Browsing Tag

tasting party


How To Host A Cookie Swap: Tips from The Creative Mama

Espresso crinkles for a cookie swap

Espresso crinkles for a cookie swap

When my friend mentioned a holiday cookie swap the other day, I immediately said yes, than mentally started sifting through my catalogue of favourite cookies. Sure, it’s only the middle of November, but as Bree Hester of Baked Bree points out, baking takes planning – especially when you have a lengthy holiday “to do” list, multiple events to attend and family and friends to visit.

The idea behind a holiday cookie swap is simple: each participant bakes multiple batches of one type of cookie. Then one participant hosts a get-together and everyone swaps sweets. Not only does it reduces the amount of time spent in the kitchen, but you get to sample and share new recipes with other bakers.

It’s a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. The hardest part – as I’ve quickly learned – is deciding what type of cookie to contribute. Check out Bree’s post on The Creative Mama for more tips on hosting a swap and packaging your sweet treats.

+ Photo: Espresso Crinkles Cookie Recipe from Cooking Light
+ How to Host a Cookie Swap on The Creative Mama


How to Host an Olive Oil Tasting Party

olive oil tasting party planner

olive oil tasting party planner

Hosting a tasting party adds a fun element to a dinner party. But the key is to know how to dose everything, especially when it comes to food. Tasting between 3 or 4 olive oils is plenty for one night, especially if you are newbies.

Try to mix oils from different countries. You do not need to be an expert to host your own tasting party.  Simply stop by a fine speciality shop with a wide selection and ask them to compose an assortment of olive oils that will allow you to taste the differences. I often ask if I can record their advices with my Flip video camera. Otherwise, write down notes. Then, design cute note cards with the characteristics of each olive oil. Each guest should receive their own set of cards. Leave some room for them to write down their impressions.

Preparing the Tasting

You start the night with the tasting. They replace the appetizers of a typical dinner party. Then, move to a dinner with Mediterranean cuisine recipes to stay in the theme.

Do a test run of the olive oil tasting to practice the technique and see that everything will be properly in place. As a bonus, you will know how filling is the tasting part and know how much food you need to prepare for the dinner part.

Prepare plenty of small glasses since the best way to taste an olive oil. You will see that the technique resembles wine tasting.

  • Pour about 1 tablespoon into a small glass
  • Like with wine, you swirl your glass to release the flavor
  • Then, you inhale and pay attention to the smell
  • Next, you slurp the oil until you capture a small amount
  • Finish by swallowing the oil. Try to notice if it leaves a stinging sensation in your throat. That last part is to determine the intensity of the oil’s pungency.
  • For more information, read the easy to follow advices of U.S. tasting expert Nancy Ash.

If you feel less adventurous, set up a dipping bowl for every olive oil. Then, the guest can taste the oil with piece of white Ficelle (thinner baguette) bread.

Whatever method you use, make sure to cut slices of Granny Smith apples and serve glasses of water. You eat an apple slice and drink some water between each sample to clean your palate.

Rhodes olive oil cruet

Tabletop Design

A Provencal or Mediterranean table theme creates the right ambiance. Think about the south of France, Italy, Greece, Spain or Portugal for inspirations. Pottery Barn released an olive oil tasting party planner that includes a cute invitation that you can print.

How to Store Olive Oil?

stainless steel olive oil drizzler

You must keep your olive in a cool, dry, dark spot. I cook most of my dish with olive oil. So, I pour a small quantity in a porcelain bottle with a tiny pouring cap to be easily accessible when I’m cooking. Select an opaque container. The best choices are a porcelain, a stainless steel or a dark tinted glass jar or bottle.

+ How to taste an olive oil by Nancy Ash
+ Rhodes Olive Oil Cruet small $8, large $10 USD
+ Olive Appetizer Plates & Dipping Bowls – Set of 4 plates $32, Set of 4 dipping bowls $25
+ Stainless Steel Olive Oil Drizzler $10.50


Darth Vader’s Macaron Tasting Event at Point G

tasting cocktail with darth vader at point g macaron boutique in montreal

tasting cocktail with darth vader at point g macaron boutique in montreal

I attended last December this wonderful event at Boutique Point G, a must-go place for french macarons in Montreal. They invited the cream of social media crowd for a tasting cocktail at their store. Although I was sick, I could not miss that.

What about Darth Vader?

It was the costume of a molecular chef hired for the event. It was appropriate since Darth Vader served us macarons dipped in liquid azote. That was awesome! Have a peak at the night by watching this video. You can see my husband (a cute long hair guy with a black shirt) and if you really pay attention, you can spot me.

