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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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Easter Food Gift at GourmetStation
Posted: March 29, 2009
Easter is upon us with rites of spring passage, religious ceremonies and as with all significant holidays, great food. If you’re looking for an Easter food gift to treat yourself or to gift a friend or family member, GourmetStation has the answer; an Easter brunch for two.
This delicious offering features a lean, smoked ham with honey glaze. The ham generously serves two (left-overs guaranteed) Also included are six handmade appetizers, creamy spinach with artichokes and sweet potatoes. For dessert enjoy coconut cream cheesecake and Numi organic tea. Delicious.
The price for this delicious Easter food gift is $79.99 with 50% off shipping. Complimentary gift packaging and lovely MP3 music are part of this and all food gifts at GourmetStation. Oh, almost forgot; somewhere in the package are hidden “Peeps” candy – for the kid in all of us. Happy Easter!
Celtic Women at the Fabluous Fox Theater
Posted: March 26, 2009
Isle of Hope is the official name of the Celtic Women 2009 tour and the gourmet girls from GourmetStation, Julie Davenport & Donna Lynes-Miller, were privileged to occupy “pit” seats at their March 24, 2009 performance at the fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta. The day of a the concert a friend who was unaware of Celtic Woman asked “what is their genre?” All I could think of was “Irish gospel.” The concert proved they were much more than this tiny niche.
The creative and direction behind the group is David Downes, an accomplished artist with background in composition from Trinity College in Dublin. Television, film and most notably his role as orchestrator of Riverdance on Broadway explain why Celtic Women enjoys success and passionate fans.
One of the most moving moments of their performance (and there were many) was a special song dedicated to America performed against a background of images of Irish immigrants pouring into Ellis Island. Standing ovation was spontaneous as the tour name, Isle of Hope, started to make sense.
The most engaging performer was Mairead, an all-Ireland fiddle player and energetic dancer. Her ability to dance like a fairy in and around the other performers gave the stage a vibrant energy. The audience responded enthusiastically to Orinoco Flow (aka Sail Away) but their most passionate response was clearly to the Irish classics, Danny Boy and You Raise Me Up. Here is a stirring performance of You Raise Me Up from YouTube. For all you Morricone fans, they didn’t omit Nella Fantasia; Chloe delivered this favorite from The Mission with precision and passion.
The 4 singers were delightful and I found it interesting that Lisa was a lead vocalist with Riverdance The Show. Each singer brought her individual style and delivery to the mix. I was almost mesmerized by the performance when it struck me how very young these women are. Their almost-mature voices in solo and in unison produced child-like, innocent sounds. Mix that with Irish classics and what do you have? An evening of Celtic magic.
Next Fox music engagement for these two gourmet girls – El Divo – again at the fabulous Fox Theater, July 1, 2009.
From The Perspective of a Coffee Bean - Happy Bean Coffee
Posted: March 23, 2009
The poets tell us that the mysteries of life may be discovered through a blade of grass or a grain of sand. What about a coffee bean? Why not? The team at Happy Bean Coffee believes that you should know the soul of the coffee bean so they have written about its life as if it had awareness and destiny. The article is masterfully written starting with the beginnings of the bean in the equatorial mountains:
“The coffee bean stirs within and, to the first sounds of birds and the morning rituals of nearby inhabitants, the rain forest awakens around it.”
The bean takes on personality with great expectations:
“It will be a gourmet Arabica bean or it will be nothing; it will taste rich and be aromatic or existence will be meaningless. Dreams of lattes, French roast, decaf, espresso and perhaps, flavored hints of hazelnut, chocolate, or vanilla, may fill the time, but ultimate satisfaction is yet a long way off. For now, the gourmet coffee bean is tucked in the caring hands of the plantation farmer and there it will stay, until inevitability pulls it from its cozy mountainside home.”
