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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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Old Fashioned Carrot Cake - Wins the Prize
Posted: January 27, 2007
It’s almost February. Has the guilt of eating too many luscious sweets over the holidays faded? If the answer is yes (it is for me) let’s look at a few yummy options.
Atlanta’s “The Sunday Paper” wrote about their 25 favorite desserts – “better than sex.” Yikes, that’s a tall claim. From Napoleone at Veni Vidi Vici to Almond Croissant at Alon’s, the list is quite impressive. The winner was almost Mount Everest Cake form the Metrotainment Bakery. Standing at eight layers and comprised of twenty pounds of chocolate and fudge, any chocolate lover should pay attention. But my pick was a little more conservative.
My winner of the 25 finalists? Old fashioned carrot cake comprised of four layers of moist, cinnamon cake studded with walnut and raisins…..available from OK Café at 1284 W. Paces Ferry Road in Atlanta. Go for it if you’re in town. The Sunday Paper calls the “lust factor” “the impossibly smooth cream-cheese icing pulls the whole package together.”
From where and how do you think carrot cake came into being? According to food historians, our modern day version probably descended from medieval carrot pudding enjoy across Europe. During the Middle Ages sweeteners were scarce and very expensive. So carrots were used to sweet cakes and desserts. (Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson). So there you go – a little history with your sweet passion. In the event you’re in the mood to whip up your own carrot cake, here is a great recipe.
Valentine Dinner Suggestions - From Gourmet Food Revolution
Posted: January 22, 2007
As Valentine’s Day approaches once more, the annual conundrum kicks off yet again…..what can I do to impress my significant other this year? My answer is simple, and always well received – make some extra effort to cook the very best romantic dinner for 2 that you can confidently accomplish!
And then ofcourse there are those little extras that will truly set the scene, create the right ambience and show that you truly care. Here are my top 10 “must-do’s” for creating a seductive and romantic atmosphere:
Now I would like to share with you a recipe for a main course which NEVER fails to impress.
Chateaubriand with Portobello Mushrooms and Madeira Wine Jus
1lb to 1 1/2lb (500g to 750g) center-cut beef fillet
2 large portobello mushrooms, washed & unpeeled
2 cloves garlic (optional)
4 tablespoons olive oil
Knob (small piece) of butter
1 tablespoon brandy
1/2 cup (4 fl oz) Madeira Wine (or red wine if you prefer)
salt and freshly milled black pepper
For this chateaubriand recipe, you will need a large cast iron or steel frying pan or skillet - one without a wooden or plastic handle that can go inside the oven. If you don't have one, use a medium size, lightly oiled heavy based roasting tin for the oven cooking, and a frying pan for the stove top cooking.
1. Preheat the oven to 445F, 230C, gas mark 8. If you are using a different pan for the oven cooking, put it in the oven to get really hot.
2. Season the chateaubriand with freshly milled black pepper.
3. Put the pan that you are using on the stove over a medium/high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Allow it to get very hot until it just starts to smoke.
4. Keeping the heat on high, add the beef fillet to the pan and quickly sear one side, and then the other. This should only take a minute or two at the most to achieve a crusty golden seal.
5. Now put the pan straight into the oven (or transfer to the preheated oven pan) on the middle shelf and roast for 10 to 15 minutes depending on how rare you like it.
6. While that's happening, cut the mushrooms into thick slices. If you are using the garlic (some folk prefer not to mix romance with garlic!), chop it finely. Now pour yourself a glass of wine.....and relax for a few minutes!
7. When the chateaubriand is ready, remove it from the oven and carefully transfer to a warmed plate and cover loosely with a piece of tin foil. Then leave it to rest for 15 minutes.
8. Reheat the stove top pan or skillet with about 2 tablespoons of the fat and juices from the beef pan. When it's hot, add a knob of butter.
9. Add the garlic to the pan and quickly stir through the hot fat to color slightly. Then add the sliced mushrooms and a seasoning of salt and freshly milled black pepper.
10. Now sauté the mushrooms for about 2 minutes turning frequently adding a little more oil if the pan becomes too dry.
11. Turn the heat up to maximum and deglaze the pan by adding the brandy If you are feeling like a professional chef by now (!), and you are heating by gas, tilt the pan towards the open flame to let it flambé.
12. Once the brandy has all but evaporated, turn the heat down to low and add the Madeira wine. Allow it to simmer gently and reduce for about a minute.
13 Carve the beef fillet in thick slice and arrange on a warm serving plate. Pile the mushrooms on top and drizzle the Madeira jus over.
And don’t forget to buy a nice bottle of wine to accompany your culinary creation! I would recommend a good quality Cabernet sauvignon. This wine is full of body and packed with intense flavors of blackberry, plum and spicy oak – a perfect accompaniment.
One final note. Valentine’s Day is a time when we should all appreciate and enjoy the love that we have found in our lives……so don’t spoil it by getting stressed out trying to be too adventurous in the kitchen! Keep it simple. “Cheat” a little and buy in the appetizer and dessert courses from a reputable supplier such as GourmetStation….no one need ever know your little “secret”!
