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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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Gourmet Soups & A Little Asian Soup Trivia
Posted: March 30, 2006
Our appetites and taste buds tell us when it’s time to transition from soup to ice cream. Right now the US is about ten degrees below normal – some areas are even experiencing below freezing temperatures at night. So I’d say we’re still in the soup season.
First - a little fun. SoupSong is a web site devoted to soup fans. You’ll find soup recipes galore for hot soup and cold soup. You may discover Shakespeare’s sentiments about soup and movies on soup. Heck, you might even want to check out the cabbage soup diet also called the Dolly Parton diet. There’s also a section on using soup as a complete gourmet meal.
My favorite section of SoupSong is Soup Etiquette. Did you know it is proper to tilt you soup spoon away in Britian but toward in France? The Chinese allow slurping soup, but the Europeans do not. This is an important point and we’ll find out later.
Alright, now back to the practical way to enjoy soup. You may enjoy it yourself, give it as a gourmet gift, or do both. We are approaching spring so I recommend lighter soups in the Asian category. Here is a soup recipe, Chinese Gingery Chicken Soup equipped with a story, easy enough if you want to make a batch yourself. But if you feel like making a special connection with a special person, consider a soup gift from GourmetStation. Our soup samplers cover the globe from France to Italy to the Land of the Cajuns. Today I recommend the Asian Fusion soup sampler with three servings of Spicy Thai Soup with Water Chestnuts, three servings of Coconut Chicken & Rice Soup, six mini baguettes, and six Macadamia Nut bake-your-own cookies. Want to know the real reason I’m recommending this Asian Fusion soup collection? Because it’s OK to slurp!
Dinner Party Idea – French Style Prepared Meals
Posted: March 27, 2006
If you’re seeking creative dinner party ideas consider a French or Parisian theme. There’s so much romance and culture surrounding French cuisine, you’ve got lots of opportunity to create a memorable evening for your guests.
The French have elevated food well beyond a culinary art or a time-honored tradition. So the main thing you should focus on is “the food”! You may carry the French theme throughout your event by using powder blue, for example, as tabletop color. And certainly, you must include French table wine. But the focus should be the food with authentic French recipes.
If you wish to do a little research, consider Ina Garten’s book Barefoot in Paris. Ina will take you on stroll around Paris to her favorite spots. Then she’ll share with you recipes from these local bistros that have been shortened to provide an authentic eating experience with as much simplicity as possible.
One of my favorite recipes from Ina is Chicken With Herbed Goat Cheese. Click here for the recipe. You’ll see that the defining ingredient in this recipe is Montrachet cheese. Montrachet is a white creamy chevre, a French term for goat’s cheese, from the Burgundy region of France. Basil and garlic accentuate the recipe but the dominant flavor is the tangy yet mild Montrachet cheese.
If you’re like me and don’t have the time to shop, chop & prepare, consider GourmetStation’s collection of Parisian prepared meals delivered. You may order entrees a la carte and add the salad or appetizers and dessert yourself. Or you may order the 3 course or 4 course Parisian gourmet meals, complete with selection of French themed appetizers, soup, entrees and delicious desserts. I recommend the Parisian 4 Course Gourmet Meal because GourmetStation’s version of Chicken With Herbed Goat Cheese is included as an entrée option. It is simply called Chicken Montrachet and is served with a rich luscious demi glace sauce. With GourmetStation your dinner party will have all the French authenticity of a home prepared gourmet dinner without the fuss and hard work….giving you time to be the perfect host or hostess that you are!
Olito's Sweet Olive Jam - A Gourmet Vegetarian Gift
Posted: March 22, 2006
I was recently contacted by an enthusiastic gentleman from Barcelona Spain, Jamison Miller. Jamison represents a company called Olitos. Humm, interesting name – what could all this be about?
After visiting the Olitos web site, I found something passionate and unique that definitely deserves sharing. No wonder Jamison Miller is enthusiastic about his employer. It seems that Olitos is a company “dedicated passionately to the innovation of the olive.” Legend has it, according to Jamison, that two helpless romantics set out to live in Barcelona and among the wild, rural regions of Catalunya they attached themselves to a goal - production of the world’s greatest sweet olive jam!
I was graciously provided with a sample of sweet olive jam and I must share the outcome of my tasting. In North American culture we think of jam as perhaps fruity – an apple, cherry or peach spread to marry with toast for our morning meal. In order to enjoy this new product we must broaden our mindset. Olives are actually fruit and jam is a spread – perhaps sweet, maybe not – and it can be enjoyed on just about anything at any time of day.
