Monday, March 30, 2015

Maui Monday

I can't bring myself to post anything about Maine today. It's snowing. Again. Our heat is not working. Again. And I'm recovering from a stomach bug that I caught from Little C&G. So overall not a great weekend. There were no cocktails and I missed out on the trip to Gelato Fiasco for their special tasting weekend.

My C&Gs went without me yesterday and I hear Lemon Oreo and Chocolate Sea Salt donut (from our friends at Holy Donut) were the favorites. Mr. C&G loved the peanut butter Sriracha (um, no thanks) and I asked for my vote (in absentia) to go to the Michigan cherry truffle gelato. We'll have to wait and see what makes it into the freezer case. Until then I'm eagerly awaiting the Easter candy flavors this weekend and dreaming of opening a branch of Gelato Fiasco in Hawaii.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cocktail du jour: Scarlet Manhattan

A friend asked me a few days ago when I would be posting some fun and fruity springtime cocktails and I had to tell her it's been nothing but hot toddys and dark and brooding Manhattans as we wait for the snow to melt. It's been so un-springlike that I spent five hours the other day making French onion soup from scratch. My trusted recipe calls for one cup of Port, which leaves two cups available for cocktails and après soup digestifs. I'm hoping by the time the bottle of Port is empty it will be safe to break out the Cirôc coconut. Wishful thinking!  

Scarlet Manhattan
2 oz Rye
1 oz Port
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice
Stir and serve in a coupe or martini glass

Monday, March 23, 2015

Maine Monday: Coffee & Gelato

There were no visits to Gelato Fiasco in Portland this past winter, which is absolutely unheard of here at C&G. Nobody could be coaxed out of the house unless it was for soccer, school, or groceries (in that order) when the thermometer barely registered in the double digits for most of January and February. But a winter without gelato is almost as depressing as a January without alcohol (and we know I'm not very good at that) so I was very happy to find the elegantly designed Gelato Fiasco pints in the freezer case at my nearest grocery store.

Just because the snowbanks have taken all the good parking spots in town doesn't mean you have to wait until May (or June, or July. . . ) to get your caramel sea salt fix. Or a dose of some much needed cookie therapy. Maine favorites like "Maple Sap Tap" and "Maine Wild Blueberry Crisp" (beloved by the editors of Bon Appetit magazine) can be found up and down the East Coast, and even as far away as the "other" Portland. I adore the packaging and the plastic tubs have all been recycled corralling the Little C&G Lego collections.

A few of the gelato containers have made it onto my countertop (a daily reminder to swing by Hannfords and get another pint!) to store the other necessary C in my C&G, coffee. The flagship store of Coffee By Design on Diamond Street is one of my favorite spots on the rare occasions I've left my couch to get some writing done. The industrial East Bayside neighborhood does a great job of clearing the snow and a cup of Alonzo's Double Dark can cure any writers block.

But no matter what Mother Nature has in store for us next week (clearly the calendar means nothing to her because it was 16 degrees this morning) nothing can stop us from returning to Gelato Fiasco. It's that time of year where the Peeps come out and get turned into gelato. Peeps. Gelato. Cheers to spring indeed!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cheers To Spring!

Clearly this is not a view out my front door.
The calendar may say "First Day of Spring" but we are months away from seeing anything green peek through all that snow. Oh well, a girl can dream. And drink, because it's Friday. It's time to dust off the bottle of Aperol and toast to warmer and more colorful days ahead. Tonight at exactly 6:45pm EDT I will be raising my Aperol Spritz (3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, splash of club soda) to the end of 13 miserable weeks of winter. Happy weekend & happy spring!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Maine Monday Returns With Tiqa

It's hard to believe Memorial Day is just ten weeks away! We've had a cold, miserable winter and most of us haven't been motivated to leave the house. But now is the time to take advantage of longer days and (slightly) warmer temps and get to some of your favorite local restaurants before the tourists descend. In a little over three months those parking spots will disappear and we'll all be stuck wandering the Old Port in search of an empty table and a wait list that isn't two hours long.

