Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Who is Getting YOUR Tip?

Are you a standard 15% tipper when you dine out? Do you leave more for great service and less for poor service? Have you every really thought about who actually gets the money you leave behind?
Make sure you read this week’s Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter before your next dining out experience. This eye opening article by Pete Wells really clears up any confusion about who is and and who isn’t getting your restaurant tip! It may not be who you think . . .

Chef Jennifer   


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Leaving a Tip: A Custom in Need of Changing?

photo by Dennis Yermoshin for The New York Times
Try one of these techniques if you want better service in restaurants:

1. Become very famous

2. Spend $1,000 or more on wine every time you go out

3. Keep going to the same restaurant until you get VIP treatment; if that doesn’t work, pick another place


Now, here is a technique that is guaranteed to have no effect on your service: leave a generous tip.

I’ve tipped slightly above the average for years, generally leaving 20 percent of the total, no matter what. According to one study, lots of people are just like me, sticking with a reasonable percentage through good nights and bad. And it doesn’t do us any good, because servers have no way of telling that we aren’t the hated type that leaves 10 percent of the pretax total, beverages excluded.

Some servers do try to sniff out stingy tippers, engaging in customer profiling based on national origin, age, race, gender and other traits. (The profiling appears to run both ways: another study showed that customers tended to leave smaller tips for black servers.)

I could go on against tipping, but let’s leave it at this: it is irrational, outdated, ineffective, confusing, prone to abuse and sometimes discriminatory. The people who take care of us in restaurants deserve a better system, and so do we.

That’s one reason we pay attention when a restaurant tries another way, as Sushi Yasuda in Manhattan started to do two months ago. Raising most of its prices, it appended this note to credit card slips: “Following the custom in Japan, Sushi Yasuda’s service staff are fully compensated by their salary. Therefore gratuities are not accepted.”

Sushi Yasuda joins other restaurants that have done away with tips, replacing them with either a surcharge (Atera and Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in New York; Next and Alinea in Chicago; Coi and Chez Panisse in the San Francisco Bay Area) or prices that include the cost of service (Per Se in New York and the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.).

The chef Tom Colicchio is considering service-included pricing at one of his New York restaurants, paying servers “an hourly rate that would be consistent with what they make now,” he said. “I think it makes perfect sense. I’m not sure my staff is going to think it makes perfect sense.”

These restaurants are numerous enough and important enough to suggest that a tip-reform movement is under way. On the other hand, they are few enough and exceptional enough to suggest that the movement may remain very small, and move very slowly.

Americans have stuck with tipping for years because all parties thought it worked in their favor. Servers, especially in restaurants from the mid- to high-priced, made good money, much of it in cash, and much of that unreported on tax returns. Owners saved on labor costs and taxes. And customers generally believed that tips brought better service.

The self-interest calculation may be different now. Credit card receipts and tougher oversight have virtually killed off unreported tips.

Another change is cultural. The restaurant business can be seen as a class struggle between the groomed, pressed, articulate charmers working in the dining room and the blistered, stained and profane grunts in the kitchen. The rise of chefs that are also owners has brought a few of the grunts to power. But as the average tip has risen to 20 percent or so from 15 percent, the pay for line cooks, dishwashers and others has stayed low.

At Coi, in San Francisco, Daniel Patterson, the chef and owner, levies an 18 percent service charge to be “shared by the entire staff,” the menu notes. One of his motives was to level out the income disparity that tipping creates between the kitchen and the front of the house, he said.

“Neither one is more important than the other,” Mr. Patterson said. “So it doesn’t make sense to me that servers would make three to four times as much as cooks.”

A second change has been howling outside the door. Front-of-house workers are suing one respected restaurant after another, including Dovetail, last month, accusing them of playing fast and loose with the laws on tips. The charges include sharing tips with workers who aren’t eligible for them and making tipped employees spend too much time on what is called sidework, like folding napkins between meals.

One such lawsuit was settled for more than $5 million. Some owners now think they can avoid the suits by eliminating tips.

“You abide by the letter of the law and do a service charge,” said Nick Kokonas, an owner of Alinea and Next. “That’s the only way you can take that income and spread it out to the staff.”

Restaurants that move to a surcharge or service-included pricing pay much more for labor, losing a sizable payroll-tax credit on tipped income.

Still, Mr. Kokonas said: “It’s worth it, because as soon as you grow to a certain size these days, and you’re high profile, everyone starts examining what you do. It’s not good enough to say, ‘These guys are making $100,000 a year and they’re treated really well and they have full health care.’ That’s irrelevant. It’s ‘Did they get paid overtime for their sidework?’ “

Mr. Kokonas’s restaurants and others call the extra fee a service charge. The term is misleading if the money goes to workers who don’t serve, and lawyers warn that in New York State, that would be illegal.

