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Gourmet Tour – Favorite Vacation Spots!
For the first time in many years, Mike and I are not escaping Minnesota for a winter vacation. So we decided to cheer ourselves up by taking a Gourmet Tour of Favorite Vacation Spots. The members of our Gourmet Group were asked to select a recipe that embraced a favorite get-a-way location. This provided a great deal of latitude and creativity for each couple.
Another first, was the decision to include 2 guest couples at our little gathering. Of course we had to include Rick & Tracey, a returning guest couple who have joined us numerous times in the past. The second couple, were newbies Jeff and Bridget, my brother and sister-in-law. This mix of couples turned out to be a smashing success! In fact, we agreed to continue meeting as the new “official” gourmet group going forward. Very cool. ❤️
First Stop – Appetizers from Italy
Our tour starts in Italy, where Jeff & Bridget took in the amazing sights of Venice on a recent cruise (when the dense fog finally allowed them to disembark!) There’s no place quite like Venice and Jeff and Bridget enjoyed it so much they hope to return some day. With this experience fresh in their minds, they choose an Italian theme for the appetizer – Italian Pressed Brick Sandwiches and a classic Italian cocktail, an Aperol Spritz. Bellissimo!
Second Stop – Soup from Ireland
Rick and Tracey said this was a tough assignment because they’ve had many wonderful vacations. After some pondering, they finally selected Ireland. In addition to enjoying their travels on the Emerald Isle, Rick & Tracey also sponsored a young lad from Ireland in their home for years. This cross-cultural exchange helped cement a fondness for all things Irish. We were quite fond of their warm and hearty Irish Potato Soup with Cheese and Red Ale. The perfect 1st course on a cold winter night!
Third Stop – Main Course from Hawaii
It was easy for Mike and I to choose Hawaii as one of our favorite places. After 10 or more trips (I lose track) we have never tired of this tropical paradise. Last year, I celebrated famed Hawaiian chef Bev Gannon, by putting my spin on her Macadamia Crusted Fresh Catch with Tropical Butter Sauce. For this dinner party, I paired the fish with a Savory Coconut Rice. The crushed red pepper from this rice dish contrasted perfectly with the rich and fruity butter sauce. Note – the rice recipe says it serves 4, but I easily served 8 people. Sugar snap peas sauteed with lemon olive oil and topped with toasted sesame seeds completed the main course.
Fourth Stop – Dessert from St. Thomas (a favorite beach)
Brian and Lynda had the challenge of selecting a dessert that would delight and impress, but also lean toward the lighter side. They nailed it! By taking inspiration from a variety of beach vacations, (St. Thomas being their personal favorite), they came up with these beautiful creations. Lynda said this is an old favorite she’s made many times in the past and thought the gourmet group would also enjoy. After lining sea shell-shaped molds (say that 10 times fast!) with plastic wrap, Linda paints them with several layers of white chocolate. Once they firm up in the freezer, she removes the chocolate shell and fills them with Dark Chocolate Mousse and serves them with a decorative drizzle of Raspberry Coulis Sauce. Almost too pretty to eat. But eat them we did. Yummy!
I confess, I get so caught up in hosting and cooking sometimes, I neglect to take pictures of all my lovely guests. To fill the gap this time, I dredged up a picture of Mike and I from last year’s trip to Hawaii. For Lynda and Brian, I trolled their Facebook pages for a shot that looked like it came from an island vacation and borrowed that. Hopefully they won’t hit me with a copyright lawsuit. 😉
Enjoy the highlights below from our Gourmet Tour of Favorite Vacation Spots and the recipe links sprinkled throughout this post. Mahalo!