Tag Archives: A Proper Cup

The First Brunch in 2013!

January 2013


There’s still so much of 2012 that has yet to sink in! I styled my first wedding, and I made my first wedding cake for very dear friends (pictures still to come)! I played with chocolate for four days which transformed into this catalog. There were brunches with the best of friends, travels for new ideas and inspiration and many a moment shared with my special one. This past year was a good one, but I have a clearer direction and a new zeal for a new year! May the fruits of 2012 and the lessons learned become the raised glasses and toasts of 2013!

First Brunch Beverages

I was so privileged this year to make a big journey right before the holidays (more on that soon!!). The very distanced time away relaxed my mind and invigorated my spirit, a perfect combination for reflection. The goals unfurled from there. Goals or resolutions, whatever you may call them, this year I am all about them! I’m not talking the generic, “lose weight” types of New Year’s resolutions which are abandoned long before February 1st. I’m talking focused, outlined goals, with defined actions, which will push me from all angles- health & wellbeing, relationships, education, creativity and so on.

First Mimosas

In 2013, I will be a more positive and grateful person who draws and paints and wraps her brain around subjunctive verb forms while leafing through Spanish and French dictionaries. I will continue to educate myself. I will have a portfolio. I will tell the people who matter to me why they matter to me! I will tell those who have inspired me how they have inspired me. I will make mistakes along the way, but I will practice discipline to overcome my fears of failure. I will continue on this route I have mapped, and that my friends, is quite an exciting prospect!

Whipped Cream for Coffee

Homemade whipped cream + French Pressed Coffee =

Whipped Cream Plus Coffee

Poor girl’s cappuccino? A fancy girl’s cappuccino!

First Brunch 2013 is Served


Much like the transition I am hoping to see from 2012 to 2013, New Year’s Eve dinner was good, but New Year’s Day Brunch was even better! Our New Year’s Eve menu featured roasted salmon and bacon sliders, with avocado and blue cheese, served with roasted sweet potato fries, steamed artichokes, salad and red wine. The leftover salmon and avocado transformed into a delicious egg scramble the following year. (Donut recipes to come in subsequent posts).

First Brunch Plate

Here’s to a brand new year of beautiful brunches and positive changes! What are your resolutions?

p.s: This is a great collection of creative resolutions.
p.p.s: Here are some more positive words for shaping a brand new year!


They Had Us At “Birch & Barley” (Brunch in Washington DC)

September 2012

This Labor Day weekend I attended a very special wedding in Chantilly, VA. Where is Chantilly, Va? For the purpose of a Sunday morning, Chantilly is precisely “close enough” to Washington DC to justify a jaunt for brunch . A quick investigation of the DC brunch scene revealed a restaurant entitled “Birch & Barley.” As two rustically-inclined, event designers, they had us at “Birch!”

One of Birch & Barley‘s biggest claims to fame is its collection of 555 artisanal beers, of which I drank not a drop. Brunch, I repeat, I was there for brunch (I’m also such a baby when it comes to beer, but that is beside the point at 11am). The display of beers on tap dazzled me nonetheless.

Though I did not spy any birch, I immediately embraced the interior scheme of rustic brick and glass candleholders wired to the wall and columns. The menu was also a thing of beauty- thick, watercolor paper with letterpress inspired fonts and “painted” dabs demonstrating the farm-fresh egg varieties.

Warm Brioche Sticky Bun
Brown Sugar Caramel, Pecans, Cream Cheese

I’m a big fan of ordering a cinnamon roll for the table (exhibit A), and the use of brioche dough in this sweet bun added all the extra allure I needed to choose between this and the donut varieties (Toffee-Bacon, Lemon-Poppy Glazed, Bittersweet Chocolate to name just a few examples). The roll was fresh and warm, and the dough was light and squishy. The only complaint was the uneven distribution of cream cheese, which appeared in a little burst.

Note: The half & half arrived in a metal version of a [miniature] carton of milk. As the waiter said, “we really try with the details.” I applauded!

Duck Confit Quiche
Caramelized Onions, Frisee Aux Lardons, Fried Shallots

A little heavy on the duck and light on the quiche, but still a passing entree. The hash browns arrived in a Jenga-like stack of fresh herbs in a crisp, fried case. One major oversight of our waiter was a failure to tell us the entree included hash browns, since we ordered a side of them. Apparently, he took us for ravenous and gluttonous (which fair enough because we did order way too much food, including a serving of the house-smoked bacon…house-smoked!!!).

