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Blog

Filtering by Tag: Travel

Crouching Tiger Hidden Liquor

Suzanne Pollak

Dean Pollak went to China this weekend. Well, not really, but as close as a person can get to Shanghai without leaving mainland US. She was an attendee at a Chinese banquet in New York’s Chinatown at the Golden Unicorn Restaurant.

Dean Pollak was stunned at the differences, and yet soothed by the similarities, of a large gathering of a totally different culture.

Let’s start with the most salient differences.

There was no bar at all. Each table had a bottle of red and white wine, bottles of Coke and a pot of tea. Only the tea and soda were opened during...not the cocktail hour. The Deans will call the hour and a half before the food was served the "meet and greet."  From 5:30pm to 7:00pm guests mingled with one another without alcohol, and here the Dean’s have been preaching all along the bar must be the first thing people see. Evidently not. In this case a bar was not necessary. 

Husbands and wives were seated next to each other. A total departure from what the Deans espouse.

No elaborate floral centerpiece, the food was the star. The center of the table was alternately platters of food or stacked with the just used dishes.

The Chinese New Year puts our Thanksgiving to shame. The courses, all twelve of them, had multiple components, each different colors and textures, so that the banquet was not just twelve different dishes, but came closer to fifty.

The overarching similarity is the sense of family and conviviality that a multi generational party hosted by a nonagenarian patriarch provides.

Just like many parties we’ve been to ‘here’ there was a dance floor and a live band, and people really got up and danced. Getting your boogie on was a necessary bit of salubrious movement to help make room for the next course.

Dean Pollak thoroughly enjoyed her trip to the Far East, and was honored to be invited. Dean Manigault was not able to enjoy her Saturday night just thinking of the Chinese New Year's Feast she was missing. 

101 Guests

Suzanne Pollak

Perusing the Sunday New York Times Travel Section, Dean Pollak was stopped in her tracks. She has frequently espoused that a dining room table tells you exactly how many guests it wants.

The wonder of the restored dining room in the palace, Falaknuma in Hyderabad, India, is the table that seats 101 people.  It is the longest dining room table in the world. Dean Pollak thinks that if she rearrange a few things it will fit nicely in her dining room. No more trimming the guest list! 

 

The world's longest dining table - Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, India

The world's longest dining table - Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, India

News Flash: The Deans Have Learned Something New

Suzanne Pollak

Guess what the latest tenet learned by Dean Pollak in New York City was just this last week? It has upended everything we thought we knew at the Academy. If we were not rock solid on this science, then every skillet in our cupboard should be shaking about what other enormous unknown lacunae lurk in our supposed breathe of knowledge. It's almost too much for us to take in.

While procuring a bottle of bourbon for a dinner gift (the hosts already own two copies of our book, one from each of us) the omniscient sales clerk decreed that rye is the liquor of choice for Old Fashioneds. Rye has spice top notes, whereas bourbon's are sweet, so rye actually contrasts with the sugar and the orange bitters better. Dean Pollak has ferried this late breaking newsflash back to Charleston and the Deans plan on dedicating December to extensive tastings to verify the veracity of this pronouncement. 

Rye Cocktail

Serves 1

2 ounces of rye whiskey

1/2 teaspoon Demerara sugar

2 dashes of Angostura

2 dashes of Orange Bitters

Pour over large ice cubes. Makes one cocktail.

A Manners Morass

Suzanne Pollak

Naturally the minute the Deans arrive in any city the invitations start flying in. This very excitement brings the Deans to our trickiest dilemma. What to do when you’ve accepted one invite and something better comes along shortly afterwards? Temptation looms. You can already picture yourself at the second event having the time of your life. Why did you even accept the first? You never wanted to go, and never will. Well, bad news. The reason you are so upset is that you know the answer. You must press on with your first acceptance. You have been invited to so many jump ups in the first place because of your charm and tact. By ‘best offer-ing’ at the last minute you fool no one and even if you could, your Facebook’s GPS tells all your friends where you are anyway. 

