Saturday, February 6, 2021

How To Add Winning Pizzaz to your Superbowl Food & Drink Game-Day Menu with these Easy To Make Homegrown Recipes ~ & Stories


If you are looking for something more exciting than the usual chicken wings or pizza and beer to spice up your Super Bowl, you’ve come to the right place. 

Cast aside the banal and let’s embark on a bit of culinary adventure. (smile!)

I believe that every good menu ~ or garden or tablescape ~ needs to tell a story. 

So in looking to create a Super Bowl menu for this year’s match up extravaganza, I started off like I usually do ~ with research: food, history, restaurants, and the folks who helped shape a food and drink culture that is unique to a place. That makes it special.  


A big part of travel was always the cuisine - everything from soda to alcohol spirits to beer to food was made all the more distinctive because it reflected not only the local terroir and what was grown or raised there, but also the customs of the people - most often immigrants - who brought their food culture with them. As I’ve often lamented, for too long, food and drink menus careened on the verge of bland - everyone was dining on the same stuff. In every season. In every locale.  Sigh… 

Thank goodness that is changing.

Today, with the popularity and preference for homegrown, authentic ingredients, we are witnessing a resurgence or return to distinguished dishes and away from the bland, everywhere- homogenized, efficient, same menus. 

While in normal times, BC (before coronavirus), we might’ve been introduced to the locales where the game is played, with tourists frequenting the local restaurants and bars and places of interest.

But not this year… 

We are all staying at home. 

I can’t help but think it all seems rather serendipitous that this is the first time that one of the teams is playing in their Home Town in their Home stadium. That’s a first. 

So homey and appropriate given the circumstances...

Tampa Bay

Getting back to my research for this post, I started with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

When I conjure Tampa, (and I have visited the city) I can only think of swashbuckly pirates who know how to swig a pint or three. 

Which led me to want to know what is a buccaneer, exactly. 

Well. Here you go. The Gallic - that is French - colonists would frequently smoke their meat over a wooden platform that they called a boucan. Thanks to this cooking technique, the frontiersmen were given the nickname “buccaneers.”  

While a kind of barbecue christened this group of ne’er do wells, Europe’s powers, took note of their pirating prowess (hey, a man’s gotta eat!), so, in an attempt to cripple Spain’s empire, the English, French, and Dutch began issuing Letters of Marque to buccaneer vessels.

Eventually, the word buccaneer came to its current definition, which is: any of the (ahem) piratical adventurers who raided Spanish colonies and ships along the American coast.

Plus, buccaneer sounds more refined than a pirate, too, doesn’t it? (I’m thinking of the original Pirates of the Caribbean with Johnny Depp, perhaps.) 

To further set the stage for our food and drink menu, I learned that the name Tampa comes from the local, native american tribe, Calusa, meaning Place to Gather Sticks or Sticks of Fire - (probably due to the area’s frequent lightning strikes).

Further, I loved learning that Big Guava is a nickname for Tampa.

This moniker and a kind of tree-tie in, links New York's "Big Apple" nickname and a reference to the New York businessman, Spanish immigrant, importer, architect and civil engineer, Gavino Gutierrez's unsuccessful quest for wild guava trees in Tampa, in 1884. 

He didn’t find any guava trees to contribute to his NY fruit trade.  

Yet… This man knew how to turn guava into guava-ade. Ha.  

See, he stopped on the way back to New York City to visit his friend Vincente Ybor in Key West and as it turned out, Ybor was looking to relocate his cigar business. Not one to hold a grudge against the place that didn’t reward him, Gavino recommended Tampa. 

The favor was returned when Ybor agreed to move his operations to the Tampa area, offering Gavino the position as civil engineer; he eventually planned out the city.  

Fast-forward to Tampa being recognized as the “Cigar Capital of the World.” So there. 

Being the passionate opera aficionado that I am (my love of opera facilitated our getting our country house over other buyer’s offers. But that’s another story. Smile.) 

Back to the city’s history of cigar-making, I couldn’t help but conjure Bizet’s rousing, sensuous opera Carmen, where it was claimed the cigars were rolled in the thighs of women at the Royal Tobacco Factory!  

Inspired Cocktail Recipes for Tampa Bay

The perfect cocktail to celebrate Tampa’s heritage of “Sticks” and Cigars, (I can readily see a kind of symbolic connection in their shared dimensions…), I am very excited to offer you the perfect drink for this year’s Tampa Tribute because the Cuban Cigar drink from my book, Art of the Garnish, features both cinnamon sticks and a cigar. (Well, the illusion of a cigar. And any great garnish is just that ~ a dreamy illusion to tempt us. After all, we drink with our eyes, first…

And as if the pedigree couldn’t get any better, the creator of this delicious cocktail is Tom Sebazco, who hails from Tampa, and proudly references his Cuban grandfather.  Ahhhh, the circle of life…

Here then, is the Cuban Cigar - meant to be enjoyed by fans of either team.


