The 2014 Trends in Gourmet Food

Gourmet Food

Gourmet food producers and gourmet restaurants are always pushing the envelope to discover new tastes and healthy choices for you to sink your teeth into. It might be awhile before these dishes become popular foods, but if you’re in an adventurous mood, here are some meals you need to try.

1. Try something local. In 2014 more gourmet restaurants than ever will be pushing the envelope by contentedly living inside of it. Purchasing local meat and produce not only ensures that the food is fresh, it also supports the local economy and connects diners to their food in unique new ways.

2. Healthy is the new benchmark. More than ever before obesity and the diseases that arise from an unhealthy weight are capturing the attention of consumers. Fortunately, there are gourmet food producers quickly answering the call by producing more delicious, and healthy, options for your family to buy. Gourmet restaurants are also heeding the call of healthy by offering more vegetarian, vegan, and veggie filled dishes. Even popular foods are becoming more healthy as fast food restaurants and cafeterias quickly try to replace unhealthy choices with healthy ones that taste just as good.

3. Quality matters. The days of popular low quality food are quickly drawing to a close. More than ever, popular food restaurants are taking their traditional offerings and remaking them with a huge helping of quality. Burgers, pizza, and sandwiches are being treated with better quality ingredients and preparation techniques to imitate gourmet restaurants. This means gourmet food will be within the reach of the time, and budget, starved individual in 2014.

4. The underdog is coming back. Comfort foods like cheesy pasta and biscuits are getting the local, healthy, and quality treatment from gourmet restaurants. These oft-forgotten underdog foods are quickly storming the gourmet food world. Expect to see more of your favourite foods coming back as delicious gourmet meals.

Gourmet food looks poised to give back to your community, your health, and your tastebuds in 2014. If the trends hold true, it promises to be a good year for everyone.

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Resort Packages for the Perfect Ski Vacations

Ski Vacations

Ski vacations are an excellent way to wave goodbye to winter with one last hurrah down the slopes. Fortunately, ski resorts have excellent packages during spring break season so, whether you want family vacations, a resort package, or just a cheap and cheerful blast down the slopes, there is something for you.

1. Alberta. For the ultimate ski resort packages, Alberta stands unmatched. Stay at the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel in unmatched luxury and wake up each morning to views that will take your breath away. Originally constructed in 1887 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, this historic and beautiful location offers resort packages with passes to some of the greatest skiing in the world. Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, and Norquay all hold an international reputation within the skiing community, and after you’ve finished carving the slopes, you can relax in the luxurious spa included in the resort package.

2. Quebec. If you’re looking to bring your family into the world of spring break ski vacations, look no further than Quebec. Mont-Tremblant offers ski runs ranging from beginner to expert and boasts a European style village at the base of the mountain. Rent a cottage ten minutes away from the village, and take the shuttle directly from your front door to the base of the ski lift. Shopping, dining, and practical (yet sumptuous) accommodations mean that your ski vacations can also be family vacations.

3. New Brunswick. For the student or ski nut on a budget, New Brunswick’s Crabbe Mountain offers fun slopes and attractive accommodations at the perfect price. If you use your ski vacations to do nothing but ski, a trip to Crabbe Mountain will give you the most powder for your money.

March break ski vacations can be designed around family vacations or resort packages; however, regardless of what you design your trip around, you are sure to leave with fantastic skiing memories to hold you over the summer until the snow starts to fall again.

Three Champagne Inspired Wedding Ideas

Wedding Cakes

Your big day is on the horizon, and while the other details are coming together, you’re still not sure what to do about the wedding cakes. You’ve chosen Champagne as the theme, and that doesn’t leave you lacking for wedding ideas, but it does pose a bit of a problem when it comes to the cake. Below are three Champagne inspired wedding ideas to pull everything together.

1. Break out the potato chips. Champagne, surprisingly, isn’t the best wine to pair with cake. The delicious dryness of the Champagne makes it the perfect wine to pair with almonds, cheese, pasta, and seafood, but gives it a harsh contrast to the sweetness in cake. Champagne is actually best suited for a pairing with popcorn and potato chips. The salty foods bring out the flavour of the wine, and make for delicious snacking. The first of our Champagne inspired wedding ideas is to find a unique way of serving potato chips or popcorn while the bubbly is circulating. This will make your special day stand out to your very happy guests.

2. Swim outside the mainstream. Champagne often gets confused with sparkling wine. The true Champagne is made in the French winemaking region of Champagne using the traditional method of having the secondary fermentation take place in the bottle. Unfortunately, this seems to limit your choice of label to a number of the very well known, and very expensive, big name houses. Fortunately, the big houses buy their grapes from growers, who have started producing their own Champagnes. Not surprisingly, these Champagne’s are just as good and this gives you options. Wedding cakes aside, there will be many events where your guests will be reaching for a glass of bubbly, the toasts, meals, mingling, desserts, etc. The second of the Champagne inspired wedding ideas is to show off your individuality and knowledge by serving a different grower-producer from a different region of France for every event. If you’re having a Champagne wedding, you are absolutely allowed to predominately feature the Champagne.

