As we approach the end of another Divine year, I would like to thank all of you who have been such an integral part of our company.  To produce these events it takes a village, and you all are part of the Divine community.  Each role you play is a cog in the wheel that creates all of the amazing events we produce each year. I’m so very proud of our teams, your many talents, and all the accomplishments we enjoyed in 2018.

Many exciting developments are in the works for 2019!  I’m proud to announce that at Vinewood Stables, we will be enclosing and conditioning the Stables this winter, providing opportunity for year round events!  With the addition of Vinewood Stables to our portfolio of event venues, VS will ensure continued success for the Magic and Divine brands.

I hope you will join us at the annual Staff Appreciation Party in January, where I can personally thank you!



It has been said of Egypt’s capital, “He who has not seen Cairo has not seen the world”.  Certainly, the heart of the nation beats with an unbridled passion in this city made prosperous over millennia as a stopover for Sahara caravans on trade routes to Byzantium.  Today, life here seems like mayhem, all the while the serene Nile slides through the middle like an entrancing serpent.  It's very age mesmerizes - its monuments have stood here for more the 5,000 years, and to visit here was quite a privilege.

In Cairo, after visits to three of the most iconic landmarks of all antiquity, I was already in Egyptology overload and the trip had hardly begun.  The Sakkara Step Pyramid is believed to be the first pyramid built, some 4700 years ago. Then on to the Giza Plateau, while home to many tombs, the most spectacular are the Great Pyramids.  Three in all, they are the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World remaining, all guarded by the iconic Sphinx.


After Cairo, we flew to Luxor.  Called the "Hundred-Gated City" by Greek historian Homer, Luxor is set on the Nile River.  The City was once known as Thebes and served as the capital of Egypt's New Kingdom from 1560 B.C.  Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with some of the world's most ancient and significant ruins.  Many consider this city, watched over by graceful single-sailed feluccas plying the Nile, one of the world's great open air museums.  The sprawling temples of Luxor and Karnak (the Johnny Carson inspired seer) on the east bank are linked by the ancient avenue of sphinxes.  On the west bank, in the Valley of the Kings, lie the tombs of Egypt's great pharaohs.


In Edfu, located on the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, we were able to go visit the local Souk, or market, with the chefs from the cruise ship.  They were in need of some fresh mint.  Beautiful produce and interesting vendor stalls!


After ten days in Egypt, I could fill up a nice scrap book with photos of tombs, temples and tales of the Nile, but what I'm most excited about are the middle eastern dishes we sampled.  The stars being the varieties of hummus, spreads and salads, such as Kishk (yogurt + chickpeas)  Muhammara (Red Pepper + walnut)  Moutable (eggplant + tahini)  Okra Salad, Roasted Carrots (creamer pea hummus + raisin relish).  Watch for some new spreads appearing soon at your events!

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Since it's the time for Holiday Desserts, the winner for Best Dessert on the Planet goes to... OM ALI!Most every restaurant we dined at offered their version of this classic Egyptian dessert.

Om Ali, also called Om Ali (translated to Ali's Mother) is a national dish of Egypt. This scrumptious dessert is a Middle Eastern version of bread pudding.  Unlike American bread puddings, which typically use stale bread that's first soaked in a sweet liquid, Om Ali uses freshly baked puff pastry for an extra level of deliciousness. 

The dish itself has a long history involving conspiracy and generally poor behavior among the ancient rulers.  According to folklore, this delightful and filling pudding – made from cereal, nuts, coconut, raisins, honey and hot milk – was named after the wife of a ruler from the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt called Om Ali.   Her rival, Shagaret El Dorr, became the second wife.  However, after his death, in a fit of pique over a dispute about whose son would succeed the Sultan, Shagaret El Dorr arranged for Om Ali to be murdered by bribing her maids. When Om Ali went to the hammam, she was beaten to death by her own handmaidens, allegedly with her own slippers. 

Nastily, to celebrate the death of the poor woman, Shagaret requested  her cooks to come up with the most delicious dessert they could create and distribute throughout Egypt. The chosen recipe became a national dish and has survived all these centuries. 

The pudding in Egypt is actually more likely to be made with sugar and Buffalo milk instead of condensed milk but the two flavor profiles are similar.  Ingredients like the puff pastry, nuts and dairy are always used but beyond that there are lots of variations to be found.  For me, the kicker is the when the topped cream and sweetened milk co-mingle and brown in the oven on top of the pastry.  It's like ooey gooey toasted marshmallow!


OM ALI  (super easy!)

1 package of frozen puff pastry (approx. 17 ounces)

1 15 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

3 cups of water

1/2 cup of heavy cream

3/4 cup of pistachios (shelled and chopped)

1/2 cup of pine nuts

1/2 cup of almonds

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 - 3/4 cups of coconut flakes (depending on your taste)

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Unroll the puff pastry sheets and place them on greased baking sheets or ones lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes. You want the puff pastry to be golden and puffed. Remove from oven.

Break the puff pastry into small pieces (about 1 to 2 inches). Place the broken pieces into a large bowl along with the nuts and coconut flakes. Be sure that they are mixed well and evenly distributed. Place the nuts and pastry mixture into a greased 9x12 baking dish, or individual ramekins.

In a saucepan, heat the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and water on medium heat. Allow to cook for about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Pour the milk mixture over the puff pastry nut mixture. Finally, pour the heavy cream on top and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes in the 400 F oven.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

2018, Main BlogLydia SloanA