Fried Chicken & Waffles
Belgian Waffle, Buttered Pecans, Maple-Chicken Jus

We went overboard, but when we saw chicken and waffles…we just had to! I would have liked an ample supply of maple syrup to push the sweet and savory juxtaposition, but alas, it was a drier serving. Pittsburghers will be happy to note, we both enjoyed this version, but in our hearts, we knew we would have preferred the cheddar, jalapeño, cornbread waffle with bourbon-bacon maple syrup from … you guessed it… Meat and Potatoes.

Sometimes you just need a little excursion to make you appreciate the places nearer to home. That being said, the overall Birch & Barley design, the food and the wanderings outside the restaurant door made the trip well worth our while. I would sincerely love to return with a hearty beer drinker and a healthy appetite for a really great cocktail!

Keepin’ It Real: Coffee & Curses

July 2012

Somewhere in this great, big world, is a yoga teacher who inspired my practice long after she left the room. Beyond her yoga insights and inspirations, a phrase of hers will stick with me forever. One of her students was about to make drastic changes to her diet, the type of changes that affect more than a shopping list. The yoga teacher encouraged her with ideas and affirmations, and then she uttered the phrase I have made into a mantra.

“There are two things in this world I’ll never give up: coffee and the f-bomb.”

For all the things we might give up in this world, it’s equally important to cling fiercely to something else. If you’re going to cling, why not cling to something dark, bold, undiluted and really fucking flavorful! Caffeine is one of my least concernes when it comes to coffee. Why I cling to it, is because of its complex flavors, varying textures and the experiences of gathering with friends or sipping slowly while reading or writing. However, that caffeine is, very often, a great perk!

In your coffee wanderings, might I suggest trying something new and intense? I spotted this bottle of cold pressed coffee at my local Whole Foods. Of course, this bottle could never fully pry me away from my true love for coffee in Pittsburgh- Espresso A Mano.

A Cold Pressed Bottled Coffee from La Colombe

Steeped for 16 hours in stainless steel wine tanks, free from oxygen, pressed and filtered twice, PURE BLACK is a bottled celebration of the culinary flavors of coffee – cocoa tones and sweet goodness. We recommend pouring PURE BLACK over ice.  100% Real – No Dilution & No Preservatives


A Spot of Hillbilly Tea

June 2012

The weekend had been a Bonnaroo whirlwind, but the Sunday morning raindrops over Manchester, Tennessee fields, put us on the road earlier than we intended.  We may have missed some Bonnaroo shows as a result, but foregoing rainy concerts meant more time for lunch along the way.  Thanks to Nicole, we decided upon a quaint patch of Louisville, Kentucky called Hillbilly Tea.

“At its core Hillbilly Tea is an Appalachian themed “Tea Café”, which offers a variety of fresh organic whole leaf teas and boast a full menu of wholesome mountain inspired comfort foods.”

From my first peek through the door, I knew we had made the right decision.  There was an abundance of brick, rustic wood, old metal and mason jars.  On top of the visual welcome, our waiter was brimming with positivity and personality.  We all exchanged Bonnaroo stories and a few traveling tales before even discussing the menu.  I told the waiter I was ready to move into the space, and his enthusiasm for the place just beamed.  It was so apparent he genuinely adored the cafe, and it made an amazing cafe all the more memorable!

pork & pone
w/ garlic mayo red cabbage chow chow & choice of side

Sweet, tangy, tender chunks of pork atop slightly sweet and spongey corn pone…

…very quickly became a picked over plate!

Duck Burger
w/ house bacon, caramelized onions, greens & cheese

Additionally there was a cakey biscuit with local honey, smokey greens that taught me how proper southern greens can really steal the show, sweet potatoes and endless mason jars of Nettle tea from the Hillbilly farm outside of town.

Our charismatic waiter said “dessert,” and I was going to pass, but he kept talking, and when he did, he uttered the words “bourbon bread pudding.”  We ordered it without hesitation.  We did it for us, and we did it for Nicole, knowing she would surely be on her way to some celestial paradise if she could have taken just one bight of the warm caramel-topped bread chunks with a meringue topping and BURSTS of bourbon flavor!  Our charismatic waiter also suggested a hot tea pairing similar to a chai but made with a smoky black tea, milk and sorghum syrup.  It was the type of tea that conjures views of bluish-green hills shrouded in low, dewey clouds, when time is timeless and the quiet is invigorating.  It was an entire scene of calming respite in a sip of smokey tea.

