🎶When I wake up in the morning, love…🎶 This morning I awoke full of gratitude to capture this beautiful sunrise, that I get to give all honor and glory to God for. I’m reminded and I hope you are too, that even in the midst of it all to pause and smell the roses. To chill with and appreciate Mother Nature if even for a brief moment. Like really pause, take notice of the beauties of this world, while taking deep healing and rejuvenating breaths that open up your heart to pumping freely with love, joy, and sweet Pop (RIP) like giggles. To allow your inner child the opportunity to feed your soul and spirit. To: Believe! Breathe! Inhale! Exhale! Love! See! Feel! Heal! Love! Cry! Laugh! Voice! Listen! Connect! Engage! Forgive! Shift! Empathize! Love! Ask! Manifest! Gift! Receive! Activate! Create! Dream! Explore! Rebirth! Strive! Glide! Wake! Sleep! Nap! Relax! Rest! Laugh! Love! Pray! Meditate! Gratitude! Purposeful! Luxuriate! Dance! Sing! Trust! Touch! Taste! Laugh! Love!… (Fill in the blanks.)
As Pop would say, “Have a good day. Be safe. Don’t work too hard. Love!” Be blessed. Be grateful. Be safe. Be well. Enjoy. Peace. Live. Love. Namaste. #BeDoLove #Sunrise #SunriseZen #SunriseSunsets #FindYourZen #LivingOutLoud #LiveAndBreatheYourSoulFULLPurpose
Three Saturday’s (9/25) ago, the day after witnessing Dereine and Butch’s beautiful nuptials, the Howard University crew and extended family gathered for a celebratory Saturday Funday Tipsy Brunch. It was one of our long overdue brunch experiences filled with a familiar kind of love and laughs.
The spot was Almond Restaurant in Flatiron, Manhattan. This popular brunch spot is a lively bistro serving French comfort food in a rustic setting. The A L’Oignon was eye rolling orgasmic. And, my bubbles infused sip of choice was one of my favorites, the French 75.
~A L’Oignon (Croques Gratin) – Caramelized onion & bone marrow
~Almond Hash – Duck confit, roasted onions, potatoes, poached egg (This was Jon’s yummy dish of choice.)
It was a beautiful and awesome time had by all. Mmmmm… Bon Appetit! Cheers! Enjoy! #BeDoLove #FindYourZen #LivingOutLoud #BeDoLoveSAVOR #IDineToWriteAboutIt #BonAppetit #Yummylicious #Yummyliciousness #Foodie #FoodieLife #FoodPorn #ExpandYourPalate #OffTheBeatenPath #AlmondRestaurant #Brunch #SaturdayBrunch #FlatironDining
It’s good to know people in high food places like the dynamic, sweet, talented, and award winning Irene Wong. Big thanks to Irene for extending an invitation to the 7th annual Pie Night (attended September 29, 2021) at THE James Beard Award- winning Pastry Chef/Owner Dominique Ansel Bakery (Creator of the Cronut®. See below.) at his Soho, NYC location. We enjoyed unlimited slices of pie – 10 kinds with a travel theme, including sweet and savory, Grand Marnier craft cocktails, and à la mode.
~Spanish Spicy Chorizo Pie with Squid Ink Black Rice: Spanish chorizo with a hint of smoked paprika, squid ink basmati rice with onions, tomatoes, and garlic
~Portuguese Bacalao Pie with Herbed Breadcrumbs: Portuguese bacalao (salted codfish), mashed potatoes, garlic, mozzarella, and crunchy herbed breadcrumbs
~Japanese Yuzu Curd and Salted Meringue Pie: Fragrant Japanese yuzu citrus curd, lime zest, and light-as-air meringue topped with a hint of Maldon sea salt
~Bonus Mention – All American Apple Pie with Salted Caramel (Because, there’s nothing like a perfect apple pie.): Pie Night classic, made with fresh honeycrisp apples, gooey salted caramel, and a golden lattice-topped crust
It was a beautiful and tasty night hanging with my longtime dear friend Dereine (HUUUUU…) and making new foodie ones all in the name of connecting over the love of a salivating meal. Mmmmm… Bon Appetit! Cheers! Enjoy! #BeDoLove #FindYourZen #LivingOutLoud #BeDoLoveSAVOR #IDineToWriteAboutIt #BonAppetit #Yummylicious #Yummyliciousness #Foodie #FoodieLife #FoodPorn #ExpandYourPalate #OffTheBeatenPath #DominiqueAnselBakery #DABPieNight #SohoEats #SohoDining #JamesBeardFoundation
About the Cronut®:
“Perhaps what has been most widely reported on is Chef Dominique’s creation of the Cronut®, his signature croissant-doughnut hybrid pastry that first launched at his eponymous Bakery in New York in May 2013, soon becoming the world’s first-ever viral pastry.” It was named one of TIME Magazine’s “25 Best inventions of 2013. — https://www.dominiqueansel.com/chef/
Because we haven’t had enough of each other and Dereine’s new whole husband Butch gave her a hall pass, last night we checked out Evelina in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn while wedding debriefing. Once again I’m winning with my restaurant pick.
