Posts Tagged ‘zoom’

Celebrate Stay-at-Home Cinco de Mayo in Style

Cinco de Mayo is an interesting holiday. While it commemorates a battle that was fought in Mexico, Mexico doesn’t celebrate it. And what’s even more perplexing is that outside of Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is often confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is actually on September 16. For those of you interested in the origins of this crazy fiesta day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Batalla de Puebla fought on May 5, 1862 in which the small town of Puebla defeated invading French troops.

Courtesy: Morton Beebe/CORBIS

So, why is Cinco de Mayo such a big deal north of the border? The origins of its celebration began in California in 1863 as a symbol of solidarity with Mexico against France. And, Americans being Americans, we love having a reason to celebrate.

Since we can’t join our friends at a Mexican restaurant or share a toast at our neighborhood bar this year, we’ll just have to bring the party home.

Spice up Your Space and Your Energy

Prep your home with the red, white and green colors of the Mexican flag using bandanas, towels, streamers or anything you might have on hand. Involve the kids in making a colorful piñata that you can fill with candy or small toys. If you have some balloons, any colors will work!

Set the mood with an all-day Instagram fiesta put on by Solmar Hotels & Resorts @Solmarhotelsandresorts. Through a series of IG stories dubbed “An Ode to the Avocado,” you’ll get the intel for making avocado-inspired facials and typical Mexican recipes and cocktails where avocados are king.

Add an educational dimension to the fiesta with a free online cooking class. TakeLessons TV will show you how to cook a lime chicken taco bowl with sweet corn and avocado salsa. You’ll also mix up a pineapple-mint agua fresca drink.

You’ll need a soundtrack for the evening, and Spotify has some great Cinco de Mayo playlists. I especially like the one put together by sassyshannah — it will keep you rocking into the wee hours —  as well as listanauta’s compilation of traditional Mexican tunes.

Visit Your Favorite Bar Virtually or Bring a Restaurant Home and Support the Hospitality Industry

If a bar date on Cinco de Mayo is more your speed, Virtual Cheers invites you to create your “night in” while also supporting the hospitality industry. By downloading a Zoom background from your favorite watering hole, you “purchase a round,” with all proceeds going to employee relief efforts. In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, Latin-American bar Leyenda offers a paloma, a refreshing tequila cocktail with a grapefruit-flavored soda mixer.

Tanteo Tequila + The Wayland’s “Party in Place” will deliver a margarita party package in NYC in concert with cocktail-caterer Cocktails in Motion, keeping you safe at home while also benefiting hospitality workers via The LEE Initiative.

Show your support to local restaurants offering to bring the fiesta to you. The East End’s Bistro Ete and K Pasa will put together a takeout package covering the entire Cinco de Mayo celebration from margaritas to dessert.

A Stay-at-Home Trip to Margaritaville

No Cinco de Mayo celebration would be complete with some sort of margarita.

There are many traditional margarita recipes using either fresh limes or Rose’s lime juice. I’ve listed some of the ones devised by mixologists at hotels and restaurants that go beyond tradition to inspire you to invent your own new favorites with ingredients that won’t be impossible to find.

You can also opt for a pre-made margarita mix like Lt Blender’s Margarita in a Bag. Just add tequila and Triple Sec or Cointreau and freeze the entire bag to make a slushy margarita.

This video from Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya shows you all the right steps to create the classic version.

PATRON offers a twist using coconut and cucumber:

1.5 oz. PATRÓN Silver

2 oz. coconut water

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

½  oz. simple syrup

7 thin slices of cucumber, 3 for garnish


For something fruitier, try a Guavarita, a specialty at Hotel Xcaret Mexico:

1.5 oz. guava nectar

3 oz. tequila reposado

garnish with a lime wedge


Mustang Harry’s gives the margarita an Irish spin with the O’Rita:

2 oz. El Tesoro silver tequila

1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice

1 oz. simple syrup

1/2 oz. Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

To garnish, turn half a lime husk inside-out to create a “shot glass,” fill with Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey and carefully set on top

My smoky favorite is a Mezcalita that substitutes mezcal for tequila. Add pineapple juice, muddle a piece of roasted pineapple (if you have it), sprinkle in a bit of Cointreau and rim the glass with Tajin, the classic Mexican chili, salt and lime mix (you can order it on Amazon.)

