Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Forget cooking. I'm eating at a restaurant this Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving will be the first Thanksgiving that 1) I won't be with my whole family and 2) I won't be having a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner.

Instead, I will be eating at a restaurant.  Apparently, I'll be one of 15 million Americans choosing to dine out instead of cook on Turkey Day.

Now, I kinda have an excuse in that I'm not currently in the country, which makes gathering all of the supplies for a Thanksgiving meal a little tricky (Have you ever seen a whole turkey for sale in Italy?  Do you know how much sweet potatoes cost here??).

In any case, here is a list of some awesome restaurants in the South Florida region that are offering a Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 28.

Palm Beach

Cafe' Boulud, Palm Beach

Thanksgiving menu from their site:

Join us Thursday, November 28 for a family style prix fixe menu!
Parsnip and Black Walnut Velouté
spice bread crouton, barrel aged maple syrup

Roasted Beet and Endive Salad
crimson pear, candied pecan, maytag blue cheese

Venison and Foie Gras Terrine
endive marmalade, candied walnut, huckleberry coulis

Duo of Heritage Turkey
roasted breast and buttermilk poached thigh
brioche stuffing, pumpkin purée, fall vegetable gratin
pickled cranberry, turkey jus

Wild King Salmon
sunchokes, black trumpet mushrooms, brussels sprouts
sauce bordelaise

Filet Mignon
root vegetable confit, fingerling potatoes, sauce béarnaise

Traditional Pumpkin Pie
vanilla ice cream, cranberry compote

Apple Tart
caramel sauce, almond tuile, cider sorbet

Chocolate Pecan Bar
chocolate chantilly, caramelized pecans, bourbon ice cream

Carrot Cake
cream cheese mousse, gingerbread ice cream, rum soaked raisins

Top of the Point, West Palm Beach

Here's a clip of their much more extensive menu:


Johnny V Restaurant, Fort Lauderdale 

Thanksgiving Menu
Available 2pm-9pm November 28th 2013

To Begin
Roasted Acorn Squash Soup
Duck Confit, Truffle Croutons…9
 Pumpkin Seed Crusted Miticana Goat Cheese Cake
Roasted Red and Gold Beets, Wild Greens,
Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette, Caramelized Shallot Relish…11
 Wild Baby Greens Salad
Spinach, Candied Pecans, Mango Stilton,
Jicama, Roasted Pumpkin, Cranberry Vinaigrette…10
 Fresh Oyster Stew
 Caramelized Onion, Wild Mushroom, Roasted Potato, Oyster Broth…11

Holiday Entrees
All Entrees Are Served with all the Trimmings:
Whipped Yukon Mashed Potatoes, Apple Corn Bread Stuffing,
Honey & Chive Glazed Carrots and Green Bean Casserole

Slow Roasted Maple Glazed Turkey
Two Day Giblet Gravy, Cranberry Mango Chutney…26
 Garlic and Shallot Crusted Prime Rib of Beef
Natural Au Jus, Horseradish Sauce…32
 Ancho and Cinnamon Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Mango Papaya Chutney, Barbeque Demi Glace…27
 Sage and Thyme Grilled Florida Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)
Cranberry Chutney, Lobster Pan Gravy…29

Other Sides:
Candied Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Marshmallows…7
Creamed Corn…7

Roasted Pumpkin Cheesecake
Graham Cracker Crust, Triple Cream Ice Cream, Cinnamon Crisp…10
 Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan Pie
Jack Daniels Caramel Ice Cream…10
 Three Berry Crème Brulee Pot Pie
Macadamia White Chocolate Crust Almond Tuile…11
 Cranberry Apple Pie
Vanilla Ice Cream, Crème Anglaise, Caramel Sauce…11

Pastry Chef’s Selection of Holiday Sorbets…8

Capriccio's Ristorante, Pembroke Pines
Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner $29.95 per adult ($15.95 per child)
Butternut squash soup
Mashed potatoes & gravy
Candied yams
Cranberry sauce
Peas & carrots,
Apple or pumpkin pie



Caffe Abbracci, Coral Gables 

Pascal's on Ponce, Coral Gables 

Thanksgiving Dinner
Thursday, November 28th, 2013
First Course

Choice of:
Roasted Chestnut Soup, Acorn Squash Foam, Infused Oil
Truffle Boudin Blanc, Apple Chutney, Foie Gras Albufera
Celery Apple Crudite
Baby Golden and Red Beet Salade, with Heirloom Tomato
Celery Root Remoulade, Walnut Vinaigrette

