The Perfect Cocktail to Celebrate Love

For Valentine’s Day, we have partnered with The Social Sipper to bring you her take on the perfect cocktail to celebrate the season of love.

Says Carolyn Pascual White, “whether you’re enjoying the special day with a loved one or getting the gals together to watch romantic comedies, the Raspberry Champagne Float is the perfect cocktail to sip on for the occasion! Plus, it combines a cocktail with dessert giving you the best of both worlds.”

Don’t forget to pair this gorgeous and delicious cocktail with our Chandelier Glasses!

Credit: The Social Sipper

What’s a Champagne Float?
A champagne float is a fun and boozy treat that’s a cross between a dessert and a cocktail. Usually comprised of just a few ingredients making this fun treat deliciously simple! There are many different ways to make your own champagne float and you can even use vanilla ice cream if you desire. If there’s one thing that’s certain, make sure you enjoy these icy treats quickly!

The Recipe: Raspberry Champagne Float by The Social Sipper
The Glass: BOMSHBEE’s Chandelier Kalos

Just three ingredients for this fantastically fresh treat? Sign me up! Find out what The Social Sipper used to make the Raspberry Champagne Float and if there’s any additional substitutes you can exchange..


  •  3 Scoops Raspberry Sorbet: Refreshing and light, sorbet is such a fun element to this cocktail. Pick up your favorite brand like Häagen-Dazs or Talenti from your local grocery store.
  •  6 OZ Champagne: Pair the sorbet with something bubbly. Carolyn used champagne but feel free to substitute this for Prosecco.
  •  3 Drops Rose water: A few drops of fresh rose water can really enhance the flavors from the champagne. Carolyn used Cortas Rose Water.
  • Raspberries and Dried Rosebuds: Garnish this gorgeous cocktail with some festive ingredients like fresh raspberries and dried rosebuds. You can order edible dried rose petals online or from your local supermarket.


  1. Add raspberry sorbet to a large glass.
  2. Pour champagne over the sorbet. Drop rosewater onto the champagne.
  3. Top with raspberries and dried rosebuds and enjoy immediately.

Photos and Recipe Credit: The Social Sipper

Roar Into The Year Of The Tiger With An Unforgettable Lunar New Year Dinner

Gong hei fat choy! It’s Lunar New Year, which means it’s time for a week full of festive celebrations. From firecrackers to lion dances, red packets stuffed with money and copious dumplings, Lunar New Year is a time to drum up all the age-old traditions and welcome a few new ones, too.

But the best part of the Spring Festival isn’t the treats or spectacles. It’s the chance to get together with loved ones over a decadent spread of delicious and auspicious dishes. After all, the new year is all about family, friends and food.

Planning to host a dinner party to welcome the Year of The Tiger? Hit the ground running with this quick, easy guide to setting the perfect LNY tablescape, plus a few insights on symbolic decor and traditional dishes.

Set The Tone 

Create a clean, soft base that sets a rejuvenating holiday mood and lets your accents shine. We love a timeless yet simple base of gold, natural linen or beige, which lends well to brighter accents. Once you have the foundation, start adding on those celebratory motifs and festive layers. Perhaps start with a bold burgundy table runner and gold-embroidered placemats, then add a few energizing details like decorative chopsticks, candles, red packets – more on that below!

Seeing Red

Symbolizing good fortune and joy, red is undoubtedly the signature shade of Lunar New Year. Naturally, any authentic Lunar New Year spread should feature a mix of crimson, burgundy or cherry hues, but we would recommend using the vibrant color as an accent, not the base. For a stylish and sophisticated table spread, start with neutral plates and bowls, like BOMSHBEE’s Tinge Porcelain Collection, then integrate red elements to channel LNY vibes. Tasteful garnet chargers, burgundy candles or scarlet-tipped chopsticks will add a touch of lucky new year energy without overwhelming the room.

Simple, Yet Symbolic

It’s tempting to go big when it comes to holiday table decor, but less is definitely more. Keep it simple while infusing extra meaning with a few tasteful symbolic accents. For example, your centerpiece could feature a few mandarins, oranges, kumquats, or pomelos – all believed to bring good luck and happiness – in a BOMSHBEE Tinge Porcelain Bowl. Meanwhile, flowers like cherry blossoms symbolize new beginnings and fluffy white pussy willow branches represent prosperity. In terms of placement, make sure you keep any centerpieces below eye level or spaced out so that guests can still easily make eye contact while talking.

Taste Of Tradition

Any Lunar New Year dinner table wouldn’t be complete without customary dishes traditionally served every year. These include steamed fish, golden-fried spring rolls, steamed dumplings, springy longevity noodles, and Chinese New Year cake (nian gao in Mandarin or leen goh in Cantonese), a glutinous rice cake that’s believed to bring prosperity in the new year. Try your hand at these dishes for a beautiful, meaningful Lunar New Year dinner to remember.