Justin Swartz, a partner at Outten & Golden, a law firm that represents employees, says that in New York State, the fee should be called something like an administrative charge, or rolled into menu prices.

Even that won’t make restaurants entirely lawsuit-proof, particularly if some customers insist on tipping anyway. “You’re right back to square one,” said Carolyn D. Richmond, a lawyer at Fox Rothschild who advises many prominent restaurateurs. This summer, after consulting her and running the numbers, David Chang decided against service-included pricing for his Momofuku restaurants in New York.

“It’s a change in legislation that we need, and a change in the American diner’s view on tipping,” Ms. Richmond said. “And that’s even harder than changing legislatures.”

But the diner’s views may be changing. This is in part because restaurants like Per Se have taken the lead, but also in part because those lawsuits have corroded our faith that our tips will go where we want them to.

Even if we believe the argument that workers’ lawyers are going after technical violations of archaic, Depression-era laws, they have brought to light a major peculiarity of the restaurant business: they depend on tips to make their payrolls. The temptation to treat that money as general revenue can be hard for some to resist.

Since the suits began, “people think restaurants are just hoarding that cash,” Mr. Chang said.

But forget the cheats; the suits have also reminded us that many employees share our tips. So, if we leave 10 percent to signal our unhappiness with our server’s tone of voice, we may be hurting other workers, from the host who seated us by the window to the sommelier who suggested that terrific Sicilian white, to the runner who delivered the skate while it was still hot. How much longer can we insist that it’s our privilege to decide whether we want to pay these people?

“A service charge and a salary brings the profession back into the bright sun of the professional mainstream, instead of the murky half-light in which restaurants used to exist,” Mr. Patterson said.

He is a true believer, but he can’t convince everybody. In 2010 he tried an 18 percent service charge when he opened Plum in Oakland, Calif. Perhaps because Plum was less expensive and more casual than Coi, diners rebelled, and he dropped the charge.

The new system may not be right for customers at value-oriented places like Plum, at least for now. But it’s time for all of us who go out to eat to think twice about our habits. Tipping doesn’t work, and it doesn’t feel very good anymore, either.

YRG Spotlight: Vino Venue!

This week’s Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter is Spotlighting Vino Venue! It’s the perfect place for neophytes to learn more about wine, experts to enjoy their favorite vineyards, and everyone else to engage in lively conversation over a perfectly prepared meal.

Bottoms Up!

Chef Jennifer




YRG Spotlight:Vino Venue!





     At a recent outing with friends, I discovered the new ‘IT’ place for a unique wine tasting experience. Atlanta Wine School founder Michael Bryan had opened a one of a kind wine bar and retail boutique that offers shopping, wine tasting, dining, wine and beer education in a stylish yet surprisingly comfortable space. As you walk into Vino Venue, you are met by a window length lounge of overstuffed chairs, benches, and tray topped tables. Tall banquet-style tasting tables are next to greet you, followed by dining nooks, a curving wine bar and floor-to-ceiling wine racks in the retail boutique.

The wine menu offers a large list of wine by the bottle, flights, carafes as well as single pours at the bar. The selection of wines by the glass totals 50 most nights and they have recently added a craft beer list including favorites like Boulevard Tank 7, Trappistes Rochefort 10, and Samichlaus Doppelbock.

The biggest draw for me was Vino Venue’s self-serve wines dispensed from Enomatics machines. Here’s how it works . . .You buy a rechargeable credit card, select your wine from what looks like a vending machine of full sized wine bottles, and decide on a 1 ounce taste, a half glass or a full glass pour. I was able to taste three different wines before deciding my favorite, without wasting money or wine. How cool is that?

If you’re looking for something to nosh on while enjoying your wine, then their small plate menu is the perfect choice. It features snacks like, maple bacon popcorn and peppadew sweet peppers stuffed with honey goat cheese. Want the full dining experience? Try some of their larger plates. We enjoyed the Wild Mushroom Flatbread with caramelized onions, mozzarella and parmagiano reggiano, truffle oil and fresh herbs. The Duck Leg Confit with mixed greens, raspberry vinaigrette and duck skin cracklings, and the Smoked Salmon Flatbread with capers, chopped red onion, and basil aioli.  There is also an event room with a demonstration kitchen for large parties, team building classes, and wine tasting seminars hosted by their Executive Chef and Wine Experts.



