Y Li Factory

Do you possess an undeniable sweet tooth but have a sophisticated palate? Then the Y Li Factory is for you. Senneca is not your average baker. As an artist and owner of the company, she specializes in gourmet cupcakes. Y Li offers more than your ordinary vanilla and chocolate cupcakes; because the CEO is an artist, she uses her imagination to challenge your palate.

Each cupcake is sweet and savory because they are organic. Y Li Factory prides itself in using only the freshest ingredients. Y Li uses unconventional ingredients like tea, wine and other liquors. This special bakery is known for constructing its own butter and flour blends. Y Li is known for having flavors you cannot find anywhere else, and a new cupcake is added to the collection every week. The classic Red Velvet is definitely a fan favorite followed by the Oreo Inception cupcake, which is a reconstructed Oreo. It consists of an Oreo cake filled with cream and topped with an Oreo. The presentation of these “babies” is remarkable and YES they taste as good as they look.  To get all the deets (details) visit Y Li Factory at ylifactory.com.

Mint Julep Cupcakes - fresh mint infused boozy, bourbon cake topped with fresh mint and bourbon buttercream

Mint Julep Cupcake – Fresh mint infused with bourbon cake and buttercup topping.

 

 

A little clothes off action 😉

Oreo Inception Cupcake – Oreo cake with cream-filled center topped with an Oreo.

 

Chicken and Waffles Cupcake - buttermilk cake, topped with maple pecan buttercream, a maple butter waffle, and buttermilk fried chicken drizzled with maple butter sauce

Chicken and Waffle Cupcake – Your favorite southern breakfast over a yellow cupcake.

 

Toasted Sesame Crunch Cipcakes - toasted sesame vanilla cake, topped with local Spring honey cream cheese buttercream and a triangle of sesame crunch candy

Toasted Sesame Crunch Cupcake – Toasted sesame vanilla cake topped with local Spring honey cream cheese.

 

The “La Bodega” Cupcake - buttermilk cake with orange zest, coconut, and nutmeg, and topped with an EXTREMELY boozy coconut cream buttercream, and a pineapple flower

The “La Bodega” Cupcake – Buttermilk cake with orange zest, coconut and nutmeg topped with PRYM rum coconut butter cream and an edible pineapple flower.

Location Location Location – The Carlyle Is All That Jazz

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The Carlyle Hotel in New York City has to be one of the most historically fashionable hotels to date. Besides having a history of housing some of history’s most influential people, it has also been known to be one of New York’s jazziest nightspots. Some of our favorite iconic performers have walked these grounds and performed in the night club, including Eartha Kitt, Rita Moreno, Bobby Short, and most recently, iconic bassist, Ron Carter  (accompanied by world famous guitarist, Russell Malone).

My first experience with The Carlyle was some 10 years ago, visiting the late Eartha Kitt before her performance. Her brilliantly decorated and perfectly maintained in-house apartment was astounding. From the doorman who greets you at curbside to the elevator operators, ALL of the staff lavish you with the white glove treatment. Literally. Frequent there enough and you will notice that they will know your name. Which, to me, speaks volumes.

The rooms and suites are some of the lushest environments you will want to call your home, whether it is for the night, the week, or you tie the knot. Your guests will be enchanted by the impeccable service they will receive. The comfort of their beds and the exquisite dining, be it an in-house restaurant or room service, will not leave them disappointed.

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Recently, I had the opportunity to host an event at The Carlyle, and we have to say that everything was first class and polished to perfection! We are sticklers for great customer care. We value the treatment of our readers, thus the reason why we are very hands-on with every business and service we recommend in writing. If it is not inspected and experienced by one of our writers, it won’t be written about. No exceptions.

 

The Carlyle NYC_Lobby

 

So, with great pleasure, we present The Carlyle Hotel as a location to consider for your wedding reception and honeymoon stay.  You will not be disappointed.

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The intimacy that the event space provides makes it worth every dime. When you’ve waited your entire life for this moment of love, the magic you want to create with your new mate should begin in the same fashion you want it to be for the rest of your relationship: With style and elegance. What better way to send that message to each other and share it with your loved ones than at The Carlyle?

Make no mistake, this is not a cheap date. It will cost you, like anything of value which is meant to be cherished. So, when planning your wedding or honeymoon, you will need to evaluate what is more important to you in the grand scheme of things.

But I think you can appreciate that some experiences in life are just worth having and checking-off from your to-do list.

 

Reasons Why

The three most important things for a person looking to plan any event are (1) location, (2) location, and (3) LOCATION! Why is that so important when planning your wedding? It will not only become a factor in your wedding plans, it will also set the tone for the kind of wedding your guests can expect, even before they arrive.