Lucky No. 8

In Chinese culture, the number eight is associated with wealth and prosperity. To share a little extra  luck and fortune with your guests as we race into the Year of the Tiger, keep this number in mind when setting the table. Maybe you invite eight guests, serve eight dishes or set out eight candles for decoration – this tiny detail holds a lot of meaning. Pro tip: the number four is bad luck, so try to avoid this number if you can!

Chopsticks 101

Quality chopsticks are a must for a proper Lunar New Year feast – and BOMSHBEE’s black matte Chop chopsticks are as cool as they come. Just make sure you’ve brushed up on your chopstick etiquette ahead of time. When you’re setting the table, chopsticks should always go at the top of the plate with tips pointing to the left or the right with tips pointing upwards. Never leave your chopsticks sticking upright in your food (it’s believed to bring bad luck, as it relates to incense sticks at funerals) and use a different pair of chopsticks to serve food from sharing platters. 

Fall In Love With These 3 Delicious Kinds Of Cheese

For Nai Zhao, cheese is synonymous with self-care. “A nice spread of meat and cheese was always my way of treating myself,” she laughs.

As the founder of Portland-based charcuterie delivery service, Charcuterie Me, Zhao is no novice when it comes to the wonderful world of cheese. Every month, she curates crowd-pleasing assortments of cured meats, gourmet cheeses and artisanal accoutrements for her wildly popular monthly subscription boxes.

“I enjoy creating a journey of discovery for our customers,” says the 33-year-old entrepreneur. “Each box comes with a list of ingredients so you can make a mental note when you like something. I source locally when I can, and have been able to work with some amazing producers here in Oregon, including a winery, a CBD chef and a chilli oil company.”

Zhao started Charcuterie Me in 2020. She was inspired by childhood gatherings when her family would share stories around the dining room table, laughing while enjoying a delicious meal.

“My parents immigrated to the US in the ‘80s from their home in war-torn Laos,” she explains. “Both of my parents have a high school education. I like to think my dad taught me how to dream, and my mom taught me how to hustle.”

Zhao’s parents are both from an ethnic minority group called lu-Mien, who were displaced across Southeast Asia as a result of the Vietnam War. As a first-generation lu-Mien refugee, Zhao says that she looks back on her American upbringing as a privilege, and a big reason why she remains driven today when it comes to building her business, and her future.

“What inspires me is building something on my own,” she says. “I didn’t have someone to look up to who looked like me when I was young, so I definitely want to be a positive example.”

Zhao runs the show when it comes to Charcuterie Me, from branding and social media to backend web design. Having launched her business in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, she’s had to adapt to the era of social distancing – a challenge when it comes to food that’s meant to be shared.

To solve that problem, Zhao created the “Selfie” – a handheld cheese and charcuterie cone designed to be enjoyed solo. It’s a simple throwback to her earliest days of indulging in food at home. “When I first fell in love with charcuterie it was a way for me to treat myself. I still love to mix up my plates with new cheeses and old favorites.”

When it comes to adventurous pairings, Zhao is all about fusion, introducing classic Old World fromage with invigorating Asian flavors. “Spread a creamy brie on a cracker, and top it with a dollop of chilli garlic oil. It is so good!”

Looking for new cheeses to explore this holiday season? Try one (or all) of Zhao’s go-to cheeses:

1. Artigiano Vino Rosso

From Italian cheesemaker, La Bottega di BelGioioso, a traditional family business that has been producing for over five generations, Zhao says this artisanal handcrafted cheese is a new favorite.

“It has a surprisingly nutty flavor, but its texture is creamy and crumbly,” she says. “And it’s soaked in red wine, so the rind has a really robust and hearty taste, too.”

2. Triple-cream Camembert

When it comes to her all-time favorite cheese, Zhao always reaches for a classic: triple-cream camembert. Made of 75% butterfat, this cheese has an uber-soft texture with a rich, earthy flavor.

“It’s my favorite spreadable cheese to include in my charcuterie boards and pairs so well with a salty cured meat like prosciutto,” she adds.

When it comes to sharing, Zhao recommends keeping it simple and keeping a surefire crowd-pleasers, like camembert or, alternatively brie, on hand. “While they’re similar, camembert has a deeper, more intense flavor that I think resonates better with people.”

3. Manchego

Made with the milk of Manchega sheep, this Spanish cheese delivers a deep caramel flavor, offset with a bit of acidity. “This one is so good on its own or on a cheeseboard,” says Zhao. “I personally prefer a four-month aged manchego, if you can find it.”

