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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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Birthday Dinner Party

Posted: February 28, 2006
by: Mark Stine

Many thanks to guest writer Mark Stine for sharing his ideas on birthday dinner parties for a friend or loved one.

The US is a beautiful country and covers a lot of diverse geography. The downside is that often times we don’t live near our loved ones or friends. Work …career…spouses or significant others take us to new places every day. So how do we celebrate birthdays or other special occasions?

For my 50th birthday I had planned a trip to New Zealand. I even had an adventure-some cousin, Karen Alexander (LOL….no relation to T. Alexander...although they would get along VERY well) want to take the trip as well. But a re-location to Las Vegas and career change interfered with the planning and after one month into a new job my life long dream of celebrating a birthday in the land of “Lord of the Rings” had to be sidelined.

So what did I do for my birthday? I stopped at a small place on the way home from work…and called a brother on the cell phone. Nice enough…but not exactly what I had in mind…and anyway…aren’t 50th’s supposed to be special…or extra special as all birthdays are special!

Well don’t leave your loved ones or that special friend in a lurch…they may be far away but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a nice birthday dinner celebration…and you can be in charge of it. Why should they be alone?

Get started now. Make a list of their friends and local worker cohorts…make the effort to find out …surreptitiously of course! Then enlist their spouse or a trusted local friend to provide the local support mechanism.

Make a list:

Who is in charge locally

Is the location for the celebration cleared and secured

Invite the guests/confirm RSVP’s

Does your friend / relative have someone to “bird dog” them and make sure they show up where and when they are supposed to

(I know this seems like a lot of details but aren’t loved ones worth it?)

Is the food and beverage ordered? What do you think the special person would want for their birthday dinner? Well there is a simple solution to that problem....contact GourmetStation by phone at 1-888-944-9794. Let them know the party dates, the number of people attending and they can arrange a special birthday dinner party package tailored just for you. From appetizers…to soups to entrees…you can make it all happen simply and easily with one phone call. Plus the selections are tasteful, easy to prepare and will make your party a dream. What about the timing and delivery…the GourmetStation specialist will guide you through the quantity needed ...timing …and preparation. Nothing could be simpler.

If all you want that night is “ Le Grande Display” of desserts, well then no one but …GourmetStation can do it better. Their international cheesecakes will make this birthday beyond special and leave everyone wanting more.

And what about that special person…capture it on film…digital…digital video…Polaroid, whatever the format….just make sure you capture it. In a few short years they will look back on that event and think “darn didn’t I look good for that time in my life!”

You will feel special too….because there is no warmer feeling than giving and seeing that shine in someone else’s eyes as they receive so much joy from those around them. Even if you don’t make it there to share with them ..or be some place you always dreamed of like New Zealand for your own birthday dinner….that night can be a special remembrance….from now and always. Birthday_cake_2_1

Celebrate Fat Tuesday

Posted: February 28, 2006
by: T.Alexander

Good Morning! Today is Fat Tuesday. Do you have any plastic beads or funky dancing shoes around? Well put them on and celebrate. New Orleans is celebrating the end of the carnival season and the day before Lent with its Mardi Gras festival. Singular and original - there is only one Big Easy and only one Mardi Gras. Even after the wrath of Katrina, the city is unstoppable...vibrant with spirit while the good times roll. Here's what the New York Times has to say about Mardi Gras 2006.Bourbon_street_sign_2_1

If you're like the rest of us you think of delicious spicy food when you think of Mardi Gras celebration. Check out this link to Mardi Gras recipes including the famous King Cake. If you're too busy to shop and cook, remember GourmetStation's collection of delicious Cajun cuisine. Cajun gourmet dinners, soup samplers featuring Gumbo, and desserts including Praline Pecan Cheesecake. Whether you're looking for a meal gift for another or just great gourmet food to stock up on, we have the answer. Now - back to letting the good times roll!

Bringing Tuscany Home With FotoToscana

Posted: February 25, 2006
by: T.Alexander

What is it about Tuscany that captures our heart, soul and imagination? My first visit to Florence produced raw sensory overload. My fondest memories include the warmth of the people and inviting restaurants, art and more art – especially architecture, and the splendor of the surrounding landscape. My memories of Uffiza Gallery exceed art – I truly felt in the presence of greatness. The only downside to Tuscany is leaving. Now I have something to suggest to you in case you experience the longing for the region. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been and want to go, or you’ve been and want to return. This is a remedy for all who cherish this region for all it has to offer.

