New Cordials: Pear, Apricot, Current, yum!

I have made new cordials in both dark (Arriba 72%) and milk (Criolait 38%) chocolate. These are new flavors.

Currents and Rum, or as I like to call it Rum Raisins with little raisins. We could call this Drunk Sultanas, too. But strictly this are Zante Currents and Dark Myer’s Rum.

I also made Pear and Poire William. This is amazingly good.

I also made Apricot and Grand Marnier and Apricot with Irish Mist. Where as I love Grand Marnier I must say that Irish Mist with the Apricot is UNBELIEVABLY good. I made them and I can’t believe that these combinations are so good. I’ll just have to take it on faith but you wont because you can buy them right now. I just made a VERY SMALL amount of these. First come first served and then I’ll make more.

I you love my Cherry Cordials, and I know you do, you will absolutely LOVE these new cordials. Yum. Order now. 518 966 5219. The website is coming along. Sigh. I’ll get it done soon. This Tuesday, we’ll set up for photography. Soon. Pictures will come. Oh, and these look like the cherry cordials.

Laura Cater-Woods: Photo Op

And here she is, the maestra herself:

Having a professional improvement coaching seminar:

And everyone having a wonderful time, they loved this class. Too bad you couldn’t make it. Unfortunately, I don’t have any at table. Enjoy.

Recipe: Christmas Eggnog at the Greenville Arms 1889 Inn

Here it is, it’s very simple. This recipe make about 5 or 6 drinks, depending on how much you give each person. It’s sweet and you may want to cut the sugar in half, but try it like this and you’ll agree that this is the best eggnog you’ve ever had.

See, even Hudson is begging for some. Don’t give it to your puppy. It’s too strong.

Separate 5 eggs.

Mix the 5 egg yolks first with almost a cup of dark rum, I usually use a scant cup, about 9/10ths. I let that sit to “cook”.

Then I take the whites and put in two heaping table spoons of powdered sugar and a whip to hard peaks. Usually, I start whipping the whites and then close to the end add the sugar.

Next, I add 4 heaping table spoons of powdered sugar and a pinch of white sea salt to the yolk mixture. (This year I used the salt we were given in Austria at the great Edel Beisel. Nice.) I whip that in and then add a cup of heavy (38-40%) cream. I whisk this up.

Next, gently fold in the whites. Remember, you don’t want to over whip the whites and at this stage you must fold in the whites to preserve the fluffiness of the drink.

Serve with a pinch of mace on top. I like mace better than nutmeg because it is more pungent. But you can use nutmeg, freshly ground if you got it. It’s hard to find mace unground. But, if you want it in blade form, here it is at my favorite Savory Spice Shop. Tell them Chef Mark sent you. It’s hard to grind but it you’re the type that grates their own nutmeg, then have at it and enjoy.

Don’t forget, these are raw eggs. So, in the case of kids, invalids or other people with health problems, best to buy the already pasteurized eggs.

See, it knocked my Mom for a loop. She’ll tell you because it’s strong.

Bree is done eating and now it’s time for bed. God natt och God Jul.

OK, OK. So we’re drinking my fantastic hot chocolate. But it’s close enough. 😉

And so ends a wonderful semi-Swedish Christmas

and not a creature is stirring, except my dog Hudson

and soon my sweet Bree-girl. We have just finished watching Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander), the theatrical version. What I’d like to do is get the TV release which is two hours longer, or at least that’s what I remember. This, to me, is Ingmar Bergman’s finest movie.

What we do is, on Christmas Eve, we get our tree and then decorate it while I make a terrific eggnog.

I usually make pastries and such to have with the eggnog and we also roast chestnuts that contrast with the creamy and flaky pastries.
This year, I spent my time in the kitchen making my new hot chocolate drink mix. For the grand opening, someone had my hot chocolate and wanted the mix. I didn’t have a mix, I made it directly from melted chocolate. However, that wont do. You can’t sell the chocolate, as it were, since it’s a blend, and I can’t sell a liter of hot chocolate to go, too difficult. So, I spent yesterday formulating the hot chocolate. It came out great, though we didn’t have that this morning. Let me explain.

I was too tired to bake, so we had dinner at the Brasserie, a local restaurant. Nice. I brought Terri, the owner, some of my hot chocolate mix, both the regular version and my special, lightly spiced version.

Kim got me an iPod Nano so I can listen to my music when I commute to New Jersey. I got her a chocolatiere with cups, beautiful porcelain, so that we could enjoy the occasional cup of hot chocolate in style. They are Limoges. I also wanted to see what these chocolatieres were like. Plus Kim got the Stanly Maltzman painting for Christmas and her birthday for at least another few years. 😉 My mom got us a beautiful stain glass in a frame. Created by Frank Lloyd Wright. Beautiful. We got her a trip to NYC and some cards. My brother John lives in Brooklyn so she was able to visit him before Christmas. I also got a gift card to Barnes and Noble, my favorite bookstore from Kim’s Mom. Thanks.

After we decorate the tree, a live one that we usually get from a neighbor. She’s trying to clear her land and charges us $20 to cut down a tree off of her property. This year we went to a lot. They charged us $35 for a fantastic tree, very tall and beautifully shaped, about 8 feet tall. Sadly, one string of lights gave out. We’ll have to buy new ones. We’re down to only two strands.

Then, on Christmas, after Kim made muffins and a nice breakfast basket for our guests, yes we had one couple, a newly wedded couple. It was very sweet having them stay in the cottage. We’re open year round, though in the winter we restrict it to mostly the holidays and the weekends. This IS our relaxing time, after all.

Hudson is still eating. He’s a silly puppy.

We breakfasted on the muffins and had espresso. I’m still thinking of opening a cafe. After that, we watched James Bond, Dr. No. What we normally do is watch all the Jame Bond movies, from Dr. No through Her Majesty’s Secret Service and end with the last one Sean Connery did, the non-Albert Broccoli production. I just love these movies and Kim does, too. Then on Christmas, we watch Fanny and Alexander, a 5-6 hour undertaking. My mom loved the movie. Kim likes it, too but she knitted through all of it. It’s hard to follow if you don’t speak Swedish or read the subtitles. We do this every year.

And now, I’m in charge of our sweet puppies. Hudson is calling, it’s time he went back out again and then to bed. We’re all tired.

Merry Christmas.

Recipe: Asafoetida and Steak, who would’a thunk it?

Well, the Worstershuster, ah, wostershire, Ah forget it. Apparently the asafoetida in Worcestershire does not compensate for the cholesterol in a steak. Bad news. However, used directly on a steak with some smoked sea salt and black pepper is a combination made in, OK, I’ll say it, heaven. No surprise. If garlic and steak is good, then asafoetida would be a good bet. It is.

I used it this year on chicken and right now I’m eating it on steak with a very nice cab (Charles Krug 2004). I was making my Milk Cherry Cordials and, as one would suspect, that also goes very nicely with the cab. I assume the dark would go as well. Haven’t tried it but I’m a bettin’ man and I’m willing to take that bet.

Getting Reservations for the French Laundry by Phone

It isn’t impossible to get reservations at the famed French Laundry by phone, no matter what some people say. I’ve gone four times and each time was by phone. I just called exactly two months in advance, it used to be one, to the second and voila, I have reservations.

Though, I must say, this guy does have a system. Give it a shot. It can’t hurt.

After thinking about our visit to the French Laundry some more, I realise that part of our expectations was that it would be like it was 10 years ago. It’s moved on and in our minds, we have not. On the other hand, I could have gotten this same experience at Tru in Chicago. That is to say, the model is similar. It felt like we were at Tru rather than the French Laundry. So, I guess we’ll have to go back and retry it sometime in the future. Of course, we’ll be paying for this visit for the next 6 months. So, how about in five years? Check back then.

BTW, Kim completely disagrees with this sentence: “On the other hand, I could have gotten this same experience at Tru in Chicago.” She felt that the experience was nothing like Tru and completely French Laundry. I have to say that she is right. However, I also feel that top notch restaurants are going for the two amuse buse whammy left and right. Charlie Trotter’s is the first restaurant to have an amuse buse station, or so they told us. They are also going for a strictly tasting menu approach. And finally, the mortar style bombardment of desserts as typified by Charlie Trotter’s, Tru restaurant, French Laundry and many others. Finally, the gift of Pound Cake (Charlie Trotter’s, Tru), Short Bread (French Laundry) is now the thing to do. However, I’ll bet dollar to donuts that the French Laundry started all these trends. Or maybe Charlie Trotter’s. And Tru and other restaurants like them are following in their brilliant footsteps.

In the end, I would have been willing to say, “Hey, it’s just me. I must of gotten up on the wrong side of the souffle” Except for the fact that Kim feels the same. Something was missing. But don’t let me discourage you. Get on the phone or online and get a reservation. Don’t forget to call them 72 hours before the reservation to confirm. What have you got to lose? 😉 It’s still the best bet in town.

My Rhinecliff Adventure

Most of my Rhinecliff adventure happened in Hudson and in Rhinebeck.

Joyce, my mom, wanted to go to New York City, so Kim and I got her a train ticket to visit my brother John and his girlfriend Carla. So, today, this morning, I took her to Hudson to get on the train. We arrived on time and the train was late. She had two bags, one of them heavy, and a pocketbook and another smaller bag. So, I helped her on the train with the bag. As I was putting the bag onto the train, the train started moving. I threw my mothers bag into the rack and sprinted towards the conductor and the nearest exit. The train was moving and I was jumping. Needless to say, they wouldn’t let me jump. The train was probably only going 5 miles an hour but it also might have been ten.

