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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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The Art Of Salt

Posted: June 29, 2006
by: T.Alexander

Sodium, better known as salt, is an essential mineral component of a health diet. According to James Mellgren, writer for The Gourmet Retailer Magazine “if anyone ever tells you that they don’t eat salt, check their pulse or at least take it, well, with a grain of salt.” Salt

Besides being essential for health, salt has more uses that you can begin to imagine.

Boiling eggs in salty water makes them peel easier

Poaching eggs in salted water helps set the egg whites

Soaking pecans in salt water for several hours before shelling will make the meat easier to remove.

Cleaning an iron-cooking pan is easy with a little salt.

You can even rub teacups with salt to remove tea or coffee stains.

Did you know a pinch of salt in coffee would enhance the flavor and remove bitterness from overheating?

There are basically three types of salt. Sea salt is literally harvested from the se. Mined salt is brought up from the earth, crushed, cleaned and then packaged for consumer use. And the third type is also mined but is the overly processed table salt that we are accustomed to.

SaltWorks assists connoisseurs with a wealth of information on salt including definitions and applications.

Celtic Sea Salt – Originates from the Atlanta Ocean off of France’s Brittany coast.

Fleur De Sel – Harvested from evaporation ponds like France’s Guerande region.

Hawaiian Sea Salt – A tradition with a natural mineral called alaea (volcanic baked red clay) that enriches iron oxide and gives it a pinkish color

Kosher Salt – Contains few or no additives in accordance with Jewish dietary guidelines

There you have it. There’s an art to everything, including salt.

Cooking At Casa Bellavista

Posted: June 25, 2006
by: T.Alexander

It is with sincere gratitude to Edie and Dave Galusha that I share with you their latest adventure in Tuscan culture and cuisine. We hope to hear more very soon from Edie & Dave about their latest trip to Tuscany. Enjoy!

The people of Italy approach life with a zeal and passion for what they do.  It’s evidenced in events such as the Palio and the Calcio Storico.  It’s evidenced in their approach to making pecorino and parmagiana reggiano cheeses and in their making of fine olive oils and wines.  Their passion for life extends to their joy of family celebrations and to their love for cooking.  They are artisans in all that they do and la cucinia italiana is a place where the artisans are at their creative best.

Our trips to Tuscany gave birth to our interest in Italian cooking.  It was at Casa Bellavista that we met Simonetta Di Marche.  In Simonetta’s kitchen, Simonetta_cooking around her large marble topped table we learned what la cucina italiana  really means.  Simonetta’s kitchen is not a large “cooking school” kitchen where many people at one time are learning how to make “restaurant” style meals.  It is a “traditional” Tuscan kitchen where you learn traditional Tuscan home cooking.  Cooking lessons at Casa Bellavista are hands on cooking experiences.  Simonetta shares her enthusiasm and passion for cooking which creates a unique and wonderful environment for learning.

At our first cooking lesson, it did not take long for us to get wrist deep in flour and mashed potatoes as we learned the art of making gnocchi.  Then, some pomodori, a pinch of this herb, a dash of that herb, and soon we had an excellent sauce for the gnocchi. 


We’ve progressed from basic pasta dishes such as tagliatella and accompanying sauces to preparing full dinners including: Antipasto (appetizer), Primi (pasta), Secundo (meat or fish), Contorni (vegetables), Insalata (salad) and then perhaps a break for some Formaggio before we serve the Dolce followed by Café.  The preparation of this type of dinner is culinary creativity at its finest and serves to heighten the anticipation of a pleasant evening with friends around la tavola enjoying carefully selected wines, great food and eachother’s friendship.

The following menu would be served after sharing conversation together over an apertivo and some crostini or perhaps a bruschetta or two.Guido_cooking

A sample menu might include the following:

Antipasto - Mussels Toscana

Primi - Pasta Carbonara

Secundo - Pesce Bianca

Contorni - Oven roasted vegetables

Insalata - Orange, beet & parmigiano-reggiano salad

Formaggio - Assiago e' Pecorino

Dolce - Crostata di Frutta

Cafe e' Grappa

The beauty of Italian cooking is in the freshness of the ingredients and in the blending of textures and flavors. The joy of Italian cooking is in sharing it with others. Thanks Simonetta for teaching us both the beauty and the joy of Italian cooking.

