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 – Signature restaurant revels in local, organic and humanely raised provisions, with new menu for 2009 by Executive Chef Mark Timms – 

 ** Green Mountain culinary landscape both shaken and stirred by
James Bond Martini appetizer with molecular olives **

Winter is shaping up as a season of renewal in the Green Mountains of Vermont, as Norma’s, the signature restaurant at Topnotch Resort and Spa, embraces a “new food attitude” based entirely on the finest local, organic provisions. A highlight of any visit to the village of Stowe, the patio-style restaurant recently revealed a new menu for the winter season by Executive Chef Mark Timms including a James Bond Martini appetizer ripe with molecular olives. With its steady focus on locally grown, organic produce and hormone-free, humanely raised meats, Norma’s is on the forefront of wholesome, eco-conscious dining that is currently sweeping the States.


“We strive for excellence at Norma’s, both in what we serve and how we prepare it,” said Chef Timms, an award-winning chef who joined Topnotch from the Lodge at Woodloch Spa in late 2008. “Our raw ingredients are selected only under stringent conditions, such as produce grown locally and organically and meats that are farm-raised without hormones or inhumane practices. We also affiliate ourselves with local organizations committed to these philosophies, such as the Vermont Fresh Network, VT Highland Cattle Company, Misty Knoll Farm and Pete’s Greens, and seek to foster new relations with companies dedicated to it. We are committed to a ‘new food attitude,’ in other words, as well as to those who embrace it.”


Drawing on his experience as a Consulting Chef at the Lodge at Woodloch Spa, where he earned “Best for Spa Cuisine” from Condé Nast Traveler in 2008, Timms has also created an enticing selection of healthy spa-style dishes for Norma’s.  Dishes include Indonesian Peanut and Celery Soup; Tom Thumb Greens with roasted pecans, pears, blue cheese and cranberry vinaigrette; Oi’s Veggie Rolls with spicy Thai dipping sauce; and Bison Cubed Steak with fresh figs, garlic-chive mashers and blueberry demi-glace, among other delights.


For those who like their appetizers with an edge, the new James Bond Molecular Martini, which includes a molecular olive served in a martini with Osetra caviar and bilini, molecular rum and Coke caviar, and a chocolate-hazelnut cigar, is as sharp as a steak knife.  Molecular cuisine is the latest development to blend food art and science at the dinner table by taking everyday ingredients and changing their molecular profile.  That means the olive in this particular martini maintains the flavor of an olive, but its molecular make-up has been altered to give it the consistency of ravioli.  And the rum and Coke has been carefully “jellified” to the consistency of caviar. At $75 a pop, the James Bond Martini makes a pretty good conversation starter, too.


For dinner, settle down before views of Mount Mansfield and an open-display kitchen to peruse Chef Timms’ commitment to wholesome, healthful and inventive dining. The innovations roll out right from the get-go with dishes including Osso Buco with orange and lemon gremolata, creamy chive, whipped potato and country croutons; Grilled Rack of Lamb from White Clove Sheep Farm, VT, with duck jus lentils; as well as Olive Oil Poached Escolar with smoked salmon and salsify “tagliatelle” mango ketchup, orange vanilla crème anglaise and Day Boat Diver Scallops with sweet potato-mushroom risotto and edamame cappuccino.


The dessert menu at Norma’s by Pastry Chef Veronica Wirth provides sweet finish to any dining experience, with enticements such as a decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Dome and luscious Pumpkin Soufflé.


Anticipate the tastiest winter yet at Norma’s restaurant at Topnotch Resort and Spa – reservations recommended.www.topnotchresort.com.



Piero Selvaggio and Chef Tommaso Tarantino Present the City’s Most Romantic Evening

As Valentino proudly celebrates its 36th anniversary, owner Piero Selvaggiopresents the restaurant’s famed Festa di San Valentino, honoring the international day of love with a spectacular tasting menu to seduce the senses on Saturday, February 14, 2009. Since its debut, Valentino’s reputation for food, wine and elegant service has been synonymous with romance in Los Angeles.


Valentino Chef de Cuisine Tommaso Tarantino, whose signature is a bold approach to both classic and contemporary Italian cuisine, has designed a sumptuous four course tasting menu using the finest artisanal and organic products from the United States and Europe.


