All posts by FoodieWineLover - Gina (Martino) Zarcadoolas

My name is Gina (Martino) Zarcadoolas and I am the name behind the blog: Foodiewinelover. I am of Italian and Middle Eastern descent, but spent part of my early childhood in Haiti. It's a small country in the Caribbean (formerly known as Hispanola, because the island was occupied by Haiti and the Dominican Republic before both nations became independent.) I am married to a Greek and I currently live in South Florida, where there is a big Cuban influence. As you can see, I am multi-cultural, and I enjoy traditional and authentic dishes from various cuisines. I am a vivacious woman with a zest for life and enjoy living La Dolce Vita. I am a wine enthusiast, and recently received a Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits from the world-renown WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust). I am a culinary aficionado and a world traveler. In between blogging, I sell and invest in Real Estate. I have been inspired by many different cuisines during my travels abroad, and I am fascinated, the way food plays a major role in cultures all over the globe. I have had the pleasure to visit many countries and cities in my lifetime, and savored many delicious ethnic cuisines. I am really excited to discover WordPress and share with you my passion for food, wine and travels around the world. I feel blessed to have visited so many places such as Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti (where I lived), Mexico City, Taxco, Acapulco, and Cancun in Mexico; Nassau, Paradise Island, in the Bahamas; St. John, St.Thomas, San Jose, Guanacaste in Costa Rica; Rome, Naples, Capri, Florence, Venice, Lake Como, Milan, in Italy; Lugano, Switzerland; Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, in Greece; Kusadasi and Ephesus in Turkey; Corsica, Monacoville and Montecarlo in Monaco; Nice, Cannes in France; Barcelona in Spain and Palma De Majorca. I currently live in the USA with my beautiful family. In 2013 I visited wine country, Sonoma and Napa Valley, and had the time of my life. In 2017, I explored the world of Tuscan living and wines from that region. I also visited Positano, the Amalfi Coast and Naples where I relished on some authentic Southern Italian Cuisine. I cook passionately, and I love to entertain family and friends, while sipping on some amazing wine. I will share with you some of my delicious culinary creations, and some beautiful pictures that I captured during my travels. I hope you will sit back, relax and enjoy My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles.

Cioppino, A Delightful Seafood Stew

Cioppino, A Delightful Seafood Stew
Cioppino, A Delightful Seafood Stew

 

Cioppino, A Delightful Seafood Stew
Cioppino, A Delightful Seafood Stew

 

Cioppino, A delightful Seafood Stew

 

Cioppino, A Delighful Seafood Stew

Cioppino is a rich and delightful seafood stew that originated in San Francisco. It’s usually made with the catch of the day, and the addition of Dungeness crabs is very popular in the Bay area.  This Italian-American dish consists of an array of seafood, simmered in a tomato and wine broth. It’s somewhat similar to some regional Italian seafood dishes. This stew is usually served with a piece of toasted bread to sop up all the deliciousness of the broth. I consider this recipe for special occasions as it is on the pricey side. Put on your apron and follow me in the kitchen for my spin on this delectable meal.

Serves: 6-8 Difficulty level: Easy-medium
Time from prepping to finish 30-45 minutes at the most.


Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + more to drizzle
  • 2 medium shallots, chopped
  • 3 slices (rings) of fresh fennel
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ cup of dry white wine
  • 2 cups seafood stock
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp. Oregano
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Pinch of fennel seeds, optional
  • 18 little neck or middle neck clams
  • ½ lb. of sea scallops
  • ½ lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lb. of mussels
  • ¾ lb. cod-fish, cut up in medium size pieces
  • Flat leave parsley for garnish
  • 1 loaf of Italian bread or French baguette, cut-open, toasted
  • olive oil or butter for the bread.

