A very special #TGIF featuring #Ortizfoodiepride

Instead of the usual cocktail mixology video for Friday, I have instead for this week a special cocktail recipe from my Uncle Stephen Ackley: master mixologist.  I do have a brand new cocktail video for next week from Friday for next week however – and  it contains rhubarb!  And it’s from Firebox!

But this week, my sister, Amy, visited me from San Francisco/the Bay area – which prompted a family get together in upstate New York with many delicious foods and libations: so this is a special post to honor that visit.  And yes, there is a cocktail recipe  copied at the end of this post.

gangs all here

With my sister and Penelope the day before we went to NY.  Note that baby Orlando looks like Yoda here.  Which is so adorable.

apple wine

The Lost Acres Apple Wine that we enjoyed al fresco on Saturday and also on Sunday

epic cheese plate #2

More local goodies: organic strawberries from Granby Village Health, Sweet Pea chevre, and apple and walnut bread from Lost Acres Orchard!

Here is the entire ‘gang’ who was at the party on Sunday – all from my father’s (Ortiz) side of the family – and all contributing delicious Cuban and Puerto Rican dishes from our heritage to dinner that day!


I love you guys so much

Ok, back to the food.  It’s a bit of a family tradition to marathon eat, and as everyone is a foodie, the ingredients have to be top notch.  Therefore, we started with lobster tacos, with fresh soft shell lobster which my Uncle Greg, who was hosting the dinner, sourced from Maine the previous week

lobster tacos

Lobster with home made chipotle mayo, cilantro, radishes, and slaw on corn tortilla

uncle greg

My Uncle Greg rendering pork fat from the pulled pork (spoiler alert) to heat up the tortillas


Look at this beautiful, fresh lobster!

Following the tacos, Amy and I decided we needed a breather before course #2 (chowder) and we also, naturally, needed more cheese to go with the Sweet Pea chevre we had brought with us (naturally).  As it was a beautiful day, we walked to the local The Big Cheese in Rosendale.

boom baby boutique

I was too excited about the mix of cheese and vintage clothes (I bought a blazer!) to remember to take a picture of the cheese shop (dang).  But here’s another local shop that I put on my list for our next visit to Rosendale!


Orlando being worn by his mommy and looking ridiculous hip in his baby sunglasses.  I can’t take it.

epic cheese plate

The finished cheese plate – featuring from left to right: manchengo, a marvelous ‘grilling cheese,’ jerk cheese, smoked gouda, a creme brie, and the aforementioned chevre.  Oh and olives.  Always olives.

The grilling cheese was a truly marvelous discovery which I will be repeating as soon as possible on our grill this summer.  It was so good and so easy to prepare!

cheese ungrilled


cheese grilled

And after!

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a proper dinner without a soup course.  My Uncle Greg prepared a light and tasty seafood chowder, with, among other things, clams, bits of the lobster, and swordfish.

clam chowdah


Don’t worry – we did take a bit of a breather before the main course.  There was pulled pork to heat up after its long sous vide bath

pulled pork

Ah yes.  This is what every Cuban wants, always

ropa vieja

Plus Ropa Vieja, brought by my Uncle Chris, to reheat

pastel de amarillo

Pastelon de amarillo to warm up (for the uninitiated: sweet plaintains mixed with a glorious medley of meats and olives, topped with cheese.  A riff on a traditional mofongo, if you will)  Courtesy of Uncle Stephen


It wouldn’t be Cuban dinner without the rice…

blurry black beans

And the beans.  Blurry action shot because, again, I was excited

this is heaven

The combined plate of gloriousness with avocado garnish, paired with Lost Acres Apple Wine

After dinner, the focus switched to the adorable baby cousins


I mean, really, really adorable you guys

There were presents

smart phone 2

A smartphone for P!  of her very own!  How naice

orlandito macaras

Maracas and a tiny fedora for Orlando!  According to P, also hers

baby in fedora

Ah yes, P, it looks great on you too


There are giraffes on the maracas you guys.  I can’t even

And of course, there was chocolate (curry and toffee flavored) and many, many after dinner libations from my Uncle Stephen, who had also been mixing throughout dinner.  He showed up with about five boxes of liquor and at least ten types of bitters, so we were pretty spoiled.  My favorite cocktail of the evening was a replication of the ‘4th and Rye’ from 116 Crown in New Haven (rye, gin, St. Germaine, simple syrup, and heat).  The recipe shared below was from a close second favorite cocktail of the evening – one of my Uncle Stephen’s own creation

uncle stephen

Picture here immersed in his craft

Now that Amy and Orlando have continued their family tour (next stop for them – Florida!  lucky) I am a bit sad


Ok, really sad

But overall I feel extremely blessed to have such a wonderful and culinary focused family!  Would love to hear some of your family’s traditional dinners in the comments below, and please request any recipes you’d like to try out for yourselves!  Don’t forget to try out mixing Uncle Stephen’s cocktail too:

Earl of Plymouth Cocktail

2 oz Plymouth Gin

1.5 oz Earl Grey Infused Vodka

1 oz Lillet Blanc

.5 oz simple syrup

.5 oz lemon juice

Dash Lavender Bitter

Shake, strain, and pour into chilled cocktail glass; garnish with curled lemon zest




One thought on “A very special #TGIF featuring #Ortizfoodiepride

  1. OHmygosh Kat! So much delicious food! I can’t decide what is my fave part of this post (in terms of food – P is obviously fave overall). Is it ALL the cheese plates? Is it the pork with black beans (be still my beating heart)? I love your foodie fam!

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