Friday, January 30, 2009

Sailing the Caribbean seas

This week I am live and in living color on the MS Westerdam, one of
Holland America’s ships. I captured one of those great deals and am
sharing a cabin for a week with my girlfriend for under $600 per
person. We have a lovely, spacious outside cabin – our
view is a tad obstructed, but we wake up every day to the fabulous rays of the sun
and can see the ocean.
I have often visited islands in the Caribbean via air and sea but
opted for this trip to San Juan, St. Barths (aka St. Barts), Nevis and
Holland America's private island. Because I had not been to Bart's/Nevis. St.
Barths. St. Barthélemy and Nevis were new territory
to me and opened my eyes to a different culture. When it comes to St. Barths, can we say
"money, honey"?
This is the lifestyles of the rich
and famous – fancy shopping, fancy food, warm and wonderful ambiance.
I was not there long enough to get the full taste, but
this is one of those places I would certainly like to visit again. My
group headed to a known entity, Nikki Beach Club. If you know South
Beach, you are probably asking why on earth would we select a place
that has a spot on Miami Beach? Well, let’s say the experience was
suitable to the neighborhood. It was a fabulous afternoon of eating,
drinking, relaxing and chatting with friends; some of us took a swim
in the beautiful blue bay. Nikki Beach was the right place to soak up
the local environment. The euro is the currency here, and I am
positive most folk were taken aback at shopping and dining.
Rarely do I want to go back to a place, but this is one of those
islands I would like to visit again; the fact that it is a ferry ride
to St. Maarten (one of the few islands I would like to visit on a
frequent basis) may have something to do with it since I am very fond
of that island's shopping and fabulous dining experiences.
Next stop Nevis – the "ball" of St. Kitts – I learned this from my
taxi driver. It seems that if you look at a map of the Caribbean, you will
see that St. Kitts looks like a bat and Nevis appears to be the ball - of
course, this is referring to a game of cricket. We had only a short
time on this island, arriving early, around 7:30ish and getting back
on board by 3:30.
Since we kept late night hours, it was a struggle
to get off early, so I made it a point to run to visit the island for a
taste of Nevis. I was not disappointed. The taxi driver, Bentley,
assured us that if he dropped us at Pinney’s Beach we would be completely
satisfied – he was never wrong! We went to Sunshine’s. Mr. Sunshine, or Sunny as his crew calls him, fixed up the best
yellowfin tuna I have ever had – a green sauce of parsley, cilantro,
onions – let’s call it a Caribbean chimichurri sauce that coated the fish.
It was served with a fresh garden salad with deliciously crunchy long
beans and some of the best rice and peas you can find. My roommate
had the fish but also sampled the wings and could not walk away without
getting an order to go, so you know what we had after a late night of
You cannot go to Sunshine’s and not order the signature drink:
"Killer Bee" – it was a killer! Taste just like great rum punch that
you wanted to drink way too fast.
Tonight, my friends and I will be dining in the Pinnacle Grill – the
"high-end" restaurant of the Westerdam. I forgot to tell them I snuck
away and had dinner there the other night with friends, and it was
delish – the lobster was simply outstanding.
More to come as I sail the seas. I'll share a few photos
and notes on Holland America’s Westerdam. Tune in to Join Us at the Table
at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning as I broadcast live from the Westerdam with its two
executive chefs.

Local spots:
St. Barths, West Indies
Nikki Beach Club
PLage de St. Jean FW1 97133
Nevis, West Indies

Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill
Pinney’s Beach
Open 7-days a week for great food and dancing

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Eating euphemistically

There's a thin line between "caramelized'' and "burned,'' a short step from "smoky" to "scorched.'' I opted for the more optimistic descriptions for my poached pears. I stumbled upon Forelle pears at the market -- small, and sweet-smelling -- and thought they would be perfect for poaching in red wine. They were. I had to wing it -- 500 cookbooks and I couldn't put my hands on the recipe that I knew was lurking among them.

I poured enough red wine -- a Chianti -- into small pot to cover the pears, which I had peeled. I added agave syrup, a cinnamon stick, crushed allspice, cloves, nutmeg and peppercorns to add heat and bite. The pears simmered and tinted themselves in this deep red liquid - so far, so good. I took them out once they were tender and raised the heat a bit to reduce the liquid to syrupy sweetness.

I served dinner in the meantime -- mistake. Our guest spotted the smoke -- or was it merely steam -- first. The stuff was syrupy, that's for sure, and flirting with vaporized.

Served it anyway - it coated the pears beautifully and actually tasted rich, fruity and concentrated. The only real disaster was the Edy's. I had planned to serve a small scoop of vanilla ice cream with each pear. Forget to put in in the freezer. Hours later, when I found it in still resting comfortably in the shopping bag, I figured no one needed another beverage.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New year’s resolutions? Eat this!

