Happy Hella Late Thanksgiving!

My phone has been on the fritz lately—you know how iPhones get once a new one is released—so I’ve been a bit unplugged from my phone and glued to my iPad on WiFi. I couldn’t take a decent photo for almost three weeks! But I’m back in business!

Happy hella late Thanksgiving!

Simone and her family opened their Atlanta home and table to Chéo and I, and we instantly felt like we’ve been down with the crew since forever. I finally met her Chéo’s doppelganger/her husband, Carlos, and their adorable baby girl, Aria. Sim’s mom and her wife, Hilda and T, are definitely couple and family goals—so warm, loving, hospitable, and hilarious!

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This was my first American* Thanksgiving so visions of mac & cheese and sweet potatoes danced in my head on the hour-long drive as I balanced a pan of pumpkin cheesecake brownies and a Baileys cheesecake/chocolate cake on my lap. The other sumptuousness: mashed potatoes, brisket, green beans, cranberry sauce, gumbo and rice, cornbread stuffing and the juiciest fried turkey I’ve ever had! I never show up to anyone’s home empty-handed, so that pan of brownies and cake I balanced on the way over was my dessert contribution. I tried something new with both recipes and got rave reviews!

We left at the end of the night with leftovers, a new family, and a little something extra.

 

*I had to explain to Christina what I mean by an American thanksgiving. Thanksgiving isn’t really celebrated in the West Indies, so it’s just another cook-up day to be with family. While my American friends would have mac & cheese and sweet potatoes and turkey, we’d have a few of those dishes along with roti, curry and callaloo.

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Unicorn Surprise!

Unicorn Surprise!

I’m not a fan of surprises—it definitely triggers my anxiety—but all of that goes out the window when Chéo’s concerned. He knows me better than anyone, so when he said he wanted to take me somewhere, I don’t fight it.

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We pulled up to the Fresh Local Food Group complex and my jaw dropped at the sight of the baker & the bean. It’s a coffee shop and bakery with every sweet confection you can possibly imagine!

img_9135As I was scanning the window, admiring every treat, my favorite thing in the world caught my eye—unicorns! Those unicorn krispies were the reason Chéo brought me there in the first place—smart man.

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Chéo’s Birthday at the Clover Club

Chéo’s Birthday at the Clover Club

With a job like mine, we’ve had to figure out other times and ways to celebrate Chéo’s birthday because I’m always scheduled to be in Arizona that weekend. Last year, I went down to Greensboro the weekend before. This year, he drove up to Brooklyn, so we were able to fit in dinner between leaving my office Friday and my Saturday morning flight. 
My focus this birthday was more on the cocktails than dinner, so I looked into a few speakeasies and champagne bars. Per the usual, I gave Chéo a few options: he chose Clover Club. 

Their cocktail menu is categorized, which I thoroughly appreciated. The Royals are made with champagne or sparkling wine; I had the Lady Madonna, made with blanco tequila, raspberry, crème de mure, lemon and prosecco. Chéo chose one of their Off Season Tiki cocktails: theHighland Diver made with scotch whiskey, cream of coconut, pineapple, lemon, honey and cinnamon. We actually had two of each!

Like always, we ordered the mac and cheese: baked with gruyere, white cheddar, smoked Heritage Pork Bacon and garlic breadcrumbs. It could’ve used a little more cheese, but it was tasty and the bacon made it a hit!

Steak frites was on the menu but I decided to switch it up a little and order the buttermilk fried chicken. Clover Club has some unexpectedly bomb ass fried chicken! My plate had the juiciest drumstick and deboned chicken breast I’ve ever eaten in NYC. I could be lying, but if I am, the Clover Club’s fried chicken has made the others a non-factor. It was drizzled with hot sauce and honey, and served over a house-made slaw. 

Remember those memes that say the only way to eat coleslaw is to throw it in the trash? Yea, not this one! It wasn’t swimming in mayonnaise and it had a great balance of sweet and zing from the carrots and vinegar. 

Chéo’s prime beef burger had some textural issues, which is very disappointing because I had such high hopes for his birthday meal. The cheddar-mornay spread along with the caramelized onions was just too much of a mush, and the soft brioche bun didn’t help much either. 
The waitress asked how everything was and we mentioned the burger. They comped it!
I’ll definitely be dining at the Clover Club again- hopefully soon! That fried chicken was so good, it could definitely be a weekly habit. 

Happy birthday my love. Another birthday is another year of you growing as a man and us growing as a family. Until the next one…

Pearl’s for the Culture.

Pearl’s for the Culture.

When Chéo said we’d be spending Labor Day in Brooklyn this year, I automatically thought back to last year and how we ended up at j’eatjet. I pretty much spent the morning calling restaurants to find out if they were open—but not this time! I did my research, found quite a few restaurants that would be open, but we still ended up at Pearl’s in Williamsburg, for the culture.

Each visit to Pearl’s, I try something new—last time was the tamarind wings. As much as I would’ve loved to have an order, we went with the sweet plantains, served with a tamarind chili sauce. I’d never had a crunchy plantain until then: it seemed to have had a light flour-coating that added a much-needed texture once paired with the sauce. It was a pleasant surprise and definitely a dish I’ll be trying at home, as soon as I figure out how to make tamarind sauce.img_8023

I had a few tastes of his Trini rum punch; that was definitely a hit! I got my usual bake and shrimp, Chéo ordered a bake and jerk chicken with a side of avocado, and of course the macaroni pie.

