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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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Happy Holidays


Posted: December 26, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Christmas_couple_toasting

The team at GourmetStation and I wish you a happy holiday season. We thank you for reading Delicious Destinations and for recommending it to others. Many thanks to our guest bloggers for sharing their perspective on wine, food and culture. Blogging has been a great experience for all of us - a fun way to connect and share. Look for more in 2006 - more entertainnig ideas, more new menus from GourmetStation and more guest bloggers from Europe and Asian. In the meantime - enjoy this special season.

Thank You Is A Gift For Two


Posted: December 24, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Thank_u_languagesHoliday shopping often means long lines, harried store clerks and customers who frequently are not in the most festive of moods. Today while I was at my neighborhood grocery store I noticed that although the lines moved slowly people were smiling.

I found out the reason when my groceries were bagged. The gentleman who was packing the butter and eggs, for the cheesecake I was planning to bake, was singing Christmas songs to each customer. As he handed over their bags he looked them in the eye and with a genuine smile said, "Thank you for shopping with us. Please come back soon." I left the store with a lighter step than when I entered.

Although he was thanking me, it seemed as thought he was getting as much as he was giving. At it's very best "thank you" is a reciprocal feeling. Whether it's making a special holiday dinner, singing a song or finding the perfect gourmet gift to express your appreciation, remember you're giving yourself a gift too.

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New Years Eve New Orleans Style


Posted: December 23, 2005
by: T.Alexander

If you are seeking a truly unique New Year’s Eve celebration to bring in 2006, consider the one and only New Orleans. Champion of the US spirit – onward & upward – New Orleans refuses to allow Hurricane Katrina to put a damper on this celebration. Below is a review of what you might expect from Zagats. Enjoy. Bourbon_street_sign_2

“No city is more eager to ring out the old year and ring in the new than New Orleans. That's especially true of its restaurant and tourism industries, key components of the city's economy as well as its character. Devastated by Hurricane Katrina just a scant four months ago, those industries are now gearing up to celebrate the New Year's arrival, which they hope will be a turning point on the road to recovery.

"You will love the NEW New Orleans! Opening January 2006," trumpets the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site. Kicking things off will be a New Year's Eve celebration in Jackson Square featuring fireworks, live music and the dropping of a giant gumbo pot (instead of a ball) at midnight.

Restaurants are joining in the year-end festivities too, even if some will have barely opened their doors before the party starts. Creole-soul food mecca Jacques-Imo's Cafe - scheduled to reopen just two days before New Year's Even - plans to offer a five-course prix fixe menu accompanied by unlimited champagne. Emeril Lagasse's eponymous flagship, Emeril's, as well as his NOLA restaurant - both of which reopened in the past few weeks - are among others that will also be offering special prix fixe menus. More...

Bourbon_street_sign

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A Total Tea Experience


Posted: December 22, 2005
by: T.Alexander

When the weather turns chilly I often find myself brewing an afternoon cup of tea. On days when the sky is overcast and I need a little extra comfort, I fill my favorite mug with cinnamon and orange spice tea.

It may sound silly, but especially when I drink tea, the cup is an important part of the total experience. An over-sized mug is a must for strong flavored teas and only a delicate cup will do for Jasmine tea.

In the spirit of the holidays, Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea blog has a fun recipe for Candy Cane Tea. This tea definitely calls for a snowman mug!Snowmanmugsgreen

1/2 stick of cinnamon
1/2 t grated orange peel - dried or fresh
1 t tea leaves

Steep cinnamon, orange peel and tea leaves together for 5-minutes. Pour into a cup. Drop in one small candy cane.

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Trading Cookies


Posted: December 20, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Cookies_xmasThe word cookie comes from the Dutch koeptji or koekje, which means a small cake. For many families a cherished holiday tradition is baking these delicious delights. The minutes are quickly ticking down to Santa's big day. If you haven't pulled out your cookie sheets it might be time for a little help to ensure that your holiday dinner includes some of your favorite small cakes for dessert.

A Cookie Exchange can turn a few batches of one cookie recipe into a dozen different treats and a very sweet surprise for your guests. Betty Crocker, Kraft Foods and Gold Medal Flour provide some tips on how to host and organize your cookie swap.

Of course, you want to make sure your cookies are the very best. Susan at A Taste of Carolina provides 20 tips for holiday baking. If you're not feeling creative and need a few recipe suggestions the blogosphere has some great ideas.

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Christmas Gourmet Dinner - An Exquisite Food Gift


Posted: December 17, 2005
by: T.Alexander

The team at GourmetStation has been working away to develop a delicious holiday menu. To tell the world about this wonderful gourmet food gift, a story was released to prweb.com. Enjoy!