Oven Roasted Turkey with Corn Bread and Sage Dressing,
Honey Glazed Sweet Potatoes, French Haricots Vert, Giblet Gravy, Cranberry Relish


Choice of:
Classic Pumpkin Pie, Orange Pecan Caramel and Chantilly
Black Forest Chocolate Mousse, Griotte Cherry,
Meringue and Bittersweet Chocolate

Price: 65.95 per person Tax and Tip not included
$35.95 for children under 12 years old

Friday, November 22, 2013

When The Cold Air Bites At Your Feet

Temperatures have been pretty low here in Florence.

As a native Floridian, I find Italian winter to be a very scary thing.  Snow.  Ice.  No sunshine for weeks.  Everyone turns into vampires.

Okay.  Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.  Not everyone will turn into vampires.

But seriously.  Can we talk about how I can cope with the cold?

The first thing that comes to my mind:  food.

If there's one thing that can instantly warm you up (besides stepping on hot coals), it's food.

This kitchen is just asking to be cooked in.  It's from an apartment of ours in Tampa. 

It's saying, "Please make a delicious concoction on my stove top.  Please bake in my oven!"  Maybe.  We're not fluent in kitchen, so it's just a guess.

A recipe involving pasta always sounds good when it's cold out. Warm pasta and cheese. Can't go wrong.


Another good one?  Roast chicken.


And last, but certainly not least, a hot pot of soup can quite effectively warm the soul and the belly simultaneously.  Enter:  Ham and Potato Soup.



Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Giving Season

Someone, somewhere, can always use your help. 

Remember that saying about your trash being someone else's treasure?  Well, it's true, mostly (you can keep your broken printer and your 1980's VCR...).

We believe in helping others in any way we can, which is why we donate all of our used housewares to a non-profit soup kitchen in Melbourne Beach, FL. 

The Daily Bread Inc. is a not-for-profit soup kitchen that feeds, on average, 250 people a day during their lunchtime meal service.  Impressive?  They don't just stop there.

The Daily Bread also provides the needy with hot showers, basic toiletries, a mail stop and clothing.  Additionally, partnering organizations come here to provide such services as HIV/AIDS testing, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, health care, food stamps assistance and help with Veteran's issues.  

So much good is coming from this one place.
This isn't the first time North Star Corporate Housing has made a donation to the Daily Bread, and it certainly won't be the last. 

The seemingly smallest and unimpressive things may seem valuable and cherished by others.  Dishes, bed sheets, old silverware.  It can all be used again.  Given a new life.  A second chance.

As we enter this sure-to-be-amazing holiday season, we ask that you please keep the less fortunate in mind and do as much (even if it is just a little) as you can to help, whether that's making a donation or simply volunteering some of your time.

North Star Corporate Housing

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's Better By The Beach

Just because temporary housing is just that--temporary--we don't see a reason to sacrifice beauty and comfort.  We think people should experience all the beauty a place has to offer while feeling at home.

Almost all of our apartments in Florida (Melbourne Beach, Hollywood Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach) are by the beach.

Honestly, we think life is just better by the beach.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Things I Cannot Live Without When Traveling

I like to make things easier on myself.

No running around and feeling stressed or uncomfortable for no good reason.

That's why I have certain items I don't leave home without, especially when going on a trip.

1.  Camelbak 1 Liter water bottle This thing is indestructible and really convenient.  The bite valve is way better than the screw-on top.  So handy in airports and in the car when you either don't have access to water, or it costs a fortune to buy some.  Plus, reusable is almost always better than disposable in our books.

2.  Earplugs.  Because you never know when there will be a crying baby (that's not yours) next to you, or a street sweeper outside your door at 4 a.m.  I like these silicone ones because they stay put.  They're not for everyone, though.  If you're apprehensive about sticking gooey things in your ears, then avoid these.  If you're trying to get some peace and quiet, these are for you.  Another alternative is wax earplugs.  They're pretty good.  Just make sure you don't push them in too far.  There is such a thing as "past the point of no return" with earplugs...

