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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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Posted: January 27, 2008
I love biscotti, as I am sure many of you do. Especially, the kind of biscotti that is dipped in dark chocolate on one end and served with a very strong dark coffee…ahhh…what a way to spend an afternoon in repose...meditating over a nice strong cup of coffee, with chocolate biscotti. Just my preference…or so I thought.
I recently received a large gift basket of homemade “Rosemary Biscotti” from my friend “Rhubarb Barb”…a recipe contributor and comrade in arms go anywhere dining companion from a past gourmetstation blog on pies. Rhubarb pies to be specific.
The wonderful thing about the rosemary Biscotti was that it wasn’t overly sweet…or really sweet at all, but had a wonderful earthy natural flavor of rosemary and currants. An exceptional flavor profile as we used to say in the fast food business when sampling some new food offering that exceeded expectations...”yes a wonderful flavor profile.”
Well…as I thought more about it, where did biscotti come from? So I did a little research.
Well, obviously from the spelling, it had Italian origins and that much I knew. So after a little online digging I uncovered that “biscotto” means cookie and getting into the structure of the word reveals that the latin bis and coctum later becoming the Italian cotto means something like twice baked…the original process to prepare the traditional biscotti we are all used to eating. The twice baking gave the cookie the “finish” and crunch and provided the consistency. It was also used in those early roman times as a long shelf life baked good for easy transport and flavored with almond.
Well I am all for convenience and I also discovered online a device to allow for a faster baking process for those who have to worry about time and labor and energy costs. (It’s called Pipe and Bake System…google it under biscotti if you want to know more) They have figured out a whole new way to achieve the same results in a faster time frame then twice baking. Hmmm...does that then make this new product an “unacotti”??... once baked or from a traditionalists view point “half baked”…a subject no doubt for a future episode of Rachel Ray.
Well, even though biscotti is supposed to last a long, long time, at least from a perishable stand point, the rather large amount of rosemary biscotti that Barb sent me was gone in a week. What can I say… alone…with no shame and a hot beverage to wash it down, why the biscotti became my nightly and afternoon snack…and best new friend.
So if you would like to try some very tasty rosemary biscotti, Barb has included the credited recipe below.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and
Using an electric mixer and a large mixing bowl, beat butter and
Cut dough in half and shape into 2 logs. They should be about a 12-
Bake until just starting to brown at the edges, about 35 minutes. Let
Let the biscotti cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet(s). Serve
There you have it. A great afternoon of baking and enjoyment and keep your friends in mind as it makes a great personalized gift……I know!
Valentine’s Day…..a Restauranteur’s Delight!
Posted: January 23, 2008
For many years, I enjoyed the pleasure of owning and managing my own very successful restaurant. It was extremely hard work though and terribly long hours, but it was very fulfilling and a wonderful challenge. Indeed, one of the greatest challenges is to cope with the peaks and troughs of the business which are at least (largely!) predictable. Once Christmas & New Year have gone, we would take a deep breath, and get ready for the next major promotion – Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s is ALLWAYS one of the biggest days of the year, particularly when it falls on a mid week (less busy) night. Planning begins in earnest well before the Christmas rush gets under way. I would always have my menus and promotional activities mapped out before the end of November. In this business (as indeed in most others), planning is everything.
But regardless of how meticulous I was with the planning, the unforeseen inevitably occurred! Like the time that instead of 6 dozen read roses being delivered (a gift for the ladies), white lilies turned up instead! How did that happen?
Or on another occasion when plump juicy strawberries had been ordered (for a rather sensual offering of Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, a tray of very tired and slightly over-ripened raspberries were delivered instead. Quick, re-write the menu…..again!!
Due to the popularity of the event, we would offer a choice of either an early service (6.30 to 7pm arrival) or a late service (8.30 to 9pm arrival). Needless to say, there would always be a few couples who would arrive late for the early service, and a number of other couples arriving early for the late service. Collision course! Successfully juggling tables and bookings, without upsetting customers is a true sign of a slick and professional Restauranteur.
