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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

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French Wines For Bastille Day By Susan Anderson

Posted: June 27, 2005
by: Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson is back!  We received many emails in support of bringing Susan back as a regular wine consultant to Delicious Destinations. If you have any party plans in celebration of Bastille Day, we hope you will benefit from Susan's excellent recommendations.

Susan Anderson:  Many of my favorite dining adventure’s were spent in small restaurants outside of Paris beginning around noon, at times lasting into late afternoon. As I reviewed the French style cuisine being offered for the summer, my mind started wandering back to the four hour meals and some wonderful food and wine matches. Oh, to be there now.

French_wine_puzzle_2 The Parisian appetizer selections would be great to serve at a Bastille Day Party.  I would serve Hugel “Gentil” as my white wine choice. “Gentil” is a blend of the noble grape varieties Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sylvaner from Alsace. This traditional blend of wine is the house white of many restaurants in Alsace. It is very versatile and refreshing and can be drunk as an aperitif or with food.

As for red, I would serve Louis Jadot or Georges Dubouef Beaujolais Villages. Soft and fruity with spicy undertones, it tastes best slightly chilled. Both “Gentil” and the Beaujolais are perfect for a hot summer evening and are moderately priced for a party.

To set the mood, put Edith Piaf, Jacquel Brel or a Charles Aznavour compact disc in the player.

The soup and entrée courses in the four course menu are a perfect match for Burgundy.  A white Meursault (Chardonnay) or a red from Beaune (Pinot Noir) would work equally well. Match the wine to you or your dinner partner’s preference of red or white.  Or I like to try courses with both a white and a red wine. I think you’ll be intrigued with how differently and how well each wine works with the soup and entrée.

As we leisurely move into the dessert course, I’m thinking Sauterne for the Amaretto Cheesecake. In the three course menu with the Chocolate Raspberry Torte my choice is Banyuls, a natural with chocolate and raspberry. Banyuls is a vin doux naturel from the Cotes du Roussillon district . Banyuls is considered one of the best French fortified wines and may be compared to a light version of port.  Domaine du Mas Blanc Banyuls is the most available choice and a good one.

Lunch In Alberobello With Carla King

Posted: June 20, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Carla_ural_1 When I think of travel writer Carla King the famous line from the play Auntie Mame comes to mind. “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” If the daily grind is pressing on your sense of adventure, I have a solution.  Voted the Best Online Travel Magazine in 2004 by the North American Travel Journalists Association, I invite you to explore Wild Writing Woman Magazine.

Carla King
, of the Motorcycle Misadventures and one of these gifted storytellers, poets and avid travelers, knows how to live life to the fullest. She’s off on another adventure of a lifetime. From June into the beginning of July, Carla is circumnavigating the Adriatic Sea on her Moto Guzzi Breva 750. She’s given permission for us to pull snippets from her online travel dispatches to share with you.

On June 3rd Carla picked up her bike at Lake Como, then went on to Venice and down the east coast of Italy. From Brindisi, Carla caught a ferry to Greece then rode up the coast of Greece. From June 18-21 it’s Albania and on to Serbia-Montenegro, Bosnia-Hertzogovina, Croatia, and Slovenia, circling back to Italy to hit Trieste and then Venice again – full circle!

Carla’s #1 motivation for this extraordinary trip was probably not food, although she has experienced some out-of-this-world cuisine. I invite you to live vicariously and join Carla for lunch at Casa Nova in the little Italian town of Alberobello.

Motorcycle Misadventures June 10, 2005: Alberobello & the Trulli – They have a number of trulli in town and out of town. The one I’m staying in is in the residential group of Alberobello trulli called the Aia Piccola district, just a five-minute walk to the Monti district, which is tourist group of trulli that’s full of shops and restaurants where I had lunch at a fabulous place called Casa Nova. I ordered the tasting menu tipici (typical) of the region and they stuffed me silly. Carla_king_post_1_restaurant_1

To begin there was a plate of cold cuts and cheese, which meant several kinds of beautiful salami and procuitto and two kinds of mozzarella, one bufula mozzarella and one from the herds of burro I saw as I was riding in. I poked at the burro mozzarella and inside it was quite runny, more like clotted cream and much sweeter than the bufula. I could have eaten another, but the waiter was weighing down my table with more plates of tipici dishes: little sausages in white wine (lovely and delicate flavored), broad bean and chickpea pureed with onion (fabulous), tripe in a minestrone vegetable-like sauce (love the sauce, can’t deal with the texture). Then there was a plate of fried and baked things: fried zucchini flowers, pancakes with mozzarella mixed with tomato inside, puffy little breads, and bread balls of some sort. That was the first course.

The second course was “little ears” of pasta with broccoli flowers sautéed in lots and lots of olive oil. If it hadn’t been so heavily salted it would have been stellar. Between second and third the chef decided that I had to try the dish typical of this restaurant, gnocchi made of bread, olives, and eggs served in a tomato sauce with fresh uncooked basil. Heavy and wonderful. And now I had a steak coming, perfectly grilled, but who could blame me for not even eating half of it?

