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All posts for the month April, 2011

pomegraneteBigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante: Drink Your Pomegrante

I had my first pomegrante years ago.  It was a pain in the [bleep] to open, it got juice everywhere, and it was sour.  I decided that I would be more than happy to never have one again.

Fast forward about 15 years and suddenly, pomegrantes are super fruits and they are everywhere.  Of course, they’re still a pain to open and they still lead to staining, but they are less sour or my tastes have changed.  Either way, I am actually looking for some ways to get more pomegrantes into my diet again because I like the taste.  (And I hear they do lots of good stuff inside me.)

One way is this tea.

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante’s Ingredients

Yeah, I don’t know what to think.  According to Bigelow’s package, the tea is flavored with “natural pomegrante flavors with other natural flavors (soy lectithin).”  Hrmm…

So what does that mean?  Well, I find it telling in the description that there’s no talk of pomegrante’s antioxidants in its health benefits.  Just the flavor of the tea.  Then again, I’m not entirely sure how else you flavor something with pomegrantes naturally except with pomegrante.  So, I’m guessing pomegrante is in there.

So, ultimately, I’m not standing up and cheering about what I am drinking like I do when I drink Yogi tea.  On the other hand, I’m not really worried like I am when the tea has like 10 ingredients and the list is written in kanji…

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante’s Aroma

Very nice.  Very, very nice in fact.  I really like the sweet smell of pomegrante that wafts up from the tea, even after it has cooled down.  The smell is almost as refreshing as the flavor.

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante’s Taste

If you like pomegrante, you will like Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante.  And if you don’t like pomegrante, you might still like the taste of Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante.

I like the tea because it is sweet.  Not sugary, but the green tea is mild and the “natural pomegrante  (and other) flavors” really give this tea just enough oomph to wake up the sweet taste buds in my mouth and let me enjoy this tea on a couple of levels.

Really, the folks at Bigelow did a good thing by mixing pomegrante with green tea.  The green tea is mild enough that the pomegrante flavor is the star, however, it wasn’t like drinking pomegrante juice because the green tea had just the enough impact so that you knew it was there.

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante’s Effects

I am told that green tea is full of antioxidants.  I am sure this is true.  It’s hard for me to tell.
Still, there wasn’t a clear effect other than the 25-50 mg of caffeine.  Which was nice, don’t get me wrong!

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante Overall

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante is good tea.  I enjoy drinking it even though I wish it was a little more Organically-minded like some of the other teas I have reviewed.  Plus, I wish I knew why the lecithin was there. 

Oh well, 3.5 cups out of five.

Thanks youngthousands to for the pic.

Enjoy!

HangoverHow to Get Over a Wine Hangover

So, the Drink Local Wine – Missouri conference has been over for a while now and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my response.  At the very least, I want to cover the highs and lows of the conference, the spits and the swallows (is that a thing?) and the laughts and the tears, but I did want some time to gain perspective.  I wanted to make sure that my thoughts about Missouri wine were well thought out and not simply riding the emotion of great food, great wine, and good times.

However, before that, I submit the following Public Service Annoucement.

Tips for Getting Over a Wine Hangover

May the record reflect that at a wine conference, there is a lot wine.  In fact, it’s about as hard as anything I’ve ever done to keep a wine glass empty for more than a few seconds.  Believe me, I tried.

Also, for the record let me say that I’ve had beer hangovers, tequilla hangovers, whiskey hangovers, and now wine hangovers.  That wine hangover was over and above, far and away, the worst hangover I’ve ever had.  Bar none.  Hands down.  Certainly, that first night at the conference was far from the drunkest I’ve ever been, but the hangover was bad.  I’m guessing it was the sulfites.

Here’s how to get those nasty things out of your system:

1.  Drink lots of water before you go to bed.  This makes sense for a hangover of any variety, but in a wine hangover, the water will help flush the system.  That’s a good thing.

2.  Take a shower when you get up.  Standing under the hot water and letting it work out some of the knots in my shoulder made me feel better, and as the muscles unknotted, it made sure all the junk in my system was flowing as freely as possible.  (That is a thing…massage therapists have their clients drink water all the time because knots trap bad bodily chemicals.)

3.  Avoid orange juice.  When I have a beer hangover, all I want is OJ.  It’s liquid + vitamins, which is the double whammy of hangover recovery.  Maybe it’s the sulfites again or the sulfites + the citric acid, but my tummy wasn’t having any.  Ice water was the rule of the day for the first hour.  Once I felt a little hydrated, I was able to move to OJ.

4.  Bagel.  Plain.  Putting something easy to digest (processed carbs) into my stomach helped calm it and allow me to drink OJ faster.

