How to put a Tropical St. Martin Twist on a Classic Holiday Cocktail with Guavaberry Liqueur

Cocktail connoisseurs will be familiar with the sweet and bubbly Kir Royale, made using Crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and Champagne. The Caribbean paradise of St. Martin is famous for its own rendition of the drink, a tropical concoction especially beloved on the Champagne-loving French side of the island. This legendary folk drink inherits the sweet, spicy, and tart notes of the guavaberry liqueur that replaces the cassis to realize a truly unique flavor.






While visiting St. Martin to taste it would be ideal, the following recipe can help you have a little bit of St. Martin at home this holiday. 

Guavaberry Kir
  • 1oz Guavaberry Liqueur
  • 5oz Champagne
Pour chilled Guavaberry Liqueur into a frozen champagne glass.
Top with chilled champagne
Dress with a small curl of orange skin

Get to know guava berries and guavaberry liqueur.

First brewed centuries ago in the homes of the locals as a celebratory beverage in honor of good times spent with close loved ones, family, and friends, Guavaberry Liqueur is now a cherished symbol of times passed and old tradition.

The Liqueur is made using aged oak rum, cane sugar, and rare, wild, St. Martin guava berries; which grow in the highlands. The flavor profile of Guavaberry Liqueur is woody, fruity, and spicy with bitter yet sweet compliments.

Though guavaberry trees can be found on other islands across the Caribbean and even in further regions such as the Philippines and Hawaii, it is thought that St. Martin maintains the largest population in the world. An interesting plant that can vary in its growth, from being either tall and thin to short and fuller-bodied, produces green and blackberries; the blackberries are used to make the Liqueur.

The berries have historically been used to create jams, tarts, and fresh juices. In recent times, the commercial production of Guavaberry Liqueur has seen a resurgence in the berry’s usage which for a period was only being consumed by the island’s native birds.

Guavaberry is an integral and distinguishing symbol of St. Martin's culture, heritage, tradition and is a pivotal point of pride for its people. Previously on the island, Guavaberry Liqueur was known as the drink of Christmas and was an essential part of the festivities. Locals would go from house to house singing ‘Good morning, I came for my Guavaberry’. With the countdown to the holidays just days away, there’s no better time to try a Guavaberry Kir and infuse a taste of the tropics into your festive fun.



champagne cocktail








Cupola House Wassail Recipe from Edenton, NC

 

An Image of wassail in silver punch bowl and historic cupola house in Edenton, NC


Cupola House Wassail Recipe

1-gallon apple cider
2 (12 ounce) cans frozen lemonade
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1/3 teaspoon ground allspice
4 sticks cinnamon
5 dried apple rings
1/2 orange, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 quart of white wine

Mix the first five ingredients in a large pot. Heat to boiling and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Place fruit in the bottom of the punch bowl. Add wine. Pour cider mixture over fruit and wine. Serve. 



Historic Cupola House decorated for the holidays


I've had the pleasure of working with Visit Edenton this December promoting it as a  #CountonMeNC travel-friendly destination in 2021. As North Carolina's first colonial capital, this charming town has been making holiday wassail for over 250 years.  The Cupola House, one of the oldest British buildings in the United States, is known for its gardens and wassail. Cupola House Wassail is always served along with delightful cookies when the home is open yearly to the public for the Edenton's Candlelight Tour. 



The Georgian-style home was built-in 1758 for Frances Corbin, an agent for Lord Granville, one of the original eight proprietors, given land by the British crown in the Carolinas. By 1918, the home was in disarray, and a group of Edenton volunteers banned together under the name of The Cupola House Association, purchased the home to preserve it. 



Before becoming the museum it is today, the house was the Chowan County library for forty-five years. In 1971, the house was designated as a Registered Historic National Landmark. 

Lady serving wassail at Cupola House in Edenton, NC


Edenton's Cupola House has seen many ships come and go in the Albemarle Sounds. The house is available for tour on one of the town's historic walking tours.  The gardens are open to the public daily.

 

The Cupola House Wassail Recipe is printed in Recipes From St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Edenton, NC. A cookbook printed in 1995 that I found in my mother-in-law's storage unit. I brought it back to life in 2002 and have enjoyed many recipes from this collection. It's probably one of my most favorite North Carolina cookbooks. 


