With the holidays behind us and spring dauntingly far off, taking advantage of the ski slopes or cozying up next to the fireplace are welcome respites from the long winter freeze.  As the temperatures continue to drop, now is the perfect time to warm your spirits and celebrate the season with delicious cold-weather cocktails from Courvoisier®!:
Milk and Honey
Teaspoon of Clover Honey
1.5 parts Courvoisier® VSOP
4 parts Hot Milk (or Half and Half)
Combine ingredients. Serve hot in a mug with grated nutmeg.
The Courvoisier® French Kiss
½ part Courvoisier® EXCLUSIF™ Cognac
Fill glass with Champagne
1 sugar cube (optional)
Combine ingredients. Serve in a champagne flute.

Revamped dining options, new wine and signature margarita, and  healthy cuisine on tap for 2011  in the resort’s five restaurants, three of which have been awarded the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award for their gourmet French, Italian or Mexican cuisine, service and stylish decor.

Chef Lengger was classically trained in Vienna, Austria, holds the Austrian Master Chef Title and was awarded a Bronze metal at the Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany. 

For more information on dining at Grand Velas Rivera Nayarit:  http://vallarta.grandvelas.com/html/dining-guide-puerto-vallarta-mexica.asp.


news mexican chefCasa de Sierra Nevada by Orient-Express, a luxury boutique hotel and cooking school in the heart of historic San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, has appointed Felipe Ramirez Gorosica as  Executive Chef to oversee the hotel’s restaurants, Andanza and Parque as well as its cooking school, Sazón.

Ramirez’s inspiration comes from his ancestors’ techniques of traditional Mexican cuisine: “the history and culture of my ancestors is what drives me to excel and bring authentic Mexican flavors to  avant-garde molecular gastronomy," said Ramirez. 

Originally from Muxupip, Mexico, Ramirez began his career at the age of 19 in the industry of Culinary Tourism. His first forays were the Hyatt Hotels in Cancun and the Hotel Fiesta Americana Condesa. In 2004, Ramirez was recognized in the “El Joven Chef Mexicano” competition in Mexico City winning awards in two categories: "The Best Cook for Mexican Cuisine” and "The Best in knowledge of Mexican Cooking Techniques”.  

With the support of this recognition, Felipe was offered the opportunity to travel to Europe to acquire more knowledge, working in the famous restaurant "El Bulli" by Ferran Adrià in Roses, Girona, Spain. Later, he worked as Sous Chef with the renowned and famous chef Patricia Quintana in the Grand Aqua Hotel Guest group and its restaurant "The 7" allowing him to strengthen his skills and further improve his knowledge of Mexican cuisine.  

Ramirez was previously at Maroma Resort and Spa by Orient-Express, as Chef de Cuisine for the resort’s three restaurants, El Restaurante, El Sol and Cilantro.

The boutique hotel of Casa De Sierra Nevada is a mixture of 16th to 18th century Spanish colonial buildings, located one and one-half blocks from the cathedral and main city square of San Miguel de Allende. Its 37 rooms and suites are spread amongst six Colonial mansions, including  Casa del Parque, a fort in the 17th century and later a customs house catering to the silver trade; and Casa Principal, the former residence of San Miguel de Allende’s Archbishop in 1580 and an official historical landmark. In December of 2008 six new suites were unveiled in a new house, Casa de Las Palmas. www.casadesierranevada.com  

To prove that the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are pristine clean in spite of the Gulf oil spill, The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau’s and Chef Fabrizio Aielli, owner and executive chef at the SeaSalt restaurant in Naples, joined forces with a new Web video series featuring the Gulf coast, called  Adventures in Paradise. The first episode in the series features Chef Aielli demonstrating a dish called Gulf of Mexico Pasta with linguine cooked in Gulf saltwater from Naples Beach, accompanied by a Florida blue crab sauce.    

The next episodes on www.ParadiseCoast.com will feature from outdoor excursions to sophisticated shopping, as well as interesting takes on local people, places and things to do when visiting the Paradise Coast region of Naples, Marco Island and the Gulf Coast Everglades.

For more information on The Paradise Coast – Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades, call 1-800-688-3600   or dial 1-239-225-1013 from outside the USA  www.ParadiseCoast.com .  

Supply is plentiful and demand is high, according to commercial fishing industry index

TALLAHASSEE -- Early indicators are pointing to a good spiny lobster season, say Florida's commercial fishermen who began harvesting the prized seafood delicacy earlier this month.

