PlumpJack’s Hilary Newsom Responds to Napa Earthquake

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PlumpJack Winery team working hard post-quake

As you know, the Napa Valley was struck by a 6.0 earthquake early Sunday morning. While people throughout the Bay Area experienced the tremors, it was Southern Napa and surrounding areas that were hit the hardest. Despite the significant damage that was done, and the injuries that occurred, the Napa Valley is filled with strong, hard working individuals that came together and worked tirelessly minutes after the quake to make sure their neighbors and community were safe.

I am grateful and proud of our Napa-based PlumpJack Group team from all four of our properties: The Carneros Inn, Odette Estate, PlumpJack Winery and CADE Estate Winery. Everyone worked together to get our businesses open so we could quickly go back to doing what we do best at PlumpJack – providing exceptional hospitality and continuing to make some of the best wine in California.

Additionally, thanks to the incredibly quick response of CalTrans, the roads are all accessible, and traffic was at a minimum all day Sunday and on Monday when I was driving to check on our properties.
TCI poolWe are tremendously grateful that our businesses were so lucky to survive any real damage. Residents of the Napa Valley are a very close knit community and we are heartbroken for our friends and neighbors who have not been so lucky. We encourage you to show your support for Napa by paying a visit to those businesses who have worked hard to open their doors this week. Go to Visit Napa Valley for a list of all the Napa Valley businesses that are open and welcoming guests. Each and every one of Napa’s residents and businesses are in our thoughts and prayers, and we hope to help them in any way we can in the coming days and weeks.

Thank you,
Hilary Newsom, President
PlumpJack Group

Bitter Queens: A Cocktail Recipe for Success

If you need some cocktail creation inspiration or need to locate that perfect rose for a day in Dolores Park, Kelly is the guy you want to talk to at PlumpJack Wine & Spirits in Noe Valley. He’s a long-time team member that takes great pride in leading his customers to the perfect bottle, whether it’s a rare single malt scotch from the Lowlands or a sour beer for a Belgian beer tasting party. In this Q&A you’ll find out what makes Kelly tick and why he’s a Bitter Queen, not to mention, he’s sharing a cocktail recipe you’ll most certainly want to share with your closest friends and those you want to impress.

What inspired you to go into the business of bitters?
Bitter Queens was born in a bar after about three martinis and a slight stroke of genius. A friend and I started talking about making a batch of homemade bitters for fun, and when thinking of a hypothetical brand name, “Bitter Queens” was uttered, and naturally we died of laughter since we were a couple of gay dudes setting out on a quest to make bitters. Beyond that, I’m obsessed with exotic spices and botanicals, and love that I get to make a line of products with them!

For people who are unfamiliar with bitters, can you explain what exactly bitters are and how they are used?
Bitters is an aromatic flavoring agent made from a maceration of herbs, roots, and spices that are steeped in high proof alcohol. The maceration is left to rest for a while in order to extract as much flavor from the botanicals as possible. A kiss of sugar and some water may be added, but the process is pretty simple. Unlike Campari, Aperol, and other “potable” bitters that you might sip, cocktail bitters are a highly concentrated extract and thus a few dashes are typically used.

Why do you think cocktails benefit from the use of bitters?
When mixing drinks, bitters are akin to a chef’s spice rack. They complement the spirits of the cocktail and enliven the drink with added aroma, flavor, and complexity. They’re kind of like perfume for cocktails. Bitters can help transform a good drink into a great drink.

Where can someone find Bitter Queens?
We’ve just started to hit the market and can be found at PlumpJack Wine & Spirits, as well as some bars and restaurants around San Francisco like Oddjob, Jones, Blackbird, and Epic Roasthouse. We produce several different flavors including earthy eucalyptus, woodsy sarsaparilla, bright Chinese 5-spice, savory tobacco, and exotic Thai bitters.