Evelina is a cute and quaint Italian and Mediterranean restaurant. They also have a gelato cart outside of the restaurant. It was ALL absolutely deliciously fresh and flavorful. Our server Bonnie was great. My top three were the Portia cocktail (Mezcal and pineapple always do it for me), the octopus (meaty, tender, light sauce, savory sweet with the grapes), and the ravioli (light and balanced with the slightly salty king crab taste). PS: That Lemon Vanilla Gelato is the creamiest gelato I’ve had.
Mmmm… A good walk afterwards to the train for Dereine and back to my hotel for me did us good. Bon Appetit! Cheers! Enjoy! #BeDoLove #FindYourZen #LivingOutLoud #BeDoLoveSAVOR #IDineToWriteAboutIt #BonAppetit #Yummylicious #Yummyliciousness #Foodie #FoodieLife #FoodPorn #ExpandYourPalate #OffTheBeatenPath #BrooklynDining #FtGreeneDining #EvelinaRestaurant
My NYC/Brooklyn visit has been slightly bitter, with a heavy dose of sweet. This is the first time visiting since 2019 when Pop became ill and he came to Maryland to live with me. I spent the first few days in Manhattan for my bestie Dereine’s wedding festivities, which Pop was to attend. Sunday me and my emotional missing Pop tears moved my visit to my birthplace of Brooklyn. I can’t believe it’s been two years since my last visit and it’s two months shy of the one year anniversary of Pop’s passing. I have no doubt Pop has been here in spirit.
I’m so grateful for my brothers for greeting me to my hometown with their love, hugs, and smiles. When I arrived to Manhattan last Wednesday, I met my oldest brother Terence and his family at The Feast of Saint Gennaro in Little Italy. Sunday, my brother Greg was bright eyed with smiles as I arrived at the Brooklyn hotel I’m staying at this week.
It’s been healing to my spirit to take in the NY air while walking and taken in the sights, reminiscing, laughing, and dining. And, a slice of Junior’s Pineapple Cheesecake is the ultimate comfort treat. Mmmm… Bon Appetit! Cheers! Enjoy! #BeDoLove #SelfCareMatters #FindYourZen #BirthAndLiveYourSoulFullPurpose #LivingOutLoud #BeDoLoveSAVOR #IDineToWriteAboutIt #BonAppetit #Yummylicious #Yummyliciousness #Foodie #FoodieLife #FoodPorn #ExpandYourPalate #OffTheBeatenPath #LittleItaly #TheFeastofSaintGennaro #JuniorsCheesecake
What a way to be greeted to NYC after not visiting in two years. Here’s the play-by-play of my witnessing the serendipitous magic of last nights kick off of The Fugees’ Diaspora Calling reunion tour. The tour is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of their classic sophomore album “The Score” and their first time performing in 15 years. Held at Manhattan’s Pier 17 in the Seaport District, this was the soft launch of the upcoming must attend tour. As we waited and waited (soundcheck issues and Lauryn?), DJ Reborn kept the crowd that spanned generations energized and moving. While short, The Fugees performance of songs from “The Score” was soul stirring to include what seemed like a 20 piece band to include background singers. You could truly feel the love, appreciation, and good vibes, energy from Lauryn, Wyclef, and Pras. They took me OUT with “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “Ready or Not.” I’m surprised I still have my voice.
During the show Lauryn said “Respect the miracle of this union.” “Respect that we can get on this stage and still do this.” Much respect and appreciation is truly due to them. Especially for being an example of what forgiveness and working ish out for the greater good looks like.
The Real MVPs: My nephew TJ (see backstory below). The hook up friend. My Nike Air Max. Thank goodness I had on sneakers.
Theater of the Mind (Because I couldn’t use my phone.): Picture a beautiful first day of Fall in Manhattan. There’s a consistent beautiful breeze that’s just enough comfort, minus a chill. The rooftop stage has the Brooklyn Bridge, East River, a clear night sky, and the Harvest Full Moon as the backdrop. It was serene and breathtaking.
