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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: August 23, 2009
by: Dave, Edie & Simonetta

Having enjoyed a marvelous breakfast buffet at Casa Bellavista, our friends Bill and Marg and Edie and I headed out to travel some of the winding roads of rural Tuscany, on our way to Montefollonico.  The breakfast had been delightful…muffins, fruit, cereal, a selection of meats and cheeses and that marvelous Italian coffee. 

As we drove down the driveway of Casa Bellavista, we enjoyed the view of Cortona (some call it the Grandmother of Rome) but today was a day to meander the back roads and visit the picturesque medieval village of Montefollonico, a village that is “off the beaten path”.  To reach Montefollonico, you are required to drive through the beautiful countryside of the Val di Chiana and down some back roads that wind through farmland and fields dotted with olive orchards, fields of wild poppies and broom. 


Some have called Montefollonico a “miniature medieval city”.  At one time it was surrounded by medieval stone walls complete with seven round towers.  Today, the village is still entered through large gates, the main gate being Porta del Pianello.  It was once complete with a drawbridge.  The 12th century buildings of Montefollonico are built on the site where Etruscan and Roman settlements had previously been built. The name in part comes from the Latin word fullones, meaning “wool workers”.  Montefollonico was once a place where villagers and area farmers raised sheep and where wool was worked.
After a relaxed walking tour of this beautiful little hill town enjoying the narrow streets and beautiful flowers, we decided to have lunch at Ristorante 13 Gobbi located on Via Lando Di Duccio 5.


The terrace of 13 Gobbi was a charming and an inviting scene.  The menu offered a variety of traditional Tuscan foods and the wine selection was superb. Our lunches consisted of a tasty selection of ce ci e salvia, insulate, grilled vegetables and fagioli e olio. A delicious local vino rosso complimented our lunch.

The trip back to Casa Bellavista took us over more beautiful countryside and past the majestic hill town of Montepulciano, home of the world famous Brunello di Montepulciano.

The sweet fragrance of the jasmine drifted through the air and mingled with the scent of the roses at Casa Bellavista.  We were enjoying an early evening Tuscan sunset and a glass of wine.  The table had been set for al fresco dining.  Simonetta informed us that the dinner she and Guido were preparing included insalata di cavolfiori (cauliflower, olives, peppers, oil, garlic and salt and pepper), pasta carbonara a Guido, grilled melanzana flavored with a touch of olive oil and some formaggio and fruit for our dolce.  For our wine, we would be having a Rosso di Spaltenna from the vineyards at Spaltenna, the castle in Gaiole in Chianti where Guido is the General Manager.  Tonight, however, he was our chef and was preparing us his recipe for pasta carbonara. 


As we sipped our Rosso di Spaltenna we talked of the true treasures of Tuscany…the beauty of the countryside, the rich history of the hill towns, the respect for the culture of art and architecture, the relaxed pace of living and of course, the Pasta Carbonara a Guido.   


Buon Appetito,

Edie, Dave and Simonetta


Pasta Carbonara a Guido
· 1 lb. Linguini
· 5 Eggs
· Pancetta or Prosciutto [2 or 3 slices about ¼ inch thick – depends on how  much you like it]
· 3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
· 1 Cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese [May us ¾ cup if desired]
· 1/4 Cup onion, finely diced [If desired]
· Black Pepper
· Salt
· 1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh garlic [if desired]
· Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Cook pasta until just under al dente.
· While pasta water heats and you cook the pasta, dice pancetta or prosciutto and sauté in extra virgin olive oil until it is a bit crisp.  When crisp, drain excess fat and set aside.
· Mix eggs in bowl and grate a generous amount of black pepper [to taste] into eggs and mix.
· Add Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to egg and pepper mix and whip until smooth creamy texture.
· Add pasta to pan with pancetta or prosciutto and mix well
· Add egg mixture, whisking quickly until the egg mixture thickens, [but do not scramble the eggs]
· Toss until pasta is well covered with mixtures and serve hot.

