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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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Wine Pairings and Food Gifting - A Perfect Combination
Posted: April 26, 2006
Guest writer Mark Stine is discovering some interesting facts about wine pairing and food flavors. Read about Mark’s experience then experiment for yourself!
Recently I was invited to a wine tasting at Café Georgio’s in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay shops. The wine tasting group has been meeting weekly for a number of years and the focus for this gathering was Italy...a favorite of GourmetStation with its fine Tuscan-Italian food offerings. As the congenial crowd of 40 wine connoisseurs gathered, the host launched into the Internet broadcast while the food and wine pairings were presented one at a time.
The wine, paired with tastings of special dishes, was a fun and an engaging palate delight…until the last wine. It tasted…well odd…we all agreed odd and musty was an apt description. I commented to an attendee next to me that it was like a musty old mushroom…not so great for drinking. Well, when the paired dish was brought out, Risotto with Fungi mushrooms…suddenly the wine and the food exploded in concert in a wonderful taste sensation.
The point…exploration of unusual wine and food combinations can lead to an exciting outcome. If you are stumped for gift ideas for friends and family, try this concept for yourself. You can order a selection of appetizers or gourmet meals from GourmetStation for yourself and then consult your local wine store with about your cuisine selections. Try wine pairings from around the world. The wine may or may not be from the country of the food you’re sampling…the idea is to be creative with combining wine and food flavors.
Buy a couple of bottles of each wine then try them at home. If you hit on a combination that you truly love, then you can order up a food selection from GourmetStation for friends or family. For starters you can begin with Italian like my recent wine food pairing in Las Vegas. GourmetStation offers wonderful appetizer selections..Tuscan inspired Roasted Tomato Bruschetta, Italian Veggie Tarts or for added flavor Kalamata Olive and Artichoke tarts, (see my prior Olive Blog to see how much I love kalamata Olives), or Sundried Tomato in Phyllo Pastry. What a great way to start on your food and wine gifting adventure. All of these earthy and flavorful dishes combine wonderfully with a great array of wines.
You’ll accomplish two things...you’ll have fun researching the food and the wine. You can even create your own home event and invite friends. Secondly, you’ll be able to give a truly unique gift…food and wine…paired together that YOU have experienced and enjoyed….sharing yourself and your experience. Food and wine feed the soul…salute!
Spring At Tuscan B&B - Casa Bellavista
Posted: April 21, 2006
Spring is in the air in Tuscany! We received another lovely email from our friend and guest writer, Simonetta Demarchi at Casa Bellavista. Not only does Simonetta share another one of her family recipes with Delicious Destinations, she has also given us a glimpse into her daily life as she and her husband, Guido, operate their beautiful Tuscan Bed & Breakfast, Casa Bellavista. Enjoy! (For more recipes from Simonetta click here.)
“Finally I have time to send to you another recipes, because the spring arrived after a very long winter......., spring for me means also prepare the garden, cut the grass....., plant new flowers, me and Guido (my husband) have planted a lot of new roses ...around the fence of the pool.... I will send you a picture when they will be in bloom......
Today it's a little cold so I do not go out to work in the garden but I have been to the market and I bought fresh fish, some lemons some oranges...... and now I'm preparing the dinner........Ciao hoping to see you soon.”
(Sardines with Orange)
30g pine nuts
3 dessert spoons bread crumbs
salt & pepper
Clean sardines, wash and drain
In a bowl mix bread crumbs, pine nuts, chilli and oil
Add salt and pepper
Pass the sardines one at a time through the mixture & roll them with the skin out
Alternate sardines with slices of orange & place in baking tray with oil.
Bake at 180 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes.
A Unique Anniversary Dinner Gift - Parisian Style
Posted: April 17, 2006
Many thanks to guest writer Mark Stine for his perspective on French cuisine and how you can bring a piece of Paris to your significant other for that perfect anniversary dinner gift.
My first vision of Paris was through the eyes of a 15-year-old leaving North America for the first time. Sure I had been to Quebec City with its famous Chateau Frontenac and Montreal for the World’s fair….But the level of sophistication for travel was not the same as today…no internet…no GourmetStation to be a culinary guide before embarking on such a journey…just the adventure of going someplace exotic…as only one who is young and impressionable can experience.
The journey started with a trek through Germany and Belgium and then on to London where a ferry ride from Dover connected me to an aged train coach that took me into Paris. ..the place that inspired GourmetStation’s Parisian menu line. Had I known then what I know now, I could have enjoyed the culinary experience even more.