The Aftermath: Feeling a bit beat up from the day due to outdoor air allergies attack (I should have sprayed my nice when I got in.) and my shoulders and back sore from the NY walking and standing for about three hours at the show.
After Show Munchies: I think I caught a contact through my mask while at the show. 🤪🤣 I had the best slice of cheese pizza in FOREVER at Little Italy Pizza! Perfect cheese. Perfect sauce. Perfect crust. The bonus was a hot dog from Papaya Dog. As Pop would say “You got carried away with yourself.”
The Backstory: My brother Terence hears of my arrival through the grapevine and calls to invite me to meet the family at The Feast of Saint Gennaro in Little Italy. Off I go. We walk to take in the sights and then dine at an Italian spot called La Mela Restaurante. I had the Porcini Mushroom Ravioli. Mmmm…
My nephew TJ shares a friend is going to get him in the show. Come with? I’m thinking am I dressed (BeDoLove shirt, jeans, sneakers.) for it. Why not? Heck yeah. I had to abandon getting gelato 🥺 to focus on the swift NY pace walk from Little Italy to the Seaport District. Two of his friends join us as we wait for our escort. And, just like that, we’re in. But, first THEY LOCK OUR PHONES IN YONDR POUCHES. 🤬
I needed this to reenergize and reaffirm that “I Am a magnet for attracting dope ish to my life for living out loud.” I’m still in Heaven. The end! #BeDoLove #SelfCareMatters #FindYourZen #BirthAndLiveYourSoulFullPurpose #LivingOutLoud #BeDoLoveSAVOR #BonAppetit #Yummylicious #Yummyliciousness #TheFugees #TheFeastofSaintGennaro
Fast forward, I decided I should watch Netflix’s “High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America,” the weekend prior to leaving for Hilton Head. Lo and behold, there’s Chef BJ in episode two, wearing the hat of Gullah Cultural Bearer. In this episode, Chef BJ is educating the masses and speaking truth to power regarding our ancestors’ contributions prior to and during slavery and beyond. This is to include the origins and their influence on Lowcountry/Gullah cuisine.
If you haven’t watched “High on the Hog,” it is highly recommended docuseries. Chef and writer Stephen Satterfield traces the delicious, moving throughlines of Black food. While frustrating at times, it displays the beauty, creativity, intelligence, and resilience of Africans/Black folk in a beautiful, heartwarming, and salivatingly (I made that word up) orgasmic way.
After viewing the episode, I dig through my notes and locate Chef BJ’s email address. Me being who I am, I reach out to announce our pending arrival to Hilton Head and to inquirer about Gullah related activities and restaurants. He answers my email in less than 24 hours with a request to talk, which I anticipated with an inner child’s exuberance that only chefs can activate. During our conversation, Chef BJ beats me to my ask, as he with true southern hospitality charm offers to prepare a Gullah inspired welcome meal.
Let me say that Chef BJ is one in a million. In order to steal some time with him, at my request he came up to our room to drop the food off. This brother exudes cool cat southern charm and swag. He’s intelligent, fun, talented, and passionate about his craft and it’s history. Which is also evidenced with his being the food stylist and food interpreter for the Amazon series, “Underground Railroad.” Chef captivated us with his knowledge and Gullah accent (It’s the accent for me.) as we chatted about food, life, family, and his next endeavors, which concluded with a spirit driven and pouring into prayer for Chef BJ led by my friend Jill. Which me, Jill, and Michelle wish him well on his evolving culinary and family journey. Can’t wait to see what’s next and hoping I’m there to partake and have a lovely chat with him. Click here to experience some of our delicious chat: https://youtu.be/UpbRIscWPQs
Our Gullah influenced welcome meal, Chef BJ curated just for us consisted of:
~Red Rice with Shrimp
~Glazed Turkey Wings
~Okra and Cabbage
~Blueberry Lemon Honey Jam (Which I’m still enjoying at home.)
Of course red rice and okra were a must. It was ALL so delicious and fresh. If only we had seconds of the Glazed Turkey Wings.
