Ellen Swandiak, Author at HOBNOB Magazine

Author Archive

George Ross: A Talented Photographer with Pure Soul

Posted on: April 8th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

I am writing this to honor and remember a dear friend who was taken by Covid-19. All who knew him are now stunned and feeling a great loss.

Here’s a little about him. George Ross was the closest thing to an angel on earth, he was also was a man of immense talent, taste, and vision. As a photographer, he saw things differently—he truly observed the world, capturing a deep stillness, beauty, and a sense of peace. His clients have ranged from IKEA, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Jack Rogers, Luxe Magazine, House Beautiful and Brides to working with renowned Interior Designers such as Michael Aiduss Design. Whether shooting a multi-million dollar home or a simple vase, he never gave less than 100%. He was deeply respectful of his subjects and a stickler with lighting, which he learned under the tutelage of Lilo Raymond. To work with George was a dream. No matter the goal, George would jump through hoops making sure to achieve what you were looking for with an unfailing kindness. George worked with a sense of joy that stemmed from his deep love of photography and creative drive.

George Ross photo grasses cityscape

George Ross photo interior

Many people judge the importance of people by what they do in the world—George always made people feel important regardless of status or position. Anyone who knew him would say he listened endlessly, he never judged. A positive thinker, one of his magnificent gifts was that he inspired everyone around him to do their best. And, as talented as he was, there was never an ego issue.

George Ross photo indoor pool

George Ross photo antique books

George Ross photo cubbard

George Ross photo details

George went into the Hospital on March 16 after a week of feeling ill, after getting the corona virus. Unfortunately shortly after being removed from a respirator he passed. We lost a great friend, a wonderful man, a husband and father. He is survived by 2 children Katie and Simon, who he passionately loved, and his loving partner Cathryn.

George Ross photo vintage toys

George Ross photo butero

George Ross photo flowers and pillow

George Ross photo orange is his favorite color

We will always think of him when we see the color orange, which he surrounded himself with in props, clothing, down to the extension cords with which he connected his computer to his camera. The color is associated with joy, sunshine, enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, and determination—which are words that can be used to describe the man himself.

photos by George Ross

George Ross at the diner


Covid-19 NYC: Noticing the Quiet Beauty

Posted on: March 21st, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

What a week! It’s crazy to think that the whole planet is in a state of uncertainty, and all for the sake of something microscopic. Invisible. That damn covid-19 NYC pause is happening. For how long, we don’t know,

And how weird is it to be the editor-in-chief of a website about going out and entertaining right now. I hope you enjoy our suggestions for making the most of the time you are spending at home. And remember to take a walk. And think about your favorite spots and try to support them. Help your neighbors if they need it.

spring hits Gramercy Park, Covid-19 NYC

Tonight, the weather was at the perfect temperature, the cherry trees were in bloom, the daffodils were looking their absolute most adorable, swaying animatedly in the light breeze. I soaked up the calm as much as I could. And am hoping for the best. And there’s a lovely quietness that surrounds us, almost like a blanket of snow before anyone’s had the chance to walk through it.

Best of luck to everyone. Stay safe. Stay happy.

—March 20, 2020

gramercy park NYC L'express restaurant during Covid-19 NYC

Note: L’express, old reliable with its doors shuttered… kids playing in the street… parking spaces!!

Covid-19 Isolation: An NYC Social Distancing Survival Guide

Posted on: March 20th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

At first, it might seem just like any other snow day, but soon we start to realize that practicing social distancing and being tied to your home with the same surroundings every single day is no picnic. We like to think of this time as physical distancing, but vow to remain social. In New York, most businesses are closed and we are told to stay at home. For New Yorkers with very active lifestyles and social personalities this is the time to get creative. So, we can’t socialize and live to the fullest outdoors, not a problem, we gathered helpful activities that are fun and help you stay connected during your Covid-19 isolation term. Chin up!


• Cocktail Bars Do Take-Out

Craving a cocktail made by someone else? If you happen to live in New York and have to go out for groceries, stop by your local bar for a take-out cocktail. Some of New York’s best bars, such as Please Don’t Tell, are offering take-out cocktails as a way to get their business going. (as seen in the photo at the top of this post) This has been okayed by the governor for now, but is always subject to change. Follow your favorite bars on Instagram to find out who offers this type of service and who is closed today.

Covid-19 Isolation NYC survival guide: dinner from Carbone delivered

• Foodie Delivery

Now you can finally get into Carbone. (photos from my yummy lunch above) Some of New York’s most hard to get into restaurants are offering delivery through Caviar. This delivery service is nothing to frown upon. They even include GPS-tracking. Manhattan’s best restaurants are on Caviar, so take advantage. The Delicious Hospitality Group is offering 3 course meals from Charlie Bird, legacy Records, and Pasquale Jones for $40. (book through Caviar) The Resy app gives you up-to-date options with menu options and delivery times to book. Almost like being there…

hobnobmag At Home Mixology

• Become an At-Home Mixologist

Become an expert at a new skill. We recommend mixology. We are all trying to stay healthy right now, but the occasional cocktail (or make it a mocktail) might help you bring the bar scene to your doorstep. Thankfully Hobnob has your at-home mixology covered. It’s all about the right mixers. Here is our ultimate list of refreshing cocktails, and mocktails to try at home

Covid-19 Isolation NYC survival guide exercise on YouTube

• Get Your Cardio & Dancing Here

305 Fitness offers free workout videos on their Youtube Channel. This is one cardio dance party you will want to join. It will have you doing a happy dance in no time. The instructors are enthusiastic, the DJ is excellent and the positive endorphins are needed right now.

Covid-19 Isolation survive by exploring museums on Google

• Craving Some Culture?

For those who love to roam the endless halls of museums, Google has partnered up with museums and other landmarks. You can take yourself on a virtual tour to places like Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

• Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

This is the time to test your patience and learning skills. Ivy League schools like Harvard are providing free online courses. You can even learn a new language with apps like Duolingo. Impress them at the next cocktail party with your foreign language skills. Plus, learning a new language improves your thinking skills and memory.

• Netflix and Socialize

Grab the popcorn. Netflix Party is an excellent way to watch TV with your friends and family. The feature works with Google Grome. It even synchronizes video playback and adds group chat.

• Talk To Your Indoor Plants

This one might seem strange, but plants make great companions. According to a study done by the Royal Horticultural Society, talking to your plants helps them grow. If nothing else, they do cheer up your home and clean the air. NASA’s Clean Air Study tells us what we already knew, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but it also tells us that indoor plants help remove volatile organic pollutants in your home.

• Online Gaming

Playing games, like Words with Friends, or other challenging your smarts games, allows you to stay in touch, without the touching. Or try Battleship online, or chess at Lichess.

At-Home Mixology: Learn to Make Lip-Smacking Cocktails

Posted on: March 20th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

Practicing non-essential social distancing is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19. At this time, going to bars is not at the top of anyone’s list. In New York, bars and restaurants have either closed or provide take-out or delivery only. This is your chance to learn the art of mixology at home. Creating fun and refreshing cocktails at home provides a much-needed break from reality. 

If you’re looking for your liver to survive social distancing, try these non-alcoholic Cocktails. (seen in the photo at the top of this post)

For a larger group of people surviving social distancing with you, we recommend a punch recipe courtesy of Erik Andersson and Hendrick’s Gin. 

Oscar Cocktails

Curl up with a movie and a cocktail inspired by Hollywood. Check out our story on winning Oscar cocktails, inspired by the movie nominations. 

Luxury wine and spirits snobs can stock up their bar with our list of exquisite choices. We tasted them and give our seal of approval. 

French Cheese and Cocktail Pairings

Pair cheese with cocktails. Learn the basics of pairing cheese from our four examples. Recipes included. 

Fans of Prosecco can learn to make complex sips, topped with their favorite bubbly. Attending an event with a cocktail competition provided the most perfect list of prosecco recipes

At Home Mixology

Learn to work with better mixers. They are one of the most important tools for at-home mixology. This list includes fantastic cocktails and mocktails, using the right mixers.

There is no better time to open that bottle of tequila. This list of four tequila cocktail recipes features a lively mix of fresh and fruity flavors. 

