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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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EsentiaTours - Return of Personalization
Posted: September 30, 2006
Personal attention is a luxury these days; something special to give and receive. Personal attention is our goal at GourmetStation. Many businesses opt for a large scale, one-size-fits-all approach. That’s not our appraoch nor is it the approach of EsentiaTours. If your recent vacations have left you feeling like herded sheep, read on about EsentiaTours. Here's how they define themselves.
"EsentiaTours is a small travel agency specializing in authentic culinary experiences for the discerning traveler. Our belief is that the best way to access a culture is through its food. Come with us on a journey that will indulge your palate, sate your hungers and stimulate your senses."
There are a few key words here that work for me....small, authentic and discerning. I also happen to agree with EsentiaTours that understanding the food of a region is truly understanding culture.
From November 5 - 9, 2006 you can participate in the good life with these fine people by participating in their Spanish culinary tour designed to understand and experience olive oil. Olive oil is the focus because of the time of year and harvest, but there's much more to experience than just olive oil on this tour. Arrival is at the Barcelona airport where a private car waits to whisk you away to a countryside home and wine tasting hosted by Helena (more about Helena in a second). Cooking classes, a visit to an olive oil farm, market visits, a bread-making session and cheese making workshop are just part of the fun. There's even an olive-stuffing workshop where you enjoy the cheese that you made the prior day. Additional workshops include quince past and marmalade making for the gourmands that really want to get hands-on.
So what's the draw for you? The notion of a Spanish culinary excursion? Wine and cheese? I'll tell you what it is for me. The people behind the scenes that have the passion and imagination to put together a company and series of tours on this level. Meet Helena Garriga, a native of Girona who recently returned to Catalunya after living in New York City for ten years. She is joined by Jess Shaefer, a writer and aspiring polyglot who acts as the company's representative in New York.
Now the rest is up to you. Check it out. Take time to smell the roses, or stuff the olive if you would. You deserve it!
Ruscuisine.com - More Than Borscht
Posted: September 24, 2006
Today when I think about my growing up in a fearful world separated by politics and cold war (yes, I'm telling my age) I think about lost opportunities to share customs and culture, especially food culture.
Such is the case with Russia. As I grew up in the 1950's and 60's, I loved Russia. Communism and cruel politics kept us from the truth, but Hollywood let me see a glimpse of Russia in Doctor. Zhivago. That was all I needed to begin my romance with Russia, cold war or not.
I have a friend who journeyed with her father to Moscow and returned with stories about warm people, a beautiful country, splendid architecture, and delicious food. If you can't travel to Russia at the moment, travel vicariously through a wonderful site I've round called RusCuisine.com.
The site is not just about cuisine. It touches on history, dress, and other traditions. For example, click here and you can purchase a beautiful authentic Russian dress. If you are a history enthusiast, you might enjoy this brief account of Peter the Great and the enlightened city of St. Petersburg.
But back to food for a moment - after all that's what Delicious Destinations is all about. The Russian recipes are well organized into categories such as appetizers, breads - even a wild game section. The recipe I've selected to highlight is most fitting for this time of year, Borscht from Kiev. To make this recipe correctly you are instructed to make your own stock so go for it. Bring a little of Russian into your kitchen today with RusCuisine.
Romance Menu From Gourmet Food Revolution
Posted: September 20, 2006
Would you care to guess what’s the most sought after idea on our blog and web site? Romance ideas. Now if we stand back a bit, I suppose it comes as no surprise. Cupid doesn’t wait until February 14th to strike. Lovers and would be lovers are seeking romantic dinner ideas every day to make an impression on their heartthrob.
I’m going to make your life easier. Our friend Robert Jackson at Gourmet Food Revolution has given you a full guide to romantic dinner ideas. His romantic dinner recipe goes far beyond “how to.” Robert even gives you history, trivia and dinner table chitchat. Don’t wait until next Valentines Day to pull off a romantic dinner at home. Start today.
Oysters Rockefeller – Rich in taste, rich in history. Click on this link and learn the connection of oysters and the Rockefeller family.
Chateaubriand With Portobello Mushrooms & Madeira Wine Jus – What’s the relationship of a small roast to the famous chef Montmireil? Click this link and find out. (If you can’t hire a butler for your romantic dinner, just read on.)
Chocolage & Cointrea Mousse - Chocolate was a favorite of Montezuma, Emperor of Mexico, who was said to indulge in goblets for aphrodisiac reasons before entering his harem. No wonder chocolate is the dessert flavor of choice for romantics.