Edie and Dave Galusha


Table Setting Etiquette

Posted: June 19, 2006
by: T.Alexander

When setting your table I’ll bet you’ve always wondered - Table_setting

  • Do knives go on the left or are forks on the left?
  • If a spoon is to be used for first course, is it inside or outside?
  • Are wine glasses positioned above knives or forks?
  • And where the heck should that butter plate go?

Fret no more because Robert Jackson with Gourmet Food Revolution has the answers. Robert has just developed a new page for his wonderful web site called Table Setting Etiquette and the answers are all right there. Oh, Robert has this bit of advice for you which is one of the reasons he is my favorite UK butlering consultant – “Entertaining is intended to be enjoyed so don’t allow yourself to become overly concerned about table setting etiquette…..Just relax and ENJOY YOURSELF!

Father's Day Poem

Posted: June 17, 2006
by: T.Alexander


Did I ever say thanks
for all the toys you mended,
games we played,
outings to the park,
and the way you
always tried to cheer
me when I was down?

Did I ever say thanks for
the sacrifices you made
so I could be involved
in so many enriching

Did I ever say thanks for
working so hard
to provide for our family?

Did I ever say thanks
for having such faith in me
and always being there
when I needed you?

Most of all,
Did I ever say thanks for caring?


Enjoy - we found a few more Father's Day poems for you!

A Personal Tribute to the Official 80th Birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth

Posted: June 13, 2006
by: Robert Jackson

I have “known” HM Queen Elizabeth all of my life – after all, she had already been on the throne for well over a year by the time I was born! And so it is understandable that a great many of her subjects view her with an almost maternal awe! For not only is she a mother to her own children, but she is also truly a very grand and respected mother figure to literally many millions of loyal subjects Worldwide – and I am proud to count myself as one of them!Queen_top_1

So yes, we have all “grown up” with her. We may not actually know her in person, but we know her person VERY well! And such dedication! She has devoted her entire life to serving the multi-faceted community of the Commonwealth, and succeeded in doing so in an exemplary and unblemished fashion. In her life, Queen Elizabeth has conferred over 387,000 honours and awards on others……..…but she unfortunately can never receive any such honour for her own remarkable service!

Here in the UK, the Formal Celebrations to mark the occasion will be held on June 15th. This will include a National Service of Thanksgiving in St. Paul’s Cathedral, a glittering Lunch at Mansion House hosted by the Lord Mayor of London, and finally, a Beating of the Retreat by the 5 Royal Marines Bands which will also mark the 85th Birthday of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

10 interesting & unusual facts about the HM Queen Elizabeth:

  1. The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair is the first Prime Minister to be born in the Queen’s reign. He was born early in May 1953 – a month before the Coronation.
  2. The Queen has received over 3 million items of correspondence during her reign.
  3. Her Majesty has undertaken over 256 official overseas visits to 129 countries.
  4. During her reign, the Queen has received many unusual gifts, including a variety of live animals, pineapples, eggs, a box of snail shells, a grove of maple trees, and 7kg of prawns!
  5. The Queen’s real birthday is actually on April 21st but it is always officially celebrated in June (this year on June 17th).
  6. The Queen has launched 23 ships in her lifetime. Her first being her beloved Royal Yacht Britannia, now sadly decommissioned.
  7. In her lifetime, The Queen has given out about 78,000 Christmas Puddings to her staff continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI.
  8. The Queen has sat for 139 official portraits. Her Majesty was just 7 years old when she sat for her first portrait in 1933.
  9. The Queen sent a message of congratulations to the Apollo 11 astronauts for the first moon landing on 21st July 1969. The message was micro-filmed and deposited on the moon surface in a metal container.
  10. Her Majesty has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign. The Queen also introduced a new breed of dog known as the “dorgi” when one of her Majesty’s corgis was mated with a dachshund.

For many more interesting facts about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, visit the official site of the British Monarchy at this web site.

At times of great National rejoice such as this, I am proud to be British! And I am especially proud that we are fortunate enough to enjoy the reign of a Monarch so loved and so respected. So, like many millions of her loyal subjects across the globe, I would personally like to pass on my greetings…….. Happy Birthday Ma’am!

