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Archive for August, 2012

PRODUCT: Wine Wipes For Red Wine Lovers

We have a friend who enjoys hearty red wines. After a few glasses, his teeth become so stained that monster movie makeup specialists should take note. It’s not a pretty sight.

If only he would carry Wine Wipes. Unfortunately, the product packaging, with its image of female lips, is not exactly unisex. But either sex can use Wine Wipes discretely. The container can hide in the palm of your hand, and there’s a mirror on the inside of the lid.

Years ago, when we went through an intensive Port-drinking phase and ended up with embarrassing “tannin teeth,” we asked our dentist, who was near retirement, what we could do to eliminate the stains. “If I were in an earlier phase of my career,” he said, “I’d love to do the research. But I’m winding down.”

He did recommend drinking less tannic red wines. But when you’re in a Port mode, nothing else suffices. We ended up carrying a toothbrush and baking soda, and making trips to the restroom to clean our Bride of Frankenstein teeth.

 

If red wine stains your teeth, here’s the solution. Photo courtesy Wine Wipes.

 

Ten years later, we discovered Wine Wipes, a boon for people whose teeth stain more than they’d like. It’s easy to wipe away the unattractive dark red film on your teeth: Just run the cloth over your teeth, tongue and mouth, and they’ll be restored to normal.

The all-natural ingredients won’t otherwise interfere with the taste of the wine:

  • Baking soda, which gives off free radicals that penetrate the surface of the tooth’s enamel and turn the stain clear. It also neutralizes acids that can corrode the enamel.
  • Salt, used before toothpaste was invented, is a natural cleanser and antiseptic. It helps to remove stains, and its alkaline properties also fight germs. The slight taste of salt will not interfere with your palate.
  • Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleaching agent and germ killer. It does not harm tooth enamel.
  • Calcium strengthens teeth by adhering to tooth enamel.
  • Glycerine coats the teeth to keep them from further staining.
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    A small compact with 20 wipes has an SRP of $6.95.* You can get three for $14.99 on Amazon.

    Wine Wipes make great gifts for pals whose teeth tend to develop “wine tatoos,” and are fun stocking stuffers.

    Buy Wine Wipes on Amazon.com.
     
     
    *SRP = Suggested Retail Price, also called MSRP, Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mix Crudités With Green Salads

    Mix it up: a green salad with crudites, figs
    and nuts. Photo courtesy La Tourangelle.

     

    We were facing lot of leftover crudités—raw broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and sugar snap peas—among traditional salad ingredients like carrots, cherry tomatoes and radishes.

    Why is it that we normally toss the carrots, tomatoes and radishes into a green salad, but not the rest of the crudités?

    We amended that posthaste, and enjoyed a delicious “crudité salad”: a salad with more variety, more nutrition, more crunch. And we avoided a supply of withering raw vegetables. We also added nuts for protein, ripe figs and a walnut oil and white wine vinaigrette.

    For those who don’t have enough time in the day to eat their veggie quota, it’s also a two-fer (or perhaps, a three-fer).

    Find more of our favorite salad recipes.

     

     
      

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    FOOD FILM: Three Stars ~ Three-Star Michelin Chefs

    We were excited when we were invited to see the new film, “Three Stars,” a documentary that showcases 10 of the world’s Michelin three-star chefs.* Also featured is Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Guide Michelin, founded in 1900. He provides insights into the rating system and the economic and personal benefits of earning that third star—with the chefs commenting on the pressure it brings to keep it, and other travails.

    The highest Michelin rating, three stars, means “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” It gives a restaurant and its chef world prominence, as foodies around the globe trek long distances to experience the cuisine.

    To those who have followed the stars over the years, one insight provided by Mr. Naret is that now, the ratings are all about the food. In prior years, a restaurant had to be beautifully appointed in order to get the coveted third star. Today, the focus is “what’s on the plate.” Ishikawa in Tokyo is as plain as any traditionally-designed sushi restaurant, and Noma in Copenhagen—rated the world’s best restaurant by Restaurant magazine†—looks like a café in Vermont.

