The Wiley and Elusive Flatbread

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I don’t know about you, but I’m a crooked, lopsided crust kind of lady. I like a flat bread crust to mirror my personality. So when I’m rolling dough, I stretch it to the very outskirts of the pizza stone, lapping over the edges like a melting Dali clock. Yet somehow my crust always turns into the Stay Puft man once I pop it in the oven. It doesn’t giggle and hold it’s tummy like Stay Puft’s doughy counterpart, Poppin’ Fresh, it expands until it’s ready to rampage the city as it is possessed by a demonic Sumerian deity.

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All That Bubbles Is Not Champagne

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Cassandra: I don’t believe I’ve ever had French champagne before…
Benjamin Kane: Oh, actually all champagne is French, it’s named after the region. Otherwise it’s sparkling white wine. Americans of course don’t recognize the convention, so it becomes that thing of calling all of their sparkling white “champagne”, even though by definition they’re not.
Wayne Campbell: Ah yes, it’s a lot like “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. In many ways it’s superior but will never be as recognized as the original.

-Wayne’s World

Thank you, Benjamin Kane, AKA Rob Lowe, for explaining the difference between champagne and sparkling wine in basic terms so I don’t have to. There’s a lot more to the world of sparkling wines, however. Here is a very basic rundown.

Photo Credit: Chris Chapman

First of all, there are two popular methods of production, Methode Champensoise (or Methode Traditionelle), and the charmat (Italian, cuve close, or bulk process) method.

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Iceland for Vegetarians and Cheapskates

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Between reading Iceland Wants to Be Your Friend, and riding on IcelandAir at Christmas time, I’ve come to the conclusion that Iceland is a very cute country. Perhaps this cuteness is a visceral response to their climate and the vast, volcanic wilderness of their land, but the Icelandic people are pretty good at making a place cozy. When I came back to the U.S. midwinter (to Boston and Philadelphia to make matters colder), I sorely missed heated floors, heated towel racks, heated lagoons, fluffy Scandinavian duvets, tiny horses, and pervasive hot coffee served with all manner of crackers for breakfast.

Photo Credit: Thomas TernanA heated Skaftefell glacier, however, is never a good thing.

Of course, after a few meals, cheese, crackers, granola, and skyr get pretty old. Iceland is known for their cuisine, but not in the way that Italy and France are known for theirs. Let’s examine a few facts you should know before dining in Iceland as a vegetarian or a cheapskate like me:

1. It’s expensive.

No, it’s not just pricey, it’s insane. A cup of coffee and a croissant might run you $8-10 U.S. So if you’re living paycheck to paycheck as is, don’t expect to spend much time at any fine dining institutions or boutique eateries.

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No Pierdas el Tiro: Piñata Cakes for Summer

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The funny thing about current technology is that the further live under a rock, the more you often see of the world. For instance, if you’ve been hiding out at home immersing yourself in Pinterest all day, you’ve surely seen this year’s batch of popular “piñata cakes”. I’ve dubbed these confections as such because of their propensity to spew candy when you slice into them. I’ve seen them in all shapes, too. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this ovoid/spherical cake from A Subtle Revelry.

Photo Credit: A Subtle Revelry

This thing is insane! As a Creative Director, blogger, and mom to twin toddlers, Victoria Hudgins knows what she’s doing. I’m pleased that she posted her tutorial or I would have gone mad trying to figure this one out.

For those of us less inclined to carve a cake into a beautiful shape, this traditional cylinder cake found at My Honey’s Place might be more realistic. Plus, you can fill the inside with pink or blue (or purple!) candies for your baby’s gender reveal party. Cut through that sweet, sweet frosting to let everyone know you have another bun in your oven.

Photo Credit: My Honey's Place

Just add sprinkles and M&Ms in your color of choice for the innards. You can order customized M&Ms direct from their site. So why not include the baby’s name, or to be really personal, a composite image of your and your mate’s faces to show everyone what the baby will look like? Even Martha can’t make this stuff up.

While you’re here, check out Dram & Morsel on Pinterest for more of my favorite caketacular ideas!

