Summer Sunday : Afternoon Tea

My idea of an ideal Sunday afternoon is getting my closest friends together for an English inspired afternoon tea session.

Conversations and the aroma of baked goodies filling the air. It wouldn’t be tea time without an elegant selection of tea cups and fresh cut flowers from the garden!

 

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Here is whats on the Menu:

  1. Daarjeling, Masala Chai | My grandmother brought loose leaf Daarjeling tea from a tea plantation in Daarjeling, India. This tea was so fragrant and infused with spices such as whole cinnamon and cardamom for an added warmth.
  2. Cucumber Tea Sandwiches | thinly sliced cucumbers, pepper jack cheese, lemon-dill mayo
  3. Chicken Cranberry Sandwiches |oven roasted chicken, cranberries, smoked chipotle gouda, sourdough bread , dijon mustard
  4. Personal Chicken Pot Pies | Chicken, carrots, peas in a creamy Alfredo sauce, topped with crust
  5. Cinnamon Streusal Muffins | These are from a boxed mix, but are delicious!
  6. Sparkling White Grape Cider | Passionfruit Italian Soda 

 

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This is from another tea that I hosted with Zaina. We switched things up a bit and added homeade vanilla bean cupcakes with chocolate frosting to the menu. Strawberries and nutella, meringue cookies from a local bakery, added more sweetness to the table.

The understated yet elegant runner is from Crate and Barrel. Crate and Barrel has fantastic dining decor items.

We added a string of Christmas tree lights for some fun.

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This comforting and light pumpkin spiced cake is an amazing fall addition to an Afternoon tea. I added some color to the platter with some fresh sprigs of rosemary from the garden. 

Scones are traditionally the heart of an English Afternoon Tea. The Tea parties depicted above did not have them. But, I do love make lemon blueberry scones. I use Tiffani Thiessan’s recipe – https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/blueberry-lemon-scones

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They are super easy to make and always come out spectacular. I serve them with raspberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream from Whole Foods. Clotted cream can be difficult to find in the States; the one I buy is the real deal and imported from England.

 

XOXO,

Shiza

 

 

Holy Trinity: Carbone, Bardot Brasserie, and Julian Serrano Tapas| Aria Hotel, Las Vegas

The Aria Hotel at the City Center, Las Vegas, is one of those places that has all of the best  offerings for European Cuisine. It has my favorite Italian, French, and Spanish Restaurants – Carbone, Bardot Brasserie, and Julian Serrano respectively.

These three restaurants are not ordinary in any way. They offer a stylistic and modern yet traditional take on its cuisine. Everything about this holy trinity is divine. Hands down the best Spanish tapas that I have ever had! and the most similar to France, French food! Carbone is truly old world Italian.

Carbone | Italian 

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We ordered the lobster ravioli , fettuccine con funghi, and Branzino. All were impeccable.

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I love the retro, glamorous ambiance of this restaurant. It reminds me of 1950s New York. The plates are Italian ceramic and very reminiscent to the ceramic plates in Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

 

Bardot Brasserie by Micheal Mina | French 

 

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We started our meal with a cheese board. The cheeses were imported from France, grilled crostini, candied hazelnuts, grapes, whole grain mustard, jam, and currants. You can choose from an array of cheeses which one you prefer. We opted for a Crémeux de Bourgogne, triple cream brie like, a goat cheese, and hard cheese recommended by the restaurant.

 

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I had the LOUP DE MER AU FENOUIL which is a mediterranean sea bass with caramelized lemon, fennel, and fingerling potatoes. The sea bass was so juicy and emanated an earthy fragrance of fennel.

My dad had the 8 oz Filet Mignon served with Frites and béarnaise sauce ( I tried the sauce and its the best béarnaise I have had in the States)

Julian Serrano Tapas |  Spanish 

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Their non-alcoholic, virgin Sangria is hands down the best drink ever! I don’t know what they put in it but its a symphony of perfection.

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My favorite tapa to order is their Bronzino Donostiarra which has the a crispy skin and sits atop a medley of tomatoes and olive tapenade.

Not depicted because they were too beautiful not eat first are the desserts. My favorites are the Molten Chocolate cake topped with vanilla bean ice cream & the Crema Catalana which is an orange blossom creme brûlée.

 

XOXO,

Shiza

 

The Perfect Weekday

I love a casual weekday where I can do things that I love. These ideal weekdays are a rare treasure. However, when they do occur, although understated, they are beyond special.

I started the day poolside with a homemade breakfast parfait. It had greek yogurt, fresh berries, granola, almonds, and a drizzle of honey.

 

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After this delightful breakfast, I went to Rolling Greens, a local nursery, to get some indoor trees for our house.

This was an adventure in itself. I love Rolling Greens.

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I ended up getting this tree for our living room. It adds so much freshness and a splash of color to our otherwise monochromatic living room.

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They had some rustic flowers laying out on the counter.

For lunch, I decided to make a Cleo inspired Grilled Halloumi, Watermelon Salad on a bed of lettuce with a light vinaigrette. Halloumi is a Mediterranean semi-hard cheese and its flavors are released when grilled.

