Tag Archives: vegetarian

A Taste Of Naples ~ Margherita Pizza And Negroni di Fortunato

 “People who love to eat are always the best people”… Julia Child knew that food brings people together in the best way possible.  Now we have a new fun and delicious way to bring people together in Roanoke, Virginia.   Tour Roanoke recently announced that they will add A Taste Of Naples at Fortunato in Roanoke, Virginia to their food experience repertoire .   Tempt your tastebuds with an afternoon filled with Neopolitan Pizza,  Negroni Cocktails, fun and intriguing conversation and wine.  Here’s  10 of the best  reasons to share this food experience with friends, family and colleagues:

fortunato sparkling fizz

  1. POP THE CORK! A glass of Frizzante (gently sparkling Italian wine) sets the stage for your Taste of Naples experience.

2. TEAM BONDING IN THE KITCHEN! Fortunato’s Chefs will show you all how to stretch and toss pizza dough, then top it with fresh aromatic ingredients to create magically delicious pizzas. You will enjoy noshing on the pizzas right after they come out of the 1000 degree wood-fired oven!

fortunato oven

fortunato pizza pizza

3.  GOURMAND GUIDES! Curious about Neapolitan pizza, Italian liqueurs and craft cocktails?  Your tour guides, chefs and bartender are bursting at the seams to share their knowledge of the history and lore of Italian food and how it fits into the Roanoke food scene. Thank you to Fortunato’s Chef Jeff Farmer for giving us a fabulous Naples Experience!

fortunato book

Fortunato BartendarFortunato cocktail fire

4. Fortunato’s Bar Manager and Bartender extraordinaire Jackie Gentry will teach you to mix a brilliante Negroni cocktail.

Jackie showed us how to flame an orange twist. Flaming releases the citrus oils from the fruit.   After the flame burns out, rub the peel around the rim of the glass and put a larger strip of peel into the cocktail to serve.

fortunato gin

fortunato cocktail shaker

Fortunato cocktail

Fortunato Amaro

5.  YOU MUST TASTE AMARO! In Italian Amaro is the word for “bitter” and it will get your taste buds attention! An syrupy Italian liqueur made from herbs (rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, saffron, myrrh and orange peel to name a few). Amaro is often drunk as an after-dinner digestif.  It has an alcohol content between 16 and 40 percent!

6.  LOVIN’ LOCAL! Attending the Taste of Naples Food Experience supports two local businesses: Fortunato and Roanoke Food Tours.

fortunato wine

7. STELLINA! The coziest cocktail bar nestled up next to Fortunato. Open Wednesday – Saturday 5 p.m. until last call. After all that fun stroll over to Stellina and enjoy another Negroni di Fortunato or choose from the extensive list of craft cocktails.  As noted in a recent New York Post article… These 10 tiny bars will give you the world’s biggest buzzes: “The hallmark of a good bar is its ability to make us feel a little less lonely by the time we leave. The hallmark of a good bartender is to bring that feeling to a simmer before sips meets lips. This little Virginian star achieves both.”  (article by Perri Ormont Blumberg)

Fortunato sign

8. THE PEZZO FORTE!  You can come back on Wednesday evening for  half price pizza.

9.  It’s easy to book your reservation…here’s the link: https://www.roanokefoodtours.com

Phone:  540-309-1781 or 1-800-656-0713. A Taste of Naples will be available in early 2018.

10.  Remember…

sign-at-fortunatos1

Santé !

fortunato painting

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Balsamic Vinegar Pearls Bruschetta ~ Flavor Bomb!

Balsamic Vinegar Pearls…Bursting with flavor!  

balsamic container

balsamic caviar

Looks like caviar!

Available on-line…black,  white, lemon (yellow), white truffle and pomegranate balsamic vinegar pearls…

balsamic brushetta

Tomato Burrata Bruschetta with Basil and Balsamic Vinegar Pearls

Burrata means “buttered” in Italian. I like to describe it as fresh cream and curd (like a fresh ricotta) wrapped in mozzarella cheese and it is fabulouso!

barrata cheese

These flavor bomb appetizers are so easy to prepare.  Spread burrata cheese on toasted French bread rounds (I purchased my toast rounds from Fresh Market).  Top the cheese with chopped fresh tomato and julienned fresh basil leaves. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Top with a few balsamic vinegar pearls.  Enjoy!

beets

Dinner this evening will include roasted fresh golden beets with baratta cheese sprinkled with  balsamic vinegar pearls.

bee

I found this little guy enjoying my pink Dragon’s Breath plant (Celosia) in the garden this morning.

dragon fruit

Speaking of dragons…we enjoyed slices of dragon fruit this morning for breakfast ~ tastes like pear and kiwi…yum!