  • 2 ounces coconut rum

  • 1 ounce amaretto

  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice


Place the ingredients ina cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously.

Strain into a cocktail glass - coupe or martini glass. 

Finishing Touches: 

Place a fresh cherry or homemade Maraschino Cherry (recipe in the Art of the Garnish book) omn each end of a cinnamon stick and then wrap a twist of lime around the cinnamon stick. As you’ll see if you manage to pull off this delicate balancing act the results resemble a cigar! 

Thank you, Tom! 

Gavino’s Big Guava Gavino Cocktail

To celebrate Tampa’s Guava nickname, I was inspired to create a festive drink for the team. 


  • 6 ounces fresh Guava / Guayaba juice

  • 4 ounces fresh Orange juice

  • 4 ounces fresh Pineapple juice 

  • 2 jiggers or 3 ounces Solerno orange liqueur or Aperol 


Put all ingredients into a blender ~ I used the incredible Breville blender (See previous Garden Glamour posts touting the genius of this wonder appliance.) 

The makers have an accessory, the Vac Q ™  that removes air for “smoother blends, brighter colors. I may try this next time but here, I wanted the frothy bubbles in the drink.

Pour over your ice. How perfect to use the skeleton head, Buccaneer ice mold! 

Finishing Touches:

I used Luxardo Maraschino cherries (the only ones you should ever use if you don’t make cherry garnishes yourself.) The how-to recipe is in my Art of the Garnish book. Or email me). 

Skewer the cherries with fresh pineapple, and blood orange.

For a coupe, straight up version, I garnished with a beautiful, tropical, edible orchid.

A very fun and special Cocktail Composition is to lay out your smart devices on your home bar cart, or bar, or kitchen table, or island to greet your guests and start a cocktail conversation.  I’ve done this with nature videos for the Verdant Green Jangala from my Art of the Garnish book.

Don’t fret about the seeming high art of opera, you can pivot to the chicken wings in plenty of time for the kick-off. Have some fun with the game!  

It can surely start a cocktail conversation. 

And remember, Carmen is rolling the cigars on her thighs! 

Food Fiesta

For the boucon, smoked meat, I’m making Cuban-inspired BBQ Grilled Pork tenderloin with black beans, Grilled Pineapple on skewers, and because I adore pulled pork and smoky taste: Cuban Pork Burgers (sometimes referred to as a Smoking Cubano!) ~ with pickles and truffle fries ~ and garlic aioli dip.

For the grilled pineapple, we’ll grill with a wee bit of bourbon and cinnamon - another bow to the Tampa Sticks.

Image result for grilled pineapple skewers with brown sugar Image result for grilled pineapple skewers with brown sugar

Cinnamon and tequila or bourbon glaze  (photo: savorthebest & 

I also just have to mention this: Tampa is home to Florida’s oldest restaurant ~ and the world’s largest Spanish restaurant. The Columbia Restaurant opened its doors in 1905 and generations later, is still managed by the original Hernandez and Gonzmart family. Congratulations. In this heartbreaking time of restaurant crisis, it’s ennobling to read of such a legacy.  I Hope to make a pilgrimage to this stalwart restaurant post covid. 

Kansas City Chiefs.  Er, Chefs! (As we say, there’s no “i” in Chef; nor team!) 

I heard this reference on the radio yesterday and knew it would be a fun food moniker to toss into today’s food and drink Superbowl post! 

It’s not top of mind for me, but remember, there are two Kansas Cities.  Too much KC for just one locale, I guess. 

I read how city founders derived the name from the Kansas, or Kaw, River which was named for the Kansa Indians. ... (So many of our cities and towns are named for the Native Americans. Perhaps we can build more of heritage and reference around this truth that has been overlooked most everywhere here in America…)

The state of Missouri then incorporated the area as the City of Kansas in 1853 and renamed it Kansas City in 1889

I learned that the Chiefs/Chef were originally from Dallas, then moved to Missouri, the “Show Me” state in 1963.

OK, so now it was time to show me the best food and drink in Kansas City, Missouri. 

I confess that when I think of Kansas City I can’t help but think of meat. And BBQ. 

Just to underscore that connection, I learned KC is sometimes called the “BBQ Capital.” 