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This was scrumptious.

Afternoon snack

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Would it even be a relaxing weekday, if you didn’t watch your favorite tv show? I had to make some stove top hot chocolate with dark chocolate, some half & half for added creaminess, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I also cut up some fresh strawberries and had a mini chocolate croissant from Whole Foods.

Ramekins make everything better, right.

 

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For dinner, I arranged a cheese board with three types of cheeses, grilled crostini, fresh grapes, walnuts, raspberry jam, and a drizzle of honey.

 

XOXO,

Shiza

 

Shakshuka : A Mediterranean Breakfast

 

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This is my signature and go to breakfast dish – Shakshuka. A Mediterranean staple, I fell in love with this in my travels to Israel and Arabia.

Shakshuka is essentially eggs that are cooked in a homemade,stewed tomato sauce.

I serve cucumbers and feta on the side. Sprinkle a little Zaa’tar (Middle Eastern dried herbs- thyme, oregano, etc.) on top for an earthy finish.

I also serve with some warm pita bread or buttered well done, English muffins.

 

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Shiza’s Shakshuka

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 1: sautee in olive oil

  • 1 minced onion
  • 1 minced green or red bell pepper
  • A few cloves of minced garlic

Spices:

  • Ras El Hanout, sold at World Market, healthy amount (few tablespoons) | this adds an incredible layer of warmth and fragrance
  • cumin powder (about a teaspoon)
  • red chilli powder or paprika depending on how spicy you want it to be
  • salt to taste

Step 2:

  • 1- 35 ounce can of Whole Italian Tomatoes (chop these canned whole tomatoes yourself prior to putting in the pan)
  • After adding in the spices, if the sauce tastes acidic add a little bit of sugar to offset the acidity – this depends on how it tastes after adding in the spices. You have to taste the sauce and decide for yourself.
  • Harissa – morrocan tomato paste , sold at world market ( a few tablespoons); deepens the flavor of the sauce ; can substitute tomato paste

Step 3:  in a separate ramekin, crack each egg one by one and then start placing the eggs directly into the sauce one by one. I add as many eggs as I think will fit into the sauce and the pan. Typically about 8-10 eggs are added.

  • Once all of the eggs are in the pan of sauce, sprinkle a tiny bit of salt and pepper over the eggs
  • Place the Pan of Shakshuka into the oven to cook for 30-40 minutes.
  • You know it is ready when an inserted wooden toothpick into the egg comes out clean
  • Garnish with some chopped cilantro for added freshness

 

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Fresh flowers are completely optional, but I think it makes all of the difference to the aesthetic of the table. I arranged these bouquets with flowers from our garden. All of the flowers are different and even though their sizes vary greatly, I still love the look of it together.

Bon Appetit!

XOXO,

Shiza

Malibu Farm + Zuma Beach// Pointe Dume

Cruising down PCH, wind in hair, Lana del Rey’s 13 Beachesplaying boldly in the background. This is my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning.

My first stop: Malibu Pier, to have an iconic California breakfast at the Malibu Farm restaurant. Everything about this place makes me happy.

From the rustic decor, the plants hanging from the ceiling, the rooftop terrace, and most importantly, the spectacular food!

Not to mention they make the best iced lattes + homemade watermelon juice.

 

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Their Swedish Mini Pancakes are my absolute favorite!

An artful juxtaposition of the most perfectly complementing flavors. The thin, soft yet subtly crisp pancakes, are topped with a tart medley of cooked berries, and then finished with a dollop of light homemade whipped cream.

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I also adore their fried egg sandwich. I ask to sub the bacon for avocado.

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Farm fresh vegetable stand on the Malibu Pier.

 

A quick, breezy drive down PCH later…….

Stop 2 : Zuma Beach : A secluded haven 

 

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Hike trails to Pointe Dume

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Sand in my toes, a breathtaking view- I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

XOXO,

Shiza

The Floating City: Venezia

Summer in all of its anticipated glory is the time of the year we make concerted efforts to explore, traverse, and adventure hoping that we can accumulate a collection of memories that will last a lifetime.

You never know what experiences will be memorable. Last summer, while planning my trip to Italy, I initially thought that Venice would be an overhyped destination. I was more excited to see the less well known regions of Italy such as the Cinque Terre.

To my surprise, out of all of the extraordinarily beautiful cities that I visited in Italy, Venice is my favorite.

Venice is essentially a luminous labyrinth of bridges and canals interconnected in the most uncanny yet majestic way. Below the countless bridges, reveal centuries old water from the Adriatic Sea that was diverted into creating the Venice Lagoon.

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Me, Shiza, enjoying the Gondola ride

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  Opulent & Ornate | St. Mark’s Basilica  

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Inside the Gold laden Basilica

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Where to Stay | NH Collection Palazzo Barocio 

One of the most daunting aspects about visiting Venice is knowing where to stay. If you don’t choose wisely, you will have to haul your luggages around through cobblestone roads and bridges.

