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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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Holiday Bar Stocking Tips


Posted: November 28, 2005
by: Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson is back and she’s looking out for us! Below are 8 tips key tips for stocking your bar for holiday entertaining….all the way down to calculating the amount of ice to have on hand. My favorite tip is simple – “buy what you enjoy so nothing goes to waste.” Speaking of bars, in the event you are in London during the season, here are the top ten bars for your entertainment. Liquor_bottles_1

With the holidays upon us, I thought it might be helpful to give some tips for stocking the bar.

  • Stick to the basics: vodka, scotch, bourbon, gin and rum, a red and white wine, and a domestic, international and lite beer.
  • Figure one drink per person an hour and up the number by half a serving.
  • The standard liquor pour is 1.5 ounces, this equates to twenty- two pours per liter of alcohol.
  • A 750ml bottle of wine holds five, (5) ounce servings of wine. A liter bottle holds ten glasses.  A bottle of champagne serves six, (4) ounce servings.
  • A keg holds almost seven cases of 12 ounce beers. The keg must be kept cool at all times.
  • You will need a liter of mixer, (soda water, tonic, ginger ale, sodas, orange & cranberry juice) for every three guest.
  • Allow a pound of ice per guest if you plan to have a full bar. This allows for cooling all beverages and ice for drinks.
  • Remember to have lemons, limes and cherries for garnishes.

Buy the products you enjoy, so any leftovers will not go to waste.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Chapter 2 – Soup’s On!


Posted: November 26, 2005
by: T.Alexander

By now most of the turkey is about gone – right? But there are still some yummy veggies that were not eaten. Don’t let them linger in the refrigerator. Sure, we know that nibbling on the remains of pumpkin pie is far more rewarding than broccoli, but come on…let’s be resourceful!

Happy Eats, the blog about seriously happy food & drink, takes us on a simple culinary adventure called “Clean Out the Fridge Soup.”  Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, & onion are the basics of this soup, but the happy author of this fun blog, Emi Dela, invites us to make liberal substitutions.Soup_pot_2

Remember instead of chicken stock you may use a vegetarian chicken broth powder. If you’re not vegetarian or vegan and you want a creamy veggie soup, then add half & half or cream. You’ve got a blank canvas here. So create away!

Thanksgiving Leftovers With Google


Posted: November 25, 2005
by: T.Alexander

My friend Toby Bloomberg (yes, the Diva herself) says that one of her motivations in cooking a Thanksgiving turkey is to have leftovers. Seems that nibbling from the refrigerator bird is as much – if not more fun – than the big dinner. Toby also shared this article from the Washington Post by Andrea Sachs “My Dinner With Google.” Google cooking is not only creative & fun – it’s resourceful. The concept is explained by Judy Hourihan, former Massachusetts software engineer and pioneer of Google cooking.

"Every night I would rummage around my kitchen for something to eat and then go in the back room to look through cookbooks. Then I thought…why am I looking through cookbooks when I can just sit at my computer and Google it?” It's good when you don't have a clear idea of what to make with an odd combination of ingredients. You take your chances, but it really pays off. I have never put in a combination that I did not find a recipe for."

If there was ever a time to Google leftovers, it has to be the day after Thanksgiving. So I took my chances with these three search words – turkey, green beans, recipe. Like magic it appeared! Smoked Turkey Green Bean Bundles. The Dijon dipping sauce takes a little while to prepare, but if you have a similar prepared sauce on hand, you can serve this attractive creation in less than five minutes. Turkey_roll_ups

Technology is making me nervous. Will Google replace us roving culinary critics? Hummmm.

Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!


Posted: November 21, 2005
by: T.Alexander

2005_beaujolais_nouveau_labelDrinking Beaujolais Nouveau with Thanksgiving dinner is a favorite tradition. My dear friend, wine consultant Susan Anderson, dropped by to give me her take of the 2005 vintage. Seems this is a very good year.

Yes, the Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived! This particular vintage, in my opinion, is quite good. I don't remember a better vintage in some time. The 2005 has scents of dark berries and spice with flavors of all the red and black berries. It is rounder and silkier in the mouth than usual due to the warm, dry weather in the region for most of the summer.

Beaujolais Nouveau is made from Gamay grapes grown in Beaujolais region and in the villages of Beaujolais. A technique called carbonic maceration is used. The grape clusters are placed whole into a fermenting tank on top of each other deep enough to crush the grapes on the bottom of the tank.