Golden Gate Gimlet Cocktail Recipe

1.5 oz. Gin
.75 oz. Lime Juice
.5 oz. Simple Syrup
4 dashes Bitter Queens Eucalyptus Bitters
Shake over ice
Strain into a martini glass
Garnish with spanked rosemary sprig

 

Sara’s Top Five: Falling in Love with Fall Fashion

The beginning of fall in Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful times of year.  The traffic has started to slow down, the beaches are less crowded, and the trails are quiet. I love taking my cruiser down the bike path along the West shore, while enjoying the arrival of fall – the aspen leaves are starting to turn yellow and the air is just a little more crisp. Pair the bike ride or hike with a light salad and a glass Sauvignon Blanc on the patio at PlumpJack Café, and I am in heaven.

Here is a list of my closet staples for this fall in Tahoe:

1.)  JBrand Retro Zip Skinny in clean rinse wash

As it gets cooler in Tahoe, a good pair of jeans from JBrand is a must.  I recommend the JBrand Retro Zip Skinny in clean rinse. They don’t stretch out and lose their form, and the dark wash is versatile.

2.)   Jane Strappy Boots in dark brown from Frye ($398)

 

I absolutely love my Jane Strappy Boots in dark brown paired with my skinny jeans or skirts.  The slight heel on the back dresses up the boot and the dark brown color is easy to pair with my light or dark wash jeans.

3.)   Red 23 Belted cardigan in both white & black

With it getting cooler at night and during the days, I always bring along a lightweight cardigan.  I love Red 23′s belted cardigan in black or white paired with jeans or cutoff shorts.

4.)    Amesha Cotton Twill Vest ($139)

 

Currently my favorite piece in my wardrobe is my Velvet twill cargo vest in forest – this vest ties all my outfits together.  It looks great over my Tart Collections Romy Top in charcoal.

5.)   Tart Collections Romy Top in charcoal ($88)

(Seen below in striped)

This top is about the most comfortable and stylish top. The fit is perfect and the fabric is soft and cozy.

All of this and more can be found at PlumpJack Sport Squaw Valley.  Our inventory is changing from fashion to ski over the next few months to get ready for a BIG winter here at Squaw Valley, but stop in to shop and save on these fashions, summer clearance & left over winter ski apparel for men, women & kids from 2014 season.

 

5 Ways Snakeskin Works for All Seasons

“Slithering” into fashion last spring,the reptile print stays strong going into fall/winter 2014.  If you are still wary about trying out this trend, start with a minimalist approach; stick with accessories or small pieces and use the snake print as an accent.  Even on the mountain, we have some apres snakeskin trends, like these fashionable and cozy boots from Ugg Australia.

1. We like to take a minimalist approach and add the snakeskin as an accent, like a pair of shoes or an oversized clutch. Ugg Alloway Reptile Calf Hair Flats (Retail 120.00)

2. Tone down brighter colors with a nice neutral snakeskin patterned tank or tights.

3. Keep it classic and add a nice snakeskin patterned blouse with a pencil skirt and some basic stilettos. Tart Mariana Top (92.00)

4. Add a touch of snakeskin to your ensemble in the form of a chic belt in a bright color.


5. Add an actual snake if you’re going to keep it real on the streets. We don’t recommend buying a snake for this trend, but it sure would make an impressive statement.

All of these styles and more available at our boutique, PlumpJackSport at the edge of the Village at Squaw Valley, right across the street from PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn.

 

Blazing Down the Bourbon Trail

Woodford Rickhouse

Woodford Rickhouse

The popularity of bourbon is at an all time high. With a whiskey crisis looming in the US, PlumpJack Wine and Spirit Noe Valley‘s General Manager Josh Thinnes set out on a journey to secure as much bourbon as he could. The booming popularity of our American Whiskey club is so large that a barrel is pretty much the best way to buy it. Not to mention how cool it is to have selected bourbon exclusively by the cask, to ensure that our customers get only the best. Come along for the ride!

Four Roses Barrel Tasting

Four Roses Barrel Tasting

Day 1-2 – Louisville:
Kentucky is truly a unique state, often referred to as the Southern most Northern state, or Northern most Southern state, in the US. Louisville is like America’s largest small town. Even with the largest city in the state boasting a population of nearly 600,000 people, it feels smaller than a town half its size. Many people have raved about the bourgeoning nightlife scene with loads of new bars and restaurants popping up all over the place. I decided to put my big city standards aside and enter with an open mind. Happily, it over delivered.

brown hotel

The Brown Hotel

While in Louisville we stayed at The Brown Hotel, one of Louisville’s oldest and most prestigious hotels. This place oozes old school southern charm and class, with loads of character boasting an excellent downtown location right on the redeveloping 4th street. Back in the roaring 20s, nearly 1,000 people would fill the Brown’s ballroom on the weekends to dance the night away, stopping downstairs for the signature ‘Hot Brown’ breakfast in the morning before going home.