Your Very Own Champagne Playlist

Photo Credit: faberzeus.tirage-artAs we find ourselves in the midst of Valentines, we’re finding more reasons to pop a cork (or sabre a bottle) to share some bubbly with the people we love, hopefully without putting out an eye. As with all merry and joyous occasions, it helps to have a good playlist to match the mood and the food, and to make your sparkling wine that much more enjoyable.

In the days ahead, download some of these songs in iTunes, or set them up in Spotify so that you’ll always have the perfect backdrop whether you’re nomming on some cherry cordials or lamenting this human emotion called “wuv” that confuses and infuriates us.

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A Cherry On Top: Feel Good Bites to Get Through The Last Weeks of Winter

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vegan_feast_catering_cherryblondieAs this drippy, snowy February wears onward, it’s hard not to to get wrapped up in contagious symptoms and sloppy weather. When the temperatures get cold and the afternoons blustery, we have two choices, ride out the remaining weeks of winter in misery, or perk up. If we want to stay optimistic, we’ll just have to bust out a bottle of Prosecco, a sprinkly cake, some spring flowers, and maybe a bottle of electric coral nail polish (if you’re into that sort of thing). At least, that is, until the season is ripe for mango salsa and agua fresca!

Since I’ve been achy, sneezy, and red nosed for four days now, I’m in need of some cheery snacks to make laying on the couch with the sniffles a little less unbearable. When I think of happy foods the first things that come to mind are birthday cake, curly fries, chocolate milk with a curly straw, and a peach bellini with a cherry on top. You’ll need something more hydrating and healthful if you’ve caught your death of cold, however. So I’ve separated my Compendium of Happiness into two categories, cheery foods for sickies and healthy people who just need a pick-me-up to stave off the winter blues.

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Bacchus and Ixcacao, Together at Last

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Credit: Cacaobug via Flickr

If Ixcacao were taking tributes, I’d volunteer.

We generally see wine and chocolate as the perfect pair, right? They’re both foods we tend to consume in excess, both often rich and voluminous in flavor and texture. Despite their individual greatness, however, wine and chocolate can really get at each others’ throats. Like Bacchus (or Dionysus), the Roman god of wine, and Ixcacao, the Mayan goddess of chocolate, the two favorites seem like they’re from entirely separate worlds. In fact, there are a number of problems that can prevent a wine and chocolate from being compatible.

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Inside My Blue Veins

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Credit: Niznoz via Flickr

Meet the world title holder for least photogenic cheese.

It may have a stench and flavor that only a mother can love, but we can all agree that blue cheese is serious business. There’s nothing funny about the pungent aroma and flavor of a quality Gorgonzola, Cambozola, Stilton, Roquefort, or Maytag. It’s not Limburger, people. You can’t laugh at a blue cheese for smelling like farts.

A Brief History of Cutting the Cheese

Of course, the first time you taste a blue cheese, what are the odds you’ll actually like it? You may have had your first bite as a child and thought it must be a cruel joke. You looked at the cheese laden dish like someone had just handed you a wad of wasabi and told you it was guacamole. The presence of this abomination must surely be accidental. Who would label a moldy cheese for human consumption?

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Picking Out Champagne Flutes

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Photo Credit: Dinner Series via Flickr

Don’t mind us. We’re just chillin’.

Picking out wine glasses isn’t as easy as picking your nose. No, that’s not acceptable in the process at all, but I doubt that it will really get you kicked out of Crate & Barrel. Recently I’ve been scouring my usual stores waiting for sales on the nice champagne flutes. You know, the ones made somewhere winey…like Germany…that have that perfect swoop to their sides and taper off to a nice thin edge at the top. Moderately priced flutes can run anywhere between $5-12 and come in some really slick shapes. The problem is, I don’t know the difference. Continue reading

Yay, Viognier!

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Try viognier for a great summer white wine.

With the Summer heat-wave well upon us, I bet we’re all looking for that perfect Summer wine to complement a dish of pasta salad or cool gelato. Unfortunately, I always hear people say they’re “more of a red wine person”. To an extent I can understand the sentiment. I was always a big Cab fan until I found the right white. A close friend put it best when we were trying to decipher the difference between the brut (our favorite) and a bottle of cheap-ass, extra-dry Champagne. Pouring each into separate glasses for critical analysis (FOR SCIENCE!), she exclaimed the extra-dry “tastes like Sweet Tarts”.

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