Friday feels like a fine time to share recipes for cocktails—-TGIF and all that. This is the first in what I hope to be a regular Friday high-spirited heads-up to happy hour featuring one luscious recipe from a hot/cool bar/restaurant.

We start with White Wine Sangria from Mita’s Restaurant/Bar in Cincinnati.

This gorgeous refreshing and unusual sangria seems the perfect summer drink and the recipe is enough to serve a party—big party.

Chef Jose Salazar



The sangria is also classic Mita’s, as Prize winning Chef Jose Salazar fills his 130-seat Cincinnati  restaurant with menu items that are Latin American inspired, beautiful, delicious and creative.

Here let me show you his stunning paella:

So here’s the recipe. Happy happy hour. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE


For more information about Mita’s click HERE.

For other amazing cocktails click HERE and HERE  and HERE. 



21c Museum Hotels and Granola Recipe

They are contemporary art museums


boutique hotels 


chef-driven restaurants


small shops 

and, almost always, spas.

Of course, I’m talking about 21c Museum Hotels. Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, married art collectors, founded the 21c hotel chain in 2006, opening the first in Louisville, Kentucky. Others followed (more 21c hotels and also a variety of copycat hotels that incorporate art into their offerings). In 2018, the couple sold the 21c chain to AccorHotels, a French-based hospitality company. After the sale, Laura Lee and Steve promised to stay involved, and I sure hope they do, because right now, 21c (for 21st century) Museum Hotels are delightful in every which way.

Today there are eight 21c Museum Hotels and more opening soon. Each property is unique, with contemporary art, cool style and sweet hospitality the brand’s unifying thread.

Here, Let me tell you about 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati.

The hotel is located in the city’s art-rich central business district and built into a 100 year old structure that was the former Metropole hotel (listed on the National Register of Historic Places). Designers strived to keep the historic character of the grand hotel alive while transforming the space into a stylish 21st-century cultural center.

Much of the hotel’s public space is devoted to art—fun, interesting, thought-provoking, surprising, unsettling, dramatic art in the form of sculptures, paintings, videos, installations, film, photography…well the whole shebang. Art fills walls, halls, floors, ceilings and dedicated galleries, which are open to the public 24/7 with free, docent-led tours on specific days. 

As if to counteract the art’s high-energy pizzazz, the hotel’s 156 guest rooms (some pet friendly) remain subdued and soothing with furniture custom made for comfort and decor colors that run to light natural wood, whites, beiges and grays.

Guest room delights include:  Malin & Goetz bath amenities, a Nespresso coffee machine, a 42 inch HDTV flat screen television, a stocked minibar and free (yes free) Wi-fi. A rubber duckie plus sculptured body parts embedded in a few of the shiny white tiles lining bathroom walls add playful whimsy. I spied a nose, lips, a woman’s breast, an ear and something that looked quite private, but was said to be a collarbone (still not convinced). 

Chef David Kelsey

As with everything associated with 21c Cincinnati, the unpretentious Metropole bar and restaurant pleases on many levels. The bar stocks craft beers and excels in house invented cocktails, bourbons and good wines. Executive Chef David Kelsey fills his menus with farm-fresh dishes described as constructed with a “contemporary take on old world techniques.”






I have to confess that Metropole’s food had me at good morning—or breakfast, where I became addicted to granola with berries and yogurt. Here’s the recipe so you can see why:


Last and but not least, penguins. All 21c hotels have a flock of large penguins made of recycled plastic that guests move about as they desire. Color defines the penguins at each hotel and bright yellow penguins add sunshine happiness to Cincinnati’s space.

Guests can buy the hotel’s signature rubber duckies, body part tiles and penguins in the small shop adjacent to the hotel’s lobby.

For more information about 21c Museum Hotels, click HERE.  

For more information about 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati, click HERE.

For more information about what to eat in Cincinnati click HERE. 