Celebrate Spring: Chantarelle and Foraged Fiddlehead Pizza

Posted on: March 19th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

At this month’s party, foraged ingredients make an artistic statement on fiddlehead pizza. Take advantage of the season—and the subtle taste of fiddleheads (which are immature ferns) and have a light asparagus taste—and match them with bright orange chanterelle mushrooms.

For the base, some puff pastry and a combination of ricotta and scharfe maxx cheeses creates a luxe pairing, plus a creamy bed for these earthy ingredients. This pizza will surely make a statement at your gathering, and celebrate Spring’s wild bounty.



1/2 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (makes 3 long pieces)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Unfold thawed pastry and cut into thirds to achieve long sections. Bake for 15 min. While still hot, push gently down on the tops of the puff with a spatula to create the valleys for toppings.


1/4 LB fiddleheads
1/4 LB chanterelles

3 TB EV olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
sprinkle of red pepper flakes

Triple-wash fiddleheads thoroughly. Trim brown parts. Blanche for four min and move to an ice bath. Drain and set aside. Clean mushrooms with a soft brush to remove all dirt. Cut mushrooms decoratively, keeping in mind how you they will look on the pizza.

Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to the fiddleheads and chantarelles, saute for 3 min.


1/2 LB fresh ricotta cheese
s + p
1/4 LB scharfe maxx cheese

In a bowl, season ricotta with s + p to taste. Shred the scharfe maxx cheese and place in a separate bowl.


puff pastry
ricotta cheese
scharfe maxx cheese
ramps, cut in half vertically (optional)
dandelion leaves, cut into small bits, for garnish

When puff pastry has slightly cooled, add 3 dollops of the ricotta, spread evenly over the entire surface of each pastry, then sprinkle the scharfe maxx. If using, place 1-2 ramps lengthwise on the cheese, then spot the fiddleheads and chantarelles around the entire surface. Bake for 5 min on the oven’s top shelf. Remove from oven and toss on the dandelion leaves. Cut each long piece into 4 minis.

Galentine’s Day: Celebrate with Chic Cocktails from Chambord

Posted on: February 12th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

We hope you agree: Cindy Lauper’s, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” should be the anthem for Galentine’s Day. What is Galentine’s Day you ask? While it is not a national holiday (yet), it is an official holiday dedicated to the power of female friendships. Believe it or not, Galentine’s Day started as a fictional holiday on the show Parks and Recreation. The made-up holiday took off in real life, likely because it fulfilled the need for a special day to show your girlfriends how much you love, appreciate and empower them. The options on how to spend your Galentine’s Day are endless. Make it a spa day, a weekend getaway (we recommend the Tarrytown House Estate for a NYC escape), or a good old fashioned sleep over.

Chambord liqueur gave us some great ideas for celebrating at their Galentine gathering at New York City’s Catch Steak private dining room. They were able to assemble a room full of Galentine’s enthusiasts, enjoying Chambord’s pretty cocktails and a menu of wonderful one-bite bites from Catch. The Almond Crusted Cauliflower was our favorite (and the mini steaks came in second). Yes, Chambord Liqueur makes delicious cocktails but this goes to show that they are more than just a pretty bottle with black raspberry liqueur. In case you were wondering, the secret to Chambord Liqueur’s velvety deliciousness is fresh blackberries and raspberries, soaked in french spirits.

Here are some easy recipes from the event that can enhance your Galentine celebration. 

Chambord Royale

(seen in the photo at the top of this post).

.33 oz Chambord
sparkling wine
garnish: 1 blackberry or raspberry

In a flute glass, pour in Chambord, then fill with sparkling wine. Garnish with berry.


hobnobmag Chambord Galentine's Day Cocktails at Catch Steak3

The Bramble

(photo, right)
2 oz Fords Gin
1 oz lemon juice
2 barspoons simple syrup
.5 oz Chambord
garnish: lemon twist

Shake or stir ingredients together. Transfer to an Old fashioned glass with crushed ice (if you have). Top with lemon twist.

French Margarita

(not pictured)
2 oz tequilia
1 oz Chambord
1 oz triple sec
.5 oz sour mix

Shake with ice and transfer to Margarita glass.

hobnobmag Chambord Galentine's Day Cocktails at Catch Steak

The private dining room at Catch Steak was the perfect setting for Chambord’s whimsy, and featured compelling artwork throughout.

hobnobmag Chambord Galentine's Day Cocktails at Catch Steak

The entry to Catch Steak is inviting for Instagrammers. Right, Paulina Kajankova sips a Bramble cocktail.

Another reason to applaud Chambord is their initiative with bartenders. This liqueur brand has made it their business to empower bartenders in order to protect women from potentially dangerous situations at bars. Chambord partnered with Alteristic, utilizing the “Bystander Intervention Training Program. Here are the top 3 steps Chambord and Alteristic want you to take to stay safe at a bar: [1] Check in to ask, “Hey, is everything okay?”[2]  If NOT time to start a conversation with your friend to divert the situation—maybe claim to need help finding your phone; sometimes all it takes to de-escalate a situation is a simple diversion. [3] Involve a bartender to help you safely deal with the situation as they can recognize problem behaviors and have the authority to intervene. chambordchannel.com


New York City Getaway: Make it a Long Valentine’s or Galentine’s Weekend

Posted on: February 12th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

Mini getaways from the island are New Yorker’s specialty. We often search for a place that is close enough in proximity, making it convenient for travel, but far from the aesthetic of the city. What better excuse to getaway, than romance or a Gal-entine celebration?

hobnobmag New York City Getaway Tarrytown House Estate

Tarrytown House Estate is only an hour north of Manhattan and is offering two exclusive packages. The elegant estate is nestled on 26 lush acres, overlooking the Hudson River.

The “Romance on the Hudson” Package Includes…

Pricing for this getaway starts at $204.73 per night

The “Gal-entine’s Getaway” Package Includes…

Pricing for this getaway starts at $433.48 per night

hobnobmag New York City Getaway Tarrytown House Estate

Tarrytown House Estate 49 East Sunnyside Lane, Tarrytown, New York 10591, by train: take Metro North Hudson Line to Tarrytown

hobnobmag New York City Getaway Tarrytown House Estate

If a getaway is not in the cards, try these cocktails from Chambord for a fun night.

A Colorful and Festive Scallop Ceviche with Blood Orange Sauce

Posted on: February 12th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

A Valentine’s Day dish. Winter is the season for blood oranges, and the brightness of their juice makes for a festive scallop ceviche indeed. Add the sprinkling of jalapeño pepper bits and pomegranate for an extra happy touch.

I included this recipe in our Aphrodisiac party menu specifically to create a stir. The color red is purported to arouse passion. So I’ve included not only the blood orange juice, but a sprinkling of pomegranate arils—which also adds a nice crunch. Let’s get the night going! The goddess Aphrodite is credited with planting the first pomegranate tree which has since been associated with fertility.

If serving for a crowd, plate individually in clear plastic glasses, with diced ingredients as a topping.



1/2 LB bay scallops
1/4 CUP lime juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 limes)
1/4 CUP pink grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed (about 1/2 grapefruit)

Cut scallops horizontally into 3 pieces. Toss ingredients together in a nonreactive bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

HOBNOBMAG scallops CEVICHE marinade


1/2 CUP blood orange juice (about 1-2 oranges)
juice from 1/2 lime
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 TB EV olive oil
1/2 tsp soy sauce
squirt of sriracha
s +p

Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl or pitcher. Cover and refrigerate till ready to use.


1 pink grapefruit, cut into supremes
2 TB cucumber, diced
1/2 jalapeño, diced
1 TB fresh mint, cut into thin strips
pomegranate arils
1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced (optional)

Remove scallops from refrigerator, drain excess liquid. Set up your plating dishes. Arrange scallops, alternating citrus in between. Spoon the blood orange sauce over a little at a time, do not drown. Sprinkle cucumber and jalapeño. Garnish with mint, pomegranate, and radish.

