Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wild Maine Blueberry Muffins Whole Wheat Muffins

Following a wonderful week of vacation in Bar Harbor, ME , I brought home a couple quarts of wild Maine blueberries. Here's the result of the first batch of blueberry muffins.
Wild Maine Blueberry Whole Wheat Muffins

4 Tbsp. melted butter
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. organic unsweetened soy milk

2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 c. wild Maine Blueberries
(coated with 1/4 c. of whole wheat flour)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray muffin tins with vegetable spray. Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the soy milk with the beaten eggs and stir in the melted butter. Combine the two mixtures and mix in blueberries.
Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full. Bake 15-20 min. and remove from tins immediately.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Water's Edge Resort Father's Day Sunday Brunch

We celebrated Father's Day at the Water's Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook, CT. We love Sunday Brunch and we especially love the ones that have plenty of wonderful food to choose from. Besides having an elegant and food filled Sunday Brunch every week, they kicked it up a notch for the special day with a special ice carving. The shrimp was plentiful, perfectly chilled, and clean and fresh tasting. There were all assortments of salads, and fresh fruits and vegetables, so that the vegetarian in our group was able to enjoy it. We even tried the fun foods like taco dip with nachos. A platter of lox with all the pickings was also available.

Plenty of breakfast items were available prepared to order such as a fully stocked Omelet station, and a Belgium Waffle and French Crepe station that included chocolate chips, blueberries, coconut, and almonds to name a few. Follow that up with a splash of Grand Marnier? More please!

Six hot entrees, a carving station with roast beef and ham, and fresh pastas made to order with a varying sauces rounded out the dinner side of the menu.

Follow up all that foodie goodness with an incredible array of mini pastries. I wish I could say we all shared this plate but no, the Dad in the group with his sweet tooth ate to his heart's content.
Water's Edge is such a lovely place to enjoy the food, the sights, and the all around beauty of the place. You won't go wrong making a reservation to have Sunday Brunch here. It's the best in Connecticut.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hyatt Aruba Sunday Brunch

We have to tell everyone about the best Sunday Brunch we have ever had. It's not as some may think, that just because you are on vacation in a special place it makes everything so much better, although it did make our hearts sing knowing that we were in Aruba. The Sunday Brunch at the Hyatt in Aruba would be awesome whether it was in Aruba or at a Hyatt in your nearest city.
It was all about the variety of choices on the menu and the freshness of all the food. And the waiters and waitresses were always right there to clean up your plate as soon as you finished and before your glass of champagne or mimosa was empty to refill it again.

Get ready for the line up of the menu - in no particular order:

Omelets to order
Sushi bar
Home made donuts hot and fresh from the machine (that's why Bob is smiling so much below)
Carving station with Angus beef and turkey
Fresh pasta station
Lox (fresh as could be) and everything to go with it including caviar
Assortment of breakfast items - bacon, sausage, eggs, fried potatoes, etc.
Assortment of hot dinner items
lobster bisque
Salads galore including an incredible crab salad that hit a hint of hotness to it
A huge pile of nicely sized shrimp in the shell and oysters on the half shell (see below)
Free pouring champagne for mimosas during the entire meal

The crab salad is on the left, the lox was perfect, and there were all the accompaniments for it including blocks of cream cheese, red onion, caviar, and more.
Bob gasped in delight when he spotted this incredible array of shrimp and oysters.
Hot, fresh, pesto pasta right out of the pan. Delicious.
The restaurant had a fresh and light ambiance, a free flow through to all the different food stations, to make it easy to get to your choice and back to your table.

There were plenty of assorted desserts for the finale including my favorite, mini fruit tarts.
We'd go back to Aruba just to experience the Hyatt Sunday brunch. And, in fact, for our next trip to Aruba we are going to make sure we get two Sunday's in to enjoy it twice.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Scoozzi's Spring Seafood Festival

Scoozzi Trattoria and Wine Bar in New Haven, CT held their Six Annual "Sagra Del Pesce," Spring Seafood Festival this past week. Not wanting to pass up a chance to try out some Italian wines and some of Scoozzi's delectable Italian food we made our reservations and attended the event. Chef Jeff Caputo prepared the following items:
We started out with a nice chilled glass of 2006 Cantele Chardonnay, from the Puglia region of Italy. Since chardonnay is probably my favorite white wine I was happy with the smooth velvety feeling of this nicely balanced wine. Alone and paired with the appetizers the chardonnay was a pleasant beginning .

The appetizers were a delicately seasoned Atlantic Tuna tartare on ciabatta croustades, Peekytoe Bay, Maine Lump Crab tartletts and Pan fried Italian Bronzino bites. The crab tarts were simple and light, while the Bronzino bits had a nice very light fried coating that did not overpower this white, mild, soft Mediterranean fish.

Once we sat down we started out with a Ceviche of American Red Snapper, Wild Mexican Gulf Shrimp and Canadian Digby Bay Scallops served with a fresh artichoke heart. This was paired with a Botromagno 2006 Gravina. The gravina started off a little too acidic tasting for me but within a half hour opened up and showed some elegance. What started out as a what I refer to as a rough bouquet mellowed and morphed into a Chardonnay-like oaky aroma. It worked wonders with the ceviche. I'd call the Gravina a two-fer wine. Drink it quickly and you'll have a clean and tart tasting wine, let it warm up and the bouquet opens, it becomes more oaky, mellows out and holds its finish nicely. This may very well be one of the wines I keep in stock for summer on the deck parties.

