Sunday, February 20, 2011

There's way more to life than Wild Mushroom Mascarpone Cheesecake and Warm Chocolate Ganache Cake

Yup. I had to go back to Karma Lounge (two nights in a row means this place is super-extra-special). Wanted to introduce more friends to this local hidden treasure. The teenaged kids that were part of the party are a typically cynical and emotionless bunch but not here. Wish I had pictures to share of their teenaged faces lighting up after trying one incredible dish after another. (Teenagers rarely show this much emotion unless I am asking them to pose for me and then it's the wrong emotion.)

So have a little visual taste of Chef Miguel's Mascarpone Cheesecake with Strawberry Compote and Kahlua Espresso Sauce or if you prefer decadent chocolate desserts, his Warm Chocolate Ganache Cake with fresh berries and Raspberry Sauce is to die for.

Important to note is that we had none of the issues from my previous post because everyone got their own dessert and refused to share. I am proud of myself for not publicly licking the plate for it was crowded and I didn't want to give the other guests the wrong idea.

And a huge shout out to owner Alison D'Elia for her fabulous martinis. No, really fabulous martinis.

And last but certainly not least, while the waitstaff overall is pretty damn terrific, I'm totally partial to Jessica who is perfectly attentive, delightful and just friggin' awesome.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The last...the very last Wild Mushroom Ravioli

So here's the problem: last night, crazy talented Chef Miguel DeBride of Karma Lounge in Ossining sends out a plate of his home-made Wild Mushroom Ravioli to our table. Everyone "ooohs" and "aaahs" and then digs in. One to a person from the heaping plate glistening with butter and redolent of parmesan and wild mushrooms. Literally nanoseconds later, forks clatter to plates, lips smack and glances are exchanged followed by moans, sighs and eyes rolling into the backs of heads as everyone's taste buds jump up and do a Coyote Ugly meets Footloose happy dance.
"Ohmigod this is soooo good."
"No this is waaaaaaay better than good."

He calls his cuisine "wet and sexy" and he means it. Miguel is from Belize and life and love is different there. (I am considering moving, BTW, if only to see if Miguel hasn't spawned a race of mythical chef creatures whose love of food is surpassed only by their love of sharing it). But I digress. Let's get back to our Ravioli issue.

Another round of ravioli rapture for everyone. And another. And another. Until (gasp) the last ravioli. Once again, glances are exchanged, but this time there is more than a communal, collective "Kumbaya" joy for what Chef Miguel has shared. This time, there is lust, gluttony and the unspoken question as to what gets the last ravioli. (Pick me. Pick me. Pick me.)

Moments pass.
Attempts at conversation are made while furtive glances to the glistening mound of perfection are made. (Maybe I can arrange a suitable distraction....hmmm...What to do? What to do?)

And so it goes... moments turn to minutes and the ravioli sits there
for we are a polite, well mannered and ever-so-civilized group
(maybe if I follow owner Alison D'Elia, herself a master mixologist into the kitchen when she comes to check on us, I can lick the plate in private under the approving stare of Chef Miguel.
("Yeah, man! That's how we do it in the wet and sexy parallel universe I call home")

Then horror of horrors, our next course arrives. This is a bittersweet moment for I know that it will be equally superb (I say this with absolute and total confidence because I am a card-carrying member of the Karma Lounge Fan Club), but still...that poor, poor ravioli. And all that sauce. (Gasp!)
One last round of glances are exchanged, this one accompanied by polite but totally insincere offers:
"Go on. You have it."
"No you."
"No you"
(Ha! Yeah right.)

And then it is gone. (sob!) "Come back. Don't go."

So here's the problem: Odd amounts of food.
Damn. Damn. Damn. It's happened to all of us and it's time to put this to an end.

Solution 1:
Perhaps Chef Miguel could have sent out an even number of ravioli to match our party size. Would it have been too much trouble, Mike? (Alison calls Miguel "Mike" but it just doesn't work for me to have put someone named "Mike" on such a pedestal.) Then none of this would have happened. Ahhhh, but part of me thinks "Mike" was secretly looking to provoke a brawl.)


Solution 2:
If he had sent out the plate just to me, none of this would have happened. I would have given everyone a taste (that means one "wet and sexy" ravioli plus one extra dip of their bread to sop up the buttery parmesan sauce) and that last ravioli would have quote Daffy Duck..."mine, mine, mine. All mine!

