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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Chef Michael Symon and BlueStar: Unleash your Inner Chef

Chef Michael Symon at ICE sponsored by BlueStar
(more pics of event below)

If you love to cook, BlueStar appliances is the right match for you. Made in the USA in their Reading, Pennsylvania factory since 1880, the brand showcases some cutting-edge appliances.  Their mantra "unleash your inner chef," tells it all.  The cooking products ( gas ranges, cooktops, wall ovens and hoods) are designed for the keen home chef who demands restaurant quality results in their own kitchens.  

36" Built-in refrigerator and 30" wall oven

Besides top notch performance, appliances are customizable. I'm loving this blue color which I saw at the Architectural Digest 2015  Home show but there are over 750 colors, finishes to choose from and infinite configuration possibilities. A clients dream who wants to customize their kitchen. 

36" Built-in refrigerator

I am obsessing over their new 36" Built-in refrigerator. It accommodates full size baking sheets into the refrigerator and freezer. I have not seen that before. Innovative thinking for someone who entertains a lot!

Chef Ryan Scott cooking  in BlueStar 30" wall oven featuring 12 cooking modes and a built in baking stone and Designer Eric Cohler

Renown NYC Interior Designer Eric Cohler popped into BlueStar's booth at the show while tasting some of Chef Ryan Scott's delicious Spring Pea Hummus with Rosemary and Sea Salt Crusted Bread. Eric announced BlueStar's first annual Kitchen Design competition to honor design professionals who incorporate BlueStar products into innovative, beautiful kitchens. Eric will be one of the judges. Very exciting!

Chef Michael Symon and Michele Alfano (me)

The best moment of the day was attending a special media event with Chef Michael Symon hosted by BlueStar at ICE (Institute of Culinary Eductaion) in NYC. It was fun, interactive and I was so happy to actually meet the Chef. He is as approachable and funny as he is on TV.  

Roasted 1/2 Chicken with Shaved asparagus Salad

At the event, Michael shared new spring entertaining recipes where he said he loves family style and breaking bread with people. I sat at a round table of people who I got to know and shared some amazing food like Spring Pea Crostini, Cavatellii with Lemon Butter and Sage  and Roasted 1/2 Chicken with Shaved asparagus Salad. 

Chef Michael Symon and Chef Ryan Scott

Chef Michael explained that when you make pasta your water should taste like the sea! A pinch of salt is not enough! I was shocked by how much salt he put in that boiling pot of water, no joke! He said his grandmother taught him that you should be flavoring the water and not the sauce. That's the difference between an OK cook and a great cook.

Cavatelli with Lemon Butter and Sage

(all images credit: BlueStar)

I loved the Cavatelli with Lemon Butter and Sage and its so easy to make.  

Here is the recipe - serves (2): 


  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups blanched cavatelli
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped or chiffonade sage
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup parmesan

  • Place a large saute pan over medium heat and add butter.
  • When the butter has melted add the cavatelli and shake out in to an even layer. Cook, stirring occasionally until starting to get golden brown and crispy
  • Add the sage and season with salt and pepper.  Continue to cook until the sage and the pasta are crisp then then add the lemon juice. Stir to combine then remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan.
  • Serve immediately.
Lucky me, I was sent home from the event with a copy of his new cook book 5 in 5. Yep, 5 ingredients to make some awesome meals at home to share with your family. He signed in the inside cover saying "Live to cook." Loving food as I do, not a problem!

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

MoD must Have: Geometric Carpet Connections

MoD Must Haves
stylish, tactile, novel 
for carpet lovers

Innovative, super fun and stylish rugs for children, tweens and college students are finally here! kinder Ground is a modular carpet system where you can curate your own patterns! The company mantra is whimsy shouldn't exclude sophistication.  

Besides being soft to the touch and highly durable,  the hip geometric shapes paired with vibrant colors and patterns make a wow statement. Each pattern from carpet to carpet seamlessly match. This is good design! 

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Thin Slab Porcelain, an Alternative to Stone Countertops

Inalco Foster Natural Finish

Thin is in.....the design potential for thin slab porcelain is endless. At Cevisama in Valencia with Tile Of Spain, I was wowed by the large format thin porcelain slabs over at Inalco and Neolith. Both manufacturers showcased how porcelain slabs meet the needs of today's homes with an array of colors, and clear cut design. It was obvious that porcelain will be trendsetting seamless countertops in the next decade. Sorry for stone, U.S. consumers will find porcelain as an attractive solution that will make life much easier. 


