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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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Finding Yourself In The Dog House?
Posted: August 27, 2006
If you're finding yourself in the Dog House these days GourmetStation might be as helpful as a conversation with a good friend. Looking for a unique food gift to find your way out of the Dog House? GourmetStation has the answer.
Now I can't tell you all the details just yet but in early September GourmetStation will be offering incentives and special menus to help you get out of the Dog House. Think how quickly you'll be "forgiven" with a 3 or 4 course gourmet meal delivered.
We're already having a lot of fun with this campaign. You'll receive $10.00 off for every order and at the same time GourmetStation will donate $10.00 for every order to dog rescue. The only requirement is that a special promo code be entered at online checkout. Check back right after Labor Day to get the code!
You might also want to enter our Get Out Of The Dog House Video contest. A short 2 minute video on how you got in and how you got out of the Dog House just might win you a GourmetStation Dinner of the Month program. Check our home page right after Labor Day for details. In the meantime, try & stay out of the dog house - at least until September until we can help you out!
Gourmet Gold Rewards - Earn A Free Dinner For Two
Posted: August 27, 2006
Have you heard the news from GourmetStation? We have a new rewards program. It's our way of thanking our loyal patrons and providing rewards for continued purchases. OK - I know. There are lots of rewards programs out there provided by all kinds of companies from airlines to banks. But our Gourmet Gold Rewards program has a personality all it's own - just like GourmetStation.
Patrons should register at this location. Each time they shop at GourmetStation they must log in to receive credits for their purchase. For each order they earn 1 credit and after accumulating 5 credits, they are entitled to a free gourmet dinner for two. The system keeps up with the number of points earned and after 5 points, loyal patrons receive an email gift certificate entitling them to a free gourmet dinner for two, including shipping. They may even redeem online immediately after receiving the certificate.
The Company even allows the certificate to be transferred so the patron may use the dinners for themselves or gift another. Plus the certificates never expire. How cool is that? So sign up today by clicking here. Or click here for more information. Bon Appetit!
Sparkling Wine From Around The Globe
Posted: August 23, 2006
Are you trying to cool off from the scorching heat of August, well make sure that next glass of wine is sparkling.
With higher acidity, delicate flavor, lower alcohol than most wine and that tingle on the tongue sparkling wine leaves you refreshed and wanting another bite of food or sip of wine. Sparkling wines can be served as an aperitif, at any meal, with any course. They may be white, pink or red. Bone dry, dry, fruity or sweet. Sparkling wines are produced in almost every wine-producing region in the world.
Spain: Cava, the name is derived from the catalan word for cellar, is bottle-fermented otherwise known as the traditional method or the method used for making sparkling wine in Champagne. It differs from champagne in the fact that cava is typically a blending of white grapes only, whereas champagne is normally a blending of red and white grapes. Made in the Penedes region, south of Barcelona the grapes used are the local macabeo, xarello, parellada and the traditionally French grape chardonnay. Rose is now being made with the addition of garnacha, monastrell and cabernet sauvignon. In the United States you now find sparkling wines from Spain made from Pinot Noir. Aria from Segura Viudas, produces both a non-vintage brut and rose from pinot noir that are excellent and good value.
Italy: One of the numerous sparkling wines of Italy prosecco is produced in the Veneto region just north of Venice. Prosecco is made predominately from the grape of the same name with small amounts of pinot bianco, pinot grigio and chardonnay added. The best grapes come from the hills between the villages of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. The prosecco grape is too delicate to survive the extended aging required by the traditional Champagne method without losing its freshness and aromatics. It is produced instead by the Charmat method, where the wine is pressurized in large stainless steel tanks and additional sugar is added to those tanks to encourage a second fermentation. Prosecco - is characterized by light, delicate bubbles and a flavor of apples, pears and almond on the finish. It is best known as the base for the cocktail Bellini and along with white peach juice made Harry’s Bar in Venice famous. Mionetto, Nino Franco and Zardetto are all reliable producers.
Germany: Sekt a German word that is the shortened substitute for Qualitatschaumwein or quality sparkling wine as defined by the European Union. Sekt is fruity and traditionally somewhat sweeter than sparkling wines from France, United States or Spain. They may be made using grapes from Italy, France, Spain or other European countries and are labeled very simply as dry (trocken) or medium-dry (halbtrocken) Its method of production is commonly Charmat. A small portion of the market is deutscher sekt and is made solely from German wine grapes. The wine is made in the brut or extra dry style and the bubbles come as a result of the Champagne method. Riesling is the grape of choice. Henkell Trocken and Deinhard are the easiest to normally locate of good value sekt and I have tasted some fine, refreshing sekt from Burklin-Wolf of the Pfalz.
