Wine Pairings with Asian Cuisines

Many people criticize the difficulty of pairing wines with Asian cuisines compared to pairings with their European and American counterparts. Alcohol has been a mainstay in Asian countries. Yes. However, the difference is that traditional wines evolved alongside European cuisines. There is a harmonic balance between wine and food in European cooking, and a complementary wine is always taken into consideration when designing a dish. In many cases, the wines and dishes come from the same regions and pair naturally. It’s not impossible to pair wines with Asian cuisines though. The general consensus is that lighter whites and sparkling wines are complementary to the strong spices and textures of Asian cuisine, while “power” wines like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon that are low in acid tend to clash.http://www.asianpalate.com/sites/asianpalate.com/files/imagecache/slideshow_image/ClubRougeJuly2012slider.jpg

Here is a breakdown of a few Asian cuisines and their respective wine pairings:

Chinese – Chinese cuisine cannot be compartmentalized into a specific characteristic because each region has its own unique style, but Rieslings, with their high acidy and medium body, tend to balance well with most Chinese food. They retain their identity amongst the range of flavors and leave a rather refreshing feel.

Japanese – In terms of sushi, champagne is the easy choice because it goes well with wasabi and also cleanses the palate, an important feature when enjoying the different types of fish. Because high-quality fish has natural sweetness, overly sweet wines should be avoided. Reds are not popular for the same reason, the taste overpowers the milder tasting fish.

Korean – Korean food is a great cuisine to enjoy with reds, especially red meats like bulgogi and golbi. Korean food is often garlic and spice heavy, so a wine like Australian Shiraz with its peppery flavor complements the food well.

How Healthy Eating Can Help Cancer Patients

Dealing with cancer can be one of the most difficult things you do in your life.  If you were recently diagnosed with cancer or are dealing with mesothelioma treatment side effects, it is important that you look at any and all options available to you to better your health.  Obviously, you will want to seek traditional treatment advised by your doctor.  However, incorporating good food and healthy nutrition into your life can also help in the healing process.  A healthy diet is not a cure for cancer, but it can greatly improve the way you feel and are affected by treatment.

One thing to remember about a healthy diet is that it does not have to be boring.  Incorporating more delicious fruits and vegetables into your day will provide much-needed vitamins that your body craves.  These vitamins will help cell repair during the healing process so that you can feel more energetic.  For individuals who are undergoing traditional cancer treatment, having more energy from the good foods that you eat will help you to push through the treatments that you face on a regular basis.  There is nothing more beneficial than a healthy diet.

Switching to eating healthy and clean foods is a good choice for just about anyone, but it is even more beneficial to those who are dealing with cancer.  The vitamins and minerals that healthy foods contain will help to improve your body’s ability to heal while increasing energy levels.  This simply means that you will have more energy and less pain after you go for your traditional treatments.  It is important that you make gradual changes to your diet so that your body can adjust to the new foods that you will be eating each and every day at home.

You should also speak with your primary care physician before making any major changes to your diet.  With cancer, every choice you make concerning your body needs to be a healthy one.  You should talk to your doctor about incorporating more healthy foods into your life and how much of this food you should be eating.  Your doctor will more than likely keep you at a strict calorie count throughout the day so that you do not have to deal with extreme weight loss.

Being able to live happily while still dealing with cancer is possible.  You should incorporate a healthy diet into your daily routine so that you can reap the benefits that this food has to offer.  You will experience an increase in energy as well as a greater sense of wellbeing.  You will love being able to feel alive and vibrant each day despite having to go for traditional cancer treatments.  Be sure to speak with your doctor before making any major decisions or changes to your diet.

Article By: Jillian McKee 

Refreshing Summer Soups: Avocado Soup

Friday Soup:

There is no fancy history to the origins of avocado soup, but what many people do not know is that avocado is quite healthy for you despite its buttery texture and delicious taste. It is known that avocado helps protect against prostate and breast cancer. Avocado is also rich in many vitamins and minerals, helping to regulate blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Avocado is a fruit, and considered one of the healthiest. Excessive amounts of avocado are not going to cure all your health problems, but a healthy amount in your diet can have great results.

