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Gourmet Food Gift Basket A Savory Treat For Any Occasion

(category: Gourmet, Word count: 587)
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With so many different tastes how does one go about selecting the most choice gourmet gift baskets for a loved one? It's simple, make a list of classic gourmet food gift baskets, go over the list carefully, and choose the one that you think will make your loved one's mouth water the most. Almost any basket chosen with love will be a well-received gift.

You could start with a gourmet delight gift basket that includes cranberry walnut tarts, raspberry cookies, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, raspberry-honey-mustard pretzels, spicy trail mix, almond cookies, cheese shortbread, cheese straws, potato chip cookies and other delicious treats for the person who craves sweets. It's a classy collection of unique food gift basket delicacies.

At times of bereavement a heartfelt sympathy food gift basket can be visually uplifting and convey respect. A sympathy basket will be packed full of fine gourmet foods, comforting gifts and caring words of encouragement for the broken hearted. Possible inclusions can be scented candles, Biscotti, cracked pepper water crackers, delectable cookies, chocolate crisp wafers, fine chocolates, and other delicious treats.

It's often a great idea to add non-food items to a food gift basket. And this is an especially true when it comes to a bridal shower party. Not only should your basket contain gourmet food and delicious snacks, but an assortment of bridal shower games and keepsakes. How about a party game book, cookies, crackers, cheeses, wines, herbal teas, along with a few essentials: disposable camera, photo book, and even a keepsake registry book.

Some of the most popular and unique food gift baskets combine a generous assortment of fine gourmet treats with a look that conveys your good taste and sincerity. Whether small or large they can be crammed full of fine chocolates, nuts, gourmet cookies, cheeses, crackers and other mouth-watering treats. These baskets can be enjoyed on any occasion including holidays, bridal showers, birthdays, times of bereavement, as a get-well gift or for a housewarming.

Maybe you are not into those tasty savory snacks, but are more inclined to eat from a fresh and healthy basket of fruit. If health is a concern, and junk food is out, you will be able to sink your teeth into some luscious seasonal fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas, kiwi, nectarines, peaches and pears. Or add a tropical flavor with mangos, papayas and other savory tropical fruits.

Everyone loves pasta, so why not surprise your loved ones with a three-course Italian dinner? Your food basket can contain pasta, champagne hand-poured into a wine glass, along with flavors such as extra virgin olive oil, tomato basil cheese, Nicosia coquilles olives, wine crackers and sausage. Or how about an Italian salad that combines celery, bell pepper, mushroom, black olives, onion, garlic and oregano. And it wouldn't be a true Italian basket without lots of tomato and sweet basil sauce mixed with savory vegetables

There are many types of gift baskets and it's hard to go wrong with any of them. Whether you are drooling for Italian, Scottish, Irish or Mexican food there are wonderful assortments available. Food and gift baskets are the ultimate. And as for holidays, a holiday food gift basket can make any day special.

Ordering gourmet gift baskets is always easy, but creating your own custom-made basket is special and lots of fun. A creative and unique idea, easily customized to suit any individual, the gourmet food gift basket can be a delightful expression of sentiment.

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Lardo Di Colonnata A Tuscan Delicacy

(category: Gourmet, Word count: 388)
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Pork is a staple food of the mountain regions of northern Italy, where it's often said that a well butchered pig should leave 'nothing but the oink' behind. As a pig is typically around 30% fat, thrifty locals had to come up with a way to use and preserve this valuable source of protein, and the result is Lardo.

Lardo di Colonnata, to give it its full name, is a delicacy produced from pork fat in and around the Tuscan mountain town of Colonnata. Happily for fans of cured meat, it's not only a frugal way of preserving pork fat over winter - it's delicious too!

It's made in large vats known as conche, fashioned from marble quarried at the nearby 'white mountain' of Cararra, which are first liberally rubbed with garlic. Next, layers of pork fat, salt, and a special mix of herbs and spices are added until the vats are full. The conche are then sealed with a wooden lid and left in cool mountain caves for 6 months or longer to mature in the clean air.

After the maturation time is over, the conche are opened to reveal a silky-smooth, meltingly tender 'meat' which can be eaten in much the same way as Parma Ham or other prosciutto.

