Sunday, February 24, 2013

Eat, Drink, Play, Repeat

While working on one of our shows, All Mixed Up I have gotten to know our celebrity host Chef Ralph Pagano quite well over the months.  I have observed him through the planning stages to the opening of his newest venture - Alba Seaside Italian at Sole on the Ocean in Sunny Isles FL.

So, I have been spending a lot of time there the past weeks, literally every weekend and then some, doing photography, tasting drinks and food....I know its a rough job being friends with a chef....bringing family and friends to dine, and really the same word that escapes everyones lips upon their first taste of either a signature cocktail like the Ginny Rogers, or their first bite of, well anything is the only word I can choose to sum up the entire experience.


Not my literary best I concur, and will not win me any food journalism accolades. I should be using others such as, divine, exquisit, epicurean mastery....but lets be honest people, this isn't food and wine magazine, its just little old me and I am going off of the real life reactions of every person I have brought in there to try it for the first time including myself, just WOW.

The view is one of a kind, nothing but aquamarine crystal blue seas during daylight hours.  Poolside and beachside dining by day, upscale casual elegance with a bit of gangster whimsy and homage to the great Sophia Loren (a personal idol of yours truly,  to look like her at ANY age would be a dream) by night.

Then again a place can be as beautiful as they come but it's the food that makes it or breaks it baby, and Alba does more then deliver the goods.  They own the goods. 

Comfort Food is an over used phrase for sure, and completely relative to most people, but Chef Ralph Pagano takes comfort food to a level I have never seen here in Florida.  I know I sound biased but I am a Northern East coast Italian food snob who has been disappointed with the food options in Florida for years now.  

I have brought friends from Los Angeles, my family (the mother is the toughest critic of them all) a columbian couple who have seen and tried every single restaurant in south Florida and most recently our celebrity host from LA Julie Moran, and every single one of them starts by uttering...."Wow".  See its back to that word - in encompasses all there is to say about Alba Seaside.  

You have NEVER had mussels cooked to perfection like this I am willing to put money on it.

Yes I work for Oysters, not a bad gig

The biggest compliment is that every single person I have brought there, immediately starts planning when and how they can return.  It could be Chef Pagano's dynamic personality and infectious enthusiasm as he brings the bingo wheel over at the end of each meal to explain the game of chance, "The Vinny D Split". You have to go and find out, I can't give away everything all at once, what fun is that?

It could be the special attention from the staff and manager that we always receive, although even though I am a friend I have noticed that kind of personal attention and service is lavished on all clientele - which probably accounts for the repeat business. It could be the food, every dish hitting the mark of perfectly cooked and executed.  Have you ever had Lobster cooked the correct way?  I have now, Alba.

My guess is it is combination of all of the above and more.  There is always something new to discover and it keeps bringing people back again, and again.

Personally its just fun for me to walk into a place and have everybody know your name ....yes you get the reference, I mean come on...who doesn't love being treated as one of the insiders?  Shooting photos for Alba means I am constantly being fed oysters, mussels, stone crabs and being sent home with top shelf wine.  Membership has it's privileges.

Alba.  Check it out.  Once you are in, you can't leave.  You won't want to.

Check out Alba Seaside Italian on Facebook for events, and specials such as WTF -something I can't wait to attend!

And if you have any problems getting in - let me know. 

I know a guy.  ;-)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Very Important Ducks

Just a few rubber duckies
One of the perks of my job is getting to meet and work with great organizations in the area.  Last summer Designing Spaces did a makeover for Kids In Distress so I got to know and become friends with some of the girls who work there.  Well after they jumped into our project last week where we made over Joy Stewarts can see that story in....
 The Huffington Post    (she says all casual like it wasn't one of the bigger hits of my career)....I got to hang out with them again.

Thats a lot of ducks

So yesterday they had their annual fundraising event the Duck Derby, and luckily for me it happens on the New River right in front of my building!  Just the view alone would have been cool, but the girls at KID put me and my family and a few friends down on the list for their V.I.D. tent.....making us Very Important Ducks!

It was a blast.  Food, drink (the alcoholic kind of course), music, a petting zoo, games and a couple thousand rubber duckies released into the water.  Now while the monkey and the lady bug are still a tad young to appreciate it, its just fun to get outside around other families and enjoy the beautiful South Florida winter day.

The monkey man is pretty mobile these days and climbing stairs is his new favorite thing.  Lucky for us there are several levels of stairs in front of The Broward Center of Performing Arts that he could climb again, and again.....and again.

A few of my snaps from the day.

Follow me Zia - for the 5th time

Well come on.....