Vino Venue Address

4478 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Chamblee, GA 30338
Located at I285 and Chamblee Dunwoody Road
888-759-7819 toll free


Here is a little peek at what group events Vino Venue has to offer . . .

Wine socials for business prospects & clients

Live wine dinners with a Private Chef and Sommelier

Birthday and anniversary celebrations in private

Private one-on-one tutoring in homes for couples & small groups

Team-building: blind tastings, spirited competitions, trivia games-the themes are endless

Charitable events, non-profits, and association functions

Supper Clubs, Book Clubs, Neighborhood Associations, Swim & Tennis Clubs


Wine Drinking Habits of Men vs Women

by Gregory D. McCluney


The Wine Drinking Habits of Men vs., Women


(P.S. It’s not what you think)


Conventional wine-wisdom says Chardonnay is the most popular wine in America,  Women drink more Chardonnay than any other varietal, Men buy most of the premium wine purchased, and Women prefer a sweet (as in White Zin) wine while men prefer a tannic red.

More or less, all of the above is false.


According to recent research documented by and summarized by Dr. Liz Thach, MW, many marketing stereotypes about gender and wine drinking simply aren’t true. Things have changed. Over 300 California wine drinkers (equal in gender) were surveyed about their habits and preferences. The results were compiled, both those where men and women agree and those where the research revealed strong differences. According to Nielson, wine consumers overall consist of 55% women and about 45% men. In the last decade, men have become more avid wine drinkers while drinking less beer.


Preferred wine varietals

Surprisingly, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot rank number one and two respectively for both men and women. But the stats change for third place where women score White Zin just ahead of Chardonnay, their number four varietal. Men prefer Pinot Noir (in third place), and then Chardonnay ranks fourth as their number one white choice. Red Zin is number five for men but comes in seventh for women after Pinot Grigio. The least popular white among both was Chenin Blanc, and the lowest-ranking red was Grenache.


When do we like to drink?


The study asked both genders to rank 22 different wine-drinking occasions. Sixteen of these came in sync for both men and women.


The top four (for both) were:

1. With meals at fine dining restaurants
2. Special occasions/celebrations (non-meals)
3. With meals at a friend’s house
4. To socialize with friends



In terms of their motivations to drink wine, both men and women agreed on the top three:

1. Because wine enhances food

2. They like the taste
3. It helps them to relax


Enjoy the Difference


The study noted six areas in which there were differences in how men and women consume wine. In all, women reported lower consumption when:


1. Alone at home to relax after work 
2. Alone while cooking 
3. Alone at a bar 
4. With meals at home alone 
5. With meals at home 
6. With meals for business



Dr. Thach pointed out that four of these occasions are “alone” situations, and women identify the social benefits of consuming wine more than men. Especially when alone or in a business situation, women choose not to drink or drink much less than in a social setting.

Men tend to like the history and technical aspects of wine and may use wine speak as a way to show off their wine knowledge in social or business settings.


Why pay more?


Women choose and purchase more wine than men, often choosing wine over other beverages such as beer and spirits. They choose wine over these other beverages around 10 percent more often than men. But they are tighter with the purse strings.


Men are willing to pay more for a bottle. Actually, in this survey, they averaged over $4 more for a bottle than the women in the study.

While this research had some interesting implications for those in wine marketing, for most wine consumers, its business as usual. Meanwhile, for the rest of us, pull a cork and viva la difference!





Make 2013 Your Best Year Yet!

Happy New Year 2013!


Most of us start the New Year with a list of resolutions on how to eat better, get more exercise, and be kinder to over-worked selves. There are so many reasons why we aren’t already taking better care of ourselves, from fast paced schedules, juggling work and family, to not knowing how to cook a healthy well balanced meal. Juicing may be just what you need for a quick and nutritious way to jump-start your healthier 2013. This week’s Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter talks about the pros and cons of juicing and even shares some really great juicing recipes.


Here’s to a Better You in 2013!

Chef Jennifer


The Benefits of A Juice Detox

The benefits of A juice detox?

Juicing is a great way to squeeze fruits and vegetables into your diet if you typically don’t like them. Most people juice between 1-3 days in an effort to lose weight, improve their diet and eliminate the unhealthy foods they currently consume.  Clearer skin and relief from chronic health issues such as fatigue, constipation, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome are also well known benefits of juice detox. *Contact your health professional if you are thinking of juicing for longer than 3 days or are currently taking any medication*


The side effects?