3.  Smartwool Socks.  Pricey?  Yes.  Worth it?  Totally.  I love my Smartwools.  I have several pairs for several occasions:  everyday use, running, cycling, hiking.  The reasons they're so fantastic:  they're soft, they're cushioned, they dry quickly, they keep your tootsies warm, and they LAST.  Plus, who doesn't like quirky striped socks?  :)

4.  Nice sunglasses.   This is assuming that you don't lose your sunglasses as often as you lose hair ties or loose change (I'm looking at you, Dad).  Quality sunglasses will protect your precious eyeballs when it's sunny, when you're hungover, or when staring at an eclipse (ok, maybe not that last one). 

Once again, these are expensive, but worth it.  I prefer polarized brown lenses.  Makes colors really pop and you can see for milezzzz.  Also, glass lenses are far superior in clarity AND way more scratch-resistant than plastic lenses.  Take my word for it. 
5.  Good snacks.  You never know when you'll be stuck out in the dessert when your tank runs out of gas, or, you know, when you just want a small bite when traveling in civilization.  We love a good LARABAR or a ripe Fairtrade banana.

You tell us:  What things do you need when you travel?

Monday, October 14, 2013

No more rugs.

Yesterday was cleaning day in our house.  My chores included washing dishes, cleaning bicycles, and beating rugs.

The first two were easy.  Just soap up and scrub.

The last one left me dirty and out of breath. 

Thank you, Ged, for sneakily taking this picture of me. 

You see, we have a few rugs in our house. Our place is mostly stone floor, which can get very cold, especially in winter. Rugs add warmth and a certain softness that stone floors just don't have (for obvious reasons).

I didn't mind the rugs until I took them outside yesterday to give them a good beating with our broom and saw just how much filth they had collected over a couple of months.  They're like sponges for dirt and any other crud you bring into your house!

What I managed to extract from our rugs was, well, gross.  Clumps of my hair, pebbles that our shoes had brought in, pieces of food, and lots and lots of dust.

From that point on, I declared no more rugs in our house. 

They are safely tucked away behind our couch (we have a small place).   I'd much rather sweep and mop a stone floor and deal with cold feet than clean those rugs.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Yoga by Yourself

We travel a lot.  My boyfriend and I go from Italy to England to the U.S. every few months or so.

That can make practicing yoga at a studio a bit difficult.  There's not always a studio to be had--ie. rural Northwest England...

I've gotten used to setting up my mat in our living room in Italy or in my in-laws' computer room in the North of England and cranking the up volume on the iPad for a podcast.

So whether you're at home or on-the-go, here are some tips for practicing on your lonesome.

1.  Buy a thin mat.  No, it won't be as cushy, but it makes it so much easier to travel with and clean.  I've packed my Gaiam mat in my suitcase so many times without a problem.  Just fold it up!

And when you're home, you can clean the mat quite easily by leaving it to soak in a bathtub of water overnight.  In the morning, you get to see all that beautiful cloudy water that was once the filth on your mat!

When I started yoga in 2010, the first yoga mat I ever bought was a cheap Gaiam mat from Target.  I'm still using this mat today!

Gaiam Tree of Wisdom mat  $22

Here are other mats that are light and have good reputations:

Manduka PROlite  $78

Lululemon The Un Mat  $48

2.  Choose the right podcast.  I haven't tried a boatload of podcasts because I know what I like.  I practice more dynamic-type yoga (Baptiste Power, Vinyasa, Ashtanga), so my podcast recommendations are going to be for those who have experience in those styles. 

I've been lucky enough to find podcasts I like from the very beginning.  Here they are:

Dave Farmar
Pros:  Great free podcasts from classes he has taught throughout the world.  He will make you hold Utkatasana (chair pose) for a looong time! 
Cons:  He can be a bit talkative sometimes and he makes corny jokes, but he's a good teacher and has fun classes.  He's not for everyone. 

Kinndli McCollum
Pros:  Free podcasts with good flow.  Canadian accent (cracks me up every time!).
Cons:  Can also be a bit talkative at times.

Yoga to the People 
Pros:  Free podcast.  Every one is taught by different teacher.
Con:  Some classes are a little slow for me.  Some teachers have slightly annoying voices/tendencies.

3.  Find a good surface.  I know you can't always find a nice wooden floor to practice on, but I've found that there are certain surfaces to avoid. 

Carpet is terrible.  I always end up bunching up my mat during sun salutations or warrior sequences.

Stone floors can be a bit uneven (as is the one in our apartment in Italy).  Try to find the most level spot.  I found this out when trying to balance in Bakasana (crow pose) and was tilting to one side. 

Now go and practice!
And if I've left anything out, please feel free to comment.