Mussel up

mussels-at-gigis.jpgSix more months. That’s how much longer the mussels will be really good. Until next September, that is, when mussel lovers will once again embrace the nine consecutive months that contain the letter “R,” an easy way to remember the best time to order mussels.

Mussels are like the nursery rhyme: “When they’re good, they’re very, very good, and when they’re bad, they’re horrid. Well tonight, I had the very, very good ones. Chef George Telles’ Prince Edward Island mussels with tomato, onion, garlic, and chourizo, in a white wine sauce. With plenty of crusty bread to mop up every bit of that fabulous sauce.

The occasion: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivee! Yes, another wine dinner, this one at GiGi’s in Boca Raton. Actually, the mussels were paired with a Macon-Villages from Mommessin, a producer that also does a Beaujolais Nouveau. And yes, we did have plenty of Beaujolais as well. But thankfully, we didn’t have the Nouveau with all five courses.

After two Beaujolais Nouveau wine events today, I’ve had enough to last me a while. But those mussels! Next time I have a craving for mussels, I’ll go back to GiGi’s. And hopefully they’ll serve them with pommes frites, so I can pretend I’m in France. Or at least Belgium.

Wine without rules

2007.jpgHappy New Year!

You’ll have to wait 45 more days to watch the ball drop at Times Square. But you can get a head start on the revelry by celebrating New Year’s today. Because today we celebrate the New Year for wine.

Every third Thursday of November, the first wine of the vintage is released. And it’s always Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine made from the Gamay grape in the Beaujolais region of France. Just as we give special recognition to the first baby born in the New Year, the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau is always cause for celebration. Because only 12 weeks ago, the grapes that make up this wine were still on the vine. It’s just a baby.

Think back to your first kiss. Sweaty palms and nervous giggles. That sense of anticipation. Chances are you still remember the sweet feeling that washed over you when your lips finally met. Beaujolais Nouveau is like that. It’s fresh and juicy. Uncomplicated. Soft and supple. And ready now.

Georges Duboeuf, known as the King of Beaujolais, describes the taste of his 2007 vintage: Crisp and delicious flavors of red cherry, fresh plum and sweet pomegranate.  It’s a red wine that drinks like a white, a perfect choice for those who normally reach for a white wine. Pair it with anything from Thanksgiving turkey to Chinese take-out. Just put a little chill on the bottle first—15 minutes in the fridge will do the trick.

Duboeuf has been jetting Beaujolais Nouveau to America for 25 vintages. His labels are always fun and a little bit funky. And his wine is always approachable. At $10.99 a bottle, it’s a great excuse for a party.

To fete the 25th anniversary, Duboeuf has created a commemorative poster featuring labels from all 25 years. To snag a poster or a tee sporting the label lineup, visit winewithoutrules.com. Better yet, enter the How Do You Do Beaujolais Nouveau YouTube Video Contest. The best video wins a cool $2,000.

Cell with benefits

vertu-cell.jpgNon-verbal cell phone communication. An oxymoron? Not anymore.

Vertu’s Signature Diamond Phone speaks volumes, even when you set it to silent. For starters, it’s a world-class accessory, crafted in the haute joaillerie tradition. Averaging 7.2 carats, the phone contains 923 precious stones—a combination of pink diamonds, pink sapphires and rubies—and takes a skilled craftsman a full month to hand set.

That button? Oh, that’s the 24/7 global concierge service, ready to book everything from your restaurant reservations to private jet transport. And one more click will back up your data to ultra-secure servers maintained in an ex-military bunker in the U.K.

Made to order, the sticker price on this rose gold beauty is $73,000. Those who prefer a more subtle statement can lop off a zero and still get one of Vertu’s exceptionally engineered models, sans stones.

Foxy lair

hunt-country-june-2005.jpgMaybe it’s the fox that’s prominently featured in his family crest. Or maybe it’s because he’s married to a foxy lady.

Whatever the draw, I was definitely delighted when my dear husband booked us into the Hunt Country room at The Foxfield Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia last year. And I was even more delighted when he scheduled us for a repeat visit this past weekend.

Southern hospitality abounds at this cozy bed and breakfast. Contemporary by Charlottesville standards, this 50-year-old B&B has been thoughtfully designed by innkeepers John and Mary Pat to include amenities that would have been unthinkable in Thomas Jefferson’s day. From the remote controlled gas fireplaces to the couple-sized Jacuzzis, everything at the inn has been arranged to allow guests to enjoy gracious living only a few miles from Jefferson’s Monticello and his beloved University of Virginia.

Mary Pat is a wonderful cook, and this morning we enjoyed her fabulous Pumpkin Cranberry Coffee Cake along with perfectly poached Eggs Benedict, steamed baby asparagus, and the company of fascinating fellow B&B guests.

To bring the fabulous aromas of autumn into your home, try Mary Pat’s recipe.

Pumpkin Cranberry Coffee Cake

1 1/4 cups flour
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 8-cup ring mold.

Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs at medium speed of electric mixer until foamy. Beat in sugar, oil, and pumpkin. Add dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Gently fold in cranberries. Spread batter evenly in mold.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in mold set on rack for 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of mold to loosen. Cover cake with upside -down serving plate and invert to release from mold. Continue to cool on rack. Dust with powdered sugar to garnish.

Yield: 12-16 servings

Scullery chic

twos-company-gloves.jpgIf you have to do dishes, you might as well do them in style. Yes, you can look fabulous while doing the dishes with these darling dishwashing gloves from Two’s Company. These couture rubber gloves come in red, black or blue, and are paired with white fabric ruffle prints, making it almost fun to take care of the household chores.