Australia & New Zealand: The wine industry of Australia and New Zealand produce sparkling wines using the champagne method and use traditional French champagne grapes along with other grape varieties. A specialty of the Aussies is sparkling shiraz. This is a deep red sparkler with a fruity peppery aroma. The flavor is full-bodied with berries being the dominant taste with modest amounts of spice, vanilla and oak. It finishes with a hint of chocolate. Try matching this fizzy with barbequed lamb or even a chocolate dessert.
New Zealand known for making great pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay can naturally make great sparkling wine. New Zealand typically makes a wine with vibrant acidity and ripe fruit flavors these are two needed characteristics for good sparkling wine.
Sparkling wine needs the higher acidity to balance the flavors against the bubbles. Marlborough is the leading region for producing sparkling wine. Lindauer Brut NV is New Zealand’s most popular and most imported sparkler. For bang for the buck, it is hard to beat this sparkler from New Zealand.
Sparkling wine, no matter what you call it, simply the best summer wine you could imagine.
La Festa della Prima Comunione
Posted: August 19, 2006
Cooking creativity can best be developed in small classes or in one on one situations. This is certainly the case at Casa Bellavista. Edie and I have enjoyed the passion and enthusiasm Simonetta brings to the “marble top table” in her kitchen as she has shared some of her secrets of traditional Tuscan cooking with us. It is around this table we have learned how to prepare everything from antipasti to gnocchi and pasta to several “secondi” dishes and of course, dolci.
However, one of this year’s cooking experiences proved to be little different. We were honored to be guests during a family celebration in honor of Filippo, Simonetta and Guido’s son who was making his Prima Comunione. It has been said that when an Italian family gathers around the table with friends a celebration breaks out. We can testify that this is true. It is a celebration of food…family…and friends where joy abounds.
The Aperitivo for this family gathering included a Chianti Classico from Vignamaggio and aged pecorino cheese which Simonetta purchased from the “Porchetta Man” at the open market in the city of Cortona, not far from Casa Bellavista.
The Antipasti for this exciting festa included stuffed fried sage leaves. Freshly picked from the herb garden, the leaves are washed and dried. Then a bead of anchovy paste is pressed between two leaves of sage, which are then dipped in an egg batter. A brief time of frying in extra virgin olive oil blends the flavors into something that your taste buds will never forget.
Pappa al Pomadoro, a dish prepared from bread, plum tomatoes, various herbs, salt and pepper and of course, extra virgin olive oil, was served as the Primo Piatto. To prepare this dish, we diced an estimated five kilos of plum tomatoes. The pomadori, herbs, and extra virgin olive oil are cooked on the stovetop until soft and all the flavors have blended together. Then, the bread is added and they are all cooked together for a little longer. Its’ herbed flavors formed a perfect compliment to the Vignamaggio Terra di Prenzano wine served with it.
The Secondo Piatto was the crowning touch to this wonderful festa. Thick, succulent Val di Chiana beefsteak was grilled to perfection. The beef, thinly sliced, plated with a helping of Tuscan Beans and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil was a secondo piatto “second to none”.
A dolce of torta di limone and the customary cafe espresso and grappa brought the evening’s festa to a perfect conclusion.
The day was fantastic! The excitement of a trip to market - a great experience…helping prepare the foods – a cooking lesson beyond comparison…observing a family celebrating itself around la tavola, under the Tuscan stars…priceless. (Apologies to MasterCard).
Zucchinis and Eggplants and Grapes…Oh My!
Posted: August 16, 2006
Having grown up with gardens as a child, filled with assorted vegetable plants, I always recognized August as a month when it seemed the whole world had been taken over by zucchini and eggplants.
Tomatoes were my favorite, sometimes eaten fresh and warm from the garden, with a little salt for added flavor. But it was the zucchini and eggplants that seemed to be everywhere. First off, the vines would be taking over the rest of the garden space and their orange blossoms were the precursors to zucchini in varying lengths that ultimately were lying about everywhere.
