Sunday, January 24, 2016

Jonas and Orange Hot Chocolate

We all know there was some serious snow this weekend in the NJ/NY area (see Winter Storm Jonas 2016). I hope everyone is safe and well-stocked with hot chocolate and nice teas.

A few days before the storm, I saw a recipe for orange mocha in my inbox and decided to try it out during the weekend since trains were suspended anyway.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • 1 packet of Via instant coffee (Veranda, I didn't have espresso so this was a good sub)
  • 2 cups of milk (I used non-fat, you can use anything from skim to half-n-half)
  • 10 tbsp of hot chocolate mix (I had Max Brenner's dark chocolate handy, you can use your favorite mix)
  • 2 tbsp of turbinado sugar (you can skip this or use any type of sugar you like to taste, it was just what was in the pantry)
  • 1 orange (for zesting only, but go ahead and eat the inside anyway!)
  • Optional items: nutmeg, cinnamon, other spices of choice.
  • orange cookie (optional. I happened to have one of these sitting around from Maison Kaiser. it was a nice chocolate cookie with candied orange pieces. you can also obviously drink your hot chocolate with any cookie or sweet you like. 


  1. Measure out all ingredients
  2. Take a knife or zester and get a good 3-4 large strips of orange zest
  3. Pour milk into small sauce pan to heat up on low heat
  4. Mix in sugar, hot chocolate mix, coffee, and orange zest strips
  5. After low simmer for a few min and most items mixed, pour out hot chocolate in serving mugs (discard orange zest strips)
  6. Top each mug with whipped cream, marshmallows, and small amount of fine orange zest


Original mocha recipe with video:
Four ways to froth milk:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

New York Winter JazzFest 2016

The best way to kick off the new year is to explore new venues and new music. Last night I went to a jazz marathon as part of the annual NYWJF (New York Winter Jazz Festival). As always, there is a lot to cover and I will try to break it up into three sections: Venues, Bands, and More Reading. A special shout out to my friend and fellow musician E. for exploring new music adventures together.

NYWJF added and changed a number of new venues this year. This meant some of the venues were farther away and made it harder to venue hop as before. Django at Roxy was particularly out of the way but they were hosting the French Quarter Jazzfest (cross-over with Winter Jazzfest) so I suppose concert goers just have to be aware of the risks of venue hopping and chance of lines. The festival had a page that posted live availability info which was helpful. It didn't stop us from trying to get into venues that were listed "full" since people would enter and exit in the middle of the show.


Greene Space this was a particularly small space which had a few seats and mostly standing room only. I listen to WNYC and am aware of the space for selected performances and shows but was happy to attend a live event for the first time.

Django is in the basement level of Roxy hotel (pic below with Samy). It had a cavern and cozy feel with a fun cocktail list. I would probably come back to check out future shows although the crowd noise level was a bit overwhelming. They do serve bites in addition to drinks. A lot of other venues as part of the festival do not offer food (probably because they are so close to other eateries in the village). This hotel was hosting day 1 of the French Quarter Jazz Fest (I like these cross-fest concerts). just wish they were better advertised...luckily they had a flyer because google search really didn't have a clue.

Zinc Bar and Greenwich House School were venues I had visited during last year's Jazzfest and also subsequent concerts throughout the year.


Visual Electric Guitar

Kaki King with her beautiful white electric guitar. The guitar told a story with video / photos / music too! E. and I both liked the NYC cityscape piece and one of the ballad/slower jams (I don't know the name but the song featured small colorful bubbles in the background)
Kaki King - guitar

I first learned about Kaki King from a post to her Ted Talk/Performance. Her performances feature visual elements (projected colors behind her and also her guitar has images/colors that fit with the song). Try to get a glimpse of her and the guitar if you go see a live show.

Dream Pop with Indian Rhythms 

Tongues in Trees was playing in the Zinc Bar when we stumbled into this venue which was listed as "FULL" on the crowds page. Their website describes it as Indie dream pop, which is accurate. All they are missing is a flute, really! Unfortunately my picture didn't get the percussion player.
Samita Sinha - vocals / Grey Mcmurray - guitars, vocals / Sunny Jain - drums 

Gypsy Guitar, Clarinet, and Dance!

Tatiana Eva-Marie & The Avalon Jazz Band featuring Oran Etkin.
Guitar seems to be underlying theme of my jazzfet experience this year. In any case, probably the show with the highest energy and warm feelings. Guitar, clarinet/bass clarinet, and lovely vocals and some audience participation too (singing and dancing). NY Hot Jazz is such a great org/event and I'm so glad I found out about them during last year's jazzfest. Unfortunately due to crowd factor I was not able to get a photo of their performance. They probably have fit in with the French Quarter fest too, now that I think about it.

Piano and Guitar

Samy Daussat "Gypsy Tribute to Serge Gainsbourg"
Samy Daussat - gypsy guitar / Stéphane Cochet - Piano / Claudius Dupont - double bass / Vanina De Franco - vocal

Flute, Sax, Guitar and Music Box

Sylvain Rifflet
When I was researching groups with flute (NUWJF has a page outlining all the instruments and musicians in all the acts), I came upon this band and immediately wanted to put them on the list of bands to see. Of course Django is not close to the other venues by a long shot so I ended up taking a cab from Greenwich House Music over (worth it!)
Sylvain Rifflet - tenor saxophone, clarinet, music box / Benjamin Flament - percussions, processed metal / Philippe Gordiani - guitar / Jocelyn Mienniel - flute, kalimba

More Reading / Listening

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bacon and Ice Cream for life

When it comes to food and drinks, bacon, ice cream, and whiskey all rate fairly high on my list. So why not combine them?

After a day of running around, I met my friends Linda, Wes, Lorne and his family at BarBacon ( in Hell’s Kitchen (9th ave btw 54 and 55th) and had such a good time that I thought I need to do a proper write up.

Special shout out and thanks to Wes for all the food photos. I am not as diligent or maybe I am just too hungry most of the time. I did manage to bookmark it on yelp though. Yay.

Drinks / Starters

  • Beer and Bacon Flight – guaranteed to impress the entire table.
  • Whiskey Flight
  • Bacon Infused Old Fashioned (Not pictured) - Bacon Infused Bourbon, Maple Syrup, Aromatic and Orange Bitters. I highly recommend this to everyone who likes Old Fashioned and want to see a new variation. Really smells amazing too.
  • Pork wings – small ribs made with sauce like chicken wings
  • Fried Pickles – I like that they do these thin like fries as opposed to most places that have larger wedges.
  • Next time – try their bloody mary


Main Entree

  • Bacon Burger with Tater Tots
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • for next time try: Sausage/bacon/egg/cheese sandwich, Bacon/Steak/Sausage



While bacon desserts are tempting, we decided to walk off some dinner and headed to Holey Cream ( for ice cream. Lorne assured me that they do a nice donut ice cream sandwich but ice cream on its own is also great. I liked Java Guatemala (coffee flavored) and Long Island Raspberry. I also sampled their seasonal pumpkin flavor which was also a winner. I will definitely have to come back and try other flavors.