Tequilas sold in The Market at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

I was lost, but now I’m found. Lost in a murky, all-is-acceptable-when-it-comes-to-drinking-tequila-sort-of-a-way. But now my cup runneth over with knowledge. I credit Javier Moreno, the charming sommelier at the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun resort (located on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula). Javier conducted a tequila tasting seminar for a few guests of the resort and, like the resort itself, the seminar couldn’t be better. Nor could the tequilas that we sipped and sampled in the tasting. (Thank you Javier). 

In the spirit of generosity, here are takeaways from the classy class. Of course, you’ll have to provide your own tequila for tasting, or even better (much much much better), get yourself to Grand Residences Riviera Cancun and do your tasting surrounded by resort glory.

Villas at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

Javier says: 

1. Tequila is distilled from the juice of blue agave plants. 

2. The best tequila comes in bottles labeled “100% de agave” or “100% Puro De Agave Azul.” Labels stating just “tequila” contain a mix of agave and various sugars. Check labels. Buy and drink 100 percent blue agave tequila. 

3. Tequilas are classified according to age. Blanco is not aged or aged only up to two months. Reposado is barrel aged, but not more that a year. Añejo sits in a barrel for at least a year, but no more than three years. Extra Añejo describes tequila aged three years or more. Tequila takes on color, flavor, smoothness and price as it ages. 

4. Some people drink shots in 2-ounce “caballito” glasses. Not Javier. He is picky picky picky about glasses and about shots. He claims that glasses for tasting superior tequilas should be as finely crafted as good wine glasses and brandy snifters. High-quality tequilas are best appreciated when slowly sipped from glasses large enough to allow fragrances to be released and flavors to unfold. 

5. As to shots with salt and lime. No. No. NO. Tequila aficionados don’t go the shot/salt/lime route.

6. Steps to tasting prime tequila: Pour a small amount of tequila into an appropriate large and finely made glass. Notice the color of the tequila by holding the glass over a white background. Tip the glass and notice the “tears” or legs; If the tears are slow to dissipate, the alcohol level is high. Swirl the tequila in the glass. Then sniff, first at one edge of the glass, then in the center, and then above. Take your time. Take a sip. Swish a bit in the mouth. Swallow. Take a breath. Try another sip for a more developed flavor. 

Javier Moreno sniffing, sipping, smiling.

7. Don’t drink too fast. 

8. Don’t drink too much. 

9. As to Mezcal—being made from the agave plant, all tequilas are mezcals, but not all mezcals are tequilas. Confusing huh? Unlike tequila, mezcals are made from a variety of agave plants and have distinct smoky flavor due to the processing method of roasting in pit ovens.

10. Blanco tequilas are fine to use in mixed drinks being inexpensive and sporting a strong agave flavor. Which brings us (at last and never least) to the ever-popular margarita. Javier says that he favors the habanero margarita, so I scored Grand Residences’s recipe for you. 

Word of warning, habaneros are a very hot variety of chili pepper. To tame the heat, Grand Residences seeps the peppers in simple syrup to make habanero margaritas.


Yield: one serving.

2 lime wedges, divided

Tajín  (a seasoning mix of chili peppers, salt and dehydrated lime juice) (See NOTE)

2 ounces blanco tequila

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1 ounce triple sec or other orange-flavored liqueur

1 ounce habanero simple syrup (recipe follows)

Rub one of the lime wedges around the rim of a rocks glass. Put tajín in a small bowl and dip rim of glass in the tajín to coat rim. Shake off excess Tajín.  Fill glass with ice.

Put tequila, lime juice, triple sec and habanero syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into prepared glass. Garnish with remaining lime wedge.


1 cup sugar

1 cup water 

2 habaneros, each halved

Put ingredients in a small saucepan and set over low heat. Cook and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Set saucepan aside to cool. Strain syrup into a jar, removing habanero pieces. Cover jar and refrigerate until ready to use.







To make a tequila mojito margarita, click HERE.

To make tequila infusions for flavored margaritas, click HERE

To make a Loopy Lu with mango-flavored tequila, click HERE




For those who have never been to San Sebastián, Spain, put it on your bucket list. If you have already been—then you know. You’ll return.

