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Preview of Living etc October 2009

tapas by Donna Hay on Living etc october 2009

Every month, you can get a glimpse at the next issue of Living etc. I say next issue because in Canada, or at least in Montreal, we are always one month behind. I spotted cool ideas for when you entertain.

smoked trout and garlic potato croquettes :: living etc october 2009

First, I look forward for the eye-catching tapas prepared by Donna Hay for the October 2009 edition. In case, you cannot wait, the recipe for the Smoked trout and garlic potato croquettes is available on the Flip through Living etc feature. Then, it is the turn of an idea to bring more style to your living room.

Interior designers on TV and magazines are not always right

Designers always try to hide the big flat TV. It always made me laugh when it is from a design show on TV. I saw many ways over the years but none was as striking as this modern wood panel. The effect is gorgeous but the TV is way to high.

Tv behind a panel :: living etc oct 2009

Gavin Sykes at Bang & Olufsen explained how to avoid two common mistakes when buying a TV. First, the rule is to measure the distance between where you will sit and where you wish to place the TV. Divide this distance by 4 and you will get the perfect TV size. Furthermore, avoid placing the TV over the fireplace, like you see here. The most comfortable height for a TV is when the center of the screen is slightly below eye level. The reason is that we all drop our head when we relax.

+ Living etc October 2009 preview


Ice Pops For Grown Ups: Margarita, Martini and Mojito Popsicle Recipes

watermelon margarita popsicles :: margarita ice pops

Serving alcohol popsicles adds a special touch to a pool party. Instead of a digestive, keep the party alive and serve Havana Mojito popsicles as an after-dessert treat on the patio. Or great your guest with a margarita popsicle. This way, you will not lose time making drinks as your guests arrive. Plus, it will spread the joy right away.

One thing you have to remember is that alcohol do not freeze well. It is best to create use small ice pop molds. No need to buy molds if you do not have any. Instead, use individual plastic yogourt containers that you only fill up to the three quarter mark. Keep on the freezer until the last minute. And serve them on a tray filled with ice cubes.

Here are recipes to try:

+ Watermelon Margarita Popsicle Recipe – via YumSugar
+ Margarita Ice Pops Recipe on Epicurious
+ Tangerine Rum Popsicle and Watermelon Rum Popsicle Recipes

Trendy bars are serving alcohol pops. The NINETEEN12 bar located in the Beverly Hills Hotel sells for $14 martini popsicles (bottom right image). Patrons have the choice of three martini flavors: apple, watermelon and sour cherry.


Summer Cocktails Made with Campari

cocktails made with campari for summer :: campari orange, campari grapefruit, negroni and negroni sbagliato

Let’s revisit my favorite cocktails for summer besides the mojitos. I love Campari on a summer day. I often served Campari to my first friends because it is unexpected and simple to make.

I typically go for tall drink recipes. You save time this way and the alcohol level is typically lower.

A simple way to greet your friends before a BBQ is to prepare a pitcher Campari Orange.

  • In a tall glass (juice glass) filled with ice cubes, pour 1 part Campari
  • 3 parts of orange juice
  • Garnish with an orange slice.

Campari Grapefruit is done the same way. The recipe is 1 part Campari for 3 parts of grapefruit juice. Also garnish with an orange slice.

Negroni Recipe Adaptations

When I do not mind something stronger, I sip a Negroni in an old-fashioned glass.

  • Pour on the rocks,
  • 1 part of gin, you can use Bombay Sapphire Tanqueray or the lighter Plymouth gin
  • 1 part of Campari
  • 1 part of sweet vermouth (red vermouth)
  • Garnish with an orange slice.

If you opt for the Negroni as your signature drink, make sure you get some soda water next by to please everyone. In fact, I usually pour a tiny bit of soda water on my Negroni (not to be mistaken with an Americano, which has no gin). The tall Negroni is less bitter and more refreshing.

Even that may be too much bitter from some people. For them, you could substitute the Campari by a Punt e Mes, an Italian vermouth made by Fratelli Branca with a less bitter component. Use 1/3 gin, 1/3 Punt e Mess and 1/3 red vermouth.

Negroni Sbagliato is another more delicate Negroni version that is supposed to be popular in Italy. You make it with

  • 1 part Campari
  • 1 part red vermouth
  • 1 part Spumante brut (or Pinot Chardonnay sparkling wine)
  • Garnish with a slice of orange.

If you wish to create a more bitter version, replace the red vermouth by the Punt e Mes (1 part gin, 1 part Campari, 1 part Punt e Mess). Personally, I would not try that more intensely bitter version.

+ 24 cocktail recipes made with Campari


Homemade Ginger Ale and a Cocktail recipe for my Gastronomic Wednesday

homemade ginger ale recipes

I told you last week about the importance of using freshly squeezed juice when making a cocktail. This week, I am going further and I propose you make your own ginger ale. Do not worry; it is simpler than it sounds.

