Tuesday, January 31, 2012

News from Zatarain's: Bring Mardi Gras to Your Table with Food and Family

Bring the spirit of Mardi Gras to your table this season by creating your family’s very own “Big Easy” flavorful and festive celebration. Revel in the true meaning of celebrating Mardi Gras in the comfort of your home, with good music and good friends, as well as a wide-ranging menu, including everything from classic dirty rice to a twist on jambalaya and the traditional King Cake for dessert. Zatarain’s, the brand serving up New Orleans-Style food for more than 120 years, helps to provide authentic recipes and resources to make your celebration easy and enjoyable.

“Mardi Gras is a true celebration of both food and family,” said John Besh, a New Orleans native and Executive Chef of Besh Restaurant Group, which includes Restaurant August, Domenica and Luke. “With Zatarain’s, it’s easy to create delicious dishes that are unique to each family’s favorite tastes and special traditions. Celebrating Fat Tuesday at home lets you put your own personal stamp on the holiday and get the whole group involved in the food, fun decorations and merriment for a get-together they’re sure to remember.”

A Big Easy Celebration
New Orleans’ Mardi Gras is steeped in the tradition of celebrating amongst family members gathered around a meal at home – even though it may be most associated with parties in the French Quarter. In fact, most families in New Orleans and elsewhere bring the party home and focus on spending time together and enjoying flavorful dishes that are easy to prepare year after year. Tap into the traditional way of celebrating with these tips:

• Lead the Potluck Parade: Create a potluck-style party and ask everyone to bring their favorite Mardi Gras dishes like Jambalaya Maque Choux, Red Beans & Rice Tortilla Casserole and Mardi Gras Dirty Rice. Make sure to have guests bring copies of their recipes so they can swap secrets with friends and find new favorites.

• Don’t Forget the Kids: Welcome young Mardi Gras revelers to the celebration by inviting them to create their own bead necklaces or use shoe boxes to craft parade floats by adding construction paper, feathers and glitter

• Get Your Dancin’ Shoes On: New Orleans jazz isn’t just for listening – it’s also for dancing! Keep lively music playing throughout the gathering from the Zatarain’s free online Pandora station. Ask the kids to start a dance contest - the music is so much fun it only takes one person to get the party started and guests of all ages can enjoy showing off their moves. Plus, it will get everyone’s appetites ready for dessert!

• Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth: Put a tiny twist on the traditional King Cake dessert by making King Cake Cupcakes. Kids can get in on the decorating fun by adding traditional Mardi Gras colored frosting, sprinkles and candy in purple, green and gold.
Celebrate Mardi Gras Anywhere
Zatarain’s helps “Bring Mardi Gras to Your Table” with festive new ways to celebrate with fellow fans on Facebook.com/Zatarains. Check out a variety of new activities and resources, including:

• “Create Your Krewe”: This new interactive application allows fans to select four friends to be in their personal Krewe and receive coupons to keep the good times rolling. (A “krewe” is a group of revelers who celebrate Mardi Gras and ride on the floats in the parades.)

• Turn Up the Tunes: To help bring the spirit of New Orleans into any kitchen, tune in to the free online Pandora radio station on Zatarain’s Mardi Gras Facebook tab. From swing music and stomping jazz musicians to classic Carnival favorites, the station will get your senses sizzling.

• Join the Parade: Be a part of the action and excitement of the Mardi Gras parade with “Zat’s Cams” showing live video footage straight from the streets. You don’t even have to leave your house to claim the best spot on the parade route!

• Cook Up a Celebration: Explore new recipes for traditional Carnival classics with Jambalaya Mix and Dirty Rice Mix, and mix it up with new soon-to-be favorites like a Red Beans and Rice Tortilla Casserole.
Visit www.facebook.com/zatarains for essential Mardi Gras recipes and more, and be sure to follow Zatarain’s on Twitter (@MyZatarains) to let the good times roll!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mother's Day Gift Suggestion

Help Mom help herself this Mother's Day with the at-home soda-maker. SodaStream’s (www.sodastream.com) Fizz machine allows mom to make her very own fresh fizzy soda or seltzer water in seconds. Not only will it save her from lugging a 24-pack home from the store, SodaStream’s drink mixes are HFCS-free and contain 2/3 less carbs, calories and sugar than store-bought soda.

The best part—it’s healthy for the planet, too: an average family of four people can save over 2000 bottles/cans each year by making soda at home. Reduces transport emissions by over 90%, mom can help save the planet at the same time!

Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams Limited Release

Glenfiddich, the world’s most awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky, is kicking off its 125th Anniversary year with the U.S.-exclusive launch of the Cask of Dreams limited bottling. This unprecedented whisky pays homage to the legacy of Glenfiddich founder William Grant who in 1887 pinned all his hopes on a dream to create “the best dram in the valley,” setting a precedent of pioneering spirit for his family’s future generations. A toast to that spirit, Cask of Dreams is finished in casks bearing the inscribed dreams of thousands of today’s aspiring pioneers across the nation and continues to raise the bar for innovation in the Single Malt category.

Cask of Dreams is the celebrated culmination of Glenfiddich’s 2011 Cask of Dreams campaign, a national tour designed to inspire people nationwide to pursue their pioneering passions and dreams and to help bring them to life. Glenfiddich Ambassadors Heather Greene, Freddy May, and Mitch Bechard traveled the country, rolling casks through the streets and landmarks of major cities and encouraged whisky lovers to write their dreams and aspirations on then. The resulting casks were signed by thousands of Americans before their fond farewell to Dufftown to help create Cask of Dreams.

Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman commented, “When these signed casks were brought to the distillery straight from the streets of U.S. cities, it became clear to me that this Cask of Dreams expression would be a true tribute to the cask and all that it embodies: promise and potential, and the power to transform and fulfill—sentiments echoed in the thousands of inscriptions of yet-unfulfilled hopes and dreams. These eleven casks fulfilled our goal of pioneering an entirely new way to conceive of the whisky-making process, resulting in a fine non-age single malt that will return home to America to help realize the ambitions of others. I can conceive of no finer way to launch Glenfiddich’s 125th anniversary year of achievement.”

“Cask of Dreams fully embodies the Glenfiddich tradition of innovation and we cannot think of another whisky that has involved and actively engaged thousands of consumers in the production process,” said Lindsay Prociw, Senior Marketing Manager for Glenfiddich. “In 2012, we look forward to bringing this whisky back home to celebrate and, more importantly, help support those contemporary pioneers who carry the torch for today’s generations.

Cask of Dreams is a special marriage of Glenfiddich whiskies taken from a hand-picked selection of American oak casks holding matured whiskies of a variety of ages, with the youngest at 14 Years Old. This whisky was then decanted into the 11 inscribed casks and left to finish in the virgin American oak to bring an intense and powerful vanilla sweetness. The casks were closely monitored to ensure a desirable balance of the oak’s vanilla and spice with fruity, floral aromas, with Kinsman finding perfect balance after 3 months of finishing and at a high strength of 48.8% ABV. The distinctive packaging highlights the cask as icon, reflecting not only the participation of the thousands who had a hand in making this whisky but also the Glenfiddich distillery’s commitment to integrity, with an on-site traditional cooperage that is the only one of its kind left in Scotland.

Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams will be available in a very limited quantity of 3,500 bottles at select retailers starting in February 2011, with a recommended retail price of $99.

Majority of Americans Think Prepackaged Diet Meals are Not Healthy and Sustainable

Many Americans have seen commercials or advertisements for low carb, low fat, prepackaged diet meals that are available in grocery stores or for delivery to their home to help them lose weight. Poll Position wanted to know if consumers thought these diet programs were healthy and sustainable.

A Poll Position national scientific survey asked respondents, ‘Do you think diet programs based on purchasing and eating prepackaged meals is healthy and sustainable?’

A majority of Americans, 59% said no it is not healthy and sustainable, 17% said yes it is healthy and sustainable and 25% did not offer an opinion.

Women were more skeptical and decisive than men on the issue.

Among women, 65% said prepackaged diet meals are not healthy and sustainable, 16% said it was healthy and sustainable and 19% had no opinion.

Men weighed in with 52% saying prepackaged meals are not healthy and sustainable, 18% said they are healthy and sustainable and a large number of men - 30% - either had no opinion or did not know enough about the meal programs to answer.

African-Americans were most receptive to the programs with 30% saying prepackaged are healthy and sustainable, 47% said they are not and 23% did not have an opinion.

Whites were not as receptive with 59% saying prepackaged meals are not healthy or lasting, 17% said they are and 24% had no opinion to offer.