And then there was always the sticky question of just how many tables of two it was physically possible to provide! The table arrangements in most restaurants are a mix of fours and twos which can be combined for different configurations. But on Valentine’s night, who wants a table for four? Nobody of course! Plus it’s not just about how many tables you can squeeze in, it’s also about giving enough “private”, personal space where lovers can talk, intimately. Yes, Valentine’s always was quite a challenge.
But there is something incredibly satisfying about saying farewell to one hundred or so (largely!) very satisfied couples, linked hand in hand, all gooey-eyed and feeling really, really good about life! And it’s that sort of great experience that makes all of the hard work and stress worthwhile!
And so now, I would like to share with you a recipe for one of my all-time favorite appetisers, perfect for a romantic evening for two……Oysters Rockefeller. This is one of the truly great, American classics. A dish so famous worldwide that chefs still go to incredible lengths to encapsulate the original dish as produced by the chefs of Antoine’s in New Orleans.
(This recipe features as part of my gourmet Valentine’s Menu.
Ingredients - Serves 2 as a 1st course or 6 for appetizers:
2oz (50g) unsalted butter
1 small stick of celery, finely sliced
2 spring onions finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Handful of watercress leaves, finely chopped
Dash of Pernod or other anise-flavored liquor
Salt and Tabasco sauce, to taste
2 slices white bread, crusts removed
Rock salt for cooking
Lemon wedges & parsley sprigs to serve
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the celery, spring onions, garlic, parsley, watercress and Pernod. Season to taste with salt and Tabasco sauce.
2. Tip the mix into a food processor or blender, add the bread and process for 30 seconds to produce "green breadcrumbs". This mix can now be put into a bowl, covered and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.
3. Using an oyster knife, twist open the oyster shells and remove the oysters and liquor into a bowl. Discard the top shells and scrub and dry the bottom shells. Drain the oysters and check for shell fragments.
4. Preheat the broiler (grill) to maximum.
5. Line a baking tray with rock salt and place the oyster shells on it.
6. Place an oyster in each shell and spoon over a little of the reserved oyster liquor.
7. Spoon the crumb mixture over each oyster to cover them completely.
8. Finally, broil (grill) the oysters for about 1 to 2 minutes or until the topping is bubbling and nicely colored.
Arrange the oysters on a serving dish and garnish with sprigs of parsley and lemon wedges.
Courtesy of Gourmet Food Revolution.com
Posted: January 22, 2008
According to legend, St. Valentine actually
FOR YOU MY LOVE
You are All of God's Blessings
My every waking moment
But most important of all
Valentine Dinner Delivered From GourmetStation
Posted: January 21, 2008
Valentine's Day is prime time for most restaurants. Reservations are difficult to secure. Waits are often long. Valentine's Day is one day we do not need more stress. Let GourmetStation take the stress out of Valentine 2008 by sending the restaurant to you.
Our Eiffel Tower menu is French cuisine at it's best - 4 delicious courses in this exquisite romance dinner for two. We are including 4 complimentary gifts plus offering 50% off 2nd day shipping. Details for our Valentine Dinner Delivered are a click away. Plus we have a full line up of romantic dinners delivered from our Parisian, Tuscan, Cajun, Fusion & Americana menus. Bon appetit!
By the Light of the “August” Moon and a Café too!
Posted: January 3, 2008
Ok…So we are coming off the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays and cold weather abounds. So naturally, I being a warm weather fan reflect back on balmier times when one can stroll about at night and enjoy the mild air.
Last July, I had the good fortune to be in New York City during a particularly nice week, weather-wise and invited a friend to join me for dinner. Kim’s suggestion was to take advantage of the summer specials many restaurants were having, to entice new customers, under a special program offered in New York City. Being a long term resident of Manhattan, Kim is versed in the ways of dining out and I was keen to see what her choice of restaurants would bring.
So my dining friend Kim and I headed off on foot…the only way to really be a New Yorker, as cabs don’t qualify, and we headed down to the heart of the Greenwich Village area…strolling first through the ever gentrifying Meat packing District.
