Archive for October, 2013

hal6It is no secret that my go-to gift provider for holidays like Halloween are the fine folks at Hotel Chocolat. This season they have not let me down with their full line of great Halloween treats that make perfect gifts for the ghouls that knock at your door or to send to friends far away.

I love the Herman Muncher chocolate bar: “Herman looks scary but he has a sweet side – he won’t bite even if you do.”

See all the great Halloween and seasonal treats from Hotel Chocolat here.

APBWith November and the holiday season only a few days away, thanks to my dear friend Lynda I have found the perfect transitional seasonal cocktail – this recipe for Hot Bourbon Apple Cider from the Pastry Affair blog.

The recipe is quite simple and of course, everything is better with bourbon… and bacon…

Hot Bourbon Apple Cider

  • Yields 2 small cocktails
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) spiced apple cider
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) bourbon
  • Splash of fresh orange juice
  • Cinnamon stick & apple slices, for garnish
  • Heat apple cider to boiling in a small saucepan on the stove. Remove from heat and divide evenly between glasses. Add half the bourbon to each glass and a splash of fresh orange juice. Add a cinnamon stick to each glass and apple slices for garnish. Serve hot.

Find more about the recipe for Hot Bourbon Apple Cider on Pastry Affair here.

HAL3When the little ghouls and goblins show up on your doorstep on Halloween, what better way to greet them than with the Entryways Sweet Home Pumpkin Pattern Doormat available form

About Entryways Sweet Home Pumpkin Pattern Doormat: “This distinctive doormat from Entryways’ Sweet Home Collection bears an original design created by an artist. This mat is crafted of all-natural coir with non-slip backing to meet the industry’s highest standards. It combines an artist’s touch with affordability to provide functional artistry for the home.”

Find the Sweet Home Pumpkin Doormat on here.


On this… St. Crispin’s Day…

Today is St. Crispin’s Day, best known as they day Henry V led his army at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 as dramatized by William Shakespeare in one of the greatest speeches in English literature:

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remember’d…


Read the complete St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V (1599) by William Shakespeare here.

FF: Artist Kathleen Lolley

KLKLI love the whimsical mixed media works of artist Kathleen Lolley.

In the words of the artist Kathleen Lolley: “I derive visual inspiration from nature, folk tales, philosophy & music and seek to synthesize these elements in my work. My visual style is an organic mix of surrealism and folk art. I use a wide variety of mediums including acrylic, oil, paper-mache, gouache, mixed -media and collage. I strive to allow enough ambiguity for the viewer to draw upon their own imagination to create their own interpretation. My work is not about humans having a spiritual experience, but the spirits having a human experience.”

See more about Kathleen Lolley here.

Visit Kathleen Lolley’s Etsy shop here.

FF: Men’s style site Mr. Porter

FFCThere is no shortage of websites devoted to style and fashion, but for us dudes, none is better the Mr. Porter. Mr. Porter is devoted to showing us the latest trends in men’s fashion and style and offering it all for sale.

About Mr. Porter: “Since launching in February 2011, MR PORTER has established itself as the premier global online retail destination for men’s style. Editorial content sits alongside the latest products from more than 170 of the world’s leading designers, including Gucci, Givenchy, Burberry, Lanvin, Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana and Richard James, as well as specialist brands such as John Lobb and Valextra.”

I often refer to Mr. Porter’s “What’s New” page to keep on top of trends and find cool new things to covet.

FF: The artisan goat cheeses of Belle Chevre

FBCI love slathering goat cheese on French bread for a quick lunch. When I can’t find local cheeses, I always turn to the cheeses of Belle Chevre.

About Belle Chevre: “For almost 20 years Belle Chevre has been hand-crafting fine French style goat’s milk cheeses in rural Alabama. A woman with a grand appetite for Chevre (the French word for goat and pronounced ‘shev) founded Belle Chevre and developed a winning recipe that has, to date, garnered over 50 national awards from American Cheese Society and other famed institutions.”

I have to try Belle Chevre’s Tuscan Chevre: “You’re in for a treat. Goat cheese medallions in extra virgin and light olive oil with herbs and sun-dried tomatoes –– it doesn’t get any better. Try this chevre with crusty bread or crackers. Or warm it in the oven for a baked goat cheese salad. Don’t toss out the oil. Use it as a base for a luscious salad dressing or a base for your next homemade pizza. It never hurts to be creative.”

Find Belle Chevre here.

FF: Old Scout Straight Bourbon Whiskey

FF2Another Friday and another bourbon find:

Old Scout Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

About Old Scout Straight Bourbon Whiskey: “6 and 7 year old barrels with a high rye content of 36%, this fine whiskey has exceptional taste and smoothness. Non chill filtered, non carbon filtered. A robust 99 proof, it’s strong, but deliciously drinkable like all of Smooth Ambler’s offerings. Bold, sweet-spicy flavors with subtle apple, cherry and tobacco aroma.”

Learn more about Old Scout Straight Bourbon Whiskey here.

HAL4hal4When I was a kid one of the biggest decisions to make on Halloween was what to use to collect all the loot. I found that a pillowcase was the best option – it was big enough to take all the treats and easy to dump before heading out for more. But then again, I didn’t have the option of the Halloween Tote from Land’s End.