A Christmas Miracle In A Glass: Try Mixologist Shelley Tai’s Festive ‘Winter Spiced G&T’

For mixologist Shelley Tai’s family, one libation always makes an appearance at Christmas: “Mulled wine is something we have to make every year. Even when I was a kid, we had a non-alcoholic version that we made with Ribena [a blackcurrant-flavored soft drink],” laughs Tai.

The appeal of a beautifully crafted drink left its mark on Tai. Today, the 32-year-old is a rising star in Asia’s bar scene, having worked for not one but two of the world’s best bars. And in 2019, the Diageo World Class Hong Kong & Macau competition crowned her “Bartender of the Year”.

“I don’t really have a formula,” says Tai, when asked about how she’s managed to find success in such a hyper-competitive industry. “My inspiration is all around me – what I see, eat, and feel.”

How To Winter Spiced G&T By: Shelley Tai (@kankantai)

The Hong Kong native got her start in the hospitality industry in 2010 as a food runner, eventually gravitating behind the bar as a bartender’s assistant. Over the years, she earned her stripes on the city’s F&B scene, landing bartender roles at respected establishments, such as Nordic fine-dining restaurant FINDS and late-night party lounge Drop. However, it wasn’t until she joined Quinary – an award-winning bar known for its molecular mixology – in 2017 that the rookie bartender came into her own.

“The team at Quinary helped to shape the style that I’ve developed today,” asserts Tai. “It’s recognized as one of the 50 Best Bars in the world. I learned so much about technique and flavor in my three years there.”

Working alongside master mixologist Antonio Lai – the 2015 Diageo World Class Hong Kong & Macau Champion – Tai crafted multisensory experiences by harnessing next-generation culinary techniques like rotary evaporation, centrifugation, freeze-dehydration, and sous vide. She learned to hone her senses and draw from personal experience to develop new recipes.

Case in point: On a trip to Tennessee, Tai took a tour of a bourbon distillery that inspired one of her first creations for Quinary. “I noticed that they stored the whiskey in a cask that had been used to age Tabasco, and I just loved the flavors together,” she explains. “So I went back to Hong Kong and came up with a drink using whiskey and distilled hot sauce”

Named “Big Spice in Little China”, the heady mix featured Michter’s bourbon, Fernet, milk, and a specially prepared Tabasco syrup, sweetened with a dash of Ovaltine for balance. Ambitious, memorable, and – most critically – delicious, the drink can still be found on Quinary’s regular menu.

In 2020, Tai reached a new professional milestone when she relocated to Singapore to head up Nutmeg & Clove, an artisanal cocktail lounge and kitchen that’s also ranked among the 50 Best Bars in Asia and the world. These days, she’s kept busy researching and developing new recipes inspired by Singaporean culture and history. But no matter how content she feels in the Lion City, Tai says there’s no place like home for the holidays – particularly in her family.

“My mom’s birthday is actually on Christmas Eve, so we really like celebrating! We put up decorations, get a tree, have a big feast, and just veg out the whole holiday season,” says Tai.

As a self-described Christmas fanatic, Tai reaches for winter spices – think nutmeg, star anise and cloves – and berries when making seasonal cocktails. She’s also picky about what she serves her libations in, too.

“I think glassware is extremely important; it changes the vibe of a drink entirely,” says Tai, adding that BOMSHBEE Chandelier Glassware collection fits the bill when it comes to elegant, festive presentations. “It has this very Christmas-y feel to it; it’s elegant, and holds just the right amount for a generous scoop of holiday punch.”

Looking for something irresistible to dish out to guests this Christmas? Try this recipe for a Winter Spiced G&T, a seasonal favorite of Tai’s (after mulled Ribena, that is.)

Winter Spiced G&T


Spiced G&T

  • 45ml London dry gin
  • 20ml spiced syrup
  • 20ml pink grapefruit juice
  • 10ml lemon juice
  • Tonic water

Spiced Syrup

  • 200ml water
  • 200g sugar
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole cloves


To make spiced syrup:

  1. In a saucepan, bring all ingredients except sugar to a light simmer until spices release their aromas.
  2. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
  3. Set aside and let cool.

To make spiced G&T:

  1. Add gin, syrup, lemon juice, pink grapefruit juice and ice into a shaker.
  2. Mix well, then strain into a BOMSHBEE Chandelier Kalos glass.
  3. Top with tonic water, and garnish with berries.

Pumpkin For All Seasons: Use This Healthy Fall Ingredient All Year Round

Pumpkins are the ultimate symbol of fall. Bright and bountiful, these gorgeous globes burst onto the scene every autumn, starring in everything from pies to lattes, soups, bread, salads, and so much more. Everyone loves pumpkins, so why don’t we embrace them for more than a couple of months a year?