Dave Galusha has been a guest writer for Delicious Destinations on several occasions. He and his wife Edie visit Tuscany frequently and have fallen in love with the region. Dave’s way of brining Tuscany back home to Connecticut is with his camera. Dave has captured all that I love about the region and now he is sharing it with the world. FotoToscana is Dave’s new company, an online source for beautiful photographs of Tuscany and neighboring region Umbria. The photos are matted and ready to be framed. Dave has appropriately positioned his new company as “food for your eyes – dreams for your heart.”

Dave’s site starts out with a nice overview, including information about the region and a listing of the major cities - Firenze, Siena, Lucca, Pistoia, Livorno, Arezzo, San Sepolcro, and the beautiful little hill-towns of Cortona, Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino and San Gimignano. The site is divided into six viewing galleries including Archi e Porte, Bella Campagna, Belle Strade, Foto Diverse,Campanili, and Tramonti Toscani. Casabellavistapatio_1

My favorite in the Archi e Porte collection is this image – a bedroom view from bed & breakfast Casa Bellavista. In the Foto Diverse collection is this beautiful image of a Tuscan icon, the sunflower. Tramonti Toscani is a collection of breathtaking sunsets and my favorite is this photo of river, bridge and sunset – Ponte Vecchio..

The photos are hand labeled according to location with the year taken. The prices are extremely reasonable at $10 US for 5 X 7 inch or $15.00 for 8 X 10 inch. Prices include matting. If any family or friends are reading this post, now you know what to expect for upcoming gifting occasions!

Soup Gifts - Warm The Soul

Posted: February 23, 2006
by: T.Alexander

I recently had found a soup at our local health food store. The name – Mulligatawny. My word, is it Irish, African, what’s this all about. Name aside, I tell you it was delicious. My version was vegan made with filtered water, lentils, non-chicken base, onions, carrots, celery, madras curry powder, rice and coconut milk. Not only did this simple combination of simple food shoot the moon, the name had me going. So I started to do a little research.

Mulligatawny soup was originally an Indian curry soup adapted by the British during colonial days. Here’ what the Food Reference has to say. “Mulligatawny is the Anglicized version of the Tamil (a southern Indian Dravidian language) words for "pepper water" or "pepper broth." It became popular with the British stationed in India (employees of the East India Company) during colonial times, during the late 18th century and later. When they returned home, they brought the recipe back with them to England, and to other members of the Commonwealth, especially Australia. It was a rich curried soup originally made with peppers, hence the name. It has changed to suit differing tastes in Western culture, and has gone through many variations at various times and places. It is usually based on a chicken stock (also mutton or vegetable stock) and curry, with cream, pieces of chicken, onion, celery, apples and almonds and garnished with rice. The cream was very likely, originally coconut milk.”Butternut_squash_soup

I found it interesting that cream in later recipes was most likely coconut milk in the original recipe. Our local health food store must have reverted back to the original recipe to make the soup vegan. The soft white rice and coconut milk produced a soothing sensation that I must say was pleasing and original. In case you want to give it a try, here is a recipe from 1818.

If you’ve got soup on the mind and want to spread a little joy and happiness, remember GourmetStation for soup gifts. Each sampler includes six delicious soups, six miniature baguettes, and six gourmet bake-your-own cookies, like amaretto and macadamia nut. I'm off now to talk to our R&D team to get Mulligatawny on the menu!

Have Your Cake - Eat It Too!

Posted: February 18, 2006
by: Mark Stine

Guest writer Mark Stine is on a roll and is back to share with you his perspective on having your cake and eating it too. As the winter chill continues we have a natural tendency to want to eat more and hybernate, much like our animal friends. Mark has found his system to keep things in balance and have that indulgence from time to time. My favorite part of this post is his "sweet" childhood memories. Read and enjoy!