Learn more etiquette advice from our book The Charleston Academy

Blowout for Bethesda Boys

Suzanne Pollak

Wednesday morning both Deans were up bright and early so we could get to our presentation for the Bethesda Arch Series in Savannah, Georgia. We thought the ladies had been ambitious ordering 400 books for us to sign, but it turns out the ladies of the Woman's Board were spot on. Both Deans’ signing hands began to spasm uncontrollably as they neared the 400 mark, but we were thrilled to sacrifice our grip for such a worthy cause.

The audience sat rapt with attention and was one of our favorite audiences of all time. After the speech we retired to the anteroom and were presented with the recipes from our very own book!


From 1740 to present day, Bethesda Academy is the oldest child caring institution in the country.

From 1740 to present day, Bethesda Academy is the oldest child caring institution in the country.

From its earliest days as an orphanage in 1740 for 61 children in Georgia, Bethesda Academy has evolved into a successful middle and high school serving a diverse student population. With an emphasis on integrated learning and spiritual development, Bethesda Academy offers a wide range of educational opportunities for students with various learning styles.

The Deans love that!

Monticello's Heritage Harvest Festival

Suzanne Pollak

The Deans are giddy after our talk at Monticello. We simply had the best time ever. We cannot encourage you more heartily to attend the Heritage Harvest Festival in 2015. We already have next year's event on our calendar.

Monticello invited the Deans to kick off their Art of Living portion of the weekend. We were put up in the most sumptuous guesthouse we have ever seen on a farm in Keswick. On Friday morning we took a walk to get our blood flowing and then on to Monticello for a Behind the Scenes Tour (all four floors) with the most competent tour guide who has ever led us around. The house spoke to us and we listened. Thomas Jefferson is THE founding father of gracious living.

Monticello's Dining Room    Image credit: Thomas Jefferson Foundation/Sequoia Designs   Copyright © Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.

Monticello's Dining Room 

Image credit: Thomas Jefferson Foundation/Sequoia Designs
Copyright © Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.

Friday night's Heritage Harvest dinner was sublime; atop Monalto was a glorious food tent filled with the best wines, ciders and foods that Virginia has to offer. Thomas Jefferson was passionate about vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation and sustainable agriculture...a full two centuries ahead of his time!  Aaron Keefer, the head gardener for the famed French Laundry, was the keynote speaker Friday night and the Deans were enthralled.  He led the audience around his garden and even brought samples including a spinach that tasted EXACTLY like an oyster.  Both Deans wanted to put him in a doggy bag and take him home. 

Saturday saw us on a panel with Charlotte Moss moderating, and Annie Vanderwarker (Fearless Flowers), Holly Shimizu (former director of the US Botanic Gardens) and Gabriele Rausse (Monticello's Director of Gardens and Grounds) and the Deans, all answering questions about The Art of Living. After posing for copious photographs, we were whisked away to deliver our own standing room only talk. We left the Visitor’s Center to sign books on the lawn of Monticello, then were in a short video interview and on to an unbelievable dinner at Red Pump. We are tired just reading about it. How we did it we’ll never know, but boy, it was fabulous. Thank you, thank you Monticello.

 

Fun facts we learned this weekend:

  • Jefferson kept 33 chairs in Monticello's front hall so anyone who wished could wait to see the great man himself.
  • Jefferson was so egalitarian that even in his own house, as well as the White House, seating was first come first serve.
  • There is no central staircase at Monticello because Jefferson thought it was a waste of precious space and heat. The Deans would follow President Jefferson anywhere, but we are not sure he was 100% on this point:-)
  • He made sure his granddaughters were educated because he told them they had a one in fourteen chance of marrying a blockhead.
  • The fact that resonated most with the Deans: Thomas Jefferson used his dining room twice a day! How many times have you used yours in the last year?

 


The Monticello dining room has seen many fabulous meals in its day.  In the book Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste & Abundance, we have found an authentic recipe from Monticello using Mutton Chops which today can be substituted for lamb. 