3. Build the cake around the drink. Cake such as shortbread, pound cake, or angel food cake will go well with Champagne, but are generally not used as wedding cakes. Dark bittersweet chocolate will also go well with bubbly, but this is also not usually an ingredient in wedding cakes. The third of our Champagne inspired wedding ideas is to not actually serve Champagne with the wedding cake. An Italian asti is a better choice of pairing for your wedding cake as it is sweeter. The proper place to put the Champagne during this part of your special day is inside the cake for your guests to enjoy. Have your cake made with a demi-sec (“half sweet”) Champagne to compliment the flavours of the other ingredients. An additional benefit of putting the Champaign into the cake is that it will keep it deliciously soft and moist.

Adding Champagne to your wedding is an excellent choice. With many artisanal varieties, fun pairings, and delicious benefits, wedding cakes and wedding ideas are all better with the addition of Champagne.

Sharing Your Travel Tips on Your Travel Blogs

Travel Blogs

When you sit down to give the world your travel tips based on your experience at a recognized best destination, integrating the above tips will add strength and credibility to your travel blogs, and boost it head and shoulders above the rest.

1. Be specific. If you’ve had a poor experience with a vacation, those reading your travel blogs will be looking for travel tips on what specifically to avoid. Telling your readers to avoid a major theme park or other best destination early in the article will quickly cause them to loose interest before you’ve had a chance to explain your point.

2. Consider the cost. If you’ve had an excellent, or poor, experience on a vacation or at a specific hotel consider what you paid, and ensure your review is tailored accordingly. A reader of your travel blog will be looking for travel tips that match the experience they are paying for, and the company you’re reviewing will be judging the level of service you received based on the level of service you paid for.

3. Look at both sides. Every dark cloud has a silver lining and every poor experience has some upsides. Similarly, every excellent experience has ways it can be improved. While it may seem unintuitive to taint a good review with problems, or give positive points during a negative review, documenting the other side of the story gives more value to the travel blogs post you’re creating. Businesses and consumers know that nothing is completely bad or good and will give more value to travel tips that reflect this.

4. Don’t forget the little things. Consumers and business will both be looking for travel tips on how a vacation or a hotel at a recognized best destination scored on the big things such as price, comfort, and service. What will set your travel blogs above the rest however, will be the little things. For example, if something was unpleasant about your experience, where did it start? Did the elevator make your ears pop, was the quality of the roads (and signage) between your destination awful? If you’re writing a positive review, try and include the things that go almost unnoticed, but would make a large difference if they were missing. Examples include how the proper temperature was maintained, or how quiet things were kept. Business will value your travel blog’s post on their establishment more if they see that you have taken the time to really explore the effort they have put into making your experience a good one.

Remember that individuals who consume the services of a hotel, or the experiences of a vacation, may have a good – or bad – enough experience to elicit an online review using social media, corporate websites, or travel websites. It will be the professional and practiced way your post reads that will set your travel blogs apart for both companies and their clients.

Delicious Meals Made by Reusing Holiday Turkey Leftovers

reusing holiday turkey leftovers

Reusing holiday turkey leftovers has been a challenge plaguing families for as long as turkey and the holidays have gone together. While delicious at first, after a solid week of turkey leftovers even the most ardent turkey fan is going to struggle to stomach one more bite. To make things easier in the aftermath of your next turkey feast, here are some ideas to turn turkey leftovers into dishes that just might taste better than the original bird did.

1. Deluxe Turkey Burgers

It isn’t uncommon to begin longing for a juicy burger three days into the leftover turkey dinner bonanza that follows the holidays. Chef Zachary “Zack” Mills of the Wit & Wisdom tavern in Baltimore has combined this desire for a burger with the turkey dinner itself into a clever, and delicious, way of reusing holiday turkey leftovers. Mills begins by buttering and grilling two homemade buns. When the buns are ready, he creates a base of mashed potatoes and gravy before adding a perfectly grilled turkey burger. To complete his holiday creation, Mills adds a dollop of zesty cranberry relish, more gravy, and crowns it with the top bun.

2. Turkey a la King

Reusing holiday turkey leftovers too often involves serving the same plate of turkey, vegetables, and bread over and over again. If you want to switch up the routine and add some style to the presentation, and taste, turkey a la King is perfect. This surprisingly simple creation combines the leftover turkey and vegetables with a creamy sauce to serve piping hot over fresh bread or a rice base.