610 Magnolia

The dining room at 610 Magnolia

Willett Distillery

The Willett family Distillery

We had dinner the first night at 610 Magnolia, a self proclaimed contemporary approach to southern cuisine, serving the people of Louisville for nearly 30 years in a quaint refurbished carriage house. I’d seen the chef on a recent season of ‘Top Chef’ on TV, and luckily was reminded of his establishment just before departing for my trip. The prix fixe menu is seasonally inspired and designed by chef Ed Lee. The staff was exceptionally welcoming, and Ed took at least ten minutes to chat with us about our trip and recommend some other favorite eating spots while in the city. I highly recommend this place, excellent atmosphere and character, delicious food, great wine list and cocktail menu.

Day 3 – Bardstown, Willett Distillery
On Monday, we set off for a morning appointment at Willett Distillery, located about an hour south of Louisville in the sleepy old town of Bardstown. Bardstown has the feel as though everyone should be riding around in a horse-drawn carriage; the town center is about two blocks long in each direction centered on a roundabout with an old church, turned visitor center, in the middle. The Willett distillery is just five minutes from town, with a long winding driveway leading up to the property. Willett is family owned and operated, a rarity in today’s bourbon world. Hunter, the son-in-law, was there to guide us through the facilities. It was the smallest operation we visited in Kentucky, and the attention to quality and detail was evident everywhere. Hunter wanted to be sure to show us the warehouse, or ‘rick house’ where all the whiskey was aging. 

Willett Rickhouse

The Willett Rickhouse

We climbed up to the fifth floor of the rick house via the rickety and dark narrow staircase in the center, taking notice of the thermometer posted on the wall, which depicted a nearly 25 degree difference in temperature between the bottom and top floors. We took a spin around the still house; stopping to taste the new-make, white un-aged whiskey straight out of the still. Out of all the distilleries I’ve been to over the world, Willett’s new make whiskey was the smoothest tasting of them all. Not bad for 130 proof! We concluded the tour with a stop at lab to taste through a few of their older single barrel bourbons. The journey was off to a smooth start.

Seelbach Hotel

The Seelbach Hotel

That afternoon after returning to Louisville, we visited the historic Seelbach Hotel, home to one of the world’s greatest bars. While at the Seelbach, one must order their signature cocktail, The Seelbach Cocktail; made with Bourbon, curacao, bitters and champagne. The bar is 50 feet of solid mahogany, the kind of place you could imagine smoke filled with a jazz quartet blaring in the corner until 3 am.

Seelbach Cocktail at the Seelbach

sippin’ on a Seelbach Cocktail

That evening, we had dinner at Holy Grale, a recommendation from chef Ed Lee of 601 Magnolia. This was one of the coolest spots. Holy Grale is an old church converted into a beer bar/restaurant with more than 30 beers on tap and a menu that is heavily-German influenced with food designed to work well with the beer. This place was awesome. It seemed to be a foodie-like crowd, and we even noticed our waiter from the night before at 601 Magnolia, drinking as a patron in the corner. The pickle plate was the highlight, as well as the burger served on a pretzel bun.

Holy Grale

The backyard at Holy Grale

Holy Grale Food

Pickle plate and pretzel bun burger

Day – 4 Bardstown, Heaven Hill Distillery
Heaven Hill’s bottling facility, where we would be taking our tour that day, is located just off the same road that Willett is located. They couldn’t be more different. Heaven Hill, home to Evan Williams, Henry McKenna and Rittenhouse whiskies, is aging more barrels of whiskey than anyone else in Kentucky, with more than 1.4 million barrels. The distillation happens at the Bernheim distillery located in downtown Louisville, but the bottling for all their brands (including many different vodka labels) happens at this facility.