The tank is sealed and fermentation takes place very slowly in the tank under a blanket of carbon dioxide. The grape juice ferments inside the skins and because very little wine comes in contact with the outside skin, the wine absorbs few tannins. The free-run juice is collected and bottled.

The resulting wine is a light-bodied red, with fresh cherry and berry flavors and a distinctive banana aroma and should be drunk before Easter.

Welcome Guest Writer - Dave Galusha


Posted: November 19, 2005
by: T.Alexander

During one of my first visits to Acapulco I stayed at a cliff side villa called Las Brisas. The vacation was a dream all the way from ocean side brunch to mosaic tiled private pools. I met many nice people and made exquisite memories. As I was leaving I experienced a pang of anxiety and I later reasoned that I was afraid I would forget. I would return home to the routine of “doing” instead of “being” – and I would forget. About a week after I returned home I received a letter from the manager of Las Brisas thanking me for my business. But more importantly he talked about what was going on at the resort, the temperature that day, food they were preparing. The envelope even smelled like ocean air. He made my experience real again, and whenever I wanted to return to that place in my mind, I pulled out the little letter, reading it month after month.

My sense is that the loyal patrons of Casa Bellavista are doing something similar…..keeping their memories alive by reading Simonetta’s posts on Delicious Destinations. This is one way of maintaining the experience until they can return to their dream B&B. Dave Galusha and his wife Edie are no exception. Dave is so enthusiastic about Casa Bellavista that he agreed to write about his experience. For those of you that have been to Casa Bellavista, enjoy remembering. For those who have not, well, just live vicariously through Dave & Edie for a moment. Enjoy....

Ciao T.A.

My wife, Edie and I have been enjoying Simonetta’s posts on Delicious Destinations about life at Casa Bellavista.  We’ve had the opportunity to visit Casa Bellavista on vacation trips and wanted to share some of our thoughts about this wonderful B and B with you and your readers.

Casa Bellavista sits atop one of Tuscany’s many rolling hills, offering its guests a panorama of magnificent views. To the east is a view of Cortona, a magnificent hill town.  To the southwest is a wonderful view of the Tuscan countryside and Monte Amiata majestically rising on the horizon.  To the west your eyes are treated to views of Foiano della Chiana and the most marvelous sunsets imaginable.Casabellavistasunset4

The beauty of Casa Bellavista runs deeper than the beauty of the Tuscan countryside.  Casa Bellavista’s inner beauty lies in the warmth and hospitality provided by Simonetta and Guido.  From the moment you are welcomed, you are made to feel that Casa Bellavista is your home in Tuscany. 

The heart of most Tuscan homes is found in the kitchen.  It’s here that meals for the family and guests are prepared.  The kitchen of Casa Bellavista is no different.  It is in the kitchen; around the large marble topped table that Simonetta prepares the finest of Tuscan dinners for her guests.  The evening dinners (by request) are served with fine china and crystal.  Guido expertly selects appropriate wines to complement the food.  Daves_wife

Edie and I have learned much working around the marble topped table in Simonetta’s kitchen. The cooking lessons she offers are “hands on” lessons, from the mixing of the ingredients for gnocchi, pasta or focacce, to the slicing and dicing of ingredients used for bruschetta and other antipasti.  Whether you are learning how to make pasta so you can prepare pasta carbonara or whether you’re learning how to prepare rabbit or bistecca fiorentina, you get personal “one-on-one” attention.  It’s you, the food you’re preparing and Simonetta offering personal attention and help.  What could be better?  For us, the final joy of cooking lessons at Casa Bellavista is the opportunity to enjoy what we have learned to prepare in the relaxed environment created by Simonetta and Guido.

Edie and I look forward to our next visit and our next cooking lessons.Dave_simonetta  Edie and Dave Galusha

Tuscanyone@juno.com

Perrin Family Blog - Inside a French Winery


Posted: November 17, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Ever stop and think about the journey food and wine makes from place of origin to your kitchen or dining table? We’re all in a hurry and often take for granted the painstaking efforts that people take to insure that we have the finest culinary experiences. I visited Salinas California once and watched the efforts that went into a simple head of iceberg lettuce. All I could think about was the writing of Steinbeck and advancement in the distribution of perishables throughout the US.