Atlanta, GA (PRWEB) December 8, 2005 -- Food gifting is a timeless way to show love and appreciation during the holiday season. Gourmet food gifts are more than just a gift; they are an experience. But who has the time and skill to shop, cook and deliver culinary delights in these busy times? GourmetStation has the answer. This leading national provider of upscale gourmet dinners and food gifts is introducing a four course Christmas dinner bound to satisfy the most discriminating connoisseur.

Savvy shoppers want their gift selection to “please beyond words” and make a lasting impression. So this year GourmetStation has developed an exceptional Christmas dinner gift rich in tradition. With a sophisticated medieval personality, the menu boasts lamb shank in rosemary mint sauce as the center of the plate feature.Creamtomatobasil_2

GourmetStation presents all dinners in three and four course configurations. “The process of anticipating, serving, and enjoying the various courses is what makes our dinners stand out,” says Donna Lynes-Miller, Founder & President. The Christmas dinner starts with cream of tomato basil soup and a sourdough rosemary boule. The lamb shank is slow simmered in rosemary mint sauce and served with creamy spinach and artichokes. “The richness and intensity of the menu deserved a chocolate dessert,” says Lynes-Miller, “so we selected chocolate raspberry cheesecake.” The four-course dinner gift is topped off with St. Ives European blend coffee, after-dinner candy, and a red holiday floating candle for the dinner table. The price is $89.99 plus shipping.
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About Gourmet Food Provider GourmetStation:
GourmetStation provides exquisite three and four course gourmet meals delivered anywhere in the continental U.S. with just the click of a mouse. Our four course gourmet dinners even include European blend coffee or organic tea, after-dinner candy, floating candle & matches. Select from our delectable Parisian, Tuscan, Cajun, or Fusion menu lines. All gourmet food gifts are delivered in elegant gift packaging with two-day transit times to all US zip codes including Hawaii, Alaska & Puerto Rico.

Our gourmet gift certificates make the perfect food gift for a romantic dinner for two. They are also ideal for a unique holiday gift for clients or friends, Secretary’s Day, Valentines Day dinner, birthdays, anniversaries, thank you’s, last minute gift ideas, or something special for that new mom. We also offer gourmet gift certificates for our most luxurious gift, the Dinner of the Month Club - the gift that keeps giving year round.

Cost for shipping is included in our gift certificates, so your recipient's gift is fully paid…no additional charges. For more information visit our mouth watering site at gourmetstation.com or call 1-888-944-9794.

Dressing Up A Dinner Party With Exotic Rice & Grains


Posted: December 16, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Developing center of the plate entrees for a dinner party is fairly easy. Selecting from the basic protein groups to satisfy your guests is not that difficult. What I do find difficult is identifing those little culinary extras that make the dinner different and memorable.

I have a resource for you called Indian Harvest. They are primarily a foodservice supplier but they also sell retail via the web. "Take a taste adventure of enticing grain flavors from exotic places around the world" is their slogan. Grains and pastas have been the subject of much criticism due to the carbohydrate issue. Just remember, small portions and moderation.

You might enjoy their exotic grain sampler with 8 oz. packets of the following for $21.95:

Red Quinoa Indian_harvest_rice
Farro
Black Barley from Ethiopia
Authentic Basmati Rice
Purple Thai Rice
Israeli Couscous
Himalayan Red Rice
Our own Colusari™ Red Rice
Bamboo Rice

They also offer Tuxedo Orzo and Israeli Couscous as well as other unique pasta. Bon appeteit!

New Recipe From Simonetta - Casa Bellavista


Posted: December 11, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Many thanks to Simonetta from Casa Bellavista for this bold recipe combining creamy cauliflower and anchovy sauce on pasta. I'm planning to try the recipe this weekend with angel hair pasta. At least daily I think about my upcoming trip to Casa Bellavista and meeting my new friend, Simonetta, in person. Now I have even more motivation because Simonetta has saved a bottle of Casa Bellavista production extra virgin olive oil for me. If you wish to learn more about authentic cooking classes from Tuscany, email info@casabellavista.it Now, let's hear first hand from Simonetta about what's going on in Tuscany.

"Recently me and all my family pick up the olives from the trees, then I went to the mill to press the olives. And for dinner we taste the new extra virgin olive oil Casa Bellavista production. Our production at the moment is very little (do not worry I save one bottle for you when you will come to Casa Bellavista).  We have 35 new plants. In 5 years I hope that my production will be more interesting....For dinner I prepared: bruschetta with garlic, black cabbage on toast, pasta with cauliflower (recipe below), and fresh pecorino.Cauliflower

PASTA WITH CAULIFLOER & ANCHOVY SAUCE

1 cauliflower

4 spoons grated pecorino

2 spoons extra virgin olive oil

chopped parsley

1 stick of celery

garlic

salt & pepper

anchovy filets (or anchovy paste)

1/2 glass white wine

Heat the oil in a pan, add the chopped celery, parsley and garlic. Shortly after, add the cauliflower pieces, then the white wine and the anchovy filets. Cook slowly until creamy. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. Mix in the cauliflower cream, add grated pecorino and dribble of oil. Serve!