Creating a homemade ginger ale starts by making a ginger syrup. You add either seltzer done with the old-fashioned bottle process, soda water or mineral water to produce a home version of a ginger soda pop. Beware that it will not replicate the taste of the commercial ginger ale. In fact, you can plan a tasting session at your party to see which ones your friends prefer.

Making your own ginger ale is not a new idea; it is just that it is now fashionable with bars in the United States charging $6-$7 for a glass, from what I read on the New York Times. There is a recipe on the NY Times. But to give you options, I scoured three recipes that seem worthy of a trial. I am curious to know which one you prefer.

Serving ginger ale is handy at a party; it used to balance many cocktails. For people who do not drink, the custom is to fill their Champagne flute with ginger ale at formal events. Keeping with that spirit, I propose you a summer cocktail recipe where you can simply omit the gin and get a non-alcoholic beverage.

Ginger Ale, Mint and Gin – Drink Recipe from Bombay Sapphire

  1. Squeeze 6 mint leaves between your hands to release their flavors. Avoid option is to lightly mash the leaves inside a highball glass.
  2. Pour 1 1/2 ounces of your favorite gin and 3 oz of ginger ale
  3. Fill the glass with ice cubes.
  4. Mix well to infuse the drink with the mint flavor
  5. Garnish with a mint sprig

This is a really refreshing drink; it is perfect to enjoy on a sunny terrace.

+ images from EatMakeRead and Mr. Peacock
+ Ginger Ale Without the Can by Micheline Maynard for the NY Times


Tom Collins with Prosciutto and Sundried Tomato Rolls for my Gastronomic Wednesday

tom collins recipe paired with prosciutto and sundried tomato rolls

The first drink pairing combination from last week Bombay Sapphire event can be done if your guests announce themselves 10 minutes before the event.

Merlin Griffiths entertained us with the hoax story behind the Tom Collins drink. The first written recipe of the Tom Collins was in 1986 edition of The Bar-Tender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas. You can memorize the story and tell your friends as you prepare their drink.

Tom Collins Recipe

This basic drink is build in the glass. A lemon squeezer and a bar spoon are the only bar tools you need. Prepare an ice bucket with a big spoon if you expect a big crowd. Take the time to freshly squeeze the lemon juice; we can taste the difference. Avoid the powder mix.


  • 1 large measure of your favorite gin – which happens, for us, to be Bombay Sapphire
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice of half a lemon
  • A hint of simple syrup
  • Chilled soda water


  1. Pour the gin in a highball or Collins glass followed by the lemon juice that you can squeeze over the glass and the sugar syrup.
  2. Fill the glass with ice cubes
  3. Top with soda water
  4. Mix the ingredients with the spoon
  5. Garnish with a lemon slice and sprig of fresh mint.

It is a refreshing drink to serve all summer. Although I love the mojito, this is so much easier to make that it is good to have it on your repertoire.  For a twist on the Tom Collins, replace the simple syrup with maple syrup, honey or even passion fruit juice.

Prosciutto and Sundried Tomato Rolls

This recipe by chef Louis-Francois Marcotte is pretty good. You can make a few extra.


  • 12 Prosciutto Very Slim Slices – ask your butcher to align the slices on after the other to cut your preparation time
  • 1 ball of buffalo mozzarella, cut in 12 slices
  • 6 Sundried tomatoes, cut in 2 – place the tomatoes 2 minutes in warm water and dry them in a tea towel before cutting them in 2
  • 1 cup of arugula
  • Old Balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly Ground Pepper


  1. Put a few arugula leaves on each prosciutto slice.
  2. Deposit the cheese and the halved sundried tomato
  3. Make a roll.
  4. Place the 12 rolls on a platter, lightly drizzle the balsamic vinegar and ground fresh pepper to taste.

How to do the Flaming Orange Zest and the Sapphire Cosmopolitan

sapphire cosmopolitan by merlin griffiths

I could not wait so I am publishing the first cocktail recipe. This is the most complicated cocktail recipe that was demonstrated at the Bombay Sapphire event. The difficulty comes from its garnish. It is easy to do once you know how. This bartender’s trick will put your guests in awe for sure. It infuses the room with an exquisite aroma. You first gently hold the orange zest. you can heat a little the zest, without squeezing the zest. Then you squeeze the orange at the last minute as you lit your lighter. Voilà!

Watch the video where Merlin Griffiths explains the technique. The flamed orange zest is the ultimate garnish for the Cosmopolitan.

Merlin shows us his ultimate gin Cosmopolitan who goes lighter on the cranberry juice.