The process of harvesting, transporting and roasting is romanticized:
“A bath in pure mountain water awakens energy stored within it, and a fresh, new, green coffee bean emerges from the red pod in which it had nestled for so long. As though it has passed this way a thousand times, the gourmet coffee bean bumps first down the mountain trails and dirt roads of its little corner of the world --joined gradually by others of like origin and destiny. Together they fill baskets, bags, vehicles, and the holds of freighters destined for the worlds four corners, and the coffee roasters there of the highest standards.”
And finally it fulfills it’s purpose – ultimately providing you with a nice experience that you just might take for granted:
“The bean has now given all of itself. Yet what has been given remains delicately within. The essence lingers and is cooled. In its state of grace, the gourmet bean is delicately and proudly packaged by the roastmaster--bag by bag--to be whisked off on a its final journey.”
How cool is this? I never stopped to think about this level of awareness in agricultural products; especially a commodity that we take for granted. Bravo Happy Coffee Bean team!
You might also want to check out their line up of fine coffee including Colombian, Premium Espresso, Organic and Sumatra Mandheling. I was intrigued by the coffee jelly especially the Vanilla Latte and Crème Brulee. Sounds yummy. Great work Happy Bean Coffee.
Spring Skiing…Smooth Jazz …and Park City Living
Posted: March 8, 2009
I try and make my annual ski pilgrimage in the spring...much as I like the snow...I prefer the bright sun and warmer days of spring when the kodachrome (do we still use that term now that everything has gone digital??) blue skies make for great skiing or lounging on a sundeck with a micro beer in hand. Park City and environs, Deer Valley and The Canyons have become the neighborhood of choice for me. A simple shuttle flight from Las Vegas and a fast shuttle van ride can get you to the mountains in minimal time and maximum enjoyment.
What made this trip so much fun was an in town cocktail party hosted by a local attorney. A rather eclectic group of individuals attended the party making for great conversation. My ski friend Mark pulled together a rather simple dish, high on cholesterol and taste. I wondered how well it would be received, but once arriving at the party and seeing how quickly the whole thing disappeared, I felt it was worth passing along.
Cheese Crisp Appetizer
Once the wine started flowing, the group proved to be congenial and diverse in interests. I found myself seated between a Park City chanteuse relocated from Los Angeles and an Interior designer mom whose adult son competes in the Pizza tossing competition of the world.
Cd Darling, a recent locator to Park City is a songstress. She had supplied her cd to our host and it provided a warm jazz backdrop for conversation. As any good marketer would do (and with a name like CD promoting a cd – well enough said) CD just happened to have a supply on hand for sale. “Rat Packin’ – with Love CD Darling is the epitome of smooth jazz and perfect for your own social or cocktail get together. CD has a very long and varied musical background and has toured from Australia to Japan , UK, Mexico and Canada and most major US cities. I scooped one up and downloaded it to my computer so I can relax when working. But I digress…. Hearing her recording stories was a real treat…so if you would like to obtain a copy of her cd check out her website and email her for more information.
Seated to my other side was a mom, who was an interior decorator. As any good mother does, she talked about her son and not herself. Her son competed in a national World Pizza Games Pizza tossing competition and had learned quickly from his mentor, who worked with him at the pizza shop and had taken top honors. The event, which followed my Park City trip, was in March 2008 and he had won in 2007. I just checked and the next event will again be in Las Vegas March 10th 2009. If Interested, check out this web link http://www.worldpizzachampions.com/games.php
They had both out-competed the Italians, which was amazing as her son at that time had only been pizza tossing for one year. So next time you order a pizza somewhere…have a new found respect for those pizza tossing “preppers” in the back...they might just be in competitive practice on your pizza!
When traveling I have found it is always fun to be open to new experiences…you never know who you might meet at a cocktail party and what new friends you make along the way.
As they “Andiamo”!!
Castello di Spaltenna...The Heart Of Chianti
Posted: March 1, 2009
There is an area of Tuscany that offers the traveler breath taking beauty. It affords the traveler a challenging terrain of mountains and valleys combined with a maze of winding roads which if stretched straight could possibly reach from this earth to heaven. But they do not need to be stretched for they wend their way through vineyards and olive groves, villages and past villas and castles. This is the Chianti region of Tuscany, a region some believe is “heaven on earth”. This is an area of Tuscany which is steeped in the history and traditions of the Middle Ages and of the conflict between Florence and Siena.
