The Next Big Thing?

My friends (husband and wife) launched this game they are building on Kickstarter.  These days everyone knows at least one person who is either starting a company or investing in one.  I don’t care where you are located.  Now you can play in the game and learn something at the same time….with monopoly money.

I backed their project.  The board will come out in April.   Definitely will be a fun family activity.  Hopefully the players around your table won’t get too competitive!

Saturday in Toronto

gravitypopeWe spent most of the day around Queen Street West.  Just walking around and checking out the neighborhood.  Our first stop was in Gravity Pope.  A mixture of mens and women’s clothes, shoes, accessories.  Very cool store.

artDown the street is Stephen Bulger Gallery that had a few artists up.  The main one was Sanaz Mazinani.  The show was called Imminent Infinite.

mabelsJust the smell along pulled us into Mabels.  The baked breads are beautiful.

mabelscannedLots of pickled items and well curated condiments throughout the store.

gladstonehotelThe Gladstone Hotel, opened in 1889, is now a trendy hotel.  Great building.

theworkroomThis is the Workroom.  It is a communal place for sewing.  I have seen many knitting places but this is a first for sewing. The place was definitely humming too.  Fabrics, machines, threads, patterns etc.

gallery113Gallery 1313 is a communal art gallery.  One of the artist was working it when we were there.

cotedeboeufWe wandered into several places looking for lunch.  Cote de Boeuf is quite the amazing butcher but it was standing only for food.

anchoviesMost of the restaurants were serving brunch and it wasn’t what we wanted so we left the area and went to Bar Raval for tapas.  It is a tiny place although there is outside eating in an enclosed porch.  I think we might have caught the last weekend for that because it will be too cold.  We had a few tapas to share.  These are a few highlights.  Marinated sardines and green olives.

tunaTuna belly with pickles, spicy peppers and an olive.

bauxigallery denisecoleOur next stop was Bau-Xi Gallery located across the street from the Art Museum.  They have two galleries, one is only photography.  There were a variety of paintings from Darlene Cole.  Everyone of the descriptions next to the piece in the gallery had a price tag on it.  I have never seen that before.  I like it.

galleryThis is the basement of the photography gallery of theirs down the street.

kitchenWe went back to have a little r&r before dinner.  Dinner was at Buca.  We were able to watch the kitchen.  Lots of man buns in there.

breadballsThe food here is really good.  These are warm bread knots pan fried in olive oil and rosemary.

pizzaThe pizza was amazing.  I loved how they served it with a scissor.

branzino sushiThe highlight is their branzino crudo.  They show you the fish and then carve it like sushi and sit the pieces in olive oil, italian style.  Absolutely delicious.

We also had a few sides and a salt encrusted Branzino.  The dinner, the wine, the whole thing was delicious.


Happy Thanksgiving

imgresIt is a true American holiday.  It doesn’t matter if you came from somewhere else this holiday is celebrated by every person who lives in the USA.  It is a time to give thanks.  The history is sketchy but what it means today is clear.  A day to be with family and friends around a table and eat ridiculous amounts of food.  Any of us who are doing that today should take time to reflect on the many around the globe who are not as fortunate.  The families that are trying desperately just to find food and a roof over their head.  Those who are leaving their homeland because if they stay they won’t survive.  All of us who live in the US are lucky to have been born here and lucky to have perhaps ended up here.  There might be many issues that we don’t agree on but those issues are not forcing us to flee our homeland.

I am going to enjoy the day cooking in the kitchen, celebrating with really good friends and our family.  I hope we all take time to think about the world at large as we sit down for our meal.  It is important to take a moment and realize just how lucky we all are.

A few days in Toronto

Friends we have known since college graduation ended up putting their roots down in Toronto.  It is funny how life takes you places that you were not expecting.  We try to get together with them a few times during the year.  This time we went to their town.  Great city.

We had dinner at Boralia on Friday night.  Boralia is located in an area that like many other urban cities has gone through a lot of transformation over the past 5 years.  The food is creative and definitely has a Canadian edge to it.

fried ballsEverything is meant to be shared.  These are chopsuey croquettes.  Interesting take of chopsuey wrapped up into one bite.

eggsDeviled Chinese tea eggs.  These were really good.  Lots of flavor that you aren’t expecting with deviled eggs

smokeMussels smoked in pine needles, pine ash and butter.  Here is how it comes to the table.

musselsHere is what is left when the smoke evaporates.  This was absolutely delicious.

whitefishSmoked white fish is hiding underneath the rice crackers with a hint of curry.

onionsStuffed onions mixed with carrots, rye berries and a light onion sauce.

mushroomsBeautiful presentation here.  Grilled mushroom salad with watercress sauce and a  hazelnut corn cake.

beefThis was the special of the evening.  Beef two ways.  Simple and dense like a stew.  This was my least favorite of the meal.

potatognoiccCaramelized onion and potato pierogies with crispy onions, red cabbage and a horseradish sour cream on top.

beneignDessert was not as light as it should be.  Hot chocolate beignets.