Heaven Hill

Heaven Hill’s Vodka Bottling Line

The distillery used to be located onsite, but burned in a fire in 1996. This was by far the largest and most corporate of the operations we visited, even though it is 100% privately family owned. As luck (bad) would have it, we visited on an election day, so they were unable to serve any alcohol or worse yet, sell any bottles! The tour was very cool to see how a company of that size bottles and packages their products, but it was less bourbon centric, and not nearly as charming as the Willett experience the day before.

After arriving back in Louisville we had dinner at another recommendation of chef Lee, Jack Frys. This place was great, an old school take on fine dining – think Mad Men era white tablecloth. They had a live jazz trio playing, great food, and the cheapest Van Winkle pour we had seen in Kentucky.

Jack Fry's

Jack Fry’s

Day 5 – Cox Creek, Four Roses Distillery
Four Roses was the most highly anticipated part of the trip, and thankfully it lived up to the expectations. With a mission to source bourbon for the store, and specifically the whiskey club, we had arranged for a barrel tasting with Master Distiller, Jim Rutledge. The stories I heard about Jim before arriving built him up to be some type of wizard of the bourbon world. It all lived up to the hype.

Josh, Jim Rutledge, and Josh's dad Steve Thinnes

Josh, Jim Rutledge, and Josh’s dad Steve Thinnes at Four Roses

As we entered the bottling facility, we were escorted to the back, where 15 barrels were laid out, all ready for us to sample. Four place mats with 15 glasses on each were situated on a table in front of us. Jim walked in about two minutes later, and we got  to it. He pulled out a bag of tortilla chips and six bottles of water and said, “One time a client brought his own bag of tortilla chips to the barrel tasting to clean his palate in between tastes. It worked so well, we now do it every time.” Pulling samples directly from the barrel, we filled all the glasses, sequentially in order of the barrels on the floor. Jim, his assistant Mandy, my Dad and myself all got to work sampling through the first five. We each made notes on our favorites and compared them after everyone had chosen a favorite. Surprisingly everyone shared the same favorite, which made my choice pretty easy. We then sampled through the next ten, each a different recipe. As soon as barrel #8 hit my glass, I could smell how amazing it was. I knew after the first whiff that it would be my favorite. I narrowed it down to a second favorite and we all compared. Amazingly again, Jim and I shared the same favorite, while Mandy and my Dad shared the same favorite. Their favorites turned out to be Jim and my second favorites. The decision was tough, so we decided to take both! We closed up the three barrel selections, signed the barrels, and took a few pictures. Then Jim took us on a tour of the rest of the facilities. We spent the entire day, rummaging through the warehouse and the still house, soaking up all the information. Just hearing him speak about bourbon and his passion for quality was contagious.

four rosesBarrel selection at Four Roses

Day 6 – Frankfort, Buffalo Trace distillery
The morning we arrived in Lexington, we set off for Buffalo Trace distillery. Buffalo Trace distillery is situated on the prime location of the Kentucky River. When you think of Kentucky, with the picturesque horse farms and green pastures, you picture this area of Kentucky. The distillery produces a slew of extremely popular premium bourbon brands:  Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Blanton’s, Sazerac Rye, Weller, Pappy Van Winkle, and many more. Our private tour was in-depth and very behind the scenes, climbing up to the top of the mash room and across the catwalk to the still house. The size and capacity of this place was HUGE. They had the largest fermenter tanks in the industry at 90,000 gallons, and certainly the largest column still out of all the distilleries we visited. After a small tasting, we had some lunch at the company BBQ hut, and got ready for the most exciting part of our visit: selecting another barrel of Eagle Rare bourbon for the store. We were taken to warehouse where four barrels were arranged for us to sample. That will mark the 14th barrel of Eagle Rare 10 year bourbon that our store has purchased.

Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery

Barrel Selection at Buffalo Trace

Barrel Selection at Buffalo Trace

That evening we went to one of the countries best bourbon bars, the Bluegrass Tavern. The place was packed, but we managed to snag a seat at the bar. This place was ridiculous, they must have had more than 400 different bourbon selections, more than half of which went from $100 to “You can’t afford that” per shot. It’s a good thing it was walking distance from the hotel.