5.  Sit.  Inactivity kept the head from moving quickly.  No head movement = less headache.

6.  Ibuprofen.  As soon as I took it, my eyes stopped pulsing in time with the speakers.  That was good.

Eventually, I came around and was my old sweet self again…right in time for lunch.  Yay.  More easy-to-digest food and orange juice.

So, I highly recommend my six step system.  And if that doesn’t work, go to a wine tasting where you have to consume like 42 wines in 4 hours.  There’s nothing a hangover loves more than alcohol!

Thanks to pasukaru76 for the picture.

Enjoy!

sriracha steak saladSriracha Steak with Citrus Vinaigrette and Cheesy Croutons

Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to give a short presentation on organic foods and to do a cooking demo at MRIGlobal.  I had a great time and I hope everyone who came did, too.

Anyway, this is the full recipe for the salad I prepared.

This is an easy salad to make and it’s a leftover magnet. Throw together any veggies you have laying around the fridge, sauté some meat, bake the croutons, dress, and serve!

The recipe for this salad has been broken into its component pieces: the croutons, the steak, the dressing, and the salad itself.

Sriracha Steak

Making sriracha steak is so very easy, but tastes so very good. Just a little sauce adds a tremendous flavor to the steak, but be careful not to stand too close to the skillet while it’s cooking. Sriracha sauce is hot and odoriferous.

Ingredients

  • 1 ribeye or sirloin steak (1/2 inch thick)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha

Directions
Take the steaks out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper as they are warming.

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and let it get very hot. Gently lay the steak in the skillet and spread the sriracha over the meat. Cook 3 minutes, then flip and cook the meat another 3 minutes. Finish in the oven for 6 minutes.

Cut into slices and serve.

Cheesy Croutons

The croutons take a little while to make, but it’s mostly just baking time. All you have to do is slice the bread and, basically, the oven does the rest.

Ingredients

 

  • 1 loaf of French bread, preferably day old
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350.
Cut the loaf of French bread into roughly 1 inch squares. Place them in a plastic bag with olive oil and garlic powder. Shake to coat.

Lay the sliced bread flat on a cookie sheet 1 layer thick. Bake the French bread for 20 minutes, then cover with both types of cheese, and cook until the cheese is melted.

Citrus Vinaigrette

This simple dressing is just a template. Start with the basics: vinegar, sugar, olive oil, and lemon juice and then feel free to explore with whatever flavors you love.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil

Directions
Mix the sugar, rice wine vinegar, and lemon juice in a bowl.

Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it has reached your preferred consistency. Shake again before serving.

Salad

Romaine hearts are the engine that makes this salad go. They are slightly sweet and hold the citrus dressing very well. Add the Romaine to a mix of carrots, pepperdew (aka sweet) peppers, and red onion.

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots, sliced then
  • 2 pepperdews, sliced
  • 1 Romaine heart, sliced
  • 1 Red onion, sliced

Directions
Toss the ingredients of the salad with the dressing. Rest the croutons and meat on top. Serve and enjoy!

If You Won’t Give Me Free Cake on My Birthday, I’m Not Coming to Your Restaurant

Birthday Cake

Really, the title says it all.

I know, it’s kind of a weird thing coming from yours truly, but it’s true.  I have made a decision: if a chef isn’t willing to put forth the effort (which I believe to be minimal effort) to do something nice for me one day a year, I’m not going.  And not only am I not going on my birthday, if I find out that a restaurant is the type of place that ignores a patron’s birthday entirely, I am not coming back ever.  Never ever.

This is not a decision I take lightly.

I came to this decision where I have come to many of my great restaurant decisions: Shogun. (You thought I was going to say Jasper’s, didn’t you?)  It was many years ago and Andy, the owner and amazing sushi chef at Shogun, offered me a beer.  A Kirin in fact.  It was a small gesture, considering the retail price of the beer was about 1/15 the price of the sushi I had ordered, but it was touching nonetheless.  It was a small gesture, but he didn’t have to try and offer me something that he felt would enhance my meal.  He did and I found the interplay of Kirin and sushi to be kind of nice.  And I remember it clearly years later.

Shogun wasn’t the first place that gave me a free something on my birthday.  I cannot repay the Chinese buffet (that has since gone out of business) in Knob Noster, MO for getting me to try cheesecake.  It was my 15th birthday and the waitress brought out a slice of plain cheesecake.  Until the point, I would have sworn I hated the stuff.  Was I ever wrong.

I think I can still recite Red Lobster’s birthday song (hey, cut me some slack, I live in the Midwest.)  Something about the good news is we sing for free, the bad news is we sing off key.  Anyway…

And of course, Chef Jasper Mirabile does have a tendency to roll out the red carpet every year for my friends and family.  His generosity and warmth make his restaurant as much like home as my house.  It’s like when I go to Jasper’s, I’m the only customer that matters.  And frankly, Chef Mirabile and Andy both can have a lifetime “You never have to do anything for me again” pass.  I can only imagine what percentage of my body weight is made up of their food.  Though if they choose not to take it, I can’t believe I would complain…

Which is as good as segue  me back to the whole birthday thing.