Beginning the meal is a selection from several Antipasti e Insalate –  Apulian Burrata with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil-Infused Oil, Ahi Tuna Carpaccio with Sicilian Caponata in Citrus Dressing, Jumbo Shrimp Wrapped in Swordfish with Garlic-Tomato Sauce, Maine Lobster Salad with Blood Orange Dressing or Duckling Crespelle and Mostarda di Cremona. A course of Paste, including Swiss Chard and Ricotta Cappellacci, Tortelli 3-ways: Veal, Pork and Beef, Housemade Garganelli with Bolognese Ragù or Risotto Vialone Nano with Lamb, Thyme and Goat Cheese follows.   Guests may select main courses among Maine Diver Scallops with Chanterelles in Lobster Broth, Grilled Branzino Filet with Artichoke Ragù, Roasted Napa Valley Quail with Umbrian Black Truffles, Colorado Lamb Chop in Red Wine

and Gorgonzola or Australian Kobe Beef Filet in Tuscan ‘Mosto Cotto.’


Pastry Chef Davide Giova has designed a dessert extravaganza befitting the holiday to conclude the meal, accompanied with Italian traditional Perugina Baci from Umbria, the dark chocolate and hazelnut ‘kisses’ wrapped in love notes written in four languages.


With its intimate dining rooms, unsurpassed wine cellar, and the consummate graciousness of owner Piero Selvaggio, Valentino remains the favored destination to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day.  Valentino has consistently been named among the city’s most romantic restaurants by journalists and travel guides; the restaurant was awarded one of the Top Romantic Restaurants in Los Angeles by Gayot.com in 2007.


La Festa di San Valentino is priced at $95, with an optional wine pairing from Piero’s prized wine cellar at $55 per guest.  Reservations for the holiday are offered continuously from 4:00 p.m. and may be made by phone or on the internet at www.valentinorestaurantgroup.com or www.OpenTable.com.



Roy’s Affordable Winter Prix Fixe Menu


A delectable fusion of the freshest winter flavors, the menu was specially designed by Director of Chefs, Gordon Hopkins as tribute to the spirit of Roy's dedication to fresh, bold, seasonal flavors.


                  Available January 12 through March 31, 2009

                  First Course (Choice of One): 

Pulehu Style “Kalbi” Sirloin, Kimchee & Edamame Fried Rice


Seafood Chowder, Shell & Fin Fish


Crispy Chicken Katsu Salad, Creamy Asian Ranch Dressing


Second Course (Choice of One):

                              Blackened Shrimp, Creamy Polenta, Garlic Spinach, Lemon, Herb Caper sauce


                              Flat-Top Grilled Salmon Steak, Wasabi, Shiitake Pan Sauce


                              Tender Braised Pork Pot Roast, Pork Jus & Creamed Corn sauce


                              “Hawaii Kai” Style Beef Short Ribs, Served with a Natural Braising Sauce


Third Course (Choice of One)

Roy's Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé


Warm Banana Crème Brulee Tart


                $35 per person (tax and gratuity not included)


            Please visit www.roysrestaurant.com for your nearest restaurant.


First introduced in Honolulu by James Beard award winner Chef Roy Yamaguchi

Roy’s has become well known throughout the world for its Hawaiian Fusion®

Cuisine  featuring the freshest local ingredients, European sauces and bold Asian

spices, with a focus on seafood.

Dining in New York City launches in U.S. market
Sleek and stylish restaurant guide features 40 of New York City’s finest

Dining in New York City: Best Chef Edition, an elegant, hardcover collection of 40 of New York City’s most highly-rated restaurants, is now available on amazon.com.  Created and designed by acclaimed Dutch photographer Jan Bartelsman, the book is a comprehensive fine dining restaurant guide and a work of art that captures New York City’s top restaurants and chefs in stunning color photographs.   

The 256 pages are interspersed with articles by noted food writers from both sides of the Atlantic. They include Vogue’s Jeffrey Steingarten, 3 Michelin-star deLibrije co-owner and author Thérèse Boer from the Netherlands, and Reed Business Publications’ Ronald Huiskamp, among others.   

Bartelsman’s love of food and the restaurants of New York City inspired him to create this limited-edition guide. The Dining in New York City selection highlights culinary luminaries in their restaurants:  Daniel Boulud, Wiley Dufresne, Eric Ripert and Jean-Georges Vongerichten to name a few.