The primary ingredients in this Mediterranean recipe are hand picked olives, apple juice, rosemary mountain honey with herbs and spices. I sampled the jam on toasted crusty squares of traditional French bread as a dinner appetizer. I must say it was full bodied in flavor with a perfect balance between the sublime olive flavors and the sweetness of the apple juice & honey. My intention was to enjoy the sweet olive jam as just an appetizer, but I found myself hooked. My joyous sampling continued until the sampling became appetizer, entrée and dessert. I would call that success, wouldn’t you?
The Olitos web site provides recipes and serving suggestions such as placing the sweet olive jam with a cheese platter or on a salad with grilled goats cheese. It is also a nice accompaniment to roast lamb. I recommend trying this delicacy for yourself. Or if you are looking for a unique gift, perhaps a gourmet vegetarian gift, take a look at the Zen like black and tan gift packaging. Good work Jamison & Olitos team!
For other gourmet vegetarian gifts consider GourmetStation.
House Guest Dilemma – Consider A Gourmet Meal Delivered
Posted: March 18, 2006
Ok, so you think you have your orderly life and then the phone call or email arrives. Suddenly you are faced with houseguests! What do you do when you work, have family obligations and need to entertain guests all at the same time!
As a resident of Las Vegas, let me tell you houseguests are a regular occurrence. And even if they don’t stay with me, opting instead to savor the delights of the new hotels on the strip, they still want to visit my home for an evening or two and soak in the solar heated pool.
Then there’s the whole ordeal of properly providing guests with a memorable gourmet meal. Yes it can be fun to take a trip to the local market, buy food, then spend time prepping all the while engaging in witty banter with your guests as they sip wine and watch you perform food miracles to feed the hungry hordes. Nice imagery….but not reality. This is not like an ad from a magazine…staged and the food prepped by a food stylist. It’s hard work and frankly can be hard on the pocket book as well.
Rather than panic...consider the handier and more civilized alternative to spontaneous entertaining, gourmet meals delivered by GourmetStation. If you know guests are coming, just take a few minutes to pull up the web site, make the selections that fit your entertaining style and guests’ preferences. You may select three or four course dinners from Parisian, Tuscan, Cajun or Fusion menus. They even have a wine-pairing guide to help you in the selection of the proper wine for your cuisine selections.
My favorite offering is the four course dinners. Just heat the delicious soups on the stovetop in a saucepan. The artisan bread and entrees with side item and sauce finish in the oven in about 30 minutes. And my favorite dessert, cheesecake, requires no preparation and is best served chilled. The entrees even arrive in their own ovenable container. Now you’re on your way to entertaining bliss. Heat, plate and serve a gourmet meal for two or more in about thirty minutes. With help from GourmetStation you may even find a moment to enjoy the experience yourself.
GourmetStation delivered gourmet meals start at $69.99 plus $19.99 shipping with a two-day notice required for deliveries to the entire continental US, Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.
A Gourmet Meal At Trattoria Dardano
Posted: March 14, 2006
Dave & Edie Galusha need no introduction. As regular writers for Delicious Destinations, Dave & Edie graciously introduce us to Trattoria Dardano, a family owned restaurant nestled deep in Tuscan culture. Enjoy.
The theme of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino was “Passion Lives Here”. That theme was true for the Olympics and it is true for the people of Tuscany. Theirs is a passion for food, a passion for fine wine and a passion for enjoying both in a relaxed atmosphere.
The quintessential Tuscan hill-town of Cortona nestled high on the crest of Monte Sant` Egidido provides an ideal location to enjoy these passions. The Cortonesi, while enjoying the warmth of the Tuscan sun, also enjoy splendid views of the Valdichiana and Lago Trasimeno. Visitors to Cortona will enjoy walking along the Via Nazionale with its shops and markets offering insights into the culture and character of this historic Etruscan city. If you’re lucky there may be a wedding on the steps of the Town Hall in Piazza della Repubblica.
It was once said that to truly experience the real nature of a community, one need dine where the “locals” dine. From our perspective that place is the Trattoria Dardano at Via Dardano, 24, just a short walk from the Piazza.
Trattoria Dardano, a family owned trattoria where Cortonesi and travelers alike enjoy traditional Tuscan cooking offers a warm and relaxing environment. Upon entering, you will be seated by Palo and Lucia, your hosts for the evening. They will make you feel welcome and will share with information about the trattoria. You can rest assured that your evening’s meal will be prepared for you in typical “Tuscan home cooking” fashion.
The family that operates Trattoria Dardano grows many of the vegetable and meat food items they serve on the family farm, just outside of Cortona. Much of their olive oil is produced from their own olive orchard and the red house wine from their family vineyard is one of the finest house wines we have ever enjoyed. Their Ribollita and Uccelletto beans (see their website for recipes) are among our favorite items on the menu.