“Pumpkins are nutritional powerhouses – I don’t understand why we don’t eat them more!” says Chrissy Denton. According to the Hong Kong-based nutritionist, pumpkins are as healthy as they are delicious. “They provide us with high amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, supporting everything from the immune system to our heart, liver and kidneys,” she explains.

Pumpkins are particularly rich in beta carotene, which gives them their signature radiant orange hue. Once consumed, our bodies convert that pigment into vitamin A – an essential building block for eye health. Pumpkins also deliver a dose of all-important antioxidants, powerful molecules that fight free radicals.

“Antioxidants help protect against things like cancer and other chronic conditions and lower the risk of heart disease,” says Denton, adding that vitamin C, a naturally occurring antioxidant in pumpkin, is also a natural stress-buster. “Our adrenal glands absolutely love vitamin C, and they help to regulate our body’s stress response – sometimes necessary over the holiday period!”

To properly harness this superfood’s potent nutritional benefits, Denton recommends incorporating it into our diets year-round. As a native New Zealander, she grew up with Sunday roast dinners, where roasted pumpkin drizzled in olive oil and fresh rosemary was a staple.

Her other favorite ways to enjoy pumpkin in the spring and summer include pumpkin hummus or roasted pumpkin salad. They also add more nutrients to sweet treats, such as bread loaves, muffins, cakes, or brownies.

Looking for some pumpkin recipe inspiration? Here is one of Denton’s favorite pumpkin-based recipes to try out any time of year.

The Recipe: Pumpkin & Ginger Soup


  • 1 kg pumpkin
  • 2 shallots
  • 75g ginger
  • A few sprigs of fresh herbs, such as chives and mint
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 litre organic vegetable stock
  • 125 ml coconut milk, plus extra to serve
  • ½ tablespoon chilli powder
  • 1 lime


  1. Deseed and chop the pumpkin, peel and chop the shallots, then peel and finely grate the ginger. Pick and finely chop the herbs.
  2. Place the pumpkin, shallots, ginger and some oil in a large saucepan and sauté until soft.
  3. Add the stock, coconut milk and chilli powder. Season, then bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes.
  4. Blitz in a food processor, then serve with fresh herbs, lime juice and a splash of coconut milk.

Assemble A Picture-Perfect Grazing Board In 6 Simple Steps With Lady & Larder

Just type in #charcuterie or #cheeseplate on Instagram, and watch your feed fill with images of artfully arranged platters of gourmet cheeses, cured meats, nuts, fruits, veggies and spreads. This appetizer staple has skyrocketed in popularity recently, awakening the imaginations of millennials who love to entertain.

“At the heart of it, charcuterie boards are really about human connection,” says Boo Simms, on the allure of aesthetically pleasing meat and cheese spreads. “They are beautiful, nourishing and bring people together.”

Photo Credits: Jenna Jones

Boo and her identical twin sister, Sarah, are the masterminds behind Lady & Larder. This Santa Monica shop has become a hub for the Los Angeles community, thanks to an emphasis on hyperlocal producers and farmers.

It has also earned national attention for its show-stopping grazing boards, featured by O Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Forbes and Buzzfeed’s viral food platform, Tasty. Snackable masterpieces, Lady & Larder’s creations have become so sought-after that popular US homewares retailer Williams Sonoma now carries the brand.

The Simms launched their business in 2016, first as a delivery-only brand that offered three sizes of cheese and charcuterie boards. With a combined background in restaurant operations, private kitchens and food styling, the twins financed the company with their credit cards then steadily grew the business through word-of-mouth.

In 2019, they opened a brick-and-mortar shop, where they also sell locally grown flowers, fresh bread, gourmet canned goods, and wine. “We called Lady & Larder ‘our little dream shop’ because it’s filled with all of our favorite things,” says Sarah. “We wanted a shop that celebrated a true sense of place – about 90% of our cheese, wine, goods and beer are locally sourced from here in California.”

Community is at the heart of everything they do, from stocking local producers to sharing their love for high-quality, artisanal foods with fellow Angelenos. And that mission has become even more pronounced during COVID-19.

“This global pandemic has magnified everything precious in life, like relationships and access to food,” explains Sarah. “Freshly baked bread, small-batch cheese, wildflower honey, seasonal jam – it all feels like actual gold.”

That’s also why they support small-scale businesses on their grazing boards. “Smaller producers and farms always have the best quality,” says Sarah. “We love the personal connection, attention to detail, and passion that you find when working with smaller local producers.”

This simple, straightforward approach for clean, local, gourmet foods has earned them so much success in the grazing game. “Our secret really isn’t a secret,” says Boo. “We find the very best ingredients we can get our hands on and then champion the farmers and makers who create those ingredients.”