Therefore, it is vital that your hotel has its own water taxi dock. Once exiting the train station and fashionably enjoying a water taxi ride ride along the Grand Canal, our hotel had its own private dock, making it so easy for us! We stayed at the  NH Collection Palazzo Barocio hotel.

The rooms are of stellar quality, the staff are wonderful, and the lobby always had a warm welcome of Pelligrino and fruit infused waters.

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Hotel’s private water dock entrance

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View from our Hotel’s private dock

XOXO,

Shiza

 

from above

Long time no blog! But here I am, fresh out of my first year of college, with new experiences, friends, and thoughts under my belt for lots and lots of posts. Much of my inspo and ideas stem from photos or videos- and this post was the brainchild of browsing through my photos from the past year.

I feel like many of us are enthralled with being up high- the popularity of rollercoasters, lookout points, hiking, and skydiving are evidences of it. My collection of photos preview places I have visited that are upon higher altitudes- airplane trips, hikes, even the view from my dorm room. What makes views from up above so mesmerizing? Maybe because it gives us a sense of power- having the means to be able to look upon the city from their corner office is every successful lawyer’s or businessperson’s dream. Or maybe its the opposite- being up so high, reflecting upon the struggle to get to the point, humbles us and lets us dwell on the insignificance of our existence.

Whatever the reason, incredible views from above mesmerizes most. I’ve shared some of them below- many were taken on a whim after realizing their beauty, so some are not the best quality but I hope they make you feel something anyway.

Xo,
F

La Dolce Vita : A Summer in Italy Series

Hello everyone,

Happy New Year!

It has been over a year since my last post, I apologize about that! But now I am back and better than ever, so be prepared for posts about what this past year consisted of for me.

Last summer was one of the easily one of the most unforgettable summers of my life. I will begin my summer ’17 series with a recap of my trip to Italy.

Italy stole my heart and I left a part of myself there. I cannot wait to visit this remarkable  country again!

To begin my La Dolce Vita series, I will start with a post about Milan, the first city that I visited in Italy.

Duomo di Milano 

 

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In all of its grandeur, magnificence, and charm this picture is a mere glimpse into the stunning Duomo. Definitely worth seeing in real life!

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 Stunning Sunset in the streets of Milano

 

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Inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

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Teatro alla Scala (gave me Count of Monte Cristo vibes)

XOXO,

Shiza

 

Midsummer in Paris

Currently obsessed with the song, Paris by Chainsmokers and it has gotten me feeling nostalgic about last summer in Paris. I never thought I would miss Paris as much as I do now, or that I loved it that much, but it is one of those places that you wouldn’t know you would miss so much until your gone. And now I miss it , immensely

Paris is one of those places where people are truly living. I don’t mean simply existing, but actually living life.

From two long lost friends eating a 3 hour lunch at a Parisian café , a meal complete with the finest French wines and dessert, to couples dancing the salsa along the River Seine and pecking on a scrumptious French picnic lunch of cheese and baguette in the evening, these people know how to live life. In this new year, I hope to learn from the Parisians and adopt the : ” C’est La Vie “mantra to my life . This translates to “That’s life or Such is Life”. What I find so admirable about this outlook on life is that it makes me not overthink the little things and simply go with the course of life because that is life.

Here are pictures from my trip , hope you enjoy :

 

 

 

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 Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face vibes when she dances alongside the River Seine (Old Hollywood is the best)

 Musèe du Louvre 

Inside the Royal Apartments at the Palais du Louvre

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Such a mesmerizing painting by Paul Delaroche

Adore the traditional red velvet decor of French Restaurants and most of all the lovely Béarnaise sauces that accompany meals

Atelier Chanel 

Champs-Élysées ( reminds me of when I read the Count of Montecristo) 

Notre Dame de Paris

Bisous Bisous,

Shizá

Travel Diary: Oxford, England

Last summer, I embarked on a spontaneous trip to England. While, there I visited the archaic city of Oxford , with more than a thousand years of history as one of the oldest universities in the world.

I was enthralled by the profound scholarly vibe that emanated through the charismatic streets of Oxford. Left in awe by the majestic architecture and distinct traditions of this ancient university.

It was surreal exploring a university that was founded in the year 1096 , as a university for monks, that was later open to the public and has continued to be the birthplace of revolutionary ideas and leaders.

……..

 

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Sheldonian Theatre , site of graduation for Oxford students

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Views from the top of the Sheldonian theatre viewing deck 

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The ancient scholars and philosophers safeguarding the Sheldonian Theatre 

 

how charming is Oxford?

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Tower of the Five Orders at the Divinity School 

 

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Bodleian Library ; reminiscent of the architectural splendors of ancient rome 

 

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Afternoon Tea at Oxford; english tea, currant scones with clotted cream and jam..

 

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rustic street signs

 

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scrumptious British cookies or should I say biscuits at the historic Covered Market (est. 1774) 

 

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Harry Potter dining hall!!

 

 

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“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

XOXO,

Shiza