I could have stayed there all day, just sipping tea and enjoying the waiter entertain each table with his happy attitude, wild gingery beard and blonde hair.  I could have, but alas I, for some reason, continued on the journey toward home.

Tea & Biscuits

May 2012

Sometimes simple and sophisticated packaging properly represents its contents.  Sometimes a spot of tea is worth a bit of decadence.  Sometimes tea inspires more than just musings, even though inspired musings are worth a shiny penny as well.

Tea for two is usually best, but sometimes a third little, tiny explorer is welcome as well.

Tea and biscuits are a pair made for quiet, slow mornings. This time, tea and biscuits were a very perfect pair connected via flavors of coconut and almond.

Coconut Almond Buckwheat Biscuits
With Peaches ‘n Cream 


1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup local buckwheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup unsulphured coconut shreds
12 Tablespoons (1 stick) organic, unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sliced almonds
1 ½ cups local buttermilk (or 1 ½ cups local milk + 1 ½ Tbs lemon juice)
½ teaspoon organic almond extract


Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position, and heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Grease a 9-inch skillet.

Combine the flours, baking powder, salt, baking soda and shredded coconut in a large bowl.

Rub the butter into the flour mixture until the combination resembles coarse meal.

Add the sliced almonds.

Stir in the buttermilk until combined.

Use a greased ½-cup measuring cup to transfer heaping portions of dough into the prepared skillet.

Bake until the biscuits are puffed and golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

Cool in the skillet slightly.

Serve with homemade whipped cream and warm, sweet peaches.

Whipped Topping

1 cup organic heavy cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Honey, to taste


Combine all ingredients in a chilled bowl.  Use an electric mixer to beat until peaks form.  Keep chilled until ready to serve and eat abundantly.

Peach Topping


4-5 organic peaches, pitted and sliced
organic unsalted butter
organic brown sugar, to taste


Add a smidge or two of butter to a pan over medium heat.  Add the sliced peaches.  Swirl the peaches around until they start to brown ever so slightly.  Add brown sugar to your taste, and continue to swirl a bit.  Remove from heat.  Serve warm.


Cake & The Beanstalk!

May 2012

Having felt the fatiguing effects of a brunch bourbon (judge me not, it was brunch!), it was the perfect time to take a quick stroll and discover a whimsical little coffee shop called Cake and the Beanstalk.

Cake and the Beanstalk
1112 Locust St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Neighborhood: Washington Square West

The colors were bright and cheery, the sizes were silly, and the chairs provided a wee bit of entertainment.

Oh how happy was I to see Lucy the Margate elephant again…this time on a cute, little chair!

Of course there had to be a chair routing for the hometown team.

I was also partial to the Queen, not for any power issues, just the alliteration…I swear!

So if you’re looking to satisfy your adult need for caffeine and your inner child’s need for color and playfulness, Cake and the Beanstalk is the perfect place! And the drinks are good too (sorry we didn’t have room for cake after the beautiful garden brunch)!


Third Time’s A Charm: The Kinfolk Dinner Series

May 2012

Once upon an internet stroll, I happened upon a beautiful, blossoming endeavor entitled Kinfolk.  Beneath a video that admittedly moves my overly sentimental side to watery eyes, was a manifesto that spoke straight to my sensibilities:

Kinfolk is a growing community of artists with a shared interest in small gatherings. We recognize that there is something about a table shared by friends, not just a wedding or once-a-year holiday extravaganza, that anchors our relationships and energizes us…. Kinfolk is the marriage of our appreciation for art and design and our love for spending time with family and friends.

Thus, I made a habit of regularly visiting the pages of Kinfolk.  What impressed me beyond the refined design and the enviable places and products (and they are enviable!), was the way the site seemed to preserve  meaningful moments in time.  Reading Kinfolk feels like a quiet visit to a memory.  

Beyond the awe inspiring posts and publications, Kinfolk began a dinner series tour! When I noticed Philadelphia on the list of cities in the tour, at Terrain specifically, my mind began whirling. Before I knew it, my finger was clicking the option to enter the lottery for tickets. Fortunately, whimsy and practicality worked in a harmony entitled Memorial Day Weekend!