While house sitting for a friend near Palo Alto recently, I was
suddenly surrounded by something that I have not kept in the house for
months.....desserts! I have taken it unto myself to lose some weight,
what with a 50 something birthday looming in the near future and a
friend referring to me recently as looking "settled", well in
actuallity I was referred to as a "fat-"pick your political party
affiliation".  Ok, so the person making this reference is in terriffic
shape and my other more kind friends agreed "settled" was a more
accurate description for me.  Still my sensibility had been challenged
and my inner voice awakened...ME SETTLED or worse..referred to as a
fat-"name your political party"!

In any event, I took up the gauntlet and in only one month or so lost
12 pounds through sensible eating and more exercise. What I have
discovered though through sensible eating and exercise is that I can
now eat just about anything, in reasonable portions and I am not
gaining any of the weight back.

To test this theory further I have, while house sitting in this
fabuously outfitted kichen, been eating cheesecake and truffles and
chocolate...lots of chocolate! Yummm..I am in heaven. And you know
what? I have not gained any addiitonal weight. Working out in the home
gym and walking the hills of Los ALtos Hills has kept the exercise
regimen up, allowed me to enjoy nature and the early spring that is
bursting forth in the surrounding countryside and indulge myself with
the things I  have enjoyed since childhood..... desserts.Raspberry_dessert_in_sunlight

I am an admitted dessert afficianado. I remember my Grandmothers home
made pies, cakes and best of all her cinnamon rolls. We are talking
pre-Cinnabon cinnamon rolls made with yeast dough, allowed to rise in
old ceramic bowls.Then rolled out with an  old fasioned rolling pin
made of wood and real butter. Lots of butter. And the smell that arose
from the old oven once the rolls hit the right temperature have been
indeliably enscribed on my mind. There is after all a huge connection
to olfactory stimulation and memories. Well ...just like me, let your
memory slide back to those smells and desserts that provide you with
great memories.

GourmetStation has the means and the way to transport you back to
some of those great dessert memories.  You can order their specialty
desserts for parties
, to remind someone that you love them, as a
special treat for yourself or to celebrate with your family just how
special they are, when no special occasion is required.

And if you have discovered like I have, that a little exercise goes a
long way..and with exercise you can" Indulge" those dessert
cravings....then have at it! After all aren't we worth it...and haven't
I earned the right to be as happy as I was as a child, when I
discovered that sugar and butter and cream were pretty darn nice

Desserts the quintessential way to my heart...and grinning in an all
knowing way...probably yours too!

Thinking Of You With Food Gifts

Posted: February 15, 2006
by: Mark Stine

I am so pleased that our friend and GourmetStation patron, Mark Stine, has agreed to write for Delicious Destinations from time to time. Mark's latest post demonstrates ways to show you care with food gifts. Mark combines personal memories with practical ways to say "thinking of you" for the people in our lives that have everything.Turquoise_wine_bottle_glass

My Grandmother had a habit every time I called her of saying “I was Just thinking about You”…now whether my Grandmother was psychic or tapped into the metaphysical remains to be seen, but since she had a lot of time on her hands, she probably was thinking about me and the odds of me calling and her thinking of me were probably pretty good. And those memories of her answering the phone with that response will always stick with me

Now being somewhat like my Grandmother, I find myself thinking of family, friends and past acquaintances. Some of it has to do with age. Being over 50, the portion of time remaining has become more important to me in how I spend it. And the actions I take towards others and how I am viewed …..and remembered someday.

Just recently I made a new acquaintance and was introduced to a breakfast and or lunch snack of toasted white bread, fresh avocado spread over bread and topped with Bacos, or imitation bacon bits. It was a unique little snack…and when a gifting opportunity presented itself, I purchased four bottles of imitation bacon bits made from soy protein and mailed them right off to say “Thanks” to a man who basically has everything anyone could want….. but he could use the imitation bacon bits in his everyday life. .A way of saying, “Thinking of You” for a friend. A simple thing, but surely more remembered than anything else I could have sent.

Gifts of food have been a part of most world cultures and was often reflected in the bounty of late summer and early fall as peaches were canned, German apples dried and Italian hams cured.

While the holiday season is a primary gifting opportunity, it’s after the holidays, when we all return to our normal routines, that is the time to step back and look at ourselves and our friends and remind them that we are “just thinking about you”

A wonderful opportunity exists to send to your friend, family member far away, or someone who is or was close to you, but due to the passage of time, the closeness may have faded….a reminder of how much you care.