I vote for option 2. Who's with me?

Memories...look so beautiful and then...

Aggghh. See what you did, Chef? I'm singing Streisand. Curses.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tiramisu Profiteroles, Cheesecake and home-made Mallomars

Everyone needs a pastry chef for a friend. Especially an uber-talented one who happens to be french. That he's about 6'6" and looks like he could kick anyone's ass in a 3 x 3 street basketball tournament makes it even better. Did I mention he trained in Belgium? And plays with liquid nitrogen, dreams about pomegranate creme fraiche and thwarts my every attempt at dieting with trays of home-made mallomars?  So allow me to raise a tiramisu profiterole toast to Gael Viotty, pastry god extraordinaire.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thanks Grover, Allen and the team at PhotoShelter for sharing your wisdom

I'm new to the world of photography (relatively speaking...I've spent plenty of time working with hundreds of different photographers thanks to my career in advertising as a creative director and chief creative officer) so when I decided to pursue my passion with camera in hand in a more active way, there were lots of choices to make and options to consider.

Arguably, the most important is one's website and the range of functionality each of us requires. (There's lots more like blogging and micro-blogging and social network "activation" but that's for another post.) Things like SEO are critical. As is customer support.

There are many choices but none that worked for me as well as PhotoShelter. And while each of us has our own unique criteria for what we are looking for, some of which are purely subjective (like the selection of creative templates), one simple thing puts PhotoShelter at the top of my list: their commitment to sharing their knowledge. (From their own experience and from their communities.) This is huge and harder to accomplish than most people think.

Of course, I appreciate all the work and commitment that has gone into their physical product (it's power, functionality and ease of use.) But as a photographer with lots to learn, I can't tell you how much I look forward to their webinars and how I devour their white papers.

In my opinion, this is what distinguishes good companies from great ones. Putting out a quality product is a first step. How a company works after the sale to ensure the success of their customers is an even bigger step. And when a company chooses to celebrate the accomplishments of their "community"; well for me, that is perhaps the biggest step.

And for that I wanted to say thank you to Allen, Grover and their team. You have made a difference for me and it is appreciated more than you know.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another day, another kid who'd rather be out way early in the morning (helping his dad) than way late at night (worrying his dad)

Amazing things happen when you stop to talk to people before even thinking about taking a photo. Perceptions change. (Sometimes dramatically.) Connections happen. (Sometimes instantly...if you ask the right questions or are willing to share something meaningful about yourself.) And the relationship between photographer and subject is transformed.

By the way, the portraits always get better. Guaranteed.
And even if they don't, you get better.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cookies to die for.

As a creative person, I learned very early that often the simplest of things can be quite difficult to perfect. When there are just a few elements in a composition, every single one counts and proportions are critical.

I suppose this is why I have such respect for bakers, especially bakers of cookies. What you can't see in my photos (but I ask that you take my word and trust me) is that these cookies are pure perfection.

They are from Jane Greene of Chappaqua, NY. I met her at the Chappaqua Farmer's Market as she was sampling her creations. You had to see the smiles and hear the groans of delight from the surprisingly large crowd who had braved the icy drizzle to spend some quality time at this wonderful indoor market. Jane was the star of the show. According to my daughter and her friend who were with me, they were the best cookies they've ever eaten. And 12 year olds know their cookies.

To see how absolutely delicious they are for yourself, contact Jane at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Portrait of a Cinereous Vulture

Another in my ongoing series of "Finer Feathered Friends"
This fellow , also known as the Black Vulture or Monk Vulture is the largest bird of prey in the world.

Why some people just can't seem to make the society pages

Alternate title: Put the food down when a photographer walks by.

Took in the Westchester Magazine 10th Anniversary Party last night. Great food at my buddy Anthony's oh-so-fabulous restaurant just beneath the clouds. (Can you say "Happy Anniversay, Ralph" or "Are those Anthony's famous Burnt Orange Creamsicles made with liquid nitrogen frozen vanilla custard?" Not with your mouth full of baby lamb chops or short rib sliders you can't.

Of course, it's not always the food. Occasionally some folks are just not ready for their closeup

or can't let their whereabouts be known