Here is one of our favorite recipes for avocado soup (4 servings):

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocado – peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tomato – peeled, seeded and diced

Instructions:

  • Puree avocado in a blender or food processor until smooth. Sautee chopped shallots in olive oil until tender but not brown; set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together avocado with chicken stock, heavy cream and shallots until smooth. Stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg; adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Chill for at least half an hour before serving. Garnish with diced tomato.

Avocado Soup

Refreshing Summer Soups: Vichyssoise

Thursday Soup:

The true origin of vichyssoise [\ˌvi-shē-ˈswäz, ˌvē-\] soup is disputed. A more flavored version of the story is that King Louis XV of France enjoyed potato soup for dinner frequently. His paranoia led him to order a number of his servants to taste his food before he ate it. By the time the potato soup finally reached King Louis, the soup had already gotten cold. He liked it that way, and that’s how the French came to eat cold potato soup.

Julia Child calls vichyssoise an American invention. Why? Because Louis Diat, chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York is credited with creating the cold potato leek soup in 1917. Presumably, anything that is invented in America is considered an “American invention” no matter the race or ethnicity of the creator. Louis Diat told the New Yorker magazine in 1950:

In the summer of 1917, when I had been at the Ritz seven years, I reflected upon the potato and leek soup of my childhood which my mother and grandmother used to make. I recalled how during the summer my older brother and I used to cool it off by pouring in cold milk and how delicious it was. I resolved to make something of the sort for the patrons of the Ritz.

Regardless of who invented it, vichyssoise is a delicious soup. A classic and refreshing soup. Here is a recipe from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook:

Ingredients

  • 4 cups sliced leeks, whites only
  • 4 cups diced potatoes old or baking potatoes recommended
  • 6 to 7 cups cold water
  • 1½ to 2 teaspoons coarse salt or to taste
  • 1/2 cup or more sour cream, heavy cream, or crème fraîche, optional
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives or parsley

Instructions

  • Bring the leeks, potatoes and water to boil in the saucepan. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Purée the soup if you wish. Taste, and correct seasoning. After chilling the soup, you may wish to stir in a little more cream. Taste carefully again, and correct the seasoning. Top each serving with a sprinkle of chives or parsley.

Vichyssoise Soup

Refreshing Summer Soups

When it’s hot outside there are so many things you can do to cool off. Beach, sprinklers, cold drinks, ice cream, popsicles, fruit. The list goes on. As we know, bubble tea is also on that list. Most of these foods that come to mind are sweet and cold. What if you don’t have that sweet tooth or you are trying to stay away from high sugar foods?

Cold summer soups. Here is something that is both filling and nutritious. It is perfect for the summer because most recipes require little to no cooking. Who really wants to stand next to the stove on a hot day?

The three types we’ll cover this week are gazpacho, vichyssoise, and avocado soup. There are many others like squash, asparagus, cantaloupe, and cucumber soups which need little more than ingredients and a blender.

Wednesday Soup:

Gazpacho is a classic cold soup that that can be made smooth or chunky. It originated in Spain and Latin America. Tomatoes are the staple of almost every gazpacho recipe, but there are plenty of ways to cater it to your own tastes. Gazpacho is generally jam packed with antioxidants because of the use of raw fresh vegetables and tomatoes (a fruit!). Because the soup is not cooked, the vitamins and minerals are retained.

Here is a classic gazpacho recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper (available in jars)
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)

Instructions

  • Cut 1 tomato, 1/2 cucumber and 1/2 onion into 1-inch pieces and transfer to processor. Add bell pepper and puree. Transfer to bowl. Add tomato juice, cilantro, vinegar, oil and hot pepper sauce. Seed remaining tomato. Dice remaining tomato and cucumber and onion halves and add to soup. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead.) Serve well chilled.

Gazpacho Soup

Bubble Tea

Trying to find new ways to cool off during the hot humid days of the year? Sick of drinking iced coffee every time you need that cold drink fix? Get your hands on the some bubble tea, a drink that has become wildly popular throughout the world.