About the Halloween Tote from Land’s End: “Our Halloween Tote is 100% cotton — just like our famous Canvas Tote, and made just as well. It’s round and fully open at the top, making it easy for both your child and the generous treater. With a reinforced bottom and handles it’ll hold loads of loot, year after year, and hold up when the weather’s less than perfect.”

Find the Halloween Tote from Land’s End here.

FFDIn a city where there is no shortage of charming shops, London’s Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop is a particular delight. Dedicated to the old school artistry of street puppet shows, Pollock’s Toyshop in Covent Garden celebrates the amazing creations of those carrying on the grand tradition.

About London’s Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop: “The history begins in 1856 in Hoxton, an area of London bordered by the wealth of the City and the poverty of the East End. This is where Benjamin Pollock was born. At this time the toy theatre trade was flourishing in Covent Garden’s Theatreland. By the time Benjamin Pollock had married Eliza Redington and inherited her father’s Theatrical Print Warehouse, the toy theatre trade had been overshadowed by new fangled novelties such as magic lanterns, gramophones and the wireless. However Mr. Pollock, in his dark and dusty shop in Hoxton, carried on supplying theatrical sheets costing a penny plain and twopence coloured. His customers were local children aspiring to the stage or city gents nostalgic for their childhood as well as actors of the larger stage such as Charlie Chaplin. Pollock, although not the most innovative producer of Juvenile Drama, was the most amiable and diligent.”

Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop specializes in Toy Theatres, like the wonderful Dickens Theatre with Great Expectations.

FFD3About the Dickens Theatre with Great Expectations: “Beckman Unicorn presents, for the first time, the Toy Theatre based on ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens. A large model which is easily constructed without the need for scissors or glue with beautiful new illustrations by Robin Peoples. Just press out all the pieces and slot together to create this impressive theatre featuring the well known Dickens characters including Miss Havisham, Mr. Jaggers, Magwitch and, of course, Pip. Full colour scenery can be changed, and you can perform the play by sliding the characters along to the adapted and abbreviated script based on the original novel. Also included is a short history of ‘toy theatre and Dickens’ by Peter Baldwin.”


Visit London’s Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop online here.

hal9This Halloween Find may be a bit of a stretch but it works for me – the Cereal Killer spoon from Pumpernickel and Wry. Years ago a guest at a Halloween party I attended came as a “cereal killer” which was basically a blood-stained outfit with Cheerios and Rice Crispies boxes attached. Anyway, I love this “whimsical” take on the classic cereal spoon.

About the Cereal Killer Spoon from Pumpernickel and Wry: “Fabulous vintage Wm. Rogers MFG. CO. Extra Plate silver plated spoon. Hand-stamped with CEREAL KILLER. This larger sized spoon measures 6.75 inches (17.1 cm). Wm. A. Rogers Sectional by Oneida Ltd. spoon.”

See all the “whimsical silver plated flatware” of Pumpernickel and Wry here.

HAL7The folks at Knob Creek Metal Arts make it easy to create the perfect jack-o-lantern with their line of great metal stands like this Cowboy Pumpkin Stand.

About the Cowboy Pumpkin Stand from Knob Creek Metal Arts: “This pumpkin cowboy set is handmade and designed by Knob Creek Metal Arts. Made from solid steel and finished in hammered black, this set is great for decorating your Jack-o-lantern. The hat is approx 7″ long and 7″ wide. Hat has a 2″ serrated stake to mount into the pumpkin. The arms are designed to fit most carving sized pumpkins. The hole in the boot stand is approx 6 1/2″ diameter which captures the bottom of most carving sized pumpkins.”

See all the pumpkin art designs of Knob Creek Metal Arts here.




OK, that is some of my usual hyperbole, but the new book, The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey by David Haskell and Colin Spoelman, is a milestone in the resurgence of small batch whiskey in recent years, and the perfect guide to help you navigate through it.

I have featured Kings County Distillery here in the past. Now, the founders of the New York boutique distillery share their experience in making homegrown spirits and provide great information about the history of whiskey and “moonshine” and tips on the current spirits culture that is gripping America.

About The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey by David Haskell and Colin Spoelman: “A new generation of urban bootleggers is distilling whiskey at home, and cocktail enthusiasts have embraced the nuances of brown liquors. Written by the founders of Kings County Distillery, New York City’s first distillery since Prohibition, this spirited illustrated book explores America’s age-old love affair with whiskey. It begins with chapters on whiskey’s history and culture from 1640 to today, when the DIY trend and the classic cocktail craze have conspired to make it the next big thing. For those thirsty for practical information, the book next provides a detailed, easy-to-follow guide to safe home distilling, complete with a list of supplies, step-by-step instructions, and helpful pictures, anecdotes, and tips. The final section focuses on the contemporary whiskey scene, featuring a list of microdistillers, cocktail and food recipes from the country’s hottest mixologists and chefs, and an opinionated guide to building your own whiskey collection.”

The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining has a distinctly hipster vibe to it, but in the best possible way. Add the renewed interest in the fine art of home distilleries to the long list of everything old is new again – and for me the best yet.

The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey by David Haskell and Colin Spoelman is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.