Potato Puree to Dauphin. One word – heaven. Whilst others left the end of the session saying “OMG I cannot eat another potato for a year,” I left saying, “Jesus, I cannot wait to get home to finish those potatoes!” I will aim to post the potato class to the FCI section asap so you can all learn about the techniques used in Potatoes week!

My friends are all pretty similar: Type A women with great jobs, very opinionated and they all LOVE wine and champagne. Take that personality and give them wine and you get VERY LOUD women who become very animated.

The trip to Toronto last Thursday kicked off with a trip to Jamie Kennedy's - Gilead as it is important to eat before the consumption of alcohol ! Jamie Kennedy has created a café that invites me back again and again. He sources all his food locally and if you meet him you can see he is laid back and no drama. I specifically go there to indulge on the yogurt and granola; if you make it Toronto it’s a MUST. For anyone looking for a romantic getaway from NY, he will be opening a new restaurant near Niagara called Windows. It’s funny that although he is considering Canada’s top chef that he still potters around the Gilead as if he was a farmer grabbing a coffee on his way to dig up some veg. He gets my vote.

5 over-caffeinated Ladies (OK, maybe I was the only one over-caffeinated) + a car + a map and what do you get? No, not 5 girls lost BUT 5 Ladies HYPER and on a mission to taste wine. (OK, some of us *cough* may not be the “best” at map reading but that is what GPS IS FOR). It does annoy me sometimes that women are projected to be bad map readers, esp when they only thing they have is an iPhone with shitty AT+T signal that craps out at the most crucial decision points for turning left or right….yup there’s a nerve hit right there haha.

Prince Edward Wine Countryin Ontario is a larger area than I expected and the ranges and types of wines produced are vast. The folks we met take much more care about the process, chemistry and love needed to produce good wine. It’s not about mass producing but locally providing good Canadian wine, being proud of that and enjoying life. One good article I read lately was around decanting…to decant or not to decant…Interesting

We aimed to hit 4 wineries and you will soon learn why 2 was the most we could get to. I kept saying all February, “It ALWAYS snows on my birthday!” but in NYC I was disappointed with no snow. We left Toronto to head to the Prince Edward Country and the snow got heavier and heavier! Our first winery was called “Sand Banks” . We decided to go to this specific vineyard after we had tasted this full-bodied wine at Christmas and had fallen in love. Normally when you go to taste you get to taste maybe 3 types, however, after we kicked snow like a kid outside we burst into the winery full of energy. It's amazing how the sentence “It’s my birthday,” invokes love in everyone. The kind server laid out 5 wine glasses and proceeded to take us on a trip of all their red and white wines. From the light and fresh Cabernet Franc to the full-bodied Baco Noir Reserve. We left with 10 bottles of wine and had a little more merriment than when we walked in.

Our next stop was the champagne vineyard – Hinterland Wine. Sometimes when you walk into a place and feel the energy of the people and their space you just know you will love them. Our adventure at Hinterland lasted 3 ½ hours, and let’s just say that I was slightly slurring my words after our visit here. What makes small businesses so great is that the owners know every little detail of the process from picking the soil, the grapes and the space to every detail of production.

My favorite sparking joy was the Les Etoiles 2008 – Its made with 50% chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. The taste is a fruity explosion of flower and fruit! The 2nd was the Riesling 2009. They took a Riesling and completed secondary fermentation in the bottle, and then the wine is aged on the Lees (The yeast cells fermented in the bottle). They wait 14 months, remove the Lees and voila ! Light apple-y wine on the nose with a strong red apple fruit taste on the palate.

The couple gave us a guided tour through the process and the highlight was when someone in our group asked for the Dressage …..hrm, well, I think we all quickly realized she meant ‘dosage’ not dressage as it would be slightly weird for the champagne house to dress horses.

We finished the day enjoying homepage veal burgers and amazing homemade Pavlova thanks to Steph !. If you want some good links try BBC Food its one of my favorite sources for recipes. Also Gordon Ramsey posted some good tips fordesserts

One gift I received was both tasty and beautiful. If you live in NYC you must go to Marie Belle. The signature chocolates are topped with cute, eccentric, colorful designs of women on bicycle’s, or drinking champagne, you hardly want to bite into it…well for maybe a second and then you enjoy pure taste of Chocolate ganache. Each one comes with a unique flavor and taste of spices, like the cardamom and cinnamon and several fruit-based choices like mango, coconut, and lemon.

From finding this treasure, we headed to the Marie Belle tea room and in back—the Cacao Bar has their famed hot chocolate. You can order this in either the European (made with water) or American (with milk) variations. The spicy hot chocolate is spiked with cinnamon and chipotle chile—piquant, though not as fiery as Jacques Torres's "wicked" hot chocolate but packing 72 percent pure Colombian cacao and thick enough to lick like sauce from your spoon.

One great new link I stumbled upon was Pepin’s blog, really great find !!!!

Apologies for the lack of posts lately! I am hoping to get caught up and give you all the restaurant reviews, cooking techniques and updates soon.

To see some of the photos in larger image click here - also "Friend" jgamble-food on Facebook

If Joe Bastianich says to go drink wine...then lets go !!

Has America really taken over France in wine drinking? Given my European roots I just can't bring myself to think that. I am no wine connoisseur but $40 and 60+ Italian wine booth can easily call me a connoisseur. Tonight was an adventure to the "Slow Wine 2012 event" , with a year in the life of Italian wine.

I know my French wines, even my south American wines...but Italian...Non capisco.

Anyone can speak Italian after 14 sips of wine, who spits? Jesus what a waste of amazingly beautiful wine. I had drunk so much that I was resorted to picking the last booths I would try based on whether the wine dealer looked a) like Mario b) was Female and passionate about wine or c) Italian male and attractive...thats a good even spread to be diverse right?

The event was packed full of an eclectic group of people all eager to learn more about wine. I was shocked how little I knew about Italian wine and how great French and Italian mixes were.

Sorelle Bronca - - Colli Di Conegliano Roosa Ser Bele 2008, which took me longer to write out than actually drink the wine was an amazing full body wine with a blend of Cab franc, cab Sauvignon, Merlot and here is the mix...Marzemino. Marzemino is a late-ripening dark-skinned grape variety grown mainly in Trentino-Alto Adige but also in Veneto, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna wine regions of Italy. 94% of these grapes are found in Italy and it gave the wine a rich peppery taste.

My other top wine was from and the wine was called Amerone Della Valpolicella CL 2004 The blend was Corvina and Molinara. The passionate wine seller describe how although expensive the reason is that this grape is difficult to cultivate, but is sought for its amazing flavor, he was right !! The grape is smaller but I guess the saying is true that good things come in small packages. Its partner in crime Molinara..... again a red Italian wine grape grown in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy. This is where the wine gets its acidity and balance when it blends.

There were lots of white wines but to be honest, me and white wine are not great friends and I end up with hiccups and potentially tripping over things if I drink too much. After a few glasses of wine and great conversation, the cheese area became my favorite home.

Other great links to wines that I love include: for their Nebbiolo, for their gaglioppo/cab mix and finally for their Lacrima !

If you are interested in more of the "slow" themed events go to -

I ended my day a little slower than normal thanks to the great wine and electric atmosphere !!!

Jgamble !