In Bodum Salt Sisters

Flavor Invasions: Salt Sisters and Bodum Ceylon Ice-Tea Maker

I used to inhale.  No not that kind of inhaling!  I'm talking food.  My intense love of food at one point in my life had me eating without really tasting.  It was only after I got older that I realized what I missing in swallowing a full course meal in the amount of time it takes one to leave home to go to the restaurant, eat the meal then wait for the valet.  So now that I've learned patience in my seasoned 30's, I'm now all into what I've been missing.  The flavor, the ingredients, the combinations, the results of the infusions of flavor.  

I had the recent pleasure of discovering two very distinct culinary delights that focus on flavor that, I must say, were really notable flavor producers.  The first was Salt Sisters, a wonderful collection of everyday salts and seasonings named after the founder Charmane Skillen's daughters Sydney, Alexis, Lauren and Taylor.  Whether you're baking, marinating or seasoning, Salt Sisters has got your pallet covered.  Skillen has six flavor sections (classic s.a.l.t., flavored s.a.l.t., h.e.r.b., c.a.n.e., r.u.b.s. and  b.e.a.n.) with a wide array of combinations in each, that will wake up a variety of savory and sweet dishes not mention add a bit of a zing to cocktails.  Her b.e.a.n. section consists of an airtight bottle that houses the best vanilla beans which you can fill with any kind of liquor.  Here are some samplings:

The next flavor explosion came from a kitchenware staple Bodum.  At a recent Cooking and Entertaining Showcase I fell in love with their Ceylon Iced Tea Maker and Jug.  However, don't let the name fool you.  It's not just for tea.  The slits on one side cause the water to infuse into the other side that houses the flavor, which can be anything from tea leaves to fruit to cinnamon.  The water side also doesn't have to house just water either.  Try any spirit for a flavored cocktail or any wine for any festive sangria.  The possibilities are endless and so are the flavors.

Visit Salt Sister's website for all the various kinds of salts and flavorings and some creative recipes and visit, or for Bodum's Ceylon.  Taste bud awakening guaranteed.

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In Land's End Canvas Lands' End Mens Spring/Summer 2013 Review Womens Spring/Summer 2013 Review

Mail-Order Modern: Land's End Canvas Spring/Summer 2013 Preview

Catalog ordering has come a long way since the late 80's.  Why pinpoint that time in history?  It represents a time when a cool pair of acid-washed jeans or an Ocean Pacific rugby shirt was just a phone call and countless days of begging to my mom away.  The Sears and Spiegel catalogs were my link to attainable fashion before the days of my 'independent working high school student' thing.  Not that my brother had bad style, I just needed to begin to cultivate my own and hand-me-downs were no longer acceptable.  Fit became an issue due to my brother's larger size and with my 'In need of a few meals' frame, I needed to build up my closet.  Having a tailor as a father was a convenience as I quickly realized that not everything I ordered fit like the scrubbed Cali-blond 11 year old skater donning it in the catalog.

Well catalog ordering still exists and has thankfully evolved into on-line ordering as well.  There seems a movement now to make on-line ordering more of a painless out-of-store experience centered around lifestyle and plausibility.  Clothing that makes you not have to think too hard but still satisfies several wardrobe needs is quite plausible in this modern, fast-paced, multitasking internet age.  Getting the details such as color, fit and neutrality just right is very appealing to the modern shopper as it creates a way for them to either feel perfectly in compliance or makes a safe pallet on which to build upon creatively.  There is a large consensus of us who want our clothing to continue to build on our current mindset so it's great that companies like Land's End and in particular their Canvas Collection serve to create a sense of ease.

It's that ease that continues to make the online/catalog ordering experience one that makes the consumer not necessarily miss a retail store.  Land's End Canvas is a trim update of the Land's End aesthetic with a modern approach to color, print, fit, trend and the marketability of it all.  For Spring 2013 the story continues to be one that has chapters of great ready to wear separates that one can incorporate into their already existing wardrobe, create a new full wardrobe and also incorporate into their already functional lifestyles.

Some highlights this season from Canvas are pigments dyed khakis for men and women that create depth and a subtle textural appeal to the traditional fabric.  There is a great story in the combination of muted color prints with solid bold and sherbet colors all accentuated with little colored accents in the form of belts, facings and trimmings.  Two favorite womenswear highlights were a delightful pair of eyelet shorts in the most sweetest of confectionary color combinations and a super easy to wear shirtdress in a tribal print that is feasible to be worn as a dress with a great gladiator sandal or with slim pegged trousers and cozy foldable ballet flats or moccasins.  A couple of cool menswear highlights were a color-blocked cardigan made from the fabric remnants off the floor of an Italian mill (how's that for green fashion) and a great cycling jacket with hidden treasures like button back hems, discreet documents pockets and armholes that allow great ease of motion while riding.

