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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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Bringing Home Thailand
Posted: September 18, 2005
What do your coming days look like? More of the same? A ditto of the previous week? Vacations take us out of the groove to a new place. But we can’t go on vacation every week. So I have an idea on how to bring some pizzazz into your life by bringing an exotic foreign culture right to you. Pick a region, research some of the traditions and build an evening around that culture. For an example we’re going to grab Thailand and bring it home. Let’s plan the evening around the language (learn a few phrases) the dress (nothing elaborate – maybe a scarf or different make-up) cultural habits and the food.
Language – I have chosen Panrit “Gor” Daoruang, the webmaster of an online Thai magazine. Gor has been writing about Thai culture on the web since he was twelve. He starts his home page by saying “Hello” in Thai – Sawatdee krub. Don’t worry about perfect pronunciation. Just have fun.
Dress – Jewel tones or pure white are the predominant colors for the region and fabrics are silky and flowing. The Thai flag is horizontal stripes of red, white and blue, so just for fun you could use jewel tone scarves, perhaps the flag colors, for personal accents or even table dressings.
Dining Tradition – No tables; get comfortable on the floor. Sit on a cushion if necessary. Use placemats or hold the food in your lap. Meals are eaten with a spoon, fork or chop sticks if noodles are served. All food is cut so there is no need for a knife. It is not polite to put all the food on your plate at one time, so take spoonfuls from your serving area and return as needed.
Thai Food – Thai food is prepared with basic ingredients such as garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass and fresh coriander. Recently the National Culture Commission for Thailand announced the top ten dishes. #1 pick was Tom Yam Goong or Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup. If you click on the link you will even find a link to help you pronounce Tom Yam Goong. The soup has different variations for different regions, but generally always has fresh citrus overtones.
Second favorite Thai dish is Kaeng Khiao Wan Kai, or Green Chicken Curry with Thai Eggplant. The heat in this dish may be regulated with the number of green chilies. Fresh green peppercorns can also be added for more flavor. After dinner consider a little game on the history of the region. Did you know that “Thai” means free, so Thailand means the “land of the free.” You get the idea – you can take it from here. Turn your weekends into a wheel of revolving culture experiences. For more on Thai culture, visit Thai-blogs.
Don't forget GourmetStation's delicious collection of Euro-Asian Fusion cuisine for your next dinner party or gourmet food gift.
Pretty and Good
Posted: September 16, 2005
Complements from my friend design*sponge
i fell in love with this label right away, a week later when we finally got around to drinking it, we found it's just as good on the inside as it is on the outside. la poule (blanche) is a lovely wine with a charming little chicken label that makes you want to smile (and they drink some more). i highly suggest it, if for label aesthetics only.
Generous Donation To Hurricane Katrini Animal Volunteers
Posted: September 15, 2005
Very dear GourmetStation customers and bloggers contacted me about doing something special for Hurricane Katrini volunteers. You may remember our summer contest for the best dinner party idea. Ed and Debbie Thilenius were the winners of several gourmet dinners for two.
Ed and Debbie wanted to donate their winnings to deserving volunteers. A couple of days later I discovered that a friend and work colleague from Blue Marble Media, Denise Liggett, was about to take on a remarkable task. Denise, a dog lover herself and guardian of her Bichon, Rosie, decided that watching images of animals being rescued in the Gulf on television was not enough. She quickly requested and was granted a weeks vacation from her employer, Blue Marble Media, in preparation for a trip down south. Although she was prepared to travel alone, her neighbor, Joyce Simoneau, volunteered to go with. These two brave women rented a cago van, solicited animal food & supplies from friends and family, and headed to Mississippi. They worked with several animal rescue organizations including the Humane Society of the United States, doing various jobs to help, sleeping in their van, and transporting animals from the waters of New Orleans to various shelters.
I will never forget the last time I saw Denise - loading her rented van with a smile on her face, excited about the opportunity to help, and breaking in those funny yellow rubber boots. Now when Denise and Joyce return home, I'm sure they will be weary with blisters from those clunky boots, but at least they will have a hot four-course dinner, compliments of Ed and Debbie.
Famous Salads For Poultry, Lamb & Pork Entrees
Posted: September 10, 2005
Recently I had the opportunity but not the time to entertain. Sound familiar? I wanted to create a memorable dinner party but work obligations prevented me from spending the time that I usually do. I felt a need to prepare at least one of the courses, but I didn’t have time to get into complex center-of-the plate entrees and sauces. What to do?
I outsourced the a la carte entrees and sauces to none other than GourmetStation. This way I knew the main-dish quality would be outstanding plus I had a chance to offer multiple proteins from poultry to lamb to pork. Something I absolutely did not have the time to do. But I did have time to prepare a stunning salad that worked with all of my protein selections. I selected a recipe from Chef Todd English – you may be familiar with Chef English from the Iron Chef USA.
So if you find yourself in a bind and need to throw a smashing dinner party with minimal time and effort, remember GourmetStation a la carte entrees. To help you with your planning I’ve selected salad recipes from famous top chefs to marry with poultry, pork and lamb. Add a memorable theme, resounding wine, good conversation & you’ve achieved success; just like you always do!
PORK – I’ve selected a Romaine Salad with Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit & Roquefort in Pomegranate-Port Vinaigrette from Chef Ken & Karen Barker. You may have read about this culinary duo The New York Times, The Washington Post or Food & Wine. Here’s what the chefs had to say about their creation. “This somewhat incongruous combination of ingredients yields one of our most favorite salads: visually, the deep pink grapefruit, blue-veined cheese, and the jewels of pomegranate seeds on crisp lettuces are dramatic. The flavors integrate sweet, salty and tangy and come with a textural crunch.”
