Celebrating Democracy at the Embassy of New Zealand

Last week our country celebrated the peaceful transfer of power, and no matter what side of the political aisle you are on, it's a pretty cool thing.  I don't get political on this blog because my day job is very political but bipartisan, but I did want to share an amazing party I was invited to at the Embassy of New Zealand that really embraced food, wine, joy and life.

Being from New England, about two years ago I helped someone who was running for political office for my day job.  While the numbers on election night didn't work out for my friend, I still know he was the Better candidate.  About ten days before Inauguration, I received an invitation from my friend in my inbox for a party at the New Zealand Embassy celebrating food and wine from New England and New Zealand.  I have an unwritten rule living in this amazing city, when you get invite to an embassy, you go.  So there was only one answer to give....Yes Please! I invited my colleague Miss M with me because I knew it would be a great afternoon and I wasn't sure that she had every been to an embassy before...and this would be a Good one.

The afternoon was filled with elected officials from the New England states, the Ambassador to the United States from New Zealand and I was thrilled to see my friend as it had been a couple of years.  This is a funny town, and so many people don't pay you any mind if they no longer have use for you, that is why it was so nice of him to invite me to this party after so many years.  Might be a New England loyalty thing, but it also reminds me that there are Good and kind people in this business too.

Now let's get to the Best stuff...the food and wine!  I was very curious to see what the Embassy would serve for wine, as they have access to all of the New Zealand wineries and since this was an Inauguration party they would be pulling out the Best selections.  They served Ten Sisters Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.  As Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite wine, that was my choice especially with so many seafood choices being served that day.  I had actually had Ten Sisters Sauvignon Blanc before and I can tell you that is it smooth as glass and pairs so well with seafood that they served.  Ten Sisters is a highly rated wine and they do not export a lot so it was really a treat to have it.  You can learn more about Ten Sisters winery here.

The lobster salad made with just the right amount of mayo and a little spice to give it a kick.

The also had a chef direct from New England to shuck all of the oysters you could want.  They served them with a choice of two sauces one that was soy sauce based and the other was a mango chili sauce, which is absolutely the way I would go.  Another guest at the table joked that if he could pull a chair up to the oyster table he would...me too friend!

There was a mini fried shrimp basket with fries that because I cannot eat it (although I did think about it for a nano second) I did have Miss M try and tell me if I would like it.  She said that it was everything fried food should be, light, decadent and yummy.  There was also passed lamb chops of course with a pesto sauce.  While lamb is typically not my first choice, I knew any lamb chop served at the New Zealand Embassy would be nothing short of amazing. I was right and I still keep hoping that the waited might pop around the corner here any minute and have one of those lamb chops for me.

It was the Best day and one that I will remember for a long time. On my way out I had to take a photo of the Queen...well because she is everywhere.

And finally, another party guest, was kind enough to take a photo of me on the way out, because I cannot master the art of selfies.

It was the Best day celebrating the Best country.  


Friday Five-Seasonings and Condiments

There are so many great spices and condiments out there that can turn a dish from blah to amazing. Today’s Friday Five will give you a peak into the must haves in the Good Better Best kitchen.

1) Herbs de Provence: This is a magical bouquet that brings to life almost any dish. I always use on my grilled vegetables. It is wonderful on beef and roasted chicken and I always season soup with it. It can be pricey but you only need about ½ to a full teaspoon for most dishes so it lasts a long time. You can also buy a beautiful pot like the one here  to store it in.
Herbs of Provence in Ceramic Crock

2) Mustard: I am not talking about your yellow hot dog mustard, but I am not hating on that either. I always have at least three types of mustard on hand: Dijon, grainy and honey mustard (either prepared or you can whip this up quickly). I believe that any recipe that has Dijon in it will be a winner. Mustard definitely provides a lot of flavor in a small punch but can also tenderize and add texture. Mustard is great on chicken, beef and pork whether you are slow roasting, grilling or baking.

3) Lowry’s Garlic Herb 30 Minute Marinade: While I try to cook from scratch as much as possible, there are certain prepared foods that I do keep in the house for short cuts. I believe that the Lowry’s Garlic Herb 30 Minute Marinade makes some of the Best grilled chicken I have ever had. I typically marinate boneless chicken breasts or boneless pork chops for 30 minutes -2 hours and then grill. The result is moist flavorful meat that everyone in our house likes. For more flavor you could even marinate in the morning and then grill when you get home.

4) Leftover Wine: Typically in cooking you are not supposed to cook with any wine that you would not drink. I bend this rule a little. There are some times when Running Daddy and I don’t finish a bottle of wine and the next day or so it is not really suitable for drinking. I will save it and use in my cooking but it does not stick around for long. A white wine and butter reduction with a little salt and garlic can create a wonderful light sauce for chicken, pork or seafood in minutes. Leftover red wine can jazz up tomato sauce or also be reduced and poured over steak.

5) Olive Oil: I use good quality extra virgin olive oil almost every day. Whether I am adding a table spoon and just pan searing chicken cutlets (the Sweet Boy’s favorite) or putting in an oil mister and spraying on salad or green beans, olive oil is a big part of the Good Better Best lifestyle. I don’t know of any other food that adds more distinct flavor, tenderness and health benefits than olive oil. A little secret—I have very dry lips that peel from lack of moisture due to health issues. One thing that I do when my lips are burning and peeling is rub a small amount of olive oil on my lips. The peeling and the burning will stop instantly.

So I hope you will try some of these condiments and seasonings. Enjoy the Best food!


Friday Five: Budget Friendly White Wines

While I do like red wine, over the last say eight years I have become more of a white wine drinker, and frankly light white wines are my jam.  I have found that most red wines are just too heavy for me, so if I want to be awake past 8:45 pm I typically choose a dry, light white wine.  So here are five budget friendly white wines to get your weekend going:

1) Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc: Anyone who knows me knows my number one go to wine is Sauvignon Blanc and on any given Friday I am usually drinking Cupcake.  My friend Mrs. K who knows a lot more about wine than I do, has taught me that any Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand at any price point is going to be quality.  This theory has never been wrong.  Enjoy this go-to at under $10 and available everywhere.

2) Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc: When I want to spend a little more or if I catch this on a sale, I really like a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.  Another one from Marlborough region and wonderful with seafood, especially fresh oysters.

3) Santa Luz Sauvignon Blanc: If you want to head to South America, try the Santa Luz wines.  I have enjoyed them at several restaurants in our area lately and have been very impressed.  

4) Man Chenin Blanc: Our local wine cellar recommend Man Family wines to me early last year.  They are a family owned winery in South Africa and they are always in stock in our local wine store on the $10 rack.  She originally recommended the Sauvignon Blanc to me, but recently I tried the Chenin Blanc when the Sauvignon Blanc was out of stock.  When I want something with more more tropical fruits and less grapefruit notes, this is the wine I choose.  Awesome with spicy foods.

5) Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay: I reviewed this Kendall Jackson Chardonnay back in 2013 and called it the Chardonnay for people who think they don't like Chardonnay.  I stand by that!  Read more about this great wine on the link above.

So these are some of my everyday...well, Friday Best.  Let me know in the comments what your favorite everyday white wine is.

Enjoy the Best wine!

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