Florida's commercial spiny lobster season opened August 6 and runs through March 31.  Spiny lobster is one of Florida's top commercial seafood products in dockside value.  Ranking third behind shrimp and stone crab claws, Florida's spiny lobster harvest was $13.2 million last season.  The bulk of the harvest comes from Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Spiny lobsters are abundant in supply and demand is strong, according to several of the state's largest lobster producers who provided data to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said the optimistic outlook for the spiny lobster season was welcome news for the state's seafood industry, which experienced sales declines due to extensive news coverage of the Gulf oil spill during the spring and summer.

"The opening of Florida's commercial spiny lobster harvest is always a much anticipated event, and this year's is especially meaningful," Bronson said.  "I hope that consumers will pay a visit to their local seafood market or restaurant and enjoy this Florida favorite that is now being harvested from the pristine waters off Florida's southern peninsula."

The spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is a crustacean related to crabs, shrimp, crayfish and the Spanish lobster.  In Florida, the spiny lobster is caught off the Keys and around the southern tip of the state from waters of the Atlantic Ocean near the Florida Reef Tract.

The spiny lobster is characterized by numerous spines on the body, two large, hooked horns over the eyes, a pair of long jointed antennae and five pairs of walking legs.  It has mottled coloring of yellow, brown, orange and blue markings over the body and tail.  The tail is segmented and can be rapidly curled under the body to propel the lobster backward.

Spiny lobsters are harvested using special traps at depths of 6 to 300 feet and are usually landed live.  They are marketed as whole lobster, lobster tails, split tails and lobster meat.  These products are available fresh or frozen, raw or cooked.  The term "green" is used to refer to raw lobster.

More information about spiny lobster and downloadable illustration:

Florida lobster recipes and downloadable photos:

Grilled Florida Lobster Surf and Turf with Shallot Butter:

Florida Lobster with Tomato-Herb Penne Pasta:

Grilled Florida Spiny Lobster Tail:

Spiny Lobster, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad:

Lobster Bisque:

Florida Lobster Quiche:

Creamy Lobster Medallions with Wild Rice:

Crab-stuffed Florida Lobster:


Florida Spiny Lobster and Wild Shrimp Mango Ceviche:

Florida Lobster Roll:

Sunshine Lobster Salad Bowl:

Lobster Divine:

Lobster Carambola Citrus Salad:

Steamed Lobster:

Bananas Lobster:

Fun Food Fact #1: In general, raw vegetables have a much higher nutrient value than cooked, though there are a few exceptions, such as cooked tomatoes. Cooked artichokes are very high in overall antioxidant value

Fun Food Fact #2: The smaller the size of a berry, the sweeter its taste.

Fun Food Fact #3:There is evidence that honey is the only food that cannot spoil. Archaeologists have tasted honey discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs, reporting that it’s edible.

Fun Food Fact #4:If you could eat only one vegetable for the rest of your life, eat spinach; it’s one of the highest ranking vegetables as far as overall antioxidant capacity, yet so versatile in recipes.

Fun Food Fact #5: Formaldehyde is the stinky liquid that’s used to preserve dead laboratory animals. This chemical is what the artificial sweetener, aspartame, breaks down into after being eaten.

Fun Food Facts #6: The closer a food is to its natural state, the healthier it is for you: An apple is better than apple sauce which is better than bottled apple juice which is better than apple pie.

Fun Food Fact #7: Saffron, which is made from dried stamens of crocus flowers, is the world's most expensive spice.

Fun Food Fact #8:Diet soda has yet to be proven as an aid in effective weight loss. Some studies in fact have shown the beverage as actually increasing appetite or hunger.

Fun Food Fact #9: In the US, more tomatoes are consumed everyday than any other vegetable or fruit.


irelands best chef stephan matzAshford Castle's executive chef Stefan Matz has been named 'Best Chef' in Ireland in the 2010 Ireland Good Eating Guide; it was announced recently at an awards banquet held at Dublin's Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. The event, hosted by Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin, was attended by the "who's who" of Ireland's restaurant and hospitality scenes .

Chef Matz was appointed executive chef for Ashford Castle in 2003 and oversees the property's celebrated George V Room, Cullen's at the Cottage and the Connaught Room - available for private functions – where he has created food adventurers with local ingredients.

A native German, Stefan Matz has worked in several of the world's most prestigious kitchens and has received over 20 awards and accolades, including a star rating in the Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland.

Ashford Castle, which dates back to 1228, is set on 350 acres of County Mayo, on the shores of Lough Corrib and the River Cong, with a spectacular backdrop of woodlands, lake, river and mountains. In addition to the 2010 Gold Medal from the Green Hospitality Awards, other recent awards and recognitions include Trip Advisor's 2010 top ten picks for European castle hotels and inclusion in Conde Nast Traveler's 2010 Gold List.

For more information on Ashford Castle or for other special offers, visit www.ashford.ie .