What distinguishes Kansas City barbecue is a wet, sweet sauce with a tomato and molasses base. The meat is slow-smoked over a variety of woods and served with a thick tomato-based barbecue sauce that can be spicy but more often sweet. 

Their Burnt Ends specialty appeals to me. I think you can make it in a slow cooker and serve on buttered toast or good, hearty bread. Like my mother makes!  

I read that Burnt Ends are golden nuggets of brisket that are a Kansas City rite of passage. Typically, the fattier part of the brisket point takes longer, so is returned to the smoker once the rest of the meat is done, which allows it to cook into a caramelized, extra-smoky hunk of meat. Charred, crunchy, tender and sweet all at once, burnt ends were once given away for free by area barbecue restaurants, who thought them to be useless. However, fortunes for burnt ends changed in the 1970s as places started selling them. Now, the dish is a delicacy that serves as a defining element for Kansas City barbecue.

You can make this ahead of time and serve out on a buffet.  Easy and delicious.

Ribs and strip steak 


I can really get behind this delicious crowd-pleaser.


Some of the finest heritage hogs in the U.S. come from Missouri, leading to excellent pork.

Noting Kansas City’s oldest restaurant, is the Peanut. What a cute name! 

Founded in 1933, before Prohibition was repealed in December of that year, the Peanut existed as a speakeasy. 

I found this superlative rather hilarious - because their claim to fame as the oldest makes the restaurant not even as old as my mother! (a 1925 baby!)  I guess these midwest cities are “newer” metropolises than what we’re used to… 

But what is undeniable is they say the wings at Kansas City’s oldest bar and grill are “a hometown staple amongst a solid, no-frills menu perfect for a watch party.” 

I was “jazzed” to reacquaint with Kansas City’s legacy of Jazz music and great musicians from Charlie Parker, Count Basie and countless other legends.  The American Jazz Museum is here.  That is worth a visit post covid. 

Yet, all in all, in spite of some pretty extensive research, I was disappointed that I couldn’t find much history about cocktails from Kansas City, MO.  

I did read in Imbibe: 

In the early 1900s, booze flowed so freely that one section of its West Bottoms industrial district earned notoriety as the “wettest block in the world.” That party continued through Prohibition, with Count Basie providing the soundtrack and with enough sin (or culture, depending on your view) for the city to be dubbed the Paris of the Plains.”

I extrapolated that later in the 1900’s the flight to the suburbs left the city with a dearth of cocktail culture and culinary culture for some time. In fact, it wasn’t until the start of  this century when chefs and bartenders started to migrate back to town.. Let’s hope that trend continues and we get to see traditions: old and new brewing there. 

I do like this drink I found: Smokin’ Choke, a cocktail from Manifesto’s Bar, as reported by Imbibe magazine. They call it a reinterpreted classic, “made with applewood-smoked Four Roses Yellow Bourbon, Cynar, maple syrup and Peychaud’s bitters—an Old Fashioned riff that’s earned national accolades since appearing on the bar’s first menu.”

After I learned that the most valuable tree in Missouri is the Black Walnut, which has been designated as Missouri's official state nut tree: the Eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra), I figured the perfect cocktail pairing for listening to jazz ~ or any time, really is my creation, “I’m Nutty for You,” because of its black walnut link to Missouri’s state tree.  

Inspired by the black walnut link, is my suggestion from Art of the Garnish.

“I’m Nutty For You,” also stars that surprise treat in every box of Cracker Jacks as the Finishing Touches Garnish!


I’m Nutty For You



  • Coat the rim of an Old Fashioned glass with the honey or agave, the roll in the graham cracker crumbs

  • Place the other ingredients except the cherry cola in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. 

  • Place chipped ice or fresh ice in the glass and strain the cocktail into it. Top with the cherry cola.

FInishing Touches:

Skewer Cracker Jacks on a cocktail toothpick. Add speared maraschino cherry and even float a star anise pod in the glass. 

Serve with Cracker Jacks - and the prizes! 


I see that the official state fruit of Missouri is our beloved native tree; the Paw Paw. 

If you would like my Paw, Paw Panna Cotta recipe, email me or click on the link for a fabulous, sweet dessert ending to the Superbowl food fiesta.

And maybe a bit of bourbon, neat. Or champagne if your team “wins.” 

Whatever team you’re rooting for, I hope you enjoy a fun, delicious, spread of food and drink, infused with history, culinary passion and delightful whimsy.  Remember, all this food and drink is a luxury…

And may I add, I don’t really buy into the winner and loser aspect of sports. After all, it’s entertainment. So, it’s not the score, it’s the spectacle! 


