Tasting Panel Magazine Presents the 2012 Tour of Double Gold Winners – Part 1

I got the chance to enjoy an amazing and unique experience thanks to the wonderful people at Cockspur Rum. The the historic Bajan Rum won a Double Gold Medal in the rum category at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and it, along with the other winners, are on a tasting tour to fourteen U.S. markets. I had the pleasure of attending the New York tasting at Beacon Restaurant & Bar. The event was separated into two rooms, one for wines and champagne and the other for spirits (hard liquor). I wish I could post everything I enjoyed but this would be way too long. I’ll begin with the hard stuff since I tasted fewer (most winners were Tequilas, Gins, Scotch Malts and Mezcals, which I stay away from)

Double Gold Winner – 2 Nite Sicilian Blood Orange Vodka $22.00

A deliciously sweet and smooth vodka that’s perfect on the rocks or in a mixed drink. I’d happily give up bottles of any other orange flavored vodka for a glass of this.

Double Gold Winner & Best Rum – Cockspur Fine Rum

Perfectly aged, beautiful amber color, smooth as silk. It’s a rum my family grew up with and I remember my grandfather sipping this fine rum when I was younger.


Double Gold Winner & Best Aquavit – Krogstad Aquavit $25.00

Aquavit is a spirit I am not familiar with but upon tasting, it was very smooth and dry. Krogstad Aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit that gets its distinctive flavor from caraway, anise seed and other herbs and spices. It makes a great substitute for vodka in Bloody Marys.

Double Gold Winner – Dictador 20 Rum $60.00

Though new to me, this is a great, dark Colombian rum; very sexy, very bold in flavor and taste which makes this a great sipping rum.

Best Moscato – Cameron Hughes 2010 Moscato d’Asti Lot 319 $14.00

The most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. It was so fresh, so crisp and absolutely delicious. It’s no surprise why it won both Double Gold and Best Moscato. Definitely adding this to the bar.

Double Gold Winner & Best in Show: Sparkling – Champagne Nicolas Feuillate 2004 Vintage Brut $46.00

A full bodied tasting champagne. It might just be my palette but I tasted warmth and more than just grape (pear maybe…something exotic?) I’m not sure but its definitely a delicious champagne.

Double Gold Winner & Best in Show: Dessert Wine – Barboursville 2007 Malvaxia Reserve Passito $30.00

If you love dessert wines or even just very sweet wine, this one is perfect for you.  I can also see enjoying fresh fruit soaking in this uber-sweet treat. Keep an eye out for part two of this tasting.

New Delicious Treats from Lifeway Kefir

Lifeway Kefir, makers of the creamy blend of rich flavorful, drinkable, yogurt-like beverages packed with probiotics and rich health benefits. Lifeway Kefir is great for everyone – Kids, infants, seniors, pregnant or nursing women, those with compromised immune systems, and those with digestive disorders. Last year they launched their delicious Lifeway Frozen Kefir, an extra-healthy, probiotic, 90-calories-per-serving frozen yogurt alternative that provides the amazing benefits of kefir’s 10 live and active probiotic cultures (up to three times more than yogurt with roughly half the calories) that help stimulate digestion and support the immune system but in a deliciously frozen form. This addictive, delicious frozen treat came in four fun flavors: Mango, Pomegranate, Original, and Strawberry – allowing you to give up the guilt from eating a whole pint of ice cream by substituting it with this tasty, healthy treat.

 Frozen Kefir-Dulce de Leche

Now Lifeway has introduced three new decadent flavors to their Frozen Kefir line – Pumpkin, Chocolate, and Dulce de Leche (pictured above). These three new decadent flavors make enjoying dessert deliciously guilt-free. Lifeway Frozen Kefir is always 99% lactose-free and gluten-free. These new flavors, which are available now, retails for $4.59-$4.99 for 1 pint /473 ml.
Another great new product from Lifeway Kefir and my new addiction is the Greek Style Fro-Yo – a delectably creamy, tangy and good for you pint of heaven

Greek Style Fro-Yo Blood Orange

This protein packed creamy treat can curb your hunger while satisfying your sweet tooth with its three delectable low-cal flavors – Blood Orange Swirl, Chocolate Swirl, and Honey Swirl. Blending in a velvety swirl of flavor, Greek Style Fro-Yo kefir is gluten-free, 99% lactose-free, 110 calories per serving, and packed with 10 strains of probiotics. These retail for $4.59-$4.99 for 1 pint /473 ml. I fell in love with the Blood Orange Swirl at first spoonful and it was quite a challenge not to enjoy the entire pint in one sitting.