While Lardo is often used to keep roasted meats moist by placing a thin layer over the skin, it is also delicious simply sliced thinly and eaten with bread, olives, and a good extra virgin olive oil as part of an antipasto course. It is not at all tough or greasy, and is well worth trying even if the idea of eating pure fat leaves you a little apprehensive!

Despite the long years of making Lardo in the traditional way, most of the examples that you may find in your local deli or store will have been made in a much more industrial setting, mainly as a result of modern hygiene laws taking precedence over customs and heritage. Gone are the marble conche and the mountain air, replaced by stainless steel and air conditioning.

However, visitors to the area around Colonnata may still be lucky and get hold of Lardo made in the old way that has been proven over the centuries - just don't tell the authorities if you do!

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Midsummer House Awards

(category: Gourmet, Word count: 311)
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Another award comes to Midsummer House this year in the guise of the BMW Square Meal Award for Best Out-of-Town Restaurant 2005. Midsummer House is in good company, the previous winners of this award being Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons (2001), The Waterside Inn (2002), The Vineyard at Stockcross (2003) and The Fat Duck (2004). This award is particularly special as it's decided not only by the Square Meal team of reviewers, but also by their readers, who provide Square Meal with their own verdicts on restaurants around the country.

Having also been awarded it's second Michelin Star this year, Midsummer House has firmly established itself on the culinary map.

Midsummer House is the only additional two-star restaurant in this year's guide and remains the only Michelin star restaurant in East Anglia. Midsummer received its first Michelin Star in 2002 and the team has been working towards receiving this second star ever since. Having recently undergone a major refurbishment and having new menus created, Midsummer House certainly deserves this prestigious accolade.

Clifford's cooking is based upon a sound grounding in French technique and he constantly seeks to improve and innovate: low temperature cooking, jellies, foams and unexpected contrasts of taste, texture and temperature. A research kitchen has recently been added to the building in which Clifford experiments with new ingredients, processes and dishes. A plasma screen has also been installed in the private dining room so guests can watch their choice of dishes being prepared, a rare opportunity to watch the 'man of genius' at work.

Chef/Patron Clifford, who started his career as a kitchen assistant at Canterbury College comments, "I have worked towards this award for many years and am delighted that along with my team all our efforts have been recognised."

For more information please view the Venue Reservations website at:

www.venuereservations.co.uk

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Why I Love Cheesecake

(category: Gourmet, Word count: 303)
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What can be more soothing to the soul, tummy-filling and sociable than having a piece of cheesecake? These are just some of the reasons why I love cheesecake. Just thinking about cheesecake sets my mouth to watering for a big piece of the light, airy confection made with a graham cracker crust and smooth creamy vanilla filling, with a favorite topping of cherries or strawberries or blueberries or streusel - - - or you can choose for yourself if you like. Then you will know why I love cheesecake. The first documented cheesecake was at an Olympic game in the seventh century in Greece. It then spread to other European countries and eventually made its way to North America when immigrants crossed the ocean to seek their fame and fortune. Little did they know that the recipe they brought with them would eventually launch a huge following of people who love cheesecake and would balloon into a multimillion-dollar industry across the world. The decadent taste and texture of cheesecake belies the fact that it is fairly simple to make. Cheesecake lovers know that they can have this delightful delicacy anytime they want by stirring up a few basic ingredients including cream cheese, sugar and eggs, and then pouring it into a pie shell which can be made of graham cracker crumbs or other conventional pie crusts and baked. So what's not to love about cheesecake? It can be eaten anytime of the day or night, it's easy to make and even easier to buy, it tastes divine, and on top of all this, it creates a feeling of well being that only comes from being good to yourself. So go ahead, eat and be jolly! Then you'll know why I love cheesecakes!

Send a Cheesecake to someone special today.

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Market Spice Tea Because There S An Adventurer In All Of Us

(category: Gourmet, Word count: 217)
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By now we've all heard of green tea and probably even read about the health benefits that it has and lots of other information. I want to take amount and put all of this nonsense aside and tell you about a tea that is something to get excited about: Market Spice Tea.

Market Spice originated from Seattle's Historic Pike Place market in 1911. Market spice is made from sweet huckleberries, which is what gives Market Spice it's "unlike anything else" taste. Don't be confused with Huckleberry Finn how ever I'm sure if Tom Sawyer was to drink tea it would be Market Spice. Only Market Spice packs the type of punch that an adventurer like Tom Sawyer would be satisfied with. I've heard it compared to Orange on Steroids. How ever you look at the Tea, The taste is something else and leads to a simply unforgettable experience.