MUTTON CHOPS

Serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS

8 mutton or lamb rib chops (at least 3/4 to 1 inch thick)

Salt

Whole black pepper in a pepper mill

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup Mushroom Catsup (can be found by some specialty condiment companies)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish

 

1.  Prepare a grill with hardwood coals.  When the coals have burned to a medium-hot fire, rub the grill rack with a cloth dipped in lard or bacon drippings and position it about 4 to 6 inches above the coals.

2.  Season the chops with salt and several grindings of pepper and grill them, turning once, until cooked to the doneness of choice, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare.  Remove them to a warm platter and set aside to keep warm.

3.  Bring the water to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Add the Mushroom Catsup, additional salt if needed, and simmer for about 1 minute more.  Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter, and pour it over the chops.  Sprinkle a little horseradish over them, and spoon the remaining horseradish around the edges of the platter.

NOTE: Readers who are not concerned with authenticity or who are unable to grill-broil may use the oven broiler.  Position a rack about 6 inches below the broiler and preheat for 20 minutes.  Rub the broiling pan rack with lard or drippings and lay the chops on it.  Lightly brush them with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.  Broil, turning once, until done to taste, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare.

 

This Weeks NYT Food Section

Suzanne Pollak

Alaska

Dean Pollak's favorite restaurant of 2014 is the Saltry, on a tiny slip of an island, Halibut Cove, (population 30) off Homer, Alaska. She's been wondering how to get herself back to the coolest spot on the most western tip of the United States to relive an extraordinary July day feasting, boating, and hanging out with the Hotes Foundation gang. Today's NYTimes Dining Section came close to the rescue with a lovely profile of Saltry and its owner, Marian Beck. The Times photos capture the spirit of the restaurant, sitting on stilts overhanging Halibut Cove.

Maybe because Marian Beck grew up on Halibut Cove, she had to learn how to do EVERYTHING. Cook, bake bread and pies, grow vegetables and flowers, preserve moose plus berries, catch salmon, halibut and cod, paint, fillet fish (I watched her fillet a giant salmon with the ease that I chop cabbage), greet customers and make the world's most extraordinary chocolate cheesecake. So Academy fans won't feel left out, we've copied Marian's cheesecake recipe below, from her fabulous cookbook, Salmon Patties & Rosehip Pie

 

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Serves 24

A Saltry Classic; Saltry Restaurant, Halibut Cove, Alaska

INGREDIENTS

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1/4 cup butter, melted

3 pounds cream cheese, softened 

6 eggs

2 cups sour cream

1 pound high-quality semisweet chocolate (Marian Beck: top quality European chocolate)

 

1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

2.  Prepare a 12-inch springform pan by cutting baking paper in a circle to fit the bottom.  Mix graham crackers, 1/2 cup sugar, and butter together and press against the bottom and sides of pan, keeping the top edge uniform so it will be attractive when sliced.

3.  Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.  Add eggs, 2 at a time, and sour cream, mixing all the while.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, and when it's completely melted and silky in texture, add it slowly to the cream cheese mixture, beating constantly.  Pour into the pan and bake for about 1 1/2 hours.  Watch it carefully; you don't want it to crack or the edges to puff up too much. 

4.  Serve with a drizzle of chocolate and whipped cream.

WWJD

Suzanne Pollak

What would Jefferson do?  The Deans are packing up to go to Monticello for the Fall Festival Harvest this weekend to ask him ourselves. We couldn’t be more excited.

Thomas Jefferson's ethos is the plinth atop on which the Academy perches. What the Deans espouse, Thomas Jefferson taught us: a house is the ultimate tool for living. Remarkably, both Deans live in 18th century houses, so we have loved poring over Thomas Jefferson’s style of household management and find much that we can incorporate today and much to ponder. One question that we simply can’t get out of our heads is where did Sally Hemings sleep? Did he bring a French chef back to the United States? What questions do you want answered? Let us know and we will ferret out the answers anon.