Lifeway has joined Christy Turlington Burns and Every Mother Counts to improve the health and lives of mothers and children everywhere. Julie Smolyansky, Lifeway Foods, Inc. CEO ran in the ING New York Marathon to increase awareness and support for the non-profit organization Every Mother Counts (EMC). Lifeway is sponsoring a private screening of Christy’s documentary, No Woman, No Cry in Chicago on April 16th. Lifeway is currently running a sweepstakes and fundraising campaign to support maternal health. The Grand Prize for the sweepstakes includes an all-expense paid trip for two to Chicago on April 16 to meet global maternal health advocate and founder of EMC, Christy Turlington Burns.

NEW RESTAURANT OPENING: Contorno’s Restaurant

I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening and media tasting event for family-owned, Contorno’s Restaurant, a rustic Italian Ristorante and wine cellar on West 31st Street located inside the new boutique Holiday Inn Express just steps away from the Empire State Building and the hustle and bustle of Herald Square. The open layout (with seating for 110) allowed guests ample space to explore and mingle.

contorno inside

Contorno’s is the passion project of the Impagliazzo family, who were looking to introduce NYC to the tastes and feel of their traditional Sunday Family Dinners; a time for family and friends to come together at the dinner table to talk, laugh, and share many small Italian tapas-style dishes of traditional, old world Italian food paired with fine Italian wines. Fellow guests and I enjoyed wine tastings as well as a selection of amazingly delicious “small plate” hors d’oeuvres from the menu developed by executive chef David Buico which included some of the following:

contorno appscontorno apps2

Hand Rolled Ricotta Gnocchi w/ Wild Boar Bolognese & Shaved Dry Ricotta, Gorgonzola and Fresh Honey Comb served on toasted Raisin Walnut Ciabatta, Old fashion Veal Meatballs w/ Chick Pea Puree, Shrimp Al Pancha w/ White Heirloom Beans, Homemade Fettuccine w/ Porcini Mushrooms, Grandma’s Homemade Spaghetti, etc. Featured in the photo below are just a few of the must-have entrees available at Contorno’s
 contorno dishes
Some of the wines, led by some of Contorno’s favorite sommeliers, indulged guests with wines from around the world.
contorno wines

Dessert was heavenly, a wonderfully delicious way to end the savory and hearty meal we experienced at Contorno’s, you must experience the below Milk Chocolate & Pistachio Tart and New York Cheese Cake

desert

On February 28th, Contorno’s introduced Wine Flight Tuesday’s. Each week GM/Sommelier Marta Cisneros will lead customers in sampling a red or white wine flight from a different region, and help them learn about the wine and how to pair it with different dishes. Contorno’s also recently introduced a late night bar menu as well as a weekly Happy Hour Special from 4:30pm-6:30pm— all house wine, well drinks and beer are just $5.00

Contorno’s Restaurant is located at 30 West 31st Street in New York and is open for dinner seven days a week, Sunday-Thursday, 5 pm-10:30 pm and Friday & Saturday, 5 pm-11:30 pm. Contorno’s is also open for lunch and weekend brunch.

For more information about Contorno’s, please visit: www.contornosrestaurant.com.

