vinturiThis is it… The perfect gift for Dad… the Dad who loves to sip aged single malt, artisanal tequila, or Malagasy rum and Maker’s Mark Bourbon; for a Dad who likes cocktails or just an occasional after dinner drink.

It is a great gift for both the Dad who doesn’t necessarily want to buy the most expensive bottle and the Dad who doesn’t mind paying a premium price for his high-end spirit.

Actually it is also the perfect gift for both giver and receiver. That’s because the Vinturi Spirit Aerator can be purchased for under $30.

The pioneer of the patented Vinturi Red and White Wine Aerators has come up with The Vinturi Spirit Aerator, a gadget that instantly decants fine liqueurs and spirits, from cognac, Scotch, Port, and whiskey to bourbon, vodka, gin, brandy or sake.

This innovative bar tool has the ability to aerate liqueurs and spirits in a free-flow movement, intensifying their color, opening the nose and palate, and extending their finish, thus enhancing the taste experience.  

With a convenient built-in jigger to measure out servings and a sleek, compact transparent vinyl design, the Vinturi Spirit enables you to sip your drink right away instead of having to endlessly swirl it in your glass before you get the harshness out.

vinturi 2I did the old comparative study: non-aerated to aerated single shot taste test with cognac and whiskey. It actually brings out the floral notes in the Cognac, smoothes the palate and the finish is endless and utterly enjoyable.  As for the higher end 18 year-old Macallan single malt, the aerated scotch was by far smoother, more buttery and immensely more enjoyable than its un-aerated version.

To quote a user’s comment on , «The 12 year old scotch is good on the rocks and with a splash of water. The aerator turned a 12 year old scotch into a very close 15/16 year old scotch. All the little notes of flavor came to live, I won't say it is perfect but a cheaper bottle of scotch in my cabinet just payed for this little aerator. All the harshness and lingering after taste of the 12 year old scotch, just melted away. I can put the max of 2 full jiggers, or more :), and know that what comes out will be a nice drink all around. »

Another user on explains : « Aeration triggers oxidation and evaporation which means in part, that some of the unpalatable compounds in your drink will be diminished. Young wine/whisky/spirit often have a lot of ethanol notes; that harsh rubbing alcohol smell/taste. Ethanol is very volatile so it really diminishes with aeration & allows the "good" flavors to come thru. This is why many of the "young" wine/whisky/spirit taste significantly better after aeration. It won't make a crap beverage taste like ambrosia but it will take an average one & make it better. »

vinturi 3Dad will have a lot of fun with his friends, testing spirits before and after, and making them guess what the pour is.  If he likes what he already drinks what an aerator can do is make it even better.  Doesn’t Dad deserve that ?

The Vinturi spirit aerator is a simple gadget, with a manual stopper and a magnetic release button that conveniently rests on a stand.  It replaces the traditional jigger for measuring with markings on the bowl identifying 1, 1-1/2 and 2 oz. servings. It is machine washable but just running fresh water through it after every use will keep it clean and pretty durable.

The Vinturi spirit aerator is available for $29.95 suggested retail at Brookstone, Bed Bath & Beyond, Chef’s Catalog, Macy’s (select stores), Sur La Table, and other key retailers nationwide. It is $25 on



Lightweight and futuristic in design with its angled handle,
the Ceramic knives effortlessly slice, dice and chop
through every fruit, vegetable and protein. 

santokuI derive immense satisfaction from slicing through let’s say a tomato, a slab of cheese or a chicken breast, or cutting paper-thin slices of onion effortlessly and with surgical precision as if I were a Ninja. And I’m even more pleased when I know that the same will happen, time after time — you see, they retain sharpness for years without my having to sharpen the blade.

Not that I dislike doing that, on the contrary. Sharpening knives gives me at the same time a sense of empowerment and of accomplishment as I get the knife into the right angle and concentrate on counting the number of times I will file each side of the blade to razor sharpness.

But since I got the Edge of Belgravia knives, I’ve become lazy. I look contemplating  my knives neatly lined up and stuck to the magnet on the wall, but I hardly ever use them anymore.  Instead, I open a kitchen drawer, pull out the Edge and start chopping, slicing and prepping all my dinner.   I find them right away because of their colorful handle but they can’t join their metal brothers on the magnet.

That’s because the award-winning ceramic series is made of sintered zirconium oxide forged under 300 tons of pressure. So they’re lightweight with anti-bacterial properties.  And the daring lime green rubber handle provides an exciting feel along with a comfortable, soft touch.

The cutting-edge design team for the Edge of Belgravia led by London designer Christian Bird, came up with a bold, confident, contemporary and futuristic design for the  knives without compromising quality.

