Bon Vivanting at MyNewOrleans.Com

Visit the Bon Vivant blog or the Let Them Eat Cake blog at MyNewOrleans.Com.

Visit the Bon Vivant blog or the Let Them Eat Cake blog at MyNewOrleans.Com.

These days, the style bloggery is happening at MyNewOrleans.Com. In addition to my weekly Bon Vivant blog, which focuses on living well and finding ways to make life more artful, I also contribute to and edit the official daily wedding blog of New Orleans Bride Magazine, Let Them Eat Cake.

Be sure to check the News and Events page on this site for the latest public talks, media appearances and segments and any other relevant scoop.

Also, don’t forget to visit the Photography page for new images in my various fine art photography series and visit the Bon Vivant NOLA store online to buy photos and more.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Tuesday Taste: Heavenly, cheesy, delectable Alfredo sauce

I like mixin' it up in the kitchen, y'all

I like mixin’ it up in the kitchen, y’all

Cooking is one of my passions, but far above the making of the food in my list of favorite things to do is the eating of the food. When not cooking at home or dining at a friend’s house, I like to visit new restaurants, take pictures of my food (yes, I’m THAT person) and then eat it.

For no reason in particular, I’m determined to keep this blog from morphing into one that is food-themed. But, I’m self-aware enough to know that food is going to wiggle its way into my words and pictures, so I’m dedicating Tuesdays to food glorious food!

On the days when you are feeling hungry for food fodder, but I’m not blogging specifically about it, visit me on the “Kitchen” page, where I’ll provide links to posts of culinary past and once in a while offer up a favorite recipe.

Upon my return to Houston from a few weeks of work and play in Austin, I couldn’t

My adorable kitchen in all of its adorable adorableness.

My adorable kitchen in all of its adorable adorableness.

wait to get back into my adorable little kitchen and whip up some good stuff. I had been craving pasta Alfredo all week, so that was the first item on my cooking agenda.

I tweak nearly every recipe –except for those passed down by my grandmothers, because they are perfect. I got my Alfredo sauce recipe from the beautifully photographed Williams-Sonoma Pasta cookbook.

Here’s the recipe as written:

Ingredients

5 tablespoons butter
12 oz. (double) whipping cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Nutmeg

Note: In my version, I eliminate the nutmeg and add a clove of garlic and about a tablespoon of basil. I was out of garlic (GASP!!) Sunday night however, so I made it the more traditional way. To my surprise, I didn’t miss the garlic.

Instructions

Add butter and cream in a small saucepan on medium heat. Bring it to a boil, constantly whisking it. When it starts to froth up, turn down the heat or remove it, and stir in most of the cheese and seasonings.  Add cooked pasta (I like angel hair or fettuccine and coat with sauce. Plate it and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Fettuccine Alfredo a la Melanie.

Fettuccine Alfredo a la Melanie.

I recommend serving it with a simple salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and a crisp Pinot Grigio (as pictured) or your favorite dry, acidic white wine, to balance out all of that richness. Also, because I just really like any excuse to have wine with dinner.

I enjoyed it while watching Downton Abbey, but it’ll taste good with pretty much any show or movie cued up.

Enjoy!

 

 

Afternoon tea at Zhi

Silver Needle Buds white tea in a Good Life pot at Zhi Tea

Silver Needle Buds white tea in a For Life pot at Zhi Tea

(NOTE: UPDATED BELOW ENTRY)

One of my favorite indulgences is afternoon tea (never to be called high tea, contrary to popular belief). There is something about the simplicity of the tea and the decadence and delicacy of finger sandwiches, scones (with clotted cream – oh my!), preserves and other little treats that makes me feel like I’ve treated myself well and gets me energized for the rest of my day.

This makes sense, because traditional English tea was just that, a respite to energize the aristocracy and the otherwise upper crust between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Recently, I enjoyed tea at the Zhi Tea Gallery in Austin (4607 Bolm Rd., 512-539-0717). It’s a cozy little haven off the beaten path. In fact, though I lived in Austin for five years before relocating to Houston a couple of years ago, I only discovered it just the other day. It’s truly one of those hidden gems. The owner is delightful and he and the staff are happy to answer questions, make recommendations and all around make you feel at home.

Inside, you’ll find a lounge area with comfy sofa, chairs and a coffee (er, tea) table, the retail shop, which includes a vast selection of the colorful and modern little For Life teapots in which the tea is served on the table service side, as well as a seating area with light wood tables and chairs. There also is a little library, if you’d like to stay and read a magazine or book.

The menu includes a stunning array of loose leaf teas and also cheese plates, hummus and veggies and delectable baked goods. On the retail side you can buy any and everything you need for tea at home. All of the tea pots are lovely and would make perfect gifts to tea-loving friends.

Since finding it, I’ve visited twice and each time I had a wonderful experience. The first time, I had a pot of the Single Needle Buds white tea and the next time a pot of the Ambrosia white tea. The former was mellow and light and latter sweet and smooth.

By yourself or with a friend, tea is an inexpensive treat that feels like a big luxury.

What’s your favorite inexpensive indulgence?

UPDATE: Zhi is having a Valentine Tea and Chocolate Pairing on Feb. 9, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Enjoy four courses featuring chocolate from The Chocolate Makers Studio. It’s $25 per person or $40 per pair and attendees get 10 percent off all teas in the Gallery and a tea sample to take home. RSVP in person with credit card or cash at the gallery (address above) or  via credit card by calling 512-539-0717 or via PayPal by emailing jeffrey@zhitea.com.