Bluegrass Tavern

Bluegrass Tavern

Day 7 – Versailles, Woodford Distillery
The next morning we journeyed to Versailles to visit Woodford Distillery. This was even more in the heart of horse country. We must have passed over a dozen horse farms on the way to the distillery, all with manicured landscapes divided by black wooden fences. The distillery grounds were pristine and equally well manicured. Woodford has a number of unique features in the bourbon world. They have longest barrel rolling line from filling room to warehouse. The barrels actually roll across a track on the ground, crossing a road on the grounds, hundreds of feet from one building to the next. Unlike any other distillery in Kentucky, Woodford uses three Scottish pot stills for distillation, instead of one column and one single pot still. We took a spin through one of the warehouses and the bottling line, and concluded with a tasting in the old tax excise office building.

Woodford Pot Stills

Woodford Pot Stills

Day 8 – Back to SF
All in all it was a great trip to Kentucky. I was thoroughly impressed with the food and bar scene in Louisville. It was also a great pleasure to be able to select the barrels exclusively for our store, and I look forward to another trip in the future to secure more!

 

#PlumpJackLife Instagram Contest!

PlumpJack LifeAt PlumpJack, we’re about living life to the fullest and taking advantage of the Northern California lifestyle. This is our #plumpjacklife, show us your #plumpjacklife on Instagram. Follow us at @plumpjackgroup, then point, zoom, shoot and tag #plumpjacklife to be entered to win $500 in PlumpJack Bucks that can be redeemed at any of our 15 properties. Go to plumpjack.com to view list of properties.

HOW TO ENTER
1. Follow @plumpjackgroup on Instagram
2. Take a photo of something that represents #plumpjacklife and tag it
3. Make sure your privacy settings are open, so the PlumpJack judging team has access to your photos
4. You’re done, you’re automatically entered!

GOOD LUCK! Love, PlumpJack

Sweepstakes Rules

PlumpJack Life

Q&A with Vegan Chef Tal Ronnen

Vegan Crab Cakes

Chef Tal’s crabless cakes

PlumpJack Cafe teams up with Wanderlust Festival and one 
of the most celebrated vegan 
chefs Tal Ronnen for the first ever “Vegan Farm To Table Dinner” presented by Gardein. Join us on the patio Thursday July 17th at Plumpjack Squaw Valley Inn. Diners will experience a delectable four-course vegan dinner featuring plant-based proteins and locally sourced organic fruits and vegetables. The menu will also include a delectable assortment of artisanal nut milk-based cheeses from Kite Hill. Tal is a partner in the company, whose cheese was the first non-dairy cheese sold in Whole Foods’ esteemed cheese department, as opposed to the processed cheese or vegan cheese section, where all non-dairy cheese had lived prior to Kite Hill’s arrival. Pretty impressive! We caught up with Tal for a quick Q&A before he graces the PlumpJack patio next week. Hey, we’re not Ellen, but we are so excited to host such a renowned culinary figure and learn more about being vegan. Bon appétit!

What’s your go-to vegan comfort food/dish?
Peanut butter and jelly.

What are some of your pantry staples?

  • nutritional yeast flakes are great for texture and have a rich, nutty flavor. They’re good on anything from pasta to popcorn.
  • black garlic is available everywhere now and it has a great soft, sweet taste. I toss it with broccoli or make a vinaigrette with it.
  • white balsamic vinegar is light and makes nice light vinaigrettes.

What kind of advice do you have for someone who is thinking about transitioning to a vegan diet?
Take it slow – start with a day or two a week and progress from there. Check out ethnic restaurants that inherently have vegan cuisine like Indian, Thai, Chinese, or convert your favorite recipes using non-animal alternatives.

What are your favorite seasonal ingredients?
Summer: stonefruitcranberry beans
Fall: applesbeetsartichokes
Winter: root vegetables
Spring: english peasfava beans

Was there a defining moment when you decided to become a chef? Were you always a vegan chef?
Yes – when I crossed over to becoming a vegetarian, I was frustrated by being served the side dishes as main plates at restaurants I used to go to.