    Preparation:
    1
    ) In a medium-sized pot, on medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Sauté shallots and fennel rings for 2 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add garlic, sauté 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste, cook for 1 minute. Stir. Deglaze with wine, cook 1 minute.
    2) Add seafood stock, chopped tomatoes, oregano, salt, crushed pepper and fennel seeds. Bring to a boil, add the clams, scallops, shrimp, mussels, and place the fish on top. Cover, lower the flame to low, and simmer for 5-6 minutes, baste the fish with the broth once or twice. Cover and continue cooking for an additional 5-6 minutes, or until the clams and mussels are open.
    3) 5 minutes prior to completion, drizzle some oil or spread some butter on the bread. Broil for about 2-3 minutes. Remove.
    4) Place the seafood stew in a bowl, with a piece of bread to dunk, and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with fresh parsley.
    Wine pairing suggestions: Explore the world of Italian white wines like a delicious Vermentino, a lovely Verdicchio, or a minerally dry Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy.

    Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours!

    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    World renowned – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
    Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
    Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels

    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
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A Memorable Egg Sandwich, A Lifeguard Special on Montauk Beach

A Memorable Egg Sandwich, A Lifeguard Special on Montauk Beach
Bacon
A Memorable Egg Sandwich, A Lifeguard Special on Montauk Beach
A Memorable Egg Sandwich, A Lifeguard Special on Montauk Beach
A Memorable Egg Sandwich, A Lifeguard Special on Montauk Beach

 

A Memorable Egg Sandwich, A Lifeguard Special on Montauk Beach
A Memorable Egg Sandwich, A Lifeguard Special on Montauk Beach

This delicious breakfast transported my hubby, Peter, to Montauk, Long Island, where he spent his childhood. The beaches are a paradise for surfers and fishermen. The weather is unpredictable, and the fog can roll in at anytime of the year. Montauk is famous for its Lobster Roll and the briniest clams.  I’m fortunate to have visited this charming village, and the surrounding towns of Southampton and East Hampton.  Many celebrities from all over,  and New Yorker’s flock to East Hampton to enjoy the pristine beaches and the glamorous life.  A visit to the Lighthouse in Montauk is a must.  Peter’s father used to own the concession at Hither Hills Campground in Montauk, Long Island, while his mother, Dorothy ran the General Store. One of her specialties was the egg sandwich that she made for the lifeguards, hence, the name: “The Lifeguard Special”.  Peter always told me about this famous sandwich made on a poppy-seed roll.  I’ve always wanted to try, but could not find the rolls with the poppy- seeds. Finally, I decided to call my local grocery store, and ordered the rolls from their bakery department. They were freshly baked,  warm and soft. (New York, undeniably makes the best bread.) This may take a little practice before you get it right, and the time will vary, depending on the pan you use and your stove.

Average time: From start to finish 10-15 minutes – Level of difficulty: Easy-medium

Servings: 1 per person – Make 2 at a time

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 2 eggs, over-easy
  • 2 slices of American cheese*
  • 2 Kaiser rolls with poppy-seed
    Preparation:

    1) Start by cooking the bacon, however way you do it. I did mine in a cast iron pan until crispy. Remove and drain them on a paper towel.
    2) In a frying pan over medium-heat, heat olive oil, crack the eggs open, and cook until the egg white is about 75% (more or less)  done, as seen on picture. (You may have to lower the heat)
    3) Flip the eggs, add 2 strips of bacon and a slice of cheese on each. Cover for 1-2 minutes. Remove at once, and  place on the roll, egg side up.
    When you bite into it, the eggs and cheese should be oozing some deliciousness.
    * I used Cheddar instead of American cheese.
    I hope you will try this delectable breakfast in your kitchen, and refrain from eating at those fast food chains. I always say, if you cook at home,  you know what you’re putting in your food, and you run less risk of contamination.