Location will determine how your guests will arrive. They will need to plan ahead based on where they live.

Location will determine the parking situation for your guests. They will need to plan for whether parking is available on-site or off-site, and the cost involved.

Location will set the tone for your guests and the kind of wedding you are having. That includes the dress code, theme, and the ambiance that the space provides.

These are some things you should take into consideration when planning your nuptials. So, for your jazz lovers and history lovers, The Carlyle just might be the piece of history you have always wanted to have for your wedding day!

 

 

Best African Restaurants and Caterers: Thanks African Restaurant Week

 

In most cultures feeding the one you love is the ultimate sign of affection. Your wedding day is one of those occasions where the meal is one of the most important things and comes out in abundance. In the African culture, food is something that is taken very seriously, and you will have plenty of. So if a feast is what you want, then journey with us as we take you back to the motherland where food is the gateway to happiness.

New York African Restaurant Week kicked off April 29, 2014 at Suite 36 in Midtown Manhattan.  The venue was filled with patrons from near and far to sample amazing delicacies from some of the best African restaurants and caterers of New York. Barbara Food Creations, Pierre Thiam Catering, Mombassa Dishes, Farafina, Madiba and Panla Catering were all in attendance with mouth-watering dishes. Let’s just say I went in on a diet and came out craving more of the White Hennesy infused donuts by Sweet Dreams. If you missed out this year I got you covered. Below I have a list of the cuisine I was obsessed with. These caterers will be perfect for any bride looking to add a few African entrees to spice up her menu. Visit nyarw.com to attend their next event!

BARBARA NAADJIE of Barbara Food Creations dishes were Ghanaian inspired, each dish was flavorful and savory. I could not get enough of her stewed fish that was blended with tomatoes and boiled eggs. We were also treated to the infamous Jolof Rice which consists of onions, carrots and peas. The dish that stole my heart was the grilled shrimp that was seasoned to perfection with garlic, thyme, curry, black pepper and tomato paste. They were a little difficult to peel but after the first bite you will agree it was worth the struggle. Barbara can be reached via email and is ready to serve your reception no matter how big or small. nbewere@gmail.com.

Dining with Grace was simply an experience. She offers a full catering service including hors d’oeuvre, entrees and dessert! She has everything to satisfy that international palate of yours, such as savory steak with fresh vegetable toppings. Catering by Grace also offers full roasted chickens. You can reach out to Grace for additional information at www.diningwithgrace.com.

Sweet Dreams! Needless to say I have been dreaming of these sweet bite size donuts since I left Suite 36! The chef Todd Jones is a genius! I’m convinced he put a little bit of heaven in these tasty treats. These miniature donuts are perfect for any event, especially a wedding. He makes them fresh for you on the spot and adds a tad of powered sugar to each one. Think funnel cake meets mini cupcake. The taste is absolutely orgasmic! He even infuses them with different premium liquors, for this event he used Pure White Hennesy. These little treats are definitely worth the calories. Go to http://www.sweetdreamsminidonuts.com for additional info.

Now that our mouth has led the way, our belly is full. The continent of Africa has once again filled us with the wealth of our culture, the gift of our ancestors and has brought us plenty of happiness. We invite you to have your own experience on your wedding day. Bon Appetite.

 

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The List -One Registry for His and Her

The Bridal registry maybe one of the most anticipated tasks for any bride. Picking your favorite items while someone else flips the bill is every girls dream. Unfortunately picking up expensive china is probably the last thing your man has planned for his Saturday afternoon. I have compiled items that will truly make this a his and hers event.

Bedding.

A good portion of your marriage will be spent in bed. What says I love you more than comfy sheets and blankets? Brides and grooms usually forget all about the cozy necessities. Jersey fabrics are light weight and perfect for spring, while flannel sheets are great for your winter time cuddle night.

Knives.

Ladies make cooking for the man in your life easier on yourself and treat yourself to some amazing cookware. Slow cookers and toasters are great but good knives are a necessity. High quality cookware may not seem like the most ideal thing to be shopping for but it can definitely improve your dishes if your still a chef in training.

 

Electronics.

For my guys! It’s definitely acceptable to request electronics on your list. Speakers, cameras, DVD players, hey why not a ipad?! Don’t indulge to much though, no one likes a greedy couple.

 

 

 

 

Honeymoon.

Everything is done online now a days, and you have been dreaming of that honeymoon in the Cayman Islands right? A honeymoon registry only seems logical. This may have been frowned upon back in the day but the cost of spa treatments and snorkeling can add up so why not put in the list?

