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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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The Interminable French Feast
Posted: June 25, 2007
"You must have spent all day preparing dinner",said our neighbor Anne
And the truth is, yes, I did spend all day preparing dinner. So, in case
The answer is "With much reflection!"
The first couple of years in France, I tried to be a good ambassador and
In recent years, some new additions have made life in the "galley"
Keep it fresh: People might excuse a chewy cut of beef, but they will
RE: Meat. Steaks in France tend to be chewy but the flavor
RE: Sauce aka gravy. Sauces tend to be much lighter in France. You've
Tomato sauces (which are used in many American dishes) are not as
RE: Fish. The simplicity rule is truer than ever with fish. If you're
If you're vegetarian, you'll be happy to know that people are often
Cous-cous or semolina (a North-African dish) is one example of a good base
Cheeses: Cheese shops in town tend to be overpriced (in my opinion).
Camembert and other soft cheeses must be left out for a few hours before
When choosing desserts, opt for light and fluffy over two-crust pies or
Here are some ways to spend more time with your guests: Try to have the
Have coffee measured and the coffee pot ready to turn on at the flip of a
Have a flower vase and a pair of scissors set beside the sink in case a
Find a partner in crime "do not be afraid to delegate" but make sure
For a video on a lunch in Normandy from Fat Bell Travelers, click here.
Those Aging Boomers – An Appropriate Food Gift
Posted: June 24, 2007
Lately we’ve read and heard a lot about the aging boomers, their effects on US society and their needs as they age. USA Today said that almost 3.0 million boomers have passed over to the other side….”the other side of 60 that is”. Then there are the 75 million boomers still in their 40’s and 50’s. Many of us have a mother, father, aunt, uncle or friend in this age group. Or we might just be there ourselves!
These boomers are not ordinary people. They are post World War II children of privilege. Many are well educated, well traveled and have acquired significant material possessions in their life time. Which brings us to the point of this article. When it comes time for an occasion gift for these boomers…what do you give have someone who has it all?
Enter the era of experiential gifts. These gifts are exactly what they imply – an experience. For those gift recipients who have received every trinket imaginable over the years, consider an experiential gift. It might be a day at the spa, a day riding horse-back or even a ride in a hot air balloon. If your gift recipient has a taste for the gourmet side of life, consider a food gift.
Gourmet food gifts, specifically dinner gifts, can satisfy many gifting occasions, especially for those recipients who do not live nearby. If you want to say thank you with a dinner delivered, if you want to say congratulations with a gourmet meal, or if you want to let them know you are thinking of them, a gourmet dinner gift may suit your needs, and theirs. There are several companies that specialize in this type of food gift including Atlanta based GourmetStation. Most companies deliver nationally and provide a wide variety of cuisine with a minimum of preparation time. The idea is provide your gift recipient with an evening of restaurant quality food delivered right to their home. An experience they will long remember.
Panama…It’s not just for Hats!
Posted: June 16, 2007
GourmetStation’s research into world cuisine has inspired me over the years to look beyond the suburban life I have led and see new and …shall we say tasty opportunities and well…what would the cuisine be like in say Panama?
Having been a subscriber to International Living for the last three years, which touts low cost spots in the world where you can live large on less and whose online emails haunt me incessantly with “about to be missed affordable real estate opportunities,” I finally took the plunge and headed off to Panama.
Panama seemed to fit the bill…civilized and direct flights to the US, the Canal….an emerging Latin Capital that has recently been labeled, “The new Miami” and high-rises sprouting like mushrooms along the bay front and around the “chic-er” neighborhoods. Since I had already missed out on coastal Croatia and newly discovered Montenegro, what with the Brits driving up coastal hot spots in Europe, while I sat reading about it, I thought don’t let the Panama bandwagon pass you by!
So, I talked two friends into an adventure and off we went. But before heading off, I needed two things, a realtor and a place to stay. The realtor was problematic….However after a quick search on the internet I uncovered a gem of a B&B in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Panama.
