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What follows is BOTH an unreal luxury fit for royalty AND something you ought to treat yourself to tomorrow night!  Whatever your plans this Friday evening, before you head out, if you can pick up limes, fresh basil, sugar, and some nice vodka, your happy-hour-at-home will be more delicious than ever.

Dear friends Jen and Mike sent Allie quite a surprise for her birthday when we returned to the room at The Surrey Friday evening... a knock at the door brought a personal bartender with a tray full of goodies.  Basil Lime Gimlets on the way!

A gimlet is an oldie-but-goodie...traditionally made with gin and Rose's lime juice, we loved this's what you do:

1. In a cocktail shaker, MUDDLE (that's bartender-speak for smush) some basil leaves and 1/2 oz of simple syrup (EASY to make: bring 1 part water to a boil and add 1 part sugar...stir to dissolve and remove from heat...or just buy it!).

Note the cranberry juice The Surrey they deliver the fixins to make more gimlets AND other basic vodka cocktails...Yum!2. Add 1 1/2 oz Grey Goose Vodka, 3/4 oz of fresh lime juice (not Rose's for this recipe), and ice to the shaker...SHAKE!

3. Strain the chilled, shaken cocktail into a martini glass along with 1 oz. of club soda (our FAVORITE is Fever Tree)...garnish with a lime slice and basil leaf...DRINK!

Remember, the fun here is the drinking AND the making...of course, this is the perfect pre-dinner cocktail, an aperitif that will get your appetite going and it's downright delicious... It's also a chance to carve out a bit of quiet before your night out.  Cheers!



Here's my sweet and simple message to anyone living up near us in West Hartford, Connecticut: This weekend, load your trunk up with your biggest beach coolers, head down to the city (it's only 2 hours!), have lunch at Mario Batali's 42,500 sq. ft. crazy crazy amazing Disney World of food, EATALY, shop 'til you drop, and return home to make the very best Sunday Night Dinner the Soprano family has ever seen. 

I know we all complain about how short a weekend can feel, but, for perspective, if you drive there, eat lunch, shop for 90 minutes, and drive home, you can leave your house at 10:00 AM and be back for your kid's 4:00 PM basketball game!  Motivate!  It's more than worth it.

My only caveat: if you're anything like me, your first trip to EATALY may just be for browsing...I didn't see Mario while I was there, but the food had me completely star struck...I mean, seriously, where else can you find squash blossoms packaged with perfect care that seem to call from the shelf: "Fry me!"....?

This was our first stop on the Allie-Takes-New-York Birthday Tour...  The day our new kitchen is done, we'll be returning to 23rd and 5th to stock up!

This is one of a handful of spots to grab a bite and take a break from filling your basket.

A view from our table at La Pasta...there's a lot going on and the crowds are exciting...but, with high ceilings and an intuitive layout, eating, shopping, and enjoying are easy and low pressure.

Fresh bread delivered to the table wrapped in waxed paper alongside bright olive oil...what a way to prepare for the pasta-craziness that's coming.

"Pansotti" on the menu at La Pasta inside Eataly...housemade pasta with local ricotta...the lemon butter and pistachio on this is unspeakably good. To DRINK: A glass of Gavi...the lemon in the pasta and acid in the wine marry beautifully.

"Vesuvio" on the menu at La Pasta inside Eataly...sweet sausage, tomato...bitter greens...delicious! To DRINK: A glass of Dolcetto...CLICK here to read our recent piece on why Dolcetto can be your go-to pizza wine.

Whole fish is easy to work with...CLICK here to read how we prepared whole snapper in a salt crust!

Citrus! For your next salad dressing, branch out and use something new...maybe a Meyer lemon...or a blood orange?

So that you can understand the quality and detail that abounds, these are merely "raisins"!

Baby artichokes...these little buggers can be hard to work with but what a delicious reward for your hard work! CLICK here to visit Eataly's Website!