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September, 2003 Newsletter  Cuisine International
 Sep 30, 2003 10:19 PDT 

September, 2003 Newsletter

Diane Kochilas has published a wonderful new book, Meze: Small Plates to
Savor and Share from the Mediterranean Table. This book personifies
what dining in Greece is all about; eating is a way to sit at the table,
enjoy a glass of wine and partake of stimulating food while enjoying the
company and conversation and lingering around the table. The book is
divided into chapters: "Dips, Spreads, and Relishes"; "Savory Salads";
"Small Egg Dishes"; "Phyllo Pies"; "Finger Foods and Fried Treats";
"Vegetable and Bean Mezethes"; "A Sea's Bounty"; "From Meatballs to
Kebabs"; and, the "Meze Pantry."   Diane also includes advise on Greek
wine and spirits that are perfect accompaniments for serving with these
small dishes. As exemplified in this and her other books, Diane is a
master in the kitchen, a true historian and writes in such a manner you
can hardly put the book down.
Anna Tasca Lanza of Regaleali has announced that her cookbook, The
Flavors of Sicily, has been reprinted because of popular demand. Anna
offers culinary holidays on the family estate of Regaleali. Following
below is a recipe from Anna that is perfect for fall gatherings.
Our Travels
Our travels have been curtailed this past month, as we have been busy
moving into our spacious new office. However we will resume them
tomorrow as we head to Italy. We will bring you an update on Boar’s
Head Inn in the next newsletter.

Restaurant Reviews

***** Rates among our top restaurants in the world
**** We absolutely love and would go back every time we could, well
worth a journey
***   We would return if there was time in our schedule, worth a detour
**   Okay, but we would not make an effort to return
*     We would never return.

El Monte Sagrado      Definitely ****

Every summer we return to New Mexico to avoid the dreadful Dallas heat.
This year, a new hotel opened in Taos, a very luxurious location with a
unique concept. We took the tour of the grounds and rooms and then
settled for a very delicious lunch at The Garden’s. Before telling you
of the cuisine, let me tell you a little about the hotel.

El Monte Sagardo, meaning the Sacred Mountain, was skillfully developed
to honor the ancient traditions and culture of New Mexico, conceived to
sustain the land that it resides on and integrates the latest
technologies to preserve and recycle our most precious resource: water.
Guests may choose from 18 unique, Native American-themed junior suites
or stay in one of 19 globally themed on-site suites.
All suites are filled with exquisitely appointed artifacts and are
decorated by international artists who created custom furniture,
artwork, wall finishing and murals throughout. Comfort and luxury is

The Spa is a mind-body-spirit experience unlike any other. A haven of
serene beauty, the spa will provide guests with personalized attention
in dazzling surroundings and cater to no more than four clients at a
time. Treatments include the best in skin care with all natural mineral
make-ups, different massage therapies, and holistic healing services
like acupuncture and Shirodhara. The large indoor pool has several
choices according to the depth or heat of the water and is surrounded by
glorious vegetation. From the pool you can enter a tropical rainforest
for rejuvenation of the spirit and soul.

Executive Chef Johnny Vinczenca offers thought-provoking cuisine by
marrying locally grown products with culinary traditions from all over
the world to make dishes guaranteed to tantalize the senses. He makes a
point of cooking with only the freshest ingredients and uses many of the
exotic fruits and herbs grown around the property, including trees and
plants in The Gardens. There is more formal dining in De La Tierra and
the Anaconda Lounge that serves savory delicacies, small plates and
hearty lunches.