While there are definite benefits to doing a juice detox, there are side effects as well.  As with any type of detox the first few days usually present the same common symptoms – headaches nausea, dizziness and sometimes bad breath.  You will be more likely to experience headaches if your diet contains large amounts of caffeine, sugar, or sodium. You’re also likely to have frequent urination, diarrhea, and fatigue experience in the beginning of your juicing but by the end you should have a vast increase in energy. Also remember that juice, no matter where it comes from, is a concentrated source of calories. This is especially true if you use more fruits than vegetables in your juices. So add more leafy green vegetables, like kale, in your juice blends instead of ‘sugary’ vegetables like carrots.


What do I need to ‘juice’?

You will need a juicer that fits your level of use and your budget!  There are a variety of juicers on the market and picking the right only takes a little research.  When out shopping for your juicer feel free to ask lots of questions about its features and check its warranty. Once you have your juicer you’ll want to load up with fresh fruits and vegetables. Spinach, apples, kale, collard greens, beets, blueberries, strawberries and carrots are a great choice.  Bananas don’t juice so you’ll have to mash them separately and then add them to your juice and using too much citrus fruit may irritate your stomach, so limit your lemons, limes, and grapefruits. Remember that the fresh vegetable and fruits you juice at home will NOT be pasteurized, which could be a food-safety hazard. So be sure wash your hands with hot soapy water (for at least 20 seconds) and all produce before preparing your juice. It’s also best to drink your juice within one week, preferably on the same day that you make it. Don’t forget to wash the juicer with hot soapy water after each use, as well.


Juicing vs Blending?

Yes, you can still do ‘juicing’ while using your blender, there will just be a bit more work involved.  When you use a juicer to juice your food you are eliminating the fiber from the foods which decreases your digestion to almost zero.  By placing your foods in a blender you are not eliminating any of the fiber and your body will need to digest the ‘juice’ the same way as if you were to eat it raw.  To get around this issue, simply strain the blended juice before drinking any of it.  Use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove all of the pulp from the juice. You can also freeze the pulp and add it to sauces, soups, and smoothies once you’ve finished your juicing detox.


Juicing Recipes

Here are a few simple tasty juicing recipes that help alleviate certain symptoms, as well as a basic Cleansing Veggie Broth.



Potassium Juice

3 carrots
3 stalks celery
½ bunch spinach
½ bunch parsley

Ginger Root Boost

1 inch slice ginger root
Juice from 1 fresh lemon
6 carrots with tops
1 seeded apple

High Blood Pressure Reducer

2 garlic cloves
1 handful parsley
1 cucumber
4 carrots with tops
2 stalks celery

Yummy Green Drink

½ bunch spinach
2 big kale leaves
¼ cup OJ
1 small banana
1 kiwi

Homemade V8 (6 glasses)

6-8 tomatoes
3-4 green onions with tops
½ green pepper
2 carrots
2 stalks celery with tops
½ bunch spinach
½ bunch parsley
2 lemons (just the juice)

Cleansing Veggie Broth

3 carrots
3 kale leaves
2 celery
2 beets
1 turnip
½ bunch spinach
½ head cabbage
¼ bunch parsley
½ onion
2 garlic cloves


Les Dames d’Escoffier International-Afternoon In The Country

Afternoon In The Country

 Tickets are NOW on sale for the
12th Annual Afternoon in the Country at Serenbe
Sunday, November 4, from 1:00PM – 4:00PM

Chefs from Atlanta’s top restaurants and caterers, paired with our area’s best farms, will be set up in a tasting format alongside fine wines, premium micro-brews and select retailers — all under festive big-top tents in the beautiful gardens surrounding The Inn at Serenbe near Palmetto. Other highlights include: Live music by DriveTrain, the South’s premiere Bluegrass band, a one-of-a-kind cake raffle featuring sweets from Atlanta’s top pastry chefs, hayrides, children’s activities and an expanded silent auction offering exclusive dining and travel packages, food and wine merchandise and original art by prominent artists.

This event has sold out early every year, so purchase your tickets today using our secure PayPal payment system. You do not have to have a PayPal account to purchase, and all major credit cards are accepted. Just click the button(s) below to add the tickets to your cart, and you will receive a three-step purchase confirmation: 1) Immediate PayPal Receipt via e-mail. 2) LDEI Atlanta Ticket Confirmation via e-mail within a few days of purchase. 3) Your Ticket(s) via e-mail within 30 days of your purchase. You will print those tickets and bring them with you to the registration tent at the event. Your valid e-mail address is an important part of the process, so ensure that you enter your correct e-mail address in the PayPal form. Thanks for supporting the 12th Annual Afternoon in the Country! 
Adult Tickets$95

Youth Tickets (ages 13 – 20) – $35
Children 12 and under – FREE


Click here to see the exciting details of our 2011 Afternoon in the Country program.