“New York City is the greatest place in the world for food lovers and this book represents the culinary leaders that make it a top destination for fine dining.” said Jan Bartelsman, owner Fotostudio Jan Bartelsman.   

The stylish volume makes an elegant gift and its 5” x 7” format also travels well.  Customized covers with business name and logo are available for the corporate gift buyer. Dining in New York City is available on amazon.com for $19.95 and through jcwpr.com for bulk and customized orders.  Samples of the book are available upon request.

Bartelsman plans to expand the collection with other top U.S. food cities in 2009.

Last call - Rio Star grapefruit recipe challenge
Home cooks and professionals vie for cash during National Grapefruit Month

Each year, February is celebrated as American Heart Month, Sweet Potato Month, National Cherry Month, Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month and National Grapefruit Month among many other special events.

What do these colorful orange and red foods have in common? They (and other richly-colored fruits and vegetables) are recognized and appreciated like never before for their positive contributions to heart-healthy diets and positive lifestyles – perfect choices to honor American Heart Month.

The producers of Texas Rio Star grapefruit are celebrating grapefruit month by sponsoring a national recipe contest for consumers and professional cooks in the US and Canada. A total of $5,000 in prize money has been allocated to contest winners. The objective is to call greater awareness regarding the versatility of Rio Star, a unique variety of grapefruit. It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

The deadline for recipe entries is February 15. Rules and a contest entry form may be found at www.riostarchallenge.com. The co-sponsor of the Rio Star Grapefruit Challenge is Taste of the South magazine.

“From selecting the freshest fruits and vegetables to learning from the region's outstanding chefs, loyal Taste of the South readers from all states tell us the topics found in this culinary-focused magazine make it an indispensable kitchen reference,” said the magazine’s editor, Lorna Reeves.

“We are honored to partner with the professional staff of Taste of the South magazine for our first recipe contest. Their expertise and dedication to high quality are a compliment to the citrus growers in Texas,” said Eleisha Ensign, executive director and spokesperson for TexaSweet Citrus Marketing.

“The support of Taste of the South is definitely driving interest. We’ve received several hundred recipe entries so far and are anticipating a last-minute rush to meet the cut-off-date. It seems some of us need the pressure of a deadline to follow through, whether it’s for a recipe contest or turning in an income tax return,” Ensign continued.

Contest entry forms and rules may be requested by writing to Texas Rio Star Grapefruit Challenge, 901 Business Park Drive, Ste. 100, Mission, Texas 78572. Enclose a self-addressed-stamped envelope.

Rio Star grapefruit is a variety that combines the two reddest varieties – Rio Red and Star Ruby. It has an overall blush on the exterior peel with a deep red interior color that is seven to 10 times redder than the Ruby Red.

Rio Star is in the marketplace from October through May. The peak months of the season are February, March and April. It is distributed nationally and exported to Canada and other countries each season.

Each piece of fruit will display a Rio Star sticker ensuring its authenticity. Grapefruit that feels heavy for its size signals that it contains a lot of juice. “Tropical Beauty Marks,” or blemishes on the outer rind, are caused by gentle breezes, common in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. These blemishes do not affect the quality and flavor of the fruit inside.

“The Rio Star variety is very red, sweet and juicy. Grapefruit lovers look forward to seeing Rio Star in local stores each winter. These grapefruit are 10 times redder than the well-known, Ruby Red variety, ” said Ensign.

Rio Star grapefruit is grown exclusively in the southern-most tip of Texas. It is tree-ripened and handpicked to ensure superior quality throughout the season.

Editor note: Generic and recipe photography is available at www.texasweet.com.

Texas Rio Star Grapefruit & Chicken Pita Pocket
This healthy hand-held sandwich is a perfect tribute to National Grapefruit Month

1 Rio Star grapefruit, sectioned
Texas Rio Star Grapefruit & Chicken Pita Pocket
This healthy hand-held sandwich is a perfect choice during American Heart Month and National Grapefruit Month. For a high-resolution photo, click here.
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped celery
½ teaspoon pepper
4 pita rounds, cut crosswise in half

Mix grapefruit, chicken and almonds in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, parsley, celery and pepper; mix lightly. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until ready to serve. Divide mixture equally into each pita pocket just before serving.
Makes 4 servings.

