Category Archives: books

manhattan | a visit, a cocktail + a book | holly & flora

manhattan | a first-time visit, a classic cocktail + an eponymous book

It’s been nearly three weeks since our visit to New York City, and I can still hear the bustling sounds in my head. It was my very first visit, and it proved quite the adventure-filled, three-day escape. Steve and I had already made plans to see our friend Andy’s art show in Chelsea at the end of September, but the stars truly aligned when the dates for the Saveur Blog Awards ceremony were announced. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We immediately booked our tickets, plotted an easy departure from the restaurant’s responsibilities, and started researching places to stay and see and dine.

I had ideas of what New York would feel like, but experiencing it, firsthand, blew my mind. I’m still processing all that we packed in. Instead of staying at a swank hotel in the city, we opted for a cozy Airbnb in the Prospect Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. I’ll share the details of our digs and dines in an upcoming post, along with all of the activities we enjoyed with the fellow blog award nominees and the Saveur team. For now, I’ll post a few captures from the first day we were there. A day filled with walking the streets of Brooklyn over to Manhattan, the best way to see the city, in my opinion.

And you know I can’t resist the chance to share with you a few riffs on the city’s most famous classic cocktail, the Manhattan. If you’re thirsty for a good story, read on. Heck, if you’re just plain thirsty, read on. I’ve got you covered here.

manhattan | a visit, a cocktail + a book | holly & flora manhattan | a visit, a cocktail + a book | holly & flora manhattan | a visit, a cocktail + a book | holly & flora

There’s nothing like experiencing the city on foot and by subway. Even after walking a couple of blocks from our neighborhood, we felt the pulse of city drawing us in. I quickly realized that there’s really not a leisurely pace; you have to jump into the groove and ride it. That, or get out of the way.

We started our exploration in the Prospect Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. A few blocks into our walk, we scouted a couple of pizza joints and grabbed a few slices. I paired mine with a red Gatorade, because travel dehydration. What’s the actual flavor profile of “red drink”, let alone the actual ingredients? I didn’t want to think about it. The streets were hot, and the air was thick with humidity that rivaled that of my home state of Florida. I needed serious quenching.

Fueled by syrupy Gatorade and cheesy pizza, we braved the streets, eking out as much as we possibly could over the next few hours.

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rosé with spice-roasted carrot + avocado salad | emilie raffa's "the clever cookbook" + a giveaway

rosé with a spice-roasted carrot + avocado salad | emilie raffa’s “the clever cookbook” + a GIVEAWAY

Happy Friday, everyone!

I’m celebrating extra hard because I survived Valentine’s Day at the restaurant. It was no small feat. We served over 500 guests each evening last weekend. I am still tending to my battle wounds. Couples lingered a little longer than we anticipated, so our reservations ran behind by almost an hour each night. In order to appease the anticipation and impatience of awaiting guests, we ended up having to pour nearly eight cases’ worth of complimentary Prosecco.

I’m still asking, where’s my complimentary case of bubbles?!

Today I’m changing things up a little and hosting Emilie Raffa of the Clever Carrot here on the blog. Emilie has been a longtime favorite blogger of mine, and she recently released her first cookbook, aptly titled, The Clever Cookbook. I’m giddy with excitement! It’s filled with get-ahead strategies and tips for “stress-free home cooking,” and it is quickly becoming a favorite resource in my kitchen. It was also recently named one of Epicurious’ Top 30 Most Exciting New Spring Cookbooks! Get it, Emilie!!

Emilie is kindly letting me share with you, one of my favorite recipes I’ve tried from her new cookbook, a spice-roasted carrot and avocado salad. Of course, I couldn’t resist pairing it with a bottle of wine. So, to celebrate Emilie’s cookbook release, I’m giving away a copy of her cookbook, along with a bottle of wine from my cellar that pairs perfectly with this particular salad! Simply share one of your favorite time-saving tips in the kitchen down below in the comments OR clue me in one of your favorite springtime rosés.

Cheers!

rosé with spice-roasted carrot + avocado salad | emilie raffa's "the clever cookbook" + a giveaway

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the clover club cocktail | how to make your own grenadine | holly & flora #cocktails #drinks

the clover club cocktail | how to make sugared cranberries + your own grenadine

Have you ever juiced a pomegranate? I hadn’t until about a week ago. I’ll come across some unique, detailed technique from time to time and think, “Now, I’ve got to try that.” I might not even have an end result in mind, but I’ll feel an overwhelming need to learn some obscure and interesting skill that might prove completely unnecessary. I had already purchased a couple of pomegranates, and they were sitting on my kitchen counter, almost staring back at me, probing me with a challenging smirk, as if to say, “I dare you to do something with us.”

The thing is, I hadn’t even purchased a pomegranate until a week ago, let alone seed one. Even the thought of seeding the strange fruit kept me procrastinating the task. I finally gave in. After watching a few videos and reading a couple of how-tos, I accepted the challenge. I’ll admit that purchasing pomegranate juice is a convenient treat, but the bright, potent flavors I got from juicing my own won me over. In this case, learning a particular new skill was totally worth the effort.

