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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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Archive for Travel

GASTROTOURISM: Seattle Cheese Festival

If you love cheeses and have been wanting to check out the culinary scene in Seattle, make sure your reservations include the weekend of May 17th. You’ll be able to take in the annual Seattle Cheese Festival at Pike Place Market—not to mention the other charms of the famous food market. The festival enables turophiles (that’s the official word for cheese lovers) to taste, celebrate and better understand artisanal cheese made locally and around the world. Highlights include:
– More than 200 cheeses to taste
– Seminars to increase your knowledge of artisanal cheese
– A Wine Garden with wines to taste and pair with the cheeses.
For more information, head to www.seattlecheesefestival.com.
  Seattle Cheese FestivalMore than 60 artisanal cheese makers will present their wares.
 

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NEWS: California Invites You To The “Land Of Wine And Food”

Apricot Orchard
Harvesting apricots in the Bonacich Orchard. Photo by Robert Holmes | California Travel and Tourism Commission
  As more and more people are planning their entire vacations around food and wine, the tourism industry is taking notice. California, with its vineyards, bountiful farms, cheese makers and star chefs, is the hottest destination in America for culinary tourism (yes, that’s what it’s called). We attended a luncheon and wine tasting organized by the California Travel and Tourism Commission, to celebrate its new campaign called “Land of Wine and Food.” You’ll see magazine ads, a website and even TV spots featuring celebrities, wine makers and chefs. At the launch event in New York City, we were greeted with a table of goodies, prepared and presented by the Food Network’s Guy Fieri (the original winnner of “The Next Food Network Star”).

Guy had prepared some of California’s signature dishes: A Tomales Bay Kumamoto oyster tasted so fresh, it was hard to believe that it had flown across the country. The fried version of the oyster with a generous smattering of Californian Dry Jack cheese had us asking for seconds. Also on Guy’s appetizer table were succulent Cornish game hens and San Francisco’s seasonal favorite, Dungeness crab.Now that we had a little food in our system, we were ready to partake in the “Wine Tasting Tour of California,” led by some of the winemakers whose wines were showcased. We tasted seven wines, ranging from a dry Muscat from Chalk Hill to an oaky Cabernet from Oakville (which seems funny when you see it in print, but not all wines from Oakville are oaky). Our personal favorite was the 2004 Curtis Winery Syrah from Santa Barbara County, presented by the winemaker (and former star of “The Bachelor”) Andrew Firestone. It tasted of plum and blackberry with a hint of vanilla and a caramelly finish. We’ll be searching for bottles of this one on our next trip to the wine store.

All this was followed by…lunch! John Stewart and Duskie Estes, the husband/wife chef team behind the restaurant Zazu in Santa Rosa, presented us with a delicious family-style meal, focusing on the seasonal and the sustainable for which Zazu is known. (in fact, many of the ingredients were picked from the organic garden at the back of the restaurant). A whole roasted lamb, raised by one their neighbors in Santa Rosa, was tender and bursting with flavor. The side of “Enormous Fagioli,” big Italian-style white beans, was accompanied by crisped vegetable bits that imparted a smoky flavor. We even discovered a new vegetable, puntarelle, which tastes a bit like chicory and is completely addictive.

The meal was accompanied by many of the same wines that we had tasted, plus new ones including a Bordeaux-style blend by Rodney Strong called Symmetry. Dessert was a stellar finish to the meal—burst-in -your-mouth goat cheese fritters, topped with chestnut honey (also provided by a beekeeper who is a neighbor to the restaurant.) In California, it seems, the best meal is the one that comes from just next door. Go locavore! Go culinary tourism! Go to California and taste all of this great food firsthand. Visit LandOfWineAndFood.com for information and to enter to win a six-day adventure to California’s Central Valley.

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GOURMET TRAVEL: Better Food Service On Virgin America

First there were the friendly skies, now there are the tasty skies. Fly Virgin America and enjoy an expanded “on demand” menu on daily transcontinental flights from New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington Dulles—it’s the only U.S. airline to offer on-demand dining. There are new “casual gourmet,” fresh menu options, complimentary in First Class and for purchase in the Main Cabin. Passengers simply use the “food button” on their seatback video touch screens to order food whenever they wish during a flight. Payment is made by swipe of a credit card through the in-seat ordering system. Menu choices include yogurt, berries and granola for breakfast, with the delicious La Brea Bakery granola; “anytime” choices of fruit and cheese with fresh grapes, dried fruits and nuts with Carr’s biscuits and a beef tenderloin sandwich with bufala mozzarella and basil pesto on ciabatta bread.   Dessert Tapas

Dessert “tapas” are available on short flights
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Vegetarian fare includes a Caprese sandwich on a crusty French baguette with bufala mozzarella, roasted yellow tomato and sliced red tomato, frisée lettuce and fresh basil pesto, served with a salad of marinated artichoke hearts, vine-ripened tomatoes and cannellini beans. For lunch and dinner there’s a chicken Caesar salad. Tapas-like options are available on shorter flights. It all sounds good to us—and it’s no surprise that an airline based in San Francisco cares about better food options. If we have an opportunity to fly first class, we’ll eat our way through the menu and report back.