Raksha Bhandan

Posted: August 19, 2009
by: Ramesh Shani

 5th August 2009 we are having a festive celebration known as ‘Raksha Bhandan. Raksha means protection and Bhandan means bonding. It is a bonding from brother to his sister for her protection. The date is based on Hindu calendar which goes by moon cycles and therefore the English date changes every year. It falls on full moon day of the month of Shravan. On this day the sister ties a colorful wristband on the right wrist of her brother, applies bindi on his forehead, mouth feeds a sweet (Indians are greatly fond of sweats made from milk and/or dry fruits). Brother on his turn bows to touch her feet, vows for her protection and gives her gifts. Sounds interesting, isn’t it?


It’s not a national holiday though private firms close for the day. Being a working day for the majority, it causes a lot of hectic activity in each family. Sisters (married ones) move out to visit their brothers (guess if there is more than one pair of sister/brother in a family). Some make a large gathering in one of the brother’s house. Daughters-in-law also need to visit their brother/s. Employed sisters reach brother’s house before reaching office and/or attend to another brother after office hours. Can you imagine the chaos! Kilos and kilos of sweet meats get accumulated in every house. Sweet meat shops have a roaring business starting a day earlier. Each shop is over crowded. Sometimes you need to wait for half an hour to await your turn. Lives being on fast tract in Mumbai people adjust the day with a Sunday prior or later to the actual date. Funny aspect of this is there are always cases of young lovers bonding with the wrist band in front of their elders and eloping to get married when they think the time is ripe!


Ramesh Shani - Guest Writer From India



So What's A Plush Puff?

Posted: August 15, 2009
by: T.Alexander

Need a little boost for your coffee? What about a unique dessert topping? Or a treat between waffers? A Plush Puff will do the job. Plush Puffs are gourmet marsmallows made the old fashioned way - handmade over 2 days of whipping into heavenly lightness then flavored with high quality all-natural ingredients. They come in Caramel Swirl, Chocolate Chipetta, Vanilla Bean, Lucious Lemony Meringue & Simply S'mores. Delicious. We sampled Caramel, Chocolate & Lemon and the only negative is that we wish we could have tried S'mores!


Ocean Sparkling Seafood Dinner Gifts

Posted: August 9, 2009
by: T.Alexander

Best buy for the hot summer month of August? Our new Seafood Dinner Gifts – a brand new product line we’ve just launched. Delicious plus we’re offering Free Shipping! Until we introduced our Certified Angus Beef ® steak dinner gifts, all entrees needed to be finished in the oven for about 30 minutes. What’s different about our steak dinner gifts and seafood dinner gifts is that they may be easily pan seared or grilled in just minutes. Our new seafood dinner gifts also include handmade appetizers, garlic bread, cheesecake and organic tea to enjoy after dinner with great conversation.

Seafood Dinner Gifts GourmetStation  

So which is my favorite? That’s a hard question, but I’d have to say Sea Bass. I’m told this specie is one of the most difficult to fish. Anyhow, what I enjoy most about it is the thickness of the fillet, the firm bite and of course, the ocean fresh flavor. Don’t forget the Free Shipping offer & bon appetit!

Sea Bass Dinner Gift


Pistachios – Healthy Summer Treat

Posted: August 1, 2009
by: T.Alexander

When do you think about eating nuts? Chocolate covered cashews at Christmas perhaps? Or roasted peanuts in the summer? My favorite nut, hands down, is the pistachio. I have to work hard to get to that little morsel, but it’s worth it. So let’s explore the pistachio.




Pistachios are cultivated from trees pruned to make harvest easier. As with a good wine, the trees, planted in orchards, usually take 7 to 10 years to produce a significant harvest. The top producing countries are Iran, US, Turkey, Syria and China. That’s logical since pistachios come from what is referred to as a desert plant highly tolerant of saline soil.




The uses for pistachios are endless. Top on a salad, add to ice cream, mix with cottage cheese or just enjoy by themselves. Pistachios are also good for your heart. They’re full of nutrients that help prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol.  




I found a great sources for pistachios from Superior Nut Store. Right now their featured product is Colossal Pistachios in a glass jar for $44.99. Better hurry – it’s a great deal!