This Canvas collection from its great shrunken sweatshirts to the chambray accented details on many items has made me fall in love with Land's End aesthetic again.  Affordable, easy yet stylish clothing to build upon with a good fit for everyone from the modern informed 'fashionably conscious' to 'regular Joes (and Joannes)' alike.

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In Cockspur Fine Rum Comandon Diablito Mezcal Iceberg Vodka Quinta De Gomez Tequila SDS Enterprises Shaw Vineyards Winetasting

Comfort in the Storm: Autumn 2012 Tasting From SDS Enterprises

Cooped up in the crib from Hurricane Sandy?  Nerves a wreck?  The perfect time for a glass of wine.  If you're anything like me, a nice glass of wine relaxes and soothes the savage beast that a thing like being forced to eat canned goods or losing the ability to tweet, pin or google brings about.  People have the tendency to want to horde beer when they expect to be stranded at home for a few days but a few good bottles of wine waxes 'cool and cosmopolitan' over 'wasted and fratboy'.

My never-ending quest to discover my modern comfort foods drove me to attend a wine and spirits tasting sponsored by SDS Enterprises a couple weeks ago.  I can now assuredly say that I have a few more selections to add to my comfort roster.

The intimate autumn tasting gave me some new favorites and introduced me to some fabulous firsts.  Shaw Vineyard is located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State and is run by Steve Shaw, a 30-year veteran winemaker who offered his wonderfully flavorful wines for the tasting.  His vineyard produces a smooth and slightly tart Cabernet Franc 2007 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 that is also tart and a touch acidic with the faintest hint of citrus notes.  Also on the roster was a Keuka Hill Reserve 2007, a kind of Cab-Sav, Cab-Franc, Merlot blend that was definitely smooth with a half sweet, half tart, a touch woody and more cultured flavor.  My favorite red was Shaw's Pinot Noir 2008, which had a slightly spicy flavor with a touch of sweet and very gratifying finish.  Now onto the whites.  Shaw Vineyards offered up a Reisling 2008 that was fresh and light with slightly sweet notes and a crisp acidic finish.  The Sauvignon Blanc 2011, my favorite of the whites, was incredibly smooth and refreshing with a sweet undertone, bite of tart and great aromatics.  Finishing the whites was Li Bella Pinot Grigio 2010 from Shaw's Seneca Lake Vineyard that was light crisp, smooth and more delicate but also a touch more sweeter than the other two whites.  Some great wines to get cozy with from Shaw Vineyards.

The spirits were also in the house in the forms of Vodka, Tequila, Rum, Mezcal and Cognac.  Iceberg Vodka is a smooth and crisp vodka with a surprisingly slightly sweet subtle taste.  Cockspur Rum is a very spicy rum with a sweet aroma that would make one helluva cocktail with island fruity flavors like coconut or pineapple or earthy fragrant spices like nutmeg or cinnamon.  Next I went south of the border with Quinta De Gomez, a Mexican tequila that was a touch sweet with a smooth slightly sweet and pleasant taste great for mixing.  It's cousin mezcal was on-hand from a company called El Diablito.  This was my first time having a mezcal and it had a smooth and woody flavor that was almost coffee-like in its earthiness.  My last 'first' was a trio of cognacs from Comandon, a French cognac that is easy to see why it's been voted the world's best tasting cognac.  The flavors differ between the three since each is aged longer than the last.  Comandon V.S. had a taste that right off reminded me of the holidays and the flavors my mom would put into her West Indian fruitcakes.  The tone was sweet and freshly spicy with a very pleasant aroma.  Comandon V.S.O.P. was a touch more sweet where V.S. was spicy but still had a distinct deep flavor.  My fave was Comandon X.O..  The fragrantly sweet aroma draws you in with a scent reminiscent of molasses and hits the palette with equal parts sweet, woodsy and spicy.  I am now an official cognac lover.

My quest for comfort foods were definitely satisfied that evening with flavors that were not only some of the best but also wonderful flavors to relax the mind and help one unwind after a long day.   I went and grabbed some pizza with friends after the tasting and although pretty liquored up, I longed for the cozy flavors to accompany my cheesy comforting delight.  Lesson learned:  Comfort foods must stick together.  Enjoy and drink responsibly.

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