The place is great.  Wonderful vibe with creative food.  If it was in NYC well we would be coming back.



imgresSomeone asked me if I had ever encountered racism.  I thought about it a second and a particular event came rushing back to me.  It was a one time occurrence but it made me think about how terrible it must be to endure that time and time again just because of who you are, where you came from, what you look like from a random person who makes a judgement due to their own prejudices.

For me it was in college.  My then boyfriend had two really good friends who were from a small town on Cape Cod.  We were living in Boston and drove there for a warm spring weekend.  We were going to stay at one of the guys girlfriends house.  We both knew her and had spent time with her over the year.

We got to the house and met the parents.  I felt uncomfortable the second I stepped foot in the house.  The parents sized me up and I could see in their eyes that I did not look like their friends.  I am Jewish.

They began to interrogate me.  Where was I from?  How was it possible we all met?  I knew exactly where they were going.  I wanted to ask them what did they really want to know.  I felt like saying would you like to see my horns?  I have never felt so uncomfortable somewhere.  All I wanted to do was get out of there.  I could barely breath.

We were supposed to stay for dinner and spend the night.  I refused.  I told my boyfriend that I would not stay the night there.  I felt unsafe.  I am sure it would have been fine but I didn’t feel at ease until we were in the car and out of their neighborhood.

It is a moment that I had not thought about for years.  Yet when someone asked me if I had ever encountered racism it was unbelievable how quickly that came rushing back to my brain.  Think about how awful it must be to have to endure that often.  You probably become numb to it and put up a wall that has a hard time every coming down.

What is happening now with the Syrian refugees is what spurred on the conversation.  Most of these people are people who just want to have a roof over their head, food on their place, access to medicine and a place that they can raise their families.  Our friends became Canadian citizens after living in Canada for decades.  It was time.  The last part of the process was that you had to come in for an entire morning and discuss with groups of people who were also getting their citizenship what the most important thing about becoming a Canadian citizen is.  My friend figured economic security, opportunity to do something of value for the country.  The answer among all the people in the roof was safety.  After hearing from many of them how they had got to Canada he said he looked around the room of people from all over the globe and almost cried.  Think about that, the most powerful thing to all these people was that they were now safe.

I think about how lucky we are all to sit down to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families knowing that we have a roof over our head and food at the table. We should really be thinking about all the refugees around the globe who are looking to have the same experience as us, to be with friends and family around a table filled with food and to be thankful for the ability to lead the lives that they want to live.

Danielle Fong, LightSail Energy, Woman Entrepreneur

images-1I am starting to think about WeFestival and a panel of women who are the next generation of movers and shakers.  The women that are on the edge of building businesses that will change the way we live our lives.  I was pointed in the direction of Danielle Fong who is not only brilliant she is setting out to make sure that our planet is around for generations to come.  LightSail Energy compresses heat energy and converts this to mechanical energy.

Danielle grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Her Mom was a journalist who studied biology.  Writing was not doing as the publishing industry let her down so she began to think about how to get her stuff out there, took up stand-up comedy and ended up on TV.  She will writes her own jokes and has also directed a play.  Her Mom also went to university at 15 and figured out at a young age how to talk herself into anything.  Her Dad studied economics, finance and accounting and became an entrepreneur.  He had a restaurant and on the side created a sun shelter and a remote clapping device in their basement.

Danielle was always super advanced.  Her parents knew it but wanted to keep her in school for the social piece.  Junior High School it became apparent that the material was not keeping up with her.  She had already skipped a grade too. There was a particular teacher who Danielle made the mistake of correcting.  The teacher put Danielle in detention daily.  She decided that she did not have to do this.  She had this vision that she’d break out of detention and run thru the hallways to the exit door and people would be chasing her.  It did not exactly end up that way.  She just got up one day, walked out, went out and told her parents I am done.  She dropped out of school at 11.

Danielle spent the next couple of months programming, working on 3D modeling and reading.  She began to feel like she was just spinning her wheels and started to think about going to University.  Her Mom helped her do it.  At 12 Danielle was enrolled at Dalhousie University in Halifax.  She bussed it over there every day.  What she learned when she got there is the same thing you learn as a female entrepreneur.  You have to take advantage of your novelty.  Nobody was sure who the kid was in the school because Danielle had a growth spurt before getting there and now she stands 6 feet tall.  When she got in her first class she started to ask questions.  It was obvious she was engaged and bright and because of her height and intellect she just managed to fit in.