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Let’s Drink Champagne And Celebrate With The World’s Most Expensive Sandwich!

August is National Sandwich Month. Let’s celebrate with champagne and sandwiches!

2005 Dom champagne

Facts about the world’s MOST EXPENSIVE SANDWICH:

  1.  In 2014 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized the “Quintessential Grilled Cheese” as the world’s most expensive sandwich.
  2. This sandwich was created by Joe Calderon, Chef at the Serendipity 3 Restaurant, New York City.
  3. This sandwich is made with two pieces of French Pullman champagne bread which is made with Dom Perignon champagne and edible gold flakes, with white truffle butter and the very rare Caciocavallo Podolico cheese. The sandwich is served with South African Lobster Tomato Bisque for dipping.
  4. Price: $214
  5. The Quintessential Grilled Cheese has to be ordered 48 hours in advance in order to source the ingredients needed to make such a fancy-dancy sandwich.
  6. The Serendipity 3 Restaurant has been the scene of several films, including one of my favorite romantic comedies that came out in  2001: Serendipity.

Here’s a link with cool photos of this expensive sandwich:

The most expensive sandwich in the world!

sandwich

My favorite summer sandwiches which pair perfectly with bubbly are fresh tomato and cucumber sandwiches. If you live in the South as I do, then you know the elements of these sandwiches are extremely important…just sayin’

Pepperidge Farm Very Thin White Bread

Thinly Sliced Garden Fresh Tomatoes

Thinly Sliced (sliced on a mandoline) peeled cucumbers

Fresh dill, chopped (for the cucumber sandwiches)

Duke’s Mayonnaise

Freshly ground black pepper

Spread each piece of bread liberally with mayonnaise.  Top mayonnaise with a good sprinkling of black pepper and either tomato slices or cucumber slices. Top the cucumber slices with chopped fresh dill. Top the tomato slices and cucumber slices with another slice of mayonnaise slathered bread.  Cut each sandwich in half to make two triangles, then cut the triangles in half to make small triangle sandwiches. Place sandwiches on a chilled platter.   Serve immediately.

Champagne is a perfect pairing for potato chips and potato chips are the perfect accompaniment to sandwiches. This was one of Marilyn Monroe’s favorite flavor combinations.

potato chip

I recommend Baron-Fuénte Grands Cepages Chardonnay Champagne NV to pair with these summery sandwiches.   This champagne is composed of 100% chardonnay grapes. I love the shape of this bubbly bottle.  $45 range.  Notes of citrus (lemon zest), creamy, nice tiny bubbles dancing around the flute, finishing with a touch of toasted almond. Dill pairs very well with chardonnay so the cucumber dill sandwiches will be a treat paired with this champagne.  Cheers!

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These potatoes are on FIRE! Sparkling Wine Quenches The Heat

This morning I decided to include Potatoes Picante on my Sunday brunch menu.  This spicy Spanish red sauce on top of crispy potatoes is on FIRE with the addition of cayenne pepper.  It can be as spicy as you like it depending on how much cayenne pepper you add…and a tiny pinch of this spice goes a long way! 

Potatoes Picante

For the Picante Sauce:

2 large tomatoes (preferably fresh out of the garden for the best flavor)

12 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained, chopped into very small pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 pinches cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika

2 tablespoons butter

For the potatoes:

3 Russet potatoes, peeled.

2 cups Vegetable oil

To prepare the sauce:  Cut the tomatoes in half.  Place a box grater in a bowl.  Grate the cut side of each tomato so that the tomato pulp falls into the bowl.   Discard the tomato skin.

