Tag Archives: holiday

Founders Ball, Charleston

Last night was a big party at Hibernian Hall downtown to celebrate the annual Founders Ball.

It was the perfect start to the holiday social season here in Charleston, with a magnificent Christmas tree bedecked in festive tinsel.

Founders Ball Christmas TreeFounders Ball DancingFounders Ball BandFounders Ball PortraitFounders Ball Group PhotoFounders Ball StageFounders Ball Silly

We mingled with friends, threw some shapes on the dance floor, nibbled on some Southern food, and wound down the evening in Chucktown style!


Halloween Pumpkin & Hot Apple Cider

Ooh, the air is brisk and the clocks have gone back! The leaves don’t change color in London, (they just turn brown and die) but they’re starting to fall! And tomorrow is Halloween!

I’m missing my east coast autumn for sure, but trying to get in the spirit of the season. So I rummaged through my pantry for some hot apple cider supplies, and got ready to carve my pumpkin!

Hot Mulled Cider Ingredients

Hot Mulled Cider Ingredients Close

I spiced my cider by putting all the ingredients in a saucepan over simmering heat.

Hot Mulled Cider Step 1 Pan

Hot Mulled Cider Step 2 Orange

Squeezed in the juice of a clementine and a splash of dark rum.

Hot Mulled Cider Step 3 Rum

While my brew heated up, I settled down to design my jack-o’-lantern, drawing on its features with a Sharpie.

Pumpkin Draw

Pumpkin Draw Eyes

Next, is my favorite part – cutting out the lid around the stem, then scooping out all the pulp and seeds.

Pumpkin Step 2 Cut Top

Pumpkin Step 3 remove Seeds

Pumpkin Step 3 Remove Seeds Handful

With my mug of hot spiced cider (a perfect hand-warmer!) close by, I used a thin flexible fillet knife to carefully saw out the eyes and mouth of the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Step 4 Cider

Pumpkin Step 6 Done

Isn’t he cute??

Pumpkin Step 5 Done

Don’t let all those pumpkin seeds go to waste! Rinse them clean and place them on a parchment covered baking sheet to roast in the oven. This time, I sprinkled them with Old Bay, popped them in and left to bake for 20 minutes.

Seeds Tray

Seeds Old Bay

Seeds Old Bay Sprinkled

They came out perfectly toasted, with that familiar Maryland flavor filling the kitchen!

Seeds Into Bowl

Seeds in Bowl

These Old Bay roasted pumpkin seeds make the perfect crunchy snack, sure to be gone long before the trick-or-treaters come knocking.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Apple Cider Recipe

Santorini “The Old Way”: The Hilltop Village of Pyrgos

After catching a high speed ferry to Santorini and disembarking at the old port, I wanted to start exploring right away. Pyrgos is a hilltop village in the center of Santorini with stunning panoramic views of the island. It’s also one of the least developed villages on the island, preserving its traditional charm. From the main square at the base of the hill, steep footpaths lead upwards through the densely clustered stone houses and neo-classical ruins. These labyrinthine streets are only navigable on foot or by donkey. With no traffic, you can really experience the medieval authenticity of the place – despite its gradually emerging status as a tourism village. Pyrgos path3 flora and sarah path us walking pyrg 2 domes dome flag view Grab your sunnies and hike to the top of the hill, strewn with the ruins of an ancient Venetian castle (Kasteli). The sunsets from up here are sensational. path2 funny face leaning wall church inside church inside church two Just beyond the front steps from this lovely church is the terrace of Franco’s Bar –  softly playing a mix of sultry wartime jazz and classical music. It is the perfect place to sip a gin fizz in the warm breeze and watch the sky change colors. francos patio francos church francos drink Sunset3 domeflag dusk sunset2 sunsetview sunset Pyrgos is a little spot of unspoiled ground where you can experience Santorini “the old way.” And with gobs of historic charm, and heavenly views like these, I hope it never changes.


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Easy French Apricot Tart


Let’s be honest – one of the most enticing aspects of any holiday is the food. For weeks leading up to my vacation, I eat healthy, limit my alcohol intake, and exercise like a demon just so I can spend the entirety of my trip overindulging.

The food has been so marlevous in France, there was no way I was leaving without a cooking lesson. In this case, it was a tutorial in baking, since no one turns out desserts quite like the French do. Whereas in America we have pie, in France you have tarte. There are endless possible combinations for fillings; I used apricots. In the immortal words of Montell Jordan, this is how we do it:

















What I love about French cooking is that it seems so effortless. Normally when I’m baking, I feel like I have to measure each grain of flour exactly to the milligram for my recipe to turn out. Not so in France – cooking is more intuitive. So you tend to have recipes that list measurements as a few, a sprinkle, or a handful – if you use a recipe at all.  I was skeptical that this relaxed approach to baking would yield even edible results, but (voilà!) I was beyond pleased with the finished product.

Tartes are an easy dessert to make, pack a fruity flavor punch, and will be sure to impress at your next dinner party. Follow the easy recipe below, and enjoy the fine art of French pastry-making:

1 ready rolled pastry sheet (such as Jus Rol)
1 egg
6 – 8 apricots
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup peach preserves
sprinkle of almond powder 
handful of dried prunes (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (375°F)
  2. Roll out pastry sheet into tart pan or pie dish. Gently prick the pastry with a fork to vent, top with parchment paper and pie weights, and prebake for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and paper and let cool.
  3. Cut the apricots in half, remove pits, and slice them. 
  4. Sprinkle pastry with a few tablespoons of almond powder. Then spoon on the peach preserves. Arrange the apricot slices in a rosette pattern on top.  (I added dried prunes to mine, dotting them around between the apricot slices).
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and heavy cream. Pour over the fruit.
  6. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Allow tart to cool before serving. Plate & serve!