Monday, March 31, 2008

Super-Sized Watermelon Martini

If you are looking for a "big" drink to serve at your next gathering, this super-sized will certainly be one everyone will remember. One of the signature drinks of the New Asia Bar at the Equinox in Singapore's Raffles City Complex, this drink is as memorable as the bar itself. The Raffles City Complex offers five levels of bars and restaurants with views over the city stretching as far as Malaysia and Indonesia. The New Asia Bar is located on the upper levels, and is one of the highest vantage points in .

Equinox is owned by the same group that owns the Raffles Hotel, famous for the Singapore Sling, and the Martini is just one of the super-sized martinis served at the New Asia Bar (their house specialty is flavored Martinis served in glasses four times the usual size). Decorated in vibrant colors, with Art Deco style furnishings, and floors that slant at 20 degrees towards the views, these huge martinis only add to the dizzying heights of the New Asia Bar.

So even if you can't be in Singapore, I'm sure if you make these at home, you will still feel some of the same effects!

  • 250 ml/8.5 oz Vodka
  • 250 ml/8.5 oz Watermelon Liqueur
  1. Put the vodka and watermelon liqueur into a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Pour into a large Martini glass.
  4. Garnish with a slice of watermelon.
This, and other recipes, can be found in the great book "Signature Cocktails", by Bill Tikos.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Simple Retro Party Appetizer

When I was at the Winter Fancy Food show in San Diego recently, one of the seminars I went to talked about how people have less and less time available to prepare meals either for themselves or when entertaining.

At one time it was thought that as technology became more integrated with our lives we would have more leisure time, and machines would do all the work. Ha, ha! I think that this accounts for the success of this super simple
that I put together for the open evening at the Leaping Lotus spring gala last week.

I wanted visitors to be able to sample some of the new Spanish we have introduced to the store, and also some of the pimento olives. So I put some olives on party picks by themselves, and for variety I added a cube of Swiss cheese to the others. Within about 30 minutes all the olive and cheese picks had gone, and people were marveling at the combination of the olive flavor with the cheese.

Many bought the cans of Spanish olives which have a remarkably mild flavor compared to many I have tasted, with the express purpose of making the olive-cheese combination for their guests over the Easter weekend.

I called these a "retro" appetizer because there is something that makes you think of the sixties when you see them. I almost felt like adding some celery filled with cream cheese and sprinkled with paprika to complete the picture. They would definitely be great with a glass of Babycham!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Photos at Leaping Lotus Spring Gala

What a great evening everyone had at the Leaping Lotus Spring on March 20th in Solana Beach. The crowd gathered to shop and enjoy the festivities.

Live music, plenty of wonderful food and wine, and great raffle prizes were some of the attractions - not to mention the
Show - complete with dogs dressed for every occasion courtesy of Muttropolis, also in Cedros Design District, Solana Beach.

We were busy at Gourmet Fusion serving a selection of food from the store. People stopped by to try Spanish chocolate, English chocolate, our organic Art Bars, and English Biscuits.

For those who wanted something more savory, we had a selection of
pickles and olives served with cheese and crackers, and wine.

Everyone had a great time, and some lucky person even went home with the Gourmet Fusion gift basket filled with chocolates, cookies, tea, i-Pot, cups and an Easter bunny.

Don't miss the next event!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Leaping Lotus Spring Gala

If you have not visited Gourmet Fusion's store on the second floor of the Leaping Lotus at , Thursday 20th March would be a great day to do so. Leaping Lotus is holding a special Spring Gala from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with music and refreshments throughout the store. You will be able to take advantage of special sales, raffle drawings, and see an amazing fashion show.

If you are not familiar with Leaping Lotus, it is a wonderful place to browse and shop, especially if you are looking for an unusual for someone special.

Over 100 merchants are housed in the Leaping Lotus store at 240 South Cedros in Solana Beach's beautiful Design District, selling anything from the latest fashions to handcrafted items for your home, and unique, original artwork.

Of course, the fun thing about Leaping Lotus is that no two stores are alike, so you can browse through the Gourmet Fusion store, looking at our Spanish hand painted ceramics, specialty foods such as Gazpacho, Paprika and Rosemary Olive Oil, then move on to another store and find yourself browsing through Italian Leather belts, then move on to Syrian tables.

So if you live in the Solana Beach area, join in the fun on Thursday evening, and head over to the Leaping Lotus, you may even be the lucky winner of the Gourmet Fusion gift basket!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Which Olive Oil?

We have all heard that is good for you, and a healthy choice for use in salad dressings and cooking in general, but the variety available in supermarkets and specialty food stores nowadays can be quite overwhelming. So what are all the different types of oil, and which should you choose?