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GOURMET TRAVEL: Oyster Festival

Oyster lines
Oysters hang on long lines in the deep, cold waters, filtering water for food. Currently about 50,000 gallons of Pacific Oysters are harvested annually in the Vancouver Island area.
  Next month is the height of of oyster season on the west coast of Vancouver Island. From November 15 to 18, ostreaphiles (oyster lovers)—and perhaps some other lovers who simply believe in the aphrodisiac properties of the little mollusk—will indulge their love of the briny creatures during the 11th annual Clayoquot Oyster Festival. For revelers who want to enjoy the festival in luxury, Long Beach Lodge is offering an Oyster Festival Weekend Package: a two-night stay for two plus tickets to two festival events hosted by the lodge.
The first is the For the Love of Oysters dinner on Friday, November 16, where Executive Chef Jeffery Young shows off his talents with an array of oyster dishes served with regional wines. On Saturday, November 17, the Long Beach Lodge Winemaker’s Dinner features a “Pearl of an Oyster” dinner, with Vancouver Island guest winery Venturi-Schulze Vineyards and the double mouthwatering fare of Chef Young plus Chef Tim May of the nearby glamour camping wonderland, Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. Other Clayoquot Oyster Festival events include an educational talk, an oyster farm tour and a Mermaid Ball. For more festival information visit OysterGala.com. For more Lodge information, contact Long Beach Lodge at 1.877.844.7873 or visit LongBeachLodgeResort.com.

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GOURMET TRAVEL: American Cheesemaker Awards

Cheese lovers can indulge their passion in Orange County, California, November 16 to 18, when the first American Cheesemaker Awards, a celebration of great cheese, debuts. The event begins with a trade judging of the cheeses on Thursday, November 15, and a day of trade events on Friday, November 16. Consumers can participate beginning with the awards dinner, Friday evening. On Saturday and Sunday, the Cheese Tasting will offer the opportunity to savor cheese, wine and other fine foods and attend special culinary demonstrations at the Cheese Academy, where cheesemakers, industry experts and celebrity chefs will conduct exclusive cheese-inspired classes, including wine pairings, cooking tips and of course, more cheeses to taste. Daily admission is $75 per person and includes entry to the tasting and one Cheese Academy class (guests can attend additional classes at no charge if there is space). Tickets purchased before October 15th are $65 per person. Group rates are also available. Hotel accommodations at the Fairmont Newport Beach, where the event will be held, are available at a special rate of $169/night for attendees (requires booking by October 31st). Traveling companions who don’t want to focus on cheese can go shopping at Fashion Island, go to the beach or hang out at the hotel’s Willow Stream Spa. Visit Cheese Awards.com for more information.   Cheese Festival
Taste cheese to your heart’s delight at the American Cheesemaker Awards.
 

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GOURMET TRAVEL: Great American Beer Festival

The doors open on Thursday, October 11, 5:30 p.m., and until Saturday at 10 p.m. (not nonstop, of course); attendees at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival will have 1,884 beers available to sample. A total of 2,832 beers will be judged over three days by more than 100 judges. There are some new styles among this year’s 75 beer categories, including Pumpkin Beer, Other Low Strength Ale or Lager, Gluten Free Beer, American-Style Sour Ale, Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer and American-Style Imperial Stout.   Beer Festival
Attendees can sample beer by state, visit educational booth areas, attend food and beer seminars from an A-list of chefs and food experts and listen to live interviews with the rock stars of the brewing industry. New this year, the festival has gone green with the goal of recycling all possible packaging and festival programs. Craft beer has never been hotter. According to data from Information Resources Inc., supermarket sales increased a whopping 17.8% increase in 2006—more growth than any other alcohol beverage category in the supermarket channel. In the past three years, craft beer sales have grown by an astounding 31.5%. Visit GreatAmericanBeerFestival.com for tickets and event information.

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