After my triumphant, juicing feat, I reckoned that I should do something with all that juice. Sure, I could drink it all up, but I wanted to make something delicious with the pretty, magenta-hued liquid. So, I made those pomegranates proud and whipped up some homemade grenadine and added a little to one of my favorite classic cocktails, the Clover Club.

You’ll pat yourself on the back for this one. 😉

DSC_1943the clover club cocktail | how to make your own grenadine | holly & flora #cocktails #drinks

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variation on a theme: mai tai | a peek inside emily han's "wild drinks + cocktails"

the mai tai: variation on a theme 01 | a peek inside emily han’s “wild drinks + cocktails”

This week, I am super stoked to highlight a book from one of my favorite cocktail creators, Emily Han. Emily just released her book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails, which is filled with a bevy of recipes to add to cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, alike. The pages are brimming with beautiful photos and recipes for handcrafted syrups, shrubs, bitters, infusions, squashes, and switchels. I’d like to think that this book was written personally for me. If she lived here in Colorado, I just know we’d be fast friends, scouring the Front Range for cocktail components!

Emily’s book is my favorite addition to my kitchen counter all year. It won’t be collecting dust anytime soon. She gave me special permission to share one of my favorite recipes from her book, and since I’ve been on a Tiki cocktail kick recently, I felt that making her hazelnut orgeat, a nut-based syrup used in many a Tiki drink, would be fitting. Let’s meet Emily, learn how to make her hazelnut orgeat, craft a classic Mai Tai, and put a creative spin on this classic.

And I won’t judge you, if you decide to make one before noon on a Wednesday!

variation on a theme: mai tai | a peek inside emily han's "wild drinks + cocktails" variation on a theme: mai tai | a peek inside emily han's "wild drinks + cocktails"

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summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

summer dill + snap pea shim | tips on growing dill

This is my favorite time of year. I guess I’ve said that about early September, when the aspens are starting to change, and I’ve definitely made mention that late March is a beautiful time of spring, when the first purple crocuses pop up in my front yard. I should more aptly state that I just really enjoy living in the moment and soaking up whatever specialties each season sends my way.

Right now, the garden is seriously showing off. Case in point, I have dill towering above my head at seven feet tall. Seven feet tall! We even had to construct a containing method, so that it wouldn’t tumble over from its weight on the rest of the garden. No complaints. This just means lots of pickling coming up for us.

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

I’ve also enjoyed muddling and incorporating dill, along with whatever herbs are within reach, into my cocktails. I really aim to make them refreshing, balanced, and not too heavy-handed on the alcohol. Some might argue, “What’s the point of making a cocktail, if you keep it low on the alcohol content?” Well, for one, if it tastes delicious, I want seconds. Maybe even thirds. So, keeping a low proof (read: not getting day drunk) is optimal for me, especially when I’m out working in the yard in the hot sun.

On a recent trip to California, Steve and I stayed in the town of Geyserville. He was taking part in the Alexander Valley Cabernet Academy, where he toured some of the best sites for Cabernet and met some of the most innovative winemakers within the Alexander Valley. I traveled with him, but I went my own direction each day. I made several appointments at some of my favorite wineries, like Benovia and Martinelli, but I also left room to explore.

One of my favorite places I stumbled upon was the most beautiful shop and café, SHED, in the town of Healdsburg, about a ten minute drive south from Geyserville. I could seriously live in this shop, and I actually ended up staying there for a couple of hours. Not only does the shop boast a cocktail bar, complete with shrub cocktails and kombucha on tap, but it also has a proper cheese shop, a gorgeous flower cart, and a sprawling variety of beautiful kitchenware. SHED even offers grain-milling classes, beekeeping courses, and gardening workshops.

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

After meeting up with my friend, Duff, for breakfast at the café, I chose to sit up at the bar and enjoy a “shim” cocktail. A shim is the answer to the quandary I spoke of a few paragraphs back: a “sessionable” cocktail that won’t get you over-intoxicated. When I asked the bartender about the drink, she handed me a copy of Dinah Sanders‘ book, The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level. She’s the original coiner of the term, shim. I thumbed through the pages and knew this book was for me. Since then, I’ve been replicating some of her recipes and dabbling a little on my own low-alcohol libations.

This particular recipe lets sake take the lead role, providing a marvelous texture, bright notes, and a floral component that marries perfectly with the herbaceous additions. I began fiddling around with this cocktail about five weeks ago, when Danguole of 10th Kitchen‘s photo of a spring pea sake cocktail popped up on my Instagram feed. Vegetables and herbs in a cocktail? I’m completely in. I love beet juice with gin and carrot juice with vodka, so sake paired with spring peas sounded intriguing.

