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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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Cajun Cuisine - Great Gourmet Food Gift
Posted: February 25, 2007
This is the time of year when I start to crave Cajun cuisine. The weather is still cool and the warmth of the stews, boulet, bouille and café Noir seem “right.” Some believe that Cajuns live to eat. I think they simply eat to enjoy life and have found a truth in their food - when married with Zydeco style music and a party, make for an exceptionally good time.
There is some confusion between Cajun and Creole cuisine. Great chefs are keen on the subtle differences, but most of us foodies might have a hard time distinguishing the difference. Creole dishes are said to be more “continental” while Cajun food is more seasoned, possibly spicy, and hearty. I guess that’s a way of saying that Cajun cuisine is more regionally focused as some original dishes were centered around locally procured wild game, rice and other regional ingredients.
Two essentials to preparing Cajun cuisine are the “holy trinity” of onions, bell peppers and celery and a well used black cast iron pot. There’s your beginning – all you need.
If you don’t have time to shop, chop and cook, try GourmetStation’s line up of Cajun cuisine. Whether you’re craving a little Cajun gumbo for yourself or a 4 course Cajun gourmet dinner for two, we’ve got you covered. One of our more popular Cajun gourmet food gifts is our Gumbo in Boule….two sourdough boules, two servings of chicken & andouille sausage gumbo, and bake your own chocolate & caramel cookies for dessert.
The idea is to hollow out the center of the boule, making a soup bowl out of the break. (Don’t throw away the bread – you can find a million uses later on.) Fill the hollowed boule with delicious gumbo and you’ve got a meal fit for the Mardi Gras king.
As they say – Ah C’est Bon!
Oregon Truffle Festival
Posted: February 18, 2007
Just as the Oregon white truffle begins to reach its peak of ripeness in its native soil, the second annual Oregon Truffle Festival in Eugene, Oregon began during the winter days of January 26th to the 28th. Very timely, because a lot of fresh truffles were served over that weekend.
It is the first festival of its kind in North America, dedicated to sharing the experience of the growers, chefs, foragers and food and wine lovers of Oregon’s wild truffles from their hidden source under the magnificent Douglas Fir tree to their glory on the table.
Included in the three day event were truffle hunting in the woods or foraging, dog training demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, winery tours, and elaborate meals with some of Oregon’s top chefs and a truffle marketplace. For the want-to-be or the truffle farmer the festival offered truffle cultivation seminars taught by European experts that in two days covered the essentials necessary for US truffle farmers to succeed.
For the food and wine lover, Friday night offered a series of available dinners using truffles. I attended a four-course dinner at Pfeiffer Vineyards with Guest Chef Stu Stein of Terroir Restaurant and Wine Bar in Portland, Oregon and hosted by Danuta and Robin Pfeiffer two of the warmest most entertaining host I have ever met. I thought the stand outs in this dinner were the Pfeiffer Vineyards ‘Blue Dot Reserve’ Pinot Noir 2005 and a Goat Cheese and Oregon white truffle cheesecake that showcased the flavor of the white truffle better than anything I could imagine.
Saturday began at King Estate Vineyards with a tour of the estate and winery. King Estate is committed to using organic and Estate grown produce, practicing sustainable agriculture, and supporting the local community. A cooking demonstration followed with Executive Chef Dustin Clark of Wildwood Restaurant in Portland who made a risotto with the main ingredients being Dungeness crab, pink grapefruit, mascarpone cheese and shaved white truffle. I was totally satisfied with the risotto but on to the truffle luncheon. A superb luncheon followed showcasing the wines of King Estate and the Oregon truffle. After lunch, we departed for a truffle foray and dog training demonstration at Shirewood Farms. After a little education on truffle hunting we were allowed to hunt for them under the Douglas Fir trees. My truffle-hunting partner and I actually found four white truffles the size of quarters.
The signature event of the Oregon Truffle Festival is the Grand Truffle Dinner Saturday evening featuring James Beard award winning chefs and wines from Oregon. It benefits students of the culinary arts. The first course of Oregon Dungeness Crab Salad with Black Truffles, Apples and Shell Beans by Chef Vitaly Paley of Paley’s Place in Portland, Oregon was outstanding.
