Aviary takes flight

Are these not the most gorgeous, most sensuous, most amazing cocktails on the face of the earth?

Fabulous @ The Regent

Last night, while waiting for the valet to return my car at The Regent Bal Harbour, I was chatting with a hotel staff member.  A minute or two into our conversation, he asked if he could get me something to drink.  When I requested water, he returned with a chilled bottle of Voss, one of my favorite still waters.  It was such a lovely gesture, and made me feel that their guests are truly cared for every moment of every day.  Congratulations to GM Guenter Richter for assembling a staff that never misses an opportunity to make guests feel genuinely at home.  I look forward to experiencing an overnight stay at this newly-opened property.  And I was thrilled to hear that Chef Mark Militello will be in the kitchen at the hotel’s 1 Bleu, starting this weekend.

MacGorgeous

I have a pair of Mary Jane-styled Manolo Blahnik pumps in bubblegum pink patent leather.  Unabashedly sexy, and supremely suited to their purpose.  Just pulling them out of the closet puts a smile on my face.  Wearing them makes me happy all day long and sparks conversations everywhere I go.

My new MacBook Air is a lot like those precocious shoes. Guaranteed to garner glances of admiration, it makes working a pleasure.  Of course it’s not my primary system, or even my primary notebook.  I don’t expect it to do everything they do, not any more than I’d expect those fabulous pink patent pumps to stand in for my basic black heels. They’re not even the only pair of pink shoes I own.  The MacBook Air and the bubblegum Blahniks were both designed for a particular purpose, and each one fulfills its unique role in a way nothing that attempts to be something-for-everyone ever could.

Neither one was purchased on a whim. Like the shoes, the MacBook Air is the perfect accessory for something else. Something that was the driving force behind the accessory buy. Oddly enough, I didn’t really want a Mac at all.  I wanted Scrivener, a piece of software for writers that only runs on Mac.  Scanning the Mac display at my local Apple store, it was abundantly clear that only the Air would meet my need for fluid creativity and uber-portability.

Everyone I asked tried to talk me out of the MacBook Air and into the more practical MacBook Pro.  What they just don’t understand and probably never will, is that sometimes I just want to dance through my day in a pair of pretty pink patent leather shoes.

Scotch pairings

Here’s the menu from last week’s Rare Malts Dinner at Fort Lauderdale’s St. Regis Resort, as prepared by James Beard Award-winning executive chef Toby Joseph.

The St. Regis Resort Aficionado Scotch Pairing Dinner

Passed Amuse served in the Wine Room:
Farm Cheeses and honeycomb
Fresh berries with lavender cream
Glenkinchie Distillers Edition 1991

North American Hackleback Caviar
Talisker 175th Anniversary

Dinner served at Cero Restaurant

Beginnings:
Taste of land and sea Oyster with marinated Watermelon
Talisker 30 Yr cask strength
Smoked trout and sour apple
Caol Ila 25 yr cask strength
Prosciutto-wrapped Stilton on crostini
Lagavulin 21 yr cask strength

Second:
Smoked Buffalo Carpaccio, Leaves of Frisee hearts and Mache lettuce, candied Pecan, pomegranate vinaigrette
Oban Distiller’s Edition 1992

Third:
Caramelized Veal loin, roasted artichokes white anchovy, lemon caper berry demi glaze
Clynelish 14 yr

Main:
Slow braised scotch scented beef short ribs, Melted beets and leek confit, Mustard cream
Cragganmore Distillers Edition 1992

Dessert:
Warm carrot cake with kumquat compote and creme fraiche ice cream drizzled with a Dalwhinnie Distiller’s Edition 1990 reduction
Dalwhinnie 29 Yr Cask Strength

Finale:
Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V edition

Daily double

caviar.jpgCaviar. Again.

At lunch, it was an unremarkable wisp of caviar atop the sour cream that adorned a starter of Norwegian smoked salmon. Nice. Classic. But totally expected, and nothing to get excited about.

But at dinner it was a decadently different story. Even without caviar service, the sight of men in kilts makes me go weak at the knees. So when I entered the bar at the St. Regis Resort and saw a kilted Scotsman, I knew it was going to be quite the evening. And indeed it was.

In the brief moment before a white-gloved waiter appeared bearing politically-correct North American Hackleback caviar, I found myself shimmying up to the Scotsman. Evan was his name and whisky was his game. Beckoning me to follow his lead, Evan extended his arm, allowing the waiter to deposit a dollop of inky-black eggs on the back of his hand at the base of the V formed by his thumb and index finger. I watched as he ate it from his skin, rolling the roe in his mouth, gently cradling them with his tongue.

According to caviar connoisseurs, eating caviar off your skin is unadulterated bliss.

I agree. You don’t really eat caviar as much as you caress it with your tongue, causing the eggs to literally pop, which creates an extraordinary, sensual mouth feel. With nothing between you and those jet-black jewels, you can use the tip of your tongue to burst the eggs against your palate, releasing the entirety of their essence in your mouth. Big, complicated, and changing from the instant they made contact, it was hard to say which was headier, the caviar itself or the Talisker 175th anniversary Single Malt that accompanied it. Both brought the taste of the sea to the fore, and sent me swooning for the nearest seat.

Then again, maybe it was the sight of a man in a kilt.

Luxury pours

fn_cabchard.jpgQuality. Uniqueness. Exclusivity.

Those were the characteristics that wealthy Americans were asked to consider when naming the best premium brands of wine and liquor. Their responses to the Luxury Institute’s survey are, undeniably, right on the money.

Champagne: Dom Perignon

Tequila: Patron

Scotch: Macallan

Wine: Far Niente

Vodka: Grey Goose

Gin: Bombay Sapphire

Cognac: Grand Marnier

Rum: 10 Cane

Whiskey: Woodford Reserve

So, what’s in your glass?

Take the cake

zebra-cake.jpg Every party deserves a fabulous bag. Here’s one that’s sure to claim center stage at your next soiree. Once you open up the handles of this delicious little number, everyone will be digging in to see what all the fuss is about.Lipstick and liner pale in comparison to the contents of this zebra-striped beauty. Layers of chocolate decadence, caramel toffee buttercream, and silky chocolate buttercream come together to create an accessory that will be the talk of the town long after the party platters have been whisked away.

55 and holding

macallan55-natural-colour-lalique-decanter1.jpgTurning the double nickel doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom.

Celebrate each and every year with Macallan’s 55-year-old single malt. Sure to lift your spirits, this tribute to legendary craftsmanship is bottled in a stunning Lalique decanter with an amber crystal stopper. Scheduled to release in January 2008 as an individually-numbered edition of 420, the Natural Coulour decanter is valued at $12,000.

Undisturbed for over half a century at Easter Elchies House in Speyside, Scotland, this cask-strength (40.1%) beauty has matured in a sherry-oaked splendor. Dark rosewood in color, it exhibits heady aromatic notes of sweet dried fruits, a hint of pest-smoke, and lingering touches of citrus.

Smooth and spicy on the finish. Just like you.