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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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Saga Songs by Kim Madsen

Posted: January 31, 2010
by: T.Alexander

I studied music at university for two years – just long enough to know that I had minimum talent but maximum talent for appreciation. So I changed my major to English and allowed music to take its place as “a pleasure of this world.”  The classics always delivered the experience I was seeking.  However, I found most popular artists to be annoying; that is until the “new age” movement  came along.  Andreas Vollenweider, Kitaro, guitarist William Ackerman, pianist George Winston and of course, Enya…all these artists demonstrated that their “new” music could deliver a language of the heart…an experience that delivered peace as opposed to stress.

This was happening in the 1970’s and early 1980’s until I changed my music preferences to “alternative”  - a reflection of the changes of the 1990’s. Isn’t it odd how the music of the decade aligns with our state of mind during the same period? Almost makes you wonder what’s cause and what’s effect. So here we are in this new century with all manner of new stressors…economic, political, environmental.  Some members of my generation, the boomers, are finally beginning to give up their search for answers on the outside as they turn to introspection, spiritualism and a life of simplicity. Once a commitment has been made to take this new path, gifts come our way to help us along. I received such a gift from a good friend last year – a music cd called Saga Songs by Kim Madsen, an Atlanta artist.

I remember the first time I played Saga Songs – it was one of those typical days overfilled with too many trivial tasks. I listened once, again and then set Windows Media Player  to “repeat.” I could not get  enough of what Kim was saying. What a language! What an art filled way to gently say  “stop – slow down – remember who you are – remember what’s important.” That’s the best way I know how to describe excellent music. It’s stops me in my tracks and eclipses all the stressors in my world. It carries me to a higher place where I can gain perspective and a moment of peace. This is what Saga Songs did for me and still does today after many listenings.

I wrote a track by track review of Saga Songs (below) for Amazon; but honestly, this dilutes the experience to metaphor. Words don’t get it. The best way for you to enjoy the experience as I did is to acquire the cd. You can do that easily by visiting Amazon.com.  Congratulations Kim for your beautiful gift. Can’t wait to enjoy your next production.

Review of Saga Songs – Amazon.com
I am not a music critic so I am unable to use typical vernacular to describe Saga Songs. I am however, an avid fan of new age music and can describe the experience that the music provides. While new age music is a great "catch all" phrase, my description of Kim Madsen's "Saga Songs" would be "healing music." This world clearly needs more expressions of relaxation, peacefulness and sounds that are soothing to the senses. Kim achieves these goals and more with "Saga Songs." Like a symphony, a cd should be an experience; a memorable "ride" with ups and downs driving our emotions here and there. Kim takes us on a ride starting with the track "Tiger." He demonstrates his talent with the acoustic and electric guitars by producing a light, upbeat tune with the innocence of childhood. "Firefly Night" goes deeper as if the listener is floating in a sweet dream. My favorite tracks are "Remnant" and "No Place For You And Me." In these two tracks I am driven to the bitter-sweet state of adulthood that has a sadness and beauty at the same time. Such is life. Kim again shows us his diverse talent in "India" on the electric sitar. This track has a slightly more intense groove - another stop on the ride. Congratulations Kim - you have succeeded in creating totally unique and memorable music!

Ways To Purchase Saga Songs

Saga Songs on Amazon.com

Saga Songs on C.D. Baby

Direct from Artist:  info@sagasongs.com

Saga Songs Image

C.D. Cover Art by Paige Taylor, Atlanta GA

Autumn And The Fig Harvest At Casa Bellavista

Posted: January 24, 2010
by: T.Alexander

Autunno un tempo e appassionante e fantastico  in Toscano!  (Fall is an exciting and fantastic time in Tuscany.)  The rolling fields of grains in the val di chiana and the val d’ orcia have been harvested.  The fields of sun flowers that all summer long lifted their faces to the warm Tuscan sun have also been harvested.  The vineyard owners are preparing for vendemmi.  The months of hard work by the farmers and vineyard operators is now rewarding them with bountiful harvests.

The windows of la Camera Verde at Casa Bellavista overlook Simonetta’s and Guido’s garden which includes olive trees, fig trees and apricot trees. Settembre è il tempo per raccogliere i fichi a Cassabellavista.  (September is the time to harvest the figs at Casa Bellavista.)  We could see a basket of freshly picked figs on the marble topped table in Simonetta’s kitchen.  Simonetta had been out early in the garden, enjoying the morning Tuscan sun while carefully selecting only the perfectly ripe figs from each tree.