Note: Pita bread is a flat bread, sometimes called pocket bread. It may be made of white or whole-wheat flour. Each round splits horizontally to form a pocket into which ingredients can be stuffed to make a sandwich.


February is Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month
It's a celebration! Just in time for Valentine's Day gift giving.

Fresh strawberries in February? Though it’s cold and dreary in many parts of the country, February is fabulous in Florida where strawberry farmers are harvesting their winter crop and shipping handpicked fruit to key markets.

“Strawberries dipped in chocolate or served straight up with a dollop of whipped cream are sure to please the special Valentine in your life,” said Sue Harrell, director of marketing for the Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA) www.FlaStrawberry.com. “It’s a happy coincidence that Valentine’s Day, one of the most popular celebrations in the country, falls during the peak of our season,” she continued.

“We’re finding that consumers are responding favorably to Florida-grown strawberries once they realize that our strawberries are in season now. Our growing region is known internationally as the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.

“We begin harvesting right after Thanksgiving and continue until the end of March. Our marketing programs are giving consumers, chefs and caterers the knowledge and opportunity to purchase Florida’s flavorful, healthy and delicious berries when they least expect them - in the winter. They provide a taste of summer, all winter long.

“We’re celebrating February as Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month to call special attention to winter strawberries. We’re getting the word out this season to as many audiences as possible,” Harrell concluded.

Florida strawberries are rushed to market in refrigerated trucks just hours after picking and packing. Strawberries are versatile in a variety of recipes from salads to shortbread.

Strawberries are easy to eat on the run and have significant nutritional attributes. Eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than one orange. A one-cup serving (about eight to 10 medium-size berries) contains 45 calories and has no fat, cholesterol or sodium. Strawberries contain antioxidants, the natural healthful compound found in many fruits and vegetables.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
It's easier than you think to make this show-stopping gift for a special Valentine. Strawberries dipped in chocolate or champagne are a Valentine's Day delight.

1 pound Florida winter strawberries (preferably with stems)

2 cups dark or milk chocolate chips (12 ounces)

1 ½ tablespoons vegetable shortening (divided use)

¼ cup white chocolate chips

Wash, drain and pat strawberries dry with paper towels. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. In a double boiler, melt dark chocolate chips in 1 tablespoon of the shortening. In another double boiler, melt white chocolate chips with remaining ½ tablespoon shortening. Hold strawberries at stem (or insert wooden toothpick or skewer in each berry) and dip in dark chocolate to cover two-thirds of the berry. Allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place berries on the baking sheet to cool. If desired, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes or until chocolate is set.

Remove baking sheet from refrigerator. Use a toothpick or wooden skewer that has been dipped in the melted white chocolate. Drizzle the white chocolate over the chocolate-dipped strawberries in a zigzag pattern. Remove toothpicks or skewers before serving. Makes 18-24 berries (depending on size). Note: A small electric crock-pot or fondue pot may be used to melt chocolate instead of a double boiler.

Microwave Method:
Place chips in a microwave-safe container. Add shortening. Heat on medium power for 30 seconds. Stir mixture until completely melted and smooth. Continue heating on medium power for additional 30-second intervals. Repeat process until completely melted and smooth. The melted chocolate will retain its chip shape until stirred. Dip berries as described above. Chill in a refrigerator for 15 minutes or until firm.

Short-Cut Method: When time is of the essence, follow package directions and melt one 8-ounce carton of chocolate melting candy wafers (sometimes called melts or discs). These commercial products may be found in the produce section of the supermarket or a variety of colors and flavors may be found at cake decorating outlets.

Tips for Dipping Strawberries
Save loads of cash by dipping strawberries yourself.
It's easy and elegant.

  1. Leave stems and green caps on berries.
  2. To ensure chocolate adheres to berries, make sure strawberries are free of outside moisture. Rinse, drain and carefully pat strawberries with a paper towel until dry.
  3. Be careful. Just one drop of moisture in melted chocolate will cause chocolate to seize (clump and harden).
  4. Chocolate-dipped strawberries are perfect for a romantic evening in, with candlelight and a bottle of wine.
  5. Add multi-colored sprinkles or roll in coconut or chopped nuts to make chocolate-dipped strawberries even more special and delicious.


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