They Aren’t Your Momma’s Italian Wines
Posted: September 16, 2006
I’ve spent a lot of time learning about Italian wines this year and have really developed a taste for them. In the last ten years or so, Italy has been producing wines of real quality versus quantity. That being said, Italy still produces and exports more wine than any other country and it also offers the greatest variety of grape types. Grapes are grown and wine is made throughout all of Italy.
There have been several wineries that have fascinated me. What I taste is a sense of purity or terroir, profound commitment to tradition, but also the creation and development of modern winemaking techniques, and above all balance, complexity and bouquet. The wines are delicious!
Fabrizio Bianchi and his daughter Laura are the owners of Castello Monsanto in the Chianti region. Fabrizio is one of the pioneers in the modern revolution of Chianti making. He fought to eliminate white grapes from the Chianti Classico blend was the first in the region to replant in the best clone of Sangiovese, Grosso and was using water-cooled stainless steel fermenters when most winemakers were still using wooden vats.
Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2001 has sweet cherry, leather, espresso and violets on the nose. The wine is very smooth, with a silky texture and flavor of red berry fruits, spice and leather. Elegant with good length and balanced acidity. It should drink well from 2006-2012.
Agricola Masi is one of the most respected and famous wineries in the Veneto. The history of the winery dates back to the 18th century by the Boscaini family’s acquisition of “Vaio di Masi” Valley close to Verona. The winery evolved gradually purchasing the best vineyards available in the Veneto. Masi also manages the historic estate of the Serego Alighieri family, descendants of the poet Dante. If a vintage is unworthy of the Masi label the wine is sold in bulk.
Masi is known for their Amarone’s, however I suggest you try Masianco.
Masi Masianco 2005 is a blend of Verduzzo (20%) and Pinot Grigio (80%). The native Verduzzo grape is allowed to further ripen on bamboo racks for three weeks to allow for better concentration of fruit. The color is an intense straw yellow with a bouquet characterized by pineapple, banana, mineral and a delicate honey note. The palate is creamy and round with an underlying spine of mineral and fresh citrus mid-palate. Almond and honey flavors are on the long finish. I find it to be a wonderful aperitif and especially good with a medley of seafood on pasta with herbs.
Livio Felluga, up in Italy’s temperate Northeast otherwise known as Friuli grows Pinot Grigio, Friulano, Sauvignon other crisp whites, reds such as Merlot and a wonderful sweet wine from the Picolit grape. The Felluga family is known for elegance and balance in their wines, but I think the wines stand out for their incredible aroma and bouquet.
Their wine Terre Alte is one of Italy’s most prestigious white wines and a blend of Fruilano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon and made for fish dishes.
Livio Felluga’s Pinot Grigio is a white burgundy lovers wine. It truly sets the standard for all Pinot Grigio produced in the world. Livio Felluga Colli Orientali del Friuli Pinot Grigio 2004 is straw yellow with a nose of orange blossom, citrus, delicate tropical fruit flavors and mineral. Full-bodied for pinot grigio with a good acidic balance and mineral dryness. Long persistent finish. Works especially well with seafood, risottos and vegetable dishes.
In closing, I would suggest any or several of the previous wines as a perfect partner with GourmetStation Tuscan gourmet gifts.
Seasoned Skewers Add A Little Flavor To Seafood Kabobs
Posted: September 14, 2006
The next time you're planning a little dinner party & you want something new & different to talk about, ask you guests to remove the skewer sticks from their seafood kabobs & take a 2nd look (or smell as it may be). This is not your Father's grilling / skewer stick. Read on. Below is an excerpt from Money Magazine on innovative food ideas from this summer's Fancy Food Show.
The idea: When you make skewers out of birch wood rather than the usual bamboo, Seattle-based Callison's discovered, flavors added to the wood can seep into the skewered food during cooking. Callison's flavors include garlic herb and Indian mango curry. The skewers don't add sodium or fat, so the 103-year-old company is exploring a partnership with the American Diabetes Association.
"People say, 'Why didn't I think of that?'" says Damon Smith, president of Callison's food division. Up next: sweet skewers for fruit and seasoned planks for barbecues.
The debut: The skewers were launched in May; the company estimates 2006 sales of about $2 million.
Steinke's verdict: "It's innovative, but it sounds like a summer-only product. You'd only use it for barbecue or kabobs, so the market isn't as big as it would be for a marinade. The projections for this year are modest but right on."
GourmetStation, Provider Of Upscale Food Gifts, Announces Get Out Of The Dog House Video Contest
Posted: September 10, 2006
I told you something was cookin' at GourmetStation. Now just tell me - who hasn't been in the dog house from time to time? We've got some solutions for you guys & gals. Share your Get Out Of The Dog House story on video and you might win a dinner of the month certificate. Purchase any item at Gourmetstation - you save $10 and we donate $10 to dog rescue! Just enter dh06 in the promo code box at online checkout. Details in the press release below. Enjoy...