Young people in the 18-29 age group had the lowest number of no opinion answers and were most against the diet meal programs with 72% saying they are not healthy and sustainable, 20% said they are and only 7% did not have an opinion to offer.

To see a listing of many of these prepackaged meal programs go to http://www.everydiet.org/packaged_food_diets.htm.

Poll Position’s scientific telephone survey of 1,113 registered voters nationwide was conducted January 24, 2012 and has a margin of error of ±3%. Poll results are weighted to be a representative sampling of all American adults.

See a breakdown of survey participants by age, race, gender, and political affiliation in crosstabs for this poll at http://media.pollposition.com.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/Poll-Position-Crosstabs-Pre-prepared-diet-meals.pdf.

Poll Position’s scientific telephone survey of 1,113 registered voters nationwide was conducted January 24, 2012 and has a margin of error of ±3%. Poll results are weighted to be a representative sampling of all American adults.

Do you think diet programs based on purchasing and eating prepackaged meals is healthy and sustainable? Vote in the online companion poll and comment at http://pollposition.com/2012/01/29/diet-meals-healthy-and-lasting/.

The online companion poll in which you can vote provides unscientific results, meaning it’s a tally of participating Poll Position users, not a nationally representative sampling.

Poll Position is committed to transparency and upholding the highest professional standards in its polling, explaining why we provide you with the crosstabs of our scientific polls. Crosstabs provide a breakdown of survey participants by age, race, gender, and political affiliation.

Bourbon Women Association Takes Flight with Launch of Event Series Across the County

The Bourbon Women Association is pleased to announce the launch of its Bourbon Women Take Flight event series. The campaign, which is designed to promote interest in bourbon and engage members across the country, will kick off on Thursday, March 29 at 6-9 pm in Lexington, Ky. at the Be Medispa. It is sponsored by the Lexington Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Each event will include unique networking opportunities, bourbon tastings and educational seminars from some of the country’s top bourbon experts. Other cities sited on the tour include, Washington, D.C.; Dallas; Tucson, Ariz.; Boston; Chicago; and Los Angeles. The cost to attend this inaugural event in Lexington is $25, or attendees can pay $50 and a one-year BW Association membership is included (members may also register for $50 and renew their dues!).

“Since launching Bourbon Women in April 2011, the response has been overwhelming, and we are receiving numerous correspondence from members all over the country asking for expanded programming and networking opportunities,” said Bourbon Women founder and president Peggy Noe Stevens. “Our Take Flight series will provide opportunities for current members and hopefully new members to enjoy some of our creative and informative events and at the same time network with like-minded professional women who enjoy bourbon.”

For more information on Bourbon Women or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.bourbonwomen.org or contact Nick Vaccaro at bw@aecmanagement.com or 502.456.1851 X2.

Jewelry Giveaway from Voskos Greek Yogurt

Voskos Greek Yogurt, deliciously creamy and America’s first nationally-distributed Greek Yogurt brand, is partnering up with Generales & Generales Fine Jewellers, to give away a beautiful pair of Konstantino earrings via a Facebook sweepstakes Entrants can register for the piece, valued at $775, on the Voskos Facebook Page.

The sweepstakes will run from February 1st, 2012 until February 7th, 2012. It is open to United States residents 18 and older, and void where prohibited. The winner will be picked at random and will be announced the morning of February 8th, 2012. The earrings will be shipped express, just in time to be a unique, beautiful Valentine’s Day gift!

Perfect for you or for a special someone, the earrings are handcrafted in sterling silver with 18 karat gold accents in an intricate Byzantine design. They feature a round cabochon pink tourmaline center and a pearl drop.

"Konstantino jewelry from Greece is known throughout the world for its unique designs and remarkable artisanship. All Konstantino adornments are individually crafted in Athens and are created from sterling silver and 18 karat gold. Collections are inspired by art, architecture, mythology, and the people of Greece as fused through the creative genius of Konstantino Sioulas" explains Sylvia Generales, who, along with her husband, Peter Generales, owns Generales & Generales Fine Jewellers.

Generales and Generales is located in the heart of Toluca Lake, a village with a small town feel just steps from some of the most famous entertainment studios in the world. “As we are located in Toluca Lake, California, we have had the pleasure of serving two generations of movie stars, from Bob Hope to Kirsten Dunst. We are passionate about love and about our jewelry, so what better way to honor those passions than to make someone very happy on Valentine’s Day?” adds Sylvia.

Voskos Greek Yogurt has been recognized in awards contests presented by Fitness magazine, Women’s Health, Vegetarian Times, Natural Solutions, Self Magazine and Cooking Light magazine. Visit the Voskos Web site for dozens of Greek yogurt recipes for high-protein, low-carbohydrate breakfasts, appetizers, entrees and snacks.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chipotle Calls an Audible: Offers Half-Price Burritos for The Game!

While marketers across the country line up to showcase creative and often costly new ads during football’s biggest game of the year, Chipotle Mexican Grill will be serving its customers burritos for half the price and none of the ad spend. Through its upcoming February 5 promotion, “The Super Big Internationally Televised Professional Football Bowl Game Half Price Party in a Box,” Chipotle is offering a half-price deal for those who use the Burritos by the Box ordering option found on Chipotle.com on Sunday, February 5, 2012.

Known for its ongoing commitment to serving better food from more sustainable sources, Chipotle is also well known for its irreverent style and genuine interaction with customers to build loyalty. Using its social media channels, website, and in-store posters that allude to the nation’s largest sporting event but do not name it, Chipotle is encouraging customers to make it a party by ordering six or more burritos using the Burritos by the Box order form, all the while end-running the advertising hoopla that has become such a big part of pro football’s biggest game.

“Chipotle has never been one to follow the crowd when it comes to the food we serve or the way we market our restaurants,” said Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle. “We’re more interested in making great tasting food from the best ingredients we can find in a way that is affordable and accessible to everyone.”

To participate in the “The Super Big Internationally Televised Professional Football Bowl Game Half Price Party in a Box” promotion, Chipotle customers can log onto www.Chipotle.com and download a Burritos by the Box order form from the nearest Chipotle location. The order form allows customers to identify how many chicken, steak, carnitas, barbacoa or vegetarian burritos they would like to order. The burritos come packed in a box with handles for easy transportation, along with sides of sour cream, chips, medium tomatillo-green chili salsa and freshly made guacamole.

This offer is only available Sunday, February 5, 2012 on orders of six burritos or more. For orders of 50 burritos or more, please allow at least 24 hours’ notice prior to pick up. The maximum order accepted is 100 burritos.

Valentine's Day Dining and Dating Trends from OpenTable

In advance of one of the busiest dining holiday of the year, a new survey by OpenTable, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPEN; www.opentable.com), a leading provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management solutions for restaurants, reveals that diners are planning to fill seats at romantic restaurant hot spots early this year, with 53 percent of respondents saying they plan to make reservations more than a week before this Valentine’s Day. An infographic from OpenTable that showcases additional 2012 Valentine’s Day trends may be viewed by clicking here.

“With this Valentine’s Day falling on a Tuesday, we are going to see two spikes in restaurant reservations,” said Caroline Potter, Chief Dining Officer for OpenTable. “About half of diners surveyed anticipate booking a romantic evening on the 14th, while another 26 percent are choosing to celebrate on Saturday night, February 11. Regardless of which night diners plan to celebrate, Valentine’s Day promises to be a bustling day for romantic hot spots.”

The economy doesn’t seem to be a factor as OpenTable diners are looking to enjoy an evening out with 93 percent planning to match last year’s tab or step up the spending, which is 3 percent more than spending plans in 2011. Additionally, 54 percent of OpenTable diners plan to spend $101 to $200, while 10 percent expect to shell out more than $200 on dining.

One city famous for its high rollers is preparing to up the ante this year with 20 percent of diners in Las Vegas planning to spend more than $200, a claim to spend they share only with the sandy, sunny city of Miami. Not surprisingly, New York City dwellers follow closely behind as 19 percent also will be dropping the big bucks with their sweetheart.

The love-driven lavishness when dining, however, stops just short of gifts with 86 percent of respondents admitting that they do not exchange gifts at the table. In fact, 15 percent of OpenTable diners believe a gift exchange is much better suited for a private venue, finding swapping gifts in a restaurant to be inappropriate and bordering on obnoxious.