Mine are the Cermaic Lime series which  includes Slicer, Chef's Knife, Santoku, Utility and Paring knives - each available in Onyx or bold Lime.

ceramic knifeThe Ceramic Lime Chef’s Knife with a comfortable, soft touch and stylish lime green rubber handle   and an onyx colored blade is ergonomically designed,  stays sharp without sharpening, allowing for constant precision and speed, while the ensures a comfortably controlled grip for maximum accuracy. Each knife forms part of a limited edition series of 999 pieces.

ceramic slicerThe Ceramic Lime Santoku has santoku style blade famous for its "three virtues": slicing, dicing and mincing. The ceramic blade stays sharp for years without sharpening. In addition to its innovative design, a daring lime green rubber handle provides an exciting feel to the ceramic foundation. The Lime Santoku has been expertly engineered for slicing and chopping by Text-Enhance">vegetables, fish, and is also highly suited for preparing sushi. Each knife forms part of a limited edition series of 999 pieces.

The other products are the Onyx series — which was a runner up in competition with Apple at the prestigious 2012 D&AD product design awards —  and the Damascus Steel collection which features a blade consisting of 67 layers of high carbon steel with a steel core of Japanese VG-10 super steel from the Takefu Special Steel Factory.

The knives were featured in a number of leading magazines including  Fortune Magazine, which called them  “Stunning,”  and received kudos from some of the world’s leading lifestyle and design blogs, including Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, as well as from local chefs.

Edge of Belgravia is based in Belgravia, London and pioneers exclusively-designed chef knives to achieve prominent placement in kitchens all over the world.  Edge of Belgravia knives are available online at between $55 and $110.


 A Back-to-School recommendation. This  organic slow cooker is as easy to use as a rice cooker 

By Simone Zarmati Diament



When I was in Tuscany a few months ago, I marveled at one of the staples of rustic cuisine: white beans. Creamy yet firm, they are soaked overnight and slowly simmered to melting tenderness, a delicacy that only need a dash of salt and a leaf of sage to grace the best of Tuscan cuisine. The secret is in the pot and the long and slow simmer over dying coals.

Needles to say, back in the States, I never bought a can of either beans or garbanzos ever again while indulging in the most delicious, healthy and fast recipes such as garbanzos with garlic and wilted spinach (very Mediterranean), mashed white beans to accompany a fish, meat or chicken dish; Italian minestrone soup, or in winter a long simmering braised stew. 

The pressure’s on to eat a better, healthier and more natural diet. Starting in the White House and trickling down to the public, the movement is gaining ground in schools and universities which are now growing vegetables in organic gardens. Studies have been carried out proving that what we eat definitely affects our health. Cookbooks with healthy recipes are proliferating like mushrooms after the rain, and TV shows, blogs, new related businesses are burgeoning and gadgets are flooding the market.

In my search for the perfectly cooked bean, the perfectly cooked rice and the stew with the most flavor and the tenderest cuts, I found one that actually makes sense: the VitaClay Multicooker (the model I used is  VitaClay Chef Gourmet Rice N' Slow Cooker Pro - 8 Cup) (

As cross between the crock pot — which enables you to throw a few ingredients and let them simmer to a ready-made meal when you come back home; the rice cooker — a gadget the Japanese invented with enormous success worldwide;  and the trendy again clay pots —  an ancient tradition which enables you to cook without an excess of seasonings or fat since ingredients retain their full flavor, nutrients and vitamins as they simmer in their own juices; the VitaClay Multicooker combines traditional clay pot cooking that seals in the foods nutrients and flavors, with computerized electronic and programmable slow cooking.

vitaclay___2Moroccans use the tagine with its conical lid; the Spanish the cazuela; in Provence, the French use the tian. In Mexico, Latin America, China and the rest of Asia, people have been cooking and still cook, with clay pots, since ancient civilization.

The modern cook can now do same with similar results with the  sleek machine with a high-tech look and state-of-the-art technology — a microcomputer and precision built-in thermostat enable it to self-adjust the heat up or down based on the ingredients in the pot, the volume, and the set time —  that allows him/her to cook to make meals healthy, natural, easy, time-efficient and delicious meals without hassle, without burning.

All the cook has to do is set the Multicooker to cook over longer or shorter periods of time. The cooker has four settings (Rice, Brown Rice, Stew and Soup) with programmable cooking time from 30 minutes boil up to 12 hours slow-cook.

The secret is the mineral-rich, deep orange, naturally nonstick unglazed Chinese Zisha clay liner which, unlike non-stick aluminum or ceramic cookware, is free from non-stick chemical glazes contacting your food.  The clay bowl natural thermal retention promotes uniform cooking, it is a time-saver since it cooks faster than conventional slow cookers and it automatically keeps warm for up to 12 hours. A non-negligible bonus:  It is removable and completely dishwasher and microwave safe!

The VitaClay, an organic slow cooker as easy to use as a rice cooker that comes in 6 cup and 8 cup sizes, is perfect for families that want a healthy home-cooked meal after a busy day.  Fill it up with the ingredients in the morning before you leave to work and set it to cook slowly over the day so that it will be steaming hot and tasty when the children come home. 

The VitaClay retails for $ 79.99 and $99.99 to $129.99, depending on its size, and can be purchased online at, via phone at (877) 877 - 9121 or at retailers throughout North America.





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Like most successful business ideas, Cookies by Shar was born out of a need and the frustration of dissatisfaction.