I’d like to applaud the Perrin Family Weblog for sharing their experiences in creating a great French wine. This blog creates a multi-dimensional experience for the reader  – from plantings, to harvest, to promoting the wine, and even creating recipes to properly marry specific wines to specific culinary creations.

Perrin_family The Perrin family is made up of Francois, Marc, Thomas, Jean-Pierre & Pierre, a family of vine-growers and winemakers since 1909. “We produce wines exclusively in the southern rhône valley, and on the best terroirs: Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Château de Beaucastel, Perrin Les Sinards), Vinsobres (Perrin les Cornuds, Perrin les Hauts de Julien), Gigondas (Perrin la Gille), Vacqueyras (Perrin les Christins), Rasteau (Perrin l'Andéol), Côtes du Rhône (Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Perrin Réserve)”

The company has employed Larent Deconick as Chef de Cuisine. Larent decided to join the Perrin family after working for five years at Lucas Carton, a 3-star Michelin in Paris. The Perrin family says that Larent will “work with our wines…in discovering recipes that match harmoniously with our wines, as they evolve by year.” They are currently showcasing a “langoustine with black truffle from mount Ventoux to marry with their Beaucastel Blanc Roussanne Vielles Vignes 2002.”

Perin_vinyard So now you have a resource. Not just a catalog that statically charts recipes with wine, but a resource that is as dynamic and vibrant as winemaking itself. Enjoy!

Birthday Celebration at Casa Bellavista


Posted: November 13, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Simonetta has graciously agreed to share two special recipes that she is preparing for Filippo’s birthday party. For those of you that are new to Delicious Destinations, Simonetta stops by Delicious Destinations from time to time and shares experiences from her Tuscan B&B, Casa Bellavista. Enjoy! Family_for_post_2_3

"Next week will be the birthday of my son Flippo (9 years old) and I will have a party for him with his friends; at the moment I do not know the number of boys, because every day the number increase. He decided only to invite boys - not girls and sister...they have started to argue about that. He would like to close the sister in her bedroom...during the party...I have to prepare different kinds of pizza and focacce, biscuit and chocolate cake. Here are some recipes..."

FOCACCE

1 kg plain flour

50g fresh yeast

2 teaspoons salt

½ glass extra virgin olive oil

1 glass water

Rosemary, thyme, sage etc.

Place flour, yeast, salt and oil in a bowl and mix until smooth, adding water if too hard. Work the dough energetically on a board for 10/15 minutes. Replace in the bowl, cover with cling film and put in a warm place. It is important that there not be abrupt temperature change, for at least two hours.

Take a small amount of dough at a time, knead well and add your favorite chosen aroma (Rosemary, Thyme, Salvia, Curry, Chilli, Origano, Chives). Roll out to about 2 cm and leave to rise again on a greased baking tray.

After at least an hour brush the dough with a mixture of equal parts of oil and water, add salt and cook at 180° for 15/20 minutes.

BISCUIT (Chocolate)

400g Flour

200g Butter (at room temperature)

200g Sugar

2 egg

salt

1 baking powder

Mix all the ingredients and blend well together to a smooth dough. Take a part of the dough and add coconut, instant coffee, chocolate and cut in little pieces.

Cook in a pre-heated oven (180°) for around 15/20 minutes

Ciao a presto

Long Live The Fish & Chips Shop


Posted: November 9, 2005
by: T.Alexander

You may think that the British developed the notion of fish & chips, but food history buffs tell us otherwise. The original idea may have come from French and Jewish dishes according to Professor Panikos Panavi, a scholar who has taken on a project to understand the global influence on British food. He said that fish and chips mixed “French frites with Jewish fish dishes” for our quintessential fish & chips.

Fish_chips

Charles Dickens first mentioned a fried fish warehouse in Oliver Twist and during the mid 1800’s the trade began to develop with the industrialization of the UK. Today there are 9,000 fried fish shops in the UK selling over 60,000 tons of fish and 500,000 tons of potatoes. Long life the fish & chips shop!

If you enjoy seafood or are looking to send a food gift, don't forget GourmetStation's collection of gourmet gifts from the sea.