A few cupid-happy cities firmly stand by the age old idiom that money can’t buy love and hope to scale down spending entirely this year. Seattle respondents lead the pack on shifting Valentine’s Day spending down a notch with 16 percent of diners saying they will drop fewer dollars celebrating this year, with Atlanta (15 percent) and Los Angeles (10 percent) diners following this trend close behind.

One item the OpenTable survey respondents couldn’t quite agree on was what type of restaurant they find most romantic in dining with that special someone. While 35 percent of diners find it most amorous to stick to a traditional Italian cuisine for Valentine’s Day, other diners seek a different type of taste for a romantic rendezvous:

· 25 percent find French cuisine to be the most romantic
· 11 percent find American cuisine to be the most romantic
· 8 percent find fondue to be the most romantic
· 7 percent find tapas to be the most romantic

Even if there is no special someone this year, OpenTable diners still are committed to dining out. Three out of 4 survey respondents said they have dined out with friends on Valentine’s Day or if they have not yet, they certainly would.

For diners still searching for the right restaurant, OpenTable.com provides Diners’ Choice Top Ten Most Romantic Restaurants lists for each metro region and access to specials and menu details for February 14. For more information, please visit www.opentable.com/valentines. Diners can also find more tips and trends regarding Valentine’s Day on OpenTable Chief Dining Officer Caroline Potter’s “Dining Check” blog at OpenTable: http://blog.opentable.com.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meet Mamma Chia: Magic in a Bottle

A new beverage company, Mamma Chia, has launched the first organic chia seed beverage on the market, bringing an entirely new drinking and nutritional experience to consumers. Mamma Chia vitality beverage delivers energy and strength in the form of tiny, nutrient‐rich whole chia seeds, which are beautifully suspended in four delicious lightly sweetened, ruby‐hued flavor combinations: Cherry Lime, Blackberry Hibiscus, Raspberry Passion and Cranberry Lemonade (MSRP $3.49‐$3.99, 10 ounces).

Chia is the ancient Mayan word for “strength,” and chia seeds are packed with some of the world’s most life‐enhancing and sustaining nutrients. Each bottle of Mamma Chia contains an impressive 2,000 mg of omega‐3s, is an excellent source of fiber, 4 grams of complete protein, 10% daily value of calcium, and a generous dose of antioxidants. All four refreshing Mamma Chia flavors are certified organic, vegan and gluten free. Each bottle of Mamma Chia is delicately sweetened with less than one tablespoon of organic agave nectar.

Mamma Chia delivers vitality in a fun‐to‐drink, unique experience. “Customers tell us all the time how super fun and delicious Mamma Chia is and how amazing they feel after drinking it. The natural gel around the chia seeds creates the fun and refreshing experience, making it like nothing else on the market. Rarely is something this delicious also so good for you,” says company founder Janie Hoffman. She also reports that customers rave about enjoying Mamma Chia as a great pre‐workout energizer, an afternoon energy booster, a light and satisfying substitute for dessert, and even a great drink with lunch.

About Chia Seeds
Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows in North, Central and South America, where the seeds have been eaten since 3,000 B.C. The “running people” of Tarahumara, Mexico, who run 50 or 100 miles at a time – seemingly for pure enjoyment – attribute their endurance to chia seeds.

“If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn’t do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home.”

Christopher McDougall, Author, Born to Run
Chia seeds are the earth’s richest plant source of omega‐3 fatty acids. Chia seeds also contain more dietary fiber than flax, and, unlike flax seeds, do not need to be ground in order for the body to absorb the nutritional benefits. Additionally, they are packed full of protein, calcium, magnesium and are high in antioxidants, making them a true superfood.

Mamma Chia is available in the refrigerated section at hundreds of natural foods stores, including Whole Foods, Sprouts and many other markets. Mamma Chia is a socially responsible company that donates 1% of its gross sales to support healthy, local food systems and is a member of 1% for the Planet. For more information, go to www.MammaChia.com or join the lively Facebook community of Mamma Chia fans at www.facebook.com/MammaChia1, or follow Mamma Chia on Twitter @MammaChia1.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Now any meal can be more appetizing and beautiful with 20 easy-to-make garnishes that are sure to impress

Now you can make any meal an exciting eye-catching display with these easy to learn garnishes. Tomato roses, fresh cheese on salad cucumbers, leek flowers, or melon stars garnishes will all give that extra touch to any buffet or dinner table. Make a garnished plate look even more delicious with an apple swan, a carrot flower, or a horseradish rose. Veteran chef Georg Hartung not only offers creative tips for trimming plates with fruits and vegetables, but also how to use butter and cocoa for decorations. Sections include tips for service various kinds of skewers, cheese and ham platters, and canapés. These quickly prepared “little works of art” will add to the appetizing flavor of any meal or dinner party.

Georg Hartung strives to inspire not only his students but everyone to create decorations and trimming, that will surprise your family and friends. He has created this book using experience from being a cook, a butcher, and a teacher at a trade school for practical instruction for cooks, butchers, and butcher-shop employees.

Book Details
ISBN: 978-0-7643-3932-5
Size: 9 1/8” x 8 1/8”
Illustrations: 183 color photos
Page Count: 96
Soft Cover
Price: $19.99

Conference Events to Focus on Organic No-Till with Rodale Institute's Jeff Moyer

Utilizing cover crops, compost, and crop rotations to improve organic no-till crop production will be the subject of a full-day preconference on February 17 and three workshops at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, on February 18-19 in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).

The events will feature Jeff Moyer, the Director of Farm Operations at the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, home to the Farming Systems Trial, America’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture.

“No-till farming provides significant benefits by allowing farmers to grow crops without disturbing the soil, reducing erosion while increasing organic matter,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s organizer. “But because no-till also requires significant use of herbicides, it has not been available to organic farmers, who rely on mechanical tillage to control weeds. With organic no-till, Jeff is pioneering a practice that will allow organic farmers to reap the benefits of no-till and conventional farmers to reduce their reliance on herbicides.”

As manager of the 333-acre research farm, Moyer is an expert in organic crop production systems including weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. He is a past chair of the National Organic Standards Board, which assists the USDA Secretary of Agriculture and the National Organic Program in developing and implementing standards for organic production.

The preconference, “No Till, No Drill, No Problem: Integrating No-Till Methods into Organic Production Systems,” will take place on Friday, February 17 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Moyer will discuss practical ways to utilize soil fertility to tackle problem weeds, build soil tilth, retain soil nutrients, and create biologically active soils.

On Saturday, February 18, Moyer will be offering three workshops as part of OEFFA’s annual conference. “No-Till Organic Farming” will look at techniques to maximize yields in field crop operations, by reducing or even eliminating tillage.

Moyer will also present “Using Compost in Field Crop Systems.” This workshop will explore how to effectively manage compost applications to improve the health and biological activity of soil in field crop systems. He will also discuss simple tools for producing good compost.

“While “compost happens,” a good compost operation producing consistently high-quality compost doesn’t. It doesn’t just happen on its own, that is. It takes a fair amount of planning and, like any enterprise, good management,” said Moyer.

During Moyer’s final workshop, “Cover Crops for Soil Fertility,” he will discuss ways to enhance soil fertility through the intensive management of cover crops, drawing on more than 30 years of research looking at the best strategies to increase field crop production using sustainable methods.

The events are featured as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which draws more than 1,000 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest each year. In addition to Moyer, this year’s conference will feature keynote speakers Woody Tasch and Andrew Kimbrell; more than 70 informative, hands-on workshops; a second pre-conference workshop on sustainable financial investing; a trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference presented by Chipotle; child care area; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.

All events will take place at Granville Middle and High School, 248 New Burg St. in Granville, Ohio. Pre-registration is required. Cost for the pre-conference is $45 for OEFFA members and $55 for non-members, and includes lunch. Space is still available for the pre-conference events. Weekend and Saturday-only conference registration is full. Sunday-only registration is still open, but expected to fill up soon, and costs $80 for OEFFA members and $115 for non-members. All Saturday and Sunday meals are currently sold out. Go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php for more information or to register online and receive $5 off the conference registration fee.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Raise the BAR This Valentine's Day: Distinctive Chocolate Bars Mixing Up the Traditional

No matter what’s on your gift guide this year, chocolates are a staple for this red- rose –giving- flowery holiday. Raise the BAR this Valentine’s Day with some of the best of the best chocolate bars at Whole Foods Market. Forget about the staple rectangle or heart shaped box of mediocre chocolates.