Our hosts were Patty and Rudy of Patty’s Casita. Her web site reads”“Patty's Casitas offers an alternative to typical Panama City hotel accommodations...as we offer B&B and apartment for short term rental in the heart of Panama city where you will find Panamas major attractions such as the Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks), the Bridge of Life Museum of Biodiversity (soon to be build by the renown architect Frank Gehry), history, shopping, bird watching (Gamboa), Eco tourism, jungle trekking, marine and biodiversity exhibition centers and much more...Our Guest House Bed and Breakfast in Panama City (Arcos de Bella Vista), a beautiful colonial house, offers a spacious suite with en-suite bathroom located in a residential and exclusive green area, called Bella Vista and our self-catered apartment (Amador Rental) is located in the hottest new tourist destination called Amador! You will find excellent restaurants, bars, night clubs and waterfront promenade all within few minutes walk from our panama city lodgingsJ While this country has a large number of hotels in Panama City to choose from, we feel that our non smoking accommodations offer the best deal available...providing you with inside tips (we speak English, French, German, Italian and Spanish), airport transfer service from and to Tocumen International Airport and private guided tours in Panama City and surroundings.”
And I agree with all she had to say in her web site. A wonderful 1930’s vintage estate property, in an up and coming renovation neighborhood right next to the restaurant district, Patty’s Casita offered the perfect location from which to launch our real estate search.
But first breakfast! When one thinks B&B, the range of breakfast items provided can be coffee and a roll, to interesting and tempting breakfast treats. Patty subscribed to the later. Patty, a multi- national person has lived in many global spots, and she offered a wonderful breakfast each morning. Tasty empanadas, fresh local fruit, yogurt, meats and cheeses…locally grown Panamanian coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, why every morning was like a buffet.
Better yet, while we enjoyed this breakfast repast ( we.. being me, Barb and John…three real estate bargain hunters), Patty and her husband Rudy would graciously provide insights on their own real estate ventures. Joined by her mother, visiting from Germany, whose husband and she had also purchased beach property in Panama, we felt immediately like we were part of an extended family. Rudy in fact had met us at the airport in Panama City, they provide full services to visitors, with Rudy doing tours and assisting visitors and Patty handling the B&B.
We had a wonderful time looking at real estate…sampling delicious sea food and learning about Panama…why we even saw the Panama Canal in action while we enjoyed a champagne brunch one Sunday. I thought it would be dull as dirt watching a large ship go up and down in the locks…but frankly the champagne inspired everyone to gleefully race out onto the terrace and shoot pictures, videos and generally whoop it up! It was a good time and memory.
On a cultural note…I was made aware of a book which reaches into the heart of Panama through a Fantasy tale …a book called, in English, The Forbidden Valley, en Espanol - El Valle Prohibido, available on Amazon.com The Panamanian author is Eduardo Lince Fabrega and is based on the fantasies and historical events interwoven into memories of his childhood spent in el Valle.
So…the Panamanian trip was a success. I have four condo projects under consideration as a retirement outpost…very low property taxes a HUGE incentive, coupled with warm tropical weather. My traveling buddy John found a place on the beach to check out as a purchase option (as well as a Panamanian hat), and co-conspirator in world forays Barb…(you may remember her as “Rhubarb Barb” from a prior recipe blog). Well she sees potential investment in the beach too. Living in California and not far from Malibu, she was partial to the Malibu Beach project. Finally...a living breathing …Malibu Beach Barbie…stay tune to see if we join the expat community. In the interim…think Panama…it’s a happening place!
Summer Dinner Party Themes & Gourmet Dinners Delivered
Posted: June 7, 2007
Are you thinking about hosting a summer dinner party, picnic or other event where you can share time with friends, family or neighbors? You want to make the event unique and memorable, but just can’t seem to come up with a new idea…right? An entertaining drought is not uncommon. Sometimes you just need a little spark of an idea to flourish into a beautiful full-blown theme. Maybe one of these ideas will be your spark:
Garden and color: If you’re like me and love the summer garden show, pick your favorite flower and corresponding color. Hydrangea are common in the South and they are abundant in sky blue, white or deep purple. Build a visual theme around your favorite flower and scatter it throughout the party area. You might even look for printed napkins with the flower or other high quality items like cups and paper plates.