If you visit Montreal, make sure to stop by this little shop located at 1266 Mont-Royal Street.

+ Boutique Point G


Exquisite Prosciutto Tasting Lunch

citterio prosciutto tasting at dna restaurant organized by macchi

I had a special lunch twelve days ago. Hivron and her husband Paolo Macchi received me for a tasting of their products at a local restaurant in Old Montreal. While talking to Hivron during the lunch, I discovered that we have several things in common. We both studied interior design for one thing.

Prosciutto crudo

Macchi imports and distributes the highest quality of Citterio’s prosciutto crudo (raw ham). They carry Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di San Daniele and Culatello. I invited my foodie friend Nathalie Rivard to share this experience.

prosciutto crudo tasting

The Citterio’s prosciutto crudo are all natural. They are made without additives. The curing masters created them with ham, salt, air and time. Another main difference with these prosciutto is the sweet taste of the fat. These premium prosciutto are miles away from the taste of the pre-packaged prosciutto.

We savored 5 famous types of Italian and local (meaning made in the USA) prosciutto crudo. We were able to taste each prosciutto “nature”. Plus, DNA’s chef Derek Dammann made us as a delightful appetizer dish for each type. They each have their own personality.

prosciutto crudo appetizers prepared by chef Derek Dammann at DNA

I enjoyed the food combination that Derek Dammann served us. Derek had been Chef de Cuisine at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in London, England. You know how I love Jamie Oliver. He takes great pride in serving sustainably grown and harvested produce, meats and seafood because food tastes better when its ingredients are the product of thoughtful stewardship. He was the right chef to serve us this prosciutto.

I particularly enjoyed the plate where he mixed prosciutto with a very light mustard vinaigrette. A appetizer recipe that you can do at home is to drizzle aged balsamic topped with shaves of Parmesan Reggiano. The mix of salt and sweet is delicious. Another tasty combination was to serve prosciutto with dates.

prosciutto and dates

Macchi imported directly from Italy as much as possible. It makes a difference. The pigs used in the United States are smaller than the pigs used in Italy. The Italian prosciutto is ham from a very rare bread of pigs that are bred in north-central Italy. How you cure the meat is also important. You get the best results with time. It generally produces a prosciutto that is more tender.

Shopping Tips

Look for these qualities when buying fresh prosciutto:

  • Color should be lighter rather than darker, a light to medium pink. If it’s burgundy, don’t buy it!
  • Fat colour should be white and not yellow. A fresh prosciutto should be sweet and not salty
  • Ask to taste a slice before buying prosciutto
  • Outside fat should not exceed 1/2-3/4 of an inch. Every animal is different. If it is more than 3/4 of an inch, they should trim the excess fat for you.

The Swedish-born Hivron writes a blog for Macchi where you can find recipes and food information.

+ Macchi
+ DNA restaurant


Be in a Better Mood with NEWTREE’s Alpha Chocolate


I love dark chocolate. So I am looking for good reasons to eat a few bites. I discovered the NEWTREE large chocolate bars at a local fruit and vegetable shop.

The NEWTREE Alpha collection is available in 3 tempting flavors: pure, chili pepper and the exquisite thyme. It is made with 65% dark Belgium chocolate that is less sweet. It is delicious!


The ALPHA series contains golden roasted flax seeds and crisped rice. The good news is that half a large ALPHA bar supplies the daily recommend intake of Omega-3. Knowing this fact, there is no more reason to feel bad about indulging in a chocolate snack.

omega3 claims on the back of the ALPHA chocolate bar

March 8th, 2009 Update: To make it clear to all readers, chocolate in general, including most of NEWTREE chocolate does not contain OMEGA-3. Only the ALPHA contains added OMEGA-3 from what we can read on the back of the package.

Chocolate Pairing Lounge

NEWTREE started in Europe. It was founded in 2001 by Benoit de Bruyn, a biochemist with a passion for chocolate. NEWTREE is available in the United States since 2003. They produced milk and dark chocolate bar.

You can find on their pairing room unique combinations to impress your guests when you are interesting. 

  • Give a twist to your olive oil tasting party with dark chocolate. Serving them together is supposed to enhance the both flavors. Sip the olive oil, it will cleanse your palate, then nibble a piece of PLEASURE, pure 73% dark chocolate.
  • Top a toasted slice of baguette with a little bit of olive oil, a slice of brie cheese and a sliver of RENEW, dark chocolate with blackcurrant.
  • Find out which wine or beer to serve with each one of their chocolate bars.

+ NEWTREE Alpha Chocolate