Whisking that away, the waiter soon returned with another platter – inside I groaned, it’s not possible, I thought, but he laid down a plate of delicate little homemade cookies and a bowl of ripe, red cherries that turned out to be just barely chilled. Who could resist? It was the perfect anecdote to overeating. Italians know how to fool the stomach by wooing the palate. The cookie I liked best was not the Amaretto or the chocolate but a vanilla with an invisible cracklature of caramel. It absolutely melted. It was nothing…you see?

Espresso? Yes. And then I waddled up the hill to see the trullo church and shop in the little trulli shops where they sell olive oil and lacy tablecloths and pendants with magical trulli symbols.

Click here to enjoy GourmetStation's collection of Tuscan food gifts.

Father's Day Wine Selection - An Interview With Wine Consultant Susan Anderson

Posted: June 13, 2005
by: Susan Anderson

With Father’s Day only a week away, I was thinking how nice GourmetStation’s Tuscan Four Course Dinner would be to give as a gift or to serve on Father’s Day and not spend a lot of time in the kitchen. As I looked over the menu I naturally started considering what wine to serve with the dinner to make it extra special.

I invited wine expert extraordinaire,
Susan Anderson, to share her ideas about how to pair Tuscan style food with wine. Please meet Susan and join me in welcoming her to Delicious Destinations as our first guest blogger!

Susan became interested in wine right out of college when her brother gave her a book on wine as a gift, a great idea Susan says, for someone new in Food & Beverage Management. Susan went on to work with fine companies like Hyatt Hotels and the Ritz-Carlton. She is now a wine consultant at a major beverage store in Atlanta and says that her passion for wine is driven by constantly changing vintages and the demand to continually learn and relearn.

Susan, what wine you would recommend for the GourmetStation Tuscan menu line that will help make Father's Day a day to remember?

Susan: I’ve always felt Italian wines go best with the foods from the region. The wines from European countries are specifically made to go with the foods from the area.

So, that being said, with the Tuscan soups I would suggest pairing a Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Vernaccia
is light straw color, with a delicate aroma of green apple, fresh tasting, dry and fruity. It is particularly good with antipasto, light pasta sauce, fish, light to medium soups, and excellent as an aperitif. My choice would be Falchini “Solatio” Vernaccia di San Gimignano. If yoTuscan_wine u can’t find the Falchini Vernaccia, a fresh Orvieto would go well too.

With the entrée selection, I would match a Chianti Riserva or a young “Super-Tuscan” depending how flavorful you like your wines and your entrée choice.  The dominate grape variety and the foundation of Chianti is Sangiovese.

Traditional Chianti is typically blended with Canaiolo and Colorino varieties as well as a small percentage of two white grapes Malvasia del Chianti and Trebbiano. Nowadays, small amounts of Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo are also found in the blend.

My suggestion on a good Chianti Riserva is Nozzole. It has a fragrance of dark berries offset by woodsy notes of leather, earth and vanilla. Nozzole has a full mellow texture underscored by a clean acidic balance that works well with tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and Italian cheeses.

If you like a more intensely flavored wine, I would suggest, Villa Antinori Toscana IGT or Carpineto Dogajolo IGT, both are from Tuscany. Antinori uses less Sangiovese, and more Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah in their blend and Dogajolo uses more Cabernet Sauvignon. I would pair the Chicken Saltimboca with the more flavorful wines.

Wine serving hint: Open all of these red wines an hour before serving to allow the flavors to smooth out and become supple.

Now, moving on to dessert. To toast that special Dad in your life, I would suggest Rosa Regale Brachetto d'Aqui. Rosa Regale is a red sparkling wine. Aromatic with a hint of rose petals and raspberries, it marries extremely well with chocolate. You might want to save a touch to go with that after dinner chocolate too.

TA: I think I’ll skip the entrees and Chianti and move directly to Rosa Regale and chocolate! Susan, thank you for being a guest on Delicious Destinations and sharing your passion and knowledge for wine. I can’t wait to have you return and make recommendations for other GourmetStation gifting meals.

Chef Quiz

Posted: June 12, 2005
by: T.Alexander

“I’m z Chef – I’m z Chef” is a familiar proclamation heard from those of us that wish we had the culinary talents to be z Chef. Can you think of a more notable profession or hobby? The Chef is part artist, part scientist, and possesses the license to be as esoteric and eccentric as he or she desires. Monarch of the kitchen and tantalizer of our taste buds, who doesn’t want to be z Chef?

Do you have the urge and talent to be Chef? If a European friend invited you to their place for zakuski, what would you expect to eat? A) Russian tidbits and ice-cold vodka? B) Turkish-spiced sesame seeds to go with your raki sofrasi c) Italian egg punch dessert and Marsala Superiore or d) German toasted bread slices and Liebfraumilch? For the answer to this question and other chef-ready trivia,Cheftray_small  try taking MSN’s Chef’s Training Quiz.

Maybe being the Chef critic is a little easier than being z Chef! Thanks to Al Nucifora, leading marketing consultant, for giving us this post idea.