Saturday, January 23, 2021

Plant-O-Rama Celebrates 25th Anniversary Online with Star-Studded Garden Experts: Learn New Ways & Natural Solutions for a More Resilient Future

If there is any silver lining to this pandemic, it is that you, you, You, lucky plant lover, can attend one of the premier horticulture events of the year.
From the warm comfort of your screen.
Plant- O-Rama
While those of us in the profession rally to attend the annual symposium at this time on the calendar because it’s kinda’ ~ supposed to be a slower time of the year for us garden designers and horticulture pros.

We so look forward to Plant-O-Rama because we get to learn from some of the most outstanding experts, thought-leaders, and visionaries.

There is also the not-so-subtle joy that comes from being a part of this incredible plant community. The rarified bonhomie is like a breath of fresh air as in a normal world, we’d be gathering from all points, walking into Brooklyn Botanic Garden ~ delighted to witness the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden sporting its seasonal winter wardrobe glamour;

Farther along the path, we pause at the top of the steps to take in the majesty of the Magnolia garden - glistening with their winter jackets…

Then it would be up the grand staircase to register. Hugs, kisses. Coffee and tea and breakfast treats.
Lots of hearty hellos and getting down to business.

“Are you going to the morning lectures or the afternoon?”
Can’t wait to hear …
“I’ll meet you for lunch.”
See, one would choose to attend a morning or afternoon series of talks and the rest of the time to visit the vendors in the former glasshouse, now the Palm House and in the visitor’s center area where there are/were break-out sessions too.

While you will miss the walks in the gardens and all that one-on-one, look on the bright side. Bob Hyland, Plant O Rama’s founding father, will still preside.

(From the information supplied by Metro Hort:) 

PLANT-O-RAMA is Metro Hort’s annual, 1-day Symposium, Trade Show & Jobs Fair for Horticulture Professionals, Enthusiasts, and...

VIRTUAL PLANT-O-RAMA - due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 25th ANNIVERSARY event is online; anyone can attend from outside the NYC-tri-state region. Event times are Eastern Standard.

It is the largest program of the year attracting gardeners, designers, arborists, and educators working in public parks, botanical gardens, and private Edens in the New York City Tri-State region.

SAVE THE DATE: Tuesday, January 26, 2021, for the first VIRTUAL PLANT-O-RAMA

$30 for EVERYONE: Metro Hort Group Members, NYC public gardens, NYC Parks & Recreation, Nonprofit horticultural groups and conservancies, etc.

NOTE: FREE ADMISSION for Full-Time Students in academic degree programs in horticulture, design, and environmental sciences.

Have a schedule conflict with Virtual Plant-O-Rama next Tuesday? You can still see most of it! Paid ticket holders can view recordings of all 6 speakers AND visit the 36 Trade Show booths after the event. (You won't get live interaction with the Exhibitors after Tuesday, but you can visit their informative booths for a long time after the event.)


VIRTUAL PLANT-O-RAMA 2021 Tickets, Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 7:30 AM

Plant-O-Rama Schedule

Charles Yurgelevich, president, Metro Hort welcomes all and outlines the day’s events and speakers.

Adrian Benepe, 9:00am - 9:45am; Gardens and Parks in the Age of Climate Change & Pandemic: Challenges, Refuges, and Natural Solutions

Newly appointed President and CEO of Brooklyn Botanic Garden and former Commissioner of NYC Parks and Recreation (2002-2012), Adrian Benepe welcomes the 25th anniversary PLANT-O-RAMA. Brooklyn Botanic Garden has been our on-site host and Plant-O-Rama partner all these years (even now virtually). The pandemic has underscored the intrinsic human value of and need for public gardens, parks, and lands, but also laid bare many social and cultural injustices. The challenges are many as we search for solutions and move forward.

Signe Nielsen, 9:45am -10:30am; Little Island: A Refuge in the Storm

Signe Nielsen offers a sneak peek at the emerging landscape at Little Island (formerly called Pier 55), a new public pier park arising in the Hudson River. The pier’s unusual form, topography, and landscape are deeply influenced by climate-positive initiatives including raising the pier well above future sea level and storm surge, minimizing shade on marine life/aquatic species, using locally sourced materials, fabricators and labor, planting appropriately for climate change and high value to pollinators and birds. The new public park will be a refuge for New Yorkers to get exercise, be mentally restorative, and accommodate physical distancing while socializing outdoors.

Jennifer Jewell, 10:30am -11:15am; The Earth in Her Hands: Growing a More Resilient Future

Jennifer Jewell is creator and host of the award-winning public radio gardening program and podcast CULTIVATING PLACE: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden. Based on her recent book The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants, Jennifer talks to us about the profoundly positive impact women and their work have on the future of our world - aesthetically, environmentally, culturally, and economically - making them joyful, encouraging, and powerful role models, leaders, and inspirations for us all. Three of the women profiled in Jennifer’s book speak to us this year at Plant-O-Rama.