To finish, let me share with you one of my favourite, traditional British puddings. This classic, sumptuous yet simple dessert is truly fit for a Queen!

Queen of Puddings

Serves 6

1 pint (600ml) milk

2 oz (50g) unsalted butter

4 oz (110g) fresh white breadcrumbs

2 oz (50g) caster sugar (fine granulated sugar)

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

4 egg yolks, beaten

3 tablespoons raspberry jam, warmed

For the meringue

4 egg whites

4oz (110g) caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F, 180C, gas mark 4

  1. Generously butter a 2 pint shallow pie or baking dish.
  2. Bring the milk and lemon zest to the boil in a saucepan. Take it off the heat and add the butter, sugar and breadcrumbs. Stir well to mix and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the egg yolks to the cooled breadcrumb mixture and stir well.
  4. Pour the mixture into the buttered dish and stand this in a roasting tray ¾ filled with hot water.
  5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the custard is just set. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before carefully spreading the warmed jam over the surface.
  6. Increase the oven temperature to 450F/230C, gas mark 8.
  7. Using an electric whisk beat the egg whites until stiff. Then whisk in half of the sugar to form a glossy meringue. Finally fold in the remaining sugar using a metal spoon.
  8. Spoon the meringue over the custard base and swirl the top. Return to the oven for about 15 minutes until the topping is golden brown.
  9. Serve warm.


For more about Robert Jackson click here. And don't forget his wonderful web site GourmetFood Revolution.

Father's Day Food & Fun - Gourmet Meals Delivered

Posted: June 9, 2006
by: T.Alexander

J. Scott Wilson with Internet Broadcasting had a chance to sample our three course Parisian dinner for two as a Father's Day gift option. We hope you enjoy the favorable review and remember GourmetStation this year for a truly unique Father's Day gift.Scott_wilson

Last year at this time, I was the proud father of a 3-month-old boy, and all I coveted in the world in the way of a Father's Day present was a good, long snuggle session with him in the big, comfy chair in the living room.

Well, a year has passed, and that little bundle of joy is now running around the house and yard, chasing the dogs, mowing the yard with his little plastic lawnmower, learning the wonders of playing in the sprinkler and generally saying, "Hello, world! I'm in charge, here."

And now, the best present is the one I get every day, when I pick him up at day care and I hear "DADDY!" and he toddles across the playground on a beeline for my legs.

That's not to say I haven't had my eye peeled for nifty Father's Day loot, though, if only for you less altruistic dads who actually want something other than your child's unbridled affection. Not that I, myself, would ever consider asking for something.

However, honey, if you happen to be reading this, and you're just absolutely determined to get me something, I wouldn't mind a selection from this bunch.

Gourmet Goodies

I've come across a lot of "gourmet to go" services in the last few years, and I've yet to find one that didn't at some point cross the line between gourmet grub and vaguely high-class takeout chow. Either the sauces didn't hold up or the meat was overcooked or one of the sides hadn't been properly made to be reheated.

However, gourmet takeout is a great idea for Father's Day for one simple reason: time. Most dads would much rather have time with the family than have Mom and the kids spend hours in the kitchen putting something together. I'm not for a moment suggesting that cooking for Dad (or Mom) is a bad thing, but sometimes the time spent cooking gets in the way of spending quality time together.

The folks at Gourmet Station have gotten the whole thing right. Great recipes combined with genius-level packaging and shipment techniques produce a meal that, with your microwave or conventional oven for heating assistance, beats most fine restaurant food I've had lately.

I sampled the Chicken Cordon Bleu, not because it's my favorite dish but because it's something that pretty much every gourmet takeout or delivery service makes. It's delivery-friendly, since it's a fairly self-contained dish. However, it's also something that frequently ends up tasting like a buffet-table reject. Either the chicken is dry, or the breading is heavy (or soggy), or the filling is poorly constructed.

None of that was present here. This was CCB as it's meant to be. The breading was light and slightly crispy, the chicken was tender and the filling was flavorful and in perfect proportion to the surrounding meat. The accompanying Creamy Spinach with Artichokes was, as my dining partner described, creamed spinach taken to levels unknown. It complemented the chicken beautifully, and really could have stood on its own as an entree.