Spain, southern France, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Portugal, California and Israel all produce superb olive oils, some green and some golden yellow. Young green olives produce green oils such as the ones found in Tuscany, and mature olives produce a golden, buttery flavored oil, like many of those found in southern Italy. There is also a growing trend which subjects olive oil to sophisticated classification with a ticket indicating its origins similar to the DOC classification of many wines. Despite many people thinking that Italy is the largest producer of olive oil, Spain is, in fact, the world's largest producer, most of which comes from huge olive plantations in Andalusia.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is the most flavorful, and expensive, of olive oil. It is obtained from olives without the use of heat or chemicals, or other extractants. Even though extra virgin olive oil is similarly labeled, the flavor between different brands and different regions still varies greatly. For example, Spanish extra virgin olive oil is generally characterized by a fruity, aromatic quality, whereas the Italian oil has a more pungent flavor, and Portuguese oil has a more intense aroma and flavor. The full quality of its flavor and texture is best appreciated raw, which is why it is recommended for salads and uncooked sauces. Supermarket extra-virgin oil is often relatively inexpensive, and it is worth trying a few to find one with a flavor that you like.

Virgin Olive Oil
This oil is less green and more yellowish in color, is runnier and can be used more generously. It is ideal for
, mayonnaise and for general cooking purposes, but not for frying, as the flavor is still too strong.

'Pure' Olive Oil
Successive heated pressings of the olives produce oils which are more or less refined and blended, and can be used in all types of cooking. If the oil is of good quality, the flavor will still be distinctive, but bland enough to be used in frying. If you use olive oil frequently in your cooking, why not try one of the oils labeled "light or extra light"? These are ideal for frying and roasting, and do not overwhelm the dish with a strong olive oil flavor. Typically, they are composed of refined olive oils and virgin olive oils, often from more than one country.

Olive oil does not improve with age. If there is a harvesting date on the oil, it should be no older than a year for the best quality, and it should be kept at room temperature in a sealed container. If it is refrigerated, however, white clouds will appear, but will disappear again when the oil is brought back to room temperature, without in any way altering the flavor of the oil.

There is no right or wrong choice with olive oil, it simply depends on which flavor you prefer.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

March Sale at Gourmet Fusion

March is here and with Spring just around the corner, we thought it was time to spring clean at the Gourmet Fusion store, so many items have been reduced and are on now through March 9th. Many items from different categories have been reduced, such as the Helen Chen green teapot, which can be found in our Asian section, now $15.99.

Or why not get a jump start on your summer planning with this six-pack tote by Built NY, and these colorful striped bowls? Both are ideal for those long summer days ahead, and can be found in our Barbecue section.

Six-pack tote now, $15.99.

Set of three summer bowls, $7.99.

All available at the Gourmet Fusion store.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pan Seared King Shrimp, Ginger and Scallions

This simple recipe is quick and easy and can be served as lunch, or with several other dishes, such as fried rice, or sweet and sour pork, as part of a more elaborate Chinese meal. It brings together the flavor of ginger and scallions with shellfish, a classic combination in cuisine.

not only adds a subtle aromatic flavor to your cooking, it is also good for you, and found in many Asian recipes. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is thought that eating ginger improves blood circulation, and can even help those suffering from travel sickness and morning sickness.

When you are shopping for ginger in your local supermarket, look for ginger that feels firm and heavy for its size and has a smooth, shiny, pale skin. To prepare the ginger, use a vegetable peeler or the edge of a spoon to remove the thin skin before cutting as directed in your recipe. Many recipes call for simply slicing or finely chopping ginger. Or, if grating ginger, you can use a variety of tools, including a rasp-style grater which is a specialized ceramic grater with tiny, sharp rasps, or just use the finest holes on a box grater-shredder. This recipe is light and healthy and at only 101 kcal per serving, ideal for those watching their weight, and If you are looking for a great Chinese supermarket, 99 Ranch is the place to go.

Pan Seared King Shrimp with Ginger and Scallions
(serves 4 with 2 other dishes as a main course)

  • 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3-4 slices fresh ginger root, peeled and shredded
  • 3/4 pounds large, raw shrimp (with shells), deveined
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu or tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable stock
  • 2 scallions, shredded into 3/4-inch lengths, to serve
  • Cornstarch paste (1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon water)
  1. Heat the oil in a nonstick saute pan or wok, and stir-fry the garlic and ginger for a few seconds.
  2. Add the shrimp, and stir-fry for about 1 minute until almost cooked.
  3. Season with shoyu sauce, sherry, sesame oil, and pepper, and add the stock. Stir in the cornstarch paste to thicken the sauce.
  4. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve immediately.
Nutrient Analysis per serving: 423 kJ - 101 kcal; 19.0 g protein; 0.9g carbohydrate; 0.3g sugars; 2.7g fat; 0.4g saturates; 0.2g fiber; 274mg sodium.

This, and many other quick and easy Chinese can be found in the great book, Fresh Chinese by Wynnie Chan.