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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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Gnocci With Asparagus


Posted: May 29, 2006
by: T.Alexander

Simonetta from Casa Bellavista, an exquisite Tuscan bed & breakfast in Cortona Italy, has graciously shared another one of her family’s time-honored recipes. Now if you think you can’t make home-made gnocchi - think again. Simonetta has shared a recipe that is not only delicious but it’s simple to prepare. Blended with asparagus sauce straight from the Tuscan market, this recipe is a favorite at Casa Bellavista and will surely be a favorite with your friends & family. If you’re looking for a unique vacation this summer and want to join Simonetta and her family at Casa Bellavista, you can participate in cooking classes from her authentic Tuscan kitchen. You may email Simonetta at info@casabellavista.it or visit their website at http://www.casabellavista.it/ - Enjoy and thank you Simonetta!

Gnocci With AsparagusSimonetta_lulu

1000g. white potatoes

250g. white flour 0

salt

gr. 500 fresh asparagus

1 onion

salt/pepper

lemon zest

grated parmesan cheese

Extra Virgin olive oil

Gnocci: Cook the potatoes in their skins in salted water. Peel and pass, add the flour, salt and knead into a dough. Divide the dough and cut into sections, then roll into long sausages. Cut into small pieces and roll each with one finger to make them curl.

Sauce: Cut tops from asparagus spears. Boil stems in salted water until tender. Drain then use the same water to lightly boil the tops. Keep the water. Finely chop the onion and brown lightly in a little oil. Add the asparagus stems and, after cooking for a few moments, put through the blender. Replace the mixture in the pan, add a little of the asparagus cooking water and the peas and cook together. When almost cooked add the asparagus tops, salt, pepper and grated lemon zest.

In the meantime cook the gnocchi in the asparagus cooking water, drain.

Add to the cooked vegetables and stir in the grated parmesan.

Serve immediately.

If you can't make it to Casa Bellavista this summer, try GourmetStation's line up of Tuscan Cuisine including delicious Italian pasta dishes and other gourmet food gifts guaranteed to please.

Cruets - A Great Gift Idea


Posted: May 26, 2006
by: T.Alexander

What's a cruet? Why a cruet? Where's the cruet? Inquiring minds want to know & I've got the answers.

A cruet, pronounced kroo'-it, is a glass bottle, usually used for holding condiments like vinegar & oil and displayed in the kitchen or dining areas. That sounds simple enough, but as with most things, a cruet is not a cruet. So here's a resource to learn about cruets and select original cruets for your personal use and for gifts - Cruets.com

There are many cruets to select from at Cruets.com, and my favorites are listed below. Happy Shopping!

Cruet_crystal First is the elegant 5 piece crystal cruet set - a nice hutch or dining table center piece. The most enduring characteristic about this set is the 24% lead crystal composition and the intricate cuts. The set is $169 and is recommended for an anniversary gift. I agree it would make a memorable anniversary gift but really, I'd like to snag this set for my dining room!

Cruet_egg_1 On a lighter side is the Faberge egg style cruet that is, well, shaped like an egg. The glass work on this model makes the cruet appear to be an egg within an egg and is a must for those who collect egg like accessories. The price is an afordable $28.90.

Cruet_set_1 My top recommendation, at least for a gift, is the oil & vinegar gourmet cruet set. Being a total solution your gift recipient will receive Italian Massarrie de Sant'Eramo balsamic vinegar and olive oil in addition to a crystal hand blown grape cruet. This gift is a great value at $56.95.

Gourmet Food Gift – Go Cajun


Posted: May 23, 2006
by: T.Alexander

There are always reasons to send a gourmet food gift. To say thanks, thinking of you, get well, cheer up – you name it. Normally when I send gifts the intent is to lift the spirits of the recipient. Now there are lots of choices and top of mind may be flowers or chocolates. Not that there is anything wrong with flowers or chocolates mind you, but wheres the imagination? Flowers and chocolate are a safe gift, but not necessarily a wow gift. So let me share with you a wow gourmet food gift…a 3 or 4 course gourmet dinner from GourmetStation.