3. Asian Turkey Barbecue on Sesame Scallion Toasts

If you’ve tried the other recipes and you still have some turkey left, but simply can’t stand to taste one more bite, this is your answer. This dish takes reusing holiday turkey leftovers from bland to something that might taste better than the original meal. Hoisin sauce, barbecue sauce, ginger, green onions, and sesame oil lend a powerfully spicy-sweet kick to the turkey that is guaranteed to both warm you up, and completely change the taste of your turkey leftovers.

Delicious, warm, and filling these ideas for reusing holiday turkey leftovers may just have you as excited for the leftovers as you are for the turkey.

How to Decorate the Perfect Christmas Cupcake

Christmas cupcakes

Baking unique Christmas cupcakes for the holidays doesn’t have to be a chore. The Christmas cupcake recipe and decorating ideas recommended below will create a memorable dessert that is uniquely yours.

1. The Cupcake. To begin creating your unique dessert, use the delicious chocolate cupcake recipe provided by the folks at the Cupcake Project. Customization is key in this recipe, and with very little risk you can take these cupcakes from standard to uniquely and luxuriously decadent. The cupcake recipe allows you to choose your own cocoa powder creating a unique taste depending on the type and quality of cocoa used. Fortunately, no matter what brand or style you pick, the base flavours remain the same completely removing the risk of your cupcake failing to impress. The recipe also allows you to vary the melted chocolate you use as well. As long as the chocolate isn’t white, and contains no mix-ins like nuts or nougat, feel free to use everything from standard bakers chocolate rounds, to a top of the line Green & Black’s Organic chocolate bar. As a finishing touch you can add a splash of coffee to this recipe to help bring out the flavour of the chocolate and add an extra layer of complexity to this delicious Christmas cupcake recipe. The full baking instructions can be found here.

2. The Decorating. Dressing your cupcakes up in Christmas finery gives them the extra pop they need to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Learning how to decorate cupcakes like a professional is surprisingly simple. To begin, fill two pastry bags with alternating colours of frosting. (A butter cream frosting is the best to use with the Christmas cupcakes created in the first step.) Recipes for butter cream frostings are common, you can use your favourite, or try this one. Next, place a large round pastry tip into a third, larger pastry bag. Finally, cut the two smaller pastry bags evenly at the bottom, and place them inside the third bag. Make sure the two different colours of frosting are leaving the tip of the third bag evenly, and begin frosting your cupcakes in a circular swirl pattern. When you’ve liberally iced each cupcake, garnish them with crushed candy cane for the perfect holiday finish.

Uniquely Luxurious Christmas Gift Ideas

luxury christmas gift ideas

Coming up with unique Christmas gift ideas for the special people in your life can be challenging. Fortunately, below is a collection of gift ideas as unique as they are that will show them how much they truly mean to you.

A perfect Christmas gift idea for the person who enjoys relaxing in their study with a good book or some close friends could come in the shape of a humidor by Lotus Arts de Vivre or a bottle whisky by The Macallan in Lalique. The Lotus humidor is adorned with two beautiful sterling silver dragons and hand built to glowing perfection by an artisan over five weeks. It will be the perfect accessory for any favourite den, study, or lounge. For an christmas evening spent socializing, or simply spent curled up in front of the fire, The MacAllan 62 year old Highland single malt scotch whisky is a rare and completely unique taste sensation for the true connoisseur. The whisky comes contained in a custom made crystal decanter for an added level of luxury.

Picking a unique and lasting christmas gift for the couple welcoming a new addition into their family can be a challenge but David Linley’s rocking horse or Geoffrey Parker’s Game Cube are two bespoke gifts that will delight the whole family and will last for generations to come. Containing Backgammon, Chess, Monopoly, Scrabble, and Cluedo on the outside surfaces, the Game Cube contains 19 more games inside the cube. Each cube is custom made from luxurious materials and can be adapted for younger children by replacing any of the outer games with Snakes & Ladders or Ludo. The beautiful dappled grey rocking horse by David Linley is hand crafted in England by a company that has been making custom rocking horses for over thirty year. Featuring luxurious materials and fitted with a secret locking compartment to store memories, this timeless rocking horse will become a heirloom to be passed from parent to child for generations.

Finally, unique christmas gift ideas for the city dwelling professional can be difficult to come up with, but the Transformations speaker series by Bang and Olufsen and the Le Flâneur bicycle by Hermès will perfectly fit the life of the city dweller. “Le Flâneur d’Hermés” is a modern unisex bicycle made almost entirely of lightweight carbon fibre. Featuring disk breaks and a sporty profile, the bike is also luxuriously finished in Hermè’s signature Taurillon calfskin leather. For the audiophile in your life, the speakers are truly something special. Only twenty were created by famed Japanese metal artist Miya Ando and each is not only uniquely beautiful, put backed with the stunning sound Bang and Olufsen is known for.

Christmas is a time for reminding those around us exactly how much they mean, and for the special someone who has everything, these beautiful and luxurious Christmas gift ideas will leave them breathless on Christmas morning.