In Hot Chocolate Caramel

The Christmas season is upon us, so a hot chocolate seems like a very appropriate beverage. Homemade hot chocolate is everyone's favorite, even us big kids. This is my spin on hot chocolate and has put smiles on many faces. Enjoy!

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George's Hot Chocolate Caramel

Makes 6 Servings 

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1/3 cup pure cane granulated sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened good cocoa powder

1/3 cup water

8 caramel candies

6 cups milk (whole milk for best results)

mini marshmallows or whip cream

1 ounce brandy (optional)

In a large saucepan combine sugar, cocoa powder, and water. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add candies and stir until melted. Stir in milk. Heat through. Top with brandy. Pour into mug, top with mini marshmallows or whipped cream.

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Rome Italy: Cup of Espresso

A good espresso, or should I say, a great espresso is hard to come by stateside. It's a long way to travel for a cup of espresso or cappuccino, but worth the trip. I suggest you stay for a few days and really enjoy it!

A good cup of espresso should be enjoyed this way; stop and sip from a proper cup. Meaning, the cup is not made of paper, styrofoam or other disposable materials. Then participate in certain social etiquette. Don't drink it in a car or while walking on-the-go. Take a few minutes, sit or stand at the counter at the coffee bar. BTW, in Italy the price of an espresso and cappuccino is fixed no matter where you go- imagine that. You'll save a Euro or so for standing at the counter, but I enjoy to sit and take-in centuries old customs. 

I've decided it's all the circumstances combined that make that cup taste so good; the list is long, so let's just say Romans know how to make a great cup. Everyday, when in Rome, I stop at Gargani's for double espresso and a sfogiatelle, my favorite Italian pastry and savored every moment. Can't wait to return. Tip: The cafe goes from empty to packed in minutes, so don't hesitate, just sit. Then just enjoy the food frenzy; waiters rushing, tables turning and piles of small plates. Anyway, here's where to go- when in Rome: 
R Gargani
Via Lombardia, 15
00187 Roma (Lazio), Italy

images: George Hirsch

Say Cheese

It's no secret, among those that have seen my TV shows how much fondness I hold for my friends in Ireland. It is truly one of the most friendly and hospitable lands on earth. I actually think the phrase tender loving care was born there. Here's proof, in this TV ad from KerryGold. 

Dubliner Cheese: Once you try it, you'll be hooked. I am. It was first described to me as a mixture between Cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano. This description is quite accurate. Dubliner tastes of a mature Cheddar with the sweet aftertaste of Reggiano. Created by the Irish company Kerrygold and named after Ireland’s capital city, this cheese shares traits with several well-known cheeses but the combination creates a flavor that is completely unique. 

Fresh Catch

We are blessed on the East End of Long Island to have access to freshly caught seafood + restaurants that prepare it well. Bostwick's in East Hampton does a fine job of serving up some of my favorite seafood plates. Their lobster roll, baked clams and bowl of steamy mussels hit the spot when I have a hankering for summer's fresh catch in an informal, alfresco and family friendly setting after a day at the beach.

Bostwicks, East Hampton

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