Catering to all unique palates, Whole Foods Market offers a variety of tasty -affordable chocolates bars and specialty chocolates for the ultimate confectionary gift. Below are chocolate BAR raisers that give the traditional dark, milk and white chocolate a jaunting and mouth-watering appeal to be desired this this Valentine’s Day:

Adventure Seekers:

· Chuao |Firecracker –A dark chocolate chipotle and salt bar mixed with popping candy will bring back that inner 80s child! Pop your way into his or her heart… but remember to not drink a coke!
· Anti-dote | Ginger + Gooseberry –a powerful fusion of sweet citrus flavor from gooseberry pieces and a hint of spice. Dr. Seuss’s sweet and eco-friendly Lorax would love this bar.


· Chuao |Potato Chips in Chocolate – the textbook classic: sweet and salt combination with Kettle Cooked Potato Chips in a creamy milk chocolate coat. This favorite may not make it into your sweeties’ hand on Valentine’s Day!
· Divine | White Chocolate with Strawberries – this fair-trade, vegetarian approved bar is made from the creamiest cocoa butter and crunchy pieces of real strawberry crisp! Simple and sweet - who needs chocolate covered strawberries?

Brooklyn Chocolatiers:

· Mast Brothers Chocolate |Papua New Guinea – this Brooklyn based chocolate combines the flavor of hickory smoked bacon and aged scotch into a rich dark coco. Definitely a fit for those with an eccentric taste-bud.
· Fine & Raw | Mesquite – a sassy, slightly textured chocolate bar born in Brooklyn with a raw zest of harmonize caramels from lucuma fruits, mellow sweetness of yacon roots and an earthy note of mesquite. This bar is no joke and for the serious raw chocolate lovers!

The Romantics:

· FIKA Choklad | Dark Chili –Sensory and stimulating taste with a full-bodied dark chocolate completed with imbedded flakes of chili. Think tall, dark and spicy!
· Mast Brothers Chocolate |La Red de Guaconejo – the ideal bar for the sophisticated palate - note the bold hint of sweet pipe tobacco, cherries and cabernet sauvignon. Romantic music and crooners not included..

All these and more are available at your nearest Whole Foods Market.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Enjoy summer sipping the Italian way - with Limoncello di Capri!

Italians have always understood the importance of enjoying a night with friends and living “la dolce vita.” This summer, get swept away into that Italian culture with some light and refreshing Limoncello di Capri cocktails. Although this liqueur is traditionally drunk on its own, its bright, tart lemon taste lends a bold flavor to these summer cocktails below.

The Lemon Pop is the perfect summer refreshment, combining the Limoncello di Capri with fresh lemons, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup. Topped with sparkling Prosecco, this cocktail is sure to be a hit at any summer soiree.

Those looking for something different will enjoy the Sunburst Fizz, created by The Cocktail Guru Jonathan Pogash. With a mixture of Limoncello, Van Gogh BLUE Vodka or Gin, cinnamon blood orange syrup, and a splash of Prosecco, this unique and sophisticated cocktail is ideal for warm weather imbibing.

While delicious in these cocktails, Limoncello di Capri is just as delectable on its own. Created with only fresh-picked lemons and high-quality ingredients in Italy, this “digestivo” is the perfect end to a relaxing dinner when served chilled and sipped.

With Limoncello di Capri, one can feel like a true Italian right in their backyard. So do as the Italians do, and indulge in the summer flavor in this traditional liqueur. Salute!

Lemon Pop
Limoncello di Capri
Fresh Lemons
Simple Syrup
Fresh Lime Juice
Topped with Prosecco
Garnish Lemon Twist
Combine Limoncello, lemons, syrup, and lime juice in a mixing glass and shake well. Pour into a flute or martini glass and top with Prosecco and lemon twist.

Sunburst Fizz
Created by The Cocktail Guru Jonathan Pogash
1 oz. Van Gogh Gin or Van Gogh BLUE Vodka
3/4 oz. Limoncello di Capri
3/4 oz. cinnamon blood orange syrup
splash of Mionetto Prosecco
Directions: Shake first three ingredients very well with ice and strain into a chilled, cinnamon sugar-rimmed cocktail glass. Top off with the Mionetto Prosecco.
Garnish: thin orange (or clementine) wheel and cinnamon sugar-rimmed glass

Free Webinars for Specialty Crop Farmers Announced

Countryside Conservancy and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) are offering a series of free webinars designed for specialty crop growers. Two webinars have been scheduled and will be offered in January and March. There is no charge to participate, but pre-registration is required.

On January 30, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. the first webinar in the series, “A Systematic Approach for Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Quality on Your Farm,” will be presented by Dan Kittredge of the Real Food Campaign. Kittredge will discuss techniques and systems that can be used to increase the quality of fruit and vegetables produced on Ohio farms. Practices such as soil testing, mineral balancing, focusing on seed size and weight, and using brix to monitor crop quality will be shared. To register, go to https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/117344990.

On Friday March 9 at 1:00 p.m. Steve Groff will be presenting the second webinar, “Effective Cover Cropping Systems for Specialty Crop Farms. ” He will discuss the effectiveness of tillage radish as an annual cover crop alternative. A passionate advocate for sustainable agriculture, including soil conservation, soil health, and food quality, Groff began using no-till practices in the early 1980s. He later began using cover crops as another soil conservation measure, improving his technique over time to plant specific cover crops based on what will be planted the following year. Some of his fields have not been touched by any tillage equipment for over 30 years! To register, go to https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/468533342.

The third and final webinar in the series will address insect management. Date, time, and details will be announced soon at www.oeffa.org and www.cvcountryside.org.

Partial funding for this webinar series is provided through a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the State of Ohio, and the United States Department of Agriculture under the provisions of the Specialty Crop Block Grant.

Roland Foods is Thrilled to Support the Taste of the NFL Event in Indianapolis!

For the second year in a row, American Roland Food Corp. is thrilled to support the Taste of the NFL event. Held annually on the eve before the big game, the Taste of the NFL brings together the country’s top chefs, NFL players, and hundreds of volunteers to “Party with a Purpose®”. With over 3,000 guests in attendance, the event raises millions of dollars to help fight hunger in America.

“Roland Foods is thrilled to be participating in The Taste of the NFL again this year” said Lisa Kartzman, Director, Public Relations for American Roland Food Corp. “The Taste is a special event in that the money raised is dispersed to hunger relief organizations around the country. It is a great way to reach those in need across our country.”

Roland Foods will provide participating chefs with high quality specialty food items for their featured dishes. Chef Marc Payero, Executive Chef/Director of Restaurant Associates, and Executive Chef at the Huddle Café at NFL Headquarters in NYC, will be using Roland® Chipotle peppers in his Chipotle Chicken Chalupas with Smoked Corn Salsa and Crumbled Blue Cheese. Other Roland ® products will be featured on the dazzling plates on Saturday, as well as the VIP Friday Night Huddle event for all the chefs, players, and select special guests.

Roland Foods is committed to making food available to those less fortunate, and participates in a variety of hunger relief events throughout the year. For more information on American Roland Food Corp please visit us at www.RolandFoods.com. To follow all the culinary happenings on the ground in Indy, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

The Taste of the NFL is a premier food and wine event with more than 32 restaurant and chef stations (one from each NFL city), providing fabulous food and wine pairings for guests to sample. Chef stations also feature an NFL player (either current or alumni) to sign autographs and snap photos with lucky attendees. Each year the money raised is allocated to food banks across the country in each NFL team’s home city. Special emphasis is placed on a food bank from the hosting city, and this year it will be Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.

This year’s “Party with a Purpose®” will take place at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, one of the largest food banks in the United States. Gleaners Food Bank has graciously offered to host this year’s event in its 300,000 square-foot warehouse. Transformed for the evening, the space will offer thousands of guests the opportunity to see firsthand the important role of a food bank within a community.

The Taste of the NFL has raised and distributed over $11 million to food banks across the country. For more information on how you can get involved please go to www.tasteofthenfl.com. For a complete list of the top chefs participating in the event, please go to http://www.tasteofthenfl.lcom/chefs.

Get Award Season Ready with Award Winning Cocktails!

The Golden Globes kicked off the star studded events of awards season last weekend and all of the celebs stepped out looking fit and fabulous. You might not be walking the red carpet any time soon but you can certainly keep your body red carpet ready with low calorie beverages from VnC Cocktails! Available in 6 all-natural flavors, VnC has the perfect cocktails for celebs and fans alike. Made with 100% fruit juice, these delectable drinks are 150 calories or less per serving and preservative, additive, and color-free.