What with the warm summer temperatures and abundant rainfall in southern Ohio summers, the size seemed to double over night. At a certain point they became so large, that it was problematic as to what to do with them. Well that solution was solved when my Dad introduced the zucchini boat to us. No, “Zucchini Boats” weren’t something you floated in, like the giant pumpkins that people hollow out and try to sail on cold October mornings for the morning news. No, these were an edible version of a boat and here is how to make your own:
One giant Zucchini (preferably about 18 inches or more: the bigger and fatter the better)
Slice very carefully in half-lengthwise
Scoop out shallowly any seedy content- leaving you with firm zucchini flesh
Fill a shallow pan with water and place the zucchini in them
Bake on 350 for awhile (45 minutes)…till the insides become sorta tender
Remove from oven
In the interim:
Lightly Brown some ground beef, turkey or buffalo with some diced onions (ostrich if you are into the exotic)
Place the browned ground into the scooped out areas of the zucchini boats
Layer thinly sliced tomatoes on top
Top with your favorite cheese (pepper jack- mozzarella –cheddar)
Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper
Tent with aluminum foil…bake for another 15-20 minutes
When ready…slice the width dependent on the appetite of your guests
While that is happening…take some eggplants from the garden…slice
Sprinkle with salt…blot after 5 minutes
Drizzle with olive oil ..sprinkle with sea salt….and splash with a few crushed red peppers
Place on grill and cook until tender to your fork
You now have a colorful summertime meal with late summer bounty out of your own garden…the best of summer! Now sit back, enjoy your meal and take a sip from a wine from some of those nice grapes, that you let someone else grow! Pinot Grigio anyone?
Self Timing Egg Is On The Way
Posted: August 16, 2006
What’s the BEIS? The British Egg Industry Council. The BEIS distributes leaflets and recipe books, nutrition and food safety information, recipes and specific materials for the general public, teachers, caterers, health professionals and students. Here’s a press release that’s sure grab the attention of egg lovers!
Scientists are close to cracking the age old problem of cooking your boiled egg just right…step aside the clock and the running sand granules – here comes the self-timing egg. Using the latest heat sensitive technology, Lion Quality egg producers tasked boffins to create a foolproof way to guarantee the yolk comes out the way you want it - soft, medium or hard boiled - every time. Carrying a special label, the egg goes into your pan as normal and when it is perfectly cooked the Lion logo appears as if by magic confirming your chosen preference.
“We are still perfecting the technology, but we are very excited at the prospect of sorting a problem that has wound people up at breakfast time for decades,“ said Gilly Beaumont of B&H Colour Change.
Thanksgiving Dinner In August
Posted: August 13, 2006
Who said it’s never to early to start the planning process? What culture on earth is more organized, punctual and attentive to detail than the British? Well, Robert Jackson at Gourmet-Food-Revolution is sharing a bit of that with you right now.
Gourmet-Food-Revolution is exactly what it says…a resource to help you learn how to participate in the ever-changing food world - all the way from gourmet food merchants to personal chefs. Some meals are better made at home by the family however – such as Thanksgiving Dinner. Robert is going to help you achieve the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner, detail by detail.
I especially like Robert’s planning process segmented into tasks that should be done 3 days, 2 days, 1 day before your event. This makes the process so much less stressful than starting the dinner the day before. For example, if using a frozen turkey, take it out to thaw 3 days ahead. Stuffing can be prepared 2 days ahead, but gravy only 1 day ahead. And of course delicate items like pumpkin pie chantilly must be made the morning of.
I must be honest – I do not think I can wait until November to try these wonderful recipes, especially the pumpkin pie chantilly. Who said we cannot show a little thankfulness in August? Thanks Robert – can’t wait for Christmas dinner. We’ll practice on that on in September!
Diva's Chocolate Ice Cream - Inspired By Johnny Depp
Posted: August 9, 2006
My friend Toby Bloomberg, the Diva marketer herself, never fails to surprise me with treats from her kitchen. Last year I was introduced to Toby's homemade chocolate ice cream. Oh my goodness - I have never experienced anything so delightful, especially in these hot summer months. Well Toby surprised me again a couple of weeks ago and this time I had to ask - "what is your secret to making this sensational chocolate ice cream?" I should have known that the story behind the ice cream was as exceptional as the ice cream itself. I'll let Toby tell you. Enjoy!
One of my favorite films is Chocolat. Wonderful story, acting, cinema shots of the French countryside and of course .. Johnny Depp! You might say this was inspired by Johnny ;-) The main character, Vianne Rocher played beautifully by Juliette Binoche, opens a chocolaterie in a small French village.
During the course of the film she explains how to enhance chocolate. I incorporated some of those into my chocolat ice cream. Here's the recipe along the secret extras for
Diva's Chocolat Ice Cream:
1 c whole chocolate milk
2 c heavy cream - chilled
1/2 c granulated sugar
8 ounces of very good chocolate (semi sweet, bittersweet, milk chocolate - your choice. I like to mix them up.)