It all began with a toddler's birthday party. Sharmila (Shar) Malwani, the mother of a two-year-old in Fort Lauderdale, wanted cookies instead of the traditional birthday cake for her daughter's party. Disappointed at the choices available, she decided to bake her own cookies with the best ingredients, playfully creating different designs and decorations for her daughter, her little friends and their parents who ate up everything she made, leaving nary a crumb.


As Shar's artisanal cookies made from all-natural ingredients gained in popularity,   she set out to bake professionally creative designs for sugar cookies, gingerbread and shortbread cookies, confections like freshly baked chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, key lime cookies, brownies in one-of-a-kind designs and more.

They were discovered by Whole Foods Market in 2008 and have become a staple at parties, private events, special occasions and even, she says, business meetings.

Today Cookies by Shar gourmet bakery products are currently in approximately 40 retail stores including Epicure Market and Miami International Airport. The bakery, based in Davie, Florida, custom designs cookies with logos for high-profile corporations from Ferragamo to BMW and Nieman Marcus as well as the Ritz-Carlton, Disney and other luxury resorts  and participates in annual food festivals including the Food Network’ Sobe Wine and Food Festival.

cookiesCookies by Shar was recently commissioned to create a cookie for the "Q," a glamorous  event  hosted by Moët Hennessy and Paula Deen and her sons at the South Beach Food and Wine Fest coming up at the end of February.

The company's repertoire has grown to include chewy coconut macaroon cookies drizzled with chocolate, cookie pops topped with caramel, mini sugar cookies sandwiches stuffed with Nutella, or topped with pure vanilla buttercream, and more...

A vast assortment of cookies is sold in gift boxes, including cookies with decorating kits for kids’ parties. They have been shipped as far as Kuwait and London.


Sharmila donates part of all sales to Share Our Strength, a national non-profit organization whose mission is to end childhood hunger, ands to The Great American Bake Sale, which mobilizes Americans to end hunger by conducting bake sales in their communities.

For additional information on Cookies by Shar, Inc., log on to, e-mail or call 954-232-1328




Special is absolutely the word to describe these lovingly raised peppercorns from Kerala, India. Open the vacuum-sealed bag of Special Wynad Black or White Pepper and you are in an aromatic cloud that opens your senses in a way that only truffles can…

Grind some on any dish and find its flavors deepen and sing in your mouth.   Parameswaran's Special Wynad Black Pepper has vibrant spice, toasted nuts, ripe black and raspberry aromas, with mounting full heat and a lingering aftertaste of chocolate. Parameswaren's Wynad Pepper is one of the finest black pepper money can buy.

The Special Wynad White Pepper has explosive rich, exotic flavors of sandalwood, vanilla, and nutmeg without the expected white pepper burn.

They come all the way from the Wynad plateau of Kerala in India known for producing India's finest pepper. There they are organically grown and carefully harvested. But what makes these peppercorns so special is their extended time on the vine.

Parameswaran, the owner of the small plantation in the Wynad where he lives with his family, allows his pepper to grow until the berries are reddish and fully ripe. This makes harvesting more difficult because the vines must be picked numerous times as the berries ripen, not one time when all are green. After harvesting, the peppercorns are sun- dried, then vacuum-sealed to preserve their peak flavor and scent. The time and work is well worth it, as the berries have big, intense, complex flavor.

To produce the white pepper after harvesting, the ripe berries are soaked in 20 changes of spring water over 20 days. Once soaked, the outer skin of the berry is removed and the pepper is sun-dried and packed in the same way as the black.

The production of pepper of this quality is demanding and labor intensive. In the Wynad many households will pick a small quantity of these ripened berries for their private use, but Parameswaran is the only exporter of this fully-ripened pepper, making it rare and revered in the United States and around the world. Parameswaran's Special Wynad Pepper was featured as one of the best by Cook's Illustrated in 2008 and it still holds that accolade.

SALT TRADERS, global online purveyor --  to consumer and wholesale customers-- of exotic salt, pepper, and sugar has secured a limited supply of the black and white Parameswaran's Special Wynad peppercorns and offers them in  vacuum sealed 75 gram bags, as well as in  bulk zip bags.

It makes the perfect stocking stuffer gift idea for food lovers and home cooks.

Orders are accepted via or by calling 1-800-641-7258 (SALT).  Prices range from $9.50 to $370 (USD), excluding shipping.

Food & Wine Talk Radio

Achile Sassoli, Director of Gelato World Tour
and Gelato Artisans:
James Coleridge, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Abdelrahman Al Teneji, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Matthew Lee, Austin, Texas
Ahmed Abdullatif, Kingdom of Bahrain
Stefano Versace, Miami, Florida
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The House of Mandela Wines from South Africa


Chef Scott Conant: Scarpetta


Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect, The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor


Elizabeth Minchilli, author of  Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City.  


James Beard Award-winning wine journalist Lyn Farmer on: Garnacha from Carinena; the next great wine


Cindy Hutson,chef/owner, Ortanique and Zest, author of From the Tip of My Tongue


Lidia Batianich, celebrity chef, TV host, author and restaurateur 






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