History Of Birthday Gifts & Parties


Posted: December 10, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Every tradition has roots somewhere. Some traditions are obvious and others take a little research. Did you know that the tradition of birthday parties actually started in Europe? Seems it was feared that evil spirits were particularly attracted to people on their birthdays. So to protect them, friends and family would gather around the birthday person and bring good thoughts and wishes. It was thought that giving gifts brought even more good cheer to further help ward off evil spirits. At first only kings were considered worthy enough to be recognized with a birthday celebration. But as time passed the tradition spread outside of the monarchy. The first children's birthday parties occurred in Germany and were called Kinderfeste.Birthday_cake

If you are seeking a unique birthday gift for someone special, remember - Gourmet
Station
has one of the most delicious line up of food gifts and gourmet gifts available. Giving a gourmet food gift is giving an experience they’ll always remember.

Olives - I Did It My Way


Posted: December 5, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Olives...

A Year or two in Las Vegas - by Mark Stine

Welcome back guest writer Mark Stine. Mark has been a friend for many years and what I enjoy most about him is his ability to bring a multicultural lifestyle to any situation - no matter where he is living or working. In this post Mark shares his love for the Mediterranean region and his gift for bringing a little "faux Mediterranean" to his home in Las Vegas. Enjoy.

Always loving the Mediterranean lifestyle and yet never having the guts to do a Peter Mayle and spend a year in Provence renovating a house with all the ensuing humorous stories and profitable book royalties and BBC credits, or as Richard Hewitt did in a follow up book A Cottage in Portugal...I settled for a life in Las Vegas.

Taking a gamble on this move to Las Vegas, I basically owe it all to a story in Smart Money Magazine, which positioned Vegas as the next major boom town. It sure was and it sure did..three years later my desert home is now surrounded by growth.....barrel tiled roof tops as far as the eye can see. And one of the things I discovered in Vegas was the penchant for naming everything after Italian or Mediterranean based themes. To that end Olive trees have become as ubiquitous as well...casinos. Olives_1

But not just any olive trees...newly planted olive trees in Las Vegas must be sterile..to reduce pollen. Now, I love olives..all kinds of olives. They are wonderful to eat..alone..with wine..with cheese..as accents in Italian dishes...so you can imagine my disappointment that I was surrounded by olive trees that would yield no bounty. I remember eating cans of pitted olives as a child...nothing was better. But as I grew up and discovered all the variety of specialized and prepared olives ...my palate craved these new offerings.

My earliest exposure to freshly grown and cured olives came in college, where while attending the University of Arizona in Tucson I was introduced to Nick, the Greek neighbor of my friends Lyn and David Streeter. Lyn's lilting English accent and David's mechanical abilities kept my car running and me well fed those years of college and Lyn and David shared Nick's wonderful olives with me (and also introduced me to Ranch dressing...but that is a whole nother story). Cured olives, the old world way....without lye.

So as I observed all these olive trees in my new neighborhood in Vegas and the memories of college years circa 1974/75 flooded back, I felt that my own little paradiso in Summerlin, The Vistas in the Canterra subdivision surrounded by olive trees had finally provided me with the faux Mediterranean life of which I had dreamed. And....just as Jeff Goldblum had pointed out in Jurassic Park, through chaos theory and how nature abhors a vacuum and fills a void, those sterile dinosaurs found a way to reproduce..... well....those sterile Olive trees in Summerlin weren't so sterile after all.

So in late October and early November, I began harvesting the bounty of olives growing on all of the allegedly (no pollen intended)! sterile trees. Downloading a recipe for brine curing olives off the internet....I went to my local 99 cent only store and procured four large square glass vessels (vessels sounds so much more European than jars) with wooden stoppers. Following the Internet recipe directions, I sliced each of the firmly black olives, placed them compactly into the vessels filled each with salt and water for my brine solution and proceed to top each one with the wooden stopper.

It all looked so official and I felt....accomplished. Nick, from oh so many decades ago was no doubt looking over my shoulder from somewhere in the great beyond. I am sure, maybe not agreeing with my technique, but smiling no less that someone who had tasted his old world olives, was starting down that road of harvesting, preparing and eating this Mediterranean bounty. And maybe someday you will to.