Posts

Showing posts from May 17, 2009

Villa Rental 101: A Visit to Beautiful Places in the Sonoma Valley

Image
If you're planning a couples' getaway or a family reunion, you might think about a rental villa as an alternative to a hotel.

The last time I traveled with a group was for a family reunion on the Jersey shore. The resort was lovely, but when we wanted to be together, we had to find space in the lobby with the other guests or break up into small groups to meet in our cramped hotel rooms. We missed having a private space where we could hang out and not deal with other people.

Recently my wife and I planned a weekend with four other couples. We were going to meet in the Sonoma Valley where we like its bucolic mix of small towns, cafes, vineyards, dairies, farms, and ranches.

For foodies, with hundreds of organic farms, world famous wineries, and access to fresh seafood, the valley is nirvana. We only needed to decide where to stay. At first we considered one of the luxury hotels in the area: Meadowood, Auberege du Soleil, or the Calistoga Ranch.

There's no question a hotel has ad…

Summer Vegetable Risotto

Image
With summer vegetables appearing in the farmers' markets, a vegetable risotto is a perfect way to feature the bounty of the garden.

This past Sunday at the Palisades Farmers' Market, we picked up several ears of fresh corn and some baby zucchini. We also bought carrots, spinach, Italian parsley, scallions, green garlic, squash, asparagus, English peas, spinach, and broccoli, any of which would be good in the risotto.

To make risotto requires a variety of rice--Carnaroli, Violone or Arborio-- with a high starch content, the source of risotto's distinctive creamy quality.

For the liquid, you have a lot of choices: vegetable, chicken, meat, or fish stock, wine, even water with a pat of butter added for flavor. You'll achieve the best results if you use homemade stock with its fresher taste and lower sodium content.

Risotto likes a steady hand, stirring frequently for 18-20 minutes. Because the rice both releases starches into and absorbs the stock, there is a window of a …