Recipe of the Sapphire Cosmopolitan

Merlin’s recipe provides a dry, tart and juicy Cosmopolitan. It is different than the drink that we are accustomed to. I will give it a try.

  1. Chill your martini glass by filling it with ice cubes and soda water
  2. In a mixing glass, pour a large measure of  your favorite gin – about 50 ml
  3. A dash of Triple sec or Cointreau – no more than 25 ml
  4. Either squeeze the juice of 3 wedges plus put the wedges in the mixing glass to get the lime oil or squeeze 1/2 a lime
  5. A splash of cranberry juice, put just enough to make the drink blush. The cranberry is there to add color and a little tartness. If you crave for more cranberry, do not go over a large measure
  6. Shake vigorously all the ingredients with ice
  7. Throw the ice from your chilled martini glass
  8. Double strain (use a bar strainer plus a small mesh strainer) to avoid watering your Cosmopolitan
  9. Garnish with a flamed orange peel that you twist.

Watch the video of Sapphire Cosmopolitan here.


The Bombay Sapphire Collins Event for the Media was a Treat

bombay sapphire collins 2009 evening at Le Local in Montreal

I was one of the few epicurean bloggers and journalists in Montreal invited to experience the Bombay Sapphire Collins event last Tuesday at the upstairs meeting room of Le Local. It was a fun, intimate evening developed around cocktail, food and entertaining. The night seems tailored for At Home with Kim Vallee.

As a bonus, my husband Jerome is my official photographer at events. Jerome was delighted to help me out since he is always on the lookout to expand his bartender skills. On top of that, Bombay Sapphire is his favorite gin.

bombay sapphire presentation with UK mixologist merlin griffiths and Quebec chef louis-francois marcotte

We got the chance to meet and chat with Merlin Griffiths, the renowned mixologist who is the global brand ambassador of Bombay Sapphire. He came from the United Kingdom for a Canadian tour. During the evening, Merlin demonstrated how to prepare 4 easy drinks; each one is perfect for when you have guests over. The cocktail recipes contain 4 ingredients each. And the best of all is the fact that these recipes take almost no time to make. Merlin is knowledgeable and passionate about what he does. He is funny and a great entertainer. Later when we chatted with him, Merlin gave my husband cool tricks. He helped him refine his green tea martini recipe.

In each city, Bombay Sapphire teamed up with a local Chef to pair appetizers with their drink recipes. You may have noticed that cocktails and food pairing for an entire meal is in vogue. We had the chance to learn how to make and taste 3 appetizers prepared by the popular young Chef Louis-François Marcotte of Le Local. I will publish the recipes of the cocktails with the harmonizing appetizers next Wednesday on my Gastronomic column.

bombay sapphire bottle made with Swarovski Crystals

Jerome took beautiful pictures. I had a hard time limiting the number of pictures when I produced my photo montages. The glittered Bombay Sapphire bottle, used for displays and photos, is made with Swarovski Crystals. It is gorgeously crafted.

bombay sapphire swag bag :: essential bar tools

We received a swag bag with everything except the shaker and the Tonic water to prepare a Sapphire Tom Collins at home. After we prepared our Sapphire Collins with the gears in front of us, everyone was thrilled to know that a cool lemon squeezer will be given to us. It is perfect for making drinks since you can put it on top of your glass and no pits will fall on the glass. Inside a luxurious pocket file, we found all the recipes discussed during the evening. Like I said, I will publish the recipes with photos next Wednesday.

bombay sapphire collins 2009 evening room as we arrived :: at Le local in Montreal

We sat next to Carrie, Jennie and Eric of, Jenny Harrisson of Culinary Escapade. Amongst the attendees I met that night, I have a nice chat with the 2 guys behind Eat Well Montreal.

On a final note, I wish to compliment the organizing team. I am giving you my seal of approval when it comes to the set up, the activities, the swag bag and the overall party program. Putting an attention to details pays off. To be fair, I want to mention that it is not the first year that Bombay Sapphire with their agencies in Canada organizes this event. I am looking forward to next year’s event.

Update: See more photos of the evening on the dedicated album on my Fan page in Facebook.

+ Bombay Sapphire
+ Le Localget directions p (514) 397-7737
740 William Street, Montreal, QC, Canada, H3C 1P1
+ Simple et chic – a cookbook by Jean-Francois Marcotte $39.95 CAD at Amazon


Classic Margarita Recipe and More for Cinco de Mayo

The classic margarita recipe is hard to beat. No frozen margarita and no mix for me. The margarita recipe is so simple to make that you must rely on the real ingredients.

Before I gave you my classic recipe, it is important to talk about the do and don’t of the margarita. It is necessary because this drink has been damaged over the years.