It would be easy to dismiss my claim of boycotting restaurants that don’t give out free cake on my birthday as greed.  However, this is more than me trolling for something for free just because I got a year older.

There is a thread that links the restaurant experiences of places that offer free desserts and those that don’t:  customer experience.  At each of those places, when I went for my birthday, they did something to make me feel special and that my name was more important than the name of the restaurant (even if say, they couldn’t keep my water glass full or find me a napkin…at least they tried to let me have fun.)  That is the type of place where I want to spend my money.

Honestly, I can’t tell if the issue resides in the new celebrity status of chefs or if many chefs are just artists who now getting their say, but there is a trend in restaurants I don’t like.  Far from forgetting that they are in a service industry, there seems to be an opinion held by some chefs that the customers exist to serve them.  The guests have to eat the food just so, have to drink the wine just so, have to order their meals just so and if they don’t?  Obviously they’re incompentent, uncouth, or just plain ignorant.

Why do I think that?  Well, a lot of this is an extrapolation of Chef Ron Eyester's quotes from Eatocracy. 

“I love how a restaurant is expected to acknowledge your birthday like it’s a national holiday or something. Who invented the rule that you get a free dessert on your birthday in a restaurant? I guess we have T.G.I.Friday’s and Bennigan’s to thank for exploiting servers as they, the servers, clap their hands and chant a birthday cheer.

You don’t get free pair of gloves or socks from Old Navy when you buy an outfit on your birthday. I actually will kid with our guests and let them know that on their birthday, 'unfortunately, our mariachi band is off this evening' - and, people believe me!”

And I am left scratching my head.  Why would Chef Eyester say that?  He knew he was going to be quoted.  I’m guessing that parting with a free piece of cake (believe me, singing is optional) is such a burden that he doesn’t want my business and I am more than happy to oblige him.  (Oh and someone who is a member of Old Navy’s loyalty program, don’t you get something for free on your birthday?)  If you think I am being nitpicky and this one comment alone doesn’t merit the judgment Chef Eyester’s not into customer experience, read the article.

Ultimately, I want to go where I am wanted and where I feel like I am worth someone taking the time to plate a piece of cake.  I only have a finite budget for going out to eat and I am going to spend that money where the food is good and the staff act like they want me to be there.  And one of the best (and most painless) ways an eatery can do that is by doing something for a customer’s big day, be it a beer, a shot, a dessert, an appetizer, or the chef coming out to shake hands and spending a few minutes outside the kitchen.

So, I’ve put my stake in the ground.  Treat your customers well and I will go to your restaurant.  Treat them like cattle (or worse that the beef you are about to serve) and I will happily head down the road to somewhere that wants me.  Even if that place is Applebee’s.  At least there I know I’m wanted.

Thanks to Pink Sherbert Photography for the picture. 

Enjoy!

Yogi Peach DeTox: Good for the Bodypeachtea

Part of my resolution since about 2009 has been to live more healthy.  It’s a resolution that I have struggled with for a number of reasons, but I am slowly starting to make small changes.  One of the places this has lead me is studying the medicinal values of herbs and other ingredients.

Now I know how that sounds… and yes, I still go the doctor.  I’m not attending sweat lodges or trying leeches (which I hear some doctors are actually trying again…)  It’s just modern science is finding that there is soemthing behind some of the ancient world’s medicinal remedies.  Peppermint does help with a tummy ache (as does turmeric.)  Willow bark soup was used by Native American tribes for pain…turns out when heated, chemicals in willow bark have the some composition as aspirin.

So, it’s not all hocus pocus.  One of my big areas of concern has been taking care of the parts of my body that take care of me, such as my immune system, my liver and my kidneys.  So, when I saw

Yogi Peach DeTox, I figured I had to try it.

Yogi Peach DeTox’s Ingredients

I said it last week, I’ll say it again.  Yogi…thank you for making tea out of things I feel good about drinking.  Yogi’s teas are made from ingredients that have been certified organic and the only thing in them is tea and flavorings.  Nothing weird.

For Yogi Peach DeTox, Yogi blended a trio of DeToxing ingredients: trikatu (a blend of ginger, black pepper, and long pepper), Organic dandelion leaf, and fo-ti, a Chinese herb.  And some peach, for it’s fruity flavor.

Yogi Peach DeTox’s Aroma

Of all the Yogi teas, this one has the most pleasing aroma.  The scent is very mild, but it is definitely has its soft, creamy peach notes.  I rather enjoy it, even though I wish it was much stronger.  (Maybe I’ll try Yogi Rooibos Sweet Peach.)