Worried more about hosting your next Awards Show party than your figure? Ease the pressure of playing host AND bartender with VnC Cocktails. They’re premixed and ready to serve so you can pour and store them without worrying about your mixology skills. With VnC you can sip in style whether you’re trying to get the figure of your favorite stars or just watch them dazzle during the show.

Club Claddah and Late Night Offerings

For those looking to get out of the cold and enjoy some late-night food and drink, look no further than Claddagh Irish Pubs in Mason, OH and Newport, KY. Irish hospitality is offered well into the evening, along with a menu filled with delicious hearty classics and fun drinks. Enjoy the bar and nightclub atmosphere with live bands, DJs, team trivia nights, and much more. The Claddagh is a perfect place to gather with friends and family or enjoy an intimate date with a loved one and night of the week.

Late-night bar patrons can start the weekend off early by coming into the Claddagh on Thursday nights, when they can enjoy a choice of six complimentary Flatbreads with a purchase of a drink.

For those with heartier appetites, the Claddagh’s other daily dinner deals include: buy one Fish & Chips or Yuengling-Battered Shrimp, get one free on Mondays; Tuesday’s deal of BOGO Burgers with the second one costing only $2; and “Pie and a Pint Night" on Wednesdays with buy one Pot Pie, get one free.

Creative cocktails offered at the Claddagh include Hot Whiskey with Irish whiskey, cinnamon lemon and cloves; the Nutty Irishman with Frangelico, Bailey’s and coffee; and the Cobbler with peach schnapps and hot cider, to name a few. Each cocktail is priced affordably at $7.50.

Celebrate the Super Bowl at the Claddagh!
Football fans are gearing up for Super Bowl XLVI, which takes place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sunday, February 5—and the headquarters for the watching the Big Game is at the Claddagh! The pub will also be offering food and drink specials throughout the day for pre- and post-game celebrating.

The Claddagh Irish Pub-Mason, OH (5075 Deerfield Blvd., 513.770.0999) is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The Claddagh Irish Pub-Newport, KY (1 Levee Way, Suite 2122; 859.581.8888) is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. For more details on events and specials, visit www.claddaghirishpubs.com.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Netherland Plaza's Signature Bourbon is Here!

Todd Kelly, the Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Director of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza and The Restaurants at Palm Court, is pleased to announce the unveiling of the property's own private label select bourbon from the award-winning Four Roses Distillery.

Chef Kelly is always looking for new and exciting offerings for the hotel's patrons as well as opportunities to support regional businesses. By working with Four Roses Distillery, Chef Kelly is able to enhance the hotel's innovative cocktail and dining programs. He is planning to use the specialty bourbon in several of the hotel's signature drinks at The Bar at Palm Court including the Netherland Plaza Cocktail, the Bourbon Blackberry and the Palm Court Manhattan. The barrel in which the bourbon was aged will also be used in the creative process. Chef Kelly will be creating a signature Negroni Cask Aged Cocktail that will age in the white oak barrel for 100 days creating a unique finish to this classic cocktail. In addition, the bourbon will be used in Orchids at Palm Court in a select number of Pastry Chef Megan Ketover's desserts, including Maple Ice Cream with a Bourbon Caramel Swirl & Candied Pecans as well as a Bourbon 64% Chocolate Truffle to be used as a mignardise.

In 2011, Chef Kelly had extensively researched the many fine available options of Kentucky Bourbon. He narrowed his choice to Four Roses, which shares many similarities with the hotel since the distillery is well known for its small, focused operation and reputation for superior craftsmanship. Once settled on the distillery, a trip was arranged to Lawrenceburg and Chef Kelly, his wife Emily, the Netherland Plaza's Managing Director, Michel Sheer, and his wife Karin, tasted five select barrels before choosing a barrel of the Four Roses OBSV recipe; a fruity, spicy and creamy bourbon which has been aged eight years and eight months with 60% corn, 35% rye and 5% malted barley.

Numi Organic Tea intoduces two new decaf blends with real tea flavor

Leading premium tea purveyor Numi Organic Tea is proud to introduce two new decaffeinated blends to their already remarkable line of teas: Decaf Green, prized by many for its superior health benefits, and Decaf Aged Earl Grey, one of the world’s most popular blends.

Like all Numi Teas, the new additions are premium, organic, full leaf teas made with 100% real ingredients. Perfumes and flavorings are never used. The largest Fair Trade tea company in the United States, Numi is dedicated to providing exceptional, pure-tasting teas. In fact, for their new decaf teas, the company has chosen to use the chemical-free, CO2 process to retain more flavor and health properties, providing consumers with the best-tasting teas possible.

The less abrasive Super Critical CO2 extraction process is sometimes referred to as “effervescence.” It entails placing the tea in a pressurized chamber. Carbon dioxide, an inert gas, is pumped in and locks on the caffeine in the tea leaves, extracting it. Antioxidant levels and the delicious flavor quality of Numi’s organic teas remains the same, so the result is both great tasting and good for the body.

Decaffeinated teas have always been a popular choice among consumers seeking to avoid the “caffeine jitters,” despite the fact that many of these teas suffer from inferior flavor. Harsh processes used to remove the caffeine can often remove the taste as well as their health attributes – the very things consumers prize in the best teas. These harsher processes include: the H2O method, with the tea plunged into water, then removed and put into dryers, resulting in a 5-6% loss in flavor and health benefits; and the use of chemical solvents, such as methylene chloride and ethyl acetate, which are applied to the tea leaves, removing the caffeine and other nutrients as well.

With Numi Teas, the delicious flavor comes through even though the “jitters” have been left behind. The new selection includes:

Decaf Aged Earl Grey: This classic tea has a rich, smooth robust flavor with refined citrus tones and can now be enjoyed in the evenings. Real Italian bergamot is aged with Numi’s organic decaffeinated black tea so the tea naturally absorbs the orange scent.

Decaf Green: Numi’s organic decaffeinated green tea is gently steamed and then curled to retain the tea’s natural flavor. It has a rich, smooth taste with a slightly sweet, smooth and grassy finish.

“Numi is delighted to add these two popular decaffeinated flavors to our selection of fine, organic and Fair Trade teas,” says Ahmed Rahim, CEO and Co-Founder of Numi . “Now anyone looking for a relaxing cup of tea anytime, day or night, can enjoy their favorite flavors without the effects of caffeine.”

Decaf Aged Earl Grey and Decaf Green will be sold for an SRP of $6.99. They will be available online at www.numitea.com by February 2012.

Numi Organic Tea blends premium organic teas and herbs with only 100 percent real ingredients, allowing Nature to speak for itself. As a pioneering, quadruple-bottom line company (people, planet, product, profit), Numi sources directly from fair labor gardens that guarantee a livable wage and better opportunities for farmers and their families. Numi is a company committed to reducing its impact on the planet through ecologically responsible choices in sourcing, production and recycled and non-GMO packaging. www.numitea.com.

The Amazing Food Fact Machine teaches children and adults surprising facts about what they're eating

Did you know that wild rice isn't really rice? It's actually a type of grass seed. Did you know that many bottled, flavored "tea" beverages contain no tea at all? Or that soy protein is made using a highly explosive chemical solvent? These and hundreds of other amazing food facts are revealed in the new "Amazing Food Fact Machine" just launched by Natural News.

The Amazing Food Fact Machine is available now at: www.NaturalNews.com/AmazingFoodFactMachine.asp

There, users can click the "Generate a new fact" button to see new facts appear, along with reactions and comments from a cartoon character (the "office guy") sitting on a giant apple.
"It's surprising how little people really know about the food they eat," explained Mike Adams, the editor of Natural News. "In creating the Amazing Food Fact Machine, we wanted to give both children and adults a fun, educational way to learn some astonishing things about where food comes from, how it's made and what's missing from it by the time it gets to your dinner table."

The Amazing Food Fact Machine is kid-friendly but parental guidance is recommended to help kids understand the astonishing facts it reveals. "There is a deliberate dumbing-down of consumers when it comes to what's in their food," explains Adams, "we aim to help educate consumers so they can make more informed choices at the grocery store."

The Amazing Food Fact Machine links to two free, downloadable reports from which its facts are derived:

* 25 Amazing Facts About Food, available at: www.naturalnews.com/RR-25_Amazing_Facts_About_Food.html

* 25 Amazing (and Weird) Facts About How Food is Made and Where it Comes From: www.naturalnews.com/RR-25-Amazing-and-Weird-Facts-About-Food.html

NaturalNews.com is an independent health advocacy website that teaches consumers about nutrition, food choice and dangerous things to avoid in foods and medicines.