  • The original recipe called for Cointreau, which is a premium Triple Sec. And yes, you will taste the difference in the margarita since there is only 3 ingredients in a real margarita.
  • The sweetness comes from the premium orange liquor, typically Cointreau. Try to avoid the basic Triple Sec. I ordered mine with Grand Marnier. Therefore, there is no need to add simple syrup in the original recipe.
  • Go for a sliver agave tequila. A classic margarita is not made with aged tequila, so avoid the Reposado.  I prefer the taste of the Patrón silver
  • Do not pour ice from the shaker into the glass, put fresh ice cubes in the glass.
  • The classic recipe uses ice cubes; leave the crushed ice to the frozen margarita.

Making the Classic Margarita


  • 1 1/2 oz 100% agave silver tequila
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • Juice of 1/2 lime, freshly squeezed
  • Kosher salt on the rim – I recommend Kosher because it is less salty

Pour the liquids in a shaker with lots of ice. Shake until he ingredients are well blended. Strain into a lightly salt rimmed old-fashioned glass on the rock. You can also serve your margarita on a margarita glass or a cocktail glass.

If you wish to see my reactions when I taste an incredible margarita, watch this video we took at Taqueria Canonita in Las Vegas last year.

masters margarita recipe

Three twists on the Margarita recipes developed by Patrón:

Masters Margarita


  • 1/2 oz. (15ml) Patrón Citrónge
  • 1 1/2 oz. (35ml) Patrón Silver
  • Fresh ginger
  • 1 lime
  • Dash of bitters
  • 2 tpsb. honey

In a mixing glass, muddle the juice of one lime with a slice of fresh ginger; add the remaining ingredients, fill with ice, and double-strain into a chilled coupette/margarita glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

See also:

For Cinco de Mayo, try to rediscover the original Mexican recipes. Forget the Tex-Mex and serve instead a tasty ceviche with cilantro.

+ More tequila-based cocktails, see Patron
+ Rosle Fruit Muddle/ Caipirinha Pestle $19.95 USD at
+ Top image: 4 cocktails from
Taqueria Canonita


Cocktail Recipes for your Oscar Night by Fairmont Hotels

In time for the Oscar’s night, the Twitter team of Fairmont Hotels shared two of its cocktail recipes. I always found that Fairmont mastered the cocktails.

Fairmont’s Very Sexy Cocktail Recipe

Very Sexy Cocktail Recipe from Fairmont Hotels

  • 1 ½ oz – Belvedere Cytrus ½ oz
  • Crème de Cassis 1 ½ oz
  • Fresh Sour Mix Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass.
  • Add in marinated wild berries (raspberries and blackberries marinated in simple syrup).
  • Top with Moët & Chandon champagne (or your favorite Champagne)

Fairmont’s Million Dollar Legs Martini Recipe

Million Dollar Legs Martini  from Fairmont Hotels

  • 1 1/2 oz Malibu Rum
  • 1/2 oz Chambord
  • 1 oz Pineapple Juice
  • Place all in a shaker & shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds.
  • Strain into frozen martini glass. Garnish with raspberry & blackberry skewer.

I found these 2 recipes following Fairmont Hotels on Twitter.

A Pretty Good Travel Blog

If you like luxury travel, I encourage you to read the My Hotel Geek, a blog by my friend Isabelle in Montreal. She works in sales at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts but My Hotel Geek is her personal blog. Isabelle talks about the best of the crop in high-end hospitality. Go visit her site even if it is simply to pass a dreamy moment.


My 2008 Posts in Review: June

I attended amazing events in June.

my favorite posts of June 2008

+ First, it is the birthday party of a good friend. His girlfriend opted to hire a Chef for the night. I had a little chat with the Chef before he started to cook. Read what you need to know before Hiring A Chef At Home for a Stress-free Dinner Party.

+ I had great time at l’Apéritif à la française 2008 where I ate and drank the best of French produces. I enjoyed a good cocktail made with Pineau des Charentes, blood orange juice, fresh mint leaves and club soda.

+ In the middle of winter, I was seduced by the sighting of hot summer nights. I spot these inspiring Outdoor Rooms and Lighting on Domino magazine.

+ I wish this easy customized magnetic calendar designed by Serhiy Chebotaryov was available. I wrote on June that Dorogaya would be on production soon but I did not find any new information on how or where to make it.


Champagne Cocktails to Celebrate the New Year

pomegranate champagne cocktail recipe

pomegranate champagne cocktail recipe

In a previous article for, I told you about the first ever Champagne cocktail, the Classic Champagne Cocktail introduced in 1899. Hollywood movie stars during the 40s and 50s were fond of the Classic Champagne Cocktail. Visit for the Classic Champagne Cocktail recipe.

Another option for toasting to 2009 is Jamie Oliver’s Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail. Watch the video to get the recipe.