Market spice has been converting Green tea drinkers for almost 100 years. Why Market Spice? Words can't do any more justice: If there is an adventurer in you: Try it and find out for yourself!

Feel free to reprint this article as long as you keep the following caption and author biography in tact with all hyperlinks.

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How To Make Authentic Mexican Cerviche

(category: Gourmet, Word count: 397)
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When I mention the word "cerviche" to people I am usually questioned, "what the ___is that?" After they taste my recipe for true Mexican cerviche they are begging me to teach them how to make it.

First let me explain why I call it authentic Mexican cerviche. I lived in the Yucatan Peninsula over 20 years ago at the beginning of the birth of Cancun. I worked on boats every day and learned to make Mexican food dishes from the natives I worked with.

One of my favorites has always been cerviche because it is very fast and easy to make and it is very light and cooling on hot days.

So what is it and how do I make it? Well, for starters there are several different types of cerviche. It can be made from Conch, a large shellfish found all over the Caribbean, shrimp, or a white meat fish such as snapper, trout, etc. We used Spanish Mackerel a lot as well when I was in Cancun.

The recipe is the same regardless of the meat you choose so let me begin.

For a refreshing snack that will feed six to eight people you will want about a pound of meat filleted and deboned. You will need a couple of large tomatoes, several limes or a couple bottles of lime concentrate, an onion, and several chili peppers. If you are averse to really spicy foods you can substitute less spicy peppers.

The first thing you do is cut the meat into small fingertip sized chunks and place in a large bowl with a lid so you can shake the mixture up easily later. After you have the meat cut up pour just enough lime juice over it to cover the meat thoroughly, shake it up and put it to the side.

Next cut up your tomatoes into small chunks and scrape them into the mixture, then your onions and peppers and so on. Be sure to cut the peppers extra small.

If you like a little more seasoned taste you can sprinkle a little of your favorite spice on it although most people prefer to eat it as is.

Let the mixture chill in the refrigerator or on ice for at least one hour then serve with tortilla chips or crackers washed down with a good cold beer.

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British Cuisine

(category: Gourmet, Word count: 550)
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British cuisine has always suffered from bad press. The simple homespun fare and plain preparation of most traditional British foods pales when compared to French haute cuisine, and it's not uncommon for food critics to sound almost apologetic when writing about traditional British dishes as if there were something shameful in enjoying a good, thick joint of beef with an accompaniment of Yorkshire pudding. If they speak in glowing terms of anything at all, it is a nod to the clever naming of British foods, where dishes like bubble and squeak and spotted dick appear on restaurant menus.

And yet, for all the snickering and apologetic references, British cuisine at its best is hearty, delicious, simple fare on which to fuel the nation that influenced the entire world. There is no other nation in the world that does a roast of beef to such perfection, nor any better accompaniment to the succulent meat than a puffed, piping hot Yorkshire pudding prepared in its drippings, and few cuisines have a dessert that can compare with the pure heaven that is a well made trifle or treacle tart.

British cuisine is a blending of the practical with the nutritious. If it is, as some say, unimaginative, that may be because the food itself needs little imagination to fancy it up and make it palatable. It is certainly not because the British mind lacks imagination when it comes to food - the common names for everyday meals sometimes require a translator just so you'll know what's on your plate. A walk through a restaurant take-away menu offers such dishes as 'mushy peas', steak and kidney pie, fish and chips and bangers and mash.

There are well-known British dishes for eating at each meal. Some of the most popular include:

Breakfast:

A full English country breakfast includes meat, eggs, pancakes or toast and side dishes like hash and bangers and mash. It's hearty fare, the sort that is set on the table for dinner in most other cultures. It often includes leftovers from last night's dinner, diced and fried together with seasonings and butter, sometimes called country hash.

Tea:

The tradition of mid-afternoon tea is one that's been observed by the British for centuries. Among the most common dishes served at mid-afternoon tea are finger-foods like crumpets with jam and clotted cream, dainty watercress sandwiches and scones with raisins or dried fruits.

Sunday Dinner:

The Sunday dinner has a long tradition as being a family occasion - the one meal of the week at which all family members gathered. A roast joint of meat - beef, lamb, pork or chicken - is nearly a requirement, and it is served with a potato and vegetable, and very often accompanied by Yorkshire pudding.