As we enjoyed the bounty of the breakfast table, we appreciated the crop of last year’s figs, spreading a tasty fig preserve Simonetta had made on warm pieces of bread.  Over breakfast, Simonetta explained that it was important to pick only the fruit that was “ripe on the tree’.  If it was passed ripe, the canning process would make the figs to soft and the texture would not be as good for the torta.


She harvested her figs over many different days, assuring that the fruit was just right.
While Simonetta was busy in her kitchen making tortas and canning figs,


Edie and I headed out for a relaxing tour of the Tuscan countryside.  What town(s) would we visit today…Pienza…Bagno Vignoni…Montepulciano…or might we dip down into Umbia and visit Panicale?  Whatever town(s) it would be, we knew that when we returned to Casa Bellavista, the house would be filled with the aromatic scent of fresh Torta di Fichi.


Perhaps there would be a piece or two to be sampled. In the event you would like to try your hand at making Torta di Fichi, we are happy to share the recipe with you. 

Boun Appetito!
Dave. Edie and Simonetta


Canning figs is very easy...


• 1 kg. of figs (very ripe - molto maturi)
• 200 gr. sugar
• 200 gr. brown sugar
• 1 lemon
• ½ glass of rum



Lavare I fichi e metterli in una padella larga aggiungere I due tipi di zucchero e il limone tagliato fine, un bicchiere di acqua e cuocere per almeno 1 ora e mezza cercando di toccarli il meno possibile.

Quando sono pronti aggiungere il rum e spegnere il fuoco.
Metterli nei vasetti (jar) subito e tapparli e rigirarli fino a che non sono freddi.

Wash the figs and put them in a wide pan.  Add both of the sugars to the pan, a finely chopped lemon and add a glass of water.  Cook at least one hour and a half, touching them as little as possible.
When they are ready, add the rum and turn off the stove. Put them in jars and close them immediately.  Turn them over until they are cool.
Località  Creti – 52044 Cortona (Arezzo) – Italy   -   Tel 0039 0575 610311  fax 0039 0575 610749
info@ casabellavista.it – www.casabellavista.it




• 150 gr. Farina bianca 00
• 120 gr. Nocciole tritate
• 150 gr. Burro  
• 3 Uova
• 120 Zucchero
• 1 Bustina di vanillina
• 10 Fichi
• 50 gr  Zucchero di canna
• 1 Cucchiaino di lievito


Accendere il forno a 180°

Lavorare il burro con lo zucchero, aggiungere la farina e metà delle nocciole, aggiungere le uova ed un pizzico di sale e la vanillina e per ultimo il lievito, lavorare molto bene l’impasto.

Mettere l’impasto nella tortiera e metterci sopra i fichi aperti a metà e le nocciole rimaste, per ultimo mettere lo zucchero di canna.

Cuocere per circa 40/50 minuti .

Servire con una salsa al caramello.

Località  Creti – 52044 Cortona (Arezzo) – Italy   -   Tel 0039 0575 610311  fax 0039 0575 610749
info@ casabellavista.it – www.casabellavista.it




• 150 gr. White flower 00
• 120 gr. Minced hazelnut 
• 150 gr. Butter
• 3 Eggs
• 120 Sugar
• 1 Envelope vanilla extract
• 10 Figs
• 50 gr  Cane sugar
• 1 Teaspoon of yeast 


Preheat oven to 355 degrees

Work the butter together with the sugar, add the flour and half of the minced hazelnut. Add the eggs and a pinch of salt, the vanilla and finally the yeast.  Work together well until you have a nice mixture.  

Put the mixture in a cake pan and put the sliced figs on top with the remaining hazelnuts.   Then finally, sprinkle the cane sugar on top. 

Cook for about 40 to 50 minutes. 

Serve with a caramel sauce.

Località  Creti – 52044 Cortona (Arezzo) – Italy   -   Tel 0039 0575 610311  fax 0039 0575 610749
info@ casabellavista.it – www.casabellavista.it

In Memory Of Jeff Miller, Co-Founder of GourmetStation

Posted: January 11, 2010
by: T.Alexander

The team at GourmetStation is saddened by the loss of co-founder, Jeffrey J. Miller. Jeff was the husband of Founder, Donna Lynes-Miller, and son of IT Director, Jon Miller. Although Jeff was not involved in the day to day operations, he was a great contributor and used his marketing expertise to assist in concept development, menu development and marketing programs. Jeff was passionate about Borzoi rescue and was Dad to 5 rescue Borzoi shown in the image below. Jeff will be missed.