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Archive for the ‘The Food Gospel’ Category

Puerto Rico Food Festival

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A Taste of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Food Festival

Puerto Rico Food Festival

World-famous Escambron Beach kicks off a flavor-filled, food festival with dishes from more than 30 of the island’s finest restaurants.  Of course, the rum will be flowing, as will the wine, beer and spirits.

The culinary extravaganza runs April 9-12, 2015. Puerto Rico has become a top gastronomy destination and this festival showcases some of the best the Caribbean has to offer.

 

You’ll be wowed with:

  • Cooking demonstrations by top culinary personalities
  • Champagne Tastings
  • Tasting Pavilion
  • Pourings from California Wineries
  • Libation Station with Beers & Spirits
  • So Much More
Wine & Food Festival

At this popular food and wine festival, you’ll get to experience authentic Puerto Rican culture and cuisine.  The cocina Criolla or Creole cooking of Puerto Rico is a blend of African, Spanish, Taíno and American influences. A perfect example of this blended cuisine is caldo Gallego. It is a dish prepared with salt port, collard and turnip greens, white beans and chorizo.  Ample international dishes will also be well represented at the lively food festival.

The surrounding waters provide restaurants with many kinds of seafood.  Naturally, fish, lobster and crab dishes are popular choices. If you want to eat like a local, then indulge in speciality chicken dishes such as sweet and sour chicken or chicken with rice. Another favorite are the empanadillas, the crescent-shaped pastry turnovers stuffed with seafood, pork or beef. Also, no Puerto Rico visit should conclude without trying the famous barbequed pig and plantains.

For tickets, air and accommodations go to: Saborea Puerto Rico

 

 

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Allegro Bistro

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Grand Opening

Allegro Bistro

Inviting Allegro Bistro

The anticipated opening of Allegro Bistro has San Diego foodies excited. The new restaurant has a small-bites concept typically reserved for European cities. However, it seems well suited for the food-obsessed beach city. Located on Hancock Street, it is slated to open late September. Recently, I sat down with  restaurateur and owner Paul Gaurno to discuss the upcoming opening.

 

A Touch of Europe

Paul lived in Europe for a number of years including in France and Italy. A part of the European lifestyle remained with him when he returned to the United States.  So it was fitting that he incorporated a taste of Europe in his new restaurant, Allegro Bistro.

Cafe in Barcelona

Similar to Patio Dining in Barcelona

Allegro is an Italian word used in classical music. It refers to tempo, especially when played in an upbeat, lively manner.  In Europe, dining is appreciated like fine art. Friends and family gather at bistros for coffee and long, leisurely dinners. Whereas in America, frequently dinner is consumed while driving down the freeway or gobbled down while sitting in front of the television. Paul hopes to encourage diners to enjoy unhurried meals as if they were sitting in a Barcelona café or sharing a bottle of wine with friends while engaging in spirited conversations.

With more than 20 years of restaurant experience, Paul knew how to make his vision a reality. He knew he needed to have an experienced team in place, as well as people who shared his incredible passion for the industry. Having worked with Chef Nathan Rayle previously, Paul realized he’d fit in well with his latest project.

Chef Rayle has a wealth of experience, including stints at The Venetian, The Brigatine, as well as his most recent stretch at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse. And whenever possible, he will use his contact list for sourcing quality ingredients, locally grown by farmers and organically produced by food purveyors. A previous career in commercial fishing will come in handy as he works with fishermen creating interesting fresh seafood dishes.

 

The Menu
Allegro Bistro Patio n Sails

Enjoy a Meal on the Amazing Patio

Given San Diego’s incredibly accommodating weather, it made perfect sense to have outdoor seating. The large, inviting patio is a perfect place for spending time with friends over a relaxing meal.

Breakfast service will include organic eggs and freshly made, artisan-style breads. There will be a host of scrumptious omelets including one decadent option of three-cheeses, sautéd crimini mushrooms and shaved black truffles.  If you love seafood, then you will definitely want to try the blue omelette with crabmeat, fontina and Gruyere cheeses, organic spinach, finished with grilled asparagus on top.

Keeping with the European concept, diners can enjoy savory crêpes. When they begin dinner service, there will be plenty of tapas-style plates on the seasonal menu, including the gourmet jamon (ham), which comes from the unique black pig of Spain, as well as a variety of olives, cheese plates and other Mediterranean-focused cuisine.

Allegro Bistro will be one of  the few places in San Diego where vegans and those who practice a gluten-free lifestyle can select from a medley of menu items. Selections include lemon and ricotto pancakes, gluten-free and vegan pancakes, walnut wheat pancakes and steel-cut oatmeal. There are also frittatas cooked in cast-iron skillets, an assortment of egg Benedict choices, as well as San Diego favorites including huervos rancheros and chilaquiles.

On Sunday, there’s a $10 all-you can-drink mimosa bar with each purchase of a breakfast entree.  Instead of pouring lower, quality sparkling wine made in the Charmant or tank method like many other restaurants, Allegro Bistro will be pouring Spanish Cava, which is produced in the same method as French champagne. Also, the orange juice is from fresh oranges, not frozen concentrate.