Click   to listen to a radio segment featuring our 2011 event.


Click here to view a video of our 2010 event.
Click here if you would like to be added to our mailing list for updates and information about upcoming events.

Please contact Sue Anne Morgan at 404.329.8426 or for event details and sponsorship information.


Our Sponsors for Afternoon in the Country 2012

serenbe peachtree tents gloriosa Landmark Fiat of Atlanta
halperns' steak and seafood restaurant depot the reynolds group
alsco linens production people drivetrain band
idealand meteor atlanta image link georgia organics
    best self magazine
 flavors magazine   Smiley Bishop
Porter, LLP
Stacy Zeigler
Scott Bryan

Basil Magazine Radio Show!

Join your host, Chef Jennifer Booker, and this week’s guests! Josh & Mike Greenfield join Basil Radio to share some recipes from their great new show on HUNGRY called The Brothers Green.

Also, tune in and hear from Jon Taffer, Host and Co-Executive Producer of SpikeTV’s Bar Rescue, as he shares his insight on what it takes to be a top notch bar and nightclub!
Monday evenings at 6pm EST.
Call in and join in the fun!

Photo: Join your host, Chef Jennifer Booker, and this week’s guests!  Josh & Mike Greenfield join Basil Radio to share some recipes from their great new show on HUNGRY called The Brothers Green.

Also, tune in and hear from Jon Taffer, Host and Co-Executive Producer of SpikeTV’s Bar Rescue, as he shares his insight on what it takes to be a top notch bar and nightclub!
Monday evenings at 6pm EST.
Call in and join in the fun!

Here are 5 ways to help make a backyard barbecue healthier, this summer:


America is a country that loves to barbecue. In fact, according to the National Barbecue Association, the country can trace its barbecue roots at least as far back as George Washington, who documented hosting barbecue events in 1773. Since then, people across the nation have barbecued on a regular basis, most often during the summer months. For those looking to make this tradition a little healthier, there are plenty of options.


“Many people are looking for ways to eat healthier today,” explains Shawn Davis, otherwise known as Chef Big Shake, the founder of CBS Foods and The Original Shrimp Burger. “The good news is that there are so many great ways to make healthier choices that you won’t be compromising. Small changes can pay off big.”


Here are 5 ways to help make a backyard barbecue healthier, this summer:


Opt for a better burger. Burgers remain one of the most popular things to grill. Making the switch to shrimp burgers will help make it healthier, as they are lower in fat and calories, healthy, and contain omega-3 fatty acids.


Skip the mayo. Rather than have dishes at the table that contain a lot of mayo, such as potato or macaroni salad, go for side dishes that have a dressing made from a low-fat vinaigrette or are lemon juice based.


Savory sides. For side dishes, make sure there are plenty of fruits and vegetables. Grilling veggies is a great way to get some healthy nutrients into the diet, and everyone loves a slice of watermelon in the summer.


Drink lightly. Try to avoid drinks with a lot of empty calories and sugar. Sticking to drinks like unsweetened tea or water will help to avoid a lot of unnecessary calories. Those who don’t like plain water can add a wedge of lime or lemon to jazz it up.


Cook healthy. Always keep the recommend healthy outdoor cooking guidelines in mind, including keeping hot foods hot, and cold foods cold. Food at a barbecue should not sit out for more than an hour, to prevent unhealthy bacteria from building up.


“Even if you are not worried about the barbecue being healthy, your guests may be,” adds Davis. “Offering more healthy options will help everyone enjoy it a little more, with nobody going home feeling guilty from over-eating.”


Chef Big Shake has created a line of frozen shrimp burgers, called “The Original Shrimp Burger.” They come in five varieties, including original, jalapeño, Cajun, teriyaki, and Chesapeake Bay flavor. They are high in protein, low in fat, and contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Currently, they are available in over 2,500 stores nationwide. In addition to shrimp burgers, the CBS Foods product line also includes lobster sliders, lobster pot pie, and lobster mac and cheese. CBS Foods was featured on the reality television show “Shark Tank” in the fall of 2011.

For more information on Chef Big Shake, or to visit the store locator, visit the site at

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things . . .



I love parties, celebrations, and giving gifts. Since my birthday is only a couple of days away I thought that I would share a few of my favorite things with you. So, this week’s Your Resident Gourmet’s Newsletter is dedicated to you! Hopefully you’ll find something I’ve shared below that makes you smile and brightens up your day. Consider it a birthday gift- from me to you!