This harmony almost did not come to beautiful, burlap accented fruition. The lottery for dinner tickets did not favor me, but the Monday before the dinner, I received an uplifting email.  Due to a few cancellations, there was room for me and my guest should I still want to attend. Should I still want to attend?!?  Of course I did!

Beyond the excitement of taking part in a Kinfolk dinner, I was especially thrilled with the choice of location.  This marked my third attempt to eat at Terrain.  Please excuse what will surely sound like the “woe is me” ramblings of first world problems when I say my first attempt to visit Terrain (not just Terrain but a craft beer and local honey festival!!!) was thwarted by the heavy rains of a passing hurricane (on the up side, I prepared this meal for my friends, and they’re still talking about it!).  On the second attempt, I took my good old time meandering through the store then joined my place in line to be seated.  As my turn came, I looked at the hostess hopefully, and she announced my second failure- they were no longer taking names.  Hence, attempt number two was a beautiful fail. As I arrived at Terrain, yet again, the other two fails felt purposeful, as if they had led me to this third time, the beautiful, enchanting charm!

And oh, was it charming!

If you, like me, associated Pennsylvania wines with the taste of communion, then you, like me, will be thrilled to discover a wine that proves us wrong.  From what I gather, what distinguishes Galer wines is the intentional choice of which exceptional grapes are suited for PA soils versus existing PA grape varieties turned into wine. Dr. Galer also sought experts in the field of viticulture when he began his endeavor, which you can read about here.

To Start

Flower Pot Bread:  tarragon honey butter, smoked sea salt

Mixed Field Greens:  sliced radishes, wild strawberries, toasted almonds, micro basil, balsamic vinaigrette


Rosemary Honey Mustard Leg of Lamb

Quinoa:  sugar snap peas, baby carrots, english peas, pea tendrils

Kennett Square Mushroom Skillet:  wild mushrooms, organic eggs

Sauteed Lancaster County Vegetables:  Fiddlehead ferns, garlic scapes, dwarf bok choy


Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Pecan Pie

To see the beautiful menu in its full glory, click here.  The design came all the way from a talented artist in the Netherlands named Anja Mulder.

Even the napkins added a clean and rustic touch, so I adorned my lap very proper like.

Do you spy the brilliant idea in the photo on the right?  I shall soon try my hand at gardening little pots of soft, fluffy and slightly sweet bread.  Beyond the brilliance of the idea, the bread was one of the most delicious breads I have ever sampled (and I have sampled quite an array of breads!).

One benefit of eating with foodies and photo fiends is the patience given to the documentation of beautiful meals.  These weren’t just any foodies either!  I’ve been a fan of Something’s Hiding in Here ever since I saw the tour of Shauna and Stephen’s Philadelphia loft, so meeting the incredibly enthusiastic and humble couple was much like a celebrity encounter for this dorky blog reader.

Sitting directly to my right was Sullivan Owen, who had adorned the Terrain barn with her floral designs.  Aside from being very friendly and talented, Sullivan offered me lots of business inspiration!  I hope to spend more time learning from Sullivan in the future, and if that time is accented by one of her stunning arrangements, all the better!

That wasn’t all!  Across the table were Andrew and Carissa, the lovely couple behind many a Kinfolk video, specifically the Manifesto video that drew me to Kinfolk in the first place!  I can’t wait to see what they culled from this dream dinner.

Quite the plate!  My favorite main was the Kennet Square Mushroom Skillet. The mushrooms were quite meaty!

One might expect the coffee to be prepared with utmost care at a dinner focused on bringing people together, and one would be right.  Two Rachels served coffee prepared specially for each and every coffee partaker.

They even sent us on our merry ways with a creatively packaged single brew sample.

Additionally, Sullivan offered her floral displays as a generous token of her talents, and the very stylish farmers of Happy Cat Farm bestowed organic tomato plants upon us and an extra pack of seeds in the little totes on a big mission from Nest.  The night just continued to impress!

It was a beautiful dream dinner, and I was so grateful to be a part of it!  My third attempt at Terrain was beyond a charm. Kinfolk shared their own account of the night through the multiple lenses of this talented and personable photographer. I love how dark and saturated Parker’s images are, and I was especially excited to see this photo made the cut.  ;)

Here’s hopin’ many of us cross paths again!