I rode the train to Rhinecliff. One of the conductors gave me a yellow tag with a handwritten message saying that I could board the return to Hudson. How nice. In the meantime, I was hungry and there is nothing in the Hamlet of Rhinecliff to eat, especially near the train station. I was told this by the Amtrak ticket agent who probably also lived in Rhinecliff. Such a beautiful little town.

Ernie, the cabbie who took me to Rhinebeck, said that there was the Mobile station in Rhinecliff. Such a nice, picturesque little hamlet and only Mobile ham sandwiches to eat. He took me to Foster’s Tavern, in Rhinebeck. I had always wanted to eat there but we always either ate at Terrapin or at the inn, the Beekman Arms, that’s there. Ernie said it was too froufrou, too chichi. I can’t imagine what he would have said of us. We, perhaps, are just too too. 😉

The tavern food was pretty good and hit the spot. I had a ginger ale with the French Dip I had ordered. The fries were very good. Then I went shopping to the local coffee and candy shop, forgot the name. I stopped in at Periwinkle to get some nice bath salts and then had a sugar free cherry cordial, not bad, and a mocha latte with soy.

Then Ernie picked me up at the coffee shop and took me back to Rhinecliff. The trip was uneventful except I lost my cell phone in the cab. Ernie is mailing it to me. I suspended the account for now. I hope it gets here quickly.

That’s my amazing Rhinecliff Adventure. My mom made it to Penn Station but was an hour late. Carla was waiting for her when she got off. And that all happened before the space aliens landed. Hey, I did say it was an amazing adventure. 😉

French Laundry: Chef Thomas Keller light on the salsafy and medium starch

For Adina’s graduation, we gave her some money for buying clothes and such and Kim went shopping with her on her mother-daughter day. We also took her and Zeke, her boyfriend, to the French Laundry, the famous Yountville restaurant whose chef Thomas Keller, has become a legend in the culinary field. Chef and restaurateur. Yountville is in the Napa Valley.

Kim and I have eaten there 3 other times. Each time was magic. Well, almost each time. One time we went, the service was very slow. So slow that we should have been given free drinks or something. What would normally be a 5 minute or 10 minute wait between courses became a 30 minute or 45 minute wait. It was long ago but one waiter said that Chef Keller had been absent from the kitchen, vacation?, and was taking control of the kitchen back again, from his sous chef?, not sure. The service was terrible that time, the second time, we went. The third time we ate there by ourselves. Service was back to normal.

This was the fourth time. And what a different experience. First of all, they have added plenty of small touches to the decor. The linen is better. The tableware, dishes and cutlery is way better. Rather than one waiter and a runner, we had, I estimate, 4 or 5 waiters and two busboys plus a sommelier, who I think is new. And by new I mean, after our time. We last ate there 8 or so years ago. And if my memory serves, their wine list has expanded. Quite a big one though not the biggest I’ve seen it is focused on quality wines. The place is more elegant, more formal and not as relaxed and casual. And it is definitely more Laundry-esque. Our check was on a laundry ticket and the lamps had old laundry signals on them. Nice touch. Adina marveled. I thought it a little much.

There are only two tasting menus now, no a la carte, and Clair Clark is the pastry chef since 2005. Before Chef Clark went to the French Laundry, we had to suffer with Coffee and Donuts, yum. Kim and I had wanted to get the Coffee and Donuts. No longer on the menu. Oh, and the price, only $240 a person for either of the tasting menus. Ouch. It used to be $90 per person for the tasting menu. There is no wine pairings offered. Oh, and the tasting menu now only has nine courses.

Let’s see, what else? Hmmm. What did I miss? Oh, yeah, I almost forgot the food. When we used to go, we could count on a chefgasm each and every course. Is it us? I didn’t have a single chefgasm. Not a one. The food was perfectly prepared and also beautifully presented. Kim and I discussed our disappointment in the car coming home. Kim volunteered a few suggestions and a few opinions, and normally, those that know her know that she doesn’t do this that often. Basically, we discussed whether it was us or the restaurant. Have we, who have dined both in the US and abroad at some of the top restaurants and who now own our own restaurant and inn and chocolate shop, become jaded? Or, on the other hand, has the French Laundry switched its reference, its energy, if you will, from the food to the decor, wait staff, the ambiance?

Don’t get me wrong. Yes the food was good, yes the food was cooked perfectly and yes the presentation stunning. But there was no wow. Kim thinks that we remember the wow factor, the OHMYGODICAN’TBELIEVEIATESOMETHINGTHATGOOD factor. The first time you eat great beluga caviar and think you are eating fall but the second time you are eating great beluga caviar. And she also thinks it IS the French Laundry. To sum it up, and this is what I think, there was less of Thomas Keller in the food than before. There was less risk in the food. Personally, I would rather have eaten at Perilla 10 times than the French Laundry once. I’d would have rather eaten at our local restaurant, the Mountain View Brassery 20 times then the French Laundry once. The telling moment came when Kim said she enjoyed the lunch we had at Bistro Jeanty better than the dinner at the French Laundry. Unheard of! But I agree. I’m glad we went but I don’t think we’ll be going back unless we come into some money. The experience was fantastic but I think our memory of how it used to be clouds our perception of how it is.

I loved my Lamb’s Tongue Salad, at Jeanty, even if the dressing was a little too vinegary and I absolutely loved the toast points and marrow, even if the points weren’t really points. I loved the meal I had at Bistro Jeanty and it didn’t even cost 1/10th of the price at French Laundry.

On the other hand, Adina and Zeke marvelled over the food. They didn’t like everything or think that everything was mana from heaven but they had their one or two or three favorites that they absolutely loved. Adina, especially loved the French Laundry, exclusively made for them, butter and she loved the Jurassic salt. (I quipped that I prefered Pliocene salt for its freshness. I probably should have said Cretaceous, it would have been funnier because they are both from the Mesozoic! Indeed, the Phanerozoic was a good eon. Then you could have quipped, “I much prefer the more mature Triassic salt.” I thought it was funny because the Pliocene is right before the Pleistocene, the rise of modern humans. Ah, forget it.) Gotta get me some of that Jurassic salt. It had a sweet taste with a little metallic aftertaste.

Zeke and I had the chef’s tasting menu and Kim and Adina had the vegetable (not vegetarian) tasting menu. I wont comment too much on the Tastings of Vegetables though I’ll tell you Kim felt the same way I did, maybe more so.

I started us with Gaston Huet’s wonderful, beautiful, Vouvray. A treasure. Then we had a fantastic Gevrey-Chambertin 1994 and then we finished with their Volnay, 1995. Very nice. We had only 1/2 bottles because I didn’t think Kim was going to drink a lot and Adina had no wine. I can’t remember the producers but the wines were good. From the Gevrey-Chambertin I remember overriding vanilla and then it calmed down. The Volnay was grapy and very bright. I’m sorry I didn’t write down the producers now. Ooops. But it was a dinner for Adina, not for drinking wine.

The Chef’s menu started with Oysters and Pearls. I love this dish. When I had it last, there was twice, or three times, more in the dish. This allows one to fully appreciate this dish. Rather than give me a good dose of my favorite food, I got an alabaster spoon. Though, I must say, there was more than enough caviar. Personally, I would have preferred less caviar, I know, I know, and more of the dish. This was yummer. The best dish for me. I’m still in love with this dish. Though, after eating at Perilla, the farro “risotto” is more than just a close second. It’s now even with this dish. Sorry Thomas, all of his wait staff called him Thomas rather than Chef Keller or Chef Thomas, but I need it the way you used to do it with 4 or 5 oysters not two. (Boohoo. Whine, whine.)

Look, before I go on, if any of you are lucky enough to eat at the French Laundry once, rather than say four times, it will be the best culinary experience of your life. Go eat there and then comment on this post.

I had the Foie Gras en Terrine and Zeke had the Bluefoot Mushrooms. The Fois Gras was great. I added the Jurassic salt as well as the grey sea salt and the extra white Belgium salt, each salt on a differnt section of the mini-terrine. Yummer. This was great. The toast points were exquisite. This was brioche at its best. They even replaced the toast points as I was eating to make sure that I had the warm points at their freshest. (See what I mean. Great service. Take note, John. 😉 Though, the points weren’t the classic points of my youth. I marveled at the bread. Crispy crust and soft crumb. Good on you, Clair. Zeke said the mushrooms were good.

Kim had the Valley Oak Acorn Flan, which she said was great. Adina liked it too. I tasted a little and thought, not bad. This is a very Thomas Keller type dish. Good on you. (Yes, Randy lives in Australia and has picked this expression up. I rather like it.)

Kim had heirloom beets “Cuites sous vide”. Beets sous vide. Who would’a thunk it? Thomas Keller, that’s who. Adina had to have a special dish because this dish had Juniper Berries. Kim loved this dish but, and this went for the whole meal, the Juniper Berry “Aigre-Doux“, which is like a gastrique and is found in French Cuisine while an Agrodocle is found in Italian cuisine, was more decoration than culinary. Basically, we felt that all the gastriques, agrodocles and sauces were artistically presented but there was not enough of said applications to really taste them. Kim was majorly disappointed because she wanted a nice juniper berry flavor with her beets. Beets are her fav.

Then, Zeke and I had the eel. I LOVE eel. Zeke was bowled over by this dish and thought it the best dish until he had the lobster and then the steak. I love eel and I like the way this was cooked but found the whole plate a little dry. This could be good and reminiscent of Japanese food but I missed having a little juiciness to this dish. Zeke marvelled that he was eating 100-Year-Aged Balsamic Vinegar. (This is what I’m talking about. Sure 100 year old balsamic is great, I use a 25 year old in my ganache and some of my plated ice cream desserts, but it isn’t anything particularly new for me or Kim. Though, it is yummy and expensive.)