Mezcal Manhattan

Or make it smoky, sweet and bitter with a Mezcal Manhattan from La Esquina NYC:

2 oz. Doña Vega Espadín mezcal

1 oz. sweet Vermouth

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Garnish with an orange peel, maraschino cherry or brandy cherry

Bring on the Food

You can create a Mexican-inspired meal with these four dishes from chefs in North America:

Guacamole is a must-have starter at any Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Solmar Hotels & Resorts shares this recipe for a version with a kick: one ripe avocado, chili pepper, ¼ cup of onion, half a tablespoon of crushed garlic, chopped cilantro, two tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.


Serious Eats’ Mexican street corn (elote) is the perfect side salad

Mexican street corn

Mexican Fajitas with Red Sauce and Avocado, courtesy of Velas Resorts, are easy to make with ingredients that you likely already have in your cabinet

For non-meat eaters, food writer ChihYu Smith offers this delicious Paleo recipe for Fish Tacos

Teach Me, Please and Feed Me

If staying at home has made you kind of of lazy and you’d rather have someone else do most of the work, sign up for this margarita making class and happy hour. All you’ll need to do is supply your own tacos.

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo has that covered for you, too. In the spirit of #TakeoutTuesdays and #TacoTuesday, Jose Cuervo is offering to pick up the tab for thousands of taco orders nationwide on Cinco de Mayo. Just tweet a photo of your receipt with the hashtags #CincotoGo and #CuervoContest to @JoseCuervo to be eligible.

And, finally, since this really is a holiday revolving around tequila, you’ll need to know the proper way to taste and drink the potent spirit. Javier Moreno Gomez, tequila and wine sommelier at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, offers these tips:

Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

To taste the subtleties of tequila, drink it in a wine glass.

Similar to the methods used for wine and other spirits, the basic tasting method is swirl, sniff, sip and swallow.

Check the color; there will be noticeable differences in a reposado or añejo. While color doesn’t affect the flavor, the density or hue can suggest the amount of wood in the tequila and hint towards its complexities.

Swirl the tequila. Look for the legs, the tears of the agave. These suggest essential oils in the tequila and the presence of alcohol. If the tears fall quickly they have less alcohol but if the tears fall slowly you have more alcohol. Swirling the liquid also releases some of the molecules into the air.

Tequila has more alcohol than wine. Different parts of the tequila will have different aromas. Tequila is known to have 600 different aromas including citrus, mint, freshly cut grass, floral, honey, oak, almond, vanilla, butterscotch, chocolate, leather and caramel.

Sip a small amount and hold the tequila in your mouth for about 10 seconds while sucking in a bit of air. Move it around to get it over your tongue, and suck in some air over top of the tequila to bring the aromas up to your nose. Breathe out through your nose before swallowing. There are different taste zones on your tongue — four specific areas for salty, sweet, bitter and sour. Have the tequila wash over the entire tongue.

Swallow and savor the finish and aftertaste. Remember that everything you eat before a sip will affect the taste of the tequila.


Why Is This Passover Different from All Other Passovers? Celebrating in Quarantine

Passover is the holiday when Jews throughout the world get together to celebrate the exodus from Egypt. It’s a time when we reflect on what it means to be free and we retell the Passover story, the magid, as a way to provoke new questions, to educate the youngest family members, and to keep the history alive.

This year, Jews are challenged with a different kind of Passover. Families are separated from one another and many of the traditions associated with the holiday, like welcoming strangers, are not possible and are certainly not advisable.  The Passover dinner, the Seder, which initiates the holiday will have to be configured in a different way.

Passover is from April 8-16.  How should we celebrate this year?

Importantly, we need to celebrate Passover. Passover refers to the final plague passing over the Jewish families in the days of Egypt. This year, we pray to have Passover relieve us from the plague of coronavirus and from the plague of social distancing. Our virtual Seders won’t be the same and they won’t be perfect. But the Passover story is an important one about resilience and success, and this year the freedoms we cherish matter more than ever.  We can rely on our memories of Passovers past to guide us as we modify and adapt to our current reality.

The first Seder will be held on the evening of April 8 with many families celebrating a second one as well on April 9.