You may choose from Parisian, Tuscan, Cajun or Fusion fare, but for the summer, I recommend that you “Go Cajun”. Here’s why. Summer is casual, fun and light. We dress light and eat light. Cajun cuisine may be spicy, but it’s not necessarily heavy. But more importantly, it’s FUN! I found a definition of Cajun and had to share it with you. Read on.

CAJUN ('ka:-j@n), n. A person born or living along the bayous, marshes and prairies of south Louisiana; devoted to gumbo, boudin, sauce piquante, crawfish and jambalaya; dedicated to the fais-do-do, French music, hard work and letting the good times roll. Gumbo_in_a_boule

Any person who is devoted to gumbo and boudin and let’s the good times roll is all right by me. Cajun cuisine has many associations, but the most prevalent to me is kick back, eat & have fun. That’s what your recipient will feel when they receive a gourmet food gift from GourmetStation’s Cajun menu. Go ahead, let the good times roll.

Eating - According to Francois De La Rochefoucauld


Posted: May 20, 2006
by: T.Alexander

Thanks to blogging Diva Toby Bloomberg for this food quote:

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”

Francois De La Rochefoucauld

What struck me about the quote was the phrase “to eat intelligently.” What exactly did Rochefoucauld mean? Rochefoucauld is remembered as a French writer and moralist who lived between 1613 and 1680. Humm. Does the health food movement dates back to the 1600? Perhaps not. I went on to find another Rochefoucauld quote that appears to be somewhat contradictory of the first.

“Preserving health by too severe a rule is a worrisome malady.”

So here’s what I think he meant by “to eat intelligently.” Eat thoughtfully, in moderation, and most of all, eat for enjoyment.

For delicious gourmet meals, dinners delivered or exquisite gourmet food gifts, remember GourmetStation.

Gourmet Food Revolution - Robert Jackson - At Your Service


Posted: May 15, 2006
by: T.Alexander

One of the things I love about the web is the opportunity to become acquainted with kindred souls from around the world. Then sharing that “find” with others through blogging…well it doesn’t get much better. Read on to see where I’m going.

If there ever was an epicurean it’s Robert Jackson from the Regency town of Brighton UK. Before I tell you about Robert’s amazing history, let me ask a few questions. What if you had a friend who was fully trained and degreed in hospitality management? What if this friend was fortunate enough to work in some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the world? What if this friend had served as an officer on the one and only Cunard cruise liner CM2 and had the opportunity to mingle and socialize with royalty, aristocracy and film stars? And what if this friend was willing to draw upon his amazing history and give you hints on entertaining, dinner party planning, simple but delicious recipes, and table etiquette?

Well your friend, Robert Jackson, is waiting for you at Gourmet Food Revolution. From the get go Robert was sure of his destiny as he experimented at age 8 with sweetmeats (candies), toffee, and chocolate Easter eggs. By age 13 he had already completed a Cordon Bleu (culinary arts) home study course and by age 17 he embarked on his formal education in international hotel & catering management.

Employment opportunities took Robert to locations in the UK and overseas, including what he calls his “lucky break” - a chance to work on the QM2. How does one follow the QM2? Robert opened his own small hotel and restaurant on dry land. Now Robert has settled in the South coast of England and has a successful business in Brighton where he consults on butlering, catering and hospitality and maintains the web site for Gourmet-Food-Revolution.

Future Delicious Destinations posts will include tips from Gourmet Food Revolution on planning elegant dinner parties, selecting simple yet delicious menus for your dinner party, recipes from appetizers to desserts, a guide to selecting prepared food suppliers (of course GourmetStation is on the list!), tips on hiring a personal chef, and top 10 do’s and don’t for proper table etiquette.

You might not be able to sip tea with Robert on a sunny afternoon & hear his wonderful stories, but you can certainly visit his informative web site and learn about everything from how to select a prepared meals supplier to properly setting your table. Yes, Robert, I think you Mum would be proud!

