Monday, December 12, 2011

Travel: Asia Trip 2011-2012

Holiday Greetings!  Please follow me on Twitter & Facebook for the next three weeks for travel updates for my Asia trip this year.

In mean while, I have been busy this past month with holiday events at Saffron 59 as well as being my own travel agent; planning (numerous) connecting flights, itineraries, meeting with acquaintances and booking my old friends for breakfast on Chao Praya or dinner along the Mekong riverside.

I have not been to Cambodia since 1998. My main plan is to visit  the Angkor Hospital for Children to get a private tour from William, the Executive Director. I have been on their committee for over a decade. This hospital started as a small children’s hospital.  Today, they have treated over a million patients with a visitor’s center for those who travel from the far away villages. Last time I was in Siem Reap, there were only three hotels to open and some home inns.   Since then, there are now spas, French restaurants and trendy boutiques.

Angkor Hospital for Children Photo: Daniel C. Rothenberg,

And of course a stop in Burma to visit the orphanage in Yangon that I am involved in with my parents.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Weekend Trip: Farm Fresh in November

Fresh produce for dinner in November is always a treat this time of the year.

For my four days off during Thanksgiving, I paid a surprise visit to my friends Mike and Jan Kokas of Upstate Farms two hours away from NYC in Tivoli, NY in the Hudson Valley.  With such fertile rich soil; they have been one of our purveyors for many years. Upstate Farms supplies quality produce to fine restaurants such as Eleven Madison and Daniel NYC.

Picking Tokoyo Turnips

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Recipe: Seasonal Eats: Vegetable “Ratatouille”

This time of the year the chill is in the air and the need for comfort food never fails to satisfy our creaturely comforts.  This year’s harvest is abundant of cauliflower or Romesco broccoli.  With so many people increasingly aware of seasonal ingredients and quality produce, this is the perfect easy and flavorful recipe for vegetarian lovers and meat lovers alike.  Adjust portions to serve as a side or full entrée. 
Click through for the recipe to this beautiful dish.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Travel: Harvest Time at Tokaj, Hungary

With the approach of fall and the expert guidance of Carolyn Banfalvi about where to visit, I couldn’t have timed my trip to Tokaj, Hungary better.  It was time to harvest the grapes in this historical wine region. We visited a few wineries to sample the area that is as famous in wine production as it is rich in its varied history.

Amidst beautiful rolling hills dotted with grape vines at the center of the Tokaj wine region, we stayed at the beautiful Grof Degenfeld Castle Hotel.  Receiving royal treatment with a late night tour and wine tasting by  General Manager Gabor Banyal.  The property is famous for being the only castle that comes with its own vineyard. There, we tasted an outstanding Tokaj Aszu 1999 and others, followed by an incredible dinner with perfectly seared foi gras and poached apple with aged balsamic as a starter.

Degenfeld Vineyard

1999 Aszueszencia  VS 2007    Harslevelu (Linden)

One organic winery we visited was the Erzsebet Pince (Elizabeth Cellar) in Tokaj.  The history of the vineyard is as fascinating as the family itself.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wedding: 632 Hudson

A wedding is essentially a personal romantic affair and 632 on Hudson is just one of the great venues in the city for bride and groom who like to keep their celebration intimate. With their gorgeous vintage furnished rooms, creating warm and gracious atmosphere, it is a townhouse beauty. Thus certainly we were glad to be part of the memorable evening. 

The acoustic violin players were nicely comforting the guests before and after the ceremony by the old-style fire place. With the summer weather, the welcoming lemonade made by Paul, our bartender, was soothing the heat from outside. It was ideal to decorate the dinner table that went with the rustic classic ambiance of the space.

Photo by 3 Photographers

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Events: Tol Party at the Beach

This summer not only we have been catering wedding and BBQ outdoor functions, a couple from Vermont (Korean and Jewish) who also has a beach house in Long Island, New York. It was the first time our staff has experienced this type of first birthday celebration (Tol Party).