Leah Penniman, 1:00pm -1:45pm; Black Land Matters: Ending Racism & Injustice in our Food System & Gardens

Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices - from organic agriculture to the farm cooperative and the CSA - have roots in African wisdom. Yet, discrimination and violence against African-American farmers has led to our decline from 14 percent of all growers in 1920 to less than 2 percent today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land. Black communities suffer disproportionately from illnesses related to lack of access to fresh food and healthy natural ecosystems. Soul Fire Farm, cofounded by author, activist, and farmer Leah Penniman, is committed to ending racism and injustice in our food system.

Midori Shintani, 1:45pm - 2:15pm; Tokachi Millennium Forest: Gardening with Wild Nature

Tokachi Millennium Forest was originally established to offset carbon footprints by Tokachi News Paper Co. in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. Later on, the idea developed to share and preserve the remarkable natural environment for future generations. Midori Shintani introduces the story of this unique modern garden movement in Japan and shares how she and her garden team take care of the native forests and the cultivated garden areas. She discusses how her gardening methods root in the accumulated wisdom of ancient Japanese belief.

Margaret Roach, 2:15pm - 3:00pm; New Ways to Garden: Changing Practices for Professionals & Home Gardeners

Trends in plants and planting design have changed. Margaret Roach, creator of, former editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Living, and 2020 New York Times garden columnist, discusses the most dramatic and important shifts in “best practices” for managing landscapes, residential gardens, and urban spaces. How do we better educate and sell services to clients? Here are 10 lessons Margaret has gleaned from interviewing experts in the field, from timing our garden cleanups to taking another look at patented cultivars. 
(As a side note, I have to add, I love this woman!  She's been so good to the plant community; so generous in terms of providing plant counsel and experiences. Thank you...) 


Outstanding Exhibitors, each with a Virtual booth; 9am-3pm

Atlantic Nurseries, Inc. - distinctive plants & products for 50 years

Bartlett Tree Experts - comprehensive tree care & planting

Barton Nursery Enterprises Inc. - quality landscape plants and products

Bayard Cutting Arboretum - Long Island, NY, public garden

Beds & Borders, Inc. - out-of the-ordinary annuals & perennials

Blondie’s Treehouse Inc. - design/build, green walls, interior plants

BIPOC Hort - professional support, educational advocacy group

Cape Lily - floral Design & garden travel

Capital Garden Products Ltd. - fiberglass garden pots & water features

Cavano’s Perennials, Inc. - fine container-grown perennials, grasses, ferns

Colorblends Wholesale Flowerbulbs - quality tulips, daffodils & specialty bulbs

Elevations Urban Landscape Design - artful fusion of horticulture & architecture

Garden and Structures Solutions, LLC - consulting for the green industry

Glover Perennials - specialty groundcovers & perennials

Hardscrabble Farms Inc. - trees & quality plants for landscapes

Issima - specialty nursery, under-cultivated, garden worthy plants

JC Ralston Arboretum - acclaimed landscape plant collections at NCSU

Janet Mavec Jewelry - exquisite jewelry inspired by nature

Kind Earth Growers - native perennials for ecological restoration

Madison Square Park Conservancy - urban park in NYC’s Flatiron and NoMad districts

Metro Hort Group – association of hort professionals in NYC tri-state region

New York Botanical Garden - premier 250-acre public garden in Bronx

New Growth Designs - exquisite lifelike flowers & greenery

New Moon Nursery - plugs & liners of North American native perennials/grasses

North Creek Nurseries - quality plugs & liners with focus on eastern U.S. natives

Organic Mechanics Soil Company - quality organic potting soil & amendments

PlantShed - premium flowers, indoor plants, botanical products

Pennoyer Newman - distinctive lightweight garden pots cast from estate originals

Rebecca Cole GROWS - garden, landscape, interior & floral design

Rooftop Drops - premier irrigation & landscape lighting for rooftops & balconies

Seibert & Rice - fine Italian terra cotta pots from Impruneta, Italy

The Trust for Governors Island - park, historic buildings, climate initiatives

Tintori Castings - custom structural & architectural planters

Town & Gardens Ltd - comprehensive garden design, build & maintenance

Wave Hill - Bronx public garden and cultural center on the Hudson River

Womanswork - garden and work gloves designed for women

“Zee” you at the Plant-O-Rama 2021 ~ the 25th Anniversary of this hallowed event celebrating all things botanical …