Robert

Tribute To A Special Mum


Posted: May 8, 2006
by: T.Alexander

We have a new guest writer here at Delicious Destinations. His name is Robert Jackson and he will share his ideas about international food, culture & entertaining from his home & business in the UK. You will learn more about Robert next week, but for now he has graciously written a Mother's Day post from a lovely UK perspective. The post is dedicated to his very own special Mum, Agnes Florence Jackson. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Fond memories of my own, dear mother…………

Agnes Florence Jackson

1918 – 1978

…….ahhh, the smell of home baking! Even after all these years, I can still smell the glorious aroma of a perfect Victoria Sandwich, a moist Madeira Cake or a rich Dundee cake, and even feel the tingling sense of anticipation as I wait for that first slice!

Yes, I can still remember it all! Years may pass, but memories never fail!

I grew up in a very modest home – money was always short, BUT, the larder (not refrigerator – too early for one of those!) was always full! Bursting with freshly shot game hanging on a hook (to this day, I’m not sure how that was acquired as we lived in the centre of a large city!) There was always freshly baked bread, a big dish of butter, home made jams & preserves, seasonal vegetables and a plump chicken ready for plucking, all out of our very own  allotment (a sort of “shared garden” for home growing if you lacked the space).

We never went hungry.

And so this was where my fascination for all things food was born – at the kitchen table! Precariously perched on a stool, my legs dangling, I would watch my Mum with fascination & admiration as she needed the dough, or whisked the egg whites to perfection. Sometimes, she would even let me “help” – a little stirring perhaps, with what seemed to me to be a GIANT wooden spoon!

And Christmas, oh how I remember those festive occasions. Presents & Christmas decorations were a little thin on the ground, but for Christmas Day Lunch, the table was bursting! Succulent turkey, a Christmas pudding matured for six months, and rich juicy home made mincemeat oozing with brandy & rum.

No, we never went hungry………..and we always ate very well! Food came first in our household, the bills, came later!

And Mother’s Day? Guess what, Mum was always busy in the kitchen, even on this special day..........she wasn’t going to let us go hungry, whatever day it was!

Although in truth, as I grew a little wiser and just a little “savvy” in the kitchen, she did eventually get to put her feet up – and I was free to experiment – and still……..we never went hungry!

So this is where my passion for food all started – from my very dear Mum, Agnes. So to her, on this special Mother’s Day, I say THANK YOU!

So here now, I would like to share with you one of our true family favourites – Madeira Cake. This light, buttery and moist cake makes a perfect treat for afternoon tea on Mother’s Day. And IF you’re lucky enough, and there’s some left over (!!), it keeps well in an airtight container for at least a week.

TRADITIONAL ENGLISH MADEIRA CAKE

Ingredients

6oz butter, at room temperature

6oz caster sugar

3 large eggs

9oz self-raising flour

Approx. 3 tbsp full-cream milk

1 lemon, finely grated zest only

1-2 thin pieces of candied citron or lemon peel, to decorate

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C Gas mark 4. Grease a 7inch round, deep sided cake tin, line the base and sides with greaseproof paper and grease the paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well between each one and adding a tablespoon of the flour with the last egg to prevent the mixture curdling.

3. Sift the flour and gently fold in, with enough milk to give a mixture that falls slowly from the spoon. Fold in the lemon zest. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and lightly level the top. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 minutes.

4. Place the candied peel on top of the cake and bake for a further 30 minutes or until a warm skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

ENJOY!

Unique Mother's Day Gift - Dinner Of The Month Club


Posted: May 6, 2006
by: T.Alexander

I talked with a Mom recently who was given a Dinner of Month Club program from GourmetStation. She was redeeming her third of twelve gourmet dinners and she was thrilled with the experience. She was adamant that she had spent enough time cooking in the kitchen and now wanted more time to do other things for herself. This Mom loved the anticipation of receiving the gourmet dinners each month. She was quite impressed with the convenience of only 30 minutes prep and was equally impressed with the quality of the cuisine.Beggars_purse_appetizer

So if you’re still seeking that unique Mother’s Day gift and want to shoot the moon – look no further. Send her a Dinner of the Month Club certificate for gourmet meals delivered from GourmetStation. Selections include 3 and 4 course dinners for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months.

