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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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Tuscan Cooking

Posted: July 18, 2008
by: Dave, Edie & Simonetta

In the kitchen of Casa Bellavista there is a large marble topped table.  When students gather around this table, it becomes the nerve center for a Casa Bellavista cooking class.  On this table, some of the finest traditional Tuscan dishes are prepared by students of Simonetta's cooking classes.  Gnocchi, ragout di carne, pasta, insalata di farro, braciola di maiale alle erbe aromatiche, petto di pollo all florentina and many other dishes are created for the eating pleasure of the students.

Against one of the walls, shelves are laidened with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Hanging on a rack against another wall is a large selection of pans and pots waiting to go to work in preparation of some of the finest Tuscan dishes students in the cooking classes will ever taste.  On the menu for this day's cooking class are: gnocchi, insalata di farro, pollo alla fiorentina and a torta for desert.

While the potatoes boil in a large pot on the stove, in preparation for making fresh gnocchi, the students are busy rolling out chicken breasts


as the first step in preparing  petto di pollo all florentina.  Once the breasts are rolled to the appropriate thickness, they are layered with fresh spinich and fontina cheese.  When the layering is complete, the breasts are rolled and placed in a pan with extra virgin olive oil in preparation for cooking.

The table is cleaned and prepared for the preparation of gnocchi which begins with the peeling of the potatoes.  After the potatoes are mashed


they are mixed with flour, eggs and salt and kneaded into a dough.  After rolling the dough into long strips it is cut in to one inch sections which are “grooved” so the gnocchi will hold the flavourful ragu sauce which has been simmering on the stove top since the cooking students diced and chopped the ragu ingredients in the early part of the class. 

The gnocchi, having been prepared, it is now time to think of the insalata.  On today’s cooking menu is Insalata di Farro.  As the farro cooks, olives, celery, tomatoes, capers and anchovies are chopped and diced. 


These ingredients will be added to the farro once it is cooked and cooled.

A fine traditional Tuscan dinner is never complete without dolce.  Today’s class menu calls for the baking of a Torta di Fruita.  Fruits are sliced and layered in a pan lined with freshly made pastry dough.  While the torta is being finalized, the ragu sauce is given its final seasoning.  The insalata ingredients are folded together. 


While the table is being set, the new “chefs” take a break and prepare to enjoy the results of their afternoon's culinary accomplishments.  After dinner, perhaps a little café or grappa...perhaps a little of each.

The experience of a cooking class at Casa Bellavista is rich with traditional Tuscan cooking.  It is an afternoon and evening the class participants will take with them and remember as their stories of “cooking Tuscan” are shared with their friends back home.

Dave Galusha

Finding Just The Right Quote For Your Toast

Posted: July 11, 2008
by: T.Alexander

I met Steve Maarten when he submitted a comment on our blog. Then I was led to Inspirational Spark. The Internet is a wonderful source for finding quotes and the like, but what I like about Inspirational Spark is the organization of the material.  For example, if you were toasting at a dinner party and you wanted to thank someone, you might just visit this page on thank you quotes. My favorite was simple & sweet:
"I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom." Author Unknown

Then there are those romantic quotes that we wish we could remember, but when the time comes…well sometimes we choke up. Just go to this page, pick your favorite quote, jot it down & you’re bound to make the impression you want. Here’s one of my favorites.

We like someone because. We love someone although. Henri De Montherlant

Honey - and more!

Posted: July 7, 2008
by: T.Alexander

I gave up sugar in my coffee years ago. The substitute? Honey! Then I discovered honey for many other uses – glazing grilled fish, luscious on granola cereal with soy-milk and a tablespoon if I needed to calm down after a stressful day. I love honey so much that I wanted to share with you this honey site…or I should say this website on honey. http://honey.n-ergetics.com  You can read articles about honey, discover new uses for honey, learn about varieties of honey you never would have dreamed of…but most importantly you can buy honey for yourself or as a gift for others. Have at it!


Happy 4th Of July With Ron Paul's Cookbook!

Posted: July 3, 2008
by: T.Alexander

I’ve been thinking about a July 4th post and grilling out tips just does not get me there. Patriotic, summer, food and the good ole’ USA. What does all that add up to? Well, for me I found it through my favorite Congressman, Dr. Ron Paul. Ron Paul was a Republican Presidential candidate. No he did not beat McCain but he gave the status quo an eye opening run for their money. Of all things…you can buy a Ron Paul family & friends cookbook right on his website. The price is right at $10. I’m ordering mine today. Our 4th of July food extravaganza will have to be a little late, but when I have the results, we’ll make a special post along with a toast to yes, you heard me say it…..an honest politician, Dr. Ron Paul! Happy 4th.


Tuscan Menu - Summer Favorite - Now 20% Off

Posted: July 1, 2008
by: T.Alexander

So what makes one item popular for a season and another item popular for another? In the cold months our Parisian menu is top seller / hands down. But in the summer it's Tuscan. I believe that the rich sauces associated with French cuisine suit us better in the colder months. Then when we want to shed those heavy clothes & drop a pound or two, attention turns to Tuscan.....a little lighter fare.

All our Tuscan menus are 20% off! That's the Tuscan 4 course dinner gift, plus Tuscan dinner gifts for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Congratulations, Thinking Of You and Thank You. Don't miss out! Check out our home page for the promo code. Bon appetit!


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