These photos were taken at a wedding in North Carolina .

crab cake 1crab cake 2
  Get ready for this: It's a wedding cake!
  The crabs, corn, and even the container of Old Bay Seasoning are made of white chocolate.
  The sand is crushed graham crackers and vanilla wafers.
  The mallets are fondant, a confection used for decorating.
  The entire $700 cake is edible!
  Crab Cake is not always what you think!
  Where but in North Carolina  would you expect getting crabs at a Wedding Reception? (Well, maybe Southern MD or the Eastern Shore!!)

 Koroneiki, Arbequina, Arbosana, and Miller's Blend Recognized at the Second Annual California Olive Oil Council Competition

California Olive Ranch (COR), North America's largest olive oil producer, received four medals from The California Olive Oil Council (COOC)  for their 2009 harvest extra virgin olive oils (EVOO). The single varietal estate Koroneiki received a while its Miller's Blend, Arbequina, and Arbosana EVOOs all earned gold medalsilver medals.

The COOC announced its silver and gold awards at its annual meeting held in Sonoma, CA on February 20. The competition drew over 58 producers and 77 oils.  A blind tasting was conducted, using the Mario Solinas Assessment, an internationally preferred method for scoring. Thirteen trained COOC judges from the organization's certification tasting panel evaluated the oils.

Gregg Kelley, CEO of California Olive Ranch, notes that the uniform international guidelines allow similarly trained panels worldwide to evaluate extra virgin olive oils with the same results.  "The recent recognition of COR's oils is yet another milepost in our efforts to revolutionize the production of the world's freshest extra virgin olive oil.  We view these awards as an indicator that California Olive Ranch will continue to be the preferred choice of chefs and consumers who pride themselves on using only the best ingredients for flavor, freshness and health."

California Olive Ranch's leading innovative methods of production ensure that its extra virgin olive oils maintain their just-picked flavor, aroma and freshness while providing the highest nutritional benefits possible.  Similar to wine tasting, each EVOO offers different tasting notes for the consumer's palate.  COR's Arbequina varietal has a high fruitiness profile with balanced pungency and a very pleasing clean taste.  COR's single variety estate Koroneiki has a robust fruity nose with a strong, peppery finish. It is characterized by aromas of fresh grass and artichokes with a wonderful balance and superb character.  Miller's Blend is a blend of all three varietals grown by COR - Arbosana, Arbequina, and Koroneiki. It includes the fruitiness of Arbequina and the slight pungency of Koroneiki and nutty mellow notes of Arbosana. 

 "Producing great olive oil isn't ever easy. Therefore, recognition for our efforts is always appreciated.  We have a talented team of dedicated professionals working relentlessly to ensure that every American has access to the freshest extra virgin olive oil possible," adds Kelley.  "And that is what makes it worth the effort."

 California Olive Ranch's products are sold to restaurant chefs and retailers throughout the United States and are also available for sale through their website.



By Michael Bauer The San Francisco Chronicle's restaurant critic. mbauer@sfchronicle.com 


The tasting menu at the Restaurant at Meadowood began with a waiter bearing a brown velvet pillow on top of which rested an amuse of house-made crackers, garnished with a minuscule flower and leaf from the restaurant's gardens. It looked like what a ring bearer might carry down the aisle. Was it edible, or was it a jewel?

This article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle; to read the full article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/17/DDN81BQNJH.DTL#ixzz0fudaNTdF

Restaurant at Meadowood
900 Meadowood Lane (at Silverado Trail), St. Helena, Napa CA  
(707) 967-1205 or www.meadowood.com.
Dinner 5:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted. Free lot.



3annecybelvedereowners To celebrate the 10th anniversary of their restaurant "Belvedere" in Annecy, France, chef/owner Vincent Lugrin created a Chocolate Caviar Box XO with chocolate, caramel and salt ½ XO cognac. 

To read more about Restaurant Le Belvédère that Vincent and Delphine Lugrin operate, click here


January 14 not only marked the first-ever cooking demonstration on an electric stove at Le Cordon Bleu Paris in 1896, but celebrates the re-branding  of the Le Cordon Bleu to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in various cities across the country, including Miami.

Three teams of chefs put their own modern twist on the classic French Bistro dish: Poulet Sauté aux Fines Herbes (Sautéed Chicken with Herbs) during the Cordon Bleu Challenge on January 14.


dsc06577Teams of alumni chefs, local personalities and Cordon Bleu students - including Chef Carlos Clavell, Chef Marcia Chaves and Chef Nicholas Prieto - competed for the “Le Cordon Bleu Ribbon” title and the winner was 21-year-old Chef Nicholas Prieto.

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, 3221 Enterprise Way, Miramar, FL 33025. Phone: (954) 438-8828

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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