What makes the city so appealing?

Food, glorious food, and more food.

Of course the setting is lovely. Once a small fishing village, San Sebastián now spreads from the sea up over verdant hill-like mountains and offers a cornucopia of tourist pleasures that includes: unusually beautiful urban beaches,

graceful promenades and pedestrian-only streets,

Belle Époque architecture and enough museums, monuments and activities

to win the title of European Capital of Culture, 2016.  

But the city amenities provide only a tidbit of San Sebastián’s draw. Food is the main magnet. 

The region boasts more Michelin star restaurants per capita than nearly any other area in the world and is considered the epicenter showcase of avant-garde cuisine. 

Superstars of San Sebastian’s Gastronomy

But it’s not even the overload of palaces of haute cuisine that makes San Sebastián a gastronomic goldmine.

Foodies love San Sebastián pintxos (pronounced “peen-chos”). These high-flavor, low-cost, two-bite size snacks, often described as upscale Spanish tapas, were born in San Sebastián and the city remains the best place on earth to sample the bounty.

Bar after bar, especially in Old Town, stack their counters with the little culinary jewels and the local custom is to enjoy a movable feast, going place to place devouring one or two pintxos along with a small drink.

Favorite beverages include zurito (a small beer), txakoli, a semi-sparkling young white wine, and cider, that bartenders pour from a high arching curve hitting the bullseye of a small glass. 

Pintxos translates “to poke or skewer” thus some of the pintxos are skewered on wooden picks. Others towered on a base of bread. Some are hot. Some are cold. Some are fancy (think foie gras, fish cheeks that all time delicious old cow) and some are simple to the core (for example the iconic Gilda, served in every bar). 

Gilda pintxos show up in most San Sebastian pintxo bars.

Whatever the individual pintxo’s characteristics, it takes on added pleasure when enjoyed in an atmosphere of congenial chaos of a San Sebastian bar.


Like its namesake, Rita Hayworth’s femme fatale character in the movie Gilda, this pintxo is bold and spicy, well-put together and well-loved. The blend of salty spicy flavors plus the ease of preparation make the Gilda a perfect party appetizer. 

To make the Gilda: skewer Guindilla peppers, Cantabrian anchovies and Manzanilla olives onto a wooden cocktail pick and serve. That’s all there is to it. Easy. Delicious.

The three ingredients can be purchased in jars or tins, online or in food stores that specialize in Spanish products. Be sure to order the real things:

Guindilla peppers, the traditional pepper of the Basque region, are yellowish-green with a narrow, elongated shape. They are typically pickled in  white wine vinegar and sold in jars.

Cantabrian anchovies are wild-caught in the spring in the waters of the Cantabrian Sea. They are cured in a brine of water, fat and sea salt and then hand-filleted and packed in olive oil in glass jars or tins.

Manzanilla olives are plump, lightish green olives— the best of which are handpicked in Andalusia, pitted and packed in glass jars or tins in a high-quality brine. They are sometimes sold stuffed. If you buy the stuffed variety, poke out the stuffing before skewering the olive in the Gilda.

And now:

Where to stay in San Sebastián: Hotel Maria Cristina

Favorite places to eat in San Sebastián:

The Michelin three-star Arzak 

and the great pintxos bar

La Cuchara de San Telmo 





Of all the travel products and paraphernalia that Sweet Leisure sampled and scrutinized lately, two rise to the surface like cream. Take one to the beach, the other on the road. But before I tell you about these useful products, I have to add a disclaimer. These are not ads. I am not paid (Damn!).



is strong, sophisticated and stylish, but even better, it’s practical. Here is a good looking beach bag that offers enough space for towels, sunscreen, wine, books, picnic edibles (cookie recipe below), and other beach essentials. As to the unique part, the bag has a woven-base that sheds sand, crumbs, dirt like a sieve. Put it on the sand. Unpack. Repack. Pick it up and the sand (and other small particles), flow out the bottom of the bag. NICE!  And once home, the bag folds for easy storage. A tote that gets our vote. For more information, click HERE.