These resolutions are going be a lot more fun that the lose-weight, stop-smoking, exercise-more variety. These pledges are all about food – what we eat, how we make it, how we eat it and where. If you sign on to just one of these resolutions, you will commit to maybe unplugging the food processor just once, knead some dough, instead of flipping on the electric bread machine, reject frozen for fresh and eat in a different country, without leaving town.

1. Make it yourself – mayonnaise or ketchup, applesauce or sweet potato chips. You’ll cut out the preservatives and stabilizers and the dreaded transfats. Make your own sorbet – it’s as simple as freeze and puree.
2. It’s all right to eat something other than a burger and fries with your hands. Try Ethiopian. Explain . . .
3. Try something you hate – make a different way. I tried that with Brussels sprouts. Added pancetta, brown sugar – all the good stuff. (OK, it didn't help the sprouts at all . . .)
4. Find a new, non-food use for a familiar food. I found a recipe that uses all those little leftover soap scraps. Mix them with oatmeal, vegetable oil and water and you've got a great-smelling exfoliating bar. (If life’s too short, though, just buy some.)
5. Eat something raw that you usually eat cooked, and vice versa. If you have only eaten chayote grated over a salad, try roasting slices of it. It deepens and sweetens the flavor. Beets, apples, berries, pears, salad greens all reveal their greater personalities.
6. Take pictures of the food – really. Dishes you’ve made and those served up in a restaurant. So what if you’ll look like a tourist. It’s a way of recording accomplishment, keeping memories every bit as precious as those photos of the Eiffel Tower. (That's grilled octopus in Thessaloniki, Greece and pasta in pastry bowls from Da Fiori in Venice pictured above.)
7. Eat extremely local. Local growers, local producers, local neighbors’ yards. You’ll be helping local business thrive. Go to a farm. Pick your own, see where food comes from - th kids will love it.
8. Ask a fellow shopper what she’s going to do with something in her shopping cart that looks interesting. Hate to sound chauvinistic, but nosy New Yorkers talk to strangers all the time. I’m one of them.
Ask to talk to the chef. He might roll his eyes, but not in front of you. Tell her what you really liked, what didn't quite work -- ask what she was thinking as she created these dishes.

10. Learn something – how to carve vegetables, work with filo, fold napkins.
11. Make something elaborate and time-consuming. Be sure to share it with friends. Examples: Try cassoulet – the five-day version, not some quickie variety. I’m going to make a coulibiac one of these days – Russian fish pie in puff pastry. I already made puff pastry in 2008 -- piece of cake!
12. Just once, have a scoop of ice cream and a sip of wine before noon.

-- Nancy

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year from the Two Saucy Chicks

On Christmas day friends and family joined Robbie at her home to celebrate the season. Left to right, George Fishman (Nancy's husband), Maribel Fernandez-Dillon (Catering by Maribel),The Two Saucy Chicks: Nancy & Robbie, Rene' Beal and Robbie's son, Michael Bell. All had a hand in creating a Southern Christmas brunch that was enjoyed by all.

On this day, January 2, 2009, Nancy and Robbie wish you and yours the best New You possible - may your life be filled with joy and laughter and may your table always be prepared with love and seated with friends and family.

Join Us at the Table this Saturday...Dr. Ian headshot 2008
Dr. Ian's 4-day Diet
You might think that all that fat is on your hips, but Dr. Ian Smith will tell us that it's all in your mind. In other words, the fight against obesity is as much mental as it is physical, and his new book, "The 4-Day Diet'' can help you get your mind right first. Dr. Smith is the diet expert on VH1's Celebrity Fitness Club and contributor to The View and Men's Health magazine. Listen in -- and lose weight by next Friday!

Also, Charmaine Campbell, of Chic International, knows that you only have one chance to make a first impression. When you're dining out, you don't want to be left with egg on your face according to Charmaine's new book "Money Cannot Buy You Class".


We invite you to call into the show, chat with the guests and win prizes. Last week our guest sommelier, Gabriel Varela of South Miami Beach's newest hot spot the Meat Market (915 Lincoln Road) educated us to the nuances of bubbly. Not only did he educate us about the many varieties, tastes and price points, he also gave 5 Join Us at the Table listeners the opportunity to win a $50.00 gift certificate to the Meat Market.

Be sure to tune in this Saturday. Our Call-in Number is 347.677.0827 or sign on to and register to enter our chat room and become a winner!!!


Rum cake, empanadas, short ribs corn bread, chocolate bark – Nancy has a day job, so she spent much of holiday season doing some early-morning cooking. The point was to let the flavors mingle all day before "show time" later in the evening.

The most challenging? Nancy couldn't resist making puff pastry for empanadas (yeah, she could have bought the dough ready-made, but that's the coward's way out). First she had to find lard – never used it in her life. Food Giant came through. The dough itself was a minor major production: Mix flour and water, roll it out, spread lard on top and fold the dough in thirds like a letter; repeat this twice. The result: thin layers of dough that will puff up and expand as it bakes.

It worked, and Nancy can scratch it off her list of must-dos!

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