Happy Birthday!

Chef Jennifer


These Are A Few of My
Favorite Things . . .  


Handmade Vanilla Marshmallows

Once you’ve tried handmade marshmallows you’ll never go back to the mass-produced kind. These, from Butter Baked Goods in Vancouver, B.C., are made with all-natural ingredients, and have a lighter-than-air texture and just enough vanilla to make them interesting. Drop one in your hot chocolate, use them to make gourmet s’mores, or just eat them straight out of the bag-they’re that good.



Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon is still distilled and aged in small batches which makes it a sippin’ bourbon and in my opinion, should not be mixed with anything but an ice cube. Kentucky limestone-filtered water provides the foundation for the bourbon’s character, while charred American oak barrels lend a smoky backbone. Bulleit’s distillers age the bourbon simply until it is ready. The result is placed into a bottle whose design has won awards of its own.


Ribeye Steaks

I Love, Love, Love a good steak and a ribeye steak is one of my favorites! It is one of the more flavorful cuts of beef, due to the muscle getting a lot of exercise during its life. Its marbling of fat makes this very good for slow roasting and it also goes great on a grill cooked to any degree, although I always order my steaks rare. A little salt, fresh ground black pepper, crushed garlic, and olive oil is all it takes for this steak to shine-no steak sauce is needed. Ever.



Gerber Daisies

Fresh cut flowers, especially Gerber Daisies

Gerber daisies make me smile. The gerbera daisy was discovered in 1884 near Barberton, South Africa, by Scotsman Robert Jameson. While the flower’s scientific name, Gerbera jamesonii, recollects the name of its founder, the meaning of its common name draws from German naturalist Traugott Gerber. Breeding programs that began in England in 1890 enhanced the flower’s quality and color variations. The gerbera daisy’s popularity soon traveled to growers in the Netherlands which, along with Columbia, is the primary distributor of the flower’s cut version today.

Fast Cars

Let’s be honest here-speed is addictive and there is something very primal about driving really, really fast. On a recent trip, I rented a car. Not just any car, but the new FIAT 500! When I tell you that this car handles beautifully, has plenty of leg room, AND goes really, really fast-I mean it! I had strangers (men) coming up to me at gas stations and parking lots asking how it handles and telling me how they were thinking of buying one too. (I didn’t have the heart to tell them it was a rental) I had the best time driving it and had to watch my speed, ’cause it’s too easy to speed in a FIAT5 500.

Bubble Baths

I’m always busy in the mornings, so my morning bathing routine generally consists of a quick shower; and by quick I mean 10, 15 minutes tops. Although a morning shower wakes me up, I often fantasize about taking a bubble bathe while I’m in the shower! So whenever I get the chance (and the time) I treat myself to a long hot bath with lots of bubbles, fluffy towels, candles, a cool drink, and all the time to sit and soak that I want.


SHUN Knives

Shun knives are constructed with an amazing array of technologies. Each knife is created for precision performance and a distinctive design, reflecting both elegance and functionality. The wavy, or moiré pattern on the Shun blades is called the Damascus look. The pattern is produced by 16 layers of SUS410 Carbon stainless steel. SUS410 is pounded to 3/1000th of an inch, and then “clad” on either side of the VG-10 core. This combination of metals results in strength, stain resistance and dynamic cutlery performance.


Tropical Beaches

Whenever it’s my turn to pick the vacation destination, I always pick the beach. I love the warm sun on my shoulders, the cool clear blue waters, and of course the way time seems to stand still when you’re lounging at the beach. Perhaps my love of the beach stems from being a water sign or from growing up in Florida. Whatever the reason, hanging out at the beach is one of my favorite things.


Personalized Table Settings

Everything tastes better when eaten from a beautiful plate. You can serve corned beef hash or even SOS on a pretty place setting and it immediately tastes a lot better than it looks! You can dress up your dining room table depending on the occasion or on your mood. I think of table linens, plates, glasses, and silverware like accessories for my table. I can dress up a basic white plate with colored chargers and linen napkins or even give each guest their own unique place setting by mixing and matching patterns and colors. Number one rule of thumb when setting your table? It’s yours-it should make you smile!