Unique Mother's Day Gift - Dining Certificate


Posted: May 6, 2006
by: T.Alexander

Time is running out. You have a Mom who “has everything” and you’re looking for a unique Mother’s Day gift. You’ve given flowers, candy – now what? My recommendation is a gift certificate for a 4 course dinner delivered from GourmetStation. Mom will receive a book of menus and she may select from Parisian, Tuscan, Cajun or Fusion gourmet meals delivered. If you want to take Mom for a quick bite to Tuscany but time and budget won’t allow, send a Taste of Tuscany.

Veggie_salad_mar_06_st_patrick_day_1

GourmetStation gift certificates allow Mom to select her favorite menu and convenient delivery date. Plus the certificates never ever expire. Remember her – for all the times Mom cooked for you.

Mother's Day History


Posted: May 6, 2006
by: Mark Stine

Guest writer Mark Stine has done his research and in this post provides a nice snapshot of the history of Mother's Day. Mark also shares a private experience on how a gourmet meal delivered to his Mom made the perfect unique Mother's Day gift. Enjoy!

How it all started - Early roots for Mother's Day trace back to ancient Greek celebrations in honor of Rhea, credited as the Mother of their version of the Gods. Let's face it, Mom is hard to beat. Many cultures adopted similar customs to honor Mother.

In England their version was "Mothering Sunday." To honor their Mom, many hard working servants would get the Sunday off to head home to hamlet and glen to be with dear Mom and celebrate with a mothering cake, a tasty treat to brighten up the special day.

From the ancients to jolly olde England, it was only a matter of time before the celebration jumped the pond as it were and took up residence in the new world. In the United States, Mother's Day originated in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe as a day to acknowledge peace. It eventually morphed into a dual role of recognizing Mom, who in many families was the peacemaker.

Around 1907 things got really organized when Ana Jarvis from Philadelphia managed to establish a Mother's Day in honor of her passing Mother starting with her Church. She was a motivated daughter and managed to create local and national buzz to recognize an official national Mother's Day. She was the "IT" daughter of this era creating a now cherished holiday to recognize all Moms around the country, living and passed. By 1914 the event became a national holiday that we now celebrate on the 2nd Sunday of every May.

But what about today? How do we honor Moms who live far away from their beloved children? Thanks to national web-based services like GourmetStation, it's possible to arrange for a wonderful gourmet meal delivered right to Mom. Remember all the times she cooked for you? Now you can repay her with a simple click of a mouse. Delivered in stylized packaging Mom can enjoy a gourmet dinner delivered - Tastes of Tuscany or Flavors of France, for example. This treat can melt the miles between you and bring you close together. I know I did once and it still brings a tear to my eye. It's the next best thing to being there!

Mother's Day Poem


Posted: May 5, 2006
by: T.Alexander

Remember May 14th is Mother's Day and it's rapidly approaching. If you are seeking a special poem to include with your Mother's Day gift, consider this one. It's simple and sweet - something you might remember from grade school. But aren't those some of the best Mom memories?

If you're seeking a unique Mother's Day gift, remember GourmetStation and our wide selection of Mother's Day gourmet meals and gourmet dinners delivered. If you really want to pamper Mom we recommend our Dinner of the Month Program. Or you may choose a gourmet gift certificate and let Mom select her own cuisine & convenient delivery date.

A TRIBUTE TO YOU, MOTHER

M is for the million things you've done for me,

O means only you could understand,

T is for the tears you shed to save me,

H is for your heart of purest gold;

E is for your eyes, with love-light shining

R means right and right you'llalways be.

Put them together and they spell "Mother"

A word my dear that means the world to me.

Modified from original poem by Howard John (c1915)