Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pistachios are the new Almonds.

By Laura Medina


With the on-going drought in sunny, dry California, the poor almond is getting a bad reputation due to being too popular for its own good as a peanut alternative.  When hunger for almonds and almond butter has hit an all-time high (which this almond lover doesn't mind one bite), it's when the drought struck the state.

The rural countryside of California is America's fruit, vegetables, and nuts basket.  Yes, incurring the joke that California is the "Land of Fruits and Nuts."  In this case, it's a good thing.  A countryside is wide and abundant in produce, soil, and climate, it's in the same league as the treasured "Mediterranean" region of France, Italy, and Greece.

Since it's rich in soil and climate, pistachios are emerging behind almond's shadow, as the drought alternative nut since pistachios only consume 3/4 the water that almonds uses, poor almonds.

In this water-conserving state, pistachios are the new almond replacement which it has always served in the drier Middle-Eastern countries.

Celebrity Chef Nancy Silverton, with generous helping from the American Pistachio Growers, demonstrated  the various to use, cook, and serve pistachios beyond snacking.

Not that there's any wrong with snacking, she also showed the different approaches on how to snack on them, too.  

At the luncheon, the heavenly immense luncheon, pistachios still in their shells have been roasted for fun snacking.  For those too lazy and too busy to peel off the shells, shelled pistachios are also roasted and grilled, releasing their own nut oils then sprinkled with spices for a delicious flavored pistachios.  Pretty easy.  Pretty Fun.


Here's a recipe for Country Pork Pate with Pistachios mixed in by Charleston's very own Chef Mike Lata, that Chi Specca (Chef Nancy Silverton's restaurant) happily re-created for this nutty feast...

Country pork pate with pistachios By: Chef Mike Lata 


3 pounds Fresh pork(ham)
1.5 pound Fat back
½ pound Chicken liver
½ Onion, minced
2 Fresh bay leaves
½ tablespoon Pureed garlic
3 ounces Brandy
3 ounces White wine
Pinch Sugar
1 cup Toasted pistachios
20 grams Salt
8 grams White pepper
6 grams Selrose (curing salt)
3 grams 4 spice
½ bunch Parsley leaves, picked and washed
2 tablespoons Fresh picked thyme

Cut the meat and fat into 1” cubes and put into a large bowl and place in fridge until ready.
Add onion, garlic, brandy, wine, bay leaves, into a 2 quart saucepan and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes, and reduce till about half. Let cool.
Add the salt, selrose, pepper, 4 spice, parsley leaves, thyme, to the diced meat and stir to incorporate. When the wine mixture has cooled, add to the meat and stir in. Let meat marinade overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
Toast the pistachios until fragrant and reserve.
Grind the meat through the medium die once being sure to keep the meat as cold as possible. When the pistachios are cool, fold into the meat. Paddle the mixture in a kitchen aid for 2 minutes on medium speed to bind the meat.
Line a terrine mold with plastic film and pack the mixture into it, pressing firmly to let out any air pockets. Top the terrine with a couple more bay leaves and a sprig of rosemary then cover and bake until they reach 155˚ degrees internally. Cool and place in fridge overnight.
Unmold and slice. Serve with crusty bread, dijon mustard and pickles.

The three-course appetizers whet the lucky guests' appetites with pistachio pizza, roasted pistachios two ways, and the Country Pork Pate studded with pistachios.

The real lunch didn't really begin until they were treated to a pair of rare cooking demonstrations by the highly-acclaimed but media-shy Chef Nancy Silverton.  

Truth be told, her recipes are pretty simple with no cooking involved since they're salads.

Chef Nancy Silverton dicing pistachios into pistachio dressing, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huQVRSw6Am4

In this first video, Nancy demonstrated Market Rucola & Wild Cress with Pistachio Aillade, a fancy name for crushed pistachio dressing.


The second salad is still easy, Chef Nancy Silverton's Marinated Radicchio & Beet Salad with Goat Cheese & Crushed Pistachios.  

Basically, you marinade radicchio and pickled beets together then you pinch off a piece from a goat cheese log, roll it into a ball then toss and coat it in a bowl full of crushed pistachios until the ball is completely coated in pistachios.  Repeat until you use up the whole log of goat cheese.  Pretty eh?  You can serve the pistachio goat cheese balls as stand-alone appetizers and snacks.


The main entree is Swordfish Spiedini with Fregola Sarda and Pistachios by Chef Chad Colby.  Basically, he grilled chunks of swordfish in pistachio oil and served couscous mixed with pistachios, of course.