The restaurant chosen for the night, “August”, had a very cozy feel to it…glass and brick and a feeling of permanency. European – old world flavor is the first thing that came to mind. While we had to wait a short time for a table...a good sign as it shows a loyal clientele, we spent the time near the small bar area sampling two choice glasses of wine.
Our table was readied in the back room, kind of an atrium affair as I recall and we took advantage of the pre-fixe menu… designed to expose new patrons to the chef’s features, with suggested wine pairings.
We found the service attentive without being intrusive and the food selections wonderfully paired. We opted to each select opposing dishes under each category so we could sample a broader range of appetizers entrees and desserts. A great strategy regardless where one dines!
I was especially fond of the Saffron Orzoa with feta, okra and grilled eggplant, preceded by the Gratineed Clams seasoned with scallion and chorizo appetizer. I am a dessert man and my favorite was the Blueberry Clafooti with buttermilk ice cream. My only wish…for more ice cream!
Following the wine stewards recommendation, we tried several of the pairings and found the subtleties lent a nice resonance to the meal. Kim and I left feeling satisfied, a wonderful meal, great conversation, attentive wait staff and excellent wine recommendations. Then a long walk back in the mild night air under the influence of an “August” moon in July.
So give it a try if you find yourself in Manhattan, www.augustny.com where you can get directions and check out new happenings at the restaurant. Plus I think their graphics say volumes about the feel of the restaurant.
The great thing about eating is the diversity, kind of like the options Donna at GourmetStation presents. She is always looking for new taste pairing to present to patrons online and just like GourmetStation is fun to explore, NYC is such a wonderful place to explore because the number of restaurants in the city continues to grow and new food trends and restaurant settings provide an unlimited range of options.
Sometime you feel like a fine meal...and well…other times you feel like a good burger. And luckily my good friend of 28 years Alice, also in Manhattan, suggested we take in her old watering hole Café Loup where we had just such an opportunity.
Café Loup,(as in Loop) is a ubiquitous New York restaurant bar - a very relaxed neighborhood feel...layered with a nice upscale patina. A super chef/owner was our host and knew Alice by name and a “beyond courteous” bar tender kept my dining companion Alice and I heartily plied with our favorite wine …Alice chose a wonderful Sauvignon blanc and we never found our glasses empty.
Since this was a personal catch up session and the summer heat made escaping into a nice cool locals spot that much more inviting, we talked for hours…And what made the day even more memorable was the exploding steam pipe which had occurred in an area of Manhattan near Grand Central Station, where I had been earlier that day and also affected Alice’s subway stop on her way home to meet me, which of course gave me an earlier start at the bar!
At some point in the active conversation…and conversations with Alice are always active and engaged, our burgers were delivered to the very busy bar area where we were sitting.
Thick, a bit rare, politically incorrect, but the way they preferred to serve them for flavor and robustness. Solid…straight forward…great grill burgers, thick juicy and tasty. We washed it down with more wine and as the long night came to a conclusion…my conclusion was that I was very glad to be in a very fun locals restaurant in New York City with an old friend.
So if you find yourself in Manhattan, give these two interesting spots a try. New York is about experiences, so create some new ones yourself 2008!
Happy New Year From GourmetStation
Posted: January 1, 2008
Well...to say 2007 has been a fast year is an understatement. GourmetStation is enjoying record growth. Our blog, Delicious Destinations, is growing in traffic, popularity and was even named by International Listing in the world's top 100 Luxury Blogs. The credit for this feat goes to our guest authors and we thank them for their fun filled, fact filled wonderful posts about food, wine & culture. Of course we always acknowledge and thank Toby Bloomberg, blog Diva, pioneer, consultant and friend. Finally, many thanks to our readers and may 2008 be filled with even more good food & wine!
GourmetStation Guest Authors (Alphabetically)
Susan Anderson, US - Wine & Spirits
Alvaro Bedova, Peru - South American Cuisine & Travel
Dave, Edie & Simonetta, US & Italy - Tuscany - Cuisine & Culture
Chris Card Fuller, Paris - French Culture & Food
Robert Jackson, UK - Food, Wine & Entertaining
Mark Stine, US - Food, Wine & Entertaining