Roccbox: Mini Pizza Oven with the Right Stuff

Posted on: February 1st, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

When only a crisp crust and wood-fired cooking will do, turn to Roccbox, a high-powered oven that looks as great as it cooks. The oven measures only about 16 inches wide by 18 inches with legs extended, but packs a blisteringly-hot punch. Founder Tom Gozney, driven by a passion for the ancient practice of stone and fire cooking has taken elements of commercial ovens and adapted them to fit this backyard bonus.

hobnobmag Roccbox Mini Pizza Oven

How it works: It has a built-in thick stone floor that creates the ultra dry environment necessary to crisp pizza crust from below with rolling flames above to bake the toppings. The oven’s body is made of multiple layer of steel layers protected by an insulated silocone shell, making it safe to the touch, even though temperatures can cross over 900ºF. The oven quickly gets up to temperature so you can cook a pizza in just 60 seconds (which translates to 20+ pizzas per hour, satisfying even the hungriest party crowd).

hobnobmag Roccbox Mini Pizza Oven

It also boasts a thermometer allowing easy monitoring of the temperature from below the stone and interchangeable burners—either wood-burning or gas. Though designed for ultimate pizza making, you can also use the oven for other recipes, like Spicy Baked Buffalo Wings (see the recipe here)

hobnobmag Roccbox Mini Pizza Oven

Watching the video that opens this website is definitely hunger-inducing. Made in the UK, the Roccbox comes in chartreuse green or gray. $899. gozney.com

Spicy Baked Buffalo Wings

Posted on: February 1st, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

Touchdown this SuperBowl Sunday with these Spicy Baked Buffalo Wings that even the fittest athletes can’t say no to. This recipe is courtesy of Gozney, a company that makes the coolest and most powerful mini pizza ovens for your backyard (see more on the ovens at this link). Instead of deep-frying the wings, try Gozney’s technique for creating crispy skin while keeping the meat to remain incredibly moist inside. You can learn the tricks to crispy skin and more in this educational and entertaining step by step video here.


See more recipes for watching the game, like Sirloin Steak Toasts with Zesty Crumbs, at Hobnob’s Party #18 Classy Sports: An Upscale Menu for Watching the Big Game


2-3 TB plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 TB salt

12-16 chicken wings, a mix of wingettes and drumettes

This step allows for the chicken skin to get crisp, by removing all the moisture: Toss first three ingredients together in a bowl. Separate the wings from drumettes by cutting through the knuckle if they are still attached. First remove excess moisture from the skins by placing chicken between two paper towels and pressing down, then dredge in the flour mixture, shake. Set on a cooling rack and refrigerate overnight, uncovered.


1 CUP sour cream
1/2 CUP buttermilk
4 oz blue cheese (gorgonzola or other soft blue)

Mix thoroughly in a bowl. Season to taste, if needed. This can be made a day ahead, and would allow the flavors to really meld.


6 TB Unsalted Butter
8 TB Franks Hot Sauce

While the chicken is cooking, melt ingredients together and keep warm.


Lightly heat a cast iron grill pan in the oven, about 5 min. Add chicken and cook for about 30-35 mins, rotating and flipping a few times. When skin in nice and browned, remove from oven and use tongs to dip the wings in warm hot sauce, transfer to a plate. Serve with blue cheese dip in a bowl alongside the wings.

Plant-Based Fun: Top Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in New York City

Posted on: January 29th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

The beginning of a new year is filled with hungry New Yorkers looking to indulge in their healthy resolutions. Thankfully, unlike resolutions, plant-based restaurants are here to stay.

Divya’s Kitchen (seen in the photos at the top of this post) is where you will find your community of fellow vegan and Ayuvedic cuisine aficionados. Chef Divya Alter can be frequently seen talking to guests and making sure everything is just right. The almost spiritual atmosphere at Divya’s Kitchen is a reflection of Divya herself. She is a delightful host and possesses a wealth of knowledge on all things vegan. At the center of it all is the belief that food can heal. Eat brunch, lunch or dinner here and chose from dishes like: “Sunflower Beet Humus”, “Vegetable Pancakes” or a “Curry Bowl”. Make sure to try like their “Poppy Seed Biscuit”.

Divya’s Kitchen 25 1st Avenue (betw 1st/2nd St)

hobnobmag Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in New York City

hobnobmag Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in New York City

hobnobmag Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in New York City

Copper Branch is a vegan franchise from Canada. Their Director of Marketing, Andrew Infantino, tells us that New York City has a booming veg-appreciation and hopes to open more branches in our influential city. What makes Copper Branch different from other take-out or eat-in places in New York is their all-day breakfast menu, options like burgers, desserts, and all-natural hot and cold beverages. The substantial portions will wow you and the variety of tasty dishes will make you want to eat this way every single day.

Copper Branch 195 Bleecker St (betw 6th Ave /Macdougal St)

hobnobmag Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in New York City

Ladybird is a fashionable restaurant and bar in the East Village, serving creative tapas, fondue to share, vegan cocktails and a trendy atmosphere. If you are looking for a truly fun experience to explore a vegan cuisine or want to impress a date, Ladybird is the place to go. This venue explores the idea that vegan food does not have to be bland or boring. In fact, Ladybird’s dishes are so good, it might make you a convert. Besides getting to taste ingenious dishes, this is the kind of spot you will want to showcase on your Instagram feed

Ladybird 111 E 7th St (betw A and 1st Avenue)

hobnobmag Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in New York City

Ravi DeRossi is the owner of Ladybird and one of his latest openings, Night Music happens to be right next door. The two entrances mirror each other in style but Night Music focuses on a vegan menu inspired by an Indian cuisine. In some cultures, “vegan” food did not have a label – it simply was and still is a national way of eating. It is no wonder then, that a vegan restaurant would want to borrow from the vast wisdom of those cultures. Night Music is a place where Indian home cooking is recognized in a hip atmosphere, with natural wines and funky tropical cocktails to boot.

Night Music 111 7th St (betw A and 1st Avenue)

hobnobmag Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in New York City

Superiority Burger guests can be seen spilling over onto Ninth Street. This burger spot might lack the space to fit them all, but it never lacks the enthusiastic customers. Their simple but always exciting fast-food menu is more than just burgers. The options include vegetarian and vegan options, special of the day, wraps, gelato and sorbet. You do not have to be a vegan to love this place. The menu has a reputation for changing on a regular basis. In fact, Superiority Burger proves that meat-free food can be exciting, and taste as delectable and unhealthy as your favorite non-vegan fast-food.

Superiority Burger 430 E 9th St (betw A and 1st Avenue)

hobnobmag Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in New York City

Van Leeuwen serves vegan and artisan ice cream in various locations of the city, but their story begins with just a truck. All the ice cream is made from scratch in Brooklyn from a handful of fresh ingredients. The vegan options are made with cashew milk and other all organic ingredients. If you have a sweet-tooth for ice cream after dinner and need a time-out with a cone, stop by the East Village location and park yourself on a bench. They are open late. We love to people watch with a cone in hand.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream 48 1/2 E 7th St (betw 1st and 2nd Avenue)



The International Vegan Film Festival seeks to educate and spotlight on animal welfare, veganism and climate change showing the  “Best of the Best” films from 2019. If you are interested in a film submission for the third annual Festival, the entry deadline is June 30, 2020. The Festival’s mission is to: “Be the leading film festival for vegan films that inspire people to choose a healthier, more environmentally-friendly and compassion lifestyle through the consumption of plants and animal-free alternatives”. See the entire schedule of worldwide events here.


For the Love of Books: Designing and Curating a Home Library

Posted on: January 29th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

Libraries say a lot about a person. Their choice of books show their style, the way they think,  and often track stages of their lives. Showing off a collection in its best light can bring all these things together in a magnificent way—turning books into a personal style statement.

hobnobmag For the Love of Books Curating a Library

If you’ve got a fantastic collection and are looking for guidance on how to display, then you need to pick up yet another book. For the Love of Books is designed for book lovers and goes the extra mile in considering a collection. Written by Thatcher Wine, a book aficianado who has worked his magic on the libraries of celebrities, business leaders, royal families, interior designers and retailers around the world. In fact, you may have seen his work at The NoMad Hotel in New York, or in the luxury high-rise at 95 Wall Street.

With all this experience under his belt, he’s filled the  book with wonderful advice, and guides each person in the best ways to display their collection. The book offers a myriad of questions to ask yourself to determine what goes and what stays, how to define your areas of interest (and if there are more books to add), and the best way to evaluate your current statement.