    The 10 chefs featured in “Three Stars” include:

  • Yannick Alléno of Le Meurice in Paris
  • Sven Elverfeld of Aqua in Wolfsburg, Germany
  • Sergio Herman of Oud Sluis in Sluis, The Netherlands
  • Hideki Ishikawa of Ishikawa in Tokyo
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    Noma restaurant has no photos on its website. Want to see the food? You won’t get a satisfying glimpse in “Three Stars.” You’ll have to buy the cookbook. Photo by Ditte Isager ourtesy Phaidon Press.

  • Juan Mari Arzak and Elena Arzak of Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain
  • René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Olivier Roellinger of Le Coquillage in Cancale, France (in 2009, Roellinger closed his three-star haute cuisine restaurant, Les Maisons de Bricourt, to focus on the seafood of Brittany at Le Coquillage—more casual cuisine but equally acclaimed [currently 1 Michelin star])
  • Nadia Santini of Dal Pescatore in Runate, Italy
  • Jean-Georges Vongerichten of Jean-Georges in New York City
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    The work of German filmmaker Lutz Hachmeister (the original title is “Drei Sterne—Die Köche und die Sterne, “Three Stars—The Cook and the Stars”), the film is 94 minutes well spent for lovers of haute cuisine. It’s a rare trip behind the scenes, and the opportunity to spend face time—at least on film—with the great chefs.

    There are some quirks. We found the extensive cross-cutting, jumping from topic to topic, to be distracting (we’d like to add some title cards). But truly disappointing is that there’s only about a minute of screen time given to showing the food!

    The director focuses on searches for the finest ingredients, kitchen preparation and some dining room scenes, along with the chefs as talking heads.

    Strangely, when the director has the opportunity to focus on the beautiful plates of food that result from their chefs’ philosophies and labors, he quickly shifts focus—in two disappointing instances, spending time on the face of the pretty server, while the plates of food she serves get short shrift (or no shrift). It’s a real flaw in the film, and makes us wonder why Herr Hachmeister chose to spend his time documenting three-star chefs.

    So, while the film doesn’t merit three stars, it’s still a tasty treat for all who love exquisite cuisine and want to know more about those who produce it.

    See our list of food films.

    *The 2012 edition of the Guide Michelin features 109 three-stars, up from 96 in 2012.

    †The World’s 50 Best Restaurants is a list produced by the British magazine Restaurant. The voters include consumer gourmets, international chefs, restaurant critics and restaurateurs.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Triple Heirloom Tomato Salad

    A tomato salad feast. Photo courtesy
    chef Mauro Colagreco.

     

    A tomato lover’s favorite months should be August and September, when the crop of vine-ripened tomatoes yields exquisite bounty.

    We splurge on $4/pound heirloom tomatoes (that’s the New York City price—don’t let it scare you if you live elsewhere), which are available at our farmers market in a wide variety of colors, shapes, flavors and sizes.

    We buy Aunt Rubys, Black Russians, Brandywines, Cherokee Purples, German Stripes, Green Zebras, and our favorite name tomatoes, Mortgage Lifters, which were bred in the 1930s by a West Virginia farmer who needed cash to pay off his mortgage.

    Don’t be put off by cracked skin at the stem end: The tomato is still delicious. You can peel the skin or slice off the end. When this “fault” of numerous tomato varieties was bred out to create perfect-looking tomatoes, much flavor was bred out with it. Tomatoes should be a flavor competition, not a search for perfect skin.

     

    Once you’re in front of the tomato selection, pick three and create a triple-heirloom-tomato salad.The inspiration for this recipe comes from chef Mauro Colagreco, whose two-Michelin-stars restaurant, Mirazur, in Menton on the French Riviera, has views as exquisite as the food. Here’s the original recipe. Use three different heirloom varieties, contrasting color and flavor.

    TRIPLE-HEIRLOOM-TOMATO SALAD

    This is a wonderful first course. When you purchase the tomatoes, make sure that you have one tomato at least three inches in diameter that can be cut into four slices, a half-inch or thicker, to serve as a base for the other ingredients. Serves four.

    Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, at least 3 varieties (aim for three different colors)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil (one that contributes good flavor to the dish)
  • 1 cup mixed baby greens: arugula, basil, frisée, red leaf lettuce or any variation, washed and patted dry if not prewashed
  • Balsamic vinegar reduction (recipe)
  • 1/4 cup herb-olive oil paste (basil, chive, parsley or other favorite)—recipe below
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    Preparation

    1. HERBS. Make a paste of herbs: In a mortar and pestle or food processor, grind/pulse herbs to a paste. Add a small amount of olive oil and a pinch of salt to season. If you make more than 1/4 cup, the leftover paste will keep in the fridge for several days. You can use it as a garnish with just about anything, including as a sandwich spread, in potato salad, mixed into rice, scrambled eggs and other everyday dishes.