The weekend ended with a Truffle Marketplace on Sunday that included wine tastings, Oregon artisan foods, truffle tastings, cooking demonstrations and a lecture series.
Happy Valentine's Day
Posted: February 14, 2007
To all you hopeless romantics across the world, Happy Valentine's Day!
To all our loyal patrons that supported GourmetStation by purchasing our romantic dinners delivered this Valentine's Day, a heartful "Thank You."
If you've let the day slip your mind, here is a beautiful e-card site that has unique and top quality e-greeting cards.
GourmetStation Valentine Dinner - Food & Wine Pairing
Posted: February 7, 2007
How wonderful is this? No reservations to make, no rushing home from work, not having to get ready in a big hurry to make that dinner reservation. You can relax…….really enjoy yourself, it only takes about thirty minutes to prepare and the wine is even picked out.
I tried the two wines with both soups and both entrees because you might order one of each. The wines are both are very food worthy and depending on whether you are a red or white wine drinker you would be happy with either wine with either entrée. I thought the Bordeaux Blanc paired better with both the Bistro Mushroom and Cream of Tomato Basil Soup, but I wasn’t disappointed with the pinot noir.
My notes on the two wines are as follows:
Baron de Rothschild Collection Saga R Bordeaux Blanc 2003: Golden color. Lemon, mineral nose. Ripe flavors of pear, white raisin, and mineral. Finishes with a touch of citrus peel. Elegant, silky texture. Tastes like a Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon blend.
Domaine M Pinot Noir, Napa Valley 2003: Beautiful burgundy color. Textbook pinot noir bouquet – black cherry, raspberry, cola, spice nose with a touch of earth and smoke. Delicate flavors of black and red fruits with candied apple peel and violets, good acidity, soft finish of spice and smoky oak.
I found both wines softened the richness of the chicken Montrachet and salmon en croute. The wines cleansed the palate making you want another bite. Both of the wines were elegant, they accentuated the flavors of the entrée and did not overwhelm the flavors of the food.
And guess what, the leftover’s tasted just as good. Just make sure you refrigerate both the Saga R Bordeaux Blanc and the Domaine M Pinot Noir if you have any leftovers.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
GourmetStation Now Offers Wines From Signature
Posted: February 6, 2007
Hot off the press!
GourmetStation, Provider Of Upscale Gourmet Dinner Gifts Announces Partnership With Signature Wines
GourmetStation, the leading national merchant for gourmet dinners, upscale prepared meals and fine gourmet food gifts delivered nationally, announced the introduction of a new wine program in partnership with Signature Wines.
GourmetStation has been providing busy patrons with upscale dinner gifts since 2000 so it is only natural that their next new product line would be wine. Powered by California based Signature Wines, GourmetStation is introducing two new programs. First, shoppers may purchase wine a la carte that is paired specifically to GourmetStation international dinner menus. Exquisite wines are paired with popular entrees from GourmetStation’s Parisian, Tuscan, Cajun & Fusion menu lines. Eagle Vale Shiraz, for example, is available and recommended to serve with lamb shank in rosemary mint sauce from GourmetStation’s Parisian menu.
Secondly, the Wine Club allows shoppers to give a wine gift for 3, 6 or 12 months. For only $34.95 per month (plus shipping and handling) wine lovers may enjoy two bottles of wine (one red and one white) hand-selected by GourmetStation’s wine panel experts and delivered right to the gift recipient’s door. GourmetStation expects the Wine Club offering to be purchased along with their highly successful dinner of the month club.
“The relationship between Signature Wines and GourmetStation is a perfect match” says Donna Lynes-Miller founder and President of GourmetStation. “Our patrons love the gourmet dinner gift experience and now that experience is being taken to a new level with wines from Signature.” Lynes-Miller went on to say “Blog posts on the subject of wine at Delicious Destinations will continue by our wine consultant Susan Anderson. Susan’s first Signature review is Domaine M Pinot Noir with Salmon en Croute and Barons de Rothschild Saga Blanc with Chicken Montrachet, both entrees from Valentine Day Eiffel Tower menu.”