Thatcher started thinking about putting this book together in 2016, after a TED Talk he gave entitled The Books We Keep, The Stories We Tell. Afterwards he found himself inundated with comments and questions from book lovers of every background—some wanting to show off their libraries and others with questions about how to best style their shelves. Incorporating all of his experience and expertise since starting Juniper Books in 2001, For the Love of Books is a treasure trove of wisdom and creative ideas.

hobnobmag For the Love of Books Curating a Library

hobnobmag For the Love of Books Curating a Library

One of the things that really caught my eye is his idea of using the book spines to create an overall image that defines the theme. As a matter of fact, Thatcher Wine has patented his method. His company, Juniper Books also currently offers over 300+ special edition book sets including its bestsellers: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, plus numerous Children’s Books and Cookbook Collections. They also offer jackets only designs for some classics book sets, allowing customers to transform the books they already own with the addition of its high-design jackets.

hobnobmag For the Love of Books Curating a Library

hobnobmag For the Love of Books Curating a Library

Juniper Books has completed over 3,000 custom projects for clients ranging from single books in custom jackets to libraries with over 10,000 books. The company’s custom projects start at $350 for a small set and can range into six or seven figures for a large highly curated library. See more inspiraton @juniperbooks on Instagram (and check the #bookstagram hashtag) or at juniperbooks.com.

hobnobmag For the Love of Books Curating a Library

Spinach Crepes with Two Savory Fillings

Posted on: January 28th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

Crepes are one of the first things I learned to cook as a child because I loved them so much. These have the addition of spinach, giving them a lively green color and a slightly more earthy taste. Using spelt flour and oat milk also makes them more up-to-date than your typical white-flour-milk variety. Make sure to let the batter rest before cooking, otherwise they will tear when rolling. You can even make the batter the night before for fantastic results.

When cooking the crepes, the first one in the pan is the test. With this result, you can determine if you need to thin out or thicken the batter, and if you need to adjust the flame up or down.

Using fresh spinach gives the crepes a brighter green color, but you can also use defrosted frozen spinach in a pinch. The two fillings: Salmon and Arugula in Lemon-Dill Cream Sauce and Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, and Yellow Squash in Tahini Garlic Sauce add to the decadence of the crepes.



6 eggs
2 CUPS spelt flour
2.25 CUPS oat milk
1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt

Split the ingredients in half, and make the batter in two batches in a food processor. Blend on high speed until smooth. Move to a large bowl, combine both batches. Let rest at least 20 min to allow the mix to fully combine. 



In 9-inch non-stick skillet, add about a tsp of butter to the pan, and melt. Pour a ladle’s worth of batter into the pan, then add about another half, so when you twirl the pan around the batter goes all the way to the edge.

Fry for about 2 min, until bottom has golden touches. Run a spatula around the edges and carefully flip over. Fry for one more min or so. (Once you make the first crepe, and the pan is nice and hot, the rest should not stick.) Transfer to a plate and repeat with the rest of the batter.


cooked crepe
filling (recipes follow)

Fill the crepes as they come off the pan, allowing a minute or so for them to cool a bit. Spread 3 TB of desired filling, leaving the bottom inch clear, and top 1.5 inches clear (as seen in the photo below). Roll tightly, pushing down so there is no air. Place on serving plate with open end underneath. Crepes are good at room temperature, or even cold, so great for a buffet situation.

hobnobmag Recipe Spinach Crepes

Filling: Salmon and Arugula in Lemon-Dill Cream Sauce

A rich salmon and cream gets a kick of arugula, to add some bite. Cooking the salmon in the microwave speeds things along.


Lemon-Dill Cream Sauce


3 TB butter, cut into chunks
4 oz cream cheese, cut into chunks
1/4 CUP vegetable stock
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

Cook gently over very low flame while whisking, about 3 min. Allow to cool.


lemon cream mixture
3/4 CUP sour cream
white part of 3 scallions, cut into thin rings
1 TB dill

In a small bowl mix all ingredients well.


1 1/4 LB salmon fillet
s + p

Cook salmon in microwave: Place on a microwave safe dish, cook on hight for 1 min. Check to see if cooked through, add time in 30 sec increments till fully cooked. Allow to cool. Shred with a fork. Move to large bowl.


4 CUPS arugula, chopped finely
1/4 CUP pumpkin seeds, chopped finely
Lemon-Dill Cream Sauce

Toss all ingredients together, adding the sauce a little at a time. Don’t oversauce the mix or it will ooze out of the crepes.

hobnobmag Recipe Spinach Crepes

Filling: Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, and Yellow Squash in Tahini Garlic Sauce

This vegetable medley adds a striking vegetarian addition to the spinach crepes. The tahini really adds a special flavor and richness.


Tahini Garlic Sauce


1/4 cup tahini
juice of 2 lemons
2 TB olive oil
2 cloves garlic, squeezed in a garlic press
1/4 tsp agave
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper


Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl. If too thick, add about a tsp of water to thin it out.

Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Yellow Squash Medley


10-15  brussels sprouts, cut into thin strips (or processed in food processor)
1 head cauliflower, riced in food processor
2 yellow squash, shredded
6 TB butter

Saute each ingredient separately in a large pan with 2 TB butter. Allow to sit on the pan about 3 min, so the edges get nice and brown, stir, total cook time 5-6 min each batch. (Don’t crowd the pan, you may have to do each ingredient in two batches.) Toss together in a large bowl.


Tahini Garlic Sauce
cooked veggies

Add sauce to the veggie medley, and mix well. Do not overdress.

hobnobmag Recipe Spinach Crepes

Non-Alcoholic Cocktails for Enjoying Your Detox

Posted on: January 28th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

We all have those times in our social lives when a break from cocktails are in order. No reason to despair, these gorgeous concoctions provide the lip-smacking solutions for those going alcohol free. Your liver will savor the vacation.

On The Wagon Off the Road

(photo at the top of this post)

Strawberry Rhubarb syrup:

4 stalks of rhubarb
1 quart strawberries
1 quart sugar
1 quart water

Cook for 45 minutes and strain.

The Cocktail:

1.5 oz Kin High Rhode
.75 oz strawberry rhubarb syrup
.5 oz lime juice
Top with Fever-Tree Ginger Beer

Add all ingredients to a shaker except ginger beer. Add ice and shake. Strain into a mule mug with ice. Top with Fever-Tree Ginger Beer. Garnish with toasted rosemary sprig.
— non-alcoholic cocktail by Kendall Atkerson, The Hoxton, Williamsburg


Seldom in the DayLight

(photo, above left)
3 oz Fever-Tree Club Soda
1 oz lime juice
1.5 oz sugarcane juice
3 lime wedges
5-6 mint leaves

Lightly muddle lime wedges in the bottom of the glass, smack mint, add lime juice, sugarcane juice, and top with Fever-Tree Club Soda. Garnish with sugarcane stick and mint sprig.
—non-alcoholic cocktail by Shawn Chen, Beverage Director, RedFarm and Decoy

Carrot Aperol Spritz

(photo, above right)

3 oz fresh carrot juice
1 oz ginger syrup (ginger root that’s blended with simple syrup)
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
1 drop vanilla extract
1.5 oz Fever-Tree Ginger Beer

Add all ingredients except ginger beer into shaker and shake hard for 5 seconds with 5 ice cubes.
Pour ginger beer into shaker and strain Into chilled ice filled glass.
Garnish with carrot curls / sprig parsley.
— non-alcoholic cocktail by Gaby Mlynarczyk, Beverage Director, The Fat Radish


3 oz lemon verbena tea
1 oz lime juice
1.25 oz ginger syrup
Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a ginger candy.
— non-alcoholic cocktail by Amy Racine, The Loyal

Untraditional Kosher Recipes for Chanukah

Posted on: December 25th, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

Got plans for celebrating Chanukah? To follow are 8 clever recipes, one for each night of the holiday where fried foods are the focus. How did this tradition begin? When the Maccabees defeated their oppressors, who wanted them to worship only Greek gods, it was time to purify and rededicate their Temple. There they found only one jar of oil, enough to keep the eternal light aflame for a single day. But miraculously, that light continued to burn for eight days. Hence, oil symbolizes the victory of light over darkness.

Kosher.com comes to the rescue with creative takes on tradition. We feature two of their fun recipes here, both which will delight children and adults alike: Gluten-Free Sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and Chanukah Stained Glass Cookies.


