Archive for Just Saying

Summit Wine and Food Festival 2012

Wines of Portugal


The 4th annual Summit Wine and Food Festival held on September 21, 22, and 23rd was, once again, a huge success with 15 various events.  The stage was the Grand Summit Hotel and the entire event was smoothly orchestrated by Jean Criss, of Jean Criss Media, and Ivan Ruiz of the Wine List in Summit, NJ.

The topics ranged from such topics as:  The Flavors of India, Cognac, Wines of Portugal, The Joys of Peppers, and Latin Cooking.  The chefs, sommelier, and speakers came from restaurants around NJ along with celebrity chef, Daisy Martinez of the Food Network ‘Daisy Cooks’.  The speakers were extremely knowledgeable and informative.

Not only was it a wonderful event but the proceeds also supported the Community Food Bank of NJ.

I had the opportunity to attend a seminar on the Wines of Portugal presented by Neil Rodriguez of the Wine List and Sandra Marquez, North American Export Manager for Sogevinus Fine Wines.  Not only did Neal talk about the process of wine tasting itself by swirling, smelling and tasting but also he eloquently explained a bit of historical information on the grapes, the culture and the regions of Portugal dating back to the first makers of Port.  Sandra spoke about the interesting process of Porto wine making and how the fermentation is halted early on in the process by adding brandy to the juice.  The brandy fortifies the Porto as it ages in barrels along the city of Porto where the climate is very humid and assists in the aging process.

I also attended a seminar presented by Maricel Presilla who is a recent James Beard Award Winner.  Maricel is a chef, restaurant owner and food historian.  She gave a very informative presentation on peppers and their influence in the culinary world.  The most delightful part of the seminar was when we tasted a delicious sampling of tamales and the different heat attributed by the variety of peppers used.  We also tasted dark chocolate infused with chile and paired it with a dry Malbec.  The way the wine enhanced the spices in the chocolate was absolutely brilliant.

It was such a delightful way to spent a several hours of a fall weekend in NJ, enjoying 2 of the things that I love best – wine and food.


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Long Awaited Kitchen Remodel: Part 1

The Before Kitchen


Eight years ago we moved into our home.  It is a ranch built in 1964 and, as you can see, the previous kitchen still had that 1964 retro look with the exception of the dishwasher which was replaced a few years ago when the original one broke.  When we moved into the house we hired a wonderful kitchen designer, Jan Sullivan, who helped put our vision on paper.  Our children were 6 months old at the time and we felt that we should wait a little while before doing the remodel.

Well, the time has finally arrived.

Ground zero - Ready to be built up


This remodel not only effects the kitchen but the family room, living room and dining room as well.  The wall between the family room and kitchen has been taken down as you can see from the above photo  The entryway between the kitchen and the dining room has been enlarged to host some changes and a much more open floor plan.

Dining room/Living room

There used to be a partial wall between the dining room and living room.  That is now gone.  We have shifted our ‘kitchen’ into the living room as you can see from the back of the refrigerator that was moved for our convenience.

I didn’t know what to expect once the kitchen was gutted.  So far, we have adjusted well.  I think that the worst part was packing everything up and moving furniture around to accommodate the remodel.  We are doing okay with meals and are using the grill often.  It allows me to get creative with my culinary skills, that’s for sure.

The people who have been working on the kitchen from the person gutting it to the carpenter and general contractor, Jason Forster, have been great to work with.  There has been minimal mess and dust (thank goodness!)

I cannot tell you how excited I am about finally getting my new kitchen.  I will share it with you as the remodel progresses.

As far as cooking is concerned, our ‘kitchen’ is now in the living room and it encompasses a table, refrigerator, microwave, toaster and coffee maker.  Believe it or not, we’re doing okay.  I’m able to make lunches, which consist of sandwiches, and have made a few dinners using the grill, microwave, and produce from the garden.  I guess you can say it’s a culinary challenge and I’m always up for a challenge.

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