Kim had the Jidori Hen Egg Omlette. (Thankfully it wasn’t a Roster Egg Omlete. 😉 She loved it. Not much to say here.

Then Zeke and I had the Beets and Leeks, this is the Maine lobster dish. I enjoyed this and liked the Pommes Maxim’s though they were a little tough. (See, I should never say anything like that at the French Laundry.)

Kim got the Chestnut “Bread Pudding”. She loved this though personally, I found it dry. (A theme is developing here.) I forget what Adina had. I couldn’t see what she was eating. But she liked it.

Zeke and I had the lapin (rabbit) rather than the canard (duck). Funny, they write duck but use lapin. I just wish I had pictures of the rabbit. Pictures will be coming soon.

Kim and Adina had the Potatoes Gratinees. No comment. Didn’t try them.

The beef was good. Zeke liked it quite a bit.

I am not sure what Kim and Adina had but I think Kim said something about not enough Tomato Compote. I forget.

In short succession, the Dome St. Estephe was good and the pear sorbet very good. I also loved the Vol Au Vent and the Shiso Sorbet was great. I’ll have to make it. It was the best part of the meal. I am not sure what Kim and Adina had. I forget.

We also had a Meyer Lemon Posset or Pot au Crème, Kim got a nice crème brûlée. See this website for some nice pictures. Mine are coming. Oh, we didn’t get any tuile that I remember, not like this. Our tuile came in cones as a second, yes I said, second amuse buse. Indeed, I felt that I was bombarded with dessert, a lot like Tru Restaurant. In other words, we all loved it.

The chocolates were good and Adina liked the pastacio caramel crème so much that I’ll have to make my own version just for her. It tasted like she added chocolate to the caramel crème. Nice touch. I didn’t like it as much as Adina but we’ll see if she’ll like my version. I want to add more pistacio and I also want to lighten up the chocolate in the crème. It might have been cocoa powder. Not sure.

The chocolates, btw, were perfectly made, beautiful and subtle. I prefer my chocolates and left some for Chef Keller and his kitchen staff, though the box was slightly beaten up, I’m afraid, with all the travel. I also left some for the wait staff and gave the sommelier some of my toffee. I hope they like it. I should have added more cherry cordials. Those are everyone’s favorites. And yes, I left a big tip.

So, in the end, you just can’t go home again. This includes the Laundry. It just isn’t the same. It’s grown in some ways and in others it has diminished. But then again, I’m just a poor innkeeper. (And a lot more poor after eating at the French Laundry. 😉

Where does Kim live?

That’s a good question. She is blogging, people, but she is blogging on her new blog, Crazy by Design – Artist Interrupted. It seems, according to her blog, that I have not been doing a good job on Saturday’s fielding guests checking in. While I think she exaggerates, when we get back from CA, I’ll be helping her move into the Studio so she can spend more than one day a week on her quilting. I want her to spend more time quilting and less time working.

The more time she can quilt, the more of her beautiful quilts we’ll have. Though we art still open for the holidays and the chocolate shop is open, now that my mother is here, she is doing much of the work that Kim used to have to be interrupted for.

So, now you know where she spends her time. 😉

See you all when we see you.

You can’t go home, but the wine here is good.

Last night, we had dinner over at our friends Gregg and Karen’s place. It was great seeing them and also seeing Michele and Jimmy, their kids. I was very glad to see how well they were doing. Gregg and I have worked together for many years and are great friends. Karen is Gregg’s wife and is also good friends with me and Kim. To make our get together even more momentous, Gregg, and subsequently Karen, has been on a diet: no steak, no wine, no chocolates. And that’s what we had for dinner. We brought Gregg and his family a special box of my chocolates and confections. He provided the excellent steak and wine.

One of Gregg’s hobbies is fish. He has many multi-gallon fish tanks. Before dinner, we looked at his fish and watched him feed them. I put my hand in on an electric catfish and felt a mild jolt. Gregg had wanted me to try and squeeze him to get the full jolt. I demurred. Instead, I thought it better to eat dinner. So, we sat around the table and had a good burgundy and a Dehlinger Chardonnay, 1994 while eating cheese, crackers and just baked bread. We waited for the coals on the barbecue to become hot enough to grill our steaks.

I banked the barbecue and we seasoned our steaks. We had two aged steaks and two unaged steaks. I took one aged and one unaged and Kim and I seasoned them. Gregg and Karen took the other two. The idea was to cook both steaks, split them in half and then try them with the surprise Burgundy of the night, a 1988 DRC Richbourg, a truly beautiful wine. If you put the search string into Google, 1998 DRC Richbourg, you’ll See how tough it is to find it.

Before we had left CA, we drank a 1989 La Tache from my collection. So, for my first trip back to CA, Gregg pulled out all the stops. The steaks were very nice with the Richbourg, an aristocrat of burgundy, when Lalou Bize was still in charge of the domain.

After, we had the steaks with grilled asparagus, with salad and some very good cheese and bread, yummer, we repaired to watch the large moray eel that Gregg has. It was dark with white spots. I fed it a shrimp by grabbing the shrimp in a plastic tong and making the dead shrimp wiggle and “swim” to attract the eel. He wasn’t that hungry so he only ate one shrimp. The moray was about three to four feet in length.

At this point we had switch to a very worthy port, a 1977 Dow. (Jeez. What a typo. Gregg pulled out the 1977 not a non declared vintage. Gregg pointed this out to me with the words, “Who taught me about declared years. You think I’d pulled out a non-declared vintage. No Gregg I would think not. 😉 Gregg kept on saying, I wish I had a Fonseca. But we drank them all up 7 to 10 years ago, while smoking Cuban cigars. Sigh. This Dow was very good. It reminded me of my Taylor ’63. it was that good.

Then we played name that tune as Gregg picked out songs on the guitar. His newest hobby. He’d been playing righty for 15 months and had to switch to lefty about 6 months ago so he was plinking away and doing a pretty good job. I would have had some major problems playing, say my cello, lefty. Ouch. But he did a good job playing both cords on the acoustic and the electric as well as picking the melody line. It was fun listening to him plink away. Truly Gregg, it was.

Then completely exhausted, satiated, and happy, we went home to our new hotel, the Wild Palms, in Sunnyvale, close to Gregg’s and closer to Napa. You may not be able to go home, but you can visit good friends and make new memories. That’s what this dinner was, new memories, new fun, good times. This whole trip was one for the scrap book or the blog. Unfortunately, we didn’t take pictures. Gregg, you’ll have to at least take pictures of your house and family and your self and the now empty wine bottle. I’ll put them in my scrap book or rather on the blog.

Thank you for making this visit great. We came to congratulate Adina on her success on graduating and on getting a great job right out of college. We couldn’t be prouder. I’m just glad we had time to also see old friends and eat great steaks and drink fantastic wine.

As you can surmise, another of Gregg’s hobbies is collecting and drinking great wine and eating great food with the wine. I’m glad he thought of us and I’m glad we were able to indulge his hobbies. It was fun but more importantly, it was memorable. Thanks Gregg and Karen. Now to make things even better, you need to come an visit us in our new home. See you there.

End of an Era: of start-ups and chocolate

I had arranged to see some of my friends from my software days. We all met at La Bodegita del Medio, on California in Palo Alto. It’s a Cuban restaurant and named after the famed Havana restaurant that Hemingway frequented. The food is good and reminds me of South America. I brought Zeke along for the ride.

I had planned to go to Vin, Vino, Wine to while away a few hours as we waited for the appointed time at 6:30, knowing that some would be late and some would be early. It was closed. So, we had some wine at Cafe Pro Bono and also at this new Mediterranean place. The bread at the latter was pretty good. The wine list was also better then at Pro Bono. I had the quail. Zeke had had a schwarmer wrap earlier.

So, by the time we arrived at the restaurant and had our drinks in hand, a Cuba Libre for Zeke and a ti’punch for me, I wasn’t very hungry. CJ arrived first, naturally. And then Dan Z., who brought his wife, Julia and his baby Natasha, how wonderful it was to see them all. And then Dinger the Bruce aka The Dinger or Dinger. Finally, Jason got there. He had had some fires to fight at work.

We ordered empanadas, very good, and croquettes, not as good, for the table. Everyone ordered food but me and Jason. Zeke got the Tierra y mar. That used to be my favorite when it had the arepa. I wasn’t hungry. I just listened to everyone, soaking up the old Silicon Valley atmosphere. The talk was more of options and patents than databases or code or cloud computing, as always. When they found out that Zeke wanted to be a firemen, it turned out that many of my buddies had connections at different stations. Funny. I never knew that.

It was really great seeing everyone. One of the things that was hammered home was that everyone was now working for big companies, example, TiVo. (As I was writing this, I got another head hunter call. Looks like things are heating up here in S.V.) Bruce had his own hedge fund but basically, everyone else was not in a start up. The Silicon Valley landscape had changed. For the better? Who knows, but the next big company generator hadn’t hit. So, we were back to square one and the software industry has seen the end of an era. I felt out of place both in California and also in the high tech industry. I finally felt how Kim felt all those years when we lived in Silicon Valley. I guess you can’t go home. But you can visit and it was great seeing everyone.

I ended the night smoking a Cohiba Robusto with Jason, which he had graciously provided. It was the perfect end to the evening. Port, cigars and just hanging out by the pool. A light rain had started and that just added to the memories. Just like old times.

Some would say that the era had ended seven years ago. Some would say it ended four years ago. For me it ended yesterday night.

The next big thing is now chocolates. At least for me.

Adina Graduates with her master’s degree


Well, Laura Cater-Woods’ workshop was the last of the season. No more until next year. If you missed Laura’s workshop, you missed the best. Everyone had a great time and couldn’t stop talking about how great a teacher Laura is. She’s a art career councilor as well and that is something every artist need.