    The General Store at Hither Hills Campgrounds
    The General Store at Hither Hills Campgrounds
Hubby and our son Matthew on a foggy day
Hubby and our son Matthew on a foggy day
Pristine beach in Montauk
Pristine beach in Montauk
Cousins at Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk
Cousins at Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk

Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
World renowned – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels

Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

 

Gina’s Penne Alla Vodka

Guanciale
Guanciale
Penne alla Vodka
Penne alla Vodka

If you are looking for some comfort food that is rich and satisfying, I’ve got this delicious pasta recipe that will make you smile from ear to ear. Penne alla Vodka is not a traditional dish and its origin is unknown. It’s popular in the Italian-American community, however, because of its richness, it is not part of my weekly repertoire. You can serve it with a protein and a veggie of your choice.  I used some guanciale that I brought back with me from Italy.  This pork fat is not available in most grocery stores in the USA (unless, you go to a specialty store) and it’s perfectly ok to substitute it with pancetta.  Let’s get cooking!  Put on your apron,  and follow me in the kitchen.

Serves: 6-8 Difficulty level: Easy to intermediate
Allow about 1 hour of prepping and cooking time

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. guanciale or pancetta
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup Vodka
  • 1 – 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – 32 oz. jar, prepared sauce (meatless)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Italian parsley, rough-chopped
  • 1.5 lb. penne pasta
  • Parmigiano Reggiano,  (Parmesan cheese)

    Preparation:

    1) In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat, sauté the guanciale for 2-3 minutes, add the onions, cook for 2-3 minutes, then the garlic, 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with the Vodka. Cook for about 2 minutes.
    2) Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the flame, simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
    3) In the meanwhile, bring pasta water to a boil, add salt and cook penne al dente or as per package directions. Drain well. Return to the pot. Drizzle some of the sauce on the pasta so it doesn’t clump up.
    4) At this time, the sauce should be almost done, slowly pour the cream into the tomato sauce, and gently stir it in one direction. Let it simmer on low for 5 minutes.
    5) Use a ladle to pour the sauce over the pasta. Mix it well until each pasta is drenched in the sauce. Serve it in a large decorative bowl.  Sprinkle the cheese on top and garnish with parsley.

    Buon Appetito!

    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    World renown – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
    Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
    Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels

    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

    Penne alla Vodka

Fattoria di MonteMaggio, A Magical Boutique Winery in Tuscany

Enjoying La Dolce Vita with Ilaria at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Enjoying La Dolce Vita with Ilaria at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Ilaria is giving me a lesson on the Sangiovese grape
Ilaria is giving me a lesson on the Sangiovese grape

My husband and I recently took a spectacular trip to Italy and visited some amazing regions, rich in cultures and traditions.  One of our destinations was Tuscany and we were living our dream of “La Dolce Vita” (the sweet life). We were blown away by the beauty of the rolling hills and the lush cypress trees. Finally, all the landscape pictures we had seen were coming to life and the views were similar to that of a postcard. On the first day, we got to visit this beautiful winery called: Fattoria di Montemaggio, located in Radda in Chianti in the heart of Chianti Classico region.  It’s truly magical with a stupendous view of the valley, and well-manicured grounds. There were full-blown roses and fresh artichokes growing in the immaculate garden. Ilaria, the estate manager greeted us with a beautiful smile and gave us a tour of the vineyards. It was clear how passionate she was about her job and demonstrated a great knowledge in the viticulture and viniculture process of wine making. She gave us a little lesson about the stubborn Sangiovese grape, as I explained in an earlier post:  The temperamental Sangiovese grape variety . I pointed out to her that the ground seemed very dry and she replied: “we need to make them suffer”. Of course, she was referring to this particular grape variety.  After a tour of the vineyards and some photo snapping, it was Denis, the cellar manager, who guided the wine tasting.  We enjoyed a lovely selection of wines in the company of Riccardo, our amazing tour guide and the multi-talented Katarina Andersson. She is a translator, an educator and a wine writer at: Grapevine Adventures. The wines were luscious and of high quality which were no surprise to us, after seeing the labor of love that went into producing them. Fortunately, because of the terroir and the micro-climate, Fattoria di Montemaggio is able to grow many grape varieties such as: Sangiovese, with small additions of Merlot, Pugnitello, Chardonnay, Malvasia Nera, and Ciliegiolo. A few months ago, I was able to get their Chianti Classico in my area and paired it with Pork Chops in Tomato sauce. It worked delightfully.  I brought back a couple of bottles from this recent trip and cannot wait to crack them open. If you intend to visit Tuscany, I highly recommend that you put Fattoria di Montemaggio on your itinerary. You will be very happy with this gem of a place.