 

Macys.com is a one stop shop for all of your bridal registry needs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building Your Spirits That Will Leave Your Guests Speechless

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Besides The actual ceremony, the next best thing about a wedding is the party, the bar experience and the food.   So when deciding on your menu that will have your guests talking long after the wedding is over requires a great amount of research when it comes to your bar setup.
As a cocktail waitress at one of the top cocktail bars in Harlem I know a thing or two when it comes to the experience of exploring a cocktail bar. Prior to my employment at 67 Orange in New York City,  which in reality gives you more of a speakeasy atmosphere bar setup in Harlem that opened some five years to date,  I knew very little about cocktails.
This inconspicuous venue, sits in one of Harlem’s historical blocks.  If you move to quickly you will miss it.  With it’s long dark velvet curtains in the window, small golden numbers 67 nailed to the wood beside the front door makes it difficult to notice.
When you join us for dinner and cocktails, expect an experience.  At your arrival you are greeted and seated at a table of your choice, the ambiance is felt on both levels of this intimate space.
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The Experts
Our bartender put great effort into creating each concoction poured into your glass.  So let me get into explain who they are and what we do. The entertaining part of performing this labor of love is the quest of discovering the mixers that our patron enjoy drinking.  Be assured  we have something for EVERYONE.
We pride ourselves on pleasing each of our guests, for example, on a cool New York Spring evening, a patron visiting our establishment, I will recommend something light, refreshing, and savory for their enjoyment, like the Moscow Mule.
As an expert in the industry it is my duty to be observant and make your experience with us a memorable one.
If I were to wait on a “gin & tonic” or “rum & coke” kinda guy/gal my approach is calculated,  I have perfected the ways to steer that person in the direction of a cocktail that will make them forget about such simple request forever.
As a professional bartender I have made it my point to find a more creative way to be innovative about my approach when I attempt to awaken the taste buds of everyone that comes and sits in our establishment.
Ingredients
All of our ingredients are fresh. Our selection of spirits and liqueurs are top shelf. The bartenders are seasoned and take pride in their craft.
The effort we put into serving each guest is a well crafted seduction we take pride in every time someone sits before us.  We provide you with a detailed description, and paint a picture that leaves you at the edge of your seat, that usually does the trick…
‘Emancipation Again’ which is an Crop organic cucumber vodka, muddled with cucumbers, ginger, cilantro, and lime, there’s a bit of agave, vinegar, citronage, and lime in there as well. Shaken with ice & served up in a chilled coupe glass. It’s super refreshing, light, a hint of sweetness and smells wonderful while you’re sipping on it.
Another favorite (for the whiskey lovers) is the ‘Le Grand Old Fashioned’ nothing like the traditional Old Fashion. This cocktail uses a Redemption high rye bourbon, baked apple bitters, benedictine, then stirred with ice and lastly poured over a very large ice cube. Afterwards there is a flamed orange peel rubbed over the glass to give it a smokey essence.
Visit Other Establishments and Explore
As a professional I find it very valuable to my craft to know what other professionals are serving in their establishments. So I make it my point to visit quite a few cocktail bars in the city & throughout my travels.  I find that each establishment is unique in their own ways. I recently visited Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco, CA.  They had over 80 cocktails on their menu. I must admit, I was a little overwhelmed, however I didn’t let that stop my adventure. Jayson Wilde who was tending the bar the evening of my visit, was given my preferences and I allowed him to create. He made the perfect cocktail for me.
The experience truly leaves you wanting to explore all kinds of different cocktails. I’ve been in the industry for about four years and I’m always amazed at how each cocktail is created, the many different ideas, flavors, scents, emotions put into each one.
Name Your Poison 
Names too, oh yes that’s very important! I had the honor of naming a cocktail at my establishment, inspired by gin.
The Color Purple’, yes like the film. Ingredients consist of  Plymouth London Gin, muddled blackberries, lavender bitters, Creme De Violette, St Germain, lemon juice & simple syrup. The flavor is divine and I’m sure you can guess why I chose to name it such.
I can go on and on all day about cocktail bars and such. So as you spend time planning your nuptials, take a breather in between selecting the wedding dress, selecting your venue, planning your seating charts, grab a cocktail, get creative, get in the mood for a nice adult beverage.
If you are feeling up to it, check out yelp and search cocktail bars in your area, go explore the menu, and remember drink responsibly. Cheers!
Alisha May is an expert cocktail mixer with a passion for people and the experience.  You can catch her at 67 Orange In Harlem New York.