is a multi-useful tool to jump start most cars, trucks, SUV’s, ATVs…well…just about any vehicle including motorcycles and can be used on boats and lawnmowers to boot. The cables are tucked into a compact heavy-duty carrying case that includes a powerful 330 Lumen LED flashlight and a Power Bank for charging mobil phones, tablets, cameras and other travel necessities. Cool, compact and multi-useful, the JUMPSMART can help cope with a variety of emergencies when on the road. Safe and sound all around. For more information, click HERE.

And now to add to your gear to go—a cookie to take to the beach, on a road trip or enjoy any time you want a sweet that is awesomely delicious, easy to make and good for the body as well as the spirit.


Yield: About 20 cookies.

3 ripe bananas

About 1-1/2 cups oats

About 2/3 cup chocolate chips

About 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Puree bananas in a blender. Transfer puree to a bowl. Stir in enough oats to make a dough that is moist, but not runny (amount of oats depends on size of bananas). Throw in a generous handful of chocolate chips and nuts. Drop 1 heaping tablespoon mounds of dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Press top of mounds to flatten and press lightly around edges to make compact. Bake at 350°F until deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from parchment paper. The cookies are good eaten warm, at room temperature, or frozen—without thawing.


Ta-Da! Drum roll please! And now, dear readers, I’m going to share my secret family recipe for the best ever (really really succulent and delicious) sugar baked holiday ham.


Yield: Plan on serving 1/2 to 3/4 pound per person, but buy enough to have leftovers. This ham makes fabulous bean soup and sandwiches. (See NOTE below)

1 large, bone-in, fully cooked ham (or half a fully cooked, bone-in ham)

Whole anise seed


Granulated Sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F. 

If necessary, trim any tough skin and excess fat from ham, leaving about 1/4-inch fat around ham. Cutting through fat and slightly into meat, score top of ham in a diamond pattern and place ham, scored side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. (If roasting half a ham, place it on the rack cut side down.)

Add 1 inch water to bottom of roasting pan (water can touch bottom of ham). Sprinkle ham generously with anise seed, paprika and sugar.

Place roasting pan in 325°F oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then open door of oven and baste ham generously with water from pan. Again sprinkle ham with anise seed, paprika and sugar. Continue baking, basting and sprinkling with anise seed, paprika and sugar every half hour or so until ham is browned, glistening with sugar glaze and warm throughout. (As a general rule, bake about 18 to 22 minutes per pound. Remember the ham is fully cooked, you are just heating it.)

Let ham rest 15 minutes before slicing.


NOTE: Dill Mustard makes a super addition to cold ham sandwiches. (Click HERE for recipe).








Love food? Headed to Cincinnati? Lucky you. 

Forget your diet. Cincinnati is the place to gorge, gobble and gluttonize on high-fat, low-cost and pig-out delicious specialities. Whatever you do in the city—wherever you go, be sure to sample:


There is nothing like this chili anyplace else in the world. Unlike traditional chili, the Cincinnati version lacks beans and heat and is almost never served by itself in a bowl. The semi-sweet concoction shows up on top of unflavored spaghetti buried under a mound of shredded Cheddar. Some swear chocolate is responsible for the chili’s unique flavor. Others say cinnamon. I say, who cares. Just give me more. I thought Cincinnati chili would be an acquired taste, and I was correct. I acquired the taste at first bite.

Although a slew of restaurants and chili parlors make Cincinnati chili, I like the  3-, 4- or 5-ways served at Skyline Chili. (Three is just spaghetti, chili and cheese. Four adds beans or chopped onions and the five adds beans and onions.)

 While at Skyline, you must try the Cheese Coney, a hot dog topped with mustard, chili, cheese and onion. OMG good!!! While waiting for a chili order to arrive, locals load up on “cracker bombs,” made by splashing hot sauce over oyster crackers. Go figure.  https://www.skylinechili.com



Hand-crafted French Pot ice cream from Graeter’s can seduce even rigid dieters. 