GourmetStation, the leading national merchant for gourmet dinners, upscale prepared meals and fine gourmet food gifts delivered nationally is now accepting entries for its Get Out Of The Dog House video contest.
(PRWEB) September 9, 2006 -- GourmetStation announced they are accepting entries for a video contest designed around the theme -- Get Out Of The Dog House. Contestants are requested to submit a short under 2-minute video on how they got in and how they got out of the Dog House with family, friends or associates. Comedian Jed Fearon explains it best in this video. Click here. Entries close 11:59 PM ET October 7, 2006 and will be judged by comedian and consumer judges. Winners will be announced October 30, 2006. The top three winners will receive a 12, 6 or 3 month Dinner Of The Month Club certificate from GourmetStation. Visit the GourmetStation web site for details.
GourmetStation is also offering $10 off every order during the Dog House promotion period plus the company is donating $10 to dog rescue. To take advantage of the $10 savings and $10 donation, purchasers must enter a promo code that is posted on the GourmetStation home page. The company has also developed a promotional page on MySpace explaining more about dog rescue with a slide show of rescued Borzoi (Russian Wolfhounds) that have been adopted or are available for adoption. Anyone may submit a picture of their dog for posting on the My Favorite Pooch dog slide show.
"We are thrilled about this campaign. It's light hearted, fun and gives people the opportunity to share their Get Out Of The Dog House stories in video" says Donna Lynes-Miller, Founder & President of GourmetStation. "We are also pleased to partner with the National Borzoi (Russian Wolf Hound) Foundation, a grass roots organization dedicated to finding homeless Borzoi (Russian Wolfhounds) loving homes. Our donation of $10 for every order with the Dog House code will go a long way in helping these fine people continue their good work"
Internationally-themed three and four course gourmet meals are delivered anywhere in the United States. Deep-chilled gourmet dinners require only 30 minutes preparation and four course dinners also include European blend coffee or organic tea, after-dinner candy, floating candle and matches. Prices for multi-course dinners for two range from $69.99 to $99.99. Gourmet gift certificates, including Dinner of the Month certificates, are ideal for birthdays and anniversaries. For more information, visit GourmetStation.com or call 1-888-944-9794.
Dinner Party Etiquette For The 21st Century!
Posted: September 3, 2006
Dinner party etiquette, and indeed the subject of etiquette in general is wrapped up and disguised in layer upon layer of old school tradition! Here at Gourmet Food Revolution, I intend to dispel some of the mystique of dinner party etiquette. Here you will find easy, commonsense advice and tips to help you through any modern day formal or semi-formal dinner occasion. Whether you happen to be hosting a party or attending as a guest, this information is for you……………this is dinner party etiquette for the new millennium!
Even in today’s fast and ever changing lifestyle, there is one very simple skill which if we don’t already possess, can easily be learned that is guaranteed to get you through even the most trying social occasion – good manners! Yes, something as simple as politeness and good manners will make up ten fold for any lack of etiquette know-how.
And if you are not sure if your manners are good enough, pick a role model and compare your behaviour with them. This could be someone well known on screen or television, or perhaps a friend, colleague or business associate. Pay attention to how they behave around other people. Learn from them!
Learn to be confident in yourself. Unease and nervousness in social occasions will undoubtedly make you feel uncomfortable and thus more prone to unnatural behaviour. A good tip before any important occasion is to go somewhere quiet on your own and sit or preferably, lay down. Close you eyes – and relax by taking long, slow, deep breaths. Then in your imagination, see yourself at that social event looking calm and confident. Imagine yourself interacting comfortably with other guests – you are a total success! Feel the experience – really let it sink in. This type of mental programming will assist you tremendously.
As host or dinner guest, never allow yourself to be persuaded into believing that the more you spend, the greater the impression you will make! That may be true in certain (frivolous!) circles of society, but it is generally not so, and it is certainly quite unnecessary. Spend only that which you can comfortably afford. If you would like more detailed guidance on dinner table etiquette, click here.
Dinner Party Etiquette - Myths and Unnecessary Trivia
What rules? There are no rules!!
We hear a great deal about rules of etiquette, as though they were written in stone somewhere, or part of the Constitution! What is acceptable to one person or one society may be totally unacceptable to another. If you must live by rules, then develop your own list of rules! Rules of etiquette steeped in history and tradition have very little real relevance in today’s society.