Guaranteed to be hotter than a July afternoon in the Moroccan desert is the latest restaurant to open with the small plate and great cocktails concept, Tiqa. This pan-Mediterranean restaurant on Commercial Street has been open since February and is getting plenty of media and foodie buzz. Focusing on locally sourced foods flavored with exotic spices, Tiqa offers Portland a taste of distant lands where the thermometer never dips below freezing.

Pull up a cozy leather couch in the low lit lounge and order some cocktails and small plates while the kiddos are entertained by the view out the floor to ceiling windows. The mezze plate is perfect for sharing and comes with an assortment of Middle Eastern snacks like warmed pitted olives, cucumber slaw, hummus, baba ghanoush (eggplant) and plenty of pita bread.

For a real dinner treat ask for the seats in front of the kitchen bar, it's where all the action is. On the left (as you're facing the kitchen) it's nonstop movement and the kids will be mesmerized by the sizzling pans and dashes of colorful spices and sauces. We sat on the quieter side, the right side, opting to watch the breads and desserts being made by two talented and chatty ladies.

There might be a children's menu (it is in a Marriott hotel after all) but we didn't ask, both little C&Gs ordered kabobs (I think just so they could play with the skewers) and were very happy with their choices. They split the fattoush salad, mixed greens with torn pieces of pita bread, and ordered the chicken and beef kabobs. Neither dish was overly spicy and the boys liked the unusual flavors. Little C&G raved that the chicken was better than anything I've made him and I resisted challenging him to a skewered veggie dual.

After watching countless desserts make their way out of the kitchen we had to order the pistachio olive oil cake and the flourless chocolate cake. Dense, moist, and not overly sweet they were a tasty ending to our night out. We had a deliciously fun and unusual dinner at one of the most talked about places in town and we can definitely recommend Tiqa as a place to bring your adventurous kiddos. Grab a table soon (they're on OpenTable for reservations) and order some creative cocktails and exotic dishes to chase away this horrible winter.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Summer 2015 Sorted

For the past four months I have quite literally had my nose stuck in this pile of travel books along with about ten different travel sites open in my internet browser. We have a milestone celebration coming up this summer and we gave Big C&G the opportunity to pick anywhere in the world as our destination. Anywhere. Within reason, of course. I'm not about to climb Mt. Everest but if he wanted to bungee jump off the Sydney Harbor Bridge then I would (reluctantly) go along with it. I lobbied very hard for a macaron tour of Paris but as I've been reminded by multiple C&Gs, it's not up to me. Tant pis!

Big C&G narrowed down his very long list and Little C&G and I took advantage of a few snow days back in January and put together a slide show with some highlights of where he wanted to go. I did a lot of research and planned five very different trips for him to choose from just as if he was a very discerning (aka picky) client. There may have been a little more attention paid to the adventures I was hoping for (the picture perfect turquoise waters of Fiji, serene sailboats along the Dalmatian Coast) but in the end Big C&G went with exactly what he said the first time we asked him where he would go on a dream trip.

Our flights are booked, our deposits have been paid, and I am more than ready to stop thinking about travel planning for a bit. I'm incredibly sad that our destination can't be found in any of the books I insisted on buying (yes Mr. C&G you told me so) and they will all go back on the shelves until 2016. I am just a wee bit superstitious and won't write about a trip before it happens so you'll just have to wait until summer to find out where we're headed.

Rest assured all those months of research won't go to waste, I'll share some of my findings in the weeks ahead because I'm not quite ready to give up on a resort in Fiji that provides you with your own marine biologist. Or lazing away the summer days in the hills of Tuscany at an olive oil resort (cooking classes for the kiddos and afternoons at the spa for the grown ups). Big C&G might be forcing me out of my comfort zone (and out of continental Europe) but I know I can count on Little C&G when it's his turn to choose. I foresee a lot of German soccer and Italian pasta in his future. . .