Flavorwise, black raspberry chocolate chip ranks first in popularity. I prefer the cookie dough chocolate chip because both chunks of cookie dough and chocolate manage to stay soft and chewable despite being encased in cold. Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter what you choose— black raspberry, cookie dough, salted caramel, Oregon strawberry, toffee chocolate chip, etc.—all of Graeter’s  creamy, dreamy incarnations delight.  https://www.graeters.com


Gotta try it. Developed in Cincinnati’s German community as a way to stretch a scant supply of sausage, Goetta (pronounced GET-uh), is a sort of cold meatloaf made of ground pork combined with steel-cut oats and seasonings. The loaf is sliced into thin patties and fried until crispy brown outside and melting rich inside. One can find goetta on menus at various diners and breakfast places throughout the city and folks can buy goetta to cook at home at most all Cincinnati supermarkets and grocery stores.



Although this famous thick and tangy wow of a sauce (tomato based with garlic, onions, molasses and spices) is sold in supermarkets and online, the very best place to try it is slathered over ribs at The Original Montgomery Inn and/or The Montogomery Inn Boathouse. Great ribs. Great sauce. Great fun.



United Dairy Farmers (UDF) is a chain of convenience stores that started out selling dairy products in 1940 and, today, sports 170 outlets spread over three states, most selling gas. What UDFs have in luscious common is ice cream, with an emphasis on handmade milkshakes and old-fashioned malts. Although UDF’s classic strawberry shake took “best in the Buckeye State” honors, I say their chocolate malt ranks as my personal favorite. Go ahead. Try both. Make up your own mind.  https://www.udfinc.co


One photo is worth a thousand words.   https://www.holtmansdonutshop.com



Maverick’s co-founders, Paul and Marlene Picton, start from scratch in producing their prize-winning chocolate. Scratch means sourcing the beans from around the world, then taking every step necessary to turn the beans into luscious bars, truffles and drinking chocolate. I suggest visitors stop at the Maverick Chocolate Co. shop/factory in Findlay Market to sample and savor, although one can buy Maverick Chocolates online to devour at home—wherever in the world home is. (Oh the glory of online shopping!) https://maverickchocolate.com

Paul Picton


In addition to Maverick Chocolates, Findlay Market merchants sell a rich variety of locally sourced, artisanal and speciality foods and craft products. Findlay is the oldest continuously operated public market in Ohio and well worth a visit. Best way to explore Findlay is on a Cincinnati Food Tour led by Barb Cooper. Barb makes sure her “clients” find and sample the best of the bounty.  http://www.findlaymarket.org       https://www.cincinnatifoodtours.com

Barb Cooper


If I could only choose one restaurant to try in the cornucopia of Cincinnati’s best, I would pick Mita’s. James Beard Nominated Chef Jose Salazar’s interpretation of Latin American and Spanish dishes shine in Mita’s  pretty, casual, upscale dining room. Perhaps it’s the pitcher of white sangria that preceded my meal, but I loved everything I ordered from the freshest ever jicama and green mango salad to the octopus with potatoes and potato foam to the paella.   https://www.mitas.co

Jose Salazar


The drinking crowd will find Japp’s Bar particularly interesting, primarily because it’s owned by the exuberant, colorful, delightful Molly Wellman, the Queen City’s recognized “queen of cocktails.” A historian, Molly whips up historic cocktails as well as contemporary craft concoctions. Although the bar is staggeringly good on its own, Molly adds a unique spirit that’s positively intoxicating.

Molly Wellman




So here is  the way I was told to drink the Comfortably Numb cocktail served at Union 30, a restaurant located inside the smashing Hotel Saint Louis. 

See that little bud sitting in a white dish at the side of the drink? It’s a Szechuan button flower. I was told to eat the button and then take a soothing sip of cocktail.  Can’t believe I listened. That bud packs a whole lot of OMG-hot into a nibble.