“There is no sincerer love, than the love of food."
George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950
See my suggestion for a full three course Valentines Menu
Valentine Dinner Deliverd From GourmetStation
Posted: January 19, 2007
It's not too early to start thinking about what to do for a romantic Valentine dinner. If you wish to have an exceptional dinner deliverd this Valentines and let someone else do the shopping, chopping, and cooking - look no further. Enjoy this hot off the press release!
GourmetStation, the leading national merchant for gourmet dinners, upscale prepared meals and fine gourmet food gifts delivered nationally, announced the introduction of a new Valentine Dinner For Two – the Eiffel Tower Menu.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, GourmetStation announced they are accepting reservations for their Valentine Dinner Delivered – Eiffel Tower Menu. The menu has been designed with authenticity and convenience in mind. With about thirty minutes preparation time any romance seeker can enjoy a romantic Valentine dinner at the most comfortable place on earth – home. To sweeten the offer GourmetStation is offering free 2 day shipping in addition to two complimentary romance gifts.
The menu theme was conceived to allow the romantic couples to take an imaginary culinary journey to the most romantic place in the word – Paris. The Parisian menu for two consists of French baguettes, creamy mushroom and sherry wine soup, tomato basil soup, salmon en Croute, chicken Montrachet and Amaretto cheesecake. Euro blend coffee and after-dinner candy round out the Valentine dinner delivered with a complimentary Valentine poem and floating heart shaped candle. The menu for two with complimentary gifts is priced at $89.99 plus free 2 day shipping.
“We thoroughly enjoyed creating this year’s Valentine menu” says Donna Lynes-Miller, founder and President of GourmetStation, “Our goal is to remove the stress of Valentine dinner by delivering a romantic dinner experience right to our patron’s door.” Lynes-Miller went on to comment, “Leaving the shopping and cooking to GourmetStation allows romantics to enjoy each other’s company and after all, that’s what the evening is all about.”
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New York City Dining – Top Of The Heap
Posted: January 14, 2007
Taking advantage of business trips can often provide a great opportunity to savor some of the local flavor. In my case, a Multiple Sclerosis board meeting took me back to the east coast from Las Vegas. Coupled with a friends impending 60th birthday party in Manhattan, and aren’t I glad I am well over half a decade younger, I took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy two weeks in New York City.
First stop though, before the Big Apple, was a local fire department pancake fund raiser in central New Jersey…where I ended up seated next to a woman who had been a neighbor in Ohio to my Beavercreek High School English Lit teacher. Talk about a small world! A Tiffany’s executive who spends her weekends in New Jersey was my host and it was a great experience to see small town America so close to the Big Apple.
Once I made it town…Chelsea/The Meat Packing District/The Village, I started making the rounds. First stop:
The Red Cat
Dinner at The Red Cat is a quintessential New York dining experience. Eclectic yet simple décor, accented with full street windows in an 1882 Federal style town-home with a high energy level from the seated diners and bar patrons waiting for tables. The food is innovative, well prepared and ever changing. They have even launched a new Red Cat Cook Book, which I intend to pick up on my next trip. It features 125 recipes from what is self described as “New York City’s favorite neighborhood restaurant.” Featured in the ZAGAT guide and located at 227 10th Ave. New York, NY 10011 (212) 242 1122, The Red Cat should become your favorite neighborhood stop when in the city too. An easy walk from my friend’s NYC condo….what more could you want.
Well that would be …..Buddakahn
What a wonderful spot to go for a 60th birthday party dinner. Located in what was once the denizens of Manhattan, the Meat Packing district is now littered with glitterati, paparazzi, Stella McCartney’s store...and new condos, hotels and renovation everywhere. Buddakahn creates drama and spectacle by capitalizing on the massive space with Asian infusion styling…dramatic lighting and multi levels in the former meat packing warehouse. The bar is loud…well attended by the chic and well heeled and the food fits the mood. Subtle flavors, delectable appetizers and flavorful and skillfully prepared entrees, all Asian inspired, Buddakahn is what one would expect from a hip destination restaurant in Manhattan. Located at 75 9th Ave. New York, New York 10011 (212) 989 6699.
Warmth….atmosphere…cozy …and impressive Italian wine list were my first impressions of BellaVitae. We had a post celebratory group of 8 in the main dining area. It is, as I say, cozy, not overwhelming and puts you at ease. You can make meals off just ordering appetizers, they are that good and accented with the house specialties of unique olive oils and vinegars. The evening was highlighted when the birthday boy (at 60 are you still a birthday boy??) and his nieces serenaded me to the Beavercreek High School Fight Song… a very recent New York tradition they managed to do in every restaurant we went to…. Fear not though...gourmands seek BellaVitae out for the flavors and fine entrees…not the Rosner and the Rosnerettes serenades. Located at: 24 Minetta Lane Sixth Ave. New York, New York 212 473 5121
This is only one small sample of what was a fine two weeks of dining in Manhattan. I was lucky the Multiple Sclerosis Association, www.msaa.com board meeting was on the east coast around the time my friend Ed was turning 60. Maybe you know an aging boomer who turns 60 in 2007. They are the second wave…so go celebrate with them….while they last!