Ilaria, the estate manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Ilaria, the estate manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio

The rose garden at Fattoria di MontemaggioThe view at Fattoria di MontemaggioIMG_8849The views at Fattoria di Montemaggio

I hope you have enjoyed my blog post on this beautiful winery and the enchanting photographs that I captured during my visit. My wish for you is to have the opportunity to visit this lovely place and bask under the Tuscan Sun.

Happy Travels!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
World renown – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
Culinary aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels

Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
and by Katarina Andersson – Wine Writer

Fattoria di Montemaggio
Fattoria di Montemaggio

 

 

Gina’s Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

 

Preparing for the Puttanesca sauce
Preparing for the Puttanesca sauce


There are many explanations that describe the origin of this dish. Puttanesca (literally means whore’s style spaghetti) is believed to have originated in the Campania region of Italy. In 2007, when we visited the ruins of Pompeii in Naples, our tour guide Marco from Perillo Tours explained to us the story behind the name of this dish. According to him, the ladies of the evening made it to lure the men into their house by attracting them with the aroma of the sauce.  Other sources claim the ladies made it  because it was easy and quick as they were always busy and had little time for cooking.  Whatever the story, Puttanesca is a delicious and lively sauce that you can whip in no time. It’s best served over spaghetti. It is tasty but on the salty side.

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz. peeled tomatoes, chopped or crushed
  • 1 cup meatless tomato sauce
  • 6 oz. Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup capers, drained
  • 2 can of whole anchovies in oil
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 lb. of spaghetti

    Preparation:1) Bring pasta water to a boil, add salt, and cook according to package directions. I like mine al dente (to the bite)

    2) In the meanwhile, over medium heat, in medium-size saucepan, heat up olive oil, sautee the garlic for 1 minute, add olives, capers, anchovies, continue cooking for about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and pepper flakes. Bring to a quick boil, simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. Serve it over spaghetti.Cook’s note: If pasta is done before the sauce, just drain it well and drizzle some olive oil on it to prevent clumping.If you love all these ingredients, you will savor this delicious meal. I recently made it with cod fish over polenta, and it came out scrumptious. Check out my blogpost:  Baccala Mantecato to learn how to desalt the cod fish.

    Wine Pairing Suggestions: Ideally, I recommend the red Lacryma Christi from the slopes of Mount Vesuvius in Campania, Italy. However, it can be challenging finding this varietal. My next suggestions would be a Primitivo from the Puglia region or a Nero N’Avola from Sicily. Whatever your choice, with or without wine, you will enjoy this punchy pasta (if you like all the ingredients).  Buon Appetito!

    Warning: This dish has a high sodium content

    Disclosure: I did not get compensated for the products that I used
    Recipe developed by: Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

    Happy Cooking from my Kitchen to yours,
    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    WSET-Level 2 Wine Connoisseur
    Culinary and Global Cuisines Aficionado

    Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Olive Tapenade, Gina’s Style

 

Tapenade is a  Provençal dip/spread that consists of olives, capers and sometimes anchovies. I love anchovies but I am not using it in this recipe.  You certainly can add them for more richness if you like them.  Beware of the  high level of sodium in all the ingredients.  This mouthwatering spread is also found in Italian cuisine.

“Olive-based tapenades with anchovies and/or vinegar are ubiquitous in Italian cuisine and are documented in ancient Roman cookbooks dating back thousands of years before the appearance of the Occitan word tapenade. One of the earliest known tapenade recipe, Olivarum conditurae, appears in Columella‘s De re Rustica, written in the first century AD.[3] .[4] Cato the Elder (234–149 B.C.E.) includes a recipe for Epityrum, an olive spread very like a tapenade, in chapter 119 of his “On Agriculture.”