Actually, the American Pistachio Luncheon is a full serving 6-course luncheon.  So much servings and helpings that it was a sin to let this all go to waste, in a pompous, pretentious LA way.  This thankful foodie was grateful to be hosted in such a gracious restaurant that knows the importance of being starved of water...and food that they kindly saved whatever was not eaten or finished into doggy bags to be savored later on, either as a very good dinner or a lunch time treat. 


Well, one gotta save room for dessert.  Actually, making pistachio gelato is the most difficult thing to make on the menu.

The Pistacho Gelato is topped with a generous dollop of Strawberry Coppetta, served in a tall sundae glass.

Now that this scrumptious scribe got ya' hungry for all things pistachios, go to http://www.americanpistachios.org/recipes-and-snacking for all things pistachios.

For my hometown Lowcountry fans, y'all will be tickled that culinary heroes, Chef Ben Berryhill of the Red Drum Restaurant, The Ordinary's & FIG's Chef Mike Lata, and superstar Chef Sean Brock have their pistachio recipes proudly displayed on the California-based American Pistachio Growers' website.

While they give the almond a much-needed rest, it's time for pistachios to step up to the plate.



Monday, May 25, 2015

Keeping Fresh during Summer & Swimsuit-Ready, Whish Beauty.

By Laura Medina


Don't the luxurious retro-glamour puss packaging fool you, Whish Beauty has some pretty advance formulas in their retro packaging.

Whish Beauty's Shave Savour is not a depilatory cream or lotion where the hair grows back thicker, darker, and fuller than before.

Nope, it's a gradual fade and thinning of unwanted hair, especially during Bikini Season.

This extraneous hair fade moisturizer has Chaparral Extract, loaded with anti-oxidants, this natural ingredient slows hair regrowth leaving skin softer for longer in between shaves.  

To keep your skin softer and hair-free, it has...

Organic Aloe: A soothing, natural antiseptic with anti-bacterial properties, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing properties.

Organic Shea Butter: Has a high content of non-saponifiable fats which are the best natural skin moisturizers and are also high in anti-oxidants.

Panthenol: A natural, hydrating vitamin when applied externally, it penetrates into lower skin layers adding essential moisture and increased collagen production.

Whish Beauty's Shave Savour renews the skin with...

Hyaluronic Acid: Made famous by ABC's 20/20. It is known as an anti-aging ingredient and sun damage repair treatment.

Retinol Palmitate: Assists with skin rejuvenation and cell turnover.

It also moisturizes with...

Organic Coconut Oil: High in anti-oxidants, coconut acid; helps penetrate into the underlying skin tissue to deeply moisturize while preventing and protecting against free radicals keeping the skin young, healthy and beautiful.

Organic Jojoba Seed Oil: A natural emollient to help keep the skin supple and soft and maintain moisture.

Organic Green Tea: A natural anti-oxidant to protect skin from free radicals.

 Flawless Ingrown Hair Serum, https://www.whishbody.com/products-flawless.php

When that time does erupt to shave, wax, or laser, Whish Beauty's Flawless Ingrown Hair Serum unsprings those pesky ingrown hair right out for easier hair eradication. 

Papaya Extract:  A natural source of vitamin A and vitamin C, it helps weaken hair follicles, inhibiting future growth.

Willow Bark (Saliscylic Acid):  An anti-inflammatory ingredient to help calm the hair follicle.

Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract (Yeast Extract):  Regenrates and heals skin.

Wheat Germ Extract:  Helps restore and smooth the skin.  

Unlike other solutions on the market, Flawless is a quick pump gel to the finger tips and off you go. No mess - cottonballs, pads or Q-tips. 

No alcohol smell here. Flawless' fresh scent is reminiscent of a light cucumber smell.

It doesn't need to sting to work! The stinging is alcohol. Flawless is naturally soothing.

 Deodorant Swipes, https://www.whishbody.com/products-deodorant-swipes.php

Yes, Bikini Time is Summer Time which means you're traveling.

How you travel really makes a big dent in how to pack, what to pack, and where to pack.

Instead of being weighed down by bulking deodorant sticks, Whish Beauty thought of something nifty, Deodorant Swipes.

Simple, they're tissues loaded with deodorants that you simply wipe anywhere on the body.

This scribe tested them out during Bourgeois Bohemian Coachella where it's important to pack light while being stinky-free and Palm Springs where these wipes were as light as air and cute enough to stash in a clutch for last-minute emergencies.

TSA pays no heed.
It seems like these little wipes are specifically made for those pesky underarms...