What’s your favorite vegan-friendly travel destination?
San Francisco has a lot of wonderful restaurants. Even the non-vegan restaurants have great vegan food.

How did you get involved with Wanderlust? Tell us about the vegan dinner you’re presenting on July 17th with PlumpJack Café?
My good friend Yves, the founder of Gardein, asked me to be a part of it.

What do you love most about living in Los Angeles?
Sunny weather! I love waking up to sunshine.

Tal Ronnen CookbookIncluded in Thursday’s dinner ticket price are two glasses of wine and a complimentary copy of Chef Tal’s award-winning cookbook The Conscious Cook. Busting notorious vegan myths including “You won’t get enough protein” and “It’s boring to eat vegan,” this cookbook encourages all to sample a taste of healthy, ethical, environmentally-friendly eating, without pushing an agenda. “It’s easy to be convincing when the food is delicious,” Chef Tal states, backed by his success at opening minds and menus to vegan options. “It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice—it feels like a step up.”  

In the Garden with the Chefs

 

chefs

Chef de Cuisine Andrew Budnyj and Executive Chef Steven Tevere

The garden is a big focus amongst our PlumpJack teams this summer. Chef de Cuisine at FARM Andrew Budnyj has created a special 7 course menu with each course featuring an item from our culinary garden. The menu is available Sunday evenings through July 13th. Check out what The Carneros Inn’s Executive Chef Steven Tevere has to say about their abundant culinary garden and suggestions for entertaining in your own home.

What inspires your cuisine?
I find culinary inspiration from the local region, including the abundance of ingredients from our own culinary garden and some of the finest purveyors of products in California. We are fortunate to live in an area where the mentality towards quality ingredients is forefront at all levels. Our relationships with the local producers and the care they take with their produce is essential to maintaining the integrity we put behind the processing, cooking and plating of these ingredients.

What is fresh from the garden right now?
We are using fava beans, chard, beets, carrots, lettuce mix, kohlrabi, kale and flowers from the garden currently. We are using these ingredients in various dishes throughout the culinary program on property.

What other produce do you source from The Inn’s property?
We have many fruit trees we incorporate into the menus, but most of them are fall producing – apples, quince, pomegranate, figs, pears. There is also an abundance of rosemary, lavender and other herbs.

What advice do you have for hosting a special event?
I am a big fan of family style service. When all the food is on the table it looks so bountiful. Different types of presentations on colorful platters, it just feels festive like a holiday or family celebration which always triggers good memories. Family & friends around a big table, enjoying each other’s company, eating and drinking wine… so communal, so simple but so engaging.

 

 

Conversations with Hilary: Hall of Famer Joe Montana

Joe Montana

Joe, son Nicholas, wife Jennifer, son Nathaniel, daughters Elizabeth and Alexandra

I am ecstatic to have one of the greatest football players of all time, Joe Montana, as my guest this month. I could go on forever about his athletic accomplishments: He lead the San Francisco 49ers to four Superbowl Championships during the 1980s, including consecutive wins in 1989 and 1990. An inspirational leader and talented passer, he was named the National Football League’s most valuable player three times. He joined the Kansas City Chiefs 1993–5, before retiring with NFL playoff records for completions, yards, and touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

This last Saturday, July 12th, Joe and his former teammates Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Dwight Clark and many other 49er legends took on Dan Marino and a team of NFL All-Stars to play the last game in the iconic Candlestick Park (The Stick). All proceeds from this event went to the San Francisco Police Foundation and the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation. Joe may have shown off his athletic talents on the field on Saturday, but what is more impressive is his dedication to philanthropy via the Four Rings Montana Family Foundation. The Foundation was established in 2004 by Joe and his wife Jennifer to support a variety of charities and causes – primarily in the area of improving the lives of underprivileged individuals who have experienced neglect, abuse, and immigration challenges. Joe and Jennifer have four beautiful children and live in the Northern California wine country.

Conversations with Hilary: Hall of Famer Joe Montana

What do you believe to be your greatest accomplishment?
To have a dream as a boy and to have that dream become a reality. Knowing what I know now, this could only have happened with the love and support of my family along the way.