If you’ve never heard of bubble tea perhaps you may know it as boba tea, pearl tea, or tapioca milk tea. Don’t let these unusual names turn you off from the delicious, yet simple combination of tea, sugar, milk, and tapioca pearls. The black tapioca pearls are marble sized and have a chewy consistency, but don’t forget to pick up one of the colorful fat straws otherwise you’ll never get them out of the cup!

There are tons of tea shops specializing in bubble tea around the country, and many more opening up because people who try it are instantly hooked. Nowadays, most tea shops have a variety of flavors (popular ones include taro, honey, passion fruit, lychee, and coffee), and offerings like slushes and smoothies. If it is your first time at a bubble tea shop or stand, you might be intimidated by the numerous options on the menu, but the safest bet is to get the original: a sweet, refreshing, and somewhat filling bubble milk tea!

No bubble tea shops near you? Local specialty or Asian markets are sure to have tapioca pearls, so you can make it at home. Just add it to your favorite chilled tea, add some sugar and milk, and voila, instant bubble tea.

Help, I can’t eat out, it cost too much!!

Think eating out is too expensive, and too costly? Well, guess again. What was once accepted as true is now becoming a myth.  Eating out can actually be almost around the same price as cooking at home, and the best part is there are no dishes to clean.

We made a bet and sent one person home with a mission to only cook all 3 meals a day for a week, and another to eat out all 3 meals a day for week while using BiteHunter. What we found out was quite amazing.

The total bill for the person cooking at home came out to $95.06, and the total bill for the person eating out came to $120.13, making a price difference of about 25% more to eat out than to stay home and cook.  This may seem like a lot, but we were actually surprised as most of us thought eating out would be at least double, if not triple the cost of cooking at home. We also learned that the person who ate at home was so tired of eating the same thing everyday (he bought his groceries in bulk and cooked in bulk which cut costs, but sacrificed variety in his diet) and was tired from the time spent cooking and cleaning.

Based on our little study, we are quite convinced eating out a couple of times a week will not put a major dent in your wallet, and might actually help to reduce your stress (no cleaning and cooking means more time for leisure, friends, and family).

We would love to hear you stories about saving money on your dining adventures. Send us an email or post us a comment on our blog and let us know how much you’re saving!!

 

Are Macaroons the New Cupcake?

by Simon Joseph

What exactly are Macaroons? Macaroons are colorful, light as a feather, meringue-like, almond cookies sandwiched together with a flavorful filling. The origins of the cookie lie somewhere in Italy, but the modern “sandwiched” versions were first created by the French pastry chef Pierre Desfontaines, of Laduree, in Paris.

Never had a macaroon? Can’t afford to travel to Paris? Fear not, the macaroon is increasing in popularity and macaroon shops are popping just as fast as cupcake shops. So, could this be the end of the cupcake? No way. Who doesn’t love a cupcake? While cupcakes do have some competition, I think everyone is going to be quite happy with having both. So, here are some of the best macaroon shops, including Laduree, in America:

Laduree - New York, NY

La Maison du Chocolat - New York, NY

Vendome - New York, NY

Bisous Ciao - New York, NY

Sucre - New Orleans, LA

Pierre Gourmet - Chicago, IL

Praline Bakery - Bethesda, MD

Paulette - Beverly Hills, CA

PS. If you aren’t near these cities, check with your local bakery or try online as many of these store ship nationwide. And let us know if we missed any favorite places in your hometown.

Guide to Tipping Etiquette – Is 20% the New Standard?

Written by David Bakke

David Bakke worked in the restaurant business as a manager for nearly 20 years and now shares his tips and insights on personal finance issues on Money Crashers.

As a veteran of the restaurant management industry, I understand both sides of the coin when it comes to the issue of tipping. You, the consumer, want to save money when dining out, yet you also want to fairly compensate your server.

The waiter or waitress expects a decent tip from each table they provide service to, as the hourly rate is typically less than minimum wage. In fact, in the state where I live, most servers earn $2.18 per hour. For many years, the standard tip was 15% of the bill, though over time, 20% has become the standard percentage to calculate a tip.

On What Criteria Do You Base Your Tip?