Our lunch was divine. As a starter I chose the Drunken Chipotle Shrimp
“Margarita”, served beautifully in a Margarita glass over a lemon lime
citrus salad and accompanied by a mini Crab Taco. I was forced to share
with Dick and my brother and I was not very happy about that! Dick
tried the Arugula salad that was garnished with Pueblo “Sun Corn”,
molasses smoked Apple Wood bacon, Spiked Candied with Local Baby Pecans,
Queso Fresco and an Orange Dijon Vinaigrette. This was large enough for
an entire meal. My brother, Jim had the Homegrown Organic Yak Chili
with Hatch green chilies, roasted pepper and black beans, a little too
hot for my taste but Jim and Dick loved it. We shared the Duck Duck
Duck Burger consisting of ground breast of duck stuffed with leg of duck
confit and Foie Gras, caramelized onion relish, red pepper ketchup,
sherry mayo and truffle French fries and a Smoked Turkey “Club” Soft
Taco with baby greens, apple wood bacon, fresh guacamole and tomato
along with freshly fried chips. Both entrees were very large, but we
still managed to try the chef’s version of Crème Brulee. Starters
averaged in price from $7.00 to $9.00 and the entrée’s from $14.00 to
$18.00 and all were large enough to share. There were so many other
dishes we wanted to try that we are eagerly awaiting our return next
summer to dine both in The Gardens and at de La Tierra.

We highly recommend El Monte Sagrado for both dining and for the most
luxurious, sensual and spiritual stay you might ever experience.

Recipes of the Month

Lamb stew with Fresh Mint
Anna Tasca Lanza at the World of Regaleali

5 pounds lamb stew meat with bones
or three pounds boneless shoulder or leg of lamb, well trimmed and cut
into 3-4 inch pieces.
3 medium onions, sliced
3 beef bullion cubes
3-4 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste
½ cup mint leaves, chopped
1 cup white wine
1-tablespoon flour
Mint leaves, for garnish

Put the lamb and onions in a heavy pot and add the bullion cubes and
water to cover. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and
reduce the heat; simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for about 30
minutes. Add the chopped mint leaves and cook for 30 to 45 minutes
more, until the lamb is tender enough to be cut with a fork and just
begins to stick to the pan.

Remove the lamb from the pan and set it aside, keeping it warm. Discard
the onions. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Use up to 1 cup of water
with the flour to make a slurry. The amount of water you add depends on
how much sauce you have and how thick it is. Stir the flour-water
slurry into the pan and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens.
Taste and correct the seasoning.

Transfer the meat to a serving dish and spoon some sauce on top.
Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve immediately. Pass the
remaining sauce in a sauceboat at the table.

This serves 6 to 8 as a main course. And of course, serve it with some
of the award winning wines from the Tasca d’Almerita estate!

Herbed Salad with Fried Vegetables
Alex Mackay at La Baou d’Infer

4 portions of mixed salad greens
3 leaves fresh Tarragon
6 leaves fresh Peppermint
10 leaves fresh Basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Dill
1 Shallot, peeled and finally chopped

Fried Vegetables
2 large Leeks cut into a fine julienne
1 litre peanut oil or other vegetable oil for frying
Skin from aubergine, cut into julienne strips

Roasted Vegetables
1 medium red pepper cut in half and de-seeded
½ Aubergine or eggplant
1 medium Courgette or Zucchini
50 ml. Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 sprig each Thyme and Rosemary
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

4 tbs. Balsamic vinegar
8 tbs. Olive oil
3 tbs. Water
Salt & pepper to taste

· Deep-fry the julienne of vegetables separately at 160 °C / 310 °F for
approximately 5-7 minutes or until crispy, then allows them to drain on
a clean piece of kitchen paper.
· Cut the pepper, courgette and aubergine into 3 ½ cm square pieces.
· Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, add the vegetables, garlic, thyme
and rosemary then sauté over a medium heat for about 6 minutes until all
of the vegetables are soft and lightly browned.
· Season well with the salt, pepper and sugar then set aside.
· Mix the herbs, shallot and salads together.
· Season with the vinaigrette.
Serve the mixed salads in the centre of a large plate topped with the
fried vegetables and surrounded by the roasted ones.


The oil should not go above 160 °C / 310 °F as the vegetables need to
have their moisture removed before they colour. This is extremely
important as if you fry at a higher temperature the vegetables will be
well coloured but limp and at a temperature too much lower they will
imbibe the oil and become greasy.

Bon Appetito and Happy traveling,

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