Interested in making your own photo-worthy grazing board? Follow these six tips, which Lady & Larder teach in their virtual DIY Cheese Board workshops:

1. Aim for room temperature. Always serve your cheese and cured meats at room temperature, so you can really taste them. If it’s too cold, the flavor will be muted; too warm, and the cheese and meat could lose their optimal textures.

2. Work with odd numbers. Choose one, three or five cheeses and meats depending on the size of the board. Remember to choose a nice variety of flavors and textures, like pairing a creamy brie alongside a bold bleu or nutty manchego.

3. Add volume. When it comes to laying out sliced meats, don’t let them fall flat. Salami, for example, can be folded in half and fanned out like a deck of cards.

4. Freshen it up. Slice up some fresh fruit, such as blueberries or apple slices, to add zing and zest to your board. Pro tip: whatever is in season will taste the best!

5. Go green. Garnish with unexpected greenery, like herbs from your garden, edible flowers, or a few sprigs from a lemon tree. 

Need more inspiration? Find more ideas for flavours, producers and assembly via their Instagram page, @ladyandlarder.

Baking On The Rise: Celebrity Pastry Chef Vinesh Johny Shares His Go-To Babka Recipe

When Bangalore, India, went into lockdown in 2020, Vinesh Johny was grateful for the break at first.

Johny is the co-founder of Lavonne Academy of Baking Science & Pastry Arts, India’s first specialized international baking institute. As the school’s executive pastry chef and one of Asia’s most recognized talents, his hectic schedule is usually jam-packed with classes, meetings and engagements.

He used the downtime to run kitchen experiments with his wife, Joonie, who is also a professional baker. As the weeks dragged on, however, he began to worry.  “That’s when it started to get a little scary,” he admits. “We still had to pay the bills, so we had to think about how we would move forward during the pandemic. That’s when we started to explore live online baking workshops.”

Since it was Lavonne Academy’s first-ever virtual class, Johny expected only a handful of people to join. He was shocked by the explosion of inquiries: “We had over a thousand people inquiring about 20 seats. We heard from students from across India as well as people willing to wake up in the middle of the night in places like the United States, Canada and Australia just to be part of our baking classes.”

In hindsight, he’s not surprised. Baking spread like wildfire during the pandemic and, in many places, basic ingredients like flour and yeast flew off the shelves. The sudden enthusiasm makes sense, says Johny.

“As humans, we love eating and feeding others,” he explains. “With no work or social life, no dining out or partying, no sport or extracurriculars… we all looked for ways to nourish ourselves, whether it was through a creative pursuit or just eating more sugar and butter!”

In the next four months, Lavonne Academy trained over 14,000 students online and Johny released a new cookbook, New-School Sweets: Old-School Pastries with an Insanely Delicious Twist, with American pastry chef Andres Lara earlier this year. 

“We conceptualized the book as a modern-day cafe, with aspirational desserts for amateur bakers. We wanted to help people level up their baking game.”

For anyone keen to improve their home baking repertoire, Johny says that one of his favorite – and deceptively simple – recipes is babka, a sweet braided bread that originated in Jewish communities in Eastern Europe.

“Although it looks very technical and difficult to bake, it’s actually quite easy,” he says. “Follow my recipe to the T, and you can’t go wrong with it!”

The Recipe: Caramel Babka
Dinnerware: BOMSHBEE’s Tinge Clay



  • 2 cups + 1¼ tbsp (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp + 2½ teaspoons (25 g) granulated sugar
  • 1½ tbsp (13.5 g) fresh yeast
  • 2 tbsp (30 g) butter
  • 1 egg, whole
  • ½ cup + 2 tsp (130 g) water
  • 1 tsp (7 g) salt

Milk Chocolate Caramel

  • ¼ cup (55 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 g) honey
  • ⅓ cup + 1½ tbsp (100 g) heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp (30 g) butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tbsp (60 g) milk chocolate
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) sea salt

Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • ½ cup + 1 ½ tbsp (90 g) dark chocolate 
  • ⅓ cup + 1 ½ tbsp (90 g) heavy cream              
  • ¾ tsp (5 g) corn syrup
  • 2 tsp (10 g) butter                                    

Topping (optional)      

⅓ cup (30 g) almond flakes


The Dough

  1. Mix the dough ingredients in a stand mixer or bowl. Knead dough for 8 minutes at medium speed, or until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
  2. Perform a “window-pane” test. Take a small, flattened piece of dough, and gently spread it apart. If the dough forms a thin, translucent membrane without tearing, then the gluten is perfectly developed. If a clear “window” doesn’t form, keep for another minute or two and check again. Make sure that the dough temperature stays between 68-75ºF for optimal flavor and rise.
  3. Once ready, remove the dough and shape into a smooth mound.
  4. Place in a bowl dusted with flour, cover with cling wrap, and rest at room temperature for one hour.
  5. Once the dough has risen, firmly press or punch the dough to distribute air bubbles.
  6. Place dough on a flour-dusted surface. Roll into a 8 x 6 in rectangle, about 2/5 inch thick.
  7. Transfer to a tray, cover with cling wrap, and refrigerate for later.