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It's All In The Spices


Posted: November 7, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Whether you’re transitioning to vegetarianism or veganism for health, religious, or animal welfare & environmental reasons, the bridge can be shorter if you remember one thing. It’s all in the spices. Eating only plant-based food can be boring and a successful transition may be made easier by keeping plenty of spices on hand. The Indian culture has figured this out. Cumin, coriander, cardamom, mustard, mango powder, ginger, asafetida, fenugreek and chilies. Don’t forget turmeric, tamarind, saffron, curry leaf, coconut milk. If you like nuts use almonds, cashews and pistachios. That’s just the beginning.

What could be more boring than green beans & potatoes? Green_beans Well this recipe puts a new exotic spin on two vegetables we used to hide from in school cafeteria. Click here for Indian Style Green & Potatoes using turmeric, coriander, paprika, mango powder, salt and canola oil. Serves six. Remember GourmetStation's vegetarian collection - especically if you are seeking a gourmet food gift for a vegetable lover.

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Simonetta Demarchi & Casa Bellavista


Posted: November 1, 2005
by: T.Alexander

A short while ago I shared with you my discovery of Casa Bellavista, the kind of Tuscan bed & breakfast that usually exists only in our dreams. Wake up because this dream is real and so are the wonderful people that lovingly manage the B&B. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Simonetta Demarchi.


In this post Simonetta will share with you why she left a successful hotel management career to fulfill her vision….simple things that happen in the life of a Tuscan family….oh yes, and a time honored recipe. Enjoy and look for more from Simonetta. Casabellavistafamily_2   

“Concerning my B&B the reason why I chose to open this activity is because I wanted to propose to travelers something very particular, something not easy to organize in the normal hotel industry. You must know that we are a family of hotelier ether my housebound Guido, and I are hotel managers and we have been running the best top hotels of our area for many years.

Guido is still running one of the most exiting hotel of Tuscany called Castello di Spaltenna.


I have decided to abandoned my original carrier to dedicate my self to a project-dream that I have had always on my thoughts…to dedicate my know-how matured in many years in the management in the hotel industry, to discover culture and tradition tight to Tuscany…..proposing to travelers special simple flavour of the past, backing my research from the Renaissance to Peasant dishes of this area.Casabellavistapatio

I aim to propose to Italian and foreigner travelers dishes of the tradition of which, some of them, are since long time, disappeared from the tables of the restaurants. At the base of my recipes preparation there is the research of the genuine product, which are for the main part produced in my gardens, or in the neighbourhood of Casa Bellavista.

My philosophy of receiving the guest is which to receiving the guest in my own house, with the simplicity of a farmhouse but with a big effort in trying to please the visitors of Casa Bellavista in their individual needs. What pleases me most is when the visitor of Casa Bellavista coming back from their excurious says: - oh, finally back home!! I hope I have not been too prolix and hoping to welcome you soon to Casa Bellavista in order to experience yourself the simple rhythm of Tuscany country life.

I have thought to start with a recipe very simple to prepare but very tasty, (I will prepare tonight for the guest of my B&B they are from Canada). It's an old recipe from Caterina de' Medici, (1519- 1589) the noble Florentine woman who married the king of France Henry II."

Chicken Florentine

4 cleaned chicken breasts

g.300 of cooked spinach

4 slices of fresh pecorino cheese

garlic

salt & pepper

Extra Virgin olive oil

Flatten and spread out the chicken breasts, salt and pepper them.

Cover with a layer of spinach and then a slice of cheese.

Roll the meat up and hold with a toothpick.

Heat the oil in a pan with the garlic. Once the garlic is coloured slightly, remove it from the pan and add the chicken breasts.

Seal them on all sides then cook for 10-15 minutes, correcting salt and pepper.

Remove from the pan once cooked, remove the toothpick and cut into slices.

While I'm here writing my e.mail, I see from the window of my office my children Carolina (10 years old), Filippo (next month 9 years old) with 2 friends of them walking on the mud, (yes mud) of my garden where during the summer my daddy plants tomatoes, zucchini, egg.plants, peppers.......and so I do not know what to do or close my eyes and so I can continue to write or go down and scream but I can not because the guests now are into the room, and it's not nice to be noising and I decide to continue to write." Ciao Simonetta

All of us at GourmetStation wish to thank Simonetta for this lovely post and we can't wait to hear from her again. We plan to visit Casa Bellavista in early 2006 and write more posts on location. If you wish to view GourmetStation's collection of Tuscan cuisine, click here. Below is more contact information for Simonetta's lovely B&B.

Casa Bellavista

Localita Creti

52044 Cortona

Arezzo, Italy

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