Learn more at http://www.naturalnews.com/

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Miss America Named Spokesperson for National Pancake Day

Less than 72 hours after being crowned Miss America 2012, Laura Kaeppeler has flipped for kids and announced that she plans to exchange her crown for a chef’s hat, her gown for an apron and her sash for a spatula to serve as spokesperson for IHOP’s seventh annual National Pancake Day celebration benefitting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In one of her first endeavors as Miss America, Kaeppeler hopes to help raise more than $2.7 million for children’s hospital programs nationwide on Tuesday, February 28 when IHOP restaurants nationwide give away millions of buttermilk pancakes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m In return for the free fluffy treat, guests will be asked to make a voluntary donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals or other local charities.

“Helping children in need is a great way to start my year of service as Miss America 2012 and I am honored to serve as a national Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals,” said Kaeppeler. “I’ll be out there, and I hope that everyone gets out to their local IHOP on February 28 for free pancakes and to contribute to improving and saving children’s lives in their community.”

IHOP launched its National Pancake Day celebration in 2006 to benefit the communities in which it operates. Last year’s fundraiser was the largest one-day event in IHOP’s 53-year history with more than four million pancakes given away and over $2.5 million raised for local children’s hospitals and other worthy causes. To date, IHOP and its guests have raised nearly $8 million dollars in support of local charities.

"Each year we look forward to National Pancake Day and to welcoming our incredibly generous guests at our more than 1500 IHOP restaurants nationwide,” said Jean Birch, IHOP president. "We are excited about the continued support of the Miss America Organization and welcome Laura to the National Pancake Day family as we continue to make a difference in the lives of children across the country."

For more information about National Pancake Day, to find a local IHOP, or to donate to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, please visit www.IHOPpancakeday.com.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Conference to Look at Future of Food and Genetic Engineering

The subject of genetically engineered (GE) food will take center stage at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, in Granville, Ohio (Licking County) on February 18-19, 2012.

Andrew Kimbrell, the founder and executive director of the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the International Center for Technology Assessment, will be a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at the event. Kimbrell is one of the country’s leading environmental attorneys, and an author of numerous books and articles on environment, technology and society, and food issues.

“Andy’s message will be getting to the heart of food sovereignty,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s organizer. “Will people have a choice to eat GE-free food? Will farmers have the choice to grow GE-free food?”

The conference is the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, and draws more than 1,000 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest. In addition to Kimbrell, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Woody Tasch; more than 70 informative, hands-on workshops; two full day pre-conference workshops on February 17; a trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference and child care area; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.

On Sunday, February 19 from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m., Kimbrell’s keynote address, “The Future of Food,” will explore a food system at a crossroads. Kimbrell will describe the conflict between a food system increasingly reliant on pesticides, fertilizers, monocultures, and genetic engineering and surging consumer demand for healthy, local, organic, humane, and environmentally safe food. He will provide an up-to-date summary of this struggle and ways consumers and farmers can work together for a new food future.

Earlier in the day, from 9:30-11:30 a.m., Kimbrell will lead a workshop, titled “Genetic Engineering: The Battle for Safe Food, Public Health, and Environmental Protection.” He will describe the negative health and environmental effects of GE food, and CFS’s public education, advocacy, and legal work intended to safeguard the food system against a flood of deregulated GE products.

In response to the USDA’s unrestricted approval of GE Roundup Ready alfalfa, Kimbrell said the USDA has become “a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.”

GE crops, such as alfalfa, threaten to contaminate organic and conventional non-GE crops through pollen drift, storage, transportation, and processing. GE crops have also been linked to pest and weed resistance, and the increased use of pesticides and herbicides. Recent consumer polls indicate consumer distrust of GE technology and the desire to have GE food labeled.

“What we constantly see is a failure of the media and of policymakers to really say, ‘The problem here is industrial agriculture,’” Kimbrell told Organic Connections. “They want us to see these events as scary isolated incidents instead of indicators of how dangerous and unsustainable our industrial food system has become. The sleight of hand is to try to treat each incident in its own isolation and not understand that they’re all connected to the larger systemic failures and problems of industrial agriculture.”

Kimbrell is author of 101 Ways to Help Save the Earth, The Human Body Shop: The Engineering and Marketing of Life, Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food and general editor of Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture.

His articles on law, technology, social, and psychological issues have also appeared in numerous law reviews, technology journals, magazines, and newspapers across the country, and he has been featured in many documentary films, including “The Future of Food.”

In 1994, Utne Reader named Kimbrell one of the world’s leading 100 visionaries. In 2007, he was named one of the 50 people most likely to save the planet by The Guardian-U.K.

All events will take place at Granville Middle and High Schools, 248 New Burg St. in Granville. Pre-registration is required. Cost for the conference is $115 for OEFFA members and $175 for non-members, and meals must be purchased separately. Prices vary for late registrations, students, and one-day only registrations. Go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php for more information or to register online and receive $5 off the registration fee.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Announcing Divino Tuscany 2012 Wine Packages

FOOD & WINE TRAILS of Santa Rosa, California announces its ULTIMATE DIVINO TUSCANY 4-NIGHT PACKAGE wine adventure May 13-17, 2012. This tour was designed to precede Divino Tuscany 2012, a four-day festival of Tuscan wine being held May 17-20, 2012 in Florence, Italy, but can be purchased independently or as a seamless addition to the event.

According to Larry Martin, President of FOOD & WINE TRAILS, "last year's Divino Tuscany event was an over-the-top food and wine experience, with dinners and tastings hosted by some of Tuscany's most noble wine-families in historic Florentine buildings. The one thing missing was a way to connect with those families and visit their wineries in the countryside. So this year we are offering the opportunity to stay overnight at the estates or hotels owned by the Ferragamo and Banfi families, plus what we are calling the ULTIMATE DIVINO TUSCANY tour; a four-night, small-group wine adventure that will connect you to the best of the best."

The ULTIMATE TUSCANY tour will visit three of Tuscany's most famous wine regions: The Super-Tuscan region of Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast; Montalcino, a region famous for Brunello; and Chianti Classico. Some of the tour highlights will include: professional escort services by an English speaking Italian-sommelier, 2 nights at the Hotel Plaza Lucchesi, 2 nights at the Hotel Fonte de Medici, winery-hosted meals, and multiple opportunities to taste 90 to 100 point wines, such as Tua Rita's Redigaffi 2007, Ornellaia 2008, Sassicaia's Sant Antimo 2007, Castello Banfi's Poggio all'Oro 2004, and Castello di Brolio's Chianti Classico 2008. All wineries were personally selected by James Suckling, the former long-time Senior International Editor of Wine Spectator Magazine.

On the ULTIMATE TUSCANY tour, guests will visit medieval villages, acclaimed wineries, enjoy winemaker led vineyard tours, wine-paired lunches and dinners, and a gala farewell dinner at a castle owned by one of Italy's top wineries, before progressing on to Divino Tuscany 2012 where guests will have the rare opportunity to drink 90 to 100 point rated Tuscan wines from such famous wineries as Sassicaia, Ornellaia and Valdicava and to meet and mingle with Italian wine royalty. Some of these producers have noble lineage dating-back hundreds of years whose ancestors planted vineyards that now produce some of the world's most sought-after wines.

As was done last year for the inaugural of Divino Tuscany, the 2012 finale will be a traditional Tuscan barbeque at the private Chianti villa of music industry superstar Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler. For many, the opportunity to meet and mingle with Sting was the highlight of the 2011 event.

The price for the ULTIMATE DIVINO TUSCANY PRE PACKAGE is $3,429 usd per person, double occupancy, with a $330 usd supplement for single travellers. The tour can be purchased as part of Divino Tuscany 2012 or independent of the event.

The ticket price to attend Divino Tuscany 2012 is 1,900 Euros (approximately $2,660 USD), not including taxes or the cost of accommodations or airfare to Florence. The ticket price includes admission to all wine tastings, dinners and parties in some of the most historic buildings of Florence, all overseen by James Suckling. FOOD & WINE TRAILS is also offering optional 2-night pre or post event hotel packages, and various hotel options in Florence, for the event.

"Don't put off purchasing your Divino Tuscany 2012 event tickets as only 500 or so tickets are available," says Martin, "it's a first-come, first-serve situation so we suggest that any wine or lover of all things Italian, get their foot in the door now. We also highly recommends you round out the experience by extending with the ULTIMATE DIVINO TUSCANY wine adventure.