Tassimo T20 by Bosch Home Brewing System

For those of you who like me, do not drink coffee, is a single person living in the city and is pained to give up $5 for a cup of tea from Starbucks, you’re going to love the Tassimo T20 by Bosch ; you can make your own at home for 1/4 the price. As winter makes it appearance (somewhat), curling up with a hot cup of Chai Tea or Hot Chocolate is a necessary treat. Of course being a single girl that’s always on the go, I don’t have time to wait for a kettle to boil every time to make one cup of tea. Plus when my coffee-loving mom comes to visit, each of us can enjoy our respective beverages without ruining each others. These are the reasons I’m in love with the Tassimo T20 by Bosch

Tassimo-T201

“The Bosch® T20 Home Brewing System is designed with an eco-friendly, on-demand water heater for fast brewing. It’s easy, too; just pop in a T DISC, and the T20 reads the barcode and brews the perfect cup of coffee, cappuccino, latte, espresso, tea, or any one of our coffeehouse-style beverages.”

tassimo

I was very excited when Tassimo sent me this T20 Single-Serve Brewer, I’ve been dying to try one of these machines every since I laid my eyes on it and I have been enjoying some lovely cups of Chai Tea and Hot chocolate since I got it. Tassimo offers 12 distinctive beverage brands and a wide variety of hot and cold beverage choices, including coffee, real milk cappuccino and latte, espresso, crema, tea, iced coffee, and hot chocolate – an amazing variety of beverages to satisfy an assortment of tastes. As I stated before, I am not a coffee drinker, so to have a machine that allows my favorite hot drinks whenever I please is an amazing thing. See below for video of my first cup of Chai tea using the Tassimo T20 (please forgive the unsteadiness and the bit of rambling – I was trying to do everything while holding a video camera – sometimes you just need an extra pair of hands)

The Tassimo T20 features include:

  • Bar code technology allows the Tassimo machine to prepare each beverage with the exact pressure, temperature, water, and time duration, so each and every drink is perfect
  • Instant heat-up and fast first cup
  • Customize your beverages with a single touch of a button
  • Noise reduction system for quiet preparation of beverages
  • Low energy consumption: zero-watt hours in standby mode and an on-demand heating element
  • Height adjustment and removable cup stand allows you to use the cup or travel mug of your choice
  • Automatic cleaning and descaling with use of a special T DISC keeps your beverages tasting clean
  • Removable cup stand and splash cover lets you customize the color to suit your kitchen (mine didn’t come with extra colored covers so if yours doesn’t, make sure you call Tassimo)
  • Removable 1.5 L water tank

The Tassimo T20 comes in three colors – Black, White and Grey and retails for $99.99. It can be purchased directly at www.tassimodirect.com or at retailers such as Macy’s, jc penney, Best Buy, Bloomingdales, Bed, Bath & Beyond, P.C.Richard & Son, Target, etc.

The Refreshingly Sweet Taste of Mirassou Moscato

Sometimes the day gets to be so stressful, you need a break. Times like these call for a relaxing bath, some peace, and quiet, maybe some soothing music and definitely a good glass (or more) of wine. Before you reach that point, make sure your bar is properly stocked with some fabulous wine…i a sucker for a good white grape. I want to make a particularly delectable wine recommendation that is new to me. I was recently introduced to Mirassou Moscato and its incredible crisp, clean and sweet palette and all I can say is wow…..I am hooked.

Bottle-Mirassou_2010_California_Moscato_750ml

The delightful Mirassou Moscato is made with carefully selected California fruit from several regions, with the majority coming from San Luis Obispo County along the Central Coast. From the moment the bottle is opened intense fruit aromas of orange blossoms, peaches, pineapples and ripe citrus delight the senses. The refreshing flavors of peach, tangerine, melon and honeysuckle make their Mirassou Moscato a sweet expression of California’s most celebrated growing regions.
Moscato isn’t the only delight from Mirassou Winery; White wine lovers will enjoy their Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Reisling while lovers of Red will swoon over their Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Balancing intense fruit flavors with delicate aromas, Mirassou wines embody the optimism and pioneering spirit passed down through six generations of the Mirassou family.

MirassouWineMoscato

Featuring a bright, uniquely approachable style, these wines honor the Mirassou family’s heritage while appealing to a new generation of wine enthusiasts. So take some time out for yourself with a glass of Mirassou Moscato or any of their other wine offerings, you will thank me for this.