Soup Trends & Soup Gifts - Bound To Please
Posted: January 4, 2007
Specialty Food Magazine is a great source for fancy food trends. I just read an article in their November/December 2006 issued called “The New Look Of Soups: Hearty, Healthy, Ethnic.” And it starts out with a little cocky advice – “move over cream of mushroom.”
So what’s new with soups? Specialty Food Magazine based their opinion on research and here’s what they have to say about what’s new:
Ethnic flavors (like ramen Japanese noodles with a new twist / more on that subject)
Old classics made over (like chic ingredients added to say, cream of tomato soup)
More meat options
Heartier, healthier ingredients (so your favorite soup recipe become a new stew recipe)
Low sodium, high flavor (this trend gets my vote)
Specialty Magazine goes on to say “Chefs too are upping the ante, creating fresh buzz around certain soups by adding chic and artisanal ingredients. Hot restaurants such as Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City are redefining ramen, a Japanese noodle soup commonly known in America as a dried, instant product. The restaurant attracts long lines of every nationality waiting to eat ramen studded with high quality trendy ingredients such as Berkshire pork belly and locally grown Swiss chard.”
Which bring me to my next bit of exciting news. GourmetStation is offering free 2nd day shipping on their soup gifts through December 31, 2006. Not only does your gift recipient receive free shipping, they receive their gourmet food gift in a stylish cooler and the soup gift goes a little further than a soup gift. All configurations include six delicious soups ready to heat on the stovetop along with six mini baguettes and six bake your own gourmet cookies, like Amaretto, Cappuccino or Macadamia Nut. Delicious.
PASTA CON CAVOLFIORE
Posted: January 2, 2007
At Casa Bellavista , the tractors have come to harvest the sunflower fields of our friend Antonio.
The olive groves have given of their fruit and the olives, pressed by big stone wheels have produced a wonderful extra virgin olive oil, ready for use in “La Cucina di Casa Bellavista”.
A quiet coolness has settled in as the fall colors of the Tuscan countryside are etched in our memories. The time has come to turn our thoughts to creative cooking as we have a bit more time to spend in “la cucina”.
One of the beauties of traditional Tuscan cooking lies in the ingredients that make up the recipes. It is the practice of Tuscan cooks to use fresh ingredients that combine simple flavors and tastes. Pasta Con Cavolfiore is one of the recipes we use in cooking lessons at Casa Bellavista. The beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity. It is an appropriate recipe to share with readers of GourmetStation blog posts.
PASTA CON CAVOLFIORE
Ingredients: (4 persons)
Heat the oil in a pan; add the chopped celery, parsley and garlic. Clean and cut the cauliflower into pieces and add to the pan. Then add the white wine and the anchovy filets. Cook slowly, adding the cauliflower water. Mix until creamy.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until aldente. Drain the pasta and mix it with the cauliflower cream. Add grated pecorino and a dribble of oil. Serve.
This is a simple recipe, yet it is a good taste, especially when the pasta is fresh made.
We hope that all of your readers have a wonderful year for 2007 and that they enjoy the fine foods from GourmetStation and that maybe once in a while they will try a recipe from Casa Bellavista.
Happy New Year 2007 From GourmetStation
Posted: January 1, 2007
2006 was our first full year of blogging and we've had a ball. Thanks to all our readers and thanks to those that took the time to stop by and leave comments. Blogging has provided a useful and interesting platform for GourmetStation to chat about dining tips, food, and culinary traditions from around the world. So we'd like to take this opportunity on New Years Day 2007 to thank a few people.
Toby Bloomberg (I affectionately refer to Toby as Blog Queen) introduced GourmetStation to the notion of blogging. She has been "God Mother" to Delicious Destinations since our launch and we thank her for her wisdom and patience.
I'd also like to thank our wonderful guest bloggers who bring much wit, perspective and great information on the subjects of food and wine.
Susan Anderson - Susan is Atlanta based and knows more about wine and spirits than any human I've ever known. We are very fortunate to have blog contributions from someone like Susan with so much knowledge and experience in the hospitality industry. Thank you Susan for your wonderful insights.
Dave & Edie Galusha and Simonetta Demarchi – This is our Tuscan trio. Dave & Edie live in historic Connecticut, but visit Tuscany frequently. They enjoy cooking classes with Simonetta at Casa Bellavista – a lovely Tuscan B&B that I’ve been trying to visit for two years. Dave also has a lovely photography site where he captures the heart of Tuscany. Thanks to our trio.
Robert Jackson – Robert is from the UK and has his own website, Gourmet Food Revolution. His passion for food and entertaining explode on this wonderful site. You can learn it all – from dinner party planning to table etiquette to preparing a seasonal feast. Thank you Robert.
Mark Stine – Mark is our US based galloping gourmet. I have known Mark for many years and marveled at his energetic passion for travel, dining, and entertaining. One of Mark’s talents is to take any city – doesn’t matter where – and find the coolest restaurant like a blood hound! Thanks Mark for your contributions.
The Team at GourmetStation and I wish you a prosperous and wonderful 2007!