Paris was magical in April…young people thrown together…a light mist of rain drifting down from the sky added a glowing framework for the City of Lights. It was romantic even for 15 and 16 year olds. It created an instilled memory of ultimate romance as girls and boys walked hand in hand down the Champs Elysee. Ah, young love…to be equally savored.
But the food… tres’ magnifique! My first exposure to French cuisine was the pastry, which inspired the dessert lines at GourmetStation. And the dinners….late night dining…Le Nuit de Paris….special French sauces…fine china to accent the properly and handsomely displayed food presentations.
It wasn’t until many years later that I returned to Paris when my older and wiser palate was able to enjoy the pairings of wine and food. Classic French dishes…fine Boudreaux’s….uncompromising desserts. The team at GourmetStation worked diligently to master and replicate the fine French flavors. The selection of Bistro Mushroom & Sherry Wine Soup complimented by Salmon En Croute coupled with Chicken Montrachet can bring the flavors of Paris right to your dining table. So if you can’t take your significant other to Paris for a romantic anniversary dinner, bring Paris to them.
You can replicate a night in Paris for you and your romantic partner. My recommendation is to use the service and the Parisian menu to create the ultimate anniversary dinner at home. Pick up an old Jacques Brel cd or a 40’s vintage Edith Piaf…light the candles..turn the music low and let GourmetStation do the rest. The memory will linger long after the anniversary has ended and the delight is that you can do it again and again. Give more than a unique anniversary gift, give an experience!
Easter Dessert – Not So Gourmet
Posted: April 13, 2006
I once heard someone say that the best meal they ever had was at a little league baseball game, at the end of a long summer day after they had not eaten all day..a hot dog & soft drink. Food memories are funny that way – the best ones have very little to do with gourmet, long prep times or elaborate presentation. I’d say it’s more about association with something that makes us feel happy, safe or both.
In the case of Easter I wish I could say my best food memory was of a southern brunch – perhaps with a spiral honey glazed ham and potato salad. But it’s not. My fondest food memory is of a day dominated by a big blue sky, a bunch of kids playing on a lawn of new green grass, and an Easter egg hunt. Along with the pastel decorated eggs were none other than “Peeps.” That’s right – those cute little bright yellow chicks made of marshmallow and sugar.
Most of us should remember Peeps – their manufacturer, Just Born, claims the brand is 50 to 70 years old. It seems there is a little fan club around these adorable eats. If you’re so inclined, join me in a trip down memory lane as you visit Peeps most popular links. Happy Easter.
Crown Roast & Easter Traditions
Posted: April 4, 2006
I find it interesting that most holidays are connected with at least one food item that is a symbol of the celebration. Think about it – the hot dog for 4th of July, turkey for Thanksgiving. Well so it is with lamb and Easter.
One of the most powerful table presentations is the Crown Roast, a traditional Easter brunch or dinner centerpiece in many countries. This special occasion roast is formed from the rib section of the lamb loin by tying it in a circle, ribs up. The simple configuration of a full rack of lamb shaped into a crown makes a regal statement.
More interesting than the presentation is the history of lamb at Easter. The Easter lamb, representing Christ, may be seen in pictures and images in homes throughout central and eastern Europe. Here is a great web page that describes lamb at Easter dating back to the seventh century.
“The oldest prayer for the blessing of lambs can be found in the seventy-century sacramentary (ritual book) of the Benedictine monastery, Bobbio in Italy. Two hundred years later Rome had adopted it, and thereafter the main feature of the Pope’s Easter dinner for many centuries was roast lamb. After the tenth century, in place of the whole lamb, smaller pieces of meat were used. In some Benedictine monasteries, however, even today whole lambs are still blessed with the ancient prayers."
I’ve included a recipe below in case you wish to take on the task of preparing a Crown Roast this Easter. If you’re time pressed or cooking challenged, GourmetStation has two lamb options that might fit the bill. First is four racks of lamb that may be tied together to make the Crown Roast. With this offering you may add a salad or side item and dessert. You may also want to consider our Easter Brunch for Two featuring quiche appetizers, lamb shank in rosemary mint sauce, white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and cloth dinner napkins. Happy Easter to you and your family.
CROWN ROAST OF LAMB
1 crown roast of lamb, 16 chops, (3 ½ lbs.)
1 clove of garlic, cut in slivers
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
Have butcher prepare the crown roast from 2 racks of loin lamb chops tied together in a circle. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make several slits in the roast and insert garlic slivers. Brush roast with olive oil. Combine thyme and pepper, rub over roast.