The best way to enjoy Trattoria Dardano’s offerings is to plan on a relaxed evening. Our suggestion is that you start with a glass of their “house red” and an insalata caprese for antipasti. Then order a dish at a time and relax as you enjoy the succulent flavors of the food that has been prepared for you.
Your evening repast would not be complete without a small digestivo. Might we suggest a glass of sage liquor. You will find that this too has been made by a member of the family. It is the perfect ending to an evening of traditional Tuscan dining. Buon appetito!
Dave and Edie Galusha
Walking In Simonetta’s Shoes
Posted: March 11, 2006
Do you ever think about walking in the shoes of another? We do it all the time when we read fiction or watch a good movie. What would it be like if I lived there or worked at that job? OK – maybe it’s a little escape, but escape can be good for the soul and I like to escape to Tuscany.
When I receive blog posts and recipes from Simonetta at Casabella Vista, I drift into the life of a Tuscan bed and breakfast owner. When Simonetta sent this recipe for apple cake she also sent a nice note. It was cold on the morning she wrote the email. Simonetta and her mother walked to market as I imagine Simonetta’s relatives had done in generations past. They go with a vision in mind….an entrée, a pasta dish, but this particular morning they wanted apples for apple cake. After making the cake I can just see Simonetta’s family and the guests of Casabella Vista enjoying the cake with a cup of coffee or tea. Perhaps they found a moment of peace on a balcony or porch gazing at the beautiful Tuscan countryside.
TORTA SOFFICE DI MELE
Soft Apple Cake
125g butter at room temperature
sachet of baking powder
Heat the oven to 190°
Peel the apples and slice thinly, add the juice of the lemon and 50g of sugar, mix together.
Beat together the butter and 125g sugar, add the eggs, the grated rind of the lemon and salt. Work the mixture well, then add the flour, fecola, and lastley the yeast.
Place the mixture in a sprung cake dish, spread the apple mixture on top, cook for 50/60 minutes.
Coffee Gifts & Tea Gifts
Posted: March 8, 2006
A while ago the team at GourmetStation decided we should add tea as a beverage option for GourmetStation’s four course dinners. At the time the company was offering only St. Ives European Blend Coffee made especially for GourmetStation international cuisine. While the coffee received excellent reviews, tea was requested from time to time.
So GourmetStation went on the hunt for the best tea. The result – Numi Organic Tea. What was interesting was how naturally the Numi collection aligned with the four GourmetStation menu lines. Simply Mint for Parisian, Earl Gray for Tuscan, Gunpowder Temple of Heaven for Cajun and Rainforest for Fusion.
At the same time GourmetStation saw a great opportunity to offer both coffee gifts and tea gifts. One St. Ives coffee gift set includes a beautiful mahogany lacquered basket with three flavors of 2 oz. St. Ives coffee, a campy coffee mug, and four 10 oz. Bags of Columbian Supremo, Costa Rican La Lap, Kenya Kirinyaga, and Guatemalan coffee, a good value at $69.99 plus shipping.
The Numi Flowering Tea Gift is probably the most unique of the offering. A delicate glass teapot allows flowering teas to literally bloom before your eyes. The tea gift comes in a mahogany bamboo chest with the glass teapot and the following tea – Starlight Rose, Jewel, Dragon Lily, Lavender Dream, Emerald Sun, Jade Fortune, Jasmine Pearl, Midnight Peony, and Black Beauty. If you can’t think of a friend, family member or gift occasion to give this tea gift, I suggest you simply give it to yourself. Find a quiet moment, brew your flowering tea bag, then watch it unfold as you find a moment’s peace.
Say Thank You With Gourmet Meal Gifts
Posted: March 4, 2006
Over the years I have watched thousands of GourmetStation gourmet meal gifts ship to every state in the US including Alaska, Hawaii & Puerto Rico. Nine times out of ten the reason for the order is this - one person is seeking a way to express love and connect with another. It’s that simple. Many occasions drive the expression of sentiments – birthday, anniversary, get well, or welcome new baby. But my favorite reason to express gratitude with a meal gift is to say Thank You.
How many times has a friend, family member, or business associate done something nice for you? Maybe they’ve always been there when you needed a friend. You know, the kind of person you can always count on. If that special person lives near you, you might do something nice like drop off a bouquet of flowers, bake a cake, or take them to dinner or lunch. But what if they live across the country? What then?
If you can’t take that special person to dinner, send dinner to them with a meal gift from GourmetStation. I assure you they will feel very special when they receive a four-course dinner for two. And you will have a halo for selecting the coolest Thank You gift ever.