Follow me in my kitchen and let ‘s have fun with this delicious spread.

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer – Level of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and rinsed
  • 1 cup green olives, pitted (Sicilians are the best) *
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leave Italian parsley + more for garnish
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil + more to drizzle
  • Half of a lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp. capers, rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • Roasted red bell peppers for garnish, fresh or jar ones
  • 1 loaf of crusty bread, sliced  or crackers*     Preparation:
    1) Place Kalamata and green olives, parsley, oil, lemon, capers and garlic in a food processor. Pulse 25 times by stopping each time until you obtain a chunky but moist consistency, showing small bits of olives and other ingredients.
    2) Place in a serving bowl and chill. (Optional)
    3) Spread on delicious crusty bread or crackers. Drizzle with olive oil.
    Garnish with parsley and roasted peppers.This spread makes a dazzling appetizer and can be made ahead of time. Cook’s notes: I used Spanish olives, and they worked nicely.
    I don’t recommend that you add any salt to this spread, even if you’re not on a sodium-restricted diet. You can toast the bread to add that extra touch.  The choice is yours. Wine Pairing Suggestions: A lovely chilled white, such as a sauvignon blanc, or any white or red varieties of your choice. Make sure, the acidity level is low to medium. This way, it will not take away the sharpness nor compete with the saltiness of the dish.  It’s ok, if you don’t consume alcohol, either way, you will enjoy this luscious appetizer.I hope you will try this recipe and share your thoughts with me. Please take pictures and I will randomly select a lucky recipient’s photo to be featured on my Instagram profile.  The deadline is May 16th, 2017.                          Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,  Gina Martino Zarcadoolas aka Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    WSET-Level 2 Certified Wine Connoisseur
    Global Cuisines & Cultures Aficionado

 

Exotic Moroccan-Style Chicken Tagine

Chicken Tagine
Chicken Tagine
Chicken Tagine marinade
I am so fascinated with global cuisines that I jump from Italian pasta dishes, to Greek deliciousness, Middle Eastern delights, Caribbean flavorful dishes to other exotic cultures. Today, I am taking you on a journey (via my blog) to Morocco for a taste of My Chicken Tagine. A tagine is an earthenware pot in which this dish is traditionally cooked in.  Using preserved lemon is also part of the tradition, however in this recipe,  I used fresh lemon instead. No, I have not been to Morocco but I love the way they use aromatic spices in their dishes. Put on your apron and follow me in the kitchen for this delightful meal.

Serves: 6-8 Level of difficulty: Intermediate
Allow up to 2.5  hours from start to finish

Ingredients for chicken marinade:

  • 5-6 lbs. chicken thighs and legs, skinless
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced + slices of lemon
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil for marinade

  • Remaining ingredients: 
  • 6 -8 tbsp. of olive oil for searing the chicken
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1.5 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup pimento-stuffed olives
  • 8 oz chickpeas
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

    Preparation:

    1) Marinate the chicken for at least one hour,  with onions, ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper, cinnamon, lemon juice, olive oil.  Keep refrigerated for 45 minutes and keep at room temperature for 15 minutes prior to cooking it. Please keep your house cool.
    2) In a large tagine or Dutch-oven, over med-high heat, heat olive oil, and sear the chicken 2-3 minutes on each side. You will do this in batches and use more oil as needed. Remove and set aside.
    3) In the same pan, add the onions from the marinade, sauté for couple minutes, add garlic, sauté for 1 minute, tomato paste, 1-2 minutes till it’s rust in color. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Deglaze with the wine for 1-2 minutes.
    4) Add the chicken, broth, olives, chickpeas, carrots, raisins and lemon slices as seen in picture. Bring to a boil.
    5) Cover and simmer on low flame for 30 minutes. Remove cover, simmer for an additional 45 minutes. Serve with Moroccan couscous. Bon Appetit!

    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas – Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    WSET-Level 2 Wine Connoisseur
    Global Cuisines & Cultures Aficionado