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Cool Party Accessories For Valentine Dinner Delivered
Posted: February 4, 2007
Valentine Day count down is on for you hopeless romantics with only 11 days left to plan your Valentine dinner and party. I’ve already given you tips on how to boycott cooking Valentine dinner with a gourmet dinner delivered from GourmetStation. My recommendation is the Eiffel Tower menu. Not only can you whisp them away to France with a taste of Paris, you’ll also receive free shipping, leaving you with dollars to spend on other aspects of your Valentine Day party.
So what can you do with those extra $. Where can you spend them? I’ve got the perfect solution thanks to my friends Mark Deutsch & Cathryn Barmon of Undici.com. Mark & Cathryn are consultants with for a cool company called Plum Party. This web site lets you take any party or event to the next level with unique party supplies. Pretty serving plates and coordinated table accessories are just the beginning. What caught my eye was party accessory themes – after all, we’re all caught in a creative drought from time to time. Just go to Plum Party and let them help you select a unique theme. What about a 1950’s theme party with rock & roll accessories. They even have retro sunglasses. Or an Elvis party – the king lives at Plum Party.
Set of 6 Sweetheart Badges, Lacy White Heart Banner - 7" by 12", Heart Centerpiece - 8" by 11"/Two-sided, Shiny Hearts - Package of 40 assorted sized shiny foil hearts, 'Be My Valentine' Banner, Valentine Loot Bags - 5.5" by 9"/Pack of 12/Six designs/2 of each style, Cupid Cut Outs - 6 Piece Set/3 sized cupids/2 of each, White Fun Fringe - 25' of tissue festooning, and Pink Fun Fringe - 25' of tissue festooning.
New Wine Program by Signature Wines
Posted: February 2, 2007
They tell me I’m supposed to wait for the official press release to talk about our new wine program at GourmetStation, but I’m so excited, I’ve got to share this news with you.
GourmetStation patrons have been enjoying gourmet dinner experiences since 2000 (can’t believe it’s been that long!). It’s only natural that the next new, big product line would be exquisite wine to go with the great international cuisine.
GourmetStation couldn’t introduce just any wine program. They had to find the perfect partner….a partner that understood and appreciated the GourmetStation patron…a partner that was willing to take the time to understand the international menus and develop wine offerings that complimented the cuisine. May I introduce that new partner…California based Signature Wines.
Signature Wines may be purchased from GourmetStation in two ways. First is an a la carte offering aligned with GourmetStation menu lines. Here are a few examples: Saga Blanc is paired with Parisian Chicken Montrachet, Holly Creek Riesling with Cajun Blackened Bayou Catfish, Landau Cabernet Sauvignon with Peking Duck Breast, and Pine Ridge Merlot with Tuscan Chicken Saltimboca.
Secondly is the Wine of the Month Club where patrons may purchase 3, 6 or 12 month programs. For only $34.95 per month (plus shipping and handling) wine lovers may enjoy two bottles of wine (one red and one white) hand-selected by GourmetStation’s wine panel experts and delivered right to the gift recipient’s door. GourmetStation expects the Wine Club offering to be purchased along with their highly successful dinner of the month club.
Look for a wine post by GourmetStation’s wine consultant Susan Anderson. Susan is hard at work on an evaluation of Domaine M Pinot Noir with Salmon en Croute and Barons de Rothschild Saga Blanc with Chicken Montrachet, both entrees from Valentine Day Eiffel Tower menu.
Stay tuned – more to come…..
Valentine Romance - Tuscan Style
Posted: February 2, 2007
Bouna di San Valentino:
Romance is born in the spirit of your heart and is nurtured by the experiences of your life. One of the finest places to nurture the sweetness of romance is Tuscany.
Here you enjoy the beauty of a Tuscan sunset… a special passeggiata with your sweetheart… the romance of wineries and vineyards nestled on the Chianti hillsides… flowing fields of sunflowers
and the beauty of romantic hill towns. And of course, there is always the romance of the Vespa. Tuscany is a romantic paradise. Some believe there is no better place to celebrate the day tradition has set-aside for San Valentino than in this beautiful province of Italy.
