Author: Tamara Reynolds

The White Zins of My Past

There are two types of pink wine: rosé and white zinfandel. Even the casual drinker knows they are only related by color and barely even at that. I wasn’t one of those kids who went to keg parties in the desert in high school — I was too busy in choir and theatre rehearsals or running track meets or working at the IHOP to have time for it. And, honestly, I thought I was better than those kids. (I was an early adopter of snobbery.) Aside from an unfortunate incident that involved a couple of older private school boys, a missed Roger Waters concert and a bottle of Almaden Mountain Chablis, I didn’t really drink at all until I went away to North Texas State University for college. It was my first time away from home and I was living in the “artists’ dorm,” so naturally two days in I ended up at a Sigma Tau Gamma party and the next thing I knew I was a “little sister” of the fraternity. Again, I thought …

Lesvos, Ayvalik, Istanbul, Astoria

In 2005, I was waitressing in New York City and thought, no, was convinced that I was destined for so much more. I called myself an opera singer/actor, but I wasn’t making a living at it. Many of my friends had far fancier, better educations than I did, better jobs, and, in most cases, more money. That is a reality of living in NYC, but I had only been here a couple of years and hadn’t fully accepted my place “in the middle” yet. I decided that the best way for me to become more equal with a friend whom I idolized for her intellect, creativity, and worldliness was to travel more, like she did. She was just starting to freelance for Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, and I shared her curiosity for other cultures and places, so it didn’t seem so crazy that I would make it a goal to just get on a plane and… GO. My friend (who I’ll call Z) and her then boyfriend, now husband (let’s call him P) invited my …

A Chef Shares Her Favorite Food Gifts

Are you inundated with Gift Guides? Yeah, probably. But are you inundated with gift ideas that follow my golden rule: “Give the gift that you would most like to receive?” Probably not. Well, this is that guide. For the chef, home cook, food aficionado, or just plain eater in your life. I would be completely happy to receive any and/or all of these gifts. So you know they are for real. 1. Spices from La Boite Tucked behind a nondescript storefront way over on Eleventh Avenue in NYC is the magical land of La Boite Epices. Chef, owner, and spice blender Lior Lev Sercarz is an absolute alchemist, and the magic he creates in his beautifully packaged spice blends will blow you away. They make all other spice blends I have ever seen seem amateur. Rub a simple roast chicken with his Vadouvan mix and it becomes crispy, lightly curried skin with a hint of Herbs de Provence. His Ararat No. 35 is a smoky blend of Urfa Pepper, Smoked Paprika, and aromatic Fenugreek. His …

Wish You Were Here: Campers, Glampers & Me

People can be divided into three groups: The Campers, The Glampers, and the “I Won’t Go Anywhere Without Hot Water, Flushable Toilets and Soft Beds.” The Campers are an amazing bunch. My father-in-law Steve and his wife Jill are in that group. They pack their tent, their bikes, some water and some power bars and head off, sending us pictures of the Appalachian Trail, the Mason Dixon Line and Civil War historical sites from the road. They look so blissed out, relaxed and in love. Their missives to us are like siren songs from the natural world: gorgeous, live, oak trees and shade giving sentinels, weeping willows bending and dipping so gracefully, Spanish moss that makes me feel damp just to look at it, pine needles on the ground that we know smell of dirt forest floor, and lakes sparkling in the sunlight just begging you to take a dip. “Wish you were here.” The Glampers, God love them, are seen in super porny shots in magazines and travelogues — their pimped out Airstreams, yurts, …

Recipes: Fancy S’mores, Cowboy Beans & Tamara’s Treat

All recipes serve six people. COWBOY BEANS These beans are a variation on a special-occasion go-to at my house: “Borracho,” or drunken beans. They are full of smoky flavor and can be as spicy as you choose. INGREDIENTS (2) 14.5 oz cans pinto beans (1) cups water Olive oil (1) large onion (4) cloves garlic (1) tablespoons ground cumin (1) 14 oz can diced tomatoes (1) 7.5 oz can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (1) 12 oz can of beer — cheap is fine DIRECTIONS Drain the pinto beans and pour them into a 3- or 4-quart saucepan. Rough dice the onion and garlic. They don’t have to be perfect or uniform, just cut into small pieces so they can melt into the beans. Pour a glug of olive oil into a medium size frying pan. Sauté the onion, garlic and cumin on medium high until onions are translucent — about 6 minutes. Keep them moving with a wooden spoon to make sure they don’t fry or crisp up. Add the sautéed onions, the can …

How a Backyard Obsession Turned Into a Supper Club

Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, I spent most of my time outside: swimming in the pool, eating charred hot dogs and fudgsicles in the grass, swinging from the diseased sycamore tree. It was my (hated) job to mow the lawn, year round. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve cut the grass in 114 degree heat. You will see God in a sweat-and-dehydration-fueled hallucination. You will also smell God in the scent of the freshly cut grass clippings — earthy, vegetal, sweet and lemony. I spent a lot of time twirling around in circles and then falling to the grass to watch the sky spin, and playing dodge ball with the kids down the street. It wasn’t until I moved to New York City that I realized how much life outside mattered to me, and would shape not just my neighborhood and apartment choice, but my entire life and career. It was a bumpy entry into NYC 17 years ago, starting with sublets and ending in a 6th floor walk-up with a talented, though narcissistic, artist …