The Caremel

  1. For the caramel, start by combining honey and cream in a saucepan.
  2. In a separate saucepan, heat sugar and stir continuously until it caramelizes to a deep amber color. Add softened butter to help deglaze.
  3. Add the warmed honey-cream mixture to the caramelized sugar, and stir until combined.
  4. Pour caramel mixture into a bowl with chopped milk chocolate so they melt.
  5. Add sea salt, then mix using a hand blender, if possible, to create a smooth emulsion.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours for best consistency.

The Ganache

  1. For the ganache, bring corn syrup and cream to a simmer in a saucepan.
  2. Pour into a bowl with chopped dark chocolate, so that it melts.
  3. Mix well and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Add remaining butter, and use a hand blender if available to produce a smooth ganache.

Put it all together

  1. To assemble, spread a layer of ganache onto the dough, leaving about an inch from the edges.
  2. Pour caramel into a piping bag, then drizzle all over the ganache.
  3. Roll the dough along its longer side into a log. Wrap in cling wrap and freeze for an hour so that the dough is firmer.
  4. Use a small, sharp knife to cut along the centre of the log lengthwise, so we get two long halves with the layers exposed.
  5. Twist the halves together to form a braid, and place into a loaf tin greased with butter.
  6. To proof the dough (which activates the yeast), leave in a bread fermentation box at 80°F and 60% humidity, or place in a switched-off oven with a bowl of hot water for about 2 hours. You’ll know it’s just right when the dough has doubled in size.
  7. As an optional add-on, soak some almond flakes in a bowl of water to prep for baking.
  8. Once the dough has been proofed, brush a layer of milk over the surface and sprinkle with moist almond flakes.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 392°F for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Follow These 3 Simples Tips For An Epic Backyard BBQ

Backyard barbecues are a special kind of a way to entertain – arguably a cut (pun intended) above the rest! There’s nothing better than bringing people together for a communal cookout, plates loaded with potato salads and perfectly charred meats. But how to plan the perfect BBQ? We tapped Kita Roberts for her sizzling tips.

Roberts is the creative mind behind popular barbecue blog, Girl Carnivore. Describing it as “a little snarky, a little sassy, and filled with recipes for real people in real kitchens,” Roberts says she started the blog in 2013 as a passion project to explore her interest in meat.

“I decided I wanted to do something different,” says Roberts. “I poured myself some tequila, and thought about what set me apart. There just happened to be hog casings hanging from the window – I was learning to make sausage at the time – and that gave me the idea for a food blog about meat, something that wouldn’t take itself too seriously.”

From beginner barbecue recipes, like bacon-fat glazed smoked Brussels sprouts, to more advanced artistry like perfectly cooked, fork-tender beef tenderloin, Girl Carnivore boasts an impressive arsenal of flame-broiled recipes that has won over the internet’s carnivores in the eight years since its inception. 

With adventure and experimentation in the site’s DNA, Roberts says she’s constantly discovering new ways to appreciate meat, from local ranching and farming operations around the United States to showcasing lesser-known cuts of meat, such as beef cheeks, oxtail, or different cuts from the shoulder, ribs or rear.

“We often get stuck with what we know at the market,” explains Roberts. “I personally feel it’s important to honor the animal from nose to tail, and find ways to utilize every part when we harvest livestock or game.”

A nod to the past, Roberts embraces a simpler, more sustainable approach in her work. Going back to the basics, she says, is what barbecuing is all about.

“You’re literally playing with fire,” explains Roberts. “It’s cooking in its most basic form, and yet I still don’t get it right every time. There is something so captivating about cooking over a live fire that just calms me down.”

For anyone new to outdoor grilling, Roberts has a few choice tips for beginners. She says knowing how to build a two-zone fire – a source of both direct and indirect heat – is essential, and helps to prevent burning your meat. Opt for cuts that are on sale (so you won’t mind sacrificing them), and when in doubt, go for chicken. 

“I break every new grill in with poultry,” says Roberts. “A whole chicken is perfect for learning; it teaches you about proper seasoning, hot spots on the grill, flare-ups, everything. Just always make sure the bird is cooked through to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the worst-case scenario, you won’t break your wallet in the process.” 