Re-focused on Love- My Love Affair in St. Thomas and St. Johns

ritz2-jpg_32_515x290 images-1images 1600-800 pic cokiWhen the plane finally took off, my 5AM flight was the only one out of JFK. Another snow storm was about to hit New York City and St.Thomas lay before me graciously allowing me to leave the darkest winter of my life behind.  On a layover in Puerto Rico I peeled off my coat and decided it was time for a costume change. I was ready to shed my skin and be born anew….at least for the week.

The Island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands is simply breathtaking. From its 360 degree mountain top views to the Old World style of its town’s architecture the island is a floating pantheon of rest. Colorful candy-coated homes dot the mountain sides. Flavorful food aromas thrilled my senses and caused my brain to flash one word-‘Paradise’.  To put it simply St. Thomas  is the most romantic, peaceful place I have ever visited. I imagined a wedding at every turn. A few of my favorite locations were The Ritz Carlton, The Point at Sapphire Beach, and The Villa Santana-a historic estate once occupied by the Mexican  President  General Santa Anna. With six villas and private pool area this home away from home boasted spectacular views of the bay and breathtaking sunsets. The Mafolie Hotel Continue reading

City View Loft

It goes without saying planning a wedding can be stressful. Between the dress, your groom and seating arrangements  you can find yourself overwhelmed quickly. Every aspect of a wedding  has the potential of being a nightmare, but thanks to the wedding gods finding a venue doesn’t have to be.

City View Loft is Chicago’s Premier all inclusive Venue .  Located just 5 minute from downtown Chicago it has claimed the name as the “one-stop-wedding-shop.” Owner Jousha Yates decided to combine his two businesses Pure Kitchen Catering  and Revolt Events, birthing City View Loft. The Venue offers the couple the opportunity to customize the space.   Yates vision is to make wedding planning simple and enjoyable.  City View Loft works with specific vendors to ensure your day is one of a kind.

The Loft is 4500 sq feet and features exposed brick with floor to ceilings windows that frame the skyline.  At night the space is extremely romantic, the tall windows allow the night sky and stars to be a part of the room. During the day, the room is kissed by natural sunlight.

Revolt Events provide all your wedding needs from transportation to floral.  The event team can transform a vintage to modern day themes effortlessly.  You will simply fall in love with their creative design. Pure kitchen catering offers simple, elegant and modern dishes that your guests will crave.  The dishes all come from the hands of Chief Nick Lacasse who competed on Bravos around the world in 80 Plates.

City View Loft is ahead of its time.  The open floor plan will have the couple to be day dreaming, better yet they will see their vision come to life.  City View Loft is located at 342 N. Leavitt in Ukrainian village.  Visit their website http://www.cityviewloftchicago.com for details.

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Creating Your Food Wedding Budget without Breaking the Bank

Everyone dreams of the perfect wedding. We all want our guest to enjoy themselves and rant and rave about how it was the best wedding ever! We generally have dreams of magnificent ice sculptures, unlimited food and alcohol. Then the bill comes and we snap back into reality. Don’t worry, the wedding of your dreams can and will come to life all while respecting your budget. There are many ways to be frugal, especially in the food and drinks department. Don’t shy away from your creative side.

The last wedding I attended had heavy self serve appetizers instead of the hefty cost for plates of filet Mignon per person. They displayed a variety of things such as salads, meat and mini tacos. They even had pepper steak and rice in the cutest Chinese cartons.(They even came with chopsticks.) It was fun, creative and guests loved it.

Instead of doing an open bar for 5 hours, why not consider shortening it down to 3 hours. Serve a few wine options, beer options and well liquor. This will allow your guests to still enjoy cocktails and you save a few dollars. Of course you must have dessert. Cupcake Towers are more popular then ever! You can do traditional yellow cake, chocolate cake or red velvet. This way you can mix up flavors, they even have chicken and waffle cupcakes! (If your into that.)

So for creative ways of entertaining your guests in the food department you may want to check out:
http://www.mirassou.com/education/wedding/tips/wedding-tips-from-aida.asp

The Modern Day San Diego- A Desert Blist

As I make my way to the Amtrak station in Los Angeles, California, given that I only have 2 days off before my next job.  I figured why not visit our amazing celebrity Chef Rodney LoveJones in San Diego.  What could it hurt?  The train ride, round trip, was only a meager $74.00 U.S dollars.  

As I made my way to my seat, with my one suitcase, with what I deemed necessary for the short visit.  The conductor quickly helped me with my luggage. I was happy to see there were plugs so that I can charge my electronic devices that I most definitely can’t do without.  To my pleasant surprise it had free WIFI, so double bingo for me.  The ride was approximately three hours each way.  It would give me the opportunity to catch up on some notes and gather my thoughts.

The seats were quite spacious and comfortable, it would be Business class on an aircraft if I were on a plane.  It was fully equipped with a snack car should I became in need of some refreshments.  So I was all set.

