Monthly Archives: August 2014

Home Away from Home, A Sweet Escape

This year, my hubby surprised me with a weekend getaway in beautiful Fort Lauderdale to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  It’s a thirty to forty-five minute ride from our home. Since a vacation requires a lot of planning and time off, this was the perfect escape to enjoy the sweet life, La Dolce Vita as I like to call it. Of course, I packed as if I was going away for two weeks. We stayed at the W hotel, a very chic hotel facing the pristine Fort Lauderdale Beach, with a modern look and  upscale amenities. Upon our arrival, we were greeted courteously by the hotel staff.  While waiting for our beachfront view room,  we sipped on champagne, (courtesy of the hotel) to kick off our celebration, and took a tour of the lovely pool area.

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Shortly afterwards, we were notified that our room was ready, and could not wait to see it.  Well, we were blown away by a spacious and impeccably kept room, and a glass-encased peekaboo shower. Yes, nothing private about it, however, there was an option to order a curtain which we didn’t feel the need. The best part of course, was the spectacular view of the glistening ocean waves and the beautifully landscaped tropical palm trees. It was truly paradise on earth.

Postcard worthy view

Postcard worthy view

 

At nighttime, we took a stroll on the beach, and had dinner at the exotic Casablanca cafe. The ambiance was romantic, the decor had a Mediterranean flair with a gorgeous view of the ocean from afar. Hubby had a crab crusted mahi-mahi with a lobster sauce and I had a black grouper with a beurre blanc sauce (white wine, butter and shallots).  Both dishes were beautifully plated, very fresh and tasted delicious.

 

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Black grouper with beurre blanc sauce

 

Crab crusted mahi-mahi

Crab crusted mahi-mahi

Friday morning we lounged around the pool at the hotel and savored some delicious hummus, tasty Ahi tuna tacos and enjoyed fabulous drinks.

Hummus platter

Hummus platter

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Ahi tuna tacos

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Around 2:30 PM, we headed to the spa for our massage and body wraps. It was ninety minutes of pure “bliss”,  and we both felt rejuvenated after this amazing pampering experience.

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That evening, we ate dinner at a newly opened restaurant in the trendy Las Olas area called, Fork & Balls. A fun place but on the noisy side,  I recommend going there with a group of people.  They have a nice assortment of meatballs on their menu.

Meatballs over polenta

Meatballs over polenta

Afterwards, we went back to the W and played pool with some hotel guests. On Saturday, we basked in the sun and had a relaxing day. In the evening, we got dressed up and enjoyed some fine dining at Steak 954. We shared a Porterhouse steak paired with an elegant super tuscan wine.

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Aged porterhouse for two

While eating dinner, we got a notification that someone dropped off a bottle of champagne for us at the front desk. It was a family member and a friend who came for a surprise visit.  We joined them for drinks and ended up at the hotel’s nightclub, Whiskey Blue. It was the perfect ending to a beautiful weekend away.

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Whiskey Blue

Whiskey Blue

On Sunday morning, we ordered room service for breakfast  and sipped coffee on the balcony while enjoying the fabulous view of the ocean.  We, then packed our bags and headed back to our home, sweet home.

Life is beautiful, live it up!

Gina

 

A visit to the Hamptons with food and wine

One of my favorite cities in the world is New York City. I have gone there since I am a little girl and I love it more, every time I visit. While in New York, I also enjoy going out to the Hamptons which is about a 2 to 5 hour drive East of the city, depending on traffic. My hubby grew up in the area and loves taking me there to show me all the cool spots and the beautiful beaches.  In 2012, we re-visited the area on a family vacation.  While strolling around in the Hamptons, we found this amazing artisanal food and cheese store called Lucy’s Whey.  We bought a loaf of crusty bread and some scrumptious cheese, then, stopped to get some wine at a liquor store nearby.  We brought them back to the hotel and had a feast. It was such a heavenly pairing and perfect for a leisurely afternoon.

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If you have been to the Hamptons, you will definitely recognize this windmill which is a landmark in the area.

Since our last visit in 2012, we found out the store, Lucy’s Whey has a Pop Up Shop in Lieb Cellars in East Hampton. They also own 2 stores in New York city that are open all year-round.

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2009 Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux “Cuvée Azalais” Vacqueyras –

Rated 92 points by Wine Spectator.  Smoldering charcoal and black tea notes lead the way, with fleshy, supple notes of blackberry preserves, mulled fig and spice. A roasted chestnut hint weaves subtly through the finish. This has good character. 
 
This red wine is an amazing blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. It is from Rhone, a breathtaking region in France known for its corpulent wines and wonderful terroirs.  
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 If you are looking for a scrumptious and pungent cheese to pair with your wine, this is it. I could not get enough of its deliciousness and burst of flavors caressing my palate.
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There is no denying, New York has the best bread in the world (along with Italy and France) and this one proved to be tasty and crusty. This sumptuous food pairing was a Menage a Trois in a foodie world.  I hope you have enjoyed my culinary travel in the Hamptons, and this blog will have you salivating for some delicious eats. Don’t be afraid to experiment when it comes to food and wine pairing, be daring and make it fun.  If you do not consume alcohol, just omit the wine and enjoy the bread and cheese.

Bon Appetit! Cheers and Happy Travels!

Clams Oreganata

Good evening all! I hope you are ready for some fun in Gina’s Kitchen. Tonight, I prepared Clams Oreganata and I am happy to share this recipe with you.  They were so delicious, my family devoured them one by one.

Serves: 4
Degree of difficulty: Easy – Medium

INGREDIENTS:

  • 25 little neck clams
  • 1/2 cup or so of seasoned breadcrumbs, (Progresso, Italian Style)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3/4 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, (plain olive oil will do also)
  • more olive oil for drizzling
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, optional
  • 1 lemon

PREPARATION:

In a colander, wash the clams thoroughly and place them on a flat baking tray. I will share with you a little trick to make it easier to open them. Preheat oven at 375 degrees and bake the clams for 3 minutes.  They will be open, just detach them one by one so each clam is on one shell. Do this while they are still on the tray. There will be some juice from the clams, leave it in there. Set aside.

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In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, black pepper and olive oil. Sprinkle this mixture on top of all the clams and cover the tray as well.  Place in the broiler for 3 minutes and remove promptly. They should have a nice golden color to them.  Drizzle liberally more olive oil, and squeeze the lemon juice all over the clams. Voila! They make a fancy appetizer but do require a little work.  They are so worth the extra effort, your guests will be very satisfied.  If you choose to drink, I would pair it with a nice Chardonnay.

Bon Appetit!

From Gina’s Kitchen

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Gina’s Hummus

Good morning all! I am still very excited about blogging and hope more of you will join me on my new journey.   I have debated what to post, since I have a nice collection of recipes in my database. Today, I decided to share with you my popular Hummus recipe. It’s always a big hit at my gatherings and so easy to prepare.

Serves:  6-8
Degree of difficulty: Easy

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 – 16 ounces can garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, optional
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. Tahini (sesame paste) optional but highly recommended for richness
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 lemon
  • Paprika
  • Olives and flat leaf parsley for garnish, optional
Very appealing to the eyes

Very appealing to the eyes

 

PREPARATION:

Combined all the ingredients (except for the  paprika and garnishes)  in a food processor or blender until it reaches a creamy texture. Add more water if needed. Place in a medium size bowl, garnish with olives, parsley, sprinkle the paprika and drizzle some olive oil on top. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Voila, you got yourself a crowd pleaser! Serve with Pita bread.

Bon Appetit

From Gina’s Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

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