Making It Happen

This year, you’ll need to be a bit tech-savvy to bring the family together. The easiest way is via Zoom, the online meeting software that allows multiple people to be online at the same time. Download it onto your computer or phone from or with the Zoom app and you’ll be ready to go.  Then, someone can invite each participant with a link to join the meeting, or, in this case, the Seder. Click to join with video and sound and you’ll soon see everyone on your screen.

Courtesy of Park Avenue Synagogue

In addition to having someone coordinate the invitations, you’ll need to appoint someone to take charge of the order of the Seder, similar to how it would be done if you were sitting around a family table in one room.  That person, the leader, will then call on participants to read sections from the Haggadah, which sets forth the order of the Seder and its contents, or ask attendees to comment on questions that will personalize the Seder for your family.

What Does a Seder Mean Right Now

In these unprecedented times, the Seder lends itself to many applications to the present.  For example, when you discuss the ten plagues that Moses invoked on the Egyptians to convince Pharaoh to allow the Jews religious freedom, you might want to relate the plagues to what is happening right now with a different set of plagues: the plague of disease, the plague of scarcity of food and supplies, the plague of unemployment and so on.

The Four Cups of Wine take on new importance this year, too.  Wine was considered a royal drink in the past, and hence drinking wine meant that you were free. While there is no concrete reason why we drink four cup at a Seder (or even three or two), we still need to remind ourselves that we are free, even though it may not seem that way right now. No one will argue that wine this year will also help us relax and recline (as you’re supposed to on Passover) during this difficult time.

There are numerous other opportunities to increase the relevance of the Passover story to our present situation.

A Seder by the Books

The contents of the Seder (which means order), can be found by downloading any number of Haggadot (try for some suggestions or how to make your own). The Haggadah will help you track through the Seder’s dozen or so steps:

1. Candle Lighting

2. Blessing of the Wine (Kadesh)– drink the first cup of wine

3. Washing the Hands (Urhatz) – a perfect opportunity to mention why this is so important right now

4. Karpas – dipping greens into salt water as a symbol of Spring and new beginnings but marked by tears

5. Yahatz – with three pieces of matzoh, take the middle piece and break it in half, setting aside the larger piece as the afikoman (the final piece eaten as dessert). While this was said to symbolize the breaking of the Ten Commandments or the parting of the Red Sea when the Israelites fled Egypt, perhaps this “breaking” can refer to the “broken” existence that is now being shared throughout the world.  It’s a perfect time to stop and reflect on what it means to you today.

6. Magid – the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt.  It includes the explanation of the symbolic items on the Seder plate (as best as you can create one), recitation of the Four Questions by the youngest present, traditional Passover songs and readings of a variety of explanatory passages. Drink the second cup of wine.

7. Washing the Hands – another 20-second reminder of what is happening at present.

8. Blessing the Matzoh  (Hamotzi) – giving thanks that we have food to eat and can share it with our families and friends

9. Maror – eating something bitter like horseradish as a remembrance of the mortar that the Israelites used to build the bricks for the Egyptians’ buildings

10. Charoset – eating a sweet mix of apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine, together with some Maror on Matzoh, a Hillel sandwich, sweetness with a remembrance of bitterness. Perhaps you’d like to mention what you feel you’re missing at the moment?  And what you’re grateful for?

11. Dinner – drink the third cup of wine

12. The tradition of Elijah’s Cup and Miriam’s Cup (pouring the Fifth cup of wine for Elijah and a cup of water for Miriam) – welcoming the prophet Elijah to the Seder and recognizing Miriam’s well that provided water for the Israelites while in the desert. The symbolism of Elijah as a virtual guest is more apparent than ever this year.

13. Conclude the Seder and drink the fourth cup of wine.

Making It Your Own

While some of these steps may be difficult to execute this year, you can adjust what you might remember from past Seders to the reality of what we have to use at this moment.  It’s important to accept that you might not have a perfect Seder, and that’s fine. If you don’t have all the ingredients or you don’t have a Seder plate, you will still have a Seder as long as you come together and recite the Passover story.

The Seder can be as long as you want it to be, and you can choose to forego the order and leave the dinner part to the end if that works best for you, following the pre-meal steps of the Seder on Zoom and then signing off to dine. You could also decide to reconvene afterward  to have some schmooze time and to reflect on what the closing statement, “Next Year in Jerusalem” might truly mean as we self-quarantine now and think ahead.

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