Two glass-mugs filled with hot wassail


Learn more about this historic North Carolina town to plan your delightful distancing getaway  to Edenton, NC 


Want to pair your wassail with a savory cookie?  You may like these Savoury Cheddar Cookies from Epicure. It's a twist on a Southern Cheese Straw.  Edenton's cookbook recommends cheddar puffs. The recipe ingredients are about the same, but in this NC version, you bake into small balls at 400 for twelve minutes. 

Photo Savoury Cheddar Cookies by Epicure. Little Round baked cheese cookies




What Happens When You Don't Trust Your At-Home COVID Test Results?

Unless you live in a big sanitary bubble, there is a good chance that you have had to take a COVID test at some point since 2020. 


Jobs require them after travel. Schools require them after a day of illness.  And these institutions don't want any test result; they only want to see the negative results of a PCR test. So these tests are like the god of all tests and are the most accurate for detecting COVID. 


I have driven my car into the Kidd Road parking lot at a Wake County testing site for PCR testing more times than I can count.  In some weeks, I've gone two days in a row with a different child in tow. I seriously wonder if they know my car by now. I mean, I am pretty memorable. 





During one of my testing days, two young test workers were moving a box of tests, and a sample was dropped.  I anxiously put down my car window and yelled through my mask, "You lost a test!"  And just like that, I helped a random person know if they were positive or negative for Covid.  It truly does take everyone to make sure we are all safe during these COVID times. 


Another time my daughter dropped her test tube in the crack beside the passenger seat. I had to get out of the car and run around to the other side of the car to help recover the dropped test tube. It was a good long process because it was stuck under the passenger seat. The point of drive-thru testing is to stay in your car. See, I am memorable at these testing sites. 


Another hip-hip-hooray for the Kidd Road Covid testing location in Raleigh is that it is reliable. Usually, by 10 pm the same day I tested, I get a text that my results are ready to be viewed. And just like that, I have an answer to my question and I go about my normal routine. 


But what happens when this great testing site is closed, or you can't get an appointment for a test? Then what? 


This is the story of my COVID testing gone crazy. 


As the holidays ramp up and the new variant Omicron soars in the atmosphere, at-home COVID tests are flying off the shelves just like the most wanted toy of the year. 


Last week, I had exposure to COVID after traveling. I took two PCR tests after learning about the exposure.  I had cold symptoms plus a cough. Both tests were negative, but since I've been around the block a few times on this COVID testing, I knew the best day to test was on Day 5 after exposure. 


I drove around to four pharmacies over the weekend trying to find an at-home Covid test. Finally, on my 5th pharmacy trip, I hit the jackpot. I bought two tests because just like toilet paper, one roll is not enough. 


On Day 5, I unboxed my test on my kitchen table.  And just like that, the results were in front of me and I had no idea of what they were telling me.  I got my reading glasses out, and I still could not see what the test was trying to tell me.  Is there a line?  Yes, there is a line.  No, there is not a line. Yes! No! Yes! No! . What the hell? This tells me nothing.  I send it to seven women over text.   They all say, "I think that is positive?"  They say, "You have Covid!"





I mask up in my home and separate from my family. I declare I want a PCR as soon as I can.  I did a home test the following day with that second test I bought.  I sent that test to the same group of women, and it is unanimous.  






That test looked negative. I even added two more individuals for a new set of eyes, which they confirmed negative, too.  I am being told positive one day. Negative the next. Is this the new normal?  My good friend who works in infection prevention advises me to treat myself as a positive COVID case. 


I search for a PCR testing site. My Kidd Road testing location was booked. My husband, who had to sleep on a cot in a playroom, yelled at me for not making the appointment the day before when I knew I needed an appointment. So I went into Covid testing overdrive. 


In one day, I drove around Wake County trying to prove I was, in fact, negative for COVID and could celebrate the holidays and my 53rd birthday not in quarantine.  First, I went to Cary to a different lab.  My rapid at that location said negative.  I also did a PCR there, but on the wall, it said that the PCR results could take up to 36 hours.  I then drove to an Apex location, but as soon as I scanned the QR code for testing, it told me that the testing was done by the same lab I had just left in Cary. Damnit!!! That result may not be ready today either. 


I then drove from Apex to the town of Zebulon. The Zebulon location is the same testing as my Kidd Road location. As soon as I made the 25-mile drive and pulled up to the testing site,  I felt the relief of familiarity. 


Wake County has done a fabulous job of putting testing information together for us, however, when I wrote this post the site crashed.  Appointments can also be made by calling  1-888-675-4567.


By 10 pm on the same night of all my testing, the Zebulon lab texted me my results. At 11:30 pm, the Cary lab emailed my results.  Both results were the same. 