For more information, visit www.foodandwinetrails.com/ultimate_tuscany or call the toll-free 800-367-5348 to book.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Eddie Merlot's Beef & Burgundy Special

Eddie Merlot’s brings you its best with our Beef and Burgundy features, starting at $21.95 and available exclusively from January 2 – February 26:

Beef Bourguignon - $21.95: Beef tenderloin simmered with roasted mushrooms, cippolini onions and Burgundy wine.

Winemaker’s Steak - $31.95: Twin Filets with a rich burgundy pan sauce enhanced with prosciutto, mushrooms and shallots.

Steak au Poivre - $31.95: All Natural New York Strip encrusted with peppercorns, flashed with Cognac then finished demi glace.

Veal Chop Dijonnaise - $29.95: Porterhouse chop in a Dijon mustard sauce with cippollini onions and wild mushrooms.

Steak Diane - $31.95: Two 4oz. Filet Mignon medallions served with a traditional Diane Sauce of mushrooms, cognac, butter, veal stock, cream, mustard, and thyme.

Add the perfect complement to your meal with a glass of Joseph Drouhin Chorey-Les-Beaune for only $10. Or, enjoy a bottle for just $39.

Guests are encouraged to make reservations online at EddieMerlots.com, or by calling Eddie Merlot’s at one of these locations:

Burr Ridge, 201 Bridewell Drive, 630-468-2098
Cincinnati, 10808 Montgomery Rd. at the I-275 interchange,
Columbus, 1570 Polaris Parkway at the I-71 interchange, 614-433-7307
Fort Wayne, 14 and 24 at Jefferson Pointe, 260-459-2222*
Indianapolis, 96th and Keystone, 317-846-8303
Louisville, 455 S. Fourth Street, Suite 102, 502-634-1818

*Our Fort Wayne location is under temporary construction through January 9. We apologize for any inconvenience as we strive to better serve our customers in a relaxed and elegant environment.

Genetically Engineered Foods - Obama Administration Angers Public - Agent Orange Herbicide Ingredient Would be Widely Used

Over the holidays, the United States Department of Agriculture announced its approval of a novel strain of genetically engineered corn, developed by Monsanto, purportedly being “drought tolerant.”

Despite receiving nearly 45,000 public comments in opposition to this particular genetically engineered (GE) corn variety (and only 23 comments in favor), the Obama administration gave Monsanto the green light to release its newest GE corn variety freely into the environment and American food supply, without any governmental oversight or safety tracking.

“President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack just sent a clear message to the American public that they do not care about our concerns with genetically engineered food and their questionable safety, adverse environmental impacts, and detrimental effects on farmers, especially organic farmers,” says Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst with The Cornucopia Institute.

“This is just the latest in a string of approvals of genetically engineered crops, and it is clear that despite campaign promises of change from Obama, he has not had the courage to stand strong against the powerful agribusiness and biotechnology lobbies,” Kastel added.

In addition to its announcement approving Monsanto’s newest GE corn variety, the USDA also opened a 60-day public comment period for two additional petitions – one for Monsanto’s GE soybean containing higher levels of an omega-3 fatty acid, that does not naturally occur in soybeans, and the other from Dow AgroSciences for corn that has been genetically engineered to better resist the poisonous herbicide 2,4-D.

The public can comment on Dow's 2,4-D corn at:


While the USDA attempts to assure the public that 2,4-D is safe, scientists have raised serious concerns about the safety of this herbicide, which was used as a key ingredient in “Agent Orange,” used to defoliate forests and croplands in the Vietnam War.

2,4-D is a chlorophenoxy herbicide, and scientists around the world have reported increased cancer risks in association with its use, especially for soft tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma. Four separate studies in the United States reported an association with chlorophenoxy herbicide use and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

"The concern is that, just like Monsanto's genetically engineered corn that is resistant to RoundUp™ (glyphosate) herbicide, the approval of a cultivar resistant to 2,4-D will cause an exponential increase in the use of this toxic agrichemical," Kastel stated.

Research by the EPA found that babies born in counties with high rates of 2,4-D application to farm fields were significantly more likely to be born with birth defects of the respiratory and circulatory systems, as well as defects of the musculoskeletal system like clubfoot, fused digits and extra digits. These birth defects were 60% to 90% more likely in counties with higher 2,4-D application rates.

The results also showed a higher likelihood of birth defects in babies conceived in the spring, when herbicide application rates peak.

In its petition, Dow AgroSciences states that 2,4-D is increasingly important for chemical farmers because of the presence of weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate, as a result of the widespread use of Monsanto’s genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant crops.

When Monsanto introduced glyphosate, it was touted as a safer and less toxic alternative to herbicides like 2,4-D. Now, an emerging body of scientific literature is raising serious concerns about the safety of glyphosate as well.

“The concern that the use of GE crops, which are resistant to particular herbicides, leads to the creation of 'superweeds' is now shown to be valid and serious, as even the chemical companies now recognize and admit this is a problem,” says Kastel.

“In 2012 the USDA is proposing approving a new GE corn variety that is resistant to a different toxic herbicide, escalating the toxic treadmill in chemical-dependent agriculture,” said Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides. “This is nothing more than a band-aid solution to a serious problem, and will only give rise to more superweeds, more herbicide pollution in our environment, more herbicide poisoning, while likely leading to the need for even more toxic herbicides a couple of years down the line. This foolish circle has to end,” Feldman said.

Farm research groups like The Cornucopia Institute are also concerned with the impact of genetically engineered crops on organic farmers, whose organic crops are already at risk of contamination with Monsanto’s unnatural DNA, from pollen drift.

In its Environmental Assessment of the “drought tolerant” Monsanto corn, the USDA conceded that gene flow of corn pollen is likely to occur. It is well-established that corn pollen travels, and pollen from genetically engineered plants will contaminate natural corn plants.

“The irony, of course, is that organic fields and crops are much more drought tolerant, because common sense and field trials show healthy and biologically active organic soil retains moisture much better than tired and depleted soil on conventional monoculture farms, and organic crops are healthier and more robust than conventional crops,” said Charlotte Vallaeys, a researcher at Cornucopia.

“But Monsanto cannot profit from healthy soil and healthy organic crops, while they can profit from genetically engineering, patenting, and owning new life forms,” Vallaeys continued. “It’s unfortunate that the Obama administration is equally misguided by supporting Monsanto and Dow’s petitions and ignoring citizens' demand for an immediate end to approving these genetically engineered crops in our food supply.”

The newest genetically engineered soybean petitioned by Monsanto is one of the first to claim a public health benefit, since it has been engineered to contain higher levels of an omega-3 fatty acid, stearidonic acid.

“Genetically engineering a ubiquitous monoculture crop to contain higher levels of just one particular nutrient will not solve our public health crisis, and might even exacerbate it, since a healthy diet is about much more than simply increasing the levels of one particular omega-3 fatty acid,” said Vallaeys. “It’s another band-aid solution that will do little to address the root of the problem with our nation’s “nutrition” problem, which is people eating too many processed foods containing corn and soybean derivatives, and not eating a varied diet of nutrient-rich wholesome foods.”

The USDA surveyed 43 foods and compared their nutritional content in 1999 to original testing that took place in 1950. Half of the nutrients measured declined by 6 to 38%. "Industrial agriculture, as compared to organics, have relegated our diets to a lot of empty calories," Vallaeys added.

On the campaign trail in 2007, the President said that genetically modified foods should be labeled because Americans “should know what they are buying.”

Despite promises of change, Mr. Obama appointed former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack as USDA Secretary, who had gained notoriety in agricultural circles after being named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

Obama subsequently appointed two pro-GMO agrochemical company lobbyists to powerful positions in his administration. Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist, became food czar at the Food and Drug Administration. Islam Siddiqui, a lifelong pesticide lobbyist and GMO advocate, was appointed Chief Agricultural Negotiator.

These appointments revealed the tight grip that Monsanto and other biotech corporations have on elected officials, and raised further doubts regarding the promises for change by the current administration.

Adding insult to injury, the Obama USDA’s timing for announcing notices related to genetic engineering mirrors the Bush administration's approach of burying the news and actively discouraging public participation. The FDA declared GMO salmon was safe, on the Friday before the long Labor Day weekend in 2010.

Then the USDA made their highly controversial decision to deregulate GMO alfalfa during the busy holiday season of 2010. Their decision is being challenged by The Cornucopia Institute, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety and scores of other plaintiffs in federal court.

More recently, the announcement that Monsanto’s newest genetically engineered corn had been deregulated, and that Monsanto and Dow had petitioned for additional approval of GMO corn and soybeans, came the week between Christmas and the New Year Day holiday.