What better way to recharge that connection than through a wonderful gourmet gift from GourmetStation. Often a friend or loved one may have had a dream of visiting some far off locale, but through the events of their life, may have gotten sidetracked along the way. A gift opportunity to transport them, if only for a respite, to Paris or Italy can be accomplished through a GourmetStation gift certificate or better yet surprise them with a specialty meal. A “personalized” card can be included…and they’ll remember you as part of that special meal from a locale they always wanted to visit.

And maybe next time…”They’ll be thinking of you”

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Cajun Seafood & Chef Paul

Posted: February 14, 2006
by: T.Alexander

When I think of New Orleans and Cajun cuisine the first thing that pops in my mind is Chef Paul Prudhomme. The second thing is seafood. I met Chef Paul in the mid 1990’s at the time he was consulting with high profile foodservice clients. I’ll never forget the joy of getting my cookbook autographed and feeling as if I was in the presence of pure authenticity. Chef Paul is as authentically Cajun as Cajun can be. Chef_paul2 He was born and raised on a farm near Opelousas Louisiana deep in Acadiana country. Chef Paul was the youngest of 13 children. His last sister left home when he was only seven and he found himself in the kitchen with his mother learning the art of Cajun cooking. Void of electricity and refrigeration in those early days, Chef Paul learned the value of fresh. The rest is history.

If you want to celebrate Mardi Gras in your own way, try this recipe – Crawfish, Shrimp or Crabmeat in Cream Sauce Over Pasta. Perfect for this time of year. I like the option of selecting my favorite shellfish. If time does not permit shopping and cooking, let GourmetStation bring a little Mardi Gras to you or your gift recipient with our Cajun Cuisine Celebration…three and four course gourmet dinners from our Cajun collection.

Hail the rebirth of New Orleans and let the good times roll.

Happy Valentine's Day

Posted: February 14, 2006
by: T.Alexander

Welcome to our final romance tip on our count down to the most romantic day on earth, Valentine’s Day. After all the thinking, planning, scheming and preparing for today, this is all I have to say. Enjoy.


Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fountains mingle with the river,

And the rivers with the ocean;

The winds of heaven mix forever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by a law divine

In another's being mingle - -

Why not I with thine?


See the mountains kiss high heaven,

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister flower could be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea;

Why are all those kisses worth,

If thou kiss not me?

Gourmet Dinner Of The Month Valentine Gift

Posted: February 13, 2006
by: T.Alexander

Welcome to romance tip #13 of 14 on our count down to the most romantic day on earth, Valentine’s Day. If you’ve been busy, traveling, working on a big deadline, and haven’t had time to buy the perfect Valentine gift, I’ve got the answer.Jan_06_home_french_cuisine

As Concierge at GourmetStation I’m often asked what is our most impressionable and elegant gourmet food gift. I don’t have to hesitate to answer….our Dinner of the Month gifts. We offer 3, 6, 9 and 12 month programs for both three course and four course dinners. All dinners are for two, so you and your significant other may celebrate Valentines every month for many months to come. Now that’s a Valentine’s Day gift to grab their attention. Plus you may order online and have the certificate emailed in time for the big day. Bon appetit!

Valentine Cards By Carmen Parra

Posted: February 12, 2006
by: T.Alexander

Welcome to romance tip #12 of 14 on our count down to the most romantic day on earth, Valentine’s Day. Time is running out so I’ll suggest a tip that you can use quickly such as a beautiful online greeting card.

I know what you’re thinking. Online greeting cards are about as unique as pigeons in the park. But stop right there. You haven’t been to Carmen Parra’s art. Inspired by father and internationally acclaimed architect, Manuel Parra, Carmen’s work is a mingling of heaven and earth as she weaves yesterday with the future in textures and colors that you will find mezmorizing. Spanish guitar music accompanies the ecard for an experience to capture their heart.Carmen_ecard

If you’re running out of time for a Valentines dinner reservation, it’s not too late to let GourmetStation come to the rescue. Delivery is still possible for the big day if you order today. Don’t miss out on fine dining in the most comfortable place on earth – home.