Inalco Foster blanco and bush hammered
(other colors Piedra, Plomo, Negro in natural finish too)

Both Inalco and Neolith manufacturers have advanced sintering technologies allowing them to create slabs that are thinner, longer and more durable.  Uses are unlimited for exterior and interior: countertops, flooring, furniture and exterior cladding. Unlike stone, its almost impossible to scratch it, stain it or burn porcelain. iTOPker by Inalco is a 1/2" thick coming in 5 x 10 feet slabs.  The product is so durable that it does not conduct heat or absorb much water. Oh get this, kitchen ranges can be applied right to Inalco's surface giving a real modern look. With real stone, you could never install a range right to the countertop! See image below:

Inalco Domo Negro
(other colors Crema, Piedra in Natural or bush hammered surface)

Don't get me wrong, I love stone and its natural characteristics!! However, I'm really falling for slab porcelain. Here are some more bonuses of porcelain versus stone. 

-Porcelain is highly scratch resistant- you can cut food right on the slabs. Unlike porcelain, you're marble would be ruined. 
-Porcelain is resistant to wear and tear. Stone however can scratch and chip if you hit it hard.
-Porcelain is easy to clean and care for. Totally stain resistant. You can cut a lemon on it or leave wine on it and it wont stain. In minutes, your wine ring would stain your stone slab.
-Porcelain is heat resistant; you can put a boiling pot right on the surface. With stone, forget about it!


Besides its amazing durability, Neolith has found that fine line between old world craftsmanship and technology. Their products are timeless and well crafted. 
TheSize Compact surface is lightweight and easy to install, making it suitable for every indoor and outdoor surface.  It comes in different thickness and sizes like 12' x 4'. With porcelain you can create tops with practically no seams. For designers, these large format slabs allow the imagination to run. 

 Neolith classtone

Neolith Colorfeel (bottom left) and IRON (bottom right)

Neolith's printed options are beautiful from wood like (Timber), classic marble 
(classtone) to metal inspiration ( Iron). Both Inalco and Neolith are available in the U.S. through a network of distribution.. Visit their websites: Neolith and Inalco.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tile of Spain, Cevisama 2015: Technological advances in Porcelain tile

Having just come back from Spain as a guest of Tile of Spain, I am filled with inspiration. I traveled with an amazing group of architects, designers and journalists to Seville and Valencia; where we were immersed in the local culture and learned firsthand about the architecture, design language, cuisine and how ceramics is the lifeblood that flows through both cities. Walking both cities, I captured hints of ceramica on facades of buildings, stairs, doorways, under balconies, inside courtyards and embedded within cobblestone city streets. See some of the amazing patterns:

Each narrow street uncovers new surprises and I felt the history and now understand how modern Spanish tile manufacturers like Peronda, Natucer, Vives Ceramica today are deeply rooted in a tradition of artisanal practice. 

Hints of Ceramica in Valencia and Seville

At the Cevisama trade show in Valencia, I learned about the advanced technological trends in tile - Porcelain tile is impersonating natural stone, cement and wood so well with an ink jet system. Creativity, Flexibility and Innovation describes this ink-jet evolution allowing you to print on textured, embossed and extruded surfaces; providing added interest and depth. See some of the trends that are evolving in porcelain:

Vintage: Porcelain tile by Aparici replicates the look of vintage silk rugs. Beautiful!

Charred wood: The World Wood series by Vives Ceramica simulates the look of Shou-Sugi-Ban wood, which is a Japanese method which involves torching wood and building materials. Each porcelain plank is printed but it feels and looks like the real thing! Cutting edge!

Porcelain Brick: Boston Brick by Natucer has the essence of handmade brick but with the advantages of an extruded porcelain stoneware. The brick has an industrial but nostalgic feel at the same time. Great for indoor or outdoor. Love the outside corner!

Geometric shapes: a wide range of formats and textures such as hexagons, 3D hex, honeycombs, and Moroccan shapes shown in wood, concrete, and terracotta materials. So realistic!

Natucer (top row and bottom left) and Vives Ceramica (bottom right)

Bendable porcelain: the development of thin tile allows new wall materials to bend in different directions. Aparici is exploring new patterns breaking from the normal idea of tile for bathrooms, and kitchens. Innovative!

Three dimensional porcelain: Peronda collaborates with Mut Design to highlight the edges of porcelain. The color palette includes neon green, bink and blue. Love!

Graphic: Aparici is also showing artistic expression in tiles with a comic book and pop flavor.

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