While some Tuscan couples follow the tradition of visiting a ristorante or trattoria as part of the romantic celebration in honor of San Valentino, others prepare a special dinner at home. Typically, the table is decorated with many candles and red roses. It is also Tuscan tradition that some of the home prepared foods include hot pepper and chocolate.
One of the traditional dishes, which is prepared in honor of San Valentino, is spaghetti with hot pepper. To prepare it, put extra virgin olive oil, some cloves of garlic and anchovies into a large pan. When the garlic turns a light gold color, add hot pepper, turn off the fire. Add the parsley, coarsely chopped, and then, add the spaghetti “AL DENTE” mix together and serve. This is a true Italian dish with the color of our flag.
It is also tradition to make a special cake called Cuore di Cioccolato for this special day. For you, we have included the recipe in both Italian and English.
CUORE DI CIOCCOLATO
· 4 uova
· gr.120 zucchero
· gr.300 cioccolato fondente al 70%
· gr.35 mandorle in polvere (o tritate finemente)
· gr.120 farina 00
· gr.120 burro
· un po’ di caffè istantaneo in polvere (NESCAFE)
· g.150 di marmellata di arance
· 10 lamponi o scorze zuccherate di arancia
· Petali di rose per decorare
· ½ cucchiaino da caffé di lievito
Accendere il forno a 180 gradi.
Sciogliere gr. 150 di cioccolato a bagnomaria. Ammorbidire il burro e lavorarlo con metà dello zucchero, fino ad ottenere una crema soffice, aggiungere il cioccolato sciolto un cucchiaio per volta e continuare a mescolare, aggiungere i tuorli di uovo 1 per volta. Montare a neve gli albumi con un po’ di sale e lo zucchero rimasto, unirlo all’impasto con il cioccolato, aggiungere la farina molto lentamente, la farina di mandorle ed il lievito.
Versare il composto in una teglia a forma di cuore e cuocere a 180 gr.per 30/45 minuti.
Quando il dolce è cotto sfornarlo e aspettare che si raffreddi. Tagliarlo a metà orizzontalmente per farcirlo. Spalmare sia le parti interne che l’esterno con la marmellata diluita con 2/3 cucchiai di acqua tiepida. Sciogliere il resto del cioccolato fondente e con la metà farcire la torta, il resto ricoprire la torta, decorare a piacere
(A PIACERE SI PUO’ AGGIUNGERE UN PO’ DI POVERE DI PEPERONCINO ALL’IMPASTO)
CUORE DI CIOCCOLATO
· 4 eggs
· 120 grams of sugar
· 300 grams of dark chocolate (70%)
· .35 grams of almond powder (or finely chopped)
· 120 grams of flour grade 00
· 120 grams of butter
· a little powdered instant coffee (NESCAFE)
· 150 grams of orange marmalade
· 10 rasberries or sugared orange skins
· Rose petals for decoration
· ½ teaspoon of powdered yeast
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt 150 grams of dark chocolate in a double boiler. Soften the butter and work it with half of the sugar until it gets soft and creamlike. Add the soft chocolate a spoon at a time and continue to mix adding the yolks of the eggs one at a time. Whip the egg whites with a little salt and the remaining sugar, blending the mixture with the chocolate and add the flour, the almond powder and the yeast very slowly.
Pour the mixture in a heartshaped pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. When the cake is cooked, take it out and let it cool. Cut the cake in half horizontally so that filling may be put in. Spread marmalade (diluted with 2 or 3 spoons of warm water) on the inside parts and the cake. Dissolve the rest of the chocolate. Use half to fill the cake and put the pieces together. With the rest of the chocolate, decorate the cake. Use rose petals for decoration.
(If it pleases you, add a little hot chilly powder to all the ingredients.)
To all we wish a most wonderful Valentine’s Day. May the true spirit of romance be in your heart.
Valentine Poem For Your Valentine Dinner
Posted: February 1, 2007
For an exquisite gourmet food gift this Valentine's Day, visit GourmetStation.