 

The Atmosphere
Allegro Bistro Food is Art

Allegro Bistro Food is Art

The welcoming interior has soft white leather barstools, a backdrop of subway tiles and a white marble bar counter. Picaso-esque photos don the walls and a crystal and silver chandelier greets you in the main dining area. There are exposed pipes and industrial-looking lighting fixtures that give it an urban loft feel.  It’s a pleasant balance of sophistication and casual, backyard entertaining.

 

Wine Selections

Paul took classes to brush up on wines and wine service. However, he turned to friend and wine bar veteran Alex Minaev for assistance in designing an appealing wine list. Minaev, with 20-plus years of wine experience, including currently at The Palace Bar, located in the Horton Grand. The wine list reflects many of Alex’s choose; but Paul had a guiding hand in creating the list.  There are plenty of California wines, as well as other New World regions.  Although Napa Valley will be represented, so will wines from Paso Robles, Monterey, and Sonoma.  The list is choked full of off-the-beaten path boutique wines that will rotate seasonally along with the cuisine.

Verdejo-Wine-Wooden-TableGiven Paul’s partiality for Europe, a number of Old World wines from Italy, France, Spain and Portugal are also well represented. There are some wonderfully delicious and reasonable priced French wines on the list including a handful from the Rhone Valley including Châteauneuf-du-Pape and other southern Rhone regions.   Look for wines from Spain’s Rioja region, which will pair wonderfully with the tapas-style menu.

 

 

Good Neighbors

Allegro Bistro shares building space with 57 Degrees Wine Bar. This symbiotic relationship certainly will benefit customers of both establishments. Wine enthusiasts will be able to select wines from in-house list that have been perfectly paired with Chef Nathan’s amazing dishes. However, customers may also choose a selection from 57 Degrees Wine Bar and bring it to dinner for a small corkage fee.  The two wine lists will not overlap, providing diners and wine lovers the best of both worlds.

 

Getting There

The trolley stops at the Washington Street station so you can be sitting at a table within a two-minute walk. However, if you are hell-bent on driving, then you’re in luck. Unlike many of the wine bars located downtown or in nearby Little Italy, you won’t have to waste time circling for parking. There are several parking places on the street, in addition to ample parking behind the building.  And equally important, parking is free.

 

Scheduled to Open: Sept. 27, 2014 (Please check the website, listed below for updates)

Location: 1735 Hancock St, Ste. B

Website:  www.allegrobistrosd.com

 

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Hawaii Food and Wine Festival

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The 4th Annual Hawaii Food and Wine Festival

Aug. 29th – Sept. 7th, 2014

Breaded Sushi with Caviar

Breaded Sushi with Caviar

The Hawaiian Islands is hosting a premier wine and culinary event.  The multi-day Hawaii Food and Wine Festival features more than 75 internationally renowned master chefs, culinary personalities, and wine and spirit producers.  Foodies and wine enthusiasts will be rewarded with wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and  farm-to-table movement advocates.

The Aloha State’s two native sons and James Beard-winning chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong are the festival creators.  Their aim is to showcase the state’s bounty of local produce, seafood, beef and poultry,  highlighting the unique cuisine.

Upscale Hawaiian Cuisine

Upscale Cuisine with Hawaiian Touch

Yamaguchi is the owner of the world-renown Roy’s, with more than 30 international locations.  Alan Wong’s Restaurant was honored with a place on the “Top 10 of America’s Best 50 Restaurants”.

The majority of the events will take place on O’ahu, as well as Maui, which was added to the itinerary last year.  Recently, organizers announced that The Big Island, for the first time, will have a day added to the culinary- and wine-focused schedule.

Sushi Plate

Sushi Assortment

The Big Island is home to amazing grass-fed beef, coffee, abalone and kampachi.  It’s also known for creative dishes inspired by locally sourced ingredients.

 

Maui Winery

Wine is produced on Maui

The Waikoloa Resort on the Big Island, in partnership with the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Hilton Waikoloa Village, will host a sit-down gala.  The Modern Honolulu, a magnificent hotel located on the famed Ala Moano Blvd is another host property.  This cosmopolitan resort has its finger on the pulse of the culinary scene in Hawaii.  Iron Chef Morimoto has a signature restaurant on the premises.

 

Poi Made from Taro Root

Poi Made from Taro Root

 

 

 

 

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Re-purposing Easter Eggs

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Colored Easter Eggs

Coloring Easter Eggs

Recipes for Using Easter Eggs after the Hunt

When I was a kid, my sister Pam and I would color eggs for Easter.  Then, my family would hide them and I’d run around the house trying to find them.

Whenever I’d get close to uncovering a hidden egg, my big brother would say, “You are getting warmer.  No, now colder. Okay warmer again.”  Then, finally I’d discover the egg and place it into my Easter basket.