On this beautiful sunny afternoon, we set up three large tubs chilled with beer, wine, juice and soft drinks for kids and teenagers. Afternoon activities were softball game and biking by the beach. Chef Simon grilled chicken marinated with lemongrass and herbs, with assorted vegetables from local market such as baby eggplant, summer squash, Portobello mushrooms..

Friday, July 22, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

Seasonal Flowers

Flowers do wonders for the soul, especially for your special day or just a great pick-me-up.  We always have fresh-cut flowers in our offices that never fail to put a smile on our faces. For the most bang for your buck, use fresh seasonal flowers when they're at their prime blooming season. Great fragrant blooms available now are bursting Peonies, delicate Sweet Peas, tissue-layered Ranunculus, hyacinth and many more.
Pink Peony in Springtime
Even better still, seasonal flowers come in any profusion of color, no matter what the season.  You can coordinate your flowers for your wedding or special event with any color, theme or even symbolic flowers.  Here are a few examples:

Stephanotis: Good-luck flower for the bride
Pimpernel: Change & innocence.
Calla Lily: Rebirth.
Forget-me-nots: True love.
Ivy: Friendship, fidelity, and matrimony.

Mixed Bouquet
This is also a great time of the year to enjoy growing your own fresh seasonal herbs.  You can always freeze or dry your herbs to enjoy all year long.  They will taste better than anything you buy in a bottle! Mojitos, anyone?!

Not Just Weddings!

Summer is finally here and so is the wedding season. We do a lot of weddings in the summer but we also plan and cater many Bat/Bar Mitzvah and birthday parties as well. Last weekend, we did a Bat Mitzvah Party for the lovely Abigail Poteshman at Midtown Loft. The weather was perfect for an outdoor cocktail reception. Upon arrival, guests headed up to the rooftop to enjoy cocktails and Hors D’Oeuvres, then a buffet style lunch was served down on the main floor.

Abby's Friends

We were very lucky to have Mr. Dan Hurley, the creator of 60-Second Novelist join us to entertain the guests. Dan brought his own manual typewriter, mingled in the crowd and asked guests a few questions about their lives to get the sense of who they are. He would then make up an imaginative and funny short life story about the guest, typed it out so the guests could take it home. This is such a great way to get people to start up a conversation, share their amusing life stories and get to know each other better.

60-Second Novelist: Dan Hurley types out guest's life story in 60 seconds

In a small corner, a red carpet photo booth was set up so that Abby and her friends could

Friday, April 29, 2011

How To: Preserving Wedding Photos

This post is for all of you, the newlyweds.
Over the past years I have received so many of your compliments for the weddings we have worked on along with the memorable wedding pictures that now reminds me how we all can preserve the collections in various ways.

Here in our studio  at Saffron59,  my parents and their siblings pictures in black and white of their travels and weddings. I treasure  them immensely  as its hung by the dinning room and classic to have these pictures showing the contrast from the modern ones.

Recently with my new apartment, I like to have something new and something old.  Alexa worked on my long narrow hallway wall with collage.  She scanned and archived these old pictures and touch up with Photo Shop...which has enable for me to have a wall full of these memorable pictures of our us growing up in Burma in black and white....and a colorful collage wall with my nieces and nephews....

Alexa in our studio, touch up with photo shop
  Irene's Aunty Jen's wedding
  Irene's Mom

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cooking Workshop Party

Hosting a Cooking Party is one unique way that can spice up special celebrations.  Instead of seated dinner or cocktails, you and your guests can casually prepare fun, fabulous meals and enjoy the party; it will also bring more closeness between friends and strengthen bonds and team efforts amongst colleagues in a more informal way. 

Depending on the guest count and theme, food can be from specific regions or distinctive cooking style; your party can be a demonstration style or the 'hands-on' that require guests participation. Whether small intimate group of bridal shower with light hors d'oeuvres or birthday party learning to prepare nice juicy rib eye steak with Korean red bean marinate to tasting great Rhone wines.  

