December 31, 2008
Ready to ring in 2009 with a glass of bubbly? Good for you! I love champagne and will definitely be raising a glass myself when the clock strikes twelve. Not only is it a tradition for Martin and I to split a bottle of champagne on New Year’s Eve, but I feel it’s my obligation to the global economy in general and the champagne industry specifically to make sure this year is no exception.
Generally the noise and hub-bub of New Years Eve makes conversation starting unnecessary; but, if you find yourself with some silence to fill it might be handy to have some appropriate conversations starters. So, here are 5 facts about champagne you might find useful:
- Of the 270 villages in the Champagne region of France, only 17 have achieved the Grand Cru status of 100%.
- Dom Peringnon was the 17th Century cellar master of the Abbey of Hautvillers; he’s famous because he developed the art of blending wines to create great tasting champagne.
- Some modern champagne bottlers combine as many as 40 different base wines to create their champagne. One reason for all this blending is to create consistent flavour from year to year.
- Vintage champagnes must legally be aged for at least 3 years before being released and are only created in exceptional years.
- Rose champagne (one of my favourites, in case you wondered) can be made by adding a bit of red still wine to the cuvee or by macerating red skinned grapes.
Cheers! I hope you enjoy a wonderful start to 2009!
December 30, 2008
What costs $2.99 a bottle, is as sweet as a lollipop and makes me shake my head with wonder? Yup, Sopranos branded soda.
Sure it’s pretty when it catches the light but what marketer thought that anyone would want to drink soft drinks with a TV show logo on them? And, who told them chianti tastes like cream soda?
I’m the first to admit that I’m a pop culture vulture but I don’t need TV and pop singers to clutter up my grocery cart. From Scoobie Doo fruit snacks and Batman Dark Knight lunch boxes, grocery stores are rife with Hollywood influenced branded products.
Cross over branding extends to all facets of retail: P. Diddy has a clothing line, the creator of the Pussy Cat Dolls is hawking Lingerie at La Senza and Paul Newman built a philanthropic empire on salad dressing.
Personally, I’m torn. I own flannel sponge bob pajamas that I love for their cushy comfort and who can fault the Newman family for making the world a better place while selling appealing food products? Still, this nasty tasting soda has annoyed me. What do you think? Is the crossover from pop culture to product branding running amok? Or is it a good thing?
December 26, 2008
Photo courtesy of Patchwork Pate.
Tired of turkey? Fatigued by cooking for family? Still inundated with social obligations but sadly out of savvy ideas for impressing? No worries! Charcuterie platters are all the rage this holiday season and the good news is that you don’t have to be a great cook to get in on this hot entertaining trend.
Like a cheese board, the success of a charcuterie platter depends on making good choices at the grocery store. Sure you can be like my husband Martin and make your own lamb sausage, but you can just as easily buy fabulous cooked sausages, pates and cured meats from a store.
When creating a charcuterie platter, be sure to choose a range of flavours, textures and types of meat. Ideally you’ll want smoky, spicy and aromatic (i.e. herbs, truffles) flavoured options as well as a range of textures from chewy dry cured chorizo to velvety smooth pates.
Likewise, opt for artisan and natural products versus mass produced cured meats to avoid cloying artificial flavours, unnecessary fillers and other nasty stuff.
What’s your favourite charcuterie platter option? Do you pine for pate de foie gras, or go bonkers over balotta ham?
December 25, 2008
I hope you’re having a peaceful, delicious day. If you find yourself with a few minutes for yourself between tearing wrapping paper from boxes and breaking bread with family, why not spend them browsing these posts that were reader favourites over the last year?
(What, you expected a fresh, brand new post on a statutory holiday? You’ve heard of regifting right? Just think of this post as my regift to you!)
As the list below reveals, my readers often have sweet thoughts!
– Gorgeous gourmet cupcakes
– Divorce cake
– Gourmet cupcakes in a jar
– Butterscotch pudding
– 150-calorie breakfast
December 23, 2008
Last holiday season when I wanted a sample of burrata cheese for a trends segment on Canada AM, I was left high and dry. You see, our taping date didn’t coincide with the jet schedule from Apulia, Italy that brought this luxuriously creamy, fresh cheese to Canada only on the second and fourth Friday of each month.
Love for this fresh, creamy-centred cheese and its cousin mozzarella is spreading across the globe in the form of restaurants. In Rome, Obika is the temple where Italian burrata worshippers gather and now they have a North American outlet in NYC, while in LA, Pizzeria Mozza is the place for lovers of this cheese to indulge. Similar concepts have recently opened in Melbourne, Australia, Bathesda, Maryland, Chicago, Illinois and soon in South Beach, Florida.
Thankfully, this holiday season, Canadians won’t have to face the devastating inconvenience of waiting for a plane to arrive or take off so that we can track down a few morsels of this cheese because there is now a Canadian-made version of Burrata-style cheese that is shipped to specialty stores nationwide every single day!
Although the domestic version isn’t wrapped in a fresh asphodel leaf like its imported Italian cousin pictured above, it is made with fresh buffalo milk mozzarella and filled with warm curds and cream just like the original.
So, if you’re looking for a way to make your holiday cheese tray special, think about serving burrata!