WineCountry Staff: October 2011 Archives

Pumpkin, Ginger and Toasted Macadamia Soup

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Recipes from Circulon Cooks ~ Pumpkin, Ginger and Toasted Macadamia Soup By Sally James Photography by Horticulture Australia Limited

circulonCooks_PumpkinSoup.jpgThis is what I call my "healthy indulgent soup", using macadamias rather than cream to bring a delicious rich creaminess. Just a touch of nutty texture, and the sweetness of macadamias and apples. If you can find the Australian nuts, all the better, as the nut from its native terroir has a more subtle soft crunch!

Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped raw macadamia nuts
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 cups diced pumpkin or squash
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Roasted macadamias, to garnish

1. Heat oil in a heavy based large saucepan, add the macadamias, onion and ginger, and saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until golden. 

2. Add the pumpkin (or squash) and apple and cook 1-2 minutes further, then pour in the stock. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until pumpkin is soft. 

3. Tip off some of the liquid, and reserve, then puree the remainder using an immersion blender or in a blender until smooth and creamy.  Add more of the cooking liquid to bring to desired consistency.

Reheat and serve in bowls scattered with extra macadamias.

Best Food & Wine Destinations

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food_wine.jpegTraveler's Choice Awards 2011 by Trip Advisor

The votes are in and Napa, California was chosen as the #2 travel destination for food and wine by travelers on Trip Advisor in 2011. Are we really surprised? Not really. In fact, what's surprising is that Napa was not chosen as #1!

Trip Advisor sums it up well when it says "Everyone knows Napa as a wine destination, and it lives up to the hype. This is oenophile heaven, and you could spend days going from tasting room to tasting room. There's a flourishing restaurant scene, too, featuring everything from Michelin-starred standouts to tiny local bistros."

CLICK HERE to read the full article and see other destinations that topped the list for 2011.

Host a Dinner Party

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Dinner Party Tips from an Ambassador and Vintner

hallWinesCab2008.jpgVintner of HALL Wines, Ambassador Kathryn Hall former liaison to Austria from 1997 to 2001, is frequently called upon to host gatherings at her winery and wine dinners across the country.  A few small details put her special touch on a dinner and create memorable evenings for her guests. 

1.    Show your colors. Find china and fun linens with accents in your favorite colors.  Adding candles and fresh flowers will inspire the senses and set the tone for the evening with a very personal touch. 

2.    Gauge the temperature. You want everyone to be comfortable, especially if you are outdoors.  Invest in wraps for your guests.  Even if the wraps don't get used, the gesture is always appreciated.  Have them handy in a basket that can also be used to collect them at the end of the evening.    

3.    The correct glasses for each wine. Set your table with the appropriate wine glasses for each course.  The look alone is a great "wow" when your guests arrive and it allows guests to discuss their favorites throughout the evening.  Never clear any of the wine glasses before dinner is over.

4.    You don't have to wait for everyone
.  At larger gatherings, feel free to start after four to six guests have been served.  The hosts should be served last.  

5.    Be ready to talk. Make a point to bring everyone into a conversation.  Simply ask your guests more about themselves. If you can remember some of the details, it can make a big difference in your relationship with them.