The chocolate shop is still open. We are in California visiting Adina and Zeke, her boyfriend.

Adina graduated from graduate school with her master’s in International Security and Conflict Resolution and already has a great job working for Santa Clara. Lovely. Now, rather than sending her money, she can send us money. 😉 (Send money! That what I used to say when I called from Sweden. “Send money, Mullsjo.” For 20 cents US you could call for 10 second from Sweden. So, 10 seconds of Send money! 😉

We are so proud of her. She is poised to really make a difference in the world. Yea!

I’ve been also looking at electric cars. There are some nice ones. Our next car will be electric. I think I like the Green Vehicles cars in Los Gatos, CA.

I’ll be posting pictures. Both of the workshops and our trip. Oh, and my mom, who is holding down the chocolate shop fort, says that it’s a wintry mix right now. Danger. There goes the powder, hello ice. That’ll make for fast skiing.

It’s Snowing

It’s the first real snow of the season. It’s coming down in nice dry flakes. This will be pretty good powder for all them skiers.

This bodes well for my ski season, too.

Jing, jing, jingley, jing.

Pictures will be forthcoming.

Recipe: Holiday Top Chef Tiffany’s Salted Butterscotch Pudding Recipe

Question before the committee, can one make Tiffany’s Salted Butterscotch Pudding as seen in the edits on TV. If you look at the recipe above, click on this posts title, and count up the hours, an eyebrow or two may raise in inquiry as to whether it is possible to actually make said recipe in the allotted time. (OK, I have to stop channelling Steven and Marcel at the same time. 😉 (Actually, I believe they had 3 hours of cooking time and a half hour between each course. However, that hasn’t stopped me from seeing if this could be done in one hour.)

Seriously, you can make the Tiffany’s Top Chef Recipe very quickly if you take some short cuts. Strike that, not short cuts but if you understand the ins and outs of cooking. First of all, let me say that when I make desserts or my chocolates, I take my chef hat off and put on my pastry chef and chocolatier hat, both figuratively and literally. When doing pastry you have to slow down, change your attitude about almost all aspects of cooking, and basically, Ooooooommmmmmmm! To do this recipe, I stayed as Chef Mark and didn’t make that transformation to Pastry Chef Mark. So, Valerie and Ann, there IS a Butterscotch pudding!

I was able to cool down the mixture in a scant 15 mins to 75-80 degrees using a salted ice bath with plenty of cold water. I used that same ice bath over and over adding ice to it. Remember, in a water bath, you want to have the water line up to the line of the liquid in the pot. I didn’t change pots or do any of the nice things I normally do. I didn’t even change into my whites. I just banged this out. The waiting time I could have used to cook other things but in this time, I’m writing my blog. Not even a half hour has elapsed. And the temperature of the mixture is down to 72 degrees.

Now, I made sure that the water in the water baths was hot before I put it in the oven. I even heated it up on the stove. I even had a Top Chef moment. I was moving so fast that I must have either filled the boats up too much or the hotel pans too much, and some of the water from the water bath go into the custard. So, I threw those out, refilled two of them, still having 9 boats filled with pudding. So, I made 12 all told though I did wind up throwing out three because of the water bath. (Another got water in it, as I was putting it in the oven, I think I burned my hand again, so what’s new?, and I just left it, hoping that the water would bake out fast enough. I whisked it in.)

Remember I am preparing this for my guests so it still have to be good. So, within 35 mins, I had it in my preheated oven in a water bath. I couldn’t get the bread in there as well, urfh, and Kim came in while I was putting it in the oven to tell me that Megan, our dishwasher, was sick and that she’d be doing the dishes. Thanks sweety. I love you.)

I set my alarm for 22 mins to see how much time it will take to bake it. I should be able to do the sauce in 10 mins. that’ll mean about 1 hour for this recipe. As it turns out, it took for some about 30 mins. The ones in the hotter part of the oven were done in 20 mins and the ones in the cooler part in about 25 mins. If I had a deck oven, this would have went better. Plus, you really have to watch the water levels. Don’t fill them up too much.

OK. so, then I made the sauce. It looked very thin for a caramel sauce and it doesn’t have any milk in it so it’s not going to get any browning from the Maillard reaction and it really isn’t a caramel but we’ll see. I just made it and it only took about 15 mins. I heated the apple cider four mins in the micro to keep it from seizing the sugar. I didn’t whisk. I used a wooden spoon. (Ah hem, I didn’t use apple cider. I didn’t have any. We produce some very good ciders around here but you know what, all I had was, %-}, apple juice. Still all in all, not bad.)

So, all told, 55 mins for the custard, which I could do and also do other things in the background. So, basically, if I were Tiffany, I would have started the custard and finished it by the end of the first round as I was serving. Then right before the third round, I would have just banged out the sauce and voila, done. If she had an hour between courses, which I think they did not, she could have done the whole thing in one hour because while waiting for the custard to cook, she could have banged out the sauce. Or she could have started in during round 2. Same diff. The custard would have finished by the middle to end of round three while she banged out the sauce.

— Later after eating it —

Boy, that is sweet. It’s not only sweet but it is very butterscotchy. I like it but I think I’d tone down on the sugar. Maybe half it. 3/4 cup brown sugar to maybe 1 cup. Those judges must have a sweet tooth. Ouch. Most of the diners like it, some thought it too sweet. Oh, well. And it does seem more of a pudding than a custard though it’s made like a custard. Most of the dinners just loved the caramel sauce. When I made it, I just left the cinnamon stick in it and never took it out.

I also had to reboil the caramel until that it got thicker. I wound up taking it to 230 F.

I’ll put my version of the recipe below. I followed her recipe and weighed almost every ingredient so that you’ll have a more baker like recipe to follow. I also added temperatures to the recipe. I also added some tricks so that you wont have too many issues. Enjoy.

Butterscotch Pudding:


100 g butter
225g brown sugar
1 vanilla bean (I used 1/2 of a Tahitian and it was very vanilla.)
480g whipping cream
280g milk (I used 2% with about 20g of cream in it.)
1t Fleur de sel
10 large egg yolks, beaten
blueberries as needed for a garnish. (Trust me on this.)

Caramel Sauce:
260g sugar
60g water
9g light corn syrup
1 cinnamon stick (I used True Cinnamon, Indonesian)
1 1/4 cups apple cider


Melt butter with brown sugar and cook until sugar is complete dissolved. Cook until boil In a separate pot, scrape vanilla from the bean and steep in cream with the whole pod. Heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and let cool to around 100F before using. Add cool cream to sugar mixture, slowly. Add in milk and salt and just barely bring to a boil. Temper mixture (at 144F) into eggs and then do a thin drizzle into the mixture while stirring briskly. Put in well salted ice bath for 15 mins or until the mixture has reached 75 F. Place pudding in containers and bake in a shallow water bath for about 20 mins in a 350F preheated oven or until firm but jiggly.

Caramel Sauce:

Combine sugar, water, corn syrup and cinnamon until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 300F. Heat cider in the microwave for 4 mins or until mixture is between 110F and 120F. Add cider to sugar mixture while stirring with a wooden spoon and return to heat. Heat until mixture is 230F. Let cool and thicken. Serve over pudding warm.

Enjoy. This whole dish takes about 1 hour and 5 maybe 10 mins.

Hey, it isn’t chocolate but it’s yummer.

Augustus McGutch of the clan McGutch

Our sweet bunny boy died Friday while I was driving to Virginia to get my mother. Kim had to bury him herself. He was the best house bunny ever. He was house trained and just a sweet boy. He was a Rex Rabbit.

He also lived for a very long time. We got him in 95 or 94 and he was already a full grown rabbit. He just died. I think he lived about 14 or 15 years old. Rabbits can live as long as dogs and cats. Rex rabbits are only supposed to live 8-10 years. Guster Bunny lived almost double the normal life span, just like the highlander. That’s why he is Augustus McGutch of the Clan McGutch.

Here is a picture of a Rex Rabbit. That’s what he was. That looks exactly like him but with a different coloring. I’ll have to put a picture of him up. He was a good boy.

We’ll miss him. He was a great friend to both us and the dogs, all the dogs. He outlived both Cherry and Spot and was friends with Hudson and Bree.

Kim knew he was going to die when he refused a yogurt drop.

Ma mere, c’est arrivee!

Well, I went down to Virginia with Johnny, my brother, and Carla, his girlfriend, to bring my mother, Joyce, back up to Greenville. I first stopped off in Brooklyn to pick them up. They live in a nice apartment in Brooklyn. We listened to tunes and ate Bergen’s bagels on the way done. Fun but tiring.

My mother was living down there close to my sister and her family. My sister moved to DC so it was time for my mom to leave Danville, last home of the confederacy, and come up and live in lovely Greenville.

Some of you have met her and some have not. You’ll meet her next year. She’ll be around the inn helping in various capacities. It’ll be fantastic.

The move was arduous. I drove the UHaul 12 hours straight. Ouch. John and Carla drove the cars. It took them 14 hours. I got up early and with the help of Mike, our gardener and handyboy, emptied most of the truck. When John and Carla and my Mom got up, they helped with the rest of the furniture. Big heavy pieces. We packed her up in 2 hours, well, packed the truck, she had already done most of the packing, and we unpacked her in about 4 or 5 hours. We didn’t have as many people for the unpacking though it went extremely smoothly. Now it’ll probably take a year or two for her to settle in. She had a lot of stuff. She went from a 3 bedroom with a front parlor and a formal dining room and kitchen to a two bedroom with a sitting room and kitchen. Basically, half the space. We filled up the second to largest UHaul truck.