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora


summer dill + snap pea shim


  • 2 snap pea pods with tendrils for garnish
  • 2 slices cucumber
  • 1 sprig dill with extra for garnish
  • 1 half-inch slice preserved lemon {optional}
  • 1 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 2 1/2 ounces Junmai sake {I used Shimizu-No-Mai “Pure”}
  • 1/2 ounce limoncello {my house-made version, yo}
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • soda water
  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the snap pea pods, cucumber, dill, and preserved lemon, along with the St. Germain.
  2. Add ice, the sake, limoncello, and lemon juice.
  3. Shake well and double strain into a cocktail glass filled with fresh ice.
  4. Add a splash or so of soda and garnish with a pea tendril and a dill blossom.
  5. Go back for seconds without any guilt.

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora


“We drink to connect  —  Perhaps that is why cocktails are a product of the modern world. As our ability to escape our present surroundings has grown, we’ve needed a ritual to bring us back.”

—  Dinah Sanders


summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

This week, specifically, has been a hectic one. This past Friday was the third of eight concerts that we hold at the restaurant throughout the summer. I have learned to dread Friday nights because of this production. I don’t even take vacations during this two month stretch. It may not sound like much, but the amount of brain power, emotional toll, lack of sleep, and physical labor it takes to produce a party of epic proportions at an already busy, upscale steakhouse is staggering. I’m talking well over 1,000 guests, dancing to 80s cover bands, and slurping down pineapple martinis…smh.

I don’t drink heavily on those nights. I mean, I want to, but I already know I’m going to have a “work hangover” the following morning, so why further compound the issue? Seriously, each Friday night sets me back about two days. All I want to do is sleep come Sunday morning. On any other given night of the week, when I’m working, I’m selling wine, putting together wine pairings, and talking with familiar regulars. A Friday night during the concert series? I could be breaking up a brawl outside on the patio, sweeping up broken glass, covering my mouth while mopping up the remnants of someone’s upset stomach, or throwing out “that guy,” who won’t stop creeping out the ladies.

I definitely earn whatever I’m drinking on Monday afternoon. Lemme tell you…

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

So, now that I’ve painted a picture of what the start of my weekends entails over the summer, I’m sure you’re ready for a drink, yourself. Dinah Sanders’ book of low-alcohol cocktails will keep you engaged and spark your cocktail-concocting creativity. And you won’t curse my name the next morning, if you have a couple of them.

Right now, my sleep schedule is so messed up. As I write, I am also googling ways to use lavender to induce sleep {I’m wide awake at 4:00 AM}. Don’t be surprised if my next blog post includes something sleep-inducing. Regardless, I am still planning on waking at 8:00 to tend to the garden. I’ll pull on my slippers, don my sunnies, and slowly schlep on the flagstone path to water my green children. With squinty eyes and a happy, albeit sleepy, heart, I’ll welcome the heat and beckon the sun. They’ve both been so good to us this year.

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tips for growing dill


  • Site  —  Dill thrives in a spot, protected from strong winds and exposed to full sun. It’s more suitable for outdoor gardening, but it will grow well in containers.
  • Soil  —  Plant dill in rich, well-drained soil.
  • Sun    Dill absolutely loves the sun. I plant mine right in the middle of my garden, and it has grown over seven feet tall. It has also sprung up in a part-shade area of the garden, and although it has only grown to four feet in height, it is still prolific and aromatic.
  • Water    Dill seems to be pretty drought-tolerant; it doesn’t droop when deprived of water for a day or two. Thoroughly water the soil, when it is dry to the touch.
  • Harvesting  —   Clip dill sprigs when needed. Use them unabashedly when quick-pickling or making dill-based cocktails. Dill leaves taste their best, when they are harvested before the plant flowers. Pick them either early in the day or late in the afternoon. If you are harvesting the seeds, cut the seed heads 2-3 weeks after the plant has flowered. Hang the seed heads upside down in a brown, paper bag, in order to catch the seeds. You may also do what we do, and just let the dill flower, go to seed, and shed the seed. We look forward to dill plants sprouting up the following spring. You may either keep them where they sprout or transplant them.
  • Preserving  —  I try to use dill leaves, whenever they are ready. Clip a few sprigs and place them in a glass of water; they will last a few days either on the counter top or in the fridge. You may also layer clippings of dill in a jar of sea salt. Just remove the dill and rinse it, whenever you’re ready to use it. Dill also freezes and dries well. Don’t forget about dill vinegar.

Over the past few weeks, I have been writing a succession of posts on growing and preserving herbs over at the Kitchn. Here are a few links of my favorite posts from the Herb Gardening 101 series, and they are all photographed from my garden:

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & floraCheers to a great rest of the weekend! With tomatoes finally ripening on the vines, herbs spilling over in the flower beds, and eggplants already on the grill, our garden is in full swing. The next two months will be filled with energy and growth and transformation. I’m reveling in this season. And I’m on the lookout for ways to extend my harvest and ways to extend my cocktail-enjoying ability. Bring on the shims, bring on the preserves.

Bring on summer!

XO,

Jayme

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