Take a bite and your mouth feels hit by lighting—as if you stuck your tongue in an electrical outlet—as if you bit into a cherry bomb…no… make that a hand grenade. You grab the cocktail and gulp, then your mouth goes comfortably numb.

Truth be told, it’s not really the drink that eases the pain. It’s the button doing the damage and then the numbing. In some circles this crazy plant is known as the toothache plant due to the eventual numbing qualities when chewed.

When consumed together, the button and cocktail are no less than explosively enjoyable, agonizingly delightful and miserably marvelous. But just as the button can numb without the cocktail, two or three cocktail can make everything well…beautifully numb without the preceding pain. See for yourself. The Union 30 bartender gave me the recipe:





Yield: one serving.

2 ounces Hendricks Gin

3/4 ounces St-Germain (elderflower liqueur)

3/4 ounce Curacao (orange-flavored liqueur)

1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1/2 ounce white grape juice

1 Schezwan button flower 

Put all ingredients except button in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Serve with the Schezwan button flower on the side. 




St. Louis has a new hotel and it’s a stunner.

 Believing hotels should be rated for not only guest comforts, but also capturing “a sense of place,” I’d rate Hotel Saint Louis a perfect 10. Well… make that 9-1/2 as it’s hard to find free parking. (A paid lot sits across the street and the hotel offers valet service.) Other than parking, Hotel Saint Louis delights on so many levels.

First is the building itself. The 14-story hotel is encased in the historic Union Trust Building designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan and constructed in 1893. As you know, Sullivan earned the name of both the “father of skyscrapers” and “father of modernism.” He mentored Frank Lloyd Wright and a hotel manager told me that Hotel Saint Louis was the last project that Wright worked on under Sullivan’s tutelage before going on his own.

The hotel serves as a shrine to Sullivan. Original windows and floors and stairways remain intact. Design elements copy Sullivan’s swirls and curls and other original features.

A commissioned portrait of Sullivan by artist Fern K. Taylor overlooks the sparkling lobby.

The rooftop bar is even named “FORM,” after Sullivans famous motto, “Form follows function.”

Unpretentious and unique, the Hotel Saint Louis combines the historic with the contemporary while it shines a spotlight on all things St. Louis. Portraits of Maya Angelou, Betty Grable, Josephine Baker and other St. Louis-connected personalities hang in conference and meeting rooms.

The 140 rooms (52 of them suites) wear every modern comfort, including luxury beds and  linens plus bathrooms with huge walk-in shower/bath combinations, bidets and TV’s embedded in mirrors.

But best of all, the rooms offer opportunity for guests to sample some of St. Louis’ finest products.

The bathrooms stock St. Louis produced Barr Co bath products. The mini bars feature St. Louis favorites, including Bissingers (sigh!) chocolates. 

A record player (manufactured by a St. Louis company) sits in every room accompanied by vintage records featuring musicians with a St. Louis connection. 

But, to me, it’s the hotel’s Union 30 restaurant–serving breakfast, lunch and dinner–that most captures the hip, hot and historic spirit of St. Louis.

In addition to dynamite cocktails, incredible barbecue and delicious creative dishes (am thinking seared duck topping gluten-free waffles),

Seared Duck and Waffles

Chef Matt “Birk” Birkenmeier reincarnates favorite dishes from long-closed St. Louis restaurants. Menu items include: Al Baker’s Chop Salad, Busch’s Grove Cottage Fries and Famous Barr French Onion Soup. 

Of course Birk adds his personal pizzazz to the vintage recipes, for example, serving the famous onion soup with tidbits of prime rib.

Here ya go with Matt’s old-fashion, updated recipe:


Yield: 2 quarts soup or 8 one-cup servings.