It is important to plan ahead the ingredients and the cooking utensils. Don’t forget to clear clutter in your kitchen for an adequate space for everyone to prep; and assemble your finished dishes.
I like having a Polaroid camera that prints instantly the capture the moments ..

Double Espresso Chocolate Mousse with logo
JWT Office Cooking Party
Grilled Steak Argentinian Style with Chimicurri Sauce
testing the rare Steak

Friday, March 4, 2011

Roof Gardening: Spring starts in March at Saffron59 Kitchen

Cleaning up the tool shed, sowing the seeds and watching the crocus sprouts are the sign of spring as we get the last frost bite. Here at Saffron59, we started germinated the seeds from last year’s favorite black prince heirloom tomatoes to lemon basil.  Celery, rutabaga and purple beets are planted in 4” deep soil and first crop of radishes are ready to be dug out for our kitchen in two weeks.
                                           Germinating Seeds Indoor
If you have an urban garden like ours, with at least six hours of sunlight, you can germinate the seeds near your window then transfer to the rooftop. Hungarian peppers and cilantro plants can take a few weeks to sprout. If you plant tomatoes, put seeds 1/4″ deep indoors, six to eight weeks before last frost, transplant into garden one to two weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 65 degrees F. As for Peppers you can plant the seeds indoors 1/4″ deep 10 to 12 weeks before last frost.

                                                     Transferring Sage plant into larger pot before Summer
Parsley need to start seeds 1/4″ deep indoors 10 to 12 weeks before last frost, transplant seedlings into garden. (Our kitchen crew can’t get enough parsley for all the pesto sauce for the popular juicy thick Rib Eye Steak Chimichurri we feature here at Saffron59).
Once you see a shoot, transfer into a pot and can be exposed outdoor once the freezing temperature disappears.
                                                                     evergreens and heather plants for outdoor
Yes, we all agree it has been dark, cold, brutal winter. Perk your environment by refreshing it and be ahead of the weather by staging hardy heather plants in your living room or entrance. A bunch of pink cherry braanches or bright colorful red camellias can even bring and transform your room into a summery mood.

So go to your local green garden center and see what a plant can boost you.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Recipe: Happy Lunar New Year: Gong Xi Fa Choi!

marla matt metropolitan L.I.C soup
Double Happiness Bowls
Growing up in Myanmar, we celebrated Chú Xī, commonly known as Lunar New Year. Along with my parents, brother and sister, I would go to the night market and shop for the New Years decorations and sweets. My parents bought new outfits for all of us, and I would help my mom to stuff the red envelopes to give away, while she prepared feasts for the start of the New Year.

This year, I thought I'd ask my friend Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge (the James Beard’s award winning author) what she and her family cook for the New Year.

According to her:
The New Year’s Eve dinner is the most important meal of the two week New Year’s celebration and of the entire year. Today many people choose to go to a restaurant because it’s more convenient but my family always gathered for dinner at home. Every family’s meal is slightly different while still being designed around meaning-laden foods.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Travel: Nicaragua: Trip to the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes

The past few weeks was just the right time to be in Central America; Nicaragua, although only the size of Colorado, has 28 volcanoes, 14 of which are active. One of the treasured destinations in Nicaragua is the Ometepe Islands where the famous twin volcanoes are located: Vulcan Concepcion and Maderas.

The weather is perfect for hiking and enjoying the peaceful scenery of the lakes and craters and of course discovering the authentic local cuisine.

Nicaragua is rich with tropical birds, howler monkeys, high pitched cicadas, pin sized frogs, and countless marvelous native species.

Papusa with cornmeal, pepper, onion with braised meat
One of the typical traditional dish of the country is papusa; a banana leaf wrapping, generally stuffed with pork or chicken with cornmeal, sliced onion and pepper,wonderfully comforting even in this snowy cold weather here in New York. 

 San Jorge Ferry Port, to Ometepe Island

Juicy Fresh Star Fruits dropped in front of our cabins