To my pleasant surprise the station was absolutely magnificent, prestine.  The streets were equally clean and quite lovely.  Chef LoveJones, being the gentlemen that he is greeted me with flowers and an embrace.  At that exact moment I knew this journey would be everything I could imagine.

He showed me the downtown area of San Diego-Old Town.  The local businesses, the hotels, the restaurants just beautiful.  After getting a brief tour of the area he took me to his kitchen and began to whip me something in his kitchen.  The food was divine, pasta and vegetables served with white wine, in less then 30 minutes. After enjoying this enchanted moment, I fell asleep in total satisfaction and excited about what tomorrow already promised to bring.

For breakfast  we drove to his establishment where he is the General Manager, 2Good2B, Gluten Free bakery that promises to awaken your taste buds.  The teas, the muffins, the quiches, all freshly made right on the premises. They cater weddings and also do wedding cakes, desserts and appetizers that would definitely suit your wedding needs.  

As an accomplished Chef, Rodney LoveJones, has fed the likes of Presidents, celebrities, models and now me.  So to plan a wedding menu for him is effortless.

He later continued my tour of San Diego by showing me the parks, the art district, and the San Diego beaches, at night I might add.  The view was breath taking.  The tree lined streets, the shopping, art, architecture was definitely an experience for me.  The shops in what may come to be my favorite spot in San Diego, Solo- Salana Beach was like heaven for me as a book lover. Great gifts for your guests and wedding party.

The next day a friend called and met me for lunch and took me to experience one of the towns quaint restaurant, Thyme. The food was also divine.  The setting cozy and comfortable like visiting my mothers home.  Across the street lays The Inn At Ranch Santa Fe. This historical property sits in the heart of the small town.

If you are a lover of small quaint, artsy and chic.  Santa Fe may be the spot for you.  From The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Course, Live Music, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  You will be in honeymoon bliss.  Should you decide to actually host your wedding in the small town of wonderful historical sights you and your guests will sure to have many memorable moments.

For more information on the great things to do in San Diego, please visit: http://www.sandiego.org.  Bon Voyage.

The Business Of Hospitality- Dubai Ramada Plaza Visit

“You can’t please everyone.” We’ve all heard these words since childhood. As adults we need to believe them to survive the harsh competition and to find success in our field.

While pleasing everyone may not be my ultimate goal, for a hotel franchise as large as Ramada the very theory can and will destroy a business while simultaneously killing an economy if ignored.

In this new age of technology the options for travel are endless. With over a hundred sites to help you buy tickets and reserve hotel rooms from cheap stays to the royal treatment, you are bound to craft a journey specific to you and businesses will need to cater to your needs.

We caught up with the managing director of Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach Residence, JBR, Terak Hayder, who shared with us the three formulas of building a successful hotel stay for your guests.

THE FIRST IMPRESSION

The red carpet treatment upon arrival was an understatement. From the moment we arrived our every needs were met. The location is conveniently located within a five-minute walk to the beach and easily connects to a private pool on property. The streets nearby are nothing short of a restaurant mecca. And the hotel itself is equipped with a wig spa, three restaurants and a bar that provided entertainment, both live and stemming from a jukebox that contained variety of tunes.

WINING AND DINING

The hotel is armed with the capability to host not only meetings or luncheons but entire weddings. Guests can choose to enjoy the magnificent city view from a private, intimate setting of 30 all the way up to parties of 160.

The selling point of the restaurant lies within its renowned executive chef whom I promise will not disappoint. This French born food artist is not only charming and pleasing to the eyes ladies, he also has that appetizing French accent that will definitely make an impression in the beginning of your experience for your occasion. The wait staff of women is equally as beautiful and accommodating.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

As always, I am a stickler for manners and customer service. With the exception of the shortage of front desk help that made check-in a bit slow, the offering of refreshments and acknowledgement of your presence makes it tolerable. But I guess when your hotel is at full capacity that may be not such a bad problem to have.

I don’t remember ever pressing a button once we were on the elevator. Security personnel on each main elevator were there to assist me the entire time and I was definitely spoiled.

The hotel staff serves complementary breakfast, snacks, and happy hour beverages to preferred customers leaving nothing to complain about. Except for maybe gaining too much weight after the constant eating you will be doing. Hunger calls at 4am? There is someone in the kitchen ready to serve you. Bon Appetit!

The hotel room itself and the view more then made up for any discomfort experienced at check-in. The property provides parking and a concierge desk for all your needs. There is even a shop for souvenirs and small needs.

So maybe you can please just about everyone. Or come darn close to it.