Crocodile Meat for the Adventurous Palate

crocodile meatSince time immemorial, people have looked at crocodiles as terrifying beasts that are best avoided. Lately, however, the predator that ruled the earth during the Mesozoic era has been redefined as an exotic culinary treat, and adventurous diners can now choose crocodile meat as their lunch or dinner.

What Crocodile Meat Has to Offer

Most of the people who have tried crocodile meat say that its texture a cross between chicken and pork, but it has a mildly fishy taste. The meat of some crocodiles is almost white, a bit reminiscent of frog legs. Generally, the taste of crocodile meat is neutral and needs to be enhanced with flavoring. Most diners comment that it is best prepared grilled or barbecued. [Read more…]

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Stuffed Grape Leaves: A Touch of the Middle East

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Credit: F_A

Dolmades are a variety of stuffed vegetable dishes popular in the Middle East and neighboring regions. The Greeks, the Egyptians and many Mediterranean countries all have their versions of dolma.  Although each region has a different name for this stuffed delight, their versions have a lot in common.

Dolmades or Mahsi Wara’Enab?

The Mideats article “Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice and Ground Beef (Mahshi Wara’ Enab)” describes the Egyptian and Middle Eastern version of stuffed grape leaves: “You take a look at Middle Eastern cuisine, you’ll notice that they have a habit of stuffing things too. Green peppers, onions, tomatoes, Swiss chard, zucchinis/courgette, eggplants, and cabbage are all commonly stuffed – usually with a mix of rice, minced meat, and various spices. In terms of grape leaves, every Mediterranean or Middle Eastern country has a distinguishing mixture. The Greek and Lebanese like lamb in their cuisine, and so they use minced lamb in their dolmades. Egyptians tend to gravitate towards beef, so they stuff their leaves with ground beef instead. Most Egyptian feasts and get-togethers involve a platter of neatly wrapped grape leaves.”

[Read more…]

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Eggs Benedict: Breakfast Eggs with Charm

Eggs benedictIf you are tired of making scrambled eggs or fried eggs for breakfast, you might want to flex your culinary muscles a bit and try cooking Eggs Benedict. Although the dish sounds quite fancy, it is actually quite “doable” in any ordinary kitchen. You start by lightly toasting an English muffin, and then you top these with bacon and poached eggs. Just before the dish is served, the eggs get a generous dollop of Hollandaise sauce as their crowning glory. There you have a dish fit for royalty!

The History of Eggs Benedict

In “The History of Eggs Benedict, the magazine Kitchen Project – Food History gives several versions of how the dish may have started. One version says, “Eggs Benedict” – 1860s -Credit is given to Delmonico’s Restaurant, the very first restaurant or public dining room ever opened in the United States. In the 1860’s, a regular patron of the restaurant, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, finding nothing to her liking and wanting something new to eat for lunch, discussed this with Delmonico’s Chef Charles Ranhofer (1836-1899). [Read more…]

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The Right Age for the Right Wine

wineMany people have the impression that the older the wine, the better it is. This is far from true; some wines are best consumed young, and most wines do not fare very well beyond five years.

Vinepair makes a definitive stand on aging wine in Aging Wine: Why People Age Wine and When you Should Too when it says: “The industry loves to talk about aging and collecting wines because drinking a really old wine has a romantic allure. An old wine gives us a way to re-experience a year that was special in our memory, maybe the year of our birth or anniversary, or drink a wine that comes from a time we may never even have lived. On top of this, when a wine that was meant to be aged is drunk, the aging of the wine helps create flavors and textures we would never have experienced had the wine not undergone aging.” [Read more…]

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Ouzo – the Distinctively Greek Aperitif


Credit: Dominic Lockyer /

Like moussaka, Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, and Feta cheese, ouzo automatically brings on thoughts of Greece. Made from pressed grapes, berries, various herbs and spices, ouzo is Greece’s national drink.

How Ouzo Came to Be

The companies that produce ouzo each have their own closely guarded recipe for this drink, but in varying amounts, the ingredients include mint, wintergreen, fennel, hazelnut, and of course, anise. On October 25, 2006, ouzo became a product with a Protected Designation of Origin, and only Greece and Cyprus have had the exclusive right to use the name ouzo.

This drink was fist brewed in the 14th century by monks who were making tsiporo, which is distilled from the freshly pressed juice of grapes. This juice, also called must, contains the fruit’s seeds, skin, and even the stems. It is said that some of the wine brewed in the Mt. Athos monastery was flavored with anise, and eventually this version was named ouzo.

The anise in this drink made it similar in flavor to absinthe, a drink that was highly popular, particularly among the French in the 1800s. Like absinthe, ouzo has a licorice-like taste. When absinthe was banned in the early 1900s, ouzo became a natural substitute. The rest, as they say, is history. [Read more…]

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Wines that Go Well with Spice and Heat

WinesThere is a general perception that spicy foods are difficult to pair with wines, but this is not completely true. While it may require more effort to find the right wine for foods that have more than their share of heat and flavor, there are wines that will wash the palate pleasantly and provide just the right refreshing contrast.

Why Wines Can Work with Spice

Few people bother to look for the right wine when they serve spicy foods, and most hosts will bring out the beer for their guests. Actually, there are several reasons why wine can be paired very appropriately with foods that pack a lot of heat.

Wine, particularly those that are fruity and sweet, can neutralize the heat in spicy foods. This allows the other flavors in a dish to become more distinguishable. The acidity of wine can also allow the different flavors of a dish to mellow and harmonize. [Read more…]

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Brunch and Wine Pairing Just as the Sun Rises

Brunch with wineDrinking at breakfast sounds odd, even bizarre. But during the weekends when your breakfast isn’t too early (or brunch), the right pairing with what is served – pancakes, eggs, burgers or some other breakfast concoctions  – can lend the morning meal some heartiness. Jim Clarke’s Drinking in the Morning at Star Chef’s Easter Brunch suggests it is great for Easter. Though anyone who loves having a great morning or weekend, can find the suggestion a welcome one. Clarke says,

“… We typically pay tribute to our breakfasty beverages by supercharging them—OJ becomes a mimosa; tomato juice, a bloody mary. Coffee remains unadulterated—the caffeinated counterbalance to your morning alcohol—but do we really need to cut our alcohol with fruit juice to make it socially acceptable?”

Light Choices for Egg-based Breakfast

No, vodka or whiskey or anything as hard is not suggested with eggs benedict or any light dish for breakfast. Rather, lighter stuff is suggested to make decent pairings at this time of the day; Champagne with orange juice, citrusy Chardonnay or any sparkling wine pairing with omelets, quiches and egg benedict. [Read more…]

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