Saccharomyces Ferment: This natural bacterial enzyme combats odor beautifully.

Chaparral Extract: Loaded with anti-oxidants, this natural ingredient slows hair regrowth leaving skin softer for longer in between shaves.

Organic Seaweed Extract: Loaded with firming peptides and anti-oxidants.

Organic Seabuckthorn Fruit Extract: Seabuckthorn contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and is a super anti-oxidant.


Take Away Shave Set has all your bikini-needs ready while jet-setting.  1.1 ounces of everything: Cucumber Flawless Ingrown Hair Serum, Lavender Shave Crave and Lavender Shave Savour packaged in a carry-on ready vinyl bag. 

Pair this with a box of Deodorant Swipes, you can be that glamour jet-setter that everybody dreams of yet few achieves.

Whish Beauty can make a frequent flyer feel fabulous.



Have a Bikini Time, Bud Light Rita’s LEMON-ADE-RITA & Kaohs' Lemon Bright Swimwear for Summer.

By Laura Medina

After visiting and checking out Coachella and Palm Springs, there is this emerging trend, lemon and sucking down vitamin-C rich lemonade, perhaps to repair the UV ray damage to one's chromosomes under the desert sun.

Just in time for Memorial Day which sets off Summer, Bud Light adds a new flavor to its refreshing and convenient, sweet Beer Margarita Line, Lemon-Ade-Rita.

Sweet and bubbly yet convenient and very darn affordable to pick up and dump in a cooler at the last minute, it's an immediate cocktail that you can take anywhere without hunting for then waiting at the bar.

To celebrate Summer, Bud Light paired with Kaohs, http://kaohs.com/, in this limited-edition partnership of their Gypsy X Budlight Lemon-Ade-Rita Collaboration, appropriate enough in Lemon-Ade-Rita Yellow, http://kaohs.com/collections/washed-out/products/gypsy-x-lemon-ade-rita-collaboration.

This is the first time Bud Light has partnered with a bathing suit company so it is super exciting especially because Kaohs prides themselves for designing and making all of their suits in the U.S. (Downtown LA).

In honor of Summer, pick up a can or a pack (Bud Light's Beer Margaritas can be mixed and matched like your swimwear), stash in the thermal tote bag (the new cooler) then take off anywhere, whether it be the lake, river, pool, or beach.

America's Answer to Harry Potter, Jodi Baker's "Trust."

By Laura Medina

Author, Jodi Baker & her first in "Between the Lions" Series, "Trust."

Once America caught J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter Fever" rich in British folklore, Americans have been trying to distill that elusive genie in the bottle in their own uniquely American flavor...and didn't catch on, until now...

An unassuming grad student volunteering as a docent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jodi Baker never set out to be a great story-teller or a myth-weaver. Nope.

However, Summers trying to keep museum visitors, her fellow docents, and herself constantly alive and interested about tours and exhibits, (that could easily become routine) by changing, switching, and reviving tour stops among the Met's hallowed, marble halls, proved to be fertile grounds for Jodi's intellect and imagination.

By being in-depth and knowledgeable to keep her museum tours fresh and intriguing, Jodi Baker unwittingly conjured a 8-part book series,"Between the Lions" Series in honor of the two marble lions keeping guard at the foot steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts.

Using the real-life and tragic Hypatia, one of the very few and extremely rare woman mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher in Ancient Alexandria Egypt, as a foundation for the protagonist, Anna in the first of the 8-part series, "Trust."

The title, "Trust," is an apt way to start off this urban mythology, Young Adult series that is also a coming-of-age journey for Anna.

Working as a docent, Jodi discovered a variety of cultures and their mythology and wants to give them their equal dues.  She neatly divided them into "Eight Libraries," hence the eight-part series.

In the "Between the Lions" series, the protagionist, Anna, is sent on this journey to discover and unite all "8 Libraries" before the antagonists beat her to them and used them for evil.

In the race to beat the antagonists, this is the launch pad that Anna sent to uncover her lineage, heritage, and family secrets that bestows her with super-natural gifts and talents.  She just has to learn to transform them into skills, very much in line with Harry Potter's coming-of-age discoveries.

Of course, in any coming-of-age tale, this is the story of independence and emerging adulthood, striking out on one's course where Anna discovers love on the journey.

In keeping with the tradition of Hypatia, the main characters are very strong, very independent, very wealthy, and very powerful women who are the standard-bearers of New York High Society while secretively acting as the gate-keepers of knowledge that can be used to maintain the world or destroy it. 

It is all up to Anna to navigate that elite, alternative world and discover then unite all "Eight Libraries" of the world from destruction.