And then ... dessert! In this case, that was "bake your own" Amaretto cookies, with semi-sweet chocolate chunks, almonds and Amaretto liqueur. I'm very glad these are not available at my local store, as my weight-loss plan would be in serious danger.

For Father's Day, Gourmet Station has put together a Father's Day Feast anchored by Beef Wellington. Hey, it's MEAT, just what any dad would want!

GourmetStation Announces Father's Day Menu - Gourmet Meal Delivered

Posted: June 8, 2006
by: T.Alexander

Hot Off The Press - Just In Case You Are Seeking A Unique Father's Day Gift

GourmetStation is asking their customers the following questions. Are you unique? Is your Dad unique? The answer has been an overwhelming “Yes” so GourmetStation recommends giving your Dad a unique Father’s Day gift this year, a 4 course gourmet meal delivered – a Feast Fit For King.

According to Founder & President Donna Lynes-Miller, “this Father's Day menu has been designed for the family that appreciates emotional connecting with food. With geography and miles separating families during events like Father’s Day there is no better way to show love than with food.”

The Feast For A King menu features GourmetStation’s most exquisite center of the plate entrée, Beef Wellington with demi glace sauce. Starters include sourdough boule and creamy tomato basil soup. The dinner for two is topped off with cappuccino cheesecake and European blend coffee. In addition to exquisite cuisine, the gourmet meal for two normally priced at $89.99 is $79.99 plus standard shipping, a value of $19.99, is free. Free gift packaging is also included and delivery is nationwide.

GourmetStation also advises their customers to expect a benefit for Mom. With only 30 minutes preparation Mom can have the evening off from cooking.

About GourmetStation: GourmetStation delivers a delicious in-home dining experience complete with the flavor of travel to an exciting cultural destination. The online retailer offers the unique opportunity to give or receive a gourmet meal to mark a life-cycle occasion or just to take a night off from cooking. GourmetStation offers multiple regional menu options including Parisian, Tuscan, Cajun, Fusion as well a Romance menu and seasonal menus like Easter brunch. The wide variety of destination-based themed cuisine is designed to spark the imagination of both the giver and receiver. Each chef-inspired gourmet meal is intended to provide a dining experience similar to that of its regional inspiration. Internationally-themed three and four course gourmet meals are delivered anywhere in the United States. Deep-chilled dinners require only 30 minutes preparation and four course dinners also include European blend coffee or organic tea, after-dinner candy, floating candle and matches. Prices for multi-course dinners for two range from $69.99 to $99.99. Gourmet gift certificates, including Dinner of the Month certificates, are ideal for birthdays and anniversaries. For more information visit GourmetStation.com or call 1-888-944-9794.

Contact Information: Donna Lynes-Miller Founder & President # # #

Unique Father's Day Gift

Posted: June 8, 2006
by: T.Alexander

You're not ordinary. Your family isn't ordinary. And certainly your Father isn't ordinary. So why give an ordinary Father's Day gift? Why not give a unique Father's Day gift - a gourmet meal delivered from GourmetStation.

This year a special menu has been developed and annointed - A Feast For A King. And a feast it is featuring Beef Wellington with demi glace sauce, creamy spinach & artichokes, sourdough boule, cream of tomato basil soup and dessert. Ah dessert of Amaretto cheesecake and European blend coffee. Beef_wellington

The price of this gourmet meal delivered is normally $89.99 but this year GourmetStation is offering it at $79.99 plus free standard shipping valued at $19.99. How can you go wrong with a unique Father's Day gift for Dad and savings of $29.99 for you. Oh, don't tell Mom that the gourmet dinner is for her as well - a night off from the kitchen!

Father's Day Memories & Gourmet Meals

Posted: June 3, 2006
by: Mark Stine

This is beyond a doubt my most favorite post from guest writer Mark Stine. Kind of makes me want to go fishin' - Enjoy!

As the baby boom generation ages and their fathers, generally from what is dubbed “The Greatest Generation” of the World War II era pass on, all many of us have to celebrate Father’s Day is memories. And it is looking back into those early years that many of us can take comfort in knowing what great times we had and shared with our fathers.