It's reasonably clear that I am not spreading COVID around Raleigh, but there is still this mystery surrounding Day 5's at-home test.  


Health experts say it could be a false positive, but in fully-vaccinated individuals, it could be a transient positive, and you can get rid of the virus much more quickly than someone not vaccinated.  But, the rule of thumb is that if you get sicker after a negative  COVID,  see a doctor.  Your symptoms could be the lingering effects of COVID.


I wish you all a safe and healthy "not-detected" holiday!








The Practical Gift Guide for People Who Say They Don't Need Anything!


The Practical Gift Guide for People Who Say They Don't Need Anything!

You know those people who say, "I don't need anything!"   We all know them.   And, quite honestly, they are probably right.  These people have accumulated a lot of things over the years, and they probably do not need a thing, but that doesn't mean they don't have wants. So, after testing some culinary products gifted to me and hours of mulling over the internet, I've put together a stellar gift guide that can be used for neighbors, dog walkers, teachers, and of course, that person who has everything.  These gifts could stand alone, or you could add two products together to create a theme. 


Top Row Left:  All She Wrote Notes-Mary Square One Thing Everyday Ceramic Mug sold online and in-person at Little Details Boutique, a local boutique located in Garner, NC.  All She Wrote Notes is an NC business founded by Maghon Taylor, who sparked her love for calligraphy into a great business. Mary Square is also an NC-based lifestyle company located in Apex, NC. 


Top Row Middle: Dark and Dreamy Hot Chocolate Mix.  People of all ages love hot chocolate, and this hot chocolate mix can be for anyone on your list. This silver-decorated holiday tin can be made with water, milk, or a non-dairy alternative. The hot chocolate mix is made without sodium or hydrogenated fats and is gluten-free. Each tin makes 11 cups. It's only 60 calories per serving. The mixture would go great with the mug above, as well as a more significant gift. 

Cup of Dark and Dreamy Epicure Hot Cocoa with Peppermint


Top Row Right: Zip and Go Reusable Snack Bags in Three Sizes  This gift screams practical and eco-friendly. These bags are great for snacks on the go, lunch boxes, or storing leftovers. Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.  If you wanted, you could Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn made in Asheville, NC with it. This stuff is fantastic. It comes in lots of different flavors. 


Eco-Friendly Resusable Snack Bags in Three Sizes by Epicure
Popcorn made in Asheville, NC by Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn




Middle Row Left:  Carolina Brewery Sauces.  Carolina Brewery in Hillsborough, NC, is known for great beer, but they also make some darn good sauces. I am a big fan of the Sriracha Steak Sauce and its Eastern BBQ Sauce. The Sriracha Steak  Sauce is addicting, and I've started putting it on everything and in soups.  I love it.  

Carolina Brewery Sriracha Steak Sauce and Carolina Brewery Amber Ale


Middle Row Middle: Guacamole Dip Mix Seasoning by Epicure. This is one of my absolute favorite seasoning mixes. I've been using it for about a year, and it makes delicious guacamole. I also season eggs, veggies, cottage cheese, and tomatoes with it.  At under $10, it is an excellent gift for anyone who will love it if they like guacamole.  Pair it with an appetizer bowl for a more significant gift.  This gluten-free dip mix is all-natural and good for you. 


Guacamole in a white bowl. Seasoning by Epicure



Middle Row Right: Poco Picante Salsa Mix by Epicure.  We all know chips and salsa make a great meal, and this salsa can be on your table in fifteen minutes.  All you need is this seasoning, a can of tomatoes, and a splash of lime.  This salsa mix can also be used in tops of recipes. 


chips, salsa and guacamole. Mixes by Epicure



Bottom Row Left: Villeroy and Boch New Wave Square Dip Bowl.  Who says a bowl has to be round? My own personal china is Villeroy and Boch, and I love these square new wave dip bowls, priced at just $12 each.  They are classic but yet modern. Pair it with any dip seasoning mix for a great gift. 


dips in Villeroy and Boch china


Bottom Row Middle: Mulling Spices by Epicure Nothing says happy holidays like mulling spices. These mulling spices work with apple juice, wine, or cranberry juice.  It's a taste of the holidays with aromatic cloves, star anise, and real orange peel.  North Carolina is known for its Moravian bakery in Winston-Salem.  Pair these mulling spices with some Dewey's Moravian-style cookies for an authentic holiday gift. 