It was a short drive to OddFellows to get ice cream for dessert. Their ice cream is so creamy and smooth, I had to put Chéo on. Instead, he ordered a milkshake. ::rolls eyes::

 

Brunch and candids: our NYC Labor Day tradition. The traffic we hit was horrible, but we were surrounded by the sounds of the Caribbean, and that was home to us.

 

 

 

 

#avaeats All White Party + Potluck

#avaeats All White Party + Potluck

img_7055I. Am. Floating.

Saturday night was the night! The #avaeats all white party and potluck was an absolute success! Naturally, there were a few hiccups—but all the little things I worried about were nonexistent. We had a great turnout and variety of dishes from West Indian to Italian, and the never-failing tray of chicken wings from the Chinese spot. I can’t thank everyone enough!

I ordered an infused unicorn cake from @sugarhighbakes and they delivered! I offer them the opportunity to set up at the party and they gladly took it. I was a little nervous about them coming, I’ll admit, but they had a successful night and enjoy themselves, and I couldn’t ask for anything else. I know for a fact they’ll be getting some new business after this—mission accomplished!img_7059

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I enjoy making pretty desserts, so I held that down on the contribution list. I made vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream and a white chocolate brush stroke, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate bark, and brownies in a brand new silicone mold that almost made me shit myself—I’ll tell that story another time. Angelena reminded me the day before that she is a pescatarian, so I had to run out to grab some shrimp and decided to make shrimp kebabs two ways: lemon and garlic and jerk, using the jerk seasoning my god-sister brought me from Barbados.

The contributing menu consisted of so many bottles of liquor, homemade rum punch for adult capri suns, lo mein, rasta pasta, quinoa with kale, potato and green bean salad, macaroni pie, a gluten-free vegan interpretation of doubles, chicken wings, homemade pickled red onions and hot sauce, flan, a bunch of cookies, marble cheesecake with Oreo and graham cracker crust, and the plethora of sugary shit I mentioned earlier. 

Speaking of chicken wings, let me big up the contributor, Jeff, real quick for taking the initiative so whip out his handy-dandy camera and start snapping away! When I’m hosting, I have severe tunnel vision to make sure all of my guests are taken care of and I often forget to document the good times, so Jeff’s presence was clutch.

I made photo props and bought buttons and pool floaties to give away. There were contests for the best Instagram photo and caption using #avaeats: these were the winners. FullSizeRenderimg_7101img_7103

Chéo drove up for my first event. I was entirely too happy he was here. He seen me host so he knows how I maneuver, so having him here was a huge help! He made sure everyone had drinks and food and got them everything they needed, and like always, he was the captain of the cleanup crew. He looked at me with hearts in his eyes the whole time; he was so proud of me when he saw how everything came together. He won’t stop telling me; this man of mine is always making me blush. I love that his friends came and supported me too. These guys are always a fun bunch.

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I had such an amazing time. I’m exhausted, but I’m still on a party high. I put a lot of time, energy and money into concepts when I come out with them, so when I hear amazing reviews about anything I do I’m always grateful and always humble. I can’t wait to do this again!

I stole a few Instagram/Facebook posts because I’m screenshot mami: I like to see what I do through other people’s eyes.

Pretty Please Bake Shop

You can’t recommend what you don’t know, and since this is the only bakery I know of in San Francisco, it’s the only one I can recommend!

But this is an excellent recommendation! With Chéo, carrot cake is king, so when baecation planning went into effect, I made it my duty to blindly find a bakery from across the country. 

Yelp will never steer you wrong!

My San Francisco bakery search brought me to Pretty Please Bake Shop. Not only were the ladies of Pretty Please a pleasure to work with, but the carrot cake we blindly selected was ah-mazing! Super moist and not painfully sweet flavorful, we had a few for dessert after dinner, then some more for breakfast the following day!

I was able to send them these isomalt crystal cake toppers I got from Lucitini Cakes on Etsy. I squealed when I saw the finished product- our cupcakes were beautiful!

I’m currently following Pretty Please on instagram, and what these ladies do with cakes is nothing short of jaw dropping! They even made the 2017 birthday cake for the Golden State Warriors, so you know their cakes are legit!

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Shout out to Lucitini Cakes- we definitely didn’t expect those isomalt crystals to be as tasty as they were!

 

 

Pretty Please Bake Shop
291 3rd Ave
San Francisco, CA

 

We Bought a Grill!

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I had no intention of being in NYC for the 4th of July—you already know I beelined it to Greensboro. I knew I had to feed Chéo and myself, and we both knew our friends would come over because I’m in town, so why not get ourselves a mini grill? At 14 inches, it sits perfectly in the corner of the patio–ain’t it cute? Right in time for grilling season too!

A little bit of our menu: sriracha-Jack Daniels barbecue wings, grilled asparagus, cucumber and tomato salad—at least what was left when I remembered to take a picture—and burgers stuffed with bacon cheese.

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The nearest Trader Joe’s is half an hour away. Yes, we drove to Winston-Salem just for some bacon cheese.

We tried making s’mores at the end of the night, but we soon learned that toasting the marshmallows over the charcoal wasn’t the most conducive. I’ll have to rethink our s’mores-making tactics.

Thanks for the day off ‘murica!