Do you have a prized possession? 
My wife! Though she is not a possession.

What do you love about yourself? What do you think others love about you?
The fact that I never quit, never give up. Those that don’t know me personally might say the way I played the game of football. But those that know me better, Jennifer (I had to ask her) would say my “generosity, kindness and ease in which I converse with others”.

If you could be anything other than what you currently are, what would it be?
A singer

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Have coffee and a donut with Jen.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
Go to the wine country, make dinner, and just hang with family and friends.

What do you like most about what you do for a living?
What I did was play the most exciting game in the world. It has giving me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people and in turn, experience new wonderful opportunities.

What were you passionate about when you were younger?
SPORTS. I went form football season to basketball season to baseball season.

What are you passionate about now?
Spending as much time with my family as possible! When I was playing, I feel as though I missed a lot. I can’t make up for those times, but I can enjoy trying.

What’s your favorite season? Why?
I like summer and winter… Summer for the sunshine and winter for the snuggling up next to a fire.

If you were a cocktail, what would you be?
A Manhattan, because it’s old school and a little bit sweet, a little bit sour.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you want to have with you?
Magnifying glass, machete, a blanket.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
Be in the cockpit of a F-16 during a dog fight.

What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?
Should Have Been a Cowboy.

If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
JFK

If your life was made into a movie, what would it be called?
“Hey Joe, Hey Joe”. It’s what our youngest son Nicholas called me (at 2 years), not “Daddy.” That’s what he heard people on the street say.

Do you have any regrets?
Yes, playing football caused me to miss a fun part of our kids youth.

Define Freedom.
Having the ability to make your own choices.

What are your personal core values?
Integrity, compassion, honesty.

Six Ways to Host the Perfect 4th of July Party

fourth of july

photos from Apron String Blog, Lady Bird Press, The Comfort of Cooking, PopSugar and Everyday Occasions

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

In lieu of the upcoming holiday, our catering and events manager Ashley put together a quick guide to throwing a seamless patriotic party. This guide can be applied to any type of soiree, from baby shower to birthday, it’s all about being prepared. Make sure to pick up some fresh strawberries and blueberries at the market this weekend, soak up the sun and go USA! 

1. PLAN AHEAD
Plan your shopping trip in advance so you’re at home applying the finishing touches the morning of your party. Make sure to get a jump start on your food and beverage and don’t leave all the cooking until the end. Try these freezer friendly appetizers.

2. CREATE A THEME & SET THE SCENE
A strand of lanterns lights, votive candles, napkins and flowers are an easy way to add a touch of style to your party. D.I.Y to save money! Entertain your guests with a smores bar, corn hole or disposable cameras to capture the fun.

3. NO FUSS MENU
Never try a recipe for the first time when when you’re hosting a party. Impress your guests with easy backyard appetizers instead of challenging yourself too much the day of! Create a no fuss menu that allows you to enjoy your guests instead of laboring over how you’re going to keep the food warm.

4. PORTION CONTROL & MENU CREATION
Menu portions always seem to be the hardest part of party planning. Here are some key things to consider when it comes to serving just the right amount:

  • The timeframe of your event and length of your party will greatly effect how hungry your guests will be.
  • Anticipate which food selections will be most popular and prepare accordingly. Take into account the composition of men, women and children.
  • Always round up. Better to have leftovers for your guests to take home rather than run out.
  • The more menu choices offered, the smaller the individual portions will be.
  • Set up a separate table for drinks in another room if possible. Stock with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverage options, ice, cocktail napkins and glassware.

5. MEATS, GREENS, and KID FRIENDLY
Vegetarians are just as important as your carnivore guests! Make sure to have something available for everyone and don’t forget the kiddos. Try popsicle stick labels as food markers to distinguish turkey burgers vs. beef.

6. EVERYONE LOVES EXTRAS
We all know there is never enough fridge space to store leftovers after the party. Make it easy for guests to bring their favorite foods home with them by providing extremely adorable disposable to go containers. Your guests will thank you!

INSPIRATION

Sip.  www.foodandwine.com
Serve. www.jennysteffens.blogspot.com I www.thecomfortofcooking.com
Sparkle. www.etsy.com