Situated among the rolling hillsides of Gaiole in Chianti is the historic castle of Castello di Spaltenna. As you enter into the courtyard of Castello di Spaltenna you pass the entrance of Pieve di Spaltenna (Santa Maria di Spaltenna), a small church dating back to the 11th. Century. Pausing to look into the chapel, we are taken with the simplicity of its Romanesque architecture. As we check in, we learn that Spaltenna was once a medieval monastery connected to the Pieve. What was once the cloister of the monastery serves today as a welcoming courtyard to the hotel.
As we were taken to our room, we could not help but appreciate the beauty of the medieval architecture surrounding us. Our room, complete with canopied bed afforded us a unique feature. It had a small window overlooking the altar of the Pieve di Spaltenna and a kneeling bench so prayers could be offered while viewing the church’s altar.
Perhaps this had been the room of the priest when Spaltenna had been an active monastery.
After “settling in”, we strolled the beautiful grounds and enjoyed the roses and the many floral gardens as well as the views of vineyards and mountains. The quiet and relaxed beauty was striking.
Dinner that evening was in Il Pievano, an absolutely marvelous restaurant at Castello di Spaltenna The dinner menu offered such wonderful selections as: Pappardelle di farro al sugo di fagiano in infusione di alloro broccoli e tartufi (Pappardelle pasta made of spelt with pheasant ragout flavoured with bay leaf, broccoli and truffle) or Filetto di Rombo arrosto con capperi di Pantelleria indivia brasata e pappa al pomodoro all’olio extravergine di oliva (Roasted fillet of turbot with capers from Pantelleria endives and pappa al pomodoro).
For desert choices included, but were not limited to Tartelletta di Zucca e mandorle con gelato al bianco latte e amaretti (Tart of pumpkin and almonds with ice cream of milk and almonds) and Lacrima di ricciarelli avvolta da un velo di cioccolato, il cannolo al panforte di Siena e il gelato al panpepato
The food was prepared to an excellent standard and the service was perhaps the finest we have ever had. Enjoying dinner at Spaltenna is a marvellous way to spend an evening. The wine steward paired an excellent choice of wines to be served with our dinners. Spaltenna's wine cellar offers the widest range of wines...fantastico.
Some say that in real estate, location is everything. To us who travel, location is also important and Spaltenna offers its visitors an ideal location from which you can enjoy superb day trips. As an example, just a short ride from Castello di Spaltenna is the medieval borgo of Vertine, complete with its original tower, walls and gates.
A trip to Villa Vignamaggio, the estate that was home to the Mona Lisa and the film location for “Much Ado About Nothing” is another must for day trips from Castello di Spaltenna. Here you will enjoy gardens and magnificent views across the vineyard covered hillsides. Our suggestion is that you phone ahead for a reservation to tour the gardens and the wine cellars.
Located near Spaltenna, Badia a Coltibuono was formerly a Benedictine monestary. You will enjoy a well-ordered monastic garden and magnificent views of the countryside. Stop by the ristorante and enjoy a dish of some of the most delicious lemon-basil sorbet ever made.
Home to the Ricasoli family, Castello di Brolio, is also home to the now famous Chianti Classico. It is widely acclaimed that here, at Brolio, Baron Bettino Ricasoli developed the formula for Chianti Classico wine. The castle, surrounded by huge fortress like walls provides visitors with commanding views of valleys and vineyards Plan your trip around lunch time and enjoy a delightful dining experience at the Osteria del Castello. The menu offers traditional Tuscan dishes which will be a delight to your taste buds.
Castello di Spaltenna is a historic castle steeped in the finest of traditions of Chianti. Its rooms, service, restaurant and wine cellar are second to none. Its pool and outdoor dining make it the best of both worlds...a fine resort hotel and a great location to enjoy the surrounding areas of Chianti country.
Edie and Dave