1 T pure vanilla extract - or to taste
1 T cold coffee
1/8 - 1/4 t chili powder
1/8 - 1/4 t cinnamon
In a blender or food processor chop/pulse the chocolate and sugar until chocolate is very fine. Heat the chocolate milk until barely bubbling around the edges and pour into the chocolate and sugar mixture. Add the chili powder, cinnamon and coffee and process until well blended and Very smooth. Transfer to a bowl and cool the mixture completely.
Add the chilled heavy cream and vanilla. Chill for at least 60 minutes. Longer is better to allow the flavors to blend.
Strain into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's directions about 25-30 minutes. I sometimes add additional chocolate during the last 5 minutes of mixing.
Pour into freezer containers. Chill until firm and Enjoy! Toby
Medici Renaissance Pork – Delicious Dinner Gift Idea
Posted: August 6, 2006
The most fun about working at GourmetStation is product development – without a doubt! My favorite job is sampling cheesecakes and we have some zingers coming available soon. The team works hard to keep a variety of entrees, especially for those patrons who are the recipient of our Dinner of the Month programs. Lots of variety including selections from many protein sources is our goal – pasta, chicken, seafood, beef, and pork.
Recently the team hit an idea drought – much like the rest of the country this August. We were looking for a pork entrée for our Tuscan 3 course dinner. Rather than labor over the issue I contacted our good friend Simonetta at the Tuscan bed and breakfast, Casa Bellavista. Simonetta gives cooking classes on authentic Tuscan dishes and I knew she would have an idea. We were right and we thank Simonetta for steering us to the Medici Renaissance Pork entrée.
Simonetta reminded us that during Renaissance times the Medici family (isn’t their family crest to die for) used quinces to sweeten pork dishes. We had worked with the quince cousin pears, but never with quinces so R&D had a new challenge. The end result was worth the work. We found a slightly sweet quince spread that is lightly buttered over a lean western style pork chop. The next layer is a light brown gravy. The toppings are whole organic garlic, golden raisins and Kalamata olives. This sensational new pork entrée served with our new Tuscan oven roasted veggies with rosemary.
This entrée is offered as a delightful dinner gift or meal gift under our three course Tuscan dinners for two. If you would like to purchase this item separately in quantity for a dinner party, just call 1-888-944-9794 between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Eastern time.
Again, thank you Simonetta!
Rhubarb Barb - A Tart Sensation
Posted: August 2, 2006
Growing up as a child, one of my strongest recollections about desserts was the tart taste of rhubarb pie. My grandmother made them, my father had a liking for them and he continued the tradition. Unfortunately, living in tropical, Mediterranean and desert climates as I have for the last 15 years, is not terribly conducive to growing rhubarb, which likes damper, wetter and cooler growing conditions.
So I had to forget that wonderful dessert taste sensation, until I discovered that a friend from Ohio, living in sunny California would stalk the grocery stores looking for rhubarb to make its annual appearance.
Her name is Barb …her mission rhu-Barb. Actually the word rhubarb dates back to early Latin times and referred to an area where the plant grew and on the other side of the river, no man’s land as it were, where the “barb”- arians lived. Not meant to be disparaging about the taste of rhubarb!
Now Barb and I go back “aways” …what with us being lifeguards at the local Greene Valley Recreation Club in Beavercreek, Ohio, back in circa “never mind”. She had that Midwest – upper Midwest up bringing and pies were a natural part of her baking heritage.
Barb is a purist, she doesn’t fuss up her rhubarb pie with other fruits as many other recipes do, masking the tart flavor with, of all things strawberry infusions. She also reminded me that she has a rhubarb pie in her freezer, just waiting for me to drop by her greater LA home.
That and a recent reference to rhubarb pies in the “Prairie Home Companion” movie by “Rhonda and Yolanda” , fictional characters played by Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin, sparked my interest in sharing this wonderfully tart treat. So nice to eat in the summer, if you have a friend with one in the freezer for you!
So here it goes…Barb’s version of rhubarb pie!
And remember…you always have the option this summer of turning to GourmetStation to come up with some excellent dessert choices for your afternoon or evening soirées. My favorites are the Chocolate-raspberry cheesecake, Crème Brule cheesecake and Praline Pecan cheesecake. So take a look and find your favorites, there are many other options sure to catch your imagination and provide that special summer memory.