If you want to delve deeper into Anna's journey and discover what are the "Eight Libraries of the World," you just have to get your feet wet in the first of the 8-part "Between the Lions" series, "Trust."

Trust this scribe, you'll enjoy the ride.

Friday, May 22, 2015

OK GO is the best & the most Art Rock/Performance Rock Money Can Buy...& They're Not Snotty.

By Laura Medina

It's around this time of the year, this scribe goes back home to Charleston, South Carolina for some much needed "brain candy" at her hometown's highly-elevated, all-encompassing arts festival, Spoleto USA.

Which brings to mind, this so intellectual that it's lets-loose-so-goofy-that's-it's-fun OK GO concert.  Yes, those pop culture-appropriating rock geeks who define the "Nerd Rock" genre.

Rocking the crest of the "Nerds are Cool" Wave since nerds and tech geeks are pretty much defining the way we live...Apple Anything hello?!...OK GO are the epitome of "It's so nerdy that the quality rocks," and rock they did.

OK GO's concerts are performance art or "Art Rock."  They're something that Spoleto USA would love to have as headliners and perhaps, might be cash generators for that festival. Oh well, something to ponder...and the Wiltern got them two weeks ago; and it's for anyone and everyone.

For the fun-loving junior art patrons, a typical OK GO concert is one confetti party.  What this means that every 15 minutes, canons by the side, blow clouds of confetti upon the audience.  Can't beat that enthusiams, nor can you beat their loyal fan base.  It's normal to meet an OK GO fan who travel up to Los Angeles to see them at the Wiltern after catching them in San Diego.  While nerds and geeks do something, they do it very well.

Whatever technology or dance performance innovations you enjoy watching in their videos, they try to bring it live for their audience, live in person, at their concerts.

Their concert opened with a montage of movie clips repeating "ok" and "go" on a screen then it rises up to reveal the band.

Their entire concert was filled special effects graphics screen over the band and behind as backdrops.

During intermission break or breather, the band was nice enough to do a Question & Answer with audience.  Some ask how can they appear in their fun videos.  Pretty cool, eh?

Knowing people love them for their dance routines in their quirky-smart videos, for the finale and encore, OK GO did performance dance, bathed in flashing lights and graphics.

An OK GO concert is one, big confetti party.  Let loose your inner Nerd Rock God.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

"Pulling a Don Draper." Getting Lost in Palm Springs at the Hyatt Palm Springs.

By Laura Medina


Memorial Day Weekend is coming upon us, right on the heels of "Mad Men" finale, setting us into a mood for a "lost weekend."

Otherwise known as "Pulling a Don Draper," where the lead protagonist escapes, without a moment's notice in the last-minute, when the pressure is on, the head is cluttered, or there is something out there that needs exploring and experiencing epiphanies.  Your co-workers will forgive you for returning with a clear head, fresh with ideas...or a new point of view.

One of the epiphanies this scribe had experienced recently is a subtle, under-current resurgence of Downtown Palm Springs.  The same surge this scribe felt twenty-six years ago, the bubbling renaissance of Downtown Charleston, South Carolina, in the wake of Hurricane Hugo.

The locals agree...Coachella Music Festival was an economic boon to Palm Springs, injecting a new wave of interest among a desired demographic group, Gen-Xers becoming the new establishment.  Especially, the Gen-Xers who started the Coachella wave but are evolving into Mid-Century connoisseurs (thanks to "Mad Men") who developed a taste for "Rat Pack" Modern decor, architecture, fashion, and lifestyle.

This scribe's suggestion is...when you first pull into town...drop by into Trina Turk's/Mr. Turk flagship boutique for a quick Palm Springs makeover resort.  Turk's contemporary resortwear in swimsuit fabric makes you appropriate for falling into the pool drunk, just like the Rat Pack but better suited coming out.

The revamped Hyatt Palm Springs is ready for them.

Smack dabbed and can't miss in the heart of Downtown Palm Springs, the Hyatt Palm Springs is outfitted with a new sign, a new mural, a desert-appropriate fountain, and an outdoor bistro lounge with a firepit, the HooDoo Outdoor Cocktail Garden...

http://palmsprings.hyatt.com/en/hotel/dining/HooDooPatioRestaurantandBar.html & https://www.buzzbaricecream.com/about.php

Facing the main street, anyone can join in and have tapas and Buzz Bar for dessert.