The average server earns a wage of $2 to $3 an hour. Therefore, wait staff make their livelihood off of their tips, not their base salaries. You should always keep this in mind when determining the amount of the tip. What additional factors do you use to calculate the tip? The food? The service? The decor?

You should tip more for fantastic food, but never tip less if the food is sub-par. Additionally, don’t reduce the size of the tip for a mistake in the order. You shouldn’t penalize the server for a mistake in the food preparation, as your server does not prepare your food, and you can’t penalize someone for a mistake for which they are not responsible for.

Base your tip on your total food bill before applying discounts, coupons, or gift cards. Even if you have restaurant coupons or discounts, your server still has to put forth the same effort to serve you.

Here are some additional basic guidelines to help you determine how much to leave for a tip:

1. The Overall Experience
Calculate your tip based on the overall dining experience. If you loved the food, but the server forgot a drink refill, don’t drastically reduce the tip. Mistakes happen from time to time.

The attitude, personality, and perceptive abilities†of the server go a long way, and you should expect the server to be friendly and knowledgeable. Exceptionally personable servers might receive something extra.

2. Server Involvement
When you calculate your tip, consider whether your server personalized the service based on your behavior. For instance, if you have a business meeting with a coworker or an involved conversation with your spouse, your server should play more of a peripheral role in the overall dining experience.

However, if you dine with a large group,†and the server makes your party laugh, helps you split the food bill with friends, or does anything extra for the children in your group, he or she definitely deserves a larger tip. This might just mean supplying crayons and paper for the kids. Parents spend the majority of their waking hours entertaining children, and they look at dining out as an escape.†If the server can help occupy your child for any part of the dining experience, leave a generous tip.

3. Promptness and Courtesy
In addition to the overall dining experience and server involvement, leave a larger tip for prompt, courteous service. However, always consider extenuating circumstances. If it’s 8pm on Saturday and the server has five other tables to attend to, you should still leave a decent tip, even if the service isn’t perfect. Expect your waiter or waitress to stop by occasionally, but have realistic expectations.

Tipping at Buffets, Self-Serve Restaurants, and Fine Dining Establishments

Generally, you do not have to leave a standard tip at a buffet or self-serve restaurants, because no one serves you. Dining room attendants working in these restaurants receive an hourly wage that compensates them beyond the $2 to $3 received by restaurant servers. However, a little something for exceptional service never hurts.

For fine dining restaurants, don’t venture too far out of your general tipping practices. However, these servers make better tips because of substantially higher dinner tabs, so you may slightly reduce the percentage you leave servers at expensive restaurants. Don’t be unreasonable, though – if you can’t afford to properly tip, you should eat at home to save money.

Final Thoughts

Go into a†restaurant with the intention of tipping your server somewhere between 15% and 20%, and look for reasons to keep the tip around 20%. Everyone wants to save a buck when†dining out, but you should never look to the tip as a place to save some money. I leave a 20% tip about half of the time, and I add something extra when servers occupy or entertain my child. I also leave larger tips to reward servers for accurately “reading” my table.

Rarely, if ever, do I leave a tip for less than 15%. The service has to be extremely poor to drop below that benchmark.

Essentially, I never tip based on what people think I should tip or to look good in front of my dining companions, and neither should you. Instead, always base the tip on straightforward criteria related to the quality of service received.

What are your thoughts on tipping?

How to Beat the Cold and Save Some Cash!!

Standing around waiting in the cold? Need a little warmth? With only the change in your pocket and the BiteHunter app on your phone, a great deal and a little warmth is but a few clicks away. Open your app to the BiteNow section and you’ll see a long list of all these great deals. What makes these deals special, is that they are made to be used that instant. See a deal for a cup of coffee? Just buy the deal on your phone, show your confirmation to the cashier, and viola, coffee. These deals are so easy to redeem, you can buy it while waiting in the line. Change of plan? No time to claim you purchase, etc.? No worries. These deals are only charged to you if you actually redeem them.

What a great way to stave off the cold with a nice cup of soup or coffee, while keeping your wallet full.

Here are a couple of recently purchased BiteNow! deals:

Warm Bowl of Soup?
Hot Cup of Coffee?