She graduated with degrees in computer, math and physics all with honors.  Her parents had not saved for her to go to school at 12 so she worked in the learning center as a tutor.  Also if you get A+’s you get an in-house scholarship.  Obviously a bright driven young woman.

At 17 Danielle went to Princeton for a PhD in Cosmophysics.  Her focus was on nuclear reactors and anything relevant around the climate crisis.  The problem she saw was that all the academics were running around attempting to get funding for an expected power plant that might be built by 2050 and in her opinion that was not soon enough to turn around the planet.  At the time the entire fusion program was worth $15M and Facebook was worth $14B.  Danielle decided she should move closer to the capital.

Danielle dropped out of the program.  People even told her that she would be better off as an entrepreneur.  She read Paul Graham’s essays and he wrote…if I were going to start a startup today, there are only three places I’d consider doing it: on the Red Line near Central, Harvard, or Davis Squares (Kendall is too sterile); in Palo Alto on University or California Aves; and in Berkeley immediately north or south of campus. These are the only places I know that have the right kind of vibe  She packed her bags and moved to Berkeley.  At first she wanted to establish herself there.  She had zero net worth and zero network.  She decided to spend the next two years playing around with a bunch of ideas while searching for the right co-founders.  Then something stuck.  The biggest sticky factor is in your own head.  She had 50 ideas on spread sheets with the challenge and milestones but one of them she could not stop thinking about.

Danielle met her co-founder, Steve Crane, who was in his mid-50’s, went to MIT at 15 and had done a lot of work in physics bringing it into products.  Steve told her the most brilliant inventor he had ever met was Ed Berlin who had a machine shop in his garage where he was working on an air compressor.  Technically he was working on a compressed air powered hybrid vehicle.  It was there that they built the first prototype.  They demonstrated for the first time that you could extract the most power from the air if you can combine it with the right amount of heat from the environment.  Crane put in the first dollar and with that prototype Khosla put in first round of funding.

LightSail Energy has now raised $70M.  The end game that they are building towards is to technologically enable a sustainably powered society.  Solar and wind are cheap.  They are continually coming down in cost and right now that is the lowest cost of energy in the world.  The expensive part is energy storage.  You need to have intermittent power when the wind is not blowing.  They want to build something that supports local demand and supply.  Air compressors and tanks last 5-10x longer than typical batteries and LightSail has increased air compression and expansion efficiency dramatically.  There is a huge reduction in cost when you are able to to store energy and put it on the grid.  They hope eventually you will have a device in your home that will be the size of a refrigerator that will provide heat, a/c, and sustainable power from otherwise underused sources in lieu of fossil fuel based power from the conventional electricity grid.  You would still use the electrical grid but you would also use these devices as the regulator.  They are using one in their place right now.  They plan to install one in CA, one in the Caribbean and one in Canada over the next 18 months.  LightSail has also found a way to use their tank technology to distribute natural gas — reducing emissions and making use of gas that would otherwise be wasted.  They are rolling out more of these larger devices in the year to come. Next year they will also be DOT certified.

They have a facility in Oakland and Berkley.  The team is 51 people right now.  There are customers who want to buy these devices.  She had met a variety of interesting people including the Saudi’s who realize that the elements are changing.  They are talking to everyone in energy too.  Being a woman in the room has been interesting.  She has learned how to be respectful and poised but once she starts talking it is obvious who knows more than anyone else in the room.

I thought about Danielle for days after speaking with her.  She is super intelligent but also funny and engaging.  She will be at WeFestival in April.  I am looking forward to meeting this 6 foot tall 28 year old powerhouse woman who is changing the way we will use energy in the decades to come.


gougereWe had a french dinner party this past week.  The menu was braised leeks topped with toasted panko, pine nuts and a mustard vinaigrette, coq au vin with boiled potatoes, green salad, overwhelming cheese plate and chocolate mousse for dessert.  I was at a loss of what to begin with for the cocktail house.  Gougeres was the answer.

This was the first time I made gougeres and I learned a lot.  I took me three times to get it right.  The first time I wasn’t paying attention to the recipe although they turned out ok just not as full and crispy as I wanted.  I needed more than one bunch so I did it again and this time was a disaster and I paid more attention to the recipe.  The third time was a charm.

Preheat the oven to 400.

6 tbsp. unsalted butter cut into pieces.

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper

pinch of nutmeg

1 1/4 cups flour

4 large eggs

6 ounces grated Gruyere cheese

(you can also use an egg yolk to brush over the top of them before putting in the oven but I didn’t)

Bring salt, pepper, nutmeg and 1 cup of water to boil in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the butter until it is melted.

Remove from the heat and add in the flour.  Put the pot back over the medium heat and stir this constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes a ball.  It doesn’t take more than a minute and then keep moving it around just a bit for heat purposes.  Maybe one minute in total.  Now remove the pan from the heat.