This self-taught cook says she typically has people over for dinner at least six days a week, and loves firing up her grill for any occasion – so she also knows a thing or two about hosting a cookout! Here are some of her best tips for throwing a down-home barbecue event that’s the talk of the town: 

1. Do the Prep Work
Roberts suggests planning dishes that you can prepare ahead of time – say, a smoked pork shoulder or brisket – or meats that will cook quickly, like steaks or sausages. Not only does it remove the guesswork, it also means you won’t be hiding from your guests behind the grill all day. “I plan my menu a week ahead of time. Any condiments, sauces or chopping, I do 24 hours ahead of time, and store in individual containers for an easy action plan on the big day.”

2. Invest in the Atmosphere
Sure, the meat is always the star of the show at a barbecue. But that doesn’t mean that your guests won’t appreciate small touches that make them feel welcome. “A cocktail station and a good playlist go a long way!” laughs Roberts, adding that she’s partial to welcoming guests with a cocktail in a signature glass that will make them feel special from the get-go.

3. Don’t Forget to Relax!
Barbecues can add more pressure than a normal dinner party, since you can’t control factors like the weather or environment. But Roberts says the best trick of the trade is to relax and have fun. “The reality is that anyone you have invited wants to be there and wouldn’t care if you ordered pizza. Try to enjoy yourself – and have a backup delivery option just in case!”

Beautifully Functional: New York Ceramics Artist And Designer Artist Jeanne K Allen On How To Choose Tableware

“When you work with clay, you become very fluid – it’s an emotional material,” explains ceramicist Jeanne K Allen, who manages a pottery studio and gallery in the picturesque hamlet of Croton Falls, New York.

Allen has aided the development of the Railyard Arts Studio Shop with owner and fellow artist Jill Leary in 2019, as a hub for local artists to meet, create, collaborate and showcase their work. Today, the studio is home to a thriving community of creatives and has proved to be a springboard for Allen’s own craftsmanship.

“I’ve always been interested in natural materials, and how they could be used to create beautiful, functional objects,” says Allen, who started pottery when she was in high school. She went on to study art and design at Syracuse University, where she was one of the first women in the school’s Industrial and Product Design program.

After Allen completed her degree, she went on to have a long and distinguished career in the corporate domain, playing a pivotal role on the Barnes & Noble and Dansk design teams. As an Asian woman walking into boardrooms in the 1980s and ‘90s, Allen says the furniture was designed for men.

“I’m not a very tall or big person, and I remember the meeting room chairs were just too big. So whenever it was my turn to speak, I would stand up to make my point, just to feel like I could be seen and heard.”

Despite the environment, Allen thrived in her career and quickly established a reputation for bringing well-designed, beautiful products to the market. “It’s funny – I didn’t see it then, but looking back, I really was very lucky. I was given a lot of mentoring and opportunities.”

After she retired from the corporate world in 2018, the mother-of-two left the boardroom behind and returned to her first creative passion: ceramics. Sitting down at her pottery wheel, Allen once again fell in love with the art form.

“When you throw clay, you actually have to become part of it,” she says. “You have to feel it and move with it. A lot of potters will shut their eyes so that they can feel how they’re moving and what they’re working with, and I think that’s very unique.”

The power of ceramics is nothing new, she says. The artform has made a mark on history, having served humans with their form and function for thousands of years. “If you go to a museum, there are beautiful, functional ceramic pieces everywhere that represent different eras and lifestyles,” says Allen. “Even in old paintings, you’ll notice that it’s ceramics that are often enriching somebody’s life in their home environment.”

The tactile nature, timeless quality and rich history of ceramics have kept Allen glued to the wheel over the past three years. And while honing her skills and feeding her passion, Allen has developed her own personal style – clear geometrics, beautiful designs, eye-catching yet simple embellishments – that’s reflected in each of her pieces.

For example, a collection of white mugs features a charming butterfly or a bumblebee. Wheel-thrown appetizer plates juxtapose natural clay rims with white, teal or naturally glazed centers. Meanwhile, a copper-hued pitcher, glossy navy blue mugs, a seafoam green bowl with white trim strike just the right balance of classic and creative.

“You would think that you would be able to change your artistic style over a period of time, but just like your personality, that element of you is always there,” she says. “I try to experiment with different techniques, but they always seem to be very organic, clean forms.”

When it comes to choosing ceramics for your home, Allen says it’s all about your preferences, lifestyle and what brings you joy. “Be true to yourself, and understand the difference between genuine quality and an imitation,” advises Allen. “I think people who like beautiful, pure forms will gravitate towards BOMSHBEE, because the products are always impressively authentic.”

Allen says tableware and art are two of the easiest ways to elevate your space and fill your day with an extra dose of beauty. “If you want to create an environment that reflects who you are and what you believe in, do it with your tableware or something that will enrich your home for years to come.”