"When attempting to bury controversial news, it's not uncommon for the government to issue press releases on days when the public isn't paying attention and the news media is on vacation," noted Cornucopia’s Mark Kastel. "The Bush administration did the same thing when announcing that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) had entered the domestic food chain."

Citizens can comment on the proposed approval of Dow’s 2,4-D tolerant corn and Monsanto’s stearidonic acid soybeans until February 27, 2012.

An online petition opposing Dow's 2,4-D corn variety, which will be sent to President Obama and Secretary Vilsack

IHOP Aims to Raise $2.7 Million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals And Other Local Charities on National Pancake Day

IHOP, one of America’s favorite restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, will once again invite guests to enjoy free pancakes while supporting a worthy cause as part of the company’s philanthropic National Pancake Day on Tuesday, February 28, 2012. Setting its most ambitious fundraising objective yet at $2.7 million, the family-friendly restaurant chain hopes that this seventh year will be lucky for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other local charities.

“Although every day can be made an IHOP day, there is only one National Pancake Day, so we look forward to seeing our regulars and new guests on February 28,” said Jean Birch, IHOP’s president. “The generosity of our guests, franchisees and team members is evidence of what makes IHOP special, and what has allowed us to surpass our ambitious fundraising targets each year. Our goal is to make this seventh year the most successful to date, and bring the cumulative total raised for charities to more than $10 million.”

On National Pancake Day, more than 1,500 IHOP restaurants throughout the United States will serve each guest a free short stack of IHOP’s signature buttermilk pancakes all day long, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. In return, guests are encouraged to make a voluntary donation to support the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital or another local charity. Guest donations have helped Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals purchase equipment and fund a variety of life-saving procedures and treatments for seriously ill or injured children.

Participating IHOP restaurants will also raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals during the month of February through the sale of “Miracle Balloons” for $1 and $5 each. Personalized and displayed in the restaurants, Miracle Balloons offer guests an additional way to show their support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and contribute to the IHOP National Pancake Day fundraising effort. Guests who purchase a $5 Miracle Balloon will receive a coupon good for $5 off their next visit with a $20 purchase.

National Pancake Day is the best known of IHOP’s initiatives to support the communities in which it operates. Since the first celebration of National Pancake Day in 2006, IHOP, its guests, franchisees and team members have raised nearly $8 million. In 2011 alone, IHOP served more than four million free pancakes and raised more than $2.5 million in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other local charities.

For more information about IHOP’s National Pancake Day, or to learn more about Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and make an online donation, visit www.ihoppancakeday.com.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

If You're in Napa: Historic Oakville Grocery to Close Temporarily for Structural Renovation

Oakville Grocery Company’s flagship store - the oldest continually operating grocery store in California (open since 1881) and one of Napa Valley’s most beloved “must stop” destinations - will temporarily close its doors from January 2nd, to Mid-March of 2012, for a necessary structural renovation. This much needed restoration will preserve the charm and ambiance of the historic property, while also ensuring that the store will be able to serve the community for decades to come.

During the closure all services within the building will cease operations, including those of the Oakville Post Office. According to Guy Byrne, construction manager for the project, “the store was built without a foundation. In order to preserve the original building there must be a foundation added and reinforcement of all of its walls.” Moving the post office to another building on the property - part of the approved permitting for the renovations and additions, - will provide a more comfortable customer flow and will also make the store ADA compliant. An update to the electrical system will make the property more energy efficient, and there will be more room created for prepared and packaged product. There will also be two small buildings added for storage and back of house operations; and two additional public restrooms.

Additionally, a proposed 600 square foot space (including a porch) is being built behind the main store to accommodate the Post Office. While the U.S. Postal Service has not yet confirmed that it will be relocating the Oakville branch to this space, Rudd Properties has offered to build this new post office at its own expense for the benefit of the local community. Temporarily, the Oakville residents will be able to pick up their mail at a modular post office that the U. S. Postal Service has set up in the parking lot of Oakville Grocery.

Other improvements to the store will include updated food and beverage equipment, energy saving refrigeration, and an increase in fresh food selection. Customers can expect to see many more Oakville Grocery private label products from Napa and Sonoma, as well as a major increase in baked goods. Oakville Grocery Company exclusively carries products from the state of California, with an emphasis on Napa and Sonoma counties.

About Oakville Grocery Company, Oakville and Healdsburg

For 130 years the original Oakville Grocery location on Route 29 in Oakville has been the "little country store" in the heart of the Napa Valley, attracting visitors from near and far with its special Oakville charm. The store’s selection focuses on wonderful, handmade local products from neighbors in Napa and Sonoma counties. Along with delicious made-to-order sandwiches, gourmet cheeses and charcuterie, Oakville Grocery offers a wide array of prepared foods to go or to enjoy on property. You will also find shelves lined with specialty items including local olive oils and vinegars, unique mustards, marinades and handmade preserves. The Sonoma County location opened over ten years ago on the historic town square in Healdsburg. Conveniently located at the corner of Center and Matheson Streets, where the outdoor covered patio serves as the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee and fresh pastry or a delicious lunch in this charming wine country town.

IHOP Introduces Breakfast Innovation with Hash Brown Stacks

IHOP, one of America’s favorite restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, continues to innovate breakfast with its debut of Hash Brown Stacks. Hash Brown Stacks offer guests a tower of flavor by layering golden hash browns with eggs and a variety of toppings ranging from mouth-watering bacon or ham, delicious cheese and creamy hollandaise sauce to Provolone cheese and sliced tomato on the under 600 calorie SIMPLE & FIT option.

“For many, the word ‘breakfast’ triggers thoughts of crispy hash browns and perfectly-prepared eggs served with bacon, ham or indulgent hollandaise sauce,” said Natalia Franco, IHOP’s senior vice president, marketing. “Our new Hash Brown Stacks combine these amazing flavors and textures in several different ways to give guests unique and flavorful breakfast options only available at IHOP.”

Available at participating IHOP restaurants nationwide through February 19, Hash Brown Stacks start at a suggested retail price of $5.99 and are served with a choice of fresh fruit or two buttermilk pancakes.

· Spinach & Mushroom Hash Brown Stack - Golden hash browns topped with sautéed spinach and mushrooms, melted Provolone cheese, sliced tomato, an over-medium egg, rich hollandaise sauce and green onions.

· Bacon & Cheddar Hash Brown Stack - Golden hash browns topped with crisp diced bacon, melted Cheddar cheese, sliced tomato, an over-medium egg, rich hollandaise sauce, green onions, and then more diced bacon.

· Ham & Swiss Hash Brown Stack - Golden hash browns topped with grilled ham, melted Swiss cheese, sliced tomato, an over-medium egg, rich hollandaise sauce and green onions.

· SIMPLE & FIT Spinach & Mushroom Hash Brown Stack - Golden hash browns topped with sautéed spinach and mushrooms, melted Provolone cheese, sliced tomato, scrambled egg substitute and fresh green onions, and is served with a side of fresh fruit. Like all SIMPLE & FIT choices at IHOP, the SIMPLE & FIT Spinach & Mushroom Hash Brown Stack clocks in at under 600 calories.

For more information or to find an IHOP restaurant near you, please visit www.ihop.com. Follow IHOP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ihop

Blue Diamond Reveals Newest Nut•Thins® Flavor - Pepper Jack!

As the Almond People™, Blue Diamond is pretty partial to almonds in anything, but we think you’ll agree these crispy crackers go well with almost everything. Now you can enjoy the delicious taste of Blue Diamond Nut•Thins® in a new flavor – Pepper Jack! Making their debut this January, these perfectly seasoned crackers let you hang onto the flavor and let go of the guilt... wheat & gluten-free, loaded with crunch and bursting with pepper jack flavor. Try them with salsa for a savory snack! Please let me know if you’d like to sample the new Pepper Jack Nut•Thins® or any other Blue Diamond Product, such as their Nut Chips, Almond Breeze or Breeze Coconutmilk Blend. Happy to send! High res images are also available. Thanks so much in advance!

Available in eight additional flavors, the crispy, crunchy texture of Nut•Thins® is converting chip lovers by the handful! Plus, for those sensitive to gluten, Nut•Thins® are a wonderfully tasty alternative. Nut•Thins® are available in Almond, BBQ, Cheddar Cheese, Hazelnut, Pecan, Smokehouse, Hint of Sea Salt, and Country Ranch. These delicious crackers can be found at any Whole Foods or natural foods section in your grocery store.