Gluten-Free Sufganiyot (Jelly Donuts)



3/4 CUP water
1 TB Gefen Instant Yeast
2 TB granulated sugar

Pour the water into a microwave-safe cup/bowl. Microwave for 15-30 seconds or until warm. Then, sprinkle the sugar and yeast into the warm water. Mix with a fork and set aside for 5 min so that the yeast can activate.


3 large eggs
1/2 tsp molasses
1 TB  Gefen Pure Vanilla Extract
1 TB pure maple syrup or granulated sugar
1 TB Tonnelli Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 CUP grapeseed oil (or other flavorless oil)

activated yeast

Meanwhile, in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or in a bowl with a handheld mixer), beat together the eggs, molasses, vanilla extract, maple syrup or sugar, apple cider vinegar, and oil on medium-low speed until well combined. Next, add the yeast mixture to the egg mixture and beat for 1 minute on medium speed until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.


2 CUPS tapioca starch
1 CUP white rice flour
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
pinch salt

Add the tapioca starch, white rice flour, xanthan gum and salt to the egg-yeast mixture. Beat on medium speed for 3 min, scraping down the sides of the bowl every 30 sec. The mixture will look like a thick batter and totally NOT kneadable.


prepared dough
piping bag

Line a large cookie sheet with 10 parchment paper squares. Set aside. Then, fit a piping bag with a large circle piping tip. (Alternatively, cut about 3/4 inch off the corner of a gallon ziploc bag.) Fill the bag halfway with the batter and pipe large donut-shaped mounds onto each parchment square on the prepared pan. (*My donuts were about 2 inches in diameter.)Optional: If you have the time, allow the piped donuts to rise on the counter for 20-30 minutes.

Place all the piped donuts on the baking sheet into the freezer for 30 min to 1 hour. Allow the donuts to defrost for 20-30 min on the counter.


48 oz vegetable oil
thawed donuts

confectioners sugar, for finishing

When you’re ready to start frying, heat two inches of oil in a large, deep pan until it reaches 350º F.

Drop the donuts into the hot oil. Only fry two to three donuts at a time or else they won’t cook evenly. Cook the donuts on each side for 2 – 3 min until golden brown.

Transfer the fried donuts to a plate lined with paper towel and place paper towels on top of the donuts to soak up any excess oil.

Serve immediately or within a few hours of making for best results. If eating the second or third day, microwave the donut for 30 seconds for best results.

Note: These donuts can be filled with jam, custard, or any other filling you like. I highly recommend filling them with a good quality raspberry jam. These are super delicious with a sprinkle of confectioners sugar.

­—Recipe By Dalya Rubin


Chanukah Stained Glass Cookies



1/2 CUP butter, softened
3/4 CUP sugar

1 large egg
1/2 tsp Gefen Vanilla Extract

1  1/2 CUPS all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp Haddar Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt

Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Gradually add dry ingredients to the butter, and cream the mixture. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.


prepared dough

1/2 CUP hard candy, crushed

Preheat oven to 350ºF. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out batter about 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Cut a small circle in the middle of each shape with a butter knife or smaller cookie cutter. Place shapes on a Gefen Easy Baking Parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for five minutes.

Remove the baking sheet, and carefully spoon 1/2 tsp of crushed hard candy into the center of each cookie. Bake for 4 – 5 more minutes, or until the candy has melted completely. Cool, first for 15 minutes on baking sheet, then move to cooling rack.

Six more recipes to consider:

Savory Potato Latke “Cookies”

Oven-Fried Zucchini Sticks aka Un-Fried Zucchini Candles

Crispy and Oozy Fried Mozzarella

Matzo Ball-Stuffed Onion Rings

Two-Ingredient Fried Brownies


These recipes are reprinted with permission from Kosher.com, a free, searchable online community for kosher food, lifestyle, and conversation.

Festive Christmas Cocktails for Entertaining

Posted on: December 25th, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

Treat yourself, family, and guests to a very Christmas cocktail. We’ve assembled seven drinks here that would make Santa proud. These sippers could work as a welcome accompaniment to gift-wrapping or an evening of Christmas carol singing. Get into the spirit of the season.

hobnobmag Christmas cocktails7

Hot Vodka Mocha

1.75 oz Chase Original Potato Vodka
.5 shot fresh espresso
3 tsp hot chocolate powder
1 tsp sugar or honey
7 oz milk

In a small pan, add ingredients and bring to a simmer on a medium heat. Stir gently to ensure everything is dissolved. Serve in a heatproof glass or cup.

hobnobmag Christmas cocktails7

The Rudolph

1.75 oz Diplomatico Mantuano Rum
.5 oz cranberry juice
.5 oz Torani Almond Orgeat Syrup

In a shaker, put all the ingredients without ice. Shake vigorously for 6 to 8 seconds. Add ice and shake again. Filter and pour into a whiskey glass. Add a fresh cranberry and two rosemary branches to the glass, as a nod to Rudolph, the red-nose reindeer.

hobnobmag Christmas cocktails7

Gin Mare Tramontana

4 raspberries
2 thyme leaves

1 oz Gin Mare
.5 oz hibiscus liqueur
.25 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1.75 oz pomegranate juice
.5 oz vanilla syrup

garnish: raspberry powder

Add raspberries and thyme to a cocktail shaker, muddle. Add the rest of the ingredients, shake well. Paint a stripe of vanilla syrup, and dip into raspberry powder to decorate flute glass. Strain cocktail and serve.

hobnobmag Christmas cocktails7

Pilar Nog

Serves 5+

4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar

1 CUP Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum
1 CUP Papa’s Pilar Blonde Rum
1 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice dram
1 CUP whipping cream
1 drop of vanilla extract

Separate eggs, set whites aside. With a mixer, cream egg yolks and sugar together. Slowly incorporate the rum and dram into the mixture, mixing well. Add the cream and mix well. Add the vanilla.

4 egg whites

Garnish: fresh nutmeg

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until fluffy and stiff. Fold the egg whites into the mixture. Place in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least 24 hours.

To serve, give a gentle stir, pour into glasses and grate fresh nutmeg to taste over the top.

Note: If you cannot find Allspice Dram, you can make your own by adding the following to the rum:
1 tsp orange zest
1 cinnamon stick
4 allspice berries
2 cloves
3 Sichuan peppercorns
1 star anise

hobnobmag Christmas cocktails7

Chambord Martini

.5 oz Chambord Liqueur
1.5 oz vodka
2 oz pineapple juice

garnish: raspberry

Pour the Chambord, vodka and pineapple juice in shaker. Add ice and shake like a tambourine. Strain into martini glass. Top with a raspberry.

hobnobmag Christmas cocktails7

Chairman’s Spiced Cider

1 part Cranberry juice
2 parts apple cider
Cinnamon sticks

1 part Chairman’s Spiced

garnish: star anise

Warm juices and 1 cinnamon stick per 2 servings in saucepan until bubbling. Add rum and serve with one cinnamon stick and one star anise per cup.

hobnobmag Christmas cocktails7


1.5 oz Gin Mare
.75 oz Cocchi Rosa
.5 oz simple syrup

garnish: basil leaves, coffee beans, edible red rose petals

Add the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake all together. Then strain in a ceramic mug with ice. Garnish with 4 coffee beans, red rose petal, and 1 basil sprig.

hobnobmag Christmas cocktails7

The Modern’s Special Egg Nog Cocktail

If you just want to head out somewhere festive, look no further than The Modern, my favorite restaurant in midtown NYC. So if your holiday plans bring you near Rockefeller Center or to view the windows at Bergdorf, this will make for a special pitstop.,

The Modern just released an elevated barrel-aged Nog to rule the season. Created by Bar Director Patrick Smith, it’s rich and delicious without weighing the drinker down. (It’s a little-known fact that The Modern has been making Egg Nog for years, and the holiday tipple has a base of loyal fans that return for it every season.)

hobnobmag Christmas cocktails7

This year’s concoction is made with  a mix of Bertoux Brandy, Appleton Estate Rum, Dalmore 12 Year Old Scotch, Gonzalez Byass “Alfonso” Oloroso Sherry, Giffard Vanilla Liqueur, demerara sugar, housemade crème anglaise, and garnished with a housemade gingerbread cookie.

