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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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Commitment To Green


Posted: September 22, 2008
by: T.Alexander

Going “Green” is no longer just a trendy statement here in the US. Green represents a major shift in the way we perceive our planet including the other peoples, nations and creatures that inhabit it with us. Seth Bauer, editorial director of the Green Guide by National Geographic puts it this way – “If billions of people are going to live on the planet, natural resources need managing and waste will be a major concern….We know that one of the most important ways to protect the planet is through consumer environmentalism: buying and using things – from the food you eat to the clothing you wear – with an eye on the resources required to make them and the waste they become.”

We at GourmetStation want to assist you and your gift recipients in being mindful of the packaging used for shipping our food gifts. Depending upon the gift you purchase, there may be up to 9 different types of packaging, most which may be reused or recycled. Below is a guide to help you in determining whether to recycle or reuse the packaging.

  • Corrugated Shipping Box – Recycle

  • Foam Insulating Panels – Check with your local recycling agency to determine if they will accept foam panels for recycling. If they do, remember to peel away aluminum foil heat barrier

  • Entrée Containers and Appetizer Containers – Recycle or Reuse (Great for left overs)

  • Cheesecake Containers – Recycle or Reuse

  • Gold Aluminum Foil – Recycle

  • Soup Containers & Lids – Recycle or Reuse (Great for making soup batches & freezing)

  • Gel Packs – Reuse (Great for summer picnics!)

  • Bubble Wrap – Reuse or recycle (Great for wrapping holiday gifts)

  • Poly Bags – Reuse or recycle

New Age Spiritual Music From Rui Serodio


Posted: September 13, 2008
by: T.Alexander

For many years I fanaticized about visiting the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. One Fall day in 1997 I declared my intent to make this dream come true and in May 2008 it finally did. This article is not about that experience although I am developing a series of posts on Peruvian cuisine. This post is about serendipity at its best – the accidental discovery of a musical talent so profound that I would once again allow music into my world.

The place of this discovery was hotel Inkaterra in the tiny village of Aguas Calientes near Machu Picchu. The sprawling Andean style resort spilling with orchid paths and a humming bird sanctuary was the perfect place for magic. I decided to rest and reflect in the library during my last day at Inkaterra when I heard what sounded like music from Heaven. I eclipsed all other sounds and sights as I sank into this soft sweet masterpiece. The experience was over all too fast and I knew I must identify the artist.  With the help of the wonderful people at Inkaterra I received the information shortly after returning home.

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Meet Rui Serodio, Portuguese born composer, musical interpreter and master of the mystic piano. My first impulse was to compare Rui to other artists that had once inspired me – Vangelis, Kitaro, perhaps Yani. Honestly, there is no comparison. Rui’s style is….well,  diverse. His bio speaks to classical, romantic and impressionist piano and special attention to “rich Portuguese Folk music.”  That’s a lot of ground to cover and his special talent is that he masters each category bringing new energy to his audience be it spiritual contemplation, peace, humor or playfulness.

The piece that captured me is called Where Life Was Born Again from a compilation called Sintra. The cd is named for a historical region of Portugal romanticized by Lord Byron and others for it’s historic castles and landscape. Pity that this cd is no longer available but you may hear a brief clip of Capuchos Convent at Discography page of Rui’s website.

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You may purchase another cd of equal beauty called Sounds Of The Mountain – a powerhouse of 9 pieces celebrating the mountain of Arrabida, 40 miles south of Lisbon. This compilation is described as “violent music, full of sharp edges, strong harmonies, but truly mystic and descriptive of the enormous beauty of the mountain.” I’m ordering several for gifts. This is too good not to share. Ordering is not quite like Amazon, however. I suggest emailing your order with selections and shipping address to info@ruiserodio.com . You will receive an email confirmation with prices & shipping in Euros and an account for wire transfer.

A new cd is in the making – The Mystic of the Piano. I’m on the reservation list as you might expect. In closing I would like to ask if you have heard of the term “interior improvement.” I had not but in general it refers to seeking and finding peace. Rui describes his vocation as “focusing all my activity….in the creation of sound atmospheres that allow the listeners the right frame of mind to interior improvement”….with guides of an imaginary trip to remote and abstract horizons.” This statement was not positioned as a guarantee but I assure you, it worked for me.

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new age spiritual music

Portuguese folk music

New age electronic music

Keep it Simple: French Home Cooking


Posted: September 6, 2008
by: Chris Card Fuller

Visitors to France often associate French cuisine with the rich sauces and ornate plate presentations  - the sort you're bound to encounter if you dine in Paris's Michelin-star restaurants, but equally satisfying, is a home-cooked meal in Brittany.

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Our friend, Huguette lives in the little town of Chartres-de-Bretagne located several miles from Rennes, capital city of the Brittany region.  Rennes is the sister-city of Rochester, New York.   Located in the northwestern region of France (practically due west from Paris), the Brittany region is well-reknowned for its picturesque coastline, fishing villages, Maine-like beaches, and great seafood.  The rugged peninsular coastline cedes to a tangled boulder-laden forest - which inspired stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. 