Left: Exterior home of Lee Manigault                                                                           Right: Interior home of Suzanne Pollak

Left: Exterior home of Lee Manigault                                                                           Right: Interior home of Suzanne Pollak

Being ever hungry Deans, we plan to stop at least half a dozen places to eat on our drive up 95. Please let us know if there is a gem we might miss. The first night we are there, we are sampling some of Richmond's delights.  Rappahannock we hear is fab, as well as a jewel called Mamma Zu.  Perhaps a night in the historic Jefferson hotel to get us in the mood? We are booked for a behind the scenes tour of Monticello on Friday and we are tickled pink.  We plan to sit in the lotus position being carried room to room so we can absorb as many vibes from TJ himself as we can.  We just know he has been dying to share his secrets with us personally, so we can spread his message, just like the seeds he so loved to scatter.  Saturday finds us speaking from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. and on a panel with Charlotte Moss, Annie Vanderwarker, Holly Shimizu, and Gabriele Rausse. Heady company indeed. 

Get tickets here to join us at the festival where we will talk about Living Like Thomas Jefferson: 18th Century Living in a 21st Century World.

Monticello's West Front and pond

Monticello's West Front and pond

The Deans Globe Trot

Suzanne Pollak

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July 1.

Dear Diary, 

Since we are packing to go on our Alaskan holiday, and bundling our sweaters, long pants and hiking boots in suitcases, we Deans can't but notice our thoughts are drifting to the Caribbean. Who did we think we were when we planned this vacation? We are warm weather mermaids, not snow bunnies. Oh, what to do?

First thing on our to do list is to make a big strong drink. Eureka! It just dawned on us! Nothing says warm weather like a Pina Colada (unless it's Chicken Cane Garden from our book.) As we finish packing, we find our taste buds totally tricked and we imagine the plane is flying south instead of north. Check back next week to see what we drink when we get to Alaska. 

Thanks Diary! You are always such a big help. 


PINA COLADA Deans' Style 

INGREDIENTS

2-3 ounces light rum

2 ounces Coco Lopez (cream of coconut)

2 ounces Pineapple Juice

Cubes of ice

 

1.  Alternatively puree Pina Colada in blender.

2.  If using cubes of ice you may top drink with some soda water, if you feel it needs some leavening. 

 

The Deans Visit Their Sister

Lee Manigault

You cannot imagine the look on Dean Pollak's face when she learned that Dean Manigault had never been to Savannah, GA.  Her jaw dropped open and hit the floor!  How could Dean Manigault have lived and hour and half from such an idlylic spot for 20!!! years and never ventered forth? 

Both Deans took a field trip yesterday to rectify this travesty.  Dean Pollak's good friend Father Gavin Dunbar from St John's Episcopal church agreed to join us for lunch and Logan Pollak, Dean Pollak's daughter-in-law was at home to allow a visage with grandson, Pierce Pollak.  Added to these excitements was the dropping off of the Academy salad bowl at the wood working shop of master carver Greg Guenther.  A quick trip to SCAD and the day was shaping up to be a real winner.

One of the 28 squares around which Savannah is built   

One of the 28 squares around which Savannah is built

 

Lee and Suzanne jumped into the official Academy vehicle at about 9:45 and headed due south.  Less than two hours later, we were crossing the bridge into the jewel that is Savannah. What a treat!  The city is laid out on 28 squares with all the buildings surrounding them.  Live oaks and azaleas abound. The weather has been such a nightmare this year, and yesterday looked to be no different, but while the Deans were enjoying their midday repast with Father Dunbar at local hot spot Chives, the sun came out! Unbelievable! Lady Luck had obviously joined us on our sojourn south.  The gorgeous sun, absent for so long, inspired both Deans to walk as much as possible.  

Father Dunbar at an Everyday Cooking class with his legions of fans

Father Dunbar at an Everyday Cooking class with his legions of fans

Dean Manigault is smitten.  Her head is so filled with dreams of her return that there is barely room for anything else.