Well if you’re ever in the Lowcountry, look Chef BJ up. And, remember, closed mouths don’t get fed. And, that’s not just related to food. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Gullah cuisine experience. Bon Appetit! Cheers! Enjoy! #BeDoLove #FindYourZen #LivingOutLoud #BirthAndLiveYourSoulFullPurpose #BeDoLoveSAVOR #IDineToWriteAboutIt #Yummylicious #Yummyliciousness #BonAppetit #FordPorn #Foodie #FoodieLife #ExpandYourPalate #OffTheBeatenPath #GullahCuisine #Gullah #Lowcountry #Okra #RedRice #LowcountryEats #Wanderlust
When people hear Pop passed away on Christmas Day 2020, I typically get the “That holiday is going to be hard…” I get why they would think that. However, there are other significant times and holidays that were so much more special to Pop and our family. Well, Labor Day was a holiday and special moment that Pop loved over many others. And, the last few days have been a lesson in that grieving is truly a very slow boil process. But, even with a slow boil it can bubble over. However, even through the grief I get to be grateful for the beautiful memories to include a holiday that Pop loved.
Evidence A: I noticed something interesting, when I went off to attend Howard University and all the years after. The Labor Day holiday became the one time of year Pop ALWAYS desired for me to come home. Not Christmas. Not Thanksgiving. Not his birthday. But, for the weekend of the Labor Day West Indian Parade. So much so, during our Morning Pop Talks, he’d attempt to entice me with, “I’m cooking cod fish and coco this weekend.” And/or he’d ask “You coming up?” “You here?” And, when I didn’t travel, because this event has been steeped in family tradition for many, many years, I could feel the energy of his pout 220+ miles away.
Evidence B: The image of me and cool a$$ Pop was taken 51 years ago in 1970 at the annual Labor Day West Indian Day Parade on Eastern Parkway in my beloved Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I was almost three months shy of my fourth birthday. I post it today on Labor Day in honor of my family and friends, and especially my father and mother (both Trinidadians). After carnival in Trinidad (the crème de la crème of Caribbean carnivals), Brooklyn’s is next in line across the world. This parade has grown to annually play host to at least 1.0 million revelers. Of course due to COVID it’s not taking place in its normal format. However, the New Yorker’s West Indian spirit is not to be stopped from celebrating and liming in their own way.
Evidence C: In the 1940s-1950s, both sides of my family (grandparents, aunts, uncles) migrated to Harlem from Trinidad. The first Caribbean carnivals in NYC took place in Harlem and then moved to Brooklyn. Pop said the parades could have been larger back then, but many did not claim their Caribbean roots as a result of stigma and/or unhealed wounds. But, not my family as they would participate and play mas from Harlem to Brooklyn with Trini pride. This is to include my Aunt Barbara.
Evidence D: While growing up in Brooklyn, me and my immediate family lived four blocks down the hill from the parade (Crown Street bet. Troy & Albany). My grandmother lived one block up from us on Carroll Street. My Great Aunt’s Helen and Sybil lived down the hill, as well as my Aunt Vilma, who still lives down the hill on Brooklyn Avenue. Growing up I would attend the parade with family and family friends. That is until I got grown enough to attend with my friends. 😆 But regardless of how family branched out, it was always our tradition to connect at the same spot on deh parkway. This is on Eastern Parkway & Brooklyn Avenue, which is right at the corner of our family church, Church of St. Mark. This always preceded and proceeded with a stop at my Aunt Vilma’s house, which is considered Labor Day liming headquarters. And, even up until two years ago (pre-pandemic), the tradition was still intact. It is such a lovely time.
Evidence E: Three people who I loved to experience their Labor Day weekend flow through the years were Pop, Aunt Vilma, and their first cousin Joan (would come up from DC). Even into their 70s-80s years of age, from visiting the Pan Yards, to the Steel Band Panorama, to Kiddie Carnival, to J’ouvert, to the parade, they would hang hard. I loved experiencing their enthusiastic, energetic, and loving connection. Now fast forward to the 2000s and my nieces and nephews are carrying the torch. In 2019, I attended the parade while Pop was in the hospital. It warmed my heart to see my nephew Clive upholding the family tradition of jumping up and enjoying the parade at our family spot at Eastern Parkway & Brooklyn Avenue. It truly is in our DNA and threw example to embrace our Trinidadian Roots. To include my pilgrimages to Trinidad for Carnival, participating in the DC and Baltimore carnivals to play mas or mud band, while feting from sun up to sundown. To even corny rituals with friends, such as me and Lisa never letting the day go by without a 🎶Mondaaaay on deh Parkwaaaayyyyy!🎶 shout out. 😍🤣 And, because of my pride I loved the opportunity to introduce friends such as Margo (RIP) to the experience.