In fact, the Hyatt's HooDoo Cocktail Garden is one of the few locations to be serving this "adult" alcoholic ice cream popsicles and bars.  They're like childhood treats with a splash of liquor or wine for the chilling "buzz," https://www.buzzbaricecream.com/about.php.

Once "buzzed," it's time to check-in into your room.  Luckily, this scribe got upgraded to a suite...

A semi-apartment where the TV doubles as a computer and the desk has lamp with chargers and outlets for your smartphone and tablets.

In keeping with Mid-Century Modern aesthetics that form follows function (the aesthetic that Palm Springs is built on), the living room is split between media center/work station and the lounge couch with an ottoman, a side table holding another lamp with chargers....done in a "Mad Men" color motif of grey and orange.

In-between in the hallway leading up to the bedroom, every nook and cranny is used.  The mirrored hallway slides into the closet, next to is the coffee nook...

Right above the mini-refrigator is the coffee/tea nook where you can brew your own coffee and tea.

Just because you maximize your space never means you sacrifice luxury, especially in the Hyatt Palm Springs' case...

This scribe loves how this sleek, Modernist bathroom is done all in pink marble and they built a vanity table into the nook of a corner, with three-ways mirrors to fix yourself in 360 degrees which leads up to...

The bedroom which has....

A patio balcony where you can sip your beverage overlooking...

The private golf course, too bad hotel guests can't tee off there but what a view of the mountain range above and the course below.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of good restaurants in Palm Springs and thank god, the Hyatt has a fitness center to burn off the calories.


Strolling up and down main street Palm Springs, you'll encounter a Modernist Diner with a bustling crowd and a eclectic menu.  That's Lulu California Bistro For lunch, this Southern scribe lunched on Seafood Chowder, dotted with bay scallops and a generous portion of fried oysters.  Who would had known there will be some decent seafood in a desert oasis?  Very assured and glad to know.

Okay, time to return for dinner at SHARE Restaurant at the Hyatt...


Sure, the HooDoo Cocktail Garden is the new addition to the Hyatt but don't overlook its main restaurant, SHARE Restaurant.

The Giant Prawn & Noodle Salad started off the dinner. This would be make a great lunch.
The middle entree was the Smoked Duck with tortellini but this scribe's favorite is a classic, Angus Filet Mignon with Mashed Potatoes and Spinach.  Can't go wrong with that.

The bartender at SHARE Restaurant was kind enough to whip up these "dessert Coladas," Raspberry-Strawberry Colada then the special "Orange Creamsicle" Colada.  You can take them to chill at...

the pool and the cabanas.  The pool area also has its own lounge and poolside cafe if you want to throw an outdoor event.

When this scribe was checking out and about to return to reality, the Snow Crab Omelet with Roasted Potatoes and Sourdough Toast, washed down with orange juice was a great wake-up call.

Their berry smoothie was something any wise traveler should hit the road with.  It'll help ease the hangover, alongside the omelet.

The Buzz Bar program at the Hyatt Palm Springs is running right now, perfect for Memorial Day and will last until the end of May.

Regardless, if there's a Buzz Bar program or not, the Hyatt Palm Springs is riding the wave of Palm Springs resurgence.  There's construction of an upscale mall next door to the hotel.  The connecting walkway will link up where the lobby artium is located, providing a direct passage to and from the mall.

Speaking of artium...

The airy and spacious lobby has an atrium with these lovely curtain tents/booths where weddings have been held and big event parties thrown.  These would be ideal for a gifting suite.

Across from the atrium lobby is a piano lounge, great for visiting Coachella musicians.

But for the rest of the year, the Hyatt Palm Springs is a great place to stay while soaking up Palm Springs' Mid-Century, Modernist history and heritage.  Again, a great place to "pull a Don Draper" and pretend you're living "Mad Men" Episode 211, "The Jet-Set."

The Hyatt Palm Springs is located at 285 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, California, USA92262, (760) 322-9000 and http://palmsprings.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html

Friday, May 15, 2015


By Laura Medina

It's not just the young ladies.

We can't forget or neglect the young gentlemen escorting these young ladies to the prom.

This is Sean John's answer to outfitting the gents.

Washington Wizards guard John Wall  partnered with Sean John to outfit four high school seniors from Eleanor Roosevelt senior high school with tuxedos for their prom which will take place on May 22. The participating students are part of Future Leaders & Young Entrepreneurs organization (FLYE).  FLYE is a non-profit organization that is equipping local minority males with the knowledge, skills and abilities to succeed in any area of life through impactful programs. Sean John worked with an experience stylist and tailor in creating the “ultimate” Prom fitting experience for these exceptional young students as they make their way into college and manhood.