Next course was Connecticut harvested Little Neck Clams and Rhode Island harvested Squif braised in a spicy tomato sauce, garlic brushed croustade, escarole and beans. Ahhh, look at this beautiful melange of seafood. This dish paired up excellently with the Il Palagetto 2006 Vernaccia. For me it's usually red food, red wine. Yet the Vernaccia proved that the tried and true is not always the way to go. The spiciness of the sauce toned down perfectly with the low acidity of the Vernaccia.

Following the saucy seafood mix came the Grilled Connecticut harvested Sea Scallops, sweet corn fritella, sautéed spinach and mushrooms, with a dash of saffron-ginger creme fraiche. For once I could actually taste the spinach and mushrooms without being overwhelmed with sodium. The sweetness of the scallops was complemented by the sweetness of the corn in the fritella. This was another meal in itself. This dish was served with the 2006 Principato Pinot Noir. I felt this was a lighter weight pinot noir but still had that wonderful cherry aroma, spice and oak in it. Once the nose developed it smoothed out. It had a slow start but nice finish. The black cherry and berry fruitiness made this a good choice to taste with the scallops and corn.

By the time we tried the Fried Maryland Softshell Crab with arugula salad and lemon aioli we were really full. I wasn't about to pass up on softshell crab though. Paired with a 2003 Bove Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, "Avegiano" this was another good choice for the pairing. The rich fruit character of the Bove was delightful without being too complex for richness of the fried crab.

And finally, the end was near. Coconut Gelato was the dessert. A sweet, clean ending to the food, flavors, and fun of the night. A bubbly, airy, carefree finale tasting of the Prosecco, Neirano put a smile on my face.

Thanks to the three Jeff's; Jeff Horton, Jeff Schultz, and Chef Jeff Caputo, including their wonderful staff for a tasteful night of food and fun.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Wine Review #2 Echelon Central Coast Merlot

Another night another wine! Today's tasting is a 2003 Merlot, Echelon Central Coast from the Echelon Vineyards in CA. Our favorite wine store owner wanted to know what we thought of this one. We liked it! It is a thousand times better than the white wine we had last night. Well maybe not a thousand times, but maybe 900 times better... The Echelon Merlot was a nice deep cherry color with a pleasant, very cherry taste. Nice balance with medium tannin, and lingered on my tongue nicely with a long finish. I give it a 10 plus tongue roll because the flavor was still there after that many clicks to the roof of my mouth. On the bottle it states that it has a cocoa flavor but I had a hard time picking that out. I did try a piece of 70% dark chocolate from Guylian to see how it held up with it and bingo! It went well with chocolate and that's one of my favorite things to note especially if I'm going to be ordering a wine out at dinner. I really like my red wines to have the possibility to go with chocolate since that's what I most likely will have for dessert. Yum. I would buy this wine again to have with a meal or even to drink without food. Hmmm. Sounds like a good idea. Pour me another one! Ahhhh.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Wine Review #1 - Goat Door Chardonnay

I really needed to get going on this wine and foodie blog. Tonight is the night. I'm going to start right at the bottom with a really, and I mean really, inexpensive wine I picked up at a local wine store recently. For $3.99 (I wasn't kidding about the el cheapo price) in the end cap isle, was a bottle of Goat Door, 2005 Chardonnay from South Africa. Now I have to tell you, I was eating a bowl of cauliflower covered in a dried Indian curry mixed spice mix when I took the first sip. The familiar oakiness of a Chardonnay jumped out at me, made me smile, and I thought I had a winner at $3.99 a bottle. Nevertheless, that feeling didn't last long.

The curry actually helped the taste along but when I was sipping the wine alone the flavors took on their own character when not in competition with the curry. I continued to taste the oakey flavor which I do indeed like. I also got a silky, buttery, feeling from the wine which I also like. There just seemed to be a sour back end to it that I didn't like. When I really searched for it I could taste a veeerrryy slight caramel taste or maybe that's what I was hoping for. All in all for the price it wasn't too bad. I would probably buy it again just for one of those nights when I would like to open a bottle of wine, have a glass with my meal and not worry about whether or not the rest went to waste.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Clarke Cooke House Brunch

Sunday Brunch is one of our favorite meals to have at a nice restaurant. The Clarke Cook House in Newport, RI is one of those places. At a recent weekend getaway, we not only had lunch there, when we saw the menu for their brunch we had to come back and try it. This restaurant is a classic Newport tradition. It's a place where the locals hang out. People who grew up there and moved away are drawn back by memories of their childhood dinners and the restaurant's Snowball from Hell dessert. What child wouldn't remember an ice cream sunday type dessert, a chocolate roulade topped with vanilla ice cream in a chocolate coated goblet covered with Callebault chocolate and sprinkled with coconut?
One of the reasons I like brunch so much is because of Mimosa's, champagne and orange juice. I gave up my sugar-free diet for one day just to be able to indulge in this little bit of Heaven. And Heaven it felt like as we enjoyed the crisp, clean, blue sky and calm water outside our window seat.
The brunch menu offers a variety of specialty poached egg dishes. I tried the Oeufs en Meurette, two poached eggs in red wine on a crouton with bacon, pearl onions, mushrooms, and frisée. That was out of this world. It's not something you would normally throw together at home on a Sunday afternoon. We followed up our meal with a bread pudding dessert special. It was a slice on the plate drizzled with a caramel sauce. We ate it so fast I didn't even get a picture of it. But it was so memorable that we'll be coming back years from now hoping to repeat that special meal from the past.