Drink Like A Sommelier: The TOASST Founders Recommend 3 Refreshing Summer Wines

When Amy Powell and Christina Lau Tam first met at the Four Seasons Hong Kong in 2018, it was only natural that the two would wind up talking about their favorite topic: wine.

At the time, Tam had been working as a wine writer while earning her wine certification. Powell, who had previously worked for a French wine importer in New York City, was the director of communications at the luxury hotel. Each possessed more knowledge, experience and passion than your average wine enthusiast, and they shared a sentiment that something was missing from Hong Kong’s wine scene.

“We agreed that we don’t have that same kind of neighborhood wine shop experience that other cities have,” says Powell. “We find that people get very stuck in their ways here, buying the same bottle of wine over and over again.”

Christine Lau Tam & Amy Powell

Powell and Tam pooled their expertise and networks in the food and beverage industry to launch their wine subscription box company, TOASST, in November 2019. Highlighting lesser-known grape varietals, up-and-coming regions, and smaller, often sustainable producers, husband-and-wife teams and woman-run wineries, TOASST’s selections are designed to bring new flavor experiences into their customers’ homes – a sort of “neighborhood sommelier.” The boxes also include tasting notes, food pairings, and short profiles on each bottle and winery.

“The information we provide is what a sommelier would do, and we’re enabling our customers to inhabit that role,” says Tam. “Our members will have a dinner party, bring the wines out, and be able to talk about them with authority. They become experts on them.”

Powell notes that TOASST’s approach does more than just impress at parties; it aligns with a modern shift in consumer preferences. “People are becoming better-informed consumers about what they eat, and they expect the same about what they’re drinking.”

Looking for a wine recommendation for your next brunch picnic, or dinner party this summer? Try one of these hidden gems, hand-selected by the experts for their delicious flavors and fascinating backstories.

1. Vilafonté Seriously Old Dirt (South Africa)

Pour it into: BOMSHBEE’s O Wine glasses

“I love a universal wine glass like BOMSHBEE’s O Wine because it takes away all the complexities of which glassware to serve with,” says Powell.

That’s a good thing, because this impressive red from South Africa’s Western Cape deserves all of your attention. A Bordeaux blend with a tongue-in-cheek name, Seriously Old Dirt, refers to the ancient vilafonté soils used to produce the winery’s signature grapes.

“It has this round, silky finish with elegant tannins, balanced acidity, and bright cherry fruit,” says Powell. “It’s got a little bit of something for everybody! You really can enjoy a red like this year-round.”

2. JANSZ Premium Cuvee (Tasmania)

Pour it into: BOMSHBEE’s O Champagne glasses

“We reach for this bottle when we want to introduce people to what sparkling wine can be like outside of Champagne,” says Powell. Tasmania’s cooler climate, she explains, lends itself particularly well to this wine. It’s a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir – a perfect crowd-pleaser during the hotter months.

“It’s got a bit of creamy brioche, but it’s also a New World wine, so there are tropical aromas of citrus, strawberry and lemon,” she says. Both she and Tam are self-confessed sparkling wine fanatics, and they say that a long elegant flute – like BOMSHBEE’s O Champagne glasses – is essential to showcase the wine’s fine and lingering bubble stream.

3. Ca’del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige Brut NV (Italy): Chandelier Eidos

Pour it into: BOMSHBEE’s Chandelier Eidos glasses

“People usually associate Italian sparkling wine with prosecco, but there are actually other types,” Tam says. “Franciacorta, in the northeast of Italy, is a tiny region dedicated to sparkling wine. There are five sparkling wine houses there, and we carry Ca’del Bosco – a lovely family winery.”

Compared to the JANSZ, Tam describes the wine as having a more textural, slightly more refined feel. “It’s Champagne quality, but with a more mineral finish,” she explains. “It’s on the yeasty side but drier, which is why we like the broad, shallow bowl of BOMSHBEE’s Chandelier Eidos. It captures the apple and pear aromas, as well as the depth of this particular wine.”

4. And don’t forget… Mineral or sparkling water

Pour it into: BOMSHBEE’s Optic DOF glasses

Water might not seem as sexy as a lush red or an effervescent sparkling, but both experts insist that it’s integral to enjoying your wine-tasting experience. “People often ask us how they can get more into wine without suffering from hangovers,” says Tam. “Staying hydrated is my best advice; I always have a glass of water beside me when I’m doing a tasting. You’ll enjoy your wine so much more with a clear head the next day.”

To keep the tablescape as elegant as possible, Tam says she prefers a sophisticated water glass that feels at home among the vintage coupes, slender flutes and dramatic, wide-bowled wine glasses. Crafted with mouth-blown soda lime glass with subtle vertical lines that catch the light, Tam says BOMSHBEE’s Optic DOF is a winner in her book.

Photo Credits: Ben Marans Photography