Reality TV

Yes. I said it, Reality TV. I’m not proud of this admission, but I do love my reality TV. But before you judge me, let’s talk a minute here. There are so many shows that fall under the ‘Reality TV’ umbrella, that it’s not as bad as it sounds. I will admit that some of these shows are like watching a train wreck, while others are entertaining AND informative. Here are some of my favorites-Bravo’s TopChef, Housewives of Atlanta and OC, The F Word, and What Not to Wear is an all-time favorite. I have also been known to occasionally zone out over back to back episodes of Extreme Couponers. Now, whether these shows fall under the train-wreck or informative category is all in how you look at it.

Celebrate Independence Day with Festive Cocktails and Mocktails!

Celebrate Independence Day with Festive Cocktails and Mocktails!

This year, step away from the ordinary beverage of choice—July 4th is the largest beer consuming holiday in America—and create fun and festive cocktails for adults and mocktails that partyers of all ages can enjoy!

Red, White and Blueberry
Created by Lee Anne Wong
Chef and Maker’s Mark® Cookbook Editor


Serves 3

¼ part lime juice, freshly squeezed and strained

¼ part lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained

½ part orange juice, freshly squeezed and strained

4 parts Maker’s Mark® Bourbon

1 part simple syrup

4 mint leaves, plus more for garnish

Assorted berries: raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries/Splash club soda

Combine the juices, Maker’s Mark® Bourbon, simple syrup, and mint leaves in a large shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into 3 tall glasses over ice and add a splash of soda. Cut berries and mint leaves as garnish. Serve immediately.

Pisco Fireworks


1 part Portón

1 part of Drambuie

¼ part of Campari

¼ part lime juice

Combine and chill all ingredients. Serve in a martini glass with an orange wedge and twist of lime.


The Summer Escape

Image: Linda Bergonia/FollowSpot Media 


2 parts Tequila Avión Reposado

1 part Fresh Lime Juice

4 One-Inch Cubes Fresh Watermelon

Squeeze Agave Nectar

Muddle watermelon with agave nectar in a mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients, and shake vigorously with ice. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish as desired.

And for the kids…American Mockarita


1 SLAP FROZEN Energy Strawberry-Frost

Empty one frozen SLAP FROZEN Energy pouch into a margarita glass. Garnish with a strawberry.


Happy 4th of July from Refine Mixers!

Stars & Stripes Mojito

 -1 Part White Rum or Vodka

-2 Parts Refine Mojito

-Muddle 5 blueberries, 1 Strawberry and Mint Leaves

-Garnish with a slice of Starfruit

*Under 100 Calories*


Directions: In a glass muddle 5 blueberries, 1 strawberry and mint leaves. In a shaker pour 1 part White Rum or Vodka and 2 parts Refine Mojito fill with ice and pour glass of fruit in the shaker. Shake all ingredients and pour into glass. Enjoy!

 About Refine Mixers

refine™ mixers was founded by Bay Area native, Patrick Castles, a former college athlete and supporter of the natural food movement. Patrick always had a passion for staying healthy and eating right, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise when he began directing his energy towards the food and beverage industry. In noticing the abundance of Aspartame-based diet sodas and high calorie mixers that were being consumed by him and his friends, Patrick was inspired to create a drastic change in the beverage industry. His mission: to create zero-calorie cocktail mixers that maintains all-natural integrity. Refine Mixers are available nationwide at Cost Plus and can be found throughout California at Gelson’s, Safeway, Pavilions, Bristol Farms, Vons and online.


Bahama Breeze Announces Legendary Island Cocktails

Enjoy Authentic Exotic Drinks Made Famous at Tropical Beach Bars and Historic Island Hotels—Each with Its Own Story to Tell

Bahama Breeze Island Grille, the island-inspired casual dining restaurant that reflects the feeling of a Caribbean escape, announces its new premium list of tropical drinks, “Legendary Island Cocktails.” With its rich history in island lore, Bahama Breeze has traveled the tropics to discover iconic and unique drinks and bring them to our restaurants across the country. From a blend of exotic liquors, to their famous namesakes and origins, Legendary Island Cocktails are “the next best thing to being there.”


The Legendary Island Cocktails include eight authentic custom-made drinks sourced from world-famous locales such as the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands, the famed five-star Hotel Nacional in Havana and Old San Juan’s Parrot Club in Puerto Rico.  The cocktails are created with the same techniques and ingredients that made them famous.


“Bahama Breeze is known for its hand-crafted tropical drinks and adding Legendary Island Cocktails to our extensive bar menu is a great next step in the Caribbean escape experience,” says Peter Olsacher, Executive Chef for Bahama Breeze. “I personally visited many of these exotic locations to learn more about their storied histories. Bahama Breeze was among the first restaurants to introduce the Mojito Cubano and Brazilian Caipirinha cocktails to mainstream America, and now we can’t wait to continue that tradition by introducing new Legendary Island Cocktails and their stories each quarter.”