Yogi Peach DeTox’s Taste

Well, it’s good for me.  Can I start there?

Yogi Peach DeTox starts off with a nice bouqet of peach.  Really pleasant, sweet without needing sweetner, just a nice peach flavor.  Then you start to swallow and all of the sudden it’s like… “There it is…Okay,  now I know I’m drinking something good form me…”

It’s almost a tale of two teas and I wish it was a tale of one.  I wish I could have all that peach taste and none of the medicinal aftertaste.  But alas, I cannot.

Still, it’s not like the medicinal taste is horribly unpleasant.  It’s just very noticeable on the first drink.

Yogi Peach DeTox’s Effects

It’s hard to say.  Maybe I could have taken a test of some sort to gauge whether my liver and kidneys were working better or not.  (Maybe they need to add asparagus extract to the tea.  That would be a sure sign something was up.)  If anyone knows a test you can take to see whether a detox is working short of getting blood drawn, let me know.

Yogi Peach DeTox’s Overall

All in all, I drink Peach DeTox for the little bit of peach and the hope I am doing my body good.  In fact, I try to drink it every time I’ve over indulged the night before.

Still, overall, I give this tea 2 cups out of five.  As a detox agent, I’d like to think it’s working.  As a taste experience, I’d rather try a different tea.

Thanks to xcxsxvx.

My Thought on Local Wines Before #DLWMO

Since I have an hour to kill, I thought I would spend some time pontificating on local wine prior.  As I sit here mere hours from what should be an intense study/drinkfest of locally produced wines, I figure it will be interesting to compare what I think about local wine now as compared to what I will think about local wine tomorrow.

So, here are my five thoughts about Missouri Wine right now.  Please keep in mind, I am not a sommelier (though I did get the spelling right on the first try…) nor I have studied Missouri wine intensely.  On the other hand, I have drank my fair share of it and have been to Rocheport several times, Hermann several times, and St. James at least once.   (Wine + memory = not so good.)  Plus, I have availed myself of the opportunity to drink local wine whenever I can, and in doing so, have always strived to learn more about it.

1. Missouri’s Greatest Strength and Greatest Weakness is the Norton Grape

I’m going to let Wikipedia describe the Norton Grape in all it’s glory, but let me summarize what the Norton is in one word: sweet.  And not in the “Dude!  Sweet!” way.  All of the wines I have had, in particular the Steamboat Red and White from Les Bourgeois, are always very sweet.  This is no problem for me.  I love sweet.  My friend Scott, the wine snob, called them dessert wines.

2. Missouri Has Yet to Produce a Big Red

Of all the observations I will make in this post, this is the one I am the least confident about.  I’m not really one to go out and seek big reds, but I know I haven’t stumbled on one during the course of a wine tasting. 

What is a big red?  It’s bold, strong red wine…you know the ones that might get called oaky or “meaty.”  Why is this important?  As near as I can tell, it’s part of being taken seriously as a wine producing region.  So many wine lovers gravitate towards big reds that it seems like a wine portfolio isn’t complete without one.  Even if I personally find them unpalatable.

3. Where’s the Acidity?

Again, all I can do is speak for myself, but I know that the Missouri wines gracing my wine rack lack the acidity of other region’s wines, especially those I’ve had from Spain and South America.  The result is that Missouri wines may come off as having a less refined finish than those other wines.  This is something I plan to ask about during the conference.

It’s also a myth I am hoping to dispel after a few rounds of tastings.

4. Missouri Doesn’t Have a Strong Wine Culture…Yet

I know that sounds strange from someone going to a Missouri wine conference, but it’s true.  When people talk about a wine vacation, they think about Napa when St. James, Herman, Rocheport, Knob Noster, Odessa, etc. are closer, cheaper, and in many cases, almost as good (and has the potential to be better.)  And if you try to convince them to go local, you get looked at like you have a second head.

My hope is that by this time tomorrow we’ll have a concrete plan of action on how to get more people to think of Missouri as wine country.

(One thing that will help this wine culture, strangely enough, is the continued evolution of the culinary landscape in Missouri.  Good food and good wine go hand-in-hand.)

5. Missouri Will Face the Same Challenge as California

There was a time when California was thought of as a second-class citizen to other wine regions (read: France.)  Eventually, though, Captain Kirk and Dute Leto Atreides bottled a wine that showed the world that California deserved a place at the wine table.  (At least the actors who played them — Chris Pine and William Hurt — portrayed the real-life people who actually did so…)

Anyway, for Missouri to be mentioned alongside Napa, Honduras, France, and Italy as places to go for wine, it’s going to take work from everyone involved: the people who grow the wine, the people who think about the wine, and the people who order it.  It might even take a movie staring the guy fom Wings and Paul Giamatti, but if we work together, it can happen.

So tomorrow, I’ll figure out how.

Enjoy.