Ms. Prim just chilling by the river
Next up today - the Kite Festival at Haulover beach in Miami!  I do like South Florida in the winter.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

and then there were 2

In recognition of the fact that I can't start every blog post admonishing myself for neglecting my blog and all of the events in my life for 2012 this will be the last time.....probably.....well we shall see.

Aside from not following the growth and magical moments of my little monkey's life in the past year, honestly I am not sure there is a more photographed child, but I also completely disregarded announcing the arrival of his sister.

Bad Zia

Yes we had a new arrival last year, exactly 1 year and 1 week after Chase Kalman was born, on October 31st 2012 we were graced with the arrival of Alexandra Primrose - who hence forward will be referred to by the name she has been called since she was an hour old.  Primrose.  Or Prim, or my lady bug. 

Sadly Ms. Prim and I didn't get the immediate boding experience as my monkey and I did  After yet ANOTHER long, grueling and dare I admit far worse labor for my sister - I swear I don't know how she did it, it was determined - far to late in my opinion, that the big girls shoulders were turned wrong and she was trapped - so in the blink of an eye we were cleared out and sis was whisked into surgery for the emergency C-Section, without me.  The result of that was that I could only view her through the glass of the nursery and was unable to hold her until much later in the day.  Then, as I now live in my own apartment and have a job, unlike when Chase arrived and we all lived together so he actually slept in my room for the first week, my visits with Ms. prim were few and brief her first few weeks.

Well none of that matters, because now I am in love all over again.

Alexandra Primrose 1 week old
Ms. Prim and her Zia on Zia's 40th birthday.  She is already a pro at dining out 6 weeks old.

My Beautiful sister and her family

So now we have what they call "Irish Twins" in the family.  1 year and 1 week apart. It's not easy I will tell you that and I am amazed at my sisters strength in the face of sleep deprivation, she is 7 years younger then me - but still.  Currently we have 2 teething children, one running all over and beginning to talk, and one who will be soon trying to crawl.  Chaos is a tame word for it at times, but the joy they bring far outweighs anything else.   Easy for Zia to say as she gets to go home to her bed, bubble bath and bottle of wine but I try not to rub that in.

The best part is that they will grow up together, so close in age that they will be each others companions, playmates and friends.  I am sure we have a lot of fighting and crying ahead of us as well, but for now- Chase loves to hug and kiss his little sister and watching him, which she does constantly, makes Prim smile.

and then there were 2

And so a lifelong adventure begins......

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Story of Joy

OVER A YEAR!  I have been so busy writing and being a publicist (and photographer) again that I have negelected my own blog in favor of others for work.

Bad Amanda.

So I decided to get back in the groove by sharing my blog post from my company blog.  Its a back story of an incredible makeover Designing Spaces just completed. 

A Story of Joy

It’s a sad story with a happy ending in the making, for Joy Stewart and her grandchildren.  One day in December, Broward County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Edward Ragauskas went to Detective Lisa Sokol for help.  He had found Joy Stewart living in a home with no heat, running water, electricity or food with her four grandchildren.  Grandchildren who had health issues due to being born to a crack addicted mother who had abandoned them in New York.

Detective Sokol and Deputy Ragauskas put out a call for help to their fellow Broward County Sherriff’s Deputies and the word quickly spread.  Food, clothes and toys were donated; money was collected to turn utilities back on.  Huge name national stores such as Wal-Mart, Brand Smart and Home Depot donated things like a water heater, refrigerator, food, clothes and toys. A very Merry Christmas for sure; however the state of the home the family was living in was not fit for habitation and as the holiday spirit of charity started to dwindle, the good deputies of the BSO were at a loss what to do next.

At that time the local branch of the national non-for-profit Rebuilding Together® stepped in and with them they brought the producers of the locally produced national hit home improvement show Designing Spaces™, airing on Lifetime.  After taking one look at the state of Stewart’s family dwelling, the Dream Team at Designing Spaces decided to tackle the single largest makeover they have to date.  With the help of Rebuilding Together, the Broward County Sherriff’s Office and the local emergency shelter Kids In Distress, where Joy’s grandchildren had been housed until she was able to bring them home, Designing Spaces is redoing and furnishing the entire house room by room.

It’s a story that is not over yet; but one that shows the magic that can happen when a community comes together and helps create Joy.

# # #

While I can't take any credit for the photo - which is fine - I can take credit for the press that attended and covered it!!

Check out the following link to see the heartwarming reveal coverage live.
And I promise to start posting more of my work, thoughts and photos once more - for those of you who are interested!

CBS 4 Miami Piece
Sun-Sentinel Florida

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