Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My bubbly Valentine: Try Kiss from a Rose

Sunday is a Mardi Gras date, Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day. I’ll have to spread jambalaya, noodles and chocolate throughout the day.
I’ve already tried one of the best casual champaigns I’ve ever experienced, the playful Barefoot Bubbly Rosé Cuvée, a slightly sweet sparkling wine, with hints of strawberry and citrus, designed to pair with sweet treats and such. At $10, it could cost less than a box of chocolates. I inhaled the bubbles while viewing actors whip up French cuisine dreams in “Julie & Julia.” Try the drink alone, or like this:
Barefoot Bubbly's Kiss from a Rosé
1/2 oz raspberry liqueur
1/2 oz créme de cassis
4 oz Barefoot Bubbly Rosé Cuvée
1 raspberry, 1 blackberry
Combine the raspberry liqueur, crème de cassis and berries in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into champagne flute. Top of with Barefoot Rosé Cuvée. Or, simply add the liqueurs in a champagne flute and top with Barefoot.

Chinese long bean
To celebrate the Year of the Tiger, you could eat long, uncut noodles to symbolize longevity. Frieda’s produce company can help you go one better. I tried their long beans, measuring 12- to 20-inches each, over chow mein noodles. They overflowed the bowl, resembling writhing, geen snakes. Sooooo good.
Eat up: The 15-day celebration begins on the first day of the first lunar month according to the Chinese calendar – Feb. 14, and ends on Feb. 28.
Southeast Texas is full of kumquat trees, and the little golden fruits symbolize wealth as “kum” means “gold” in Cantonese. If you can’t find a stash, Frieda’s sells them for recipes like this:
Duck Salad with Kumquat Dressing
1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup Frieda’s Kumquats, chopped
1/3 cup salad oil
2 tablespoons honey
Romaine lettuce leaves
1 head Frieda’s Belgian Endive
1 1/2 cups cooked, chilled julienne slices of duck breast meat or chicken breast
2/3 cup green or red seedless grapes
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts or slivered almonds
Frieda’s Alfalfa Sprouts as garnish 
For dressing, in blender or food processor bowl with blade, place the vinegar, kumquats, oil, and honey. Cover and process until nearly smooth. Chill. To assemble salad, line a large serving platter or individual plates with romaine leaves. Arrange Belgian endive, duck or chicken pieces, grapes, and nuts on leaves. Garnish with alfalfa sprouts if desired. Pass dressing with salads. Makes 2 servings.

Brewing goodness
We’re enjoying Good Earth Black Tea Tropical Peach here in the office and someone wanted milk, which normally don’t do. Then I started imagining a heavy dose of cream in a warm teacup and imagined it measuring up to a serving of peach cobbler. I can’t wait to get home and try it.
Through Feb. 28, the Good Earth Cares project will donate half of its after-tax profit to charity. Voters can visit the website to cast their vote once a day Some of the options include: Wildlife Forever; Scholarship America; Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation; Cancer Research Inst.; and American Forests.
That feels as good as it tastes. I think I’ll plan for some hot tea on Chinese New Year.

Chia, now in chocolate
I’m of the opinion that chocolate makes everything taste better. I’m sure there’s not enough chocolate in the world to get some people to try Chia Goodness, a gluten-free raw blend of chia seeds, buckwheat, shelled hemp seed, organic cocoa, cocoa nibs, dates, almonds, cane juice and Celtic sea salt.
I say, try it. It sure is a conversation piece. Cody on the copy desk did, but he’ll try almost anything. A tiny, nutrient-dense spoonful expands with hot or cold water, or you can mix it in oatmeal, yogurt, etc. That having been said, I can’t imaging craving a bowl full, but I really love this stuff baked into bread. It’s one of those things you can haul out at a party and guests think they’ve had an experience.

Pick me
I love the idea of being prepared for a life of parties and intimate get-togethers that just spring up. Visit for really colorful pretty little gift tags ready to adorn a hostess gift. String images like a starfish, scooter or flamingo up with your own ribbon in seasonal colors. Keep them in the pantry and you’ll smile ever time they catch your eye.

Zero is delicious
Tricky waters sneak in calories. Zero is good, Ayala’s Herbal Water says. Take zero calories and preservatives and add flavors such as lavender mint, ginger lemon peel and cinnamon orange peel and you get a tall drink of refreshing. I’d never have thought to spice up water with clovs, cardamon and cinnamon. Love it.

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