    2. BALSAMIC. Prepare the balsamic reduction. You can substitute a purchased balsamic glaze.

    3. TOMATOES. Slice the “base” tomato into four slices. Cut the other tomatoes into the size of halved cherry tomatoes or large dice. Some tomatoes may need to be seeded before cutting into small pieces. Add a pinch of salt and the fresh thyme to the cut tomatoes and arrange atop the base, leaving a space in the center for the greens.

    4. SALAD. Lightly dress with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. There is no vinegar because the great flavor of heirloom tomatoes should shine through, and the salad can be dipped into the balsamic reduction. However, if you are using tomatoes that need a kick of flavor, or don’t want to make the balsamic reduction, you can substitute a balsamic vinaigrette.

    5. FINISH. Using squeeze bottles or medicine droppers, surround the tomato base with an artistic array of herb and balsamic droplets (see photo above). Serve and celebrate the glory of tomatoes.

     

    WHAT IS AN HEIRLOOM TOMATO?

    An heirloom tomato is a non-hybrid (open-pollinated) tomato cultivar (variety). It has the deep, lush flavor that tomatoes were meant to have, before they were bred (hybridized) to have perfect shapes, bright red colors, disease-resistance while growing and shipping and long shelf life, among other qualities.

    Even if you eat freshly-picked, vine-ripened tomatoes lovingly grown from seedlings in your own garden—far superior in flavor to store-bought tomatoes that have traveled a distance—the flavor is just a fraction of a tomato grown from heirloom seeds.

    The period following World War II marks the beginning of industrial agriculture, with a focus on breeding produce and livestock for commercial convenience. Flavor was victim to economics in the commercial seed business.

     

    Heirloom tomatoes: summer jewels. Photo courtesy GreenAccessAtSuncadia.com.

     

    For small farmers who fought to maintain quality, heirloom seeds have been nurtured and handed down through the generations, going back 100 years and longer.
     
    Find more salad recipes in our Vegetables Section.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Dessert Cocktails

    Drink your dessert. Photo courtesy
    DiSaronno.

     

    Dessert is an American tradition—sone sweetness to end the meal. But if you’re serving adults, before planning for cake, ice cream or other favorite, consider if you might rather have a dessert cocktail. Recipes often include ice cream and a liqueur.

    This recipe, courtesy of DiSaronno, makers of amaretto (almond liqueur), evokes the tropics with piña colada mix and fresh banana.

    Even if you don’t have access to a beach and swaying palm trees, close your eyes and imagine. Perhaps listen to Elvis’ Blue Hawaii CD.

    BANANA COLADA DESSERT COCKTAIL

    Ingredients

  • 1½ parts amaretto
  • 2 parts piña colada mix
  • 2 spoons vanilla ice cream
  • ½ fresh banana
  • Whipped cream
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    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients in a blender with ice and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

    2. TOP with whipped cream and a banana slice. Serve with a straw and a spoon.

     

    GODIVA BROWNIE COCKTAIL

    Ingredients

  • Chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 to 1 brownie, cut into small cubes
  • 1½ parts Godiva chocolate liquer
  • 1½ parts crème de cacao or coffee liqueur
  • ½ part vodka
  • 2½ parts half-and-half
  • Optional garnish: mint sprig or notched strawberry
    on the rim
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    Preparation

    1. MAKE a design on the inside of the glass with a squeeze bottle of chocolate syrup. Add the brownie cubes.

    2. SHAKE the remaining ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into into a Martini glass.

    3. SERVE with a spoon. The cocktail softens the brownie into a bread pudding-like consistency.

     

    Pour a cream cocktail over cubed brownie bites. Photo courtesy Godiva.

     

    MORE DESSERT COCKTAILS

    Try this Grand Cookie Crumble recipe with Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur).

    Or, use the recipes above as templates to combine your favorite ingredients. Let us know what you create!

    Find more of our favorite dessert and cocktail recipes.

      

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