3 pounds peeled and trimmed yellow onions

4 ounces butter 

3/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons paprika

1-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 quarts beef broth

1 bay leaf


Caramel coloring or liquid browning sauce, optional 

1 pound diced cooked prime rib

French bread croutons (See NOTE below )

Gruyere cheese, sliced

Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Parmesan cheese, grated 

Slice onions into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Put butter in a large soup pot and melt over low heat. Add onions, toss in butter, and simmer over low heat, stirring often, for 1-1/2 hours. 

Sprinkle onions with flour, paprika and pepper. Stir well to incorporate flour. Stir mixture over low heat for 10 minutes. Slowly stir in broth. Add bay leaf. Simmer soup for 2 hours. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with salt. If necessary, adjust color to a rich brown with caramel coloring or liquid browning sauce.  Cool and refrigerate overnight.

To serve: Add prime rib to soup.  Ladle individual portions of soup into individual ovenproof bowls. Top with a crispy French bread crouton. Top crouton with a slice of Gruyere and then a generous sprinkling of Mozzarella and Parmesan. Place soup bowl under a hot broiler and broil until cheese melts and is golden brown.


One large French baguette



Preheat oven to 325°F.

Slice baguette into rounds, each about 1/4-inch thick. Spread butter on one side of each round and place rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet, buttered side up. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place baking sheet in oven and toast until rounds are crispy and light golden brown, about 20 minutes.


Hotel Saint Louis is a Marriott Autograph Collection property, located on the corner of  Seventh and Olive in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. It sits a short walk from Busch Stadium, The American Center Convention Complex and a slew of downtown St. Louis attractions. 

For more information on St. Louis attractions and another treasured recipe (Gooey Butter Cake), click HERE. For more information on Hotel Saint Louis, click HERE.







Prepare for sparkle. Prepare for shine. Prepare for scandalous stories of courtesans and opera singers and movie stars. Prepare to be educated and entertained. Prepare for DIVA, a museum dedicated to diamonds, silver and other dazzling objects that opened in Antwerp, Belgium, in May, 2018.

Located in Antwerp’s historic city center, DIVA has already emerged as one of Antwerp’s most treasured tourist attractions for good reason.

Although showcasing about 600 items, the museum offers more than just displays for pass-by viewing. Dark lighting, creative staging, soundscapes, multimedia and interactive features plunge the visitor into the deep and delightful world of diamonds, showcasing the many facets of the diamond industry that has flourished in Antwerp since the mid-15th century.

Beautiful as they are, it’s not only objects that make DIVA so seductive. Visitors tour the museum guided by a variety of voices telling diamond-related stories that are mostly fictional, sometimes factual and always fascinating.

Sound tract narrator, Jérôme, a fictional butler serving a lady (also make believe) whose house the museum is said to represent, provides the verbal thread that ties the six themed galleries together. 

Designers staged the first gallery as a Wunderkammer (or room of wonder that wealthy aristocrats of past centuries used for displaying collections). DIVA’s Wunderkammer showcases objets d’art collected from around the world.

The Atelier, or Workshop, comes second in the line of galleries and focuses on the art of diamond cutting, polishing and setting.  

The third gallery, Trade, centered by a dramatic interactive globe, takes visitors through historic periods in Antwerp’s diamond industry, exploring trade routes and other aspects of the global business.

From Trade, visitors enter the intriguing Dining Room which reveals the evolution of silver table pieces as well as the etiquette and dining habits of rich and elite of centuries past. 

In the full-size Vault, visitors find a fun, interactive array of information to test their own savvy about gemstone crime and security. 

And the Boudoir, the final gallery, links diamonds with desire displaying objects associated with famous Divas. 

Contemporary diva wannabes (and the selfie crowd) can end their visit by  trying on virtual diamonds and posting the resulting images on social media.


In addition to galleries, the museum sports event space, a workshop, a library and two shops—the Museum shop, selling books, gadgets, curios and souvenirs (DIVA-brand gin among them) and the Silvius Druon jewelry store, offering a treasure trove of items including loose diamonds and diamond baubles ranging from €500 to €50,000.

More information on DIVA click HERE 

For another top-notch Antwerp attraction click HERE