The process started back in May 2019, when The Modern sourced an ex-Bertoux Brandy barrel and began slowly filling it with the ingredients. The resulting nog is round and balanced, with plenty of floral and citrus notes to balance the richness.

The Modern, 9 W 53rd St (betw 5th/6th Ave), the bar/lounge area is first-come, first-served, so good for a spontaneous visit

Gifts for the Person Who Has it All

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

This list is for those in your life with impeccable taste and a taste for authenticity. These selections will really show you care, and want to lavish the most on the one you love.

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All decanter

Baccarat Decanter and Glassware

For the wine connoisseur: the ultimate in elegance and grace. Baccarat has teamed with a renowned vintner for the first time in their 255-year history. Jean-Charles Boisset (seen in the photo at the top of this post), was born into the world of wine in Burgundy, France, where his parents founded their family winery. From those beginnings, Boisset has expanded his empire  to include wineries from Burgundy, the South of France, Napa Valley, and Russian River Valley, and a luxury lifestyle brand.

“Wine is the ultimate expression of the senses and art of living. It requires the most refined vessels to present itself. Our dream collection with Baccarat provides sensory experiences that unite the palate, mind and heart!” said Boisset, who has collected Baccarat pieces from a young age and is known for the impressive Baccarat chandeliers that adorn his wineries and tasting rooms.

Baccarat’s collaboration with Boisset includes one wine glass designed for white, red or rosé, a Champagne glass, plus wine decanter and a stunning Champagne decanter.

The handmade glasses and decanters retail at $380 for a two-glass set of the wine glasses, $380 for a two-glass set of the Champagne glasses, $860 for the wine decanter and $960 for the Champagne decanter. Available online at jcbcollection.com or on the baccarat site: us.baccarat.com

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All dinnerware

Sieger By Fürstenberg The Seven Collection: DROPS

I adore this company’s designs. Not only are they a wonder to look at, they also are a joy to touch and use. The Seven dinner service’s concept is that its seven versatile pieces can be used and combined in any number of ways between breakfast and dinner. For instance, the cup for hot /cold beverages can also function as a bowl for ice cream. The plates, can be used as a saucer or platter, but also as a lid for the bowls to keep meals warm and to store them.

In the DROPS collection, cobalt-blue drops are applied by hand, to create unique patterns. Each item is one of a kind, no two are the same. The gorgeous cobalt blue and bright white create a striking pattern for joy every day.

This set really adds a new energy to the table, the interplay between the different patterns and textures constantly generates new, thrilling combinations on the finest white porcelain.

Designed by Michael Sieger, handcrafted in Germany at Porzellanmanufaktur Fürstenberg. Drops is also available in Satin White, Geometric Blue, Floral Blue, Light Gold and Hanami.Dishwasher-safe. Prices range. The Dinner plate, $187.20; Small cup, $92.81. Available online at artedona.com.

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All dinnerware

Sieger By Fürstenberg Luna Collection

To go along with the dishware are Luna vases in the Drops pattern. These are also one of a kind pieces of art bearing the  same hand-applied cobalt-blue dots in lively patterns. The vases come in three sizes, making a joyful setting for bouquets big and small, and hardly even need flowers as they are striking, sculptural ornaments on their own.

Comes in three sizes, Small, $423.17; Medium, $470.36; Large, $627.67. Available online at artedona.com.

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All beer mugs

Sieger By Fürstenberg Of Kings & Queens

Here’s a beer mug of a different caliber from this company. Of Kings & Queens collection is designed to breath fresh life into beer imbibing. Designed by Michael Sieger, the porcelain and gold beer mugs offer an elegant, slender reinterpretation of the classic beer tankard. The shape and material allow beer’s ingredients—water, hops, malt and yeast – to achieve their full potential.

Inspired by the Doric columns, the straight-lined design and concave facets are a key design element. The mug sits snugly in the hand thanks to the slender, finely formed handle. The matte satin finish on the outside gives it a nice, final touch. This makes a grand gift for the beer aficianado.

Porcelain, satin-matte on the outside, 24-carat gold on the inside. Available in two sizes, .33 and .5 liter. Handcrafted in Germany. Small, $344.51. Large, $407.44. Available online at artedona.com

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All book

Yellow: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau

This book really knows about yellow. Fun fact: did you know tennis balls were not always yellow, but white? They switched  to yellow with color TV, so viewers could more easily follow the game. Also, back in Rome, a wedding ceremony required that the couple be dressed in yellow and that they enter together a room painted yellow.

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All book

You’ll learn this and more in this wonderful tome to the history of yellow, with a wealth of captivating images. With its striking design and compelling text, yellow becomes a feast for the eye and mind. I just adore the cover, which has a unique attitude that begs to know the story behind it.

The author, Michel Pastoureau, is a renowned authority on the history of color. He traces the visual, social, and cultural history of yellow, focusing on European, East Asia, India, Africa, and South America societies. In the book you’ll see that yellow in European antiquity was almost sacred, a symbol of light, warmth, and prosperity. Warm yellow recalled honey and gold, serving as a sign of pleasure and abundance. In ancient China, yellow clothing was reserved for the emperor, while in India the color is associated with happiness.

Yellow: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau, (also in the series: Red, Blue, Black, and Green), Princeton University Press, $39.95

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All dolce and gabbana appliances

Sicily is my Love Smeg and Dolce & Gabanna

No one will complain about getting an appliance as a gift when it’s designed by Dolce & Gabanna. These specimens will lure even the most kitchen-shy into domestic bliss.

Kettle The kettle is decorated with Sicilian cart motifs and colorful patterns. The bottom half is characterized by oval shapes that showcase Mediterranean bounty—yellow lemons, oranges, and fiery red Etna cherries.

The body is powder-coated steel with a polished chrome base. Holds 1.7 Liters/ 7 cups Jug capacity with soft-opening lid.

It has a removable stainless steel limescale filter. It automatically shuts off when it reaches a temperatuve of 100°C/ 212°F or when water is not detected. The base swivels 360°  and has a built-in cord wrap.

2-Slice Toaster Traditional motifs cover the surface, inspired by local terracotta vases from Sicily. The iconography features various types of birds, majestic roosters, and sailboats heading off towards the Mediterranean horizon.

The body is powder-coated steel with a polished chrome base, with 2 extra wide slots. It features an automatic pop up and removable stainless steel crumb tray. Built-in cord wrap keeps things neat. Functions with 6 browning levels and 3 pre-set programs to reheat, defrost, toast a bagel.

The collection also offers a mixer, citrus juicer, espresso machine, blender, slow juicer, as well as major appliances: an oven, fridge, and hood.

Kettle, $650. Toaster, $650. Purchase in New York City at Bergdorf Goodman, and Columbus Circle Williams-Sonoma. Find the store locator on the website.

Smeg, Sicily is My Love, smegusa.com

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All book

Great Escapes Europe

Whether you know someone who’s a world traveler or just someone who would marvel at Europe’s most amazing destinations, Great Escapes Europe: The Hotel Book will fit the bill.

From a 150-year-old Portuguese estate to Norway’s Budsjord, last stop on one of the loneliest pilgrimage routes in the world, Angelika Taschen scours the European continent for the most beautiful places to rest your head. This updated guide profiles each hotel through postcard-ready photography and key information.

Great Escapes Europe: The Hotel Book Also on amazon.com

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All travel bali

The Gift of Travel

Speaking of travel, a gift of experiences rather than things is truly the ultimate gift for that person that has it all. You’ll be providing priceless memories to cherish in lands fare and wide. Choose from these trips that personalize the travel experience, and give intimate looks at the places on their lists.   

No Place Like Home

For those who crave a truly local culinary experience, Traveling Spoon connects travelers to home cooked meals and cooking lessons in local homes around the world. Experiences are 100% vetted and  private. Example destinations: witness heritage pasta making in Florence, learn to grind curries in Thailand, make tortillas in a beautiful home in Mexico City. Photos show scenes from Bali (above and below)

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All travel bali

Experiences range from $80-250 per person. Choose from 160+ cities in over 50 countries. travelingspoon.com

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All travel france

Walk This Way

For the Francophile on your list, give the gift of fanciful exploration through Medieval villages, rolling fields and forests, gently flowing rivers, with On Foot Holidays’ self-guided walking tour. This exploration of the Dordogne region in central France includes stays at waterside inns and former chateaus. Highlight: a tour of the ancient pilgrimage site of Rocamadour, where buildings are perched on cliffs overhanging the valley.