POULTRY – I’ve turned to Chef Sandy D’Amato for a salad to work with poultry entrees…Chickpea, Escarole and Eggplant Salad with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette. Now that’s a mouth full – literally and figuratively. Chef D’Amato was personally chosen by Julia Child to cook for her 80th birthday. Because of the strength of the escarole, I recommend serving this salad as an appetizer in front of the poultry entrée rather than as an accompaniment. You’ll love the way the chickpeas, Japanese eggplants and garlic work with the smoked paprika vinaigrette.
LAMB – Finally for the lamb I’ve selected Salad Tulipe with Walnut Dressing from Chef Jacques Pepin, a true master of technique in the French culinary tradition. Here’s what the chef says about his creation. “This salad is a flavorful combination of field salad, pecans, pears, goat cheese and walnut-oil dressing. The field of corn salad (doucette or mache in French) is planted around the end of August and gets large enough to be ready for picking at the end of November. After the first frost, it becomes sweeter and tenderer. If these greens are not available, the salad can be made with a mesclun mixture, widely available in most supermarkets.”
Soup In A Boule - More Than A Meal
Posted: September 9, 2005
If you live in a part of the world where you're beginning to feel a nip in the air, soup is in your future. Grocery stores have left us wanting in the soup area as most of them only offer the canned variety. The most robust soups are either fresh or frozen, but never canned.
I enjoy serving soup in ways that expand the experience. One of my favorites is to serve soup in a boule. Boule is actually French for ball, so round balls of bread may be baked with a variety of ingredients and many are available from local bakers. My favorite is tangy simple sourdough. Now be careful because all soups are not adaptable to work with a boule. My favorites are cream of tomato basil for a French flare or hearty gumbo for a Cajun spin.
Cut the top of the boule away just as you would do with a pumpkin at Halloween. Then scoop out the bread and save it for other uses - or share it with your winged friends. Then fill the boule with your favorite soup. There you have it - a complete culinary creation.
GourmetStation's soup collection includes two soup in a boule varieties - Parisian & Cajun - in the event you would like to send these creations for a unique gourmet food gift.
Warm & Cool Fall Meal
Posted: September 9, 2005
Fall is in the air. Can you feel it? The time is upon us, around September 22nd in the northern hemisphere, when we experience the Autumnal Equinox and day and night are nearly the same length….perfect balance as dished out only by nature.
The days are still a bit warm but the evenings are beginning to cool so our eating desires change. I don’t crave ice cream as much! So I have a meal suggestion to go with the season / perfect balance with a little cool and a little warm.
Here’s the cool. A bed of iceberg lettuce chopped in thick strips to maintain crunch. A topping of green leaf spinach, organic if available to give visual contrast and dimension. Circle the lettuce and spinach with ripe red Roma tomatoes slices and if you’re daring, top with a little finely chopped red onion. Now here’s the warm. Black beans in sauce seasoned with cilantro, a little garlic, and black pepper.
I actually discovered the recipe at a local Cuban restaurant. The black beans are nice, especially if properly seasoned, but you can top the salad with many warm sauces. Be bold - have fun.
Posted: September 5, 2005
My neighbor’s daughter Ireland surprised me with a precious gift this weekend; a basil bouquet. It was for a science project and after the project was completed, Ireland showered many of us with basil bouquets.
I think I’m jealous of basil. It has an upper crust name you know, Ocymum minumum. It’s ancestry is rather fru fru as well. While basil originated in tropical Asian, it is considered sacred in Hindu religion and is closely linked to folklore and mythology.
Never mind all that. Let me tell you what I did with my bouquet. First I put it in a vase in the kitchen as the swirling white flowers and the delicate mint green leaves intrigued me. (Basil is actually a large member of the mint family, you know.)
The next day I cut away the leaves, leaving some whole and others in quarters. Now for the fun. I seasoned eggs, beans, noodles, sauces, you name it; everything was seasoned with fresh basil from this bouquet. Afterwards I simply placed what was left remain in an open container in the refrigerator. Everything had a fresh invigorating aroma. Thanks Ireland!
History of Cajun Cuisine
Posted: September 1, 2005
Cajun cuisine could be called fusion, a combination of Southern and French food. It's history is amazing. Immigrants of French peasant ancestry settled the Acadian region of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia in the early 1600's. Tensions between the French settlers and the British forced the Acadians out of the region deep into Louisiana where they tried to reunite families. The name Acadian was transformed to Cajun by the English speaking inhabitants of Louisiana. A lukewarm Spanish government in New Orleans met the immigrants and were eager to relocate them into rural areas.
A Cajun kitchen consisted of a cast iron kettle suspended over a hearth. Mainstay foods were corn, potatoes, okra and rice. Wild game and livestock supplemented their diets. Original Cajun dishes were bland but development of the roux gave texture and dimension to their dishes. And of course, rice was used to stretch meals to feed large families.
Today's Cajun cuisine tends to be spicier and bolder than the original recipes with popular items such as andouille, boudin, jambalaya, gumbo, and etoufee. The use of the dark roux and the holy trinity of chopped green peppers, onions and celery form the complex, exciting and flavorful cuisine that we know as Cajun. Let the good times roll!
Remember GourmetStation's collection of Cajun gourmet food gifts for your next gifting opportunity.