Some folk firmly believe that unless you come from a background of substantial wealth and a particular upbringing, then you are automatically excluded from certain social choices. This is completely, and utterly, ridiculous! In my profession, I have performed the role of Butler at numerous very grand and formal social occasions for the wealthy and upper classes. And I do not exaggerate when I say that on occasions, the behaviour of some of those attending was truly appalling. Social background, education and wealth are no guarantees of good manners and proper behaviour!
Often a dinner host or hostess believes that the more complex the menu, the more extravagant the occasion, the more elaborate the table setting ……the more he or she will impress the guests! That is far from the reality! A simple yet stylish, well executed dinner party delivered with thought, care and attention, will achieve a far greater result……..for a lot less stress!
Dress code? Just as there are no rules in modern day entertaining, there is also…..no dress code! However, if it’s a formal affair and the host has clearly indicated a dress style (black tie, lounge suits, smart casual etc) then clearly, the dinner guest should respect that. As a host however, do consider carefully whether such a stipulation is really necessary. The trend these days is very much towards casual dining and generally speaking, most dinner guests will be more relaxed in that situation.
Dinner Party Etiquette - Social Behaviour
If you are hosting a dinner party, use yourself as an example of what you consider to be acceptable social behaviour. Most dinner guests will take their lead from you – and if they don’t, they probably shouldn’t be there and are unlikely to be invited again!
The art of conversation! The successful dinner party host should always encourage lively and varied conversation with honest opinions being expressed and shared. However, proper dinner party etiquette should encourage avoiding sensitive issues or subjects that some guests may find uncomfortable. As a considerate dinner host, if such a conversation is under way, discreetly interject and carefully change the subject. Or if that fails, interrupt by introducing the next course!
For both the dinner host and guest, excessive behaviour of any sort is to be avoided. That should include excessive drinking, excessive talking (being overbearing!), excessive joke telling (particularly bad ones!!) and even excessive eating! A healthy appetite is to be enjoyed, over indulgence however, is not an endearing feature!
To smoke, or not to smoke? Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the host or hostess to dictate on this. As smoking becomes less and less acceptable publicly, it is quite unacceptable to do so at a dinner table unless expressly invited to do so. It can be a sensitive issue. Personally, I would advise that the host makes another room available (perhaps where after dinner coffee will be served) for any guest wishing to smoke. Again, there are no strict rules on this subject – as dinner host, you must make this choice for your guests. If you would like more detailed guidance on table setting etiquette, click here.
Dinner Party Etiquette - Place and Table Setting
The days of making an impression by setting out enormous and extravagant place settings with numerous pieces of (sometimes confusing!) cutlery and glassware for an excessively long menu are thankfully, largely over. Keep the setting simple by putting in place only that which is required up to and including the main course. Cutlery for any following courses can acceptably be provided as the dinner progresses and concludes.
Excessively large, elaborate table decorations and expensive, hall marked tableware are quite unnecessary (unless ofcourse they are family heirlooms!). A simple yet thoughtfully styled table using the best that you own and can afford can be very affective. Don’t be led into the trap of believing that your table must look like something off the front of a glossy home design magazine! I said earlier that there are no rules. Well infact there is one golden rule………..keep it simple!
If you are hosting a large dinner party, then a table plan and place cards are essential. For a smaller party however, avoid such unnecessary protocol. Simply, casually direct dinner guests to sit where you would prefer them to.
This is dinner party etiquette for the 21st century. All of the above is no more than plain, common sense! And it is also about behaving responsibly and not offensively!
As a final word, please remember that the true art of entertaining has one prime goal………..that of pleasure! It should be enjoyed by host and guest alike. So at all costs, avoid being overly concerned about what is “right, and what is “wrong”. Do what you feel is right ……..and if you do happen to make the odd gaff - as long as you carry it off with grace, honesty and humility, you will happily survive the day! After all, it is only a dinner party! Relax…………..and enjoy!
Coffee and Conservation
Posted: September 1, 2006
If you’re looking for a resource to identify coffee producers that are environmentally and socially conscious, here you go. Coffee and Conversation. This particular post discusses Cafe Femenino Peru – “Out of Peru comes a story of strength, unity and hope. A new niche coffee, Cafe Femenino Peru, has evolved that is changing the role of women in rural coffee communities.”
A similar coffee is not available from Mexico - "...grown, processed and traded exclusively by a group of women in southern Chiapas state. The women control the proceeds from the sale of their crop and are fully involved in planning for the next year. Grounds for Change will donate 25 cents for each pound of Cafe Femenino Mexico sold directly back to this women's coffee growing project.