The Original Daiquiri was named after a small beach on the East Coast of Cuba. Legend has it that The Original Daiquiri was developed in the late 1800s as a medical treatment for tropical ailments but quickly found other fame and became a favorite in old Havana, especially of Hemingway, who’d sip on the drink at Cuba’s famed La Floridita bar. Created with a blend of Bacardi Superior Rum, fresh lime, two types of ice, and fresh squeezed sugar cane pressed daily in house, The Original Daiquiri is hand-shaken (not blended as is common today) and served in a tall glass.


The Painkiller was invented at the famed Soggy Dollar Bar against the beautiful setting of White Bay on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands, where guests swim in from their boats to the dockless island just for a taste of this drink. The Soggy Dollar Bar has only six bar seats and uses a clothesline to hang-dry wet dollars that patrons use to pay for their drinks. With a smooth mix of Cream of Coconut, pineapple, orange and finished with freshly ground nutmeg, the Painkiller can only truly be called a Painkiller when made with Pusser’s Dark Rum.


Legend for the origin of the Dark ‘N Stormy has it that a bartender poured a sailor a glass of ginger beer, but left out the rum and then added the rum afterwards. With the rum floating on top, the sailor remarked it resembled a storm cloud over the ocean—thus coining the name. Now often referred to as Bermuda’s National Drink, the Dark ‘N Stormy is a distinctive mix of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and ginger beer. A Dark ‘N Stormy must be made with local Bermuda favorite Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, known for its rich, flavors of butterscotch, vanilla and caramel.


The Goombay Smash, known as the Bahamian National Drink, was initially created in the 1960s by Miss Emily at the Blue Bee Bar in Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay. Legend has it that the grandmotherly Miss Emily, who passed away in 1997, never drank and therefore never actually tasted the creation that made her bar famous as a watering hole for the local community in the Abacos—the group of Bahamian islands touted as the sailing capital of the world. The drink is named after the Goombay, a form of music in the Bahamas and the goatskin-covered drum used to create it.  It’s made with the combination of Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum and Meyer’s Original Dark Rum, mixed with fresh orange and pineapple juice.


Batida de Coco is Brazil’s answer to the classic piña colada. This quintessential coconut cocktail is made with Leblon Cachaca Rum, Cream of Coconut and pineapple juice.  An indispensable part of Brazilian bar culture, Batida cocktails, pronounced “ba-chi-da” in Portuguese, means shaken, and in addition to fruit juices and sugar, often contain condensed milk which is why they are sometimes referred to as milkshakes.


The official welcome drink at the famed Sandy Lane resort and other luxury hotspots in Barbados, Barbados Rum Punch is touted as the best rum punch in the region, made with Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, sweet and sour mix, fresh lime juice with Grenadine and Angostura bitters, finished with freshly ground nutmeg. Mount Gay Rum was created in Barbados in 1703 and is known as locally as “the rum that invented rum.”


The Havana Hotel Special is the signature drink at the famed five-star Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba. For more than 80 years, Hotel Nacional has been “the destination” in Havana to see and be seen, with fans from Winston Churchill to Marlon Brando to Frank Sinatra. The refreshing pineapple punch is made with the tantalizing trio of Bacardi Superior Rum, pineapple and fresh lemon juice rounded out with splash of DeKuyper apricot brandy.


Parrot Passion is the premiere cocktail at the world-renowned Parrot Club in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The Puerto Rican Parrot is actually one of the world’s rarest birds with only 30-40 still in existence.  Puerto Rico’s tribute to these famous icons is the Parrot Passion, a blend of passion fruit juice, orange juice, Cointreau and Bacardi Limon.


For more information, visit

BASIL MAGAZINE RADIO SHOW w/ host Chef Jennifer Booker

Welcome to Basil Magazine Radio. With an incredibly strong sense of style and a discerning palette, the Basil MAGAZINE reader is a sophisticate and affluent consumer.  Our readers are a mix of global readers interested in food and wine; living green and healthy, lifestyle, and philanthropy leaders.  All of whom have a dynamic mix of culture and entrepreneurism

Join your host, Chef Jennifer Booker, and her guest, chef and cookbook author, Chef Michael Moore! Chef Moore will discuss his most recent cookbook, Blood Sugar, and how his own health problems prompted him to write a cookbook with great tasting recipes that are good for you too!

Call in and join in the fun! 714.242.6215