Puddings and custards feature prominently in British cuisine. Baked, boiled or steamed, puddings are usually made with suet and breading, and studded with dried fruits and nuts. One of the most popular and delightful British desserts is the trifle, and there are nearly as many variations as there are cooks. The base is a sponge cake, often left over from another meal. Soaked in Madeira or port, it is layered in a dish with custard, jam, fruits and Jell-O and topped with whipped cream. The end result is a delicious m

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Create Gourmet Gift Baskets

(category: Gourmet, Word count: 379)
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If you want to make a gourmet gift basket by your own then don't take much time to think because making one is quite fun and also an affordable alternative to purchase them. But before you get a gift basket to start making the basket decide carefully that which candy and in what quantity you are going to place in it.

You can gift a gourmet gift basket on any occasion may be mothers day or fathers day or even on the occasion of the birthday of your friends. You can make a trip to your local candy store whereby you can get a huge variety of individual candies wrapped in pretty wrappings. Other theme candy wrappings are also available such as sports theme wrapping, holiday and birthday themes are also very popular.

The other way would be that you buy candy in bulk and later create small individual packing for your basket by using small cloth bags or squares of transparent wrap or tissue paper filled with candies. Thereafter you need to gather all the corners and tie it up with a bow. This is another cost cutting idea and also adds a personal touch to the gift basket.

For a larger variety of candy choice you have also the option to buy candy online and this is pretty easy when you enter the term "candy" and you shall have all the results displayed before you. After you decide what you shall fill in the basket you should choose a style and size of the basket. When you make several baskets you should not limit yourself to the same choice for all. The choice for the basket could be personal and also consider what they shall do with it after the contents have been removed.

You have various options and it is not necessary that you stick to baskets because if it is a child you can use a fun lunch box, for a lady cosmetic or handbag would be perfect whereas for a gentleman a metal tin or small travel bag would be great.

With a little thought keeping in mind the interests and likes of the recipient you can easily make a gourmet gift basket really special.

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Culinary Traditions Of France

(category: Gourmet, Word count: 502)
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French cuisine is the amazingly high standard to which all other native cuisines must live up to. The country of France is home of some of the finest cuisine in the world, and it is created by some of the finest master chefs in the world. The French people take excessive pride in cooking and knowing how to prepare a good meal. Cooking is an essential part of their culture, and it adds to one's usefulness if they are capable of preparing a good meal.

Each of the four regions of France has a characteristic of its food all its own. French food in general requires the use of lots of different types of sauces and gravies, but recipes for cuisine that originated in the northwestern region of France tend to require the use a lot of apple ingredients, milk and cream, and they tend to be heavily buttered making for an extremely rich (and sometimes rather heavy) meal. Southeastern French cuisine is reminiscent of German food, heavy in lard and meat products such as pork sausage and sauerkraut.

On the other hand, southern French cuisine tends to be a lot more widely accepted; this is generally the type of French food that is served in traditional French restaurants. In the southeastern area of France, the cooking is a lot lighter in fat and substance. Cooks from the southeast of France tend to lean more toward the side of a light olive oil more than any other type of oil, and they rely heavily on herbs and tomatoes, as well as tomato-based products, in their culinary creations.

Cuisine Nouvelle is a more contemporary form of French cuisine that developed in the late 1970s, the offspring of traditional French cuisine. This is the most common type of French food, served in French restaurants. Cuisine Nouvelle can generally be characterized by shorter cooking times, smaller food portions, and more festive, decorative plate presentations. Many French restaurant cuisines can be classified as Cuisine Nouvelle, but the more traditional French restaurant cuisine would be classified as Cuisine du Terroir, a more general form of French cooking than Cuisine Nouvelle. Cuisine du Terroir is an attempt to return to the more indigenous forms of French cooking, especially with reference to regional differences between the north and south, or different areas such as the Loire Valley, Catalonia, and Rousillon. These are all areas famous for their specific specialty of French cuisine. As time has progressed, the difference between a white wine from the Loire Valley and a wine from another area has slowly diminished, and the Cuisine du Terroir approach to French cooking focuses on establishing special characteristics between regions such as this.

As part of their culture, the French incorporate wine into nearly every meal, whether it is simply as a refreshment or part of the recipe for the meal itself. Even today, it is a part of traditional French culture to have at least one glass of wine on a daily basis.

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