Place on a rack in shallow roasting pan. Wrap foil around bone tips to prevent burning. Crumble piece of foil and fill cavity, so meat will hold shape.
Bake roast for 15 to 20 minutes per pound for rare meat. Test for doneness by cutting into a chop. Transfer to platter and fill center with choice vegetables. Place frills atop bone, after cooking. Serves eight.
Easter Brunch Hunt - Try Gourmet Meals Delivered
Posted: April 2, 2006
April is a glorious month. Spring comes forward with a fire works show to top the 4th of July. Someone always gets me on April Fools.....never fails. And then there's Easter; a time of reflection, relaxation and hope....a time for friends, family and food. Of course, when friends & family are involved, there's always food. GourmetStation has a way to connect with friends & family this Easter with a brand new brunch menu featuring spring lamb. Here's our press release. Enjoy!
With Easter just around the corner, most busy shoppers are beginning to prepare for an Easter celebration involving family and friends. In many situations there is distance between loved ones and it is not always possible to be together. How do caring people show their love for one another on such a deeply rooted traditional holiday? GourmetStation has the answer with their upscale gourmet meals delivered nationally. “Easter Brunch 2006 will feature spring lamb, our most elegant center of the plate entrée,” says founder & President, Donna Lynes-Miller. “Patrons may purchase rack of lamb a la carte and add their side items and dessert. Four 4-bone racks are encrusted in herbs and spices and served with demi glace sauce. Or they may purchase a complete three course Easter brunch for two featuring quiche appetizers, lamb shank in rosemary mint sauce, creamy spinach & artichokes, and white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. We even include elegant ecru dinner napkins with crochet trim to top off the experience.” Atlanta based GourmetStation ships deep chilled multi-course gourmet dinners and upscale prepared meals nationally in free gift packaging. Preparation time is about 30 minutes. Gourmet meals start at $69.99 plus shipping with a two day advance notice required for delivery to the continental US, Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.
With Easter just around the corner, most busy shoppers are beginning to prepare for an Easter celebration involving family and friends. In many situations there is distance between loved ones and it is not always possible to be together. How do caring people show their love for one another on such a deeply rooted traditional holiday? GourmetStation has the answer with their upscale gourmet meals delivered nationally.
“Easter Brunch 2006 will feature spring lamb, our most elegant center of the plate entrée,” says founder & President, Donna Lynes-Miller. “Patrons may purchase rack of lamb a la carte and add their side items and dessert. Four 4-bone racks are encrusted in herbs and spices and served with demi glace sauce. Or they may purchase a complete three course Easter brunch for two featuring quiche appetizers, lamb shank in rosemary mint sauce, creamy spinach & artichokes, and white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. We even include elegant ecru dinner napkins with crochet trim to top off the experience.”
Atlanta based GourmetStation ships deep chilled multi-course gourmet dinners and upscale prepared meals nationally in free gift packaging. Preparation time is about 30 minutes. Gourmet meals start at $69.99 plus shipping with a two day advance notice required for delivery to the continental US, Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.
Posted: April 1, 2006
We celebrate April Fools' Day as a way to have fun and trick our friends and family with harmless untruths said in a very convincing manner. After we get them to buy into our devilish story, we spring them with “April Fools.”
Well, the French have a slightly different take on things...Poisson d'avril.....or April Fish. This quaint custom came to my attention last year and I fired off the story rather incredulously to my friend Isa, a French friend who resides in Montpellier, in the south of France. Yes, it’s true - the sophisticated French have a great sense of humor too... But what of this April Fish?
Well, in researching the story, it appears that up until 1564 under the reign of Charles IX the new year began on March 25th or the first of April. Then the King with the edict of Roussillon shifted the New Year to January 1 of each year.
Until this point traditional family gifting had been done around the New Year or April 1. To show opposition to the calendar shift, a fish was substituted as the "gift" item. A myriad of reasons as to why the fish was selected were given including the zodiac sign of the Fish….Pices or Poisson...or Catholicism, lent and substituting fish for meat. Over time the real reason was lost in lore but the fun remains. Poisson d’Avril is now a colorful holiday and loads of fun for French residents with a sense of humor.
Mark Stine is a guest writer for Delicious Destinations bringing his perspective on food and culture from around the world. For exquisite gourmet food gifts and gourmet meals delivered to nationally, visit GourmetStation.