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All travel france

The journey includes fine dining of local specialties and a Michelin-starred restaurant at the journey’s end. Rates start from about $900 per person. onfootholidays.co.uk

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All travel italy

When In Rome

For the person obsessed with the drama, history and beauty of Italian cinema, let them experience it first-hand at Hotel Mediterraneo in the heart of Rome. They offer an unparalleled experience with their program: Dormire Sul Set (“Sleeping on Set”) in partnership with Cinecittà, the famous movie studio. Cinecittà, built in 1937, was the location of nearly all of Fellini’s productions, plus still hosts sets of Ancient Rome, Jerusalem and Florence circa 1400.

The Bettoja Hotel group’s Hotel Mediterraneo and it’s sister property, Hotel Massimo D’Azeglio, have also been featured in shows and movies, as seen in HBO’s The Young Pope, Ocean’s Eleven, The Americans, and the FX series Trust.

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All travel italy

The Sleeping on Set experience starts at $350 for a Junior suite and includes an exclusive breakfast with views from the roof, plus a guided tour and lunch on the Cinecittà set for up to 15. bettojahotels.it

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All travel tuscany

Creative Workshops in Tuscany

For your creative pal, purchase a personal, creative journey to one of the most beautiful places on earth. Cookbook author and food-stylist, Annette Joseph and her husband Frank, bought a dreamy a medieval fortress in the countryside of northern Tuscany. La Fortezza was once a medieval defense tower in a region of over 120 castles and now functions as the couple’s Italian summer home and a creative space offering workshops and retreats.

La Fortezza offers breathtaking views of mountains and is surrounded by acres of olive groves, chestnut trees, fruit orchards, and an organic kitchen garden. An outdoor pizza oven adds to the ambiance offering a spot to make regional breads and pizza with local ingredients. Guest quarters include six stylish bedrooms with private baths.

Workshops offer excursions and incredible opportunities to meet the local artisans and merchants and producers of the region. Annette personally teaches classes in addition to internationally known painters, photographers, and writers.

Some of the La Fortezza Workshops for 2020:

The Slow Food Experience: Visit regional vineyards, cheese makers, an Amaro liqueur lab, a flour mill, and dairy. Includes a truffle hunt and three-course truffle-infused luncheon.

Her Dark Materials Old Master Photography: Learn Old Masters-style set-ups and lighting.

William Abranowicz Lifestyle Photography: Participants will be taught to simplify the technical aspects of photography, and understand light and composition to create well-executed, emotionally impactful images.

All About Olives: Will guide you how to harvest, cook, press, and learn all things related to olives.

Workshop Fees start at $3,875 per guest and include a five-night stay. In addition to scheduled workshops, private groups and retreats are also welcome.

Annette Joseph is an expert on entertaining, cooking, and styling. Her recipes and party ideas have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Epicurious, The Huffington Post, and Southern Living, among numerous others.

hobnobmag Gifts for the Person Who Has it All membership

Tablet Plus Membership

Tablet Hotels is a website which highlights and rates the world’s best boutique hotels. Whenever I am planning a trip, it is my go-to for booking the most interesting hotels, as they also include reviews from members and fantastic tips.

The Tablet Plus membership starts with a free 30-day trial, and offers perks like room upgrades, free breakfasts, late check-out, spa credits, and more. It also includes discounted rates on hotels and access to exclusive events (like Michelin dinners). A dedicated team of travel experts assist in planning a journey. In case of a mix-up in booking, they will act on your behalf to straighten things out. They also guarantee the lowest prices for their hotels.

Tablet Plus costs $99 annually.

Sunday Jazz NYC: The Campbell Apartment and Fine and Rare

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

If you are looking for something cozy and joyous to add to your wanderings in NYC, these two spots really add a charm and warmth to the night. Add jazz to that for the ultimate in relaxation.

The Campbell Apartment

This place has been a New York City institution since its days as Jazz Age financier John William Campbell’s private office and reception hall. It’s amazing that this private, and extraordinary spot has survived, and been meticulously restored, maintaining and freshening the integrity of the historic architecture. If you are traveling through Grand Central this holiday season, it’s always worth a stop, whether you grab a cocktail standing at the bar, or choose to reserve a table.

One more reason to pop in is their Sunday night Jazz program. On the night I went, we were treated to the cool sounds of Acute Inflections, a sultry and attractive duet. Vocalist Elasea Douglas had a lilting voice and warm personality, who came personally to each table to elicit requests, and is accompanied by the low-key and ultra-cool, bassist,  Sadiki Pierre. (seen in the photo at the top of this post)

hobnobmag Jazz NYC the Campbell Apartment

The Campbell Apartment offers two punches, served in a copper pineapple, meant to serve two (but that’s up to you!)  AUGUSTUS has light and dark rums, green chartreuse, velvet falernum + vevue clicquot champagne. The PAIN KILLER is made with dark rum, pineapple, orange, coconut + nutmeg. Right, I loved my seat on the velvet banquette.

hobnobmag Jazz NYC the Campbell Apartment

The Campbell’s thirteenth century Florentine-inspired design details: the 25-foot hand painted ceilings. Right, a snack of mixed olives accompanied wine.

hobnobmag Jazz NYC the Campbell Apartment

Acute Inflections play for a packed crowd, so be sure to make a reservation. Right, a trio of mini tuna tartare tacos with smoked chipotle mayonnaise. Light and refreshing.

hobnobmag Jazz NYC the Campbell Apartment

Behind the bar, a breathtaking a​ ​century-old​ ​leaded​ ​glass​ ​window. Right, the banquette which gives a wonderful view of the band.

Some other selections of the elevated bar fare on the menu: charcuterie and country pâté, ​meatball sliders, and grilled cheese bites.

The Campbell Apartment, 15 Vanderbilt Ave (betw 42nd/43rd St), tucked into the southwest corner of Grand Central Terminal. The Campbell encompasses three different experiences: The Campbell Bar (seen here); The Campbell Palm Court, an indoor lounge surrounded by towering palm trees with a view of the main terminal; and in season, The Campbell Terrace, an outdoor covered veranda.

hobnobmag Jazz NYC Fine and Rare stage

Fine and Rare

After our taste of jazz at the Campbell, I wanted a little bit more. That being established, we headed a few blocks south of Grand Central to Fine and Rare. (see our previous post on this glamorous spot) Here the mood continued, almost like we went back in time, and stayed there. On stage, the seductive voice of Susan Tobocman was accompanied by guitarist Ethan Mann.

hobnobmag Jazz NYC Fine and Rare cocktail

I’ve ordered this cocktail on a previous visit, The Ideal Husband #3: Strawberry-infused Cazadores Blanco, lemon, orange curacao, agave, rhubarb bitters, prosecco. I don’t know how this compares to a husband, but it is right up my alley when it comes to cocktails, fruity, light, and bubbly. Right, the wood floors are a century old, and come from an old mill in Connecticut, inscribed with family names and investors.

To see who’s performing, check out their calendar, which is jam-packed with shows, no cover. So you can just pop in and go whenever the mood strikes.

Fine and Rare, 9 E 37th St (betw 5th/Madison Ave)

Holiday Wines: Picks from Top NYC Sommeliers

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

Two of NYC’s top sommeliers offer their learned suggestions for wines to go with winter’s rich dishes, celebrating wines from all around the USA.

Holiday Wines Top Sommeliers Amy Racine

Amy Racine

Amy Racine is the Wine Director at The Times Square EDITION, located in NYC’s vibrant heart. Here she curates the wine programs at four distinct Chef John Fraser venues, creating a unique personality for each one. Her 600-bottle wine list at 701West is truly global with selections dating back to the 1930s. Paradise Club is an ode to Champagne, The Terrace features progressive New World producers and Lobby Bar is proudly all-American.

Amy also curates the easy-drinking, affordable wine list at The Loyal, a neighborhood American brasserie in Manhattan’s West Village. Her picks for the holidays focus on American brands.