I thank God and Pop for blessing me with these roots for it has enriched my life in profound and joyful ways. As you can see this has been in me and of me before birth. Who knows what the future holds for the parade in Brooklyn and even in Trinidad. But, one thing is for sure is that Caribbean folk will always lime and fete like none other. And, I will do my best to honor Pop and my ancestors for years to come. And, I hope you will find time to exhale and have fun in your own traditional and new ways. Enjoy your day, however, you intend to celebrate. Be safe. Love! RIP to Pop and my beautiful ancestors. #BeDoLove #CaregiversMatter #CrownHeightsBrooklyn #WestIndianDayParade #wiadca #TrinidadAndTobago #JumpAndWave #SweetTAndT #SocaIsInMyBloodItsInMyVeins #PuffBallsDontCare
“Lime” is a word used in Trinidad and Tobago and throughout the Caribbean as a synonym for “a gathering” or “to hang out.” To lime (liming) is to simply pass time and enjoy yourself, with your tribe, in whatever way you like!
The Backstory First: Growing up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn I hung out with the Garcia family who lived in the building next to where my family lived. As a budding foodie child, I enjoyed Ms. Garcia’s home cooking. Rice and beans and steak… Mmmm… But, her pancakes with the crispy edges I’ve never forgotten and have aspired to prepare the same way since. But, why did they never hip me to mofongo I don’t know? Fast forward to the past few years where I’ve heard the mention of Mofongo to include by my friend Dereine. So I had to do my own investigating.
Well, last Friday was “Friday Treat Night” and I nudged my dear friend and partner in food crime Rassii and a couple of other dining friends to put on our exploring shoes. DC has a couple of new and authentic Puerto Rican restaurants and one of them is Qui Qui, which is in the Shaw area. Their Shrimp Mofongo was so delish and flavorful to include several other dishes and sips. The vibe was nice and quaint. The Latin music had Rassii and I chair dancing. And, Jose our server and the young lady that greeted us and was making the cocktails were on point. Truly a satisfying Friday “Treat Night.” First time caller and I’ll definitely be back.
My “Friday Treats” were:
Painkiller: 8 Yr Barbancourt Rum, orange & pineapple juices, Coco Lopez and nutmeg.
Morcilla con tostones: 2 blood sausage links made in house and served with tostones de platano. PS: I saved a link to have as breakfast the next day with eggs over easy and multi-grain toast with blueberry, lemon, and honey jam.
Shrimp Mofongo: Fried/Smashed plantain, seasoned with garlic oil and topped with shrimp.
Pastel de Ron (to go): Rum cake layered with walnuts and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
About Mofongo: Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish with fried plantains as its main ingredient. Plantains are picked green and fried, then mashed with salt, garlic, broth, and olive oil in a wooden pilón (mortar and pestle). Mofongo’s roots lead to the African fufu, mixed with some Spanish and Taíno influences. Fufu is made from various starchy vegetables and was introduced to the Caribbean by Africans in the Spanish New World colonies such as Cuba (fufu de plátano and machuquillo), Dominican Republic (mangú), and Puerto Rico (mofongo and funche criollo) this also most likely includes Colombia (cayeye), Ecuador (bolón), Costa Rica (angú), Amazon region and Peru (tacacho). — Wikipedia
Mofongo reminds me of Cou Cou, which is a Caribbean dish made with corn meal.
I rose this morning reminded of how Sunday is my favorite day of the week. It’s such a calming and peaceful day, where I get to reset and rest while relaxing at home, and/or tap into my spiritual gifts/practice of writing or chefing, and/or gather, connect, chat, and laugh over a relaxing and delicious brunch with loved ones. Oh, and cherry topped with a GOOD nap.
Thank you to my dear Howard Bison/Showtime friend, frat brother, and talented trumpeter Michael Fitzhugh for this Sunday morning gift of the hymn, “In the Garden.” Mike recorded this hymn with pianist Leona Lowery, Saturday night, August 21, 2021. Hearing this special hymn created pleasant memories of Pop (RIP) whom I can hear him joyfully and beautifully singing and whistling to it. I also fondly think of my Aunt Vilma, who to this day can sing this song so beautifully. Click here to be serenaded by Mike and Leona (https://youtu.be/Gr15e9rxtRE).
Thank YOU Mike for always sharing and blessing us with your gift of music. And, RIP to your brother David.
Whatever is done on this day and all of the Sunday’s forever more, I pray for us all for it to be done with love, peace, joy, laughter, and gratitude. Peace all. Enjoy this beautiful day made just for YOU! With Love, Kathryn #BeDoLove