Tag Archives: wine

Unique Steak Experience: Bern’s, Tampa

26 Apr

From the outside, Bern’s Steak House is a plain white building with few windows, marked by a plain sign. However, its size hints at the gastronomic adventure to come. Inside, the many dining rooms of the Steak House are bustling; we sat at the end of the long Rhone Room.


We kicked off our meal with steak tartare and heart-shaped toasts. The regular portion is large enough for 2-3 people to share.

Bern's Steakhouse: steak tartare

Perfectly grilled butterflied shrimp served with two slices of garlic crostini. DSC01573

Unlike most steakhouses of this caliber, steak entrees at Bern’s come with appetizers and sides: French onion soup and a simple garden salad.Bern's: French onion soup Bern's: salad

I ordered a 7 oz Chateaubriand, which arrived a perfect medium-rare as I had requested. The steak had a great crust and a melt-in-your-mouth red interior. It was accompanied by the best fried onion strings I’ve ever had – delicately battered, and not greasy at all. Shredded carrots and sauteed kale were the vegetables of the day – probably not something I would have chosen on my own, but alright.

DSC01581 Continue reading

Summer Sangria

12 Jul

Impress friends with a fresh fruit sangria that looks great in a pitcher and in your glass. Stay cool by making a sangria that costs less than half of what you’d pay at a restaurant.



  • 1 bottle red wine (a cheap Spanish rioja will do)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 can gingerale (nothing beats Canada Dry)
  • 2 oz. brandy


  1. Slice orange, lemon, and lime. Squeeze juice into pitcher. Toss in the rest of the fruit if desired.
  2. Add all other ingredients, stir well, and chill.

Tasting Tour: Waterbury, Vermont

31 Mar

Finish off a weekend of skiing or hiking in Vermont with a couple hours of snacking! My family and I made our way along Route 100, from Waterbury Center south towards the I-89. Here’s where to stop for delicious treats.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

1. Cold Hollow Cider Mill – taste fresh non-alcoholic cider, apple sauce, preserves, and apple butter. Watch dollups of batter drop into a conveyer and into a fryer, coming out as fresh cider donuts – the cider makes them light and airy, with a hint of apple flavour.  Purchase apple pies, or eat hot dogs steamed in cider. The Cider Mill also carries a wide variety of Vermont products – maple syrup, baking products and bakeware, sauces, condiments, and souvenirs.

cider donuts

2. Apple Core Gift Shop and the Grand View Winery – it’s right across the parking lot from the Cider Mill. For a small fee, you can taste some local wines. You’ll also find ornaments, jewelry, t-shirts, and funky socks.

IMAG08173. Cabot Annex Store – this place is a cheese lover’s paradise: a long table in the centre of the store is lined with cheeses to sample while sitting on “cow” barstools complete with pink udders. Cubes of Colby, sharp cheddars, jalapeno cheddar, and Munster are just waiting to be savored! There are fancy cheese boards and knives for purchase, and less fancy cheese shakers for sprinkling on  popcorn. You’ll also find Vermont maple syrup in many flavours, Surrounding the syrup sampling tables you’ll find kids smacking their lips in delight. Other goodies include Vermont fruit wines, almond butters, locally made cheesecakes, and artisan crackers.

4. Lake Champlain Chocolates – this chocolate haven has a few yummy samples on a long counter displaying beautiful, individual chocolates. We sampled the Green Mountain (fruit and nut) chocolate from the “Chocolates of Vermont” collection – it is a heavenly bite of crunchy almonds in  smooth milk chocolate. You’ll find factory seconds at a discount, in addition to the regular priced boxed chocolates that line the shop walls. There’s fudge, ice cream, and drinking chocolate as well, to enjoy on the spot, or to take home in the form of a canister of chocolate mix powder.


IMAG08245. Ben & Jerry’s – You can tour the factory, but since there is no production on weekends, we skipped the tour and perused the gift shop instead. You’ll find vintage ice cream scoops on display, and cool knick knacks like a fake cup of “spilled” ice cream. Panels line the walls, illustrating the company’s history and highlighting their social mission. Then, we indulged in ice cream. Too bad the calorie count is shown beside each menu item… portions are huge, and even a small cup is plenty for two people to share!


Ben and Jerry's

From Ben & Jerry’s you’re just a minute away from I-89, with tummys full and ready for the next destination.

Wine and Valrhona Chocolate Pairings

24 Feb

About a week ago, I volunteered as a food host at a wine and chocolate tasting event at a public television station . It’s not every day you get to see 3 kg bags of Valrhona chocolate feves (small oval chocolate coins). This is high-grade chocolate used by many chefs and chocolatiers!

Valrhona chocolate

Every last drop of wine was finished during the event, and there was none left for the volunteers to try. We did however, get to munch on all the chocolate we could handle! And I did get to see how each chocolate was paired –
now you can re-create your own chocolate and wine night!

Pair sweeter chocolate with sweeter wines, like port and moscato. Pair darker, more bitter chocolate with bolder wine, like cabernet sauvignon.

Pairing #1
Chocolate: Ivoire feves, 35% cacao
Wine: 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé, Veneto, Italy, NV
90+ Cellars is a Boston-based negociant label. Its primary market is the Northeast U.S. Most of their wines are in the $12 – $20 range.

Pairing #2
Chocolate: Jivara feves, 40% cacao
Wine: Offley Port, Portugal
The Jivara is incredibly creamy and smooth. It will win over even the most die-hard dark chocolate fans.

Pairing #3
Chocolate: Manjari feves, 64% cacao
Wine: 90+ Cellars Lot 23 Old Vine Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2010

Pairing #4
Chocolate: Guanaja feves, 70% cacao
Wine: 90+ Cellars Lot 53 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina, 2011
The darker chocolate feves have a delicate crunch when you bite into them.

Pairing #5
Chocolate: Carmelia Milk Chocolate feves, 36% cacao
Wine: Mionetto Il Moscato
The Carmelia have a delicate, smooth, caramel flavour throughout, and are the perfect sweet finish to a chocolate flight.

Valrhona chocolate feves and other chocolate goodies

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