We are always eager to visit Huguette.  In addition to being an adept conversationalist,  a resolute gardener (when she's not traveling), and a welcoming host, she's also a good cook.  With what always appears to be a minimal amount of time in the kitchen, she puts a satisfying meal on the table. 

So what is her secret?  Simplicity.  You've probably read it a dozen times.  The key to good cooking is great ingredients and nowhere is this more true than in France.  But more important - and it's a fault (for which I've often been guilty),  some of us beginners complicate excellent basic ingredients with too much fuss.   

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Any good meal begins with a trip to the local market and bakery.  Chartres-de-Bretagne has its weekly market within walking distance from Huguette's home.  During our weekend, we had a chance to visit not only the local bakery, market and butcher shop, but the local school children's garden display surrounding city hall.  The theme was the meaning of gardens.  Gardens not only create beautiful surroundings but produce some of the food that will end up on Huguettes's table.  (including the cherry jam we slather over our morning baguette).  "I had SO many cherries this year,  I was giving them away to everyone who stopped by."

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Here's just one menu sample of Huguette's well-planned meals:

L'Heure de L'Apero  (Cocktail Hour)
Rather than piling high the coffee table with shrimp, cheeses, dips, etc,  Huguette treats us to one excellent sort of 'Rillettes de canard' (a duck paté) which she serves on slices of baguette with a green olive garnish.

Often French hosts and hostesses will suggest a sweet or semi-sweet drink at cocktail hour.  These can range from a glass of Porto or Muscat to a Martini (sweet Vermouth) or a Pastis served with water.  Bourbon or Scotch is also popular (served with not more than two ice cubes).  For special occasions, champagne is always welcome (and a nice gift to bring your host or hostess).   

First course
Shelled shrimp and marinated trout arranged artfully with cherry tomato garnishes.

Main Course
Filet Mignon de Porc en Croute
Pork Filet wrapped in Puffed Pastry.
Fresh Green Beans.

(Huguette buys her pre-rolled puffed pastry, seasons the lightly basted pork and slips the pastry-wrapped roast into the oven at 350 degrees)  Meat courses are often served in their own reduced 'jus' rather than a heavy butter and flour-based gravy.

Cheese and Salad.
This course is essential for a truly French lunch.  Camembert cheese or other soft cheeses such as Brie are favorites in this region of France.

Dessert
Just like the main course, Huguette's tarts (or pies) use a minimum of ingredients - examples a Norman apple tart or an almond - paste tart will start with a butter and flour crust (in France, Crisco or lard is rarely used for homemade pastry) - a layer of apple compote, or the almond-paste followed by layer of fresh apples, pears or whatever fruit may be in season.  Likewise, Breton cakes are butter-based.

Everything is better with butter.  Huguette admits that she is not a great consumer of sweets, but having been brought up on Norman butter (she's originally from Normandy),  she will not pass up this essential ingredient.

What is the added benefit of such tasty and simply prepared meals?  Not so many dishes, pots and pans, and more time to spend chatting over a cup of expresso in the garden.  Although I haven't gotten anywhere near mastering the art of simple cuisine,  at least I've found a good role model. 

Next time we visit, Huguette has promised to make us 'boudin noir' - blood pudding sausage with onions, potatoes and slices of apples. In the meantime, she's given us a hint of things to come with a satisfying plate another sort of sausage accompanied with mashed potatoes (butter included!)  Simple delicious!

Chris Card Fuller

www.Parislogue.com

Corporate Food Gifts, Employee Rewards, Incentives & Rewards


Posted: September 1, 2008
by: T.Alexander

The first day of September slides me right into holiday. Why? Because for businesses needing to make a decision about corporate food gifts, employee rewards, year end sales incentives or rewards, time is running out.

I was remembering the various reasons why clients buy GourmetStation dinner gifts and dining certificates for these occasions. One of my favorites is home builders and real estate agents gifting their clients with a gourmet dinner for two on their move in date. Then there was the large company that wanted to say Thank You to a project team that completed their project on time and under budget. One of the most original was a large company that held a ‘dream’ contest to inspire their employees. In addition to GourmetStation dinner gifts they gave away a day at the spa ad and numerous other small indulgences.

By far my favorite use of our gourmet dinners delivered was for a program referred to as a TAK – targeted act of kindness. A large international airline selected clients with high frequent flyer miles and simply gifted them a 4 course dinner for two delivered. Sweet!

So if you’re reading this and you find yourself in need of a corporate food gift for clients, employees or sales promotions, we hope you will keep us in mind. We will design a custom menu to your budget and the provide your recipients with an experience they will long remember. Or we will design a gift certificate program and allow your recipients to select their favorite menu and convenient delivery date. Our certificates never expire. We also offer discounts based upon quantity. Here is a resource for more information: GourmetStation Corporate Food Gift Brochure.

Call us at 1-888-944-9794 between the hours of 9 and 5 Eastern time / Monday through Friday.

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