My two brothers and sister and I had many memories fishing in the upper peninsula of Michigan. My father had a friend, Ed Kelly – with a Cast Iron Belly, as my youngest brother always used to call him, who was a fishing guide. He took us back many a logging road into the backcountry of the UP, in search of the elusive and hard to catch native brook trout.  It was a great exposure as a kid to beaver dams, wild grouse, deer, sand hill crane and bear, which we often saw on the road or at the local garbage dump. Back in the 60’s this was a sure fire way to see big bears feeding on table scraps, now since outlawed, as well the bears got lazy and didn’t bother to forage on their own anymore. Not ecologically PC anymore but sure fun back then.Marks_dad_7

These excursions into the back country areas around Seney, Germfask and the Manistique lakes, provided a wonderful backdrop for sunny skies, trout ponds, boating on the lakes and the ubiquitous fish fry. While we also did our share of lake fishing for perch and walleyes, it was the brook trout that were the favorites. There was nothing like the trout creel, lined with local ferns and dampened, filling up with “brookies”, whose interior flesh often was a dark orange in color.

Knowing that later that night we would have a great fish fry was also half the fun. These trout, when properly cleaned and pan fried, could be filleted with just a fork pulling out all of the bones and leaving the tasty trout to savor.

Our memories centered around a menu that consisted of:

Fresh caught Native Michigan Brook Trout - fried up in a “well seasoned” cast iron skillet

Fried potatoes with onions

Fresh grown Rutabaga out of that Michigan garden

Wilted Lettuce Dressing

Now the wilted lettuce dressing was always a favorite and was made my dad’s best friend’s wife, Helen Hildebrand, who just turned 89 this year. Her husband Art was a good friend of my father’s for over 70 years and like my dad, he was an accomplished fisherman as well. And between them they created a lot of memories for our family.

I thought it would be fun to share the recipe…not quite like the “ recipe” of the Baldwin sisters on the Waltons, but still darn good.

Wilted Lettuce Dressing

Fry up some bacon (8-12 slices ..nice and crispy like)

Drain / cool and chip into small pieces

Take ½ cup of vinegar…fill with sugar until volume reaches the one cup line (double for larger quantity servings or to store)

Pour solution into the skillet and heat with one egg…stir it up and cook for a minute or so until egg is mixed and cooked

Leave to slightly cool

Pour dressing on Wedge of Iceberg lettuce / or chopped

Or can be used on fresh spinach


Sliced Fresh Strawberries sprinkled with sugar and picked form that Michigan garden

If you can’t be with Dad this Father’s Day, you want to send him a unique Father’s Day gift, then connect with a gourmet meal from GourmetStation. Time and distance often don’t let us be with our father and as long as you have him with you, cherish the time and let gourmet dinners from GourmetStation make the day special. If you can be with dad, then order some favorite dishes that he likes from the wonderful and tasty selections that GourmetStation is known for and surprise him with a great feast. The memories and pictures you capture will last a lifetime and it will be fun to see that glint in his eye when he looks at you and savors that last bite of dessert....or is that a tear!.

Happy Father’s Day !

Say Congratulations With Gourmet Meals

Posted: June 2, 2006
by: Mark Stine

Welcome back guest writer Mark Stine! In this post Mark shares how says Congratulations and makes that special connection with experiential gourmet meal gifts. Enjoy

We all like to feel special and one way you can really feel special is to do something special for someone else. It’s gratifying and lets that special person know you’re thinking about them and their accomplishments. Whether it’s friend, family or co-worker sending a gift to recognize someone’s accomplishment or achievement is a wonderful way to keep in touch. And GourmetStation can make the gift giving so easy to do. Imagine how wonderful you feel when someone sends you something to acknowledge your achievement… pretty special right? You can be top of mind with all your friends and family by making simple gestures of caring and gifting.

I like the notion of gifting food for many occasions, including saying congratulations with gourmet food gifts. Of course we’ve all sent and received gift baskets, and some of them are quite nice. But if you want to give something that exceeds the ordinary, give an experience – a four course dinner for two from GourmetStation’s Parisian, Tuscan, Cajun or Fusion menus. Think how appropriate an easy to prepare, elegant gourmet meal for two would be for a new baby gift, a housewarming gift, a promotion gift, or even a retirement gift.

When you start to think about it, the opportunities are so varied and can be a fun addition to your life. At my age I’ve begun to look at things differently and realize the focus is not about material things but about family, friends and celebrating their lives. Food makes that connection, the gourmet meals gifts do it best!