Snow is falling. Mariah Carey is singing. The holiday season is upon us and we’re looking for ideas for gift giving and home-entertaining that are easy and awesome. Here are some of my picks!
De Longhi Espresso Machine
There has been a quiet coffee revolution. Espresso splashed across the Atlantic on a wave of Cappuccino, Latte, Double Shot Americano, Half-Caf, Decaf, and took over as a natural progression of our more international society. For a while, Espresso was mostly available only in take-away coffee shops. Today, Espresso machines are as common on our kitchen counter as the Microwave. I became obsessed searching for my perfect Espresso machine. They came and went in and out of my kitchen as if I had a revolving door. Too small, too big, too noisy, too temperamental–until now. On my counter, sits the De’Longhi La Specialista Arte, a beautifully compact machine that allows me to become my own barista, with 2 built in recipes – espresso and americano – accessible with a touch of a button. It greets me every morning, patiently waiting and gleaming, and with the push of a button, I enjoy the aroma of beans grinding in the exact amount for a single or double espresso, or an Americano and a whoosh of foamy milk. For most coffee drinkers, that perfect first morning coffee lays the foundation for a good day. The De’Longhi designers are right in tune with us coffee-lovers. And did you notice? No one calls it expresso any more.
Spicy Nutmeg Latte
- A double espresso
- ½ gram of ground nutmeg
- 1 gram of ground cinnamon
- 15 grams of sugar
- 15 ml. boiling water
- 200 ml. of milk
In a cup, combine nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar. Pour in hot water and mix until a syrupy mixture forms. (optional) For a festive twist, add a dash of chocolate hazelnut liqueur. Brew double espresso and add to cup. Add milk to frothing jug. Using steam wand, froth the milk until desired warmth and foam. Slowly pour milk into cup and add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Cheers!
Cocktails with a Splash of Pruneti Olive Oil
These days, bartenders around the world are using butter as a fat wash to coat the inside of a cocktail glass, creating a richer flavoured-drink. Pruneti wants you to know you can use their olive oil to an even greater effect.
Four generations of the Pruneti family have been cultivating the olive trees on this land in San Polo in the Chianti region. Paulo and Gionni Pruneti extract 40,000 litres of organic olive oil once a year. Pruneti Silver Label Tradizione and Pruneti Gold Label Monocultivar have unique elements and top notes, fresh and verdant, fruity, grassy and peppery. The absolutely perfect flavour enhancers for cocktails.
This is trending with local Chianti bartenders. One flavours his Tanqueray Ten Gin in a fat wash with Pruneti’s olive for an intense fruitiness. Its herbaceous notes and structure significantly enhanced the flavour.
Another says, “With Gin and Tonic, what is inside the glass is more important than what is on it. The garnish is no longer part of the combination.” To finish preparing the cocktail, he adds the Pruneti oil which, in the initial phase, provides an exquisite aroma. Then the fresh notes of the gin and the tonic water, enriched with a cordial follow. The end result is that the oil prolongs the pleasure and satisfaction of this cocktail relative to that of the classic Gin and Tonic.
A third bartender bases his drink on London Dry Gin flavoured with a cordial of Pruneti EVOO combined with basil water. With a balsamic taste, it is rather dry, yet thirst-quenching and fresh.
If you’re passing through San Polo, Chianti, stop by for an Extra Gallery Cocktail Experience.
A Love Letter
Chef Jason Bangerter and Chris Johns have composed a love letter to Mother Nature in the form of an exquisite cookbook: Langdon Hall. What the land and sea have provided to the chef, and to all who wish to come to Langdon Hall and personally experience the love, is photographed with passion and gentleness. The recipes are flawless blueprints for creating delectable dishes. In the kitchen garden, the simplest seedlings have produced perfect vegetables, fruits and herbs, the fields and streams produce foods which became delectable dishes that are further enhanced by pairing with each other. To point out certain recipes would be irrelevant. Out of respect for Chef Jason’s creativity, Chris Johns eloquent words and the production of this book, I recommend that this art book, be a staple on every living room coffee table, and brought into the kitchen to guide us when the “eating beauty” urge comes upon us.
Yes, the most popular cuisine in the world is Chinese. Too often we try a cool new dish in a Chinese restaurant and think, “I wish I knew how to make this at home – it doesn’t look so difficult.” And now you can. Chef, man-about-town, and amazing event-experience creator, Trevor Liu, has put all his recipes, old and new, in his first book: Double Happiness. Chicken and Mushroom stir-fry is a snap to whip up; you can’t mess up Black Bean Spare ribs; and one of my favorites which will become yours, is the winning Ramen Burger that Trevor calls the Last Samurai. All in all, there are 88 feel good recipes and food stories. Now I am going into the kitchen to make Kung-Pao style Cauliflower wings for dinner. See his video series, Soulful Food Experiences, which he hosts and directs.
Purdy’s Dear Santa Collection
Purdy’s, our favorite chocolatier has raised the bar on their donation goal for their Dear Santa Campaign to $400,000. This initiative donates proceeds from their Dear Santa Collection to help local children’s hospitals across Canada provide the best care to patients and their families. When you buy online or in shop, one Dear Santa Bar – $5 online and in-shop, $2 will go directly towards your chosen foundation. Dear Santa Gift Box -$55 online and in-shop with $12.50 donated to your chosen foundation. Dear Santa Gift Basket – $100. Online only will have $8. Donated to a partnering Children’s Hospital. Dear Santa Bar pack of 12 – $60. Online only will see $24. Donated to a partnering Children’s Hospital. All chocolate is made with sustainable cocoa in Canada.
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.