The Ninja Professional Blender – Snow Maker

Whether you’re playing bartender at your summer parties or looking to drop a few pounds, adopt a healthier lifestyle and eating habits or just save money by making your own smoothies, then you need a great blender. You need a blender that is fast, versatile, and hard-working – in other words, you need The Ninja Professional Blender.Ninja Professional Blender image

The Ninja Professional Blender has a 1000 watt motor and exclusive blade system. This innovative blender offers professional power and performance but at a price that’s easy to swallow. Like much more expensive, professional-grade products, this blender has the speed and accuracy to blend batter, soups, sauces, and dips evenly; whip up a smoothie to help lose weight or improve your health; or concoct yummy frozen drinks for your guests if that’s more your style. And, with the largest capacity in its class, the 72 ounce jar can easily serve six ten-ounce frozen drinks, making the Ninja Professional Blender the perfect product for large families, health enthusiasts, or those who love to entertain.
One thing that blew my mind about the Ninja Professional Blender is the fact that it crushes ice, make that pulverizes ice into snow…..in seconds – it’s an amazing thing to see.

Ninja Professional Blender_snow_300x12

So amazing that I took video of this wonder blender in action when I was whipping up some at-home Jamba Juice Smoothies (more on that in another post) for a few friends I had over. I must add that I wasn’t the only one impressed with the Ninja Professional Blender‘s power, the word WOW was used several times. Check out the video below

Ninja products are designed to be affordable as well as revolutionary in their capability to crush, blend, chop, and puree,” says Mark Rosenzweig, CEO of Euro-Pro, the company responsible for developing innovative Ninja products. “In fact, the new Ninja Professional Blender crushes ice and blends ingredients faster than any other blender, and yet it won’t crush your budget.” At $99.00, the Ninja puts several more expensive blenders to shame (I speak from first-hand knowledge), So whether you want to into snow for sno-cones, blend frozen fruits into creamy smoothies, or puree vegetables into delicious, fresh soups or dips, make your first choice the Ninja Professional Blender. The Ninja Professional Blender is available at retailers in the U.S. and Canada such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s. Visit www.ExperienceNinja.com to learn more.

Lifeway Frozen Kefir Giveaway

As the weather gets sunnier and the temperature gets hotter, we look for things to cool us down and sometimes (most of the time), we tend to ignore healthier foods and snacks and go for taste, well thanks to Lifeway Kefir, we can combine healthy snacking with yummy keep-you-cool snacking. Lifeway Frozen Kefir is an extra-healthy, probiotic, 90-calories-per-serving frozen yogurt alternative from Lifeway Foods, Inc. that provides the amazing benefits of Kefir’s 10 live and active probiotic cultures (up to three times more than yogurt with roughly half the calories) that help stimulate digestion and support the immune system but in a deliciously frozen form.

lifeway-frozen-kefir_vg

The delicious frozen treat is available in four fun flavors: Mango, Pomegranate, Original and Strawberry, the first Kefir Treat in the Freezer Aisle. The original flavor will also be sold in a 3.6-oz. single-serve size packaged with a spoon. All four varieties will come in one-pint containers selling for $4.49 to $4.99. Lifeway Kefir’s new good-for-you frozen yogurt alternative is the latest addition to an extensive line of Kefir dairy beverages and associated probiotic foods

Lifeway Frozen Kefir is also great to help you keep a flat stomach. This creamy low-fat, “flat belly power food” also provides all-natural, gluten-free and 99% lactose-free benefits. To help you stay cool and fit during the hot summer months, I am gifting four winners a VIP Coupon for a FREE PINT of Lifeway Frozen Kefir.