I don’t know what my mom did with all of those hard-boiled eggs after the hunt.  After a day or two of egg-salad sandwiches for lunch, I’m sure she tossed them into the trash, not wanting to subject the family to more of the same.

Re-purposed Easter Egg Menu

New Uses for Easter Eggs

So, if the thought of eating hard-boiled Easter eggs for the next four days has you regretting your kind act of coloring them, you are not alone.  Here are some great recipes for re-purposing all of those brightly colored eggs.

 

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San Diego Happy Hours – Morton’s Steakhouse

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Happy Hours are the perfect way to try out the food and drinks at either an expensive restaurant for a lot less money or a restaurant that you may be interested in trying.  Almost all restaurants have a Happy Hour and Fine Living Enthusiast will be reviewing these spots and giving the skinny on the best and worst on what these restaurants have to offer.

Cocktails and Wine Morton's Steak House

Cocktails and Wine during Happy Hour at Morton’s Steak House

Our first review is on Morton’s Steakhouse.  We visited the Morton’s in the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown and across from the San Diego Convention Center.  Their hours for being happy are from 5:00 to 6:30.  Morton’s has a great atmosphere with a friendly and attentive staff.  The wines and cocktails were reasonably priced and had a good variety from which to choose.  We ordered the Cosmopolitan and a glass of Chardonnay.  The Cosmo wasn’t the best we’ve tasted, but it was good.  It was good and cold, with lovely ice crystals but the balance of sweet and alcohol was off a bit.  This imbalance made the drink bitter tasting.  However, we particularly enjoyed the Cabernet from BV wines.

Crab cakes at Morton's Steakhouse in San Diego

Crab cakes at Morton’s Steakhouse in San Diego

There are several items on the menu that were tempting and our waiter; Raul was knowledgeable in helping us make a few choices from the Bar Bites for $7. We order crab cakes whenever we see them on a menu.  So we had to try the Mini Crab Cake BLTs; and we asked Raul to exclude the silver dollar rolls because we wanted “just the crab and nothing but the crab”. They were packed with crab and had very little breading. We had two words to say about the crab cakes  at Morton’s “YUM ME”.

We also decided on the Prime Cheeseburgers and the Tenderloin Steak Tacos.  Although it took a while for our food to come out, it was worth the wait because it was all very delicious. The steak tacos were made with filet mignon and had a roasted tomato salsa and pico de gallo with avocados. In between the two tortillas was melted cheese “used as a glue” to hold the two tortillas together. Morton’s definitely gets the “Let’s do this again and bring friends vote!”

 

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Shuck Oyster Bar

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The OCmartMix in Costa Mesa has multiple eateries to choose from, but I was really excited to stumble across this brightly lit restaurant hidden in the back of the complex called Shuck Oyster Bar.   Shuck Oyster Bar features fresh raw oysters on the half shell, fried oysters, sandwiches (Po-Boy), soups, and salads. Read More >

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Take a Wine & Food Vacation

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At Fine Living Enthusiast, we specialize in helping travelers find the perfect vacation centered around their passion for wine and food.  We LOVE wine. We love talking about wine, reading about wine and of course drinking wine.  We knew there were others just like us so we decided to provide these wine lovers an opportunity to travel the world, drinking along with way.

Of course, what goes great with wine?  Great food.  So, why not combine the two on a wine and food vacation?  On a wine and food vacation you may find yourself drinking wine right from the aging barrel, visiting a quaint shop to sample the local delicacies or talking with the winemaker over a gourmet dinner. Read More >

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Mushroom Risotto

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Arthur and Donny making risotto

Arthur and Donny making risotto

Since the holidays are quickly approaching we thought we would share a recipe that would be great for entertaining.   For a little touch of elegance to serve your special guests we are featuring risotto.   I must say, I have had risotto several times at restaurants and thought it would take a lot of work to make at home.  Our close friends Donny and Arthur offered to take the lead on showing us how to make delicious risotto without stressing.   This versatile and delicious dish was actually easy to make and will be elegant to serve to any Fine Living Enthusiast . . . Bon appétit! Read More >

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Foodie vs Food Snob

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Have I become a food snob?

A few years ago, my mother visited from the Midwest.  She was making a sandwich for herself and asked me if we had any mustard.  She was unable to locate it so I walked up to the refrigerator door and pulled out five different jars of mustards. We had a Grey Poupon with white wine, a Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard, Inglehoffer Deli Mustard, a Coleman’s Hot English Mustard and a Beaver Sweet Honey Mustard.  I said, “Here they are mom”, wondering why on earth she didn’t see any of these. She held up each jar, looking at the label and then placed each one of them back down and said calmly, “No, mustard.” Read More >

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Crab Crusted Halibut

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Crab Crusted Halibut

Crab Crusted Halibut

Halibut is my favorite fish to eat.  You can grill it, poach it or fry it and it is always delicious.  But if you put some crab on this delicate sweet, flaky white fish then you have an instant hit.

This is an easy elegant recipe for you to serve to your guests along with a bottle of Chardonnay or a really nice champagne. Read More >

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