Holiday Wines Top Sommeliers by Amy Racine

Amy’s Holiday Picks:


1 Gruet “Domaine St Vincent” Brut Rosé (New Mexico) Welcome guests with bubbles, it’s a great way to get the appetite going before the big meal.


2 Old Westminster Abbey (Maryland) Rosé is a great wine for the holiday because it goes with everything on the table.


3 “Don’t Forget to Soar” White Blend (Texas) This is a great full-bodied option to please the rich Chardonnay fans without the big oak, from Southhold Farm + Cellars in the Texas Hill High Plains. Perfect for roasted veggies and stuffing.

4 Cowhorn Viognier (Oregon) This wine is floral and round and I love it with any potato dish or any apple dessert.


5 “Horseshoes & Handgrenades” Sparkling Lagrein (Texas) This is a juicy sparkling red with just a slight amount of fizz. It’s tart and fun with game birds like turkey, especially with the cranberry sauce.

6 Cowhorn “Moonraker” Red Blend (Oregon) This is a great Grenache/Syrah blend that’s smooth and great for turkey, especially the dark meat.

7 Koenig Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine (Idaho) I love this in place of port or dessert wine for anything with fruit or chocolate. It’s also great with cheeses and creamy desserts like cheesecake.

Holiday Wines Top Sommeliers John Slover

John Slover

John Slover is the Sommelier of Major Food Group who’s created the 20,000 bottle inventory for trio of venues at the Seagram Building: The Grill, The Pool and The Lobster Club. With 18 years in the biz, John is one of the most acclaimed wine talents in the country whose experience includes wine programs at 4-star New York Times and 3-star Michelin restaurants, as well as curating collections for top wine aficionados. His wine picks focus on great American regions, some of which may be new to you.

John’s Holiday Picks:


1 Garagiste Ci Confonde Petillant Naturel (Vermont) One of several cult Pet-Nats that contributed to a rise in popularity for the category in the northeast: A rustic, humble wine with freshness, verve and briny cider-like fruit complexity that would pair well with anything from glazed sweet potatoes to turkey.


2 Macari Early Wine (Long Island) This family-run estate on the North Fork specializes in classic varietals grown on Long Island’s unique terroir. Early Wine is made of chardonnay, once a year where it is picked, fermented and bottled in a six week period. It is inspired by the Austrian tradition of Jungwien (or young wine) that has been promoted by Macari’s consultant winemaker Helmut Gangl. The wine gives a first impression of the vintage every year. Bright acidity, a touch of sweetness with lots of citrus and stone fruits. These are passionate and hospitable people, not only about Long Island wines, about everything! Their passion is shown in their wines. This would go great with snacks like cured fish and meats and hard cheeses.

3 Early Mountain Vineyard Petit Manseng (Virginia) Begun in 2005, Early Mountain Vineyard in the Rocky Knob AVA, Virginia’s foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, focuses on red Bordeaux varietals. They make Petit Manseng as well, a white grape from Jurancon, Southwest France, that grows well in Virginia with little intervention. Made of 100% Petit Manseng this is a wine of texture and intensity. Almost full bodied with a good amount of acidity. Tropical notes with a stony, salinic core. It would pair well with roast turkey and all the sides.

4 Habit Jurassic Park vineyard Chenin Blanc (Santa Ynez, CA) The Jurassic Park vineyard is home to the oldest dry-farmed Chenin Blanc vines in CA. This is a perfect aperitif while waiting for the feast to begin and would marry seamlessly with any vegetables that make it to the table.


5 Pax Trousseau Gris (Russian River Valley, CA) Pax Mahle started Pax Wines in 2000. Focusing on Syrah, the winery has moved on to more unique grape varietals planted around Sonoma Coast and the Russian River Valley. The Trousseau Gris comes from Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. It is made with a good amount of carbonic maceration that adds some more complex wild aromas and a deeper pink hue. The Trousseau Gris has no added sulphur. Trousseau Gris doesn’t seem serious but has more body than you’d expect and would pair well with rich vegetable sides.

6 Monte Rio Dry White Zinfandel (Suisun, CA) Monte Rio Cellars is a very recent collaboration between Pax Mahle and Sommelier Patrick Cappiello. A highlight of the first release is the Dry White Zinfandel. The grapes are picked very early in order to preserve the freshness and the acidity, which allows the alcohol to come in at a very modest 11% ABV. The scents of faint strawberry and watermelon are tied together by organic earth notes. The grapes are farmed organically in Suisun, just south of Napa. These wines are an homage to the commercial, sweet, innocuous white zinfandel that maybe our parents loved but made in a VERY DRY style. It goes well with a spicy sausage stuffing.

7 Arnot Roberts Touriga National Rosé (Lake County, CA) Founded in 2001 by longtime friends Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts the production is based on site-driven wines that highlight the nature of the unique terroirs. Their Rosé comes from 80% Touriga Nacional, 20% Tinta Cao two late ripening varitals known mostly for Port Wine production in Portugal. The wine comes from Luschinger Vineyard-Clear Lake AVA. Bright fruited wine that is thirst quenching for the summer heat. You would never guess that this light rose comes from a thick skinned grape generally used for fortified wine. This would be a perfect pairing with roast beef.


8 Caduceus Cellars ’Nagual de la Naga’ (Arizona) Owned by Maynard James Keenan, the former singer for the band Tool, this Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend is inspired by Keenan’s love of Tuscan wines. It is a decadently fruity red reminiscent of rich, jammy shiraz, and would be a great pair for dark meat turkey with cranberry sauce.

9 Corliss Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington) Family-owned and ambitious, Corliss sources grapes from some of the best vineyards in WA state. This is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon with a seasoning of Petit Verdot and is a dark beauty with bombastic fruit. Drink with turkey, and if you happen to be serving roast beef or leg of lamb even better. And have another glass before a much needed afternoon nap.

10 Bedrock Wine Comapany Zinfandel Nouveau Esola (Amador County, CA) The father and son team at Bedrock have an unparalleled knack for re-discovering some of CA’s oldest and most interesting vineyards. This particular wine comes from a vineyard planted in 1968 and offers deep, smooth red and dark berry fruit that is a hallmark of old-vine zin. An undeniable pleasure that will pair well with almost everything, maybe even dessert. But then you could have another glass for dessert instead.

Wild Mushroom Crostini

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

I was invited to a Friendsgiving party on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and thought I would focus on an appetizer as my contribution. Since the meal would be ample, I wanted to have something that was on the lighter side, and thought mushrooms would really fit the bill.

Some tips: When working with fresh mushrooms, it’s important not to wash with water, or they will absorb it and get mushy. Instead, wipe any dirt off with a paper towel. If you are starting with dried, you will need to soak the mushrooms in lukewarm water for about an hour.

hobnobmag recipe Wild Mushroom Crostini mushroom varieties

I looked for the most lively color mix when purchasing the ingredients (Eataly usually has a fantastic selection of fresh and dried wild mushrooms.) This mix includes: Yellow Oyster, Hedgehogs, Porcini (the most expensive, $25 for 3), Wood Ear, and White Beech Mushrooms. To complete the flavor profile, I added chopped hazelnuts, which really complemented the mushrooms flavors, in addition to adding a pleasurable crunch. The whole mix sits on a rich bed of creamy ricotta cheese atop a crispy baguette slice.



1 TB olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt

In a large frying pan, heat oil, add shallots and salt. Cook on medium heat until the shallots begin to wilt and become lightly golden, about 5 min. Move to a large bowl.

hobnobmag recipe Wild Mushroom Crostini mushrooms in pan


1 TB olive oil (for each batch)
1.5 LB mixed mushrooms, sliced thinly if large
s + p
fresh thyme leaves

In the same pan, add mushrooms. Cook in batches (do not crowd or mushrooms will not brown—allow space around them so that when the moisture flows out it will evaporate), stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 6 min. Add s + p, thyme to each batch. Transfer each batch to the bowl.


1/2 CUP hazelnuts, chopped
1/4 tsp salt

On a hot skillet, toast nuts, tossing or stirring frequently with salt. Add to mushroom mix.


long, skinny baguette, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
24 oz fresh ricotta cheese
mushroom mix
thyme sprigs

Spread a generous layer of ricotta cheese onto each baguette slice. With a small spoon, top with mushroom mix, and press into the ricotta so it holds together. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.