Every winter, world class carvers travel to Ithaca, NY to show off their sculpting skills in a national ice carving event known as Ithaca Ice Wars. Sculptors spend an entire day transforming giant blocks of ice into breathtaking pieces of frozen artwork. You can see how the entire town gets involved in the spirit of finding a way to have a good time while freezing your butt off.
The event at which the above video was filmed took place in late December of 2013. So, while it doesn’t get really freezing in Manhattan until at least January, you can see that folks upstate are already finding ways to turn their suffering into wild adventure at least a month ahead of us.
Tom Spina and Richard Riley of Tom Spina Designs created the Han Solo in Carbonite Desk back in 2008 for the home theater/office of Mark Hall, the lead singer of Grammy Award-winning group Casting Crowns (Who? Exactly).
The metal and fiberglass-resin desk is made from four main components: the glass top, the frozen block and two side supports with lights. The frozen “carbonite” block is a custom fabricated steel block with resin sculpture of the frozen Han Solo. The side supports are machine-cut steel with tinted acrylic sheets and internal lighting. The level of detail is truly amazing. No exact pricing is available as this was a custom creation, but you can always inquire on the Tom Spina DesignsWebsite.
Peruse nearly two dozen additional Stars Wars-inspired designs for the home at Homes and Hues.
Macaroni and Cheese: It is my thing. A couple of months ago I attended the Food Fete press event here in NYC, where I was lucky enough to meet Kristen, the PR representative for Cucina Fresca Gourmet Foods, which operates out of Seattle. I’m excited to report that Kristen hooked The Gig up with a couple of boxes of Cucina Fresca’s frozen Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese! I ate some of it last night for dinner, so I could tell you about it today.
I received two different varieties of Mac and Cheese in my shipment: Smoked Gruyere, made with aged Gruyere, Swiss, Fontina, and a touch of lightly smoked Spanish paprika; and Tangy Gorgonzola, made with a mellow Gorgonzola cheese blended with Fontina and a tangy blue cheese. Since I was grilling up a simple burger, I decided that Tangy Gorgonzola would be a complimentary accompaniment. I was so right! This dish has a very homemade taste but is also of the quality that you would get in a nice restaurant. Not only was the cheese sauce tangy, as promised, but it has a smooth and nutty flavor that gives it a sophisticated edge, while keeping the 100% comfort food vibe. I wanted to eat the entire dish but stopped half way, because I was full and because it was so good I wanted to save some for another meal!
Because this dish is so rich and versatile, it lends itself well to being mixed with a vegetable (broccoli would be ideal) or perhaps some cubed ham left over from another meal or a few strips of crumbled, crispy bacon. Make it fancy! I enjoyed topping a bite of my burger with a spoonful of the tangy, cheesy pasta and pretending I was eating some kind of exotic gourmet burger. Fun!
According to the press materiel I received, Cucina Fresca Mac and Cheese dishes are all natural and carefully handmade in small batches. All varieties feature eggless penne pasta accompanied with rich, creamy sauce made with rBST-free milk, fresh cheeses and a touch of whole creamery butter. The secret to the creamy delicious sauce is that it is a roux-based béchamel sauce which the cheese is then melted into. Also, the pasta is cooked al-dente pre-packaging, so that it can finish cooking in your oven and absorb the flavor of the sauce. I am not a fan of hard pasta and this was cooked perfectly: tender but not mushy.
If you are one of those convenience junkies that can’t even figure out how to turn on a conventional over, don’t freak out; you can cook this product in the microwave. It will turn out OK. But let me tell you something as a confessed Foodie who loves convenience but doesn’t even own a microwave (yes, I just typed that): it is so worth it to take a few extra minutes to heat this up the way Mac and Cheese was intended to be cooked, in the oven. Cucina Fresca Mac and Cheese goes right from freezer to oven (all you have to do is take it out of the box and remove the plastic lid) and cooks to a bubbling, golden, uber yummy dish of molten cheesy goodness (with the much-desired crispy, browned edges, even) in less than 45 minutes. It is so easy! It is so good!
Cucina Fresca offers two additional varieties besides the two sent to me: Sharp Cheddar, made with 2 year aged white cheddar; and Creamy Fontina, made with a blend of Fontina, aged Asiago and imported Parmesan cheeses. So cheesy! Each variety of Cucina Fresca Gourmet Mac and Cheese sells for $9.99 for a 20 ounce box that feeds two as a meal, but can be also be served as a side dish (reality check: it says on the box that it serves four, but seriously, who eats 5 ounces of Mac and Cheese and then stops? Answer: no one. Be smart and plan on serving two people, max, with one box of this stuff). Bon Appétit!
Visit Cucina Fresca on the web at find out about their other delicious, natural packaged foods at Cucina Fresca Dot Com.
February 22nd is National Margarita Day, in case no one hipped you to that fact. Also, did you have any idea that the Margarita is the Number 1 cocktail drink in the US? I sure didn’t, as I am a Martini gal, myself. Still, I am not adverse to the occasional frozen fruit margarita (peach or mango being my favorite varieties) when the occasion presents itself. The recipe below might be a fun one to try out while relaxing at home this evening, and you don’t even need a blender! Ole!
Total prep time: 10 minutes
Wedge of lime
2 teaspoons coarse margarita salt
14 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice, with pulp (about 3 medium grapefruits)
1 ounce lime juice
5 ounces reposado tequila
2 ounces triple sec
4 slices grapefruit or twists
1. Run a lime wedge halfway around the rims of four margarita glasses and dip into salt. Set aside.
2. Combine 7 ounces grapefruit juice, one-half ounce lime juice, 2 1/2 ounces tequila and 1 ounce triple sec in a cocktail shaker. Shake over ice until chilled. Strain into two ice-filled, salt-rimmed margarita glasses.
3. Garnish with a twist or slice of grapefruit. Repeat to make two more cocktails.
“The space within becomes the reality of the building.”Fallingwater House (Located in Bear Run, Pennsylvania) in Winter
Anybody who knows dick about architecture knows that Frank Lloyd Wright was a mysterious genius. The Guggenheim museum here in NYC (which Wright designed) currently has an amazing retrospective of his projects – both built and unrealized – including plans, drawings, schematics, models and photographs of structures that would just crack your skull wide open with their awesomeness. Geoffrey and I saw the Guggenheim show a few weeks ago and I am still having dreams about his houses. I mean, have you ever seen pictures of the Fallingwater House? Can you even believe something like that exists? Talk about an artist who was light years ahead of his time.
The Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit runs through August 23rd, 2009 at the Guggenheim Museum, located uptown at 89th and Fifth Avenue, across from Central Park.