Wine: This one is especially fun. Pick your favorite region, like France for example, and build your theme around both the region and favorite wines from the region. If you select France, here is a Tour de France wine collection from Wine.com featuring Chateau Les Graves de Barrau, Bouchard Bourgogne Pinot Noir and Louis Bernard Cotes de Rhone. Take home gifts might be little Eiffel tower trinkets, or some icon to hold your special evening in the memory of your guests.
International Region: Give your guests a rich culinary journey to an international region. Pick your favorite travel spot and build a dinner party around that region. Tuscany is one of mine and there are many recipes to choose from. You can even decorate the dinner table with colorful sunflowers!
If you’re like me and love to develop visions and themes, but don’t have the time to shop and prepare, remember GourmetStation for gourmet meals delivered nationally, including a delightful 4 course Tuscan dinner for two. Our gourmet dinners not only make a striking food gift, they can make giving a dinner party easy so that you may relax and be the exceptional host or hostess that you are. Bon appetit!
Welcome Guest Writer - Chris Card Fuller
Posted: June 4, 2007
We have received wonderful comments and feedback from Delicious Destinations guest writers. Our goal is to have guest writers from every corner of the globe. I have been searching specifically for a guest writer from France for about two years. The search is over! Welcome, Chris Card Fuller; we welcome your French experience into our food & culture blog. By way of introduction enjoy this bio about Chris and how she came to work in and love the world of food & travel.
When I was nineteen, a palm reader at a cocktail party in Palos Verdes
Estates read my palm. She told me that even though I was helping the
hostess serve hors d'oeuvres, the kitchen wasn't really my bailiwick.
She didn't mention anything about travel and she didn't see France in
By many strange twists and turns in the path of life, I ended up spending
more and more time in France, particularly in Paris & Normandy. The palm
reader was right in guessing that I might find producing a four-course
dinner for French guests to be a daunting task, but well worth the
privilege of gaining an intimate view of day-to-day living in Paris and
the Norman countryside.
Chris Heidrich who launched the site and invited me to contribute my
comments about French living. The Bootsnall.com site for independent
travelers caught my eye back in the late late nineties as the ideal site
for sharing my travel stories with like-minded travelers.
Aside from travel stories about French life, I've also published a
number of travel articles for U.S. newspapers including the L.A. Times and
the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. My collection of travel essays titled
"The Fearful Traveler's Companion" was published in December 2005 by
iUniverse.com A number of hair-raising encounters interspersed with
unusual food thrills included in this first collection are just a sampling
of future stories to be told. My travels have taken me from Appalachicola,
Florida to Yap in the Caroline Islands, from Timbuktu, in Mali, to Phaplu
Bootsnall members are often requested to send in a photo or the name of
their first pair of hiking boots. My first pair of hiking boots I
borrowed from my dad for a trip to Aspen, Colorado. I was sixteen years
old. Aspen is where I first drank a "smoothie" and ate tempura
veggies. My first introduction to snails was in a French restaurant in
Telluride, Colorado. In other words, you don't necessarily have to be
in France to enjoy great French cuisine (but it's well worth the trip,
at least once in your lifetime).
Travel and food, for me, have always been an inseparable part of the same
The Gold Standard Gourmet Cook Book
Posted: June 3, 2007
Are there a lot of cookbooks out there or what? With so many choices, how do you make a selection? My criteria is simplicity combined with variety and end result that produces flavors you cannot forget. The solution? The Gourmet Cook Book – The Gold Standard. Here’s what editor in chief Ruth Reichl had to say about their goal: "Our goal was to give you a book with every recipe you would ever want."
Gourmet Magazine has given us luscious desserts and cleaver entertaining tips for six decades. In this one cookbook you may discover the best of the best and there’s a bonus. Included with the cookbook ($40.00 plus shipping) is a 45 minute DVD from Ruth and her team demonstrating certain dishes and techniques that will help you cook like a pro.
If you’re like me and you love the idea of being an at-home-chef, but you don’t have the time, skill or patience, try GourmetStation. Our delicious dinners delivered nationally are configured around internationally themed menus including Parisian, Tuscan, Cajun, Fusion & Americana. You may enjoy your own intimate dinner for two, or you may find the gourmet meals to be an excellent gourmet food gift. Our patrons have used our dinners for food gifts for all occasions including birthday, anniversary, congratulations, thank you, thinking of you and romance. Bon appetit!