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on this post stating which Lifeway Frozen Kefir flavor you’d like to try

Extra Bonus if you:

1. Tweet this Contest – tag @guestlistblog
2. Like Lifeway Kefir on Facebook
3. Share/Like this contest on Facebook
4. Follow Lifeway Foods on Twitter
5. Be a Fan of My Life on and off the Guest List on Facebook

LIFEWAY FROZEN KEFIR GIVEAWAY

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Must be legal U.S. and Canada resident, 18 yrs or older to enter. Sweepstakes to commence on May 30th, 2011 at 12:00:00 a.m. Eastern Time (“ET”) and end on June 6th, 2011 at 11:59:59 p.m. ET. My Life on and off the Guest List will determine (4) five winners by random drawing from all eligible entries. Four Winners will receive (1) one VIP Coupon for ONE FREE PINT of Lifeway Frozen Kefir. Limit one prize per household. Odds of winning are dependent on the total number of eligible entries. Approx estimated retail value of prize $4.99 each. Winners will be notified by email. Offer valid while supplies last. Giveaway sponsored by My Life on and off the Guest List; Prize provided by Lifeway Foods.

X-RATED Fusion Liqueur Unwraps Holiday Cocktails

I love holiday parties. I know what you’re thinking – who doesn’t, right? But maybe unlike you, i don’t love everything about it. I love the decor, the togetherness, the gifts, etc but my god I am sick of eggnog. I know its a holiday party staple but we are seriously in desperate need of a change. Holidays cocktails do not have to be the same old boring stuff. Even a shot of smooth rum (or two) cannot persuade me anymore.We need cocktails that are a bit more excited, a bit more thrilling, a bit more x-rated. I’ve been on the hunt for new holiday cocktails and since X-Rated Fusion Liqueur gave me the wonderful Haunted-X Halloween Cocktail, I didn’t have to go too far to get some spicier and sexier cocktails. So to begin, I’ll ask – are you in the mood for a little holiday mischief? Hopefully you shouted out YES!!! I hope you are prepared because the recipe is below. This pink and orange bubbly is sure to tickle more than you fancy

Holiday Mischief Maker

mischief maker1 oz. X-Rated Fusion Liqueur

½ oz. orange liqueur

1-2 dashes orange bitters
4 oz. sparkling wine
1 teaspoon grenadine
garnish: sugar rim
Rim a champagne flute with sugar by rubbing it with a cut lemon, then dipping it into white, granulated sugar. Set aside. Pour X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, orange liqueur and bitters into a mixing glass. Shake with ice. Gently strain into sugar-rimmed champagne flute. Top with chilled sparkling wine. Gently drizzle grenadine into the glass, allowing it to settle at the bottom to create a layered effect.

Now if you are the type that is a bit shy and reserved (until you’ve had a drink or two) or can’t decide whether you’ve been both good and bad? Then St. Nick’s Naughty or Nice Punch is definitely for you. Either way, you will definitely enjoy this gift – no coals for you this time around. So why choose? Be bad while enjoying this very good drink.

 

St. Nick’s Naughty or Nice Punch
Naughty or nice
2 parts X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
1 part SKYY Infusions Pineapple
2 parts brewed peach herbal tea
½ part freshly squeezed lime juice
pinch of ground clove (approx 2 teaspoons for 1 punch bowl)
1 part club soda (use lemon-lime soda for sweeter punch)
garnish: whole cloves embedded into citrus wheels
 
Pour all ingredients into a punch bowl just before guests are due to arrive. Float clove encrusted citrus wheels on the surface of the punch for décor and aroma. Ladle into ice-filled wine glasses when serving.

Of course there’s always the sweet and innocent part of ourselves – the angel, the adorable cherub, the part of you that wishes good will to all men (and women). What would that side of you like to drink – perhaps something equally sweet like guava or wholesome like milk. If you combine the two and add a little zest (like lemon) then you’d have the Sassy Little Elf.

Sassy Little Elf
Sassy elf
2 oz.X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
1 ½ oz. guava juice or nectar
1 oz. half-n-half
½ oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
garnish:lemon zest (or mini candy cane)
 
Vigorously shake all ingredients with ice.
Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Serve with the garnish on the rim of the glass.

Say goodbye to Eggnog during this festive holiday season and say hello to X-Rated Liqueur’s sinfully delicious holiday cocktails, your guests will thank you.