June 2017

Côtes du Rhône—The Story Behind The Wine

It’s summertime and that means everyone is hosting dinner and deck parties, where the food is served in heaping portions and the wine is definitely flowing. Of course, when you show up to the party, the wine you bring along says a lot about you — your personality and tastes, as well as how good a gifter you are (since the wine you bring goes to the host!). Selecting the best wine based on your host’s tastes and the foods being served doesn’t have to be challenge — if you know where to look for the best vino. 2015 was an incredible year for French wine and that is most true for Côtes du Rhône, whose 2015 vintage is topping taster lists around the world. Wine today is all about crowd pleasing, and if you’re looking to be a wine hero, consider a fabulous — and storied — Côtes du Rhône, with a bouquet and balance that perfectly fits the summertime weather.

If you want to be the best kind of wine hero, and tell the tale that comes along with your bottle, there is a great history attached to this region. The Côtes du Rhône, or “Hills of the Rhone Valley” is an area in Southeastern France, where wines have been produced since pre-Roman times. Avignon wine produced along the right bank was the favourite of powerful consumers such as kings and the papal community at the time of the Christian schism, and in the mid-17th century the right-bank district of Côte du Rhône even issued regulations to govern the quality of its wine. These rules formed the very early basis of today’s nationwide INAO-governed AOC system. When the left-bank wines were included a few hundred years later, the name was pluralized to Côtes du Rhône.

There are two distinct and separate regions of Rhône wines worth noting:

  1. SeptentrionalCôtes du Rhône refers to wine producedin the northern part of the region from ValencetoVienne. These vines are cultivated on incredibly steep slopes, which makes the harvest particularly arduous. Syrah grapes dominate this area, and not only are the grapes manually