Place the olive oil in a pan and warm it gently over low heat. Add the tomato pulp, chopped red peppers, sugar, salt, paprika and cayenne pepper to the olive oil.  Stir to combine all ingredients.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and add butter. Stir until butter is melted. Return sauce to heat and keep warm over very low heat while preparing the potatoes.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again, making 4 strips of potato. Cut each strip into 4 pieces which will make cubes of approximately one inch.  Put the vegetable oil in a deep frypan and heat until sizzling. Carefully add potatoes in one layer and fry over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. Check to make sure the potatoes are tender and continue to fry for 5 more minutes until potatoes are crispy and lightly browned.  Remove potatoes from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the oil off the potatoes.  Sprinkle with a little salt if desired.

Serve warm potatoes on small plates drizzled with the picante sauce. Buen Provecho!

bubbly

I paired the potatoes with Charles Bove Sparkling Wine…tiny bubbles dancing in the flute, the pairing tasted “buttery” to me which was quite pleasing to the palate. The bubbles are created by  long-aging on its yeast via methode traditionnelle practice of secondary fermentation in the bottle.  This dry and festive wine is made from grapes primarily grown in he superb white chalk soils of the central Loire Valley.  Nothing fancy, just light and refreshing. $15 range.

Later I will quench the summer heat at Blue Cow Ice Cream Shop. Homemade ice cream in Roanoke Virginia! bluecowicecream.com

Blue Cow Ice Cream Flight…flavors (front to back) Chocolate Cayenne, Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl, Peach Ginger, Banana Pudding.

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My Favorite Recipe For Baba Ganoush

My wonderful husband presented a champagne tasting as a surprise for me this week…Champagne Dautel-Cadot Grande Tradition Brut NV and Dautel-Cadot Champagne Cuvee Prestige Brut NV.

I love it when I walk in the kitchen and find this sitting on the island which means we are about to commence to tastin’…

My favorite was the Champagne Dautel-Cadot Grande Tradition Brut NV.  Consists of 100% pinot noir grapes. $25 range.  We tasted notes of lemon meringue and green apple.  Bright without being too acidic.  Fresh and crisp. After my first sip I exclaimed:  “I love this!”

champagne tasting 1

The Dautel-Cadot Champagne Cuvee Prestige Brut NV was also delightful. 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir grapes.  $28 range.  We tasted orange blossom and meyer lemon flavors in this champagne.  Lots of fun bubbles dancing in the flute!

champagne tasting 2

Eggplant is in season!  This is my husband’s favorite appetizer, much like a  Baba Ganoush with some fun taste twists that enhance the flavor of the eggplant:

Eggplant Paté

Note:  I puree the ingredients in my blender. A food processor may also be used.

1 cup pureed eggplant (cut eggplant in half and roast in oven, scoop out eggplant pulp with spoon and discard eggplant shell. For one cup pureed eggplant you will need 2 eggplants)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 red bell pepper, cored, roasted and peeled, pureed (place cored pepper under the oven broiler and blacken all sides of the pepper. Place pepper in a paper bag, close the bag and allow the pepper to cool.  Remove the pepper from the bag and scrape off the peel with a sharp knife.

1 tablespoon butter

2.25 ounces pine nuts

1 tablespoon fresh oregano

12 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons medium peri-peri sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 ounces goat‘s milk cheese (little log)

Firehook Mediterranean Baked Crackers – sea salt variety (or serve with your favorite flatbread cracker)

  1. Melt butter in small sauté pan. Add pine nuts and sauté over medium-low heat, stirring constantly (monitor carefully because pine nuts will burn quickly) until pine nuts just begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place the eggplant puree, red pepper puree, oregano, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, peri-peri sauce, tomato paste in a blender or food processor . Blend until all ingredients are combined and the mixture has a relatively smooth consistency.  If the mixture is too thick to blend a little more olive oil can be added.
  3. Place half of the eggplant mixture in a small serving dish. Crumble the goat cheese over the eggplant mixture. Top the goat cheese with the other half of the eggplant mixture. Top the eggplant mixture with the pine nuts.
  4. Serve with crisp flatbread crackers.

tim tam packagetim tams

Love these irresistable chocolaty happiness in a biscuit Tim Tams!  Dark mint is my favorite. 

limenchello

sparkle

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Homemade Potato Chips And Rosé = Happy Summer!

potato chip

Summertime is Potato Chip Time!