Mulled Apple Cider and Moravian Cookies. Seasoning by Epicure


Morvavian cookies from NC


Bottom Row Right:  Mountain Chai Tea from Asheville Tea Company.  From farm to teacup, this is one of the best tea blends I've tasted.  If you have a tea lover in your life, then you will love Asheville Tea Company Tea.  You can't go wrong with any blend. 


Blends of Tea from Asheville Tea Company


This year, the Mountain Chai blend is a new blend, and honestly, it is heaven in a cup. I drink this tea with a little bit of honey and milk. 

Mountain Chai Tea Blend from Asheville Tea Company with clear pot with loose tea leaves




Roasted Garlic and Anchovies Make NC Chef's Teddy Diggs Fall Radicchio Salad Recipe a Winner

When North Carolina Chef Teddy Diggs, owner of Coronato Pizza in Carrboro, gave me his recipe for radicchio salad with his homemade caesar salad to make at home, I had no idea that I would become such a big fan of anchovies.

Anchovies are the fish that make most people go, "Ewww!" But, the little fish has some big health benefits. In fact, I was not even sure if I had eaten anchovies before buying them for this recipe.

Radicchio Salad with Anchovy and Roasted Garlic Dressing


Chef Diggs, whose accolades go from cooking at the White House to studying under Chefs in Italy to working in high-end hotels, has brought Roman-style pizza to the South. He doesn't serve pizza with anchovies on the menu, but his fall salad, dressed with roasted garlic and anchovy dressing, will make you an anchovy lover, too. I promise.

Chef Teddy Diggs of Coronoto Pizza

When I made the salad, I used romaine lettuce because I could not find radicchio in August. Chef Diggs told me that romaine or even tender kale would be good home substitutes because, for the home chef,  radicchio is not always in your grocery store. In addition, the bitterness of the lettuce complements the saltiness and boldness of the anchovies and roasted garlic in the dressing.

Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Make an Italian Caesar Dressing. This salad is with romaine lettuce


Roasting the garlic is also key to giving this salad dressing recipe with anchovies another dimension of flavor. He told me that many Caesar dressings use garlic, but it's typically fresh garlic cloves. He believes roasting the garlic enhances the flavor of this homemade caesar dressing even more.

Chef Diggs likes to use anchovies from Italy's Amalfi Coast packed in oil. You can use salted anchovies, but they will need to be rinsed for about twenty minutes before blending them into the dressing. I went to Whole Foods Prime to buy my anchovies. I could not find any from Italy, so I put some from Spain in my cart, but in the end, when they arrived at home, my anchovies were substituted for Reese flat fillets of anchovies imported from Morocco. They worked, and I loved the dressing. Chef Diggs recommends the Delfino brand.

anchovy fillets by Reese

Delfino Anchovy fillets from Amalfi Coast


This salad serves four, but I have to admit to you that I ate the entire salad for lunch. It was that good. I want to make it again with the radicchio for fall, or better yet, maybe I should just go to Carrboro to Coronato Pizza instead.

radicchio salad with delfino anchovy fillets


Coronato Pizza's Fall Radicchio Salad with Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Dressing (The Better Caesar Dressing)


Ingredients:
● 2 head of roasted garlic
● 6 filet oil-packed anchovy or 4 salted anchovies rinsed and soaked in water
● 1/8 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnishing
● 1 egg yolks
● 1 1⁄2 cup blended oil (80 % olive oil/ 20% canola oil)
● 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
● 2 tablespoons lemon juice
● 1⁄4 cup water
● Kosher salt as needed
● 12 to 14 ounces radicchio (5 red-leaf endives, 3 long Treviso or 1 large round radicchio di Chioggia, or a
mixture), cored and cut in 1/2-inch-wide slivers, washed and dried
● Extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, and 1⁄2 lemon as needed for dressing the salad
Note: I substituted Romaine for Radicchio. Tender Kate is also a substitute.

Directions:
For the dressing:
Combine all roasted garlic cloves, anchovies, Parmigiano cheese, egg yolk, vinegar, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth. While the food processor is running, drizzle in the oil. The mixture will begin to emulsify and thicken. Use the water to adjust the consistency of the dressing as desired. Season with salt. Reserve the dressing until use.

For the salad:
Place the cleaned radicchio in a mixing bowl and spoon about a 1⁄2 cup of the dressing over the lettuce. Crack fresh black pepper over the bowl, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half of a lemon, or about 2 tablespoons. Mix ingredients together thoroughly.
Plate the dressed salad evenly between 5 plates and finish with finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.





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