Add in the cheese.  The recipe said to add it in later but this worked for me.  Continue to work on the ball until the cheese is completely mixed in.  Now add the 4 eggs, incorporating one at a time.  The mixture breaks up and is thick but eventually each egg gets mixed in.  The mixture should be thick but not too thick.  Thick enough to hold.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper drop one inch rounds about 2 inches apart.  You can use piping bag but I had trouble with that.  I went with the soup spoon and put the small dollops on the tray by hand.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.  They are so good.  Honestly so easy to make and you really can’t stop eating them.


Flavor palate

imgresI have been interested in the food space for a long as I can remember.  One of the reasons I invested in Ricks Picks, almost a decade ago, is that I believed that there was a desire for new brands with different flavor palates that had been sitting on the grocery shelves for decades.  It was also the beginning of people wanting healthy food vs processed.  Labels were starting to be read and reading words like disodium inosinate on the can meant there the product was filled with chemicals to assure what you were eating had a shelf life of a decade or two was not going to fly anymore.

Flavor palates are interesting.  Sir Kensington’s shifted their ketchups taste because the majority of us are just used to good old Heinz.  I know I am.  People who are starting companies that make products from gluten-free cookies to ice cream to cake mixes are millennials who understand what their generation wants to taste and buy.  They also understand how the consumer wants to make a product.  Most don’t know how to cook.  Nobody took home economics – just noting that I did in 7th grade.  It is easier to just buy something made but they do have a desire to eat around the table with friends and family.

The big food companies are starting to get wake up.  Campbell’s Soup is changing their recipes for the next generations flavor palate.  Consumer preferences are shifting and if you want to continue to own the market then you have to shift.  Campbells is also shifting its ad dollars to social media and digital advertising.  They are also acquiring companies that they know resonate with the customers.  It is impressive how they are moving.

Did I mention that the person leading the charge at Campbells Soup is a woman?  Hats off to Denise Morrison, the chief executive officer at Campbells.


unnamedThe Executive Director of EatDrinkLucky reached out to me to tell me about this new daily email.  I signed up.  I get a lot of emails that I read daily.  This is the latest one.  It reminds me of the early days of Daily Candy.

You can sign up for the city of your choice.  Right now the options are Austin, Boston, LA, Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, San Francisco, Portland ME, New York City and Denver.  I am getting LA and NYC daily.

Each day you get three areas of content in a small paragraph.  Eat, Drink and Lucky. Lucky is something happening in the city from a show to an event.  Here is one of the eat’s that was in my box this week.

It is pretty clever.  Sign up.

New York City | Sunday, Nov 15


You might know Mother’s Ruin as a gin joint, but their “Bitchin Brunch” is indeed just what they say it is. The Eggo Waffles are topped with wings all glazed with Cholula honey and a buttermilk dressing.

18 Spring St.

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Photo: Mother’s Ruin


Penelope Cafe has its own blend of Kobrick Coffee. Get it at breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner. Rich, vibrant and a good pick-me-up for the rest of Sunday.

159 Lexington Ave.

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Photo: Penelope Cafe


Shamir hits the stage for two shows — tomorrow and Tuesday — at Bowery Ballroom. Soul, R&B, disco, rap with hints of Prince and Bowie — andhe’s only 20 years old.

6 Delancey St.

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littlebitsstorelittleBits has a store on West Broadway in Soho.  We were walking around Soho this weekend and stopped in.  It was really exciting to see.  I invested in littleBits in August of 2011.  I wrote about the founder Ayah Bdeir in October 2011.  This was my first paragraph.

What struck me when I spoke with Ayah about her company littleBits is people like Ayah are makers.  To me makers are people who are making products that will hopefully transform our daily lives.  Products of old will be put to pasture as new cutting edge products take their place.  Just as new companies are transforming the way we do business others are making new products that are working on a different revolution.

kidsWhat Ayah has accomplished since 8/11 is amazing.  She has built a company of incredible products that are resonating with a new generation of kids that will understand electronics at an early stage through creativity.  To now walk into a store and see parents working with kids on projects and watching those kids faces light up is thrilling.

circuitsThere are now hundreds of gizmos and gadgets vs the handful when she began.

eventsThere are events at the store for companies and schools.

geekI am getting together with Ayah in the weeks ahead to catch up.  There is one thing that I’d like to see and maybe they are already working on it.  The products are expensive.  For some families it is irrelevant yet for others it is unobtainable.  I am sure that Ayah and her board would love to figure out how they get the product into the hands of every kid.  There needs to be a social component to the business.  Every kid who wants to geek out on this stuff should somehow have access to these products.  Obviously there is a profitable business to build yet figuring out the broader reach regardless of cost is a challenge.  If anyone can figure it out…Ayah can.