Love, love, LOVE homemade potato chips! So easy to make. I use my 4-sided mandoline box grater (has a mandoline on one side, graters on the other three sides) to slice (or Yukon Gold) potatoes very thinly (no need to peel the potatoes). Many years ago my husband bought this box grater for me and I thought I would never use it…wouldn’t you know it is one of the most useful gadgets I have in my kitchen!

grater

raw potato chip

After slicing the potatoes, soak the slices in cold water for 30 minutes (soaking removes excess starch).  Lay the potato slices in a single layer on paper towels then cover with another layer of paper towels. Press the paper towels lightly on the potato slices to absorb excess moisture.

Place enough vegetable oil in a large heavy pot (make sure the pot has high sides to avoid spattering or spilling any hot oil) to cover potato slices (about 1 inch) and heat until potatoes sizzle when they hit the oil (350 degrees Fahrenheit).  (Test hot oil by placing one potato slice in the oil to see if it sizzles.) Place potatoes in single layer in oil to fry. Potatoes will begin to turn light brown and float in the oil when they are finished cooking.  Remove potatoes with slotted spoon onto plate lined with paper towels to drain.  Sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool just a bit and then serve as quickly as possible.  (Chips straight out of the hot oil need a minute or two to “crisp up”.)

rose om fence

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosato 2015

I love rosé with potato chips! We thoroughly enjoyed this rosé on a warm summer’s eve sitting on the porch.  As the winemaker so eloquently explains about this lovely Italian wine:    The rosé that has the body of a white and the soul of a red.  A wine that’s joyful without being frivolous; that has tension, but is not austere.

Notes from the manager of my favorite local wine store: Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar:

Here is a little write up from the vineyards website. My rep loves this wine and even said it may be her favorite rosé! It’s from Mt. Etna, made of two indigenous grapes Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. The production is always changing because the vineyard lies on an active volcano. This is actually a rose that you could lay down for a year or two. 🙂

Delicious notes of strawberry, pink and white flowers, with a slightly creamy texture. $25 range.

http://www.tenutaterrenere.com/en/wine-etna-rosato-doc-wines-grapes-nerello-mascalese-cappuccio-sicily.php

gouda

rose in a bucket

J. Mourat 2016 Collection Rose Val de Loire, Loire Valley

Made from a unique blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Negrette grapes.  Dry, crisp, refreshing.  $14 range.

Herbs de Provence

…flavors that will take you to Southern France this summer…

I like to get my favorite dried herbs at our local natural foods co-op (sold in bulk) to make my own Herbs de Provence.  My favorite way to enjoy this herb mixture is sprinkled on pizza right before I toss it on the grill.   Also delcious on grilled or roasted chicken, potatoes and fish (sprinkle on before cooking, not after).

Herbs

(All herbs in this recipe are dried)

Mix these herbs together and store in an airtight container in the pantry.

2 tablespoons Savory

3 tablespoons Oregano

1 tablespoon Rosemary

1 tablespoon Basil

2 tablespoons culinary lavender

2 tablespoons thyme

1 tablespoon sage

1 bay leaf crumbled

Herbs de Provence

lamp

When my friends were in the islands recently they enjoyed Veuve Clicquot champagne served out of this gorgeous lamp/champagne bucket. They sent me this photo…I have the bestest bubbly friends!

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A Toast To Summer…Fresh Green Pea With Radish And Lemon Zest Toast + CAVA

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pea toasts and lemon

Fresh Green Pea With Radish And Lemon Zest Toast

toast

Bakery fresh baguette slices toasted.

pea toasts

Cook fresh green peas until almost mushy.  Add butter, sea salt and a dash of fresh cream.  Mash peas. Top baguette slices with mashed peas.  Top peas with mandoline thin slices of radish, lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper.

pea toast

Serve with a lovely Spanish Cava…

Cava F

Freixenet Brut Blanc de Blanc

This bubbly Cava is produced by the same winery that gives us Gloria Ferrer, one of my favorite sparkling wines:  https://www.gloriaferrer.com/carneros-winery

The perfect casual summer sipper…from Catalonia, Spain. 100% Chardonnay grapes.  A sparkling value…$10 range.  Lots of fun bubbles. Notes of baked apple with just a touch of lemon. Available on-line. I also found this Cava locally at Tinnell’s in Roanoke, Virginia. http://tinnells.com

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