I was very happy that Johnny and Carla were there to help both with the packing and unpacking. Colette, my sister, helped gather up the small items that needed to be packed at the last. Donald, my brother-in-law and my nieces, aka Children of the Corn, came way too late to help at all. Kim helped with the unpacking. She had to hold down the fort here so could not come. That was too bad.

I’m glad she is finally here. That’s a load off my mind. This is going to be fun having her around. You’ll see.

Grand Opening of Life by Chocolate

Come and get some free decadent hot chocolate. Pure enjoyment.

The Grand Opening of Life by Chocolate will be at the Greenville Arms, 4 corners of Greenville, Route 32 and Highway 81.

Nov 16 and 17th,
10AM to 5PM both days

Life by Chocolate
at The Greenvile Arms
11135 Route 32
Greenville, NY 12083

Click Here for directions.

Tel: 518 966 5219

Hope to see you there. Or you can always order by phone!

Jane Sassaman Photo Op

I can’t possible say enough about this group. Jane was a wonderful instructor and we had a great mix of people who bonded together in a beautiful way and created some truly beautiful art. So without further verbiage, I give you the Jane Sassaman workshop. (Hhhhhrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaahhhh.)

Jane is the one with the Alien on her head.

Here’s Wendy (aka Uncle Milty, aka Wacky Wendy, Paper Artist Extrodinaire) working on the hats. I was in NJ this day so didn’t get to see it.

And here they are making their beautiful art.

Oops back to eating.
I just love this picture of Madeline and her mom. They both had a great time here.

And yes, they did a lot of quilting. Here’s Jane (in the purple) helping out Diane in the blue.

Finally, here I am with my lobster hat asking Wendy where she put the white truffles for the lobster. 😉
My, my Wendy. With your long curly blond hair, you look just like Sarah Jessica Parker. Check it out, people.

Jane Sassaman will be coming back in 2009. Start making your plans now. You just don’t want to miss this workshop Everyone learned a huge amount and had loads of fun. Let the quilting begin.

My dinner

Kim is upstairs quilting and I am down here sitting in the office waiting for our inn guests to arrive. I need to check them in. Kim took a snack of her fantastic sweet potato, NOT squash, soup with the yogurt and apples garnish upstairs with her. I am eating, what else, left over fillet mignon with the delicious bacon by >Alan Benton, an egg and some of the wunnerful Italian Fall black truffles. Oh how I wish they were white truffles but at $4,000 a lb I’ll just keep wishing.

All is right with the world. Of course, if you have never been here or had my cooking, all may not be quite as right as it could be.

Right after I put up the Jane Sassaman photos, what a great class that was, I loved those guys, I’m going to put up chocophotos over at the Life by Chocolate blog. Take a peek.

Carol Taylor Photo Op numero dos!

And then we had another glorious week of Carol Taylor. Boy, did we have fun and I mean fun.

Here are the pictures to prove it. Most of you don’t realise just how much of a good time everyone has. The pictures do not do justice to the rooms, the food, the instructors. But they do give you a peek.

I know, I know, I overdid the dining pictures but I wanted to make up for Carol Taylor 1 blog entry where I had none.

Carol Taylor Photo Op

And here is the amazing Carol Taylor. Boy did you miss a great class. Well, two great classes.

Here are the photos from the first session, Carol Taylor 1.

Sorry no photos of the food. Sigh. For that you’ll have to look at Carol Taylor 2 or the new Chocolate Blog.

My Cold Core Inc./Alternative Air Fixtures Display Case

Well, after much slipping, I was finally given a guarantee that my expensive, and I hope beautiful, display case will arrive next Tuesday, even if the salesman has to drive it up here himself. I’ve seen their display cases, and if they work as well as they look, it will be grand. Come see for yourself and enjoy a cup of decadent hot chocolate on the house.

Let me tell you folks, this has been exciting, maybe too exciting. In the end, it will be worth it.

Come to our Grand Opening and you can see for yourself, Life by Chocolate at the Greenville Arms.

Recipe: Beet salad

I know that I’ve had many requests for recipes this last workshop or three. I remember the beet salad request. Here it is.

1. peel and cut up beets. I’d say around 1 per person depending on side. If they are enormous, go for 1/2 per person. You may slice them but I like to cut them into chunks. Very large dice.

2. Smother them. That is, put them in a pan with olive oil and some butter, add sea salt, I like Fleur de sel, and add black pepper. Cook (covered and on medium heat) for about 1/2 hour to 45 mins depending on size of chunks. I like to start out on high heat and then lower it and cover it. You might want to cook it for 1 hour, again, depending on the beets.

3. Make salad dressing. I like to make a nice apple cider vinaigrette. The way I do that is 1 cup of olive oil to about 1/4 cup of vinegar. I like to put a little smoked sea salt in the salad dressing or sometimes I put in soy sauce. Add pepper to taste. I like to use a good amount.

4. clean a bunch of baby spinach and then I like to ladle on the beets hot and pour the dressing over the beets, spinach and everything. Play with it. The combination is great.

Post comments if you want other recipes. I’ll put them up in this format. No problem. Just hit the comment button and post it. Or you can always email us. Posting is more sure, though.

Enjoy the salad!

Fresh squeezed orange juice

I’m sitting here taking a break and drinking fresh sqeezed orange juice. I use valencia oranges. We squeeze it fresh every morning and serve it. There is nothing like it. It is truly sunshine in a glass. And remember, a day without sunshine is like night.

With the OJ, I ate a nice ricotta, garlic and oregano on toasted whole wheat. Truly a gourmet delight.

ChocoVision Revolation: ChocoVision Delta Tempering Machine

Well, my Delta has been having problems and it may be that the heater keeps overheating for a number of reasons. One is poor design. The other is that I have 120V. The new design that Mike is working on will keep the heater from having these problems.

To continue reading about the ChocoVision tempering machine, go to Life By Chocolate blog.

I should have more pictures from the first Carol Taylor workshop going up pretty soon.

Oh, and Hudson is out to stud. What a good boy! What a beauty dog. Lucky dog!

The 2008 Schedule for Painting and Drawing

Class Descriptions for 2008
The website is coming along but will take a week or two. You may even get your brochures in the mail before I get the website done. This is only the painting and drawing information. For fiber art, please see our fiber art website.

Artist: Stanley Maltzman
Date: March 2 – 8, 2008
Medium: Drawing and Pastel
Location: Outdoors/Studio
Levels: All Levels

Stanley Maltzman is a highly acclaimed landscape artist, author, and educator. He is the author of Drawing Nature and Drawing Trees, and recently, the Art of Stanley Maltzman – Sketches and Studies in Pencil, Pastel, & Watercolor. Recently he was honored to exhibit at the Butler Institute. Stan’s sensitive portrayals of nature reveal an intimacy with the Catskill Mountain landscape attained through over 40 years of observation and work.

This workshop is designed to further enhance your appreciation of the winter landscape. Mornings are spent outdoors, observing, sketching, and making notes, and taking photographs. Afternoons you are shown how to combine these images to make interesting compositions. These lessons are used collectively to show how to make use of the photograph and not have the photograph use you!

Artist: Artist Retreat
Date: March 27 – April 2, 2008
Medium: All
Level: All
Location: Studio/Outdoors

Artist: Sharon Carson
Date: April 3 – 6, 2008
Medium: Oil
Level: All
Location: Studio

Spring Landscape in Oil

Sharon Carson’s award-winning paintings embody dynamic composition, lively brushwork and expressive color.

This indoor workshop will focus on creative interpretation of the Spring landscape. You’ll begin with creative exercises from still life setups, emphasizing the similarities with landscape. Explore how simplifying, exaggerating, creative color, rhythm, shapes and line work can be used to create a more personally expressive painting. You’ll then apply these principles to landscape painting. You’ll develop the confidence to make artistic choices that suit your personal vision.

Bring photographs of the spring landscape for reference. If the weather permits, students have the option of painting on the grounds at the inn.

Sharon Carson’s Bio

Sharon Carson has been painting and teaching for more than 30 years. Sharon works in oils, watercolors, and acrylics. In any medium, Sharon places great importance on creative expression.

Her paintings have been accepted into several juried national shows including those sponsored by The Salmagundi Club, Academic Artists, Knickerbocker Artists, Hudson Valley Artists, the National Academy of Design, and Southern Vermont Arts Center. Her professional affiliations have included Academic Artists, and The Copley Society of Boston, Rockport Art Association, and North Shore Arts Association.

Sharon was one of only a few living Cape Ann artists selected to show their work in the historic exhibition “The Legacy of Cape Ann” held at the Canton Art Institute in Canton, Ohio. “The Legacy of Cape Ann” was a major exhibition for the museum, displaying historic paintings on-loan from several museums and private collections, along with work by invited contemporary artists, to visually represent more than 100 years of painting on Cape Ann.

Sharon’s paintings were included in the exhibition “Winter Comes to Rockport” held at the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, Massachusetts. Her winter scenes were shown alongside the museum’s collection of paintings by American master Aldro T. Hibbard (1886-1972). She was also invited to participate in a show at The Copley Society of Boston of member artists who had been featured in “American Artist” magazine. The art association in Old Lyme, Connecticut included her work in its invitational exhibition “Cape Ann Masters.” And the Attleboro Museum displayed one of Sharon’s paintings in its invitational exhibition “New England Impressions, Painting from Life.” Sharon was selected for an artist residency program sponsored by Les Amis de la Grande Vigne in Dinan, France and one of her paintings is now included in the museum’s permanent collection. Her paintings have also been included in invitational or juried shows at Symphony Hall in Boston; Gordon College in Wenham, MA; Boston Design Center; The Federal Reserve Bank in Boston, The Copley Society of Boston, Rockport Art Association and North Shore Art Association.

Sharon was featured in the November 1989 issue of “American Artist” magazine.

In 2004, Sharon and her husband Ed moved to the Berkshire region in western Massachusetts. They now live in Eclipse Mill Artist Lofts, a former textile mill that was converted to live/work lofts for artists.

Artist: Eric Wiegardt
Date: May 4 – 10, 2008
Medium: Watercolor/Acrylic
Level: All
Location: Studio/Outdoors

Secrets to Painting Loose

Eric Wiegardt AWS NWS, nationally recognized judge, juror, and award winner, has left an indelible mark on the American art scene with more than 20 years of professional painting and teaching experience. He is the author of the North Light book Watercolor Free & Easy and is featured in many books along with articles in Watercolor Magazine, International Artist Magazine, Watercolor Magic Magazine, and cover artist for The Artist’s Magazine. Eric is a graduate of the American Academy of Art in Chicago.

This is a workshop for those who wish to loosen up in watercolor and/or acrylic. Painting techniques and a philosophy of design is applicable in both mediums to encourage bold, loose paintings.

Eric believes most painting problems are the violation of an elementary painting principle. Lectures are designed to be helpful to all levels of expertise, from beginner to the professional. There will be ample time for students to try the concepts presented in a safe environment. Eric does a completed painting demonstration daily. Subject matter may include landscapes, marinescapes, florals, streetscapes, interiors, and still lives. Weather permitting, some plein-air painting may be incorporated.

Artist: James McFarlane
Date: May 17 – 20, 2008
Medium: Watercolor
Level: All
Location: Studio

Draw Well – Paint Loose

James McFarlane, AWS, is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, the Philadelphia Water Color Society, and the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society. His paintings have been honored with numerous awards in local, regional, and national shows. James is a popular and sought after teacher known for presenting clearly defined goals, for putting his students at ease, providing individual instruction and constructive critiques.

In this workshop, James’ goal is to teach you to improve your ability to “see” as an artist. He presents a series of stimulating demos and exercises in composition, the expressive use of color, pigment application and dynamic calligraphic brushwork, all designed to encourage well planned yet spontaneous watercolor paintings. There will be plenty of time for you to put the information into practice in your own original paintings . . . not just recording your subject, but enthusiastically and creatively interpreting it.

Artist: Elizabeth Apgar-Smith
Date: May 29 – June 1, 2008
Medium: Pastel
Level: All
Location: Outdoors

Elizabeth Apgar Smith has earned numerous awards for her impressionistic paintings and her work is featured in many books on painting technique. The towns and farm communities that surround her studio in Schoharie, New York, inspire paintings that shimmer with atmosphere and reflect the nobility of commonplace scenes.

Betsy is a teacher who stresses strong design and creative use of color. Through demonstrations and individual guidance, she helps her students to explore a variety of techniques and achieve stronger personal statements.

Artist: David Dunlop
Date: June 1 – 7, 2008
Medium: Pastel/Oil/Watercolor/Acrylic
Level: All
Location: Outdoors

On Location with Past Masters

Painting on a variety of sites from farms, to mountains streams, lakes and vast Hudson Valley Vistas, David Dunlop explains and demonstrates the techniques and theories of Hudson River School artists like Gifford and Church in oil, Whistler’s techniques in watercolor and pastel, Turner’s methods in watercolor and oil, Impressionist systems as practiced by Monet in oil, and contemporary landscape painting strategies including acrylic painting (David demonstrates a variety of acrylic strategies and products). A different artist or school and their particular approach is presented on different days. This strategy enables you to see how various artists solved the issues of lustrous skies, complex textured foliage, translucent water, credible architecture, and the shaped fabric of forests, fields and rock. Each day begins with a presentation/demonstration, then artists select their own motifs in their preferred medium. David works with artists individually. He wants you to enjoy the pleasures of painting on location. Beginners through advanced painters are welcome.

David also plans to have one or two evening presentations on the history of painting and color.

David A. Dunlop is an artist, faculty member and lecturer at the Silvermine Guild Art Center in Connecticut. He received his MFA from Pratt Institute and conducted painting and Art history courses in Europe and Japan. He is represented by numerous galleries across the United States and his work is in scores of Fortune 500 corporate collections as well as private and public collections. He has lectured on landscape painting at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. Simmons Art has produced a series of his art instructional DVDs.

Artist: Anatoly Dverin
Date: June 8 – 14, 2008
Medium: Oil/Pastel
Level: All Levels
Location: Outdoors

Anatoly Dverin was born in Ukraine, studied in St. Petersburg and earned wide recognition and success before leaving the Soviet Union in 1976, eventually settling in Massachusetts. Since that time, he has amassed numerous awards and created a breathtaking body of work. He is a popular demonstrator at the major pastel societies. He recently published a book of his life and work, Anatoly Dverin – American Impressionist.

Anatoly is fluent in both oil and pastel, producing paintings that transcend his skill as a draftsman and his subtle use of color and texture – abilities honed through a lifetime of devotion and hard work. The Impressionist painters Monet and Pissaro are his greatest influences.

Anatoly works with each student to develop and improve your own individual style. This is an opportunity to learn from a master, eager to share a lifetime of painting experience with warmth and humor.

Artist:David Daniels
Date: June 15 – 21, 2008
Medium: Watercolor
Level: Intermediate & Advanced
Location: Studio

David Daniels is the watercolor instructor for the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, DC and teaches workshops throughout the world. David’s former training as a botanist and biologist are always evident in his work and he enjoys showing the beauty of nature in new and refreshing ways. He firmly believes that here is no trite subject matter, only trite painting.

His interactive approach and humor are often recognized as his strongest teaching tools. The heart of the artist and the spirit of the medium are the two most important components of his teaching. Students are introduced to methods of using multiple glazes over wet into wet passages to achieve an unsurpassed brilliance as well as the use of masking agents to achieve a jewel-like batik effect.

The spontaneity of watercolor should not lead to weak painting because of a lack of planning. David shows how to carefully construct a watercolor using preliminary sketches on tracing paper that eventually get transferred to the watercolor paper. Students work with sketches, photographs and other source material. This process allows for stronger compositions and therefore stronger paintings. Planning does not destroy spontaneity, it allows for opportunity.

Artist: Alvaro Castagnet
Date: June 22 – 28, 2008
Medium: Watercolor
Level: Intermediate & Advanced
Location: Outdoors

Alvaro Castagnet has earned a huge international reputation as an artist and teacher. He believes that mastery of tonal values is the key to volume and depth in watercolor painting.

Alvaro begins class with a philosophical introduction to “what makes a painting,” followed by a simple “one-go” demonstration. As class progresses, techniques such as wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, lost & found edges, and color blending is introduced. By mid-week, the focus is on values, with challenging exercises, demonstrations and critiques of your paintings in progress. This is an opportunity to have fun learning from an energetic and colorful master of expressive watercolor. Please note that a fee of $50 is added to tuition for this class, to offset international travel costs.

Artist: Susan Sarback
Date: July 6 – 12, 2008
Medium: Oil or Pastel
Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Location: Outdoors/Studio

Capture Radiant Light & Color

In this workshop you will learn the secrets of seeing and painting based on the light and color of the Impressionists. This landscape workshop focuses on capturing the different qualities of light seen throughout the day. We will work both indoors and outdoors with an emphasis on landscape composition, color, choice of subject,and the skills to capture the outdoor atmosphere.

Susan Sarback, founder of The School of Light & Color, is the author of Capturing Radiant Color in Oils (North Light Books, 1994). She has a Master’s Degree in art and has devoted much of her life to studying light and color, including many years with master colorist Henry Hensche. International Artist magazine named her one of the Master Painters of the world. She has lectured about color at over 100 art schools, universities, and art associations in the United States. Since 1986, she has taught painting workshops and classes throughout the United States and Europe. Articles by or about her have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Artist’s Magazine, American Artist Magazine, Sacramento Bee, Sacramento Magazine, and other publications.

Sarback’s work has been shown in galleries in New York City, San Francisco, Sacramento, Seattle, and Santa Fe. Her paintings are in private collections throughout the world, including the Medical Center of the University of California at Davis and the Kaiser Permenante Medical Group in Sacramento. The Cornell Museum of Art and History in Delray Beach, Florida, keeps twelve of her paintings in its permanent collection.

Artist: HongNian Zhang
Date: July 17 – 20, 2008
Medium: Oil Figures
Level: Advanced
Location: Studio

Hong Nian Zhang’s career began in China where he trained at the Central Art Academy, China’s most prestigious art school. He helped create the avant-garde Flashback and Scar movements, evoking an untainted vision of Chinese life. Hong Nian came to America in 1985 to continue his studies, introducing Chinese oil painting to the western world. He is the co-author with Lois Woolley of The Yin/Yang of Painting.

Hong Nian’s paintings glow with subtle atmosphere and drama achieved through combining complementary color schemes and Old Masters glazing techniques. He introduces students to his method starting with still life, then landscape and figure. Hong Nian’s simple approach to beginning a painting leads to compositions that are strong and balanced. His theory of painting is based on an ancient Chinese philosophy: The elements of painting follow the concept of yin-yang, from value to color, from pattern to form.

Back-to-Back Special: When you sign up for both Zhang and Woolley, you get $100 off the combined lodging cost.

Artist: Lois Woolley
Date: July 20 – 26, 2008
Medium: Oil Portraits
Level: Intermediate & Advanced
Location: Studio

Lois Woolley, co-author with HongNian Zhang of The Yin/Yang of Painting, is a well-known portrait artist. A popular instructor at the Woodstock School of Art, she is loved for her warmth and personal attention as well as for her clear, articulate instruction. Lois brings yin and yang to the traditional study of portraiture. In this class you learn to create rich, natural skin tones using a unique palette of complementary colors. An emphasis on traditional elements of portraiture; lighting, form and how to paint the feature, plus how to use setting and composition to convey character make this an innovative workshop.

Back-to-Back Special: When you sign up for both Zhang and Woolley, you get $100 off the combined lodging cost.

Artist: Betty Carr
Date: July 27 – August 2, 2008
Medium: Watercolor
Level: All
Location: Studio/Outdoors

Betty Carr’s energetic style and enthusiasm is apparent in her paintings and her teaching. She is the author of a number of books, the latest being Seeing the Light: An Artist’s Guide.

This workshop covers linear as well as atmospheric perspective, drawing basics and aspects of painting light. How to examine colors, values and temperatures of light and shadow, its luminosity, is demonstrated. Regardless of style, sound design and compositional aspects in using light is discovered in order to direct the eye. You will examine the “how to’s” of massing and organizing darks and lights, value and color relationships, edges, direction and other important design applications in creating dynamic paintings. Carr also demonstrates who to work from field sketches, value studies and a combination of photos. You are encouraged to bring in paintings and drawings for critique for open discussion, and your favorite photos, especially ones saved for that “challenging” painting. Come prepared to have fun!

Artist: Robert Noreika
Date: August 2 – 5, 2008
Medium: Acrylic
Level: All Levels
Location: Outdoors

Nouveau En Plein Aire, with Fluid Acrylics

In this fun outdoor workshop, Robert Noreika teaches you the use of acrylic paint in a “new” fluid way, using the transparency, translucence, and opacity of the medium. With the application of this new loose painting style and innovative technique, the watercolorist can learn how to correct past mistakes and the oil painter can gain new experience in terms of trying acrylics as a useful tool for base or under painting, as well as learning the use of the medium through Robert’s demonstration.

This course is designed to have fun, let go and to really express yourself

Artist: Lewis Barrett Lehrman
Date: August 7 – 13, 2008
Medium: Travel Sketching/Watercolor/Pencil
Level: All
Location: Studio/Outdoors

Sketching & Travel Journaling

Lew Lehrman spent three decades in commercial art before escaping in the mid 1980’s to become a full time watercolorist. In the years since then, he has also been an art instructor, author of 6 books on art, and an avid traveler. Anyone who sees his travel journals marvels at how he captures the sense of place and time.

“Ever wonder why we rarely relive our travels through photos? Perhaps because taking a photo requires so little investment of one’s attention. Even after 30 years, my sketch journals vividly evoke wonderful places and memories of my travels! Artistic journaling slows your pace, as you observe a scene for at least as long as it takes to sketch it. Journaling is solely for pleasure – it doesn’t require that you be an accomplished artist. Regardless of skill level, you’ll be amazed how quickly your drawing and watercolor skills improve – within hours! We’ll visit and sketch some of the Hudson Valley’s most interesting locales. By the end of the workshop, you’ll be a dedicated journaler…and a better painter too!”

Artist: Jean Uhl Spicer
Date: August 14 – 17, 2008
Medium: Watercolor
Level: All
Location: Studio

Jean Uhl Spicer is an award winning artist who studied at the Philadelphia University of the Arts. She first became a greeting card designer and then continued her studies with noted professional watercolorist. She has won 5 gold medals, among many other prestigious awards. Jean has also served as a juror for the annual American Watercolor Society show. Her work has been published in American Artist, Watercolor for the Serious Beginner, and The Best of Flower Painting #2. Jean is the author of Bright & Beautiful Flowers in Watercolor and wrote a chapter for Watercolor Landscapes Techniques of 23 International Artists.

In this fun workshop, you have two days of floral painting in the studio and one day of landscape painting. Jean shows you how to achieve drama and excitement in your paintings by creating a good design, using clean color, and the use of effective lighting. Jean does daily demonstrations and critiques. Bring a good sense of humor and prepare to have fun.

Artist: Mel Stabin
Date: August 17 – 23, 2008
Medium: Watercolor
Level: All
Location: Outdoors

Mel Stabin is an internationally known, award-winning watercolorist who conducts workshops throughout the country and abroad. This workshop reflects the title of his book, Watercolor: Simple, Fast, and Focused. Emphasis is on design principles with the objective of building strong paintings by seeing and thinking simply, painting energetically, and focusing on the “idea” of the painting. Mel paints in a loose, representational style. Design, composition, and color/value relationships are discussed throughout.

This workshop is divided into three days painting landscapes on location and two days painting the clothed figure on location.

Mel demonstrates with a step-by-step simple explanation of solutions to every problem presented by the subject, offers personal instruction, and gives class critiques daily.

Mel makes learning the art of watercolor painting an enjoyable experience. Mel’s friendly, informative manner of teaching creates an easy open dialogue with his students.

Mel Stabin, AWS, NWS is an internationally known teacher, author, and award-winning watercolorist. A graduate of Pratt Institute, Mel studied the art of watercolor with Ed Whitney. For over thirty years Mel was an award-winning art director/creative director for major advertising agencies in New York City. He is a signature member of prestigious art societies including the American Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society, Transparent Watercolor Society of America, Watercolor West, and The Allied Artists of America.
For twenty years Mel has conducted watercolor workshops with groups on location throughout the country and abroad, and for numerous art societies.
His paintings have been the recipient of national awards including the Elizabeth Callan Medal at the 2004 American Watercolor Society International Exhibition and have been represented in major exhibitions including the American Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society, National Academy of Design, Transparent Watercolor Society of America, Watercolor West, Allied Artists of America, Butler Institute of American Art, North East Watercolor Society, New Jersey Watercolor Society, and Pennsylvania Watercolor Society.
Mel has had sixteen one-man exhibitions of his watercolors. His paintings are in many private and corporate collections. His work can be viewed in the “Featured Artists” section on The New American Gallery website at Mel was a director for the American Watercolor Society’s 2005/2006 exhibitions and was one of the jurors of selection for the American Watercolor Society’s 2006 Annual International Exhibition.
He has written feature articles for American Artist, The Artist’s Magazine, Watercolor, and Watercolor Magic. Mel is the author of Watercolor: Simple, Fast, and Focused and The Figure In Watercolor: Simple, Fast, and Focused published by Watson-Guptill.

Artist: Mary Alice Braukman
Date: August 24 – 30, 2008
Medium: Watermedia/Collage
Level: All
Location: Studio

Watermedia, Assemblage, Collage & Pours

“As a watermedia artist, my life experiences become filtered in my eye, mind, and heart. They are then transformed into my paintings. My paintings are of a myriad of techniques – I am not afraid of color or texture. I want the viewer to crawl into my work and walk through each step of motion or intensity or serenity.”

This class explores layering of experimental mediums, photo transfers, and collage in depth, striving for results that go beyond obvious techniques and leave people wondering just how you created such a gem. There are daily critiques, both class and individual.

.Mary Alice Braukman’s work is featured in several articles: the 20th Anniversary Issue of American Artist Watercolor Magazine: “20 Great Watercolor Teachers offer Their Best Recommendations” Fall 2006, Summer issue in an article covering water-based painting, “Mary Alice Braukman on Acrylics.” She was also the guest editor and was featured in Watercolor Winter 2001 — Special Issue of Experimental Approaches to Water Media.

Artist: Pat Dews
Date: September 7 – 13, 2008
Medium: Watercolor/Acrylic/Collage
Level: All
Location: Studio

Pat Dews is an award-winning artist who works experimentally using aquamedia and collage. She paints the essence of nature with rocks and water as a recurring theme. She is the author of Creative Discoveries in Watermedia and Creative Composition & Design. Pat describes her workshops as exciting and very intense, with an aim of pushing students to think and paint in more abstract ways.

Pat shows you her thinking process as she works on paintings in progress. She discusses concept, design, value, and technique while taking paintings from start to finish. Her critiques enable you to clearly see the directions your paintings can take, and move you to more exciting outcomes. As the same principles apply regardless of your choice of subject matter, this class is for both abstract and representational artists.

Artist: John Salminen
Date: September 14 – 20, 2008
Medium: Watercolor
Level: All
Location: Studio

John Salminen has won over 125 awards in national and international exhibitions. In 2003, he was a juror for both the NWS and AWS exhibitions. His work is widely published, and he is a popular lecturer and teacher in art venues across the USA.

John’s workshop begins with pure abstraction and concludes with realism. John has developed a non-threatening approach to abstraction, encouraging representational painters to experiment with a different style and challenging experienced abstract painters to expand their possibilities in expressing their creative voices. Having completed a successful abstraction, participants apply the same design concepts to the development of a realistic piece. The workshop includes demos, critiques, and lots of individual help during the painting time.

Artist: William B. (Skip) Lawrence
Date: September 28 – October 4, 2008
Medium: Watermedia
Level: Intermediate & Advanced
Location: Studio

Finding Your Voice In Paint (Second Session – Intermediate to Advanced)

Skip Lawrence, received a B.F.A. degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art and M.A. degree from Towson University. His book, Painting Light and Shadow in Watercolor, was published in 1994. Skip is editor-and-chief of “The Palette Magazine”. Website:

After you have explored all the “how too’s” of painting, you are still stuck with the “why?’ Without a clear declaration of what one wants to say in one’s painting, it can become just an imitation someone else’s work. Skip challenges painters to rewrite the rules their way, to consider their choices and shake up their status quo. Through lecture, demonstration and critique, Skip guides each painter to refine their intention and express it in new and honest ways. No one else but you can say what you want to say in paint—why settle for less? With insight, warmth and humor, Skip brings out the best in each painter.

Artist: Mary Whyte
Date: October 5 – 11, 2008
Medium: Watercolor/Portrait
Level: All
Location: Studio

Mary Whyte’s paintings of the people and places of the South Carolina Low Country are richly narrative. She combines abstract design with sensitive rendering to produce the dynamic portraits she is known for. Mary is also an avid teacher and author of Watercolor for the Serious Beginner. She lives and paints in Charleston, South Carolina, and teaches painting workshops across the country.

In this workshop, you learn fundamental drawing and painting skills, how to mix clean color, create dynamic compositions, correct mistakes, use lighting effectively, and make emotional paintings that endure. Through everyday demonstrations and one-on-one guidance Mary starts you on your way to painting your best works. Subject matter include portrait, still life, and landscape, with the opportunity for you to explore each venue.

Artist: Kenn Backhaus
Date: October 19 – 25, 2008
Medium: Oil
Level: Intermediate & Advanced
Location: Outdoors

Freezing That Moment of Light
Exploring the Foundations of PLEIN Air

Instruction will focus on the difficulty of freezing that moment of light. Developing your knowledge and skills through a better understanding and awareness of how to approach the ever-fleeting moment of light. I’m sure we have all experienced times when we were excited to paint a particular scene and then found out that we were unable to get the proper information quickly down on canvas. Hence, the light has changed and the effect was lost. The Plein Air Artist needs to develop; speed and accuracy. This workshop addresses the use of sound fundamentals and principles, which are essential to the development of plein-aire painting. Students will paint the outdoors, studying and developing a better understanding of such principles as; The Four Divisions of the Landscape, Value verses Color, Proper use of Edges, Understanding Color Temperature, Trusting Your Eyes and most important, The Ten Questions we Should ask Before Painting. Together we will explore the importance of these foundations to better our skills and develop the speed along with the accuracy we need to better our results on the canvas.

Kenn works with you to help further develop your individual style. He identifies your strong and weak points in order to build on your strong points and try to overcome the weak areas. The format of the class is to paint on location with the instructor teaching through lecture and/or demonstration each day. After the demonstration, the participants paint the rest of the day while receiving individual instruction.

Participants will receive:
Student Packet Material
Daily Lecture and Demonstrations
Individual Tutoring

Artist: Artist’s Retreat
Date: October 26 – November 1, 2008
Medium: Any
Level: All
Location: Studio/Outdoors

Next years painting classes

Kim gave me all the pictures and data for next years classes and, even though the brochure is not yet ready for mailing, I’m going to put it up sometime in the next two weeks.

Before I do that, I’ll put the list and some pictures here on the blog.

Keep reading the blog. It’s coming. I’ll also tell you when the website is updated. Stay tuned to this channel in the blogosphere!

My Mother is moving up to Greenville

For those of you who met her, you lovely people are a major deciding factor, besides the fact that Kim and I live here and the beautiful area.

For those of you that have not yet been to Greenville or to the Arms, your loss.

Now, I have to move her from Virginia. Sigh! This is going to be interesting! But fun! 🙂

Park Avenue Autumn Lamb

Well, I’m still eating the left overs on that great lamb. It’s as good, nay, better than before. Though, next Autumn, I’ll be having the quail, the lamb was great.

Our day out: Park Avenue in Autumn

Ooh la la. We went to New York City and Park Avenue Autumn. We started the day going down to Jacques Torres’ place on Hudson Street. (350 Hudson Street.) Mr. Chocolate didn’t disappoint. Though, I must admit, that even for me, that large and yummy hot chocolate hurt me. I had the hot chocolate Wicked which had chilis in it. Yum. However, they need to offer a lactose free version. I didn’t ask for one. My bad. So, I hope they offer it because I was hurting all day. Still, I recommend it. However, I noticed a curious thing, Mr. Torres only had a small selection of molded and dipped chocolates. I’d say they did around 15 or some different chocolates, plus bars, lots of bars, plus some cornflake clusters and dipped Cheerios. Why so few of the fabled confection’s art? Why so pedestrian? And why did they make their own chocolate and yet use other chocolate as well.

In Vienna, you would have seen scores of chocolates and pastries and, well, pretty confections. But in the good ol’ US of A, not so much. Why? I conclude it’s because of us! Yes, us. We need to eat more real chocolates. So, stay away from Godiva and Hershey and start eating real chocolates. Go right now to Life by Chocolate and order some real chocolates and confections. For shame, America.

Then we went to Provence. A lovely little restaurant in the Village. Very nice. Tasty food but, please, wash those scallops a second or third time people. Sigh. It’s the little things that are the most telling. Nice hazelnut mousse. (I peeped into the kitchen. Largish.)

Then we went to the dreaded Grammercy Park Hotel Rose Stool Bar and had a good time. It was nice seeing everyone. A quick quote from my mother, “If they are going to charge so much for their drinks, they should at least give you backs on their chairs. An old lady could get hurt drinking there.” You had to be there.

And then, finally, after catching up on family business and fun, seeing pictures, and sitting on uncomfortable stools at the Grammercy Park Hotel, we went to Park Avenue Autumn which used to be the Park Avenue Cafe.

Well, we were eating very late and had had a large lunch. I had a fois gras. Very nice. Beautifully presented. My mom had a great butternut squash soup. Sweet. I correctly identified granny smith apples in it. Beautiful soup. I think I’ll add the granny smith touch to my soup. Plus they used two different squashes. I only use butternut squash. Kim had great cheese ravioli.

Then, I had a bowl of risotto with white truffles. They kept the rice in with the white truffles and then shaved half a white truffle on top. One dollar, 1 dollar. Forty bucks for a bowl of heaven. OK. It’s a bowl of rice but it’s heavenly rice. Yeah, I did share. Kim loved it. And my mom thought it grand. We were getting full but we all ordered the perfectly braised lamb shank. I’m the only one who almost finished. We had to bring most of my mother’s home. Still good reheated. Kim thought it was perfect. I would have liked a little sauce even if it was the most tender and juice braised lamb shank I have ever had. I guess I’m a sucker for sauce on anything braised. Sure Bruni gave it two stars and Craig Koketsu earned those two stars.

The breads were out of this world. There were two savory breads. A pumpkin quick bread that was more savory than sweet and a sweet Spanish onion bread that was one of the best (savory) breads I have ever eaten. Plus there was a sesame crisp bread. Not bad. Had garlic in it if I’m recalling correctly. Bravo. And that was just the mini-bread review. Richard Leach, the pastry chef, was just warming up.

I wonder, the apply and sage amuses bouche, sweet with some crunchy on it, was that from Mr. Leach’s bag of tricks? Could I make a nougat out of this combination? You betcha. I’d would have liked more sage but that’s just me.

My mother had the raspberry sorbet. Very good. Not quite as good as our peach and Drambuie sorbet of legend but still very two star good. The dessert I had was very elaborate and well worth the eating. I had the banana crêpe with the maple frozen mousse with a banana cake and some sort of banana filling. Nicely decorated with sugar and all topped off with bacon. With crunchy bacon. Very crunchy bacon. Was the bacon freeze dried? Perhaps. It was very lean and very particulate. (Hey, the spell checker liked the word “particulate”.)

I thought the banana cake was a little dry but I ate it separately from the filling. My bad. The flavors were understated and the dessert was big. I think I could have used a team to have helped me eat it. Sigh. I almost finished it.

We looked at the chef’s table square in the kitchen. Nice. The kitchen was huge. Bigger even then the kitchen at that inn we stayed in in Austria. My kitchen, pastry and chocolates, could fit in a corner and not be noticed. Sigh! I want a bigger kitchen. And more gadgets.

With drinks, it came out to $$$. Not too bad. 🙂 Expensive on a poor innkeepers non-existent salary. I can’t wait to try it again when it becomes the Park Avenue Winter. Sigh. We also have to go back to Perilla. I want to see if Robert Curran, the new pastry chef, is shining or not. I’m sure he is.

Gramercy (Grammercy) Park Hotel Rose Bar and Jade Bar

Just a quick note on the Grammercy Park Hotel Bars. First of all, they are nice. The drinks are OK. And the art work is large. (I’m not allowed to say anything bad about the hotel and bar or Kim will kill me.)

Just a simple note of caution if you do go to either the Gramercy Park Hotel Rose Bar or Jade Bar, which, stupidly enough, are right next to each other separated by only a door, do not take a large group there. Definition of a large group is more than 4. If you stay under four people, you might all get chairs with backs. If you go above four (4), some of you will be sitting on these horrible little stools. Even the Jade bar bar has chairs. Most of the chairs in the lounge area are unforgiving stools.

Why? Don’t ask. But we had eight people and we had to move at least once to try and find an area that was comfortable. We were harried and harassed by the management as we became Bedouins in search of comfortable eating. Ojala! Did we find the promised seating? No we did not. However, even after complaining, I was told that look, you can sit on a chair but your beloved family may not. Sob.

So, what did we do? Well, we knuckled under and sat on stools. Sigh. Stools. Such a nice bar and we had to sit on stools. The service was decent and the drinks were wet the only thing missing was the backs on our chairs.

Skip Lawrence Photo Op Supreme

You know, I thought I had better pictures. I seem to remember taking more pictures and pictures of Skip and Diane and a whole host of people but I guess they didn’t come out or something.

Well, you don’t need a blog entry to tell you that this class is not only a master class but also a super fun and magincal class. If you always wanted to take a class with Skip, I’d sign up RIGHT NOW. Already, we have 15 people signed up. And don’t worry if you get on the waiting list only, we may get to you.

Here are some pictures. Enjoy. I know these people did.

And you know, Skip is the reason everyone has so much fun but it could also be the chocolates.

Check them out. Milk and dark chocolate cherry cordials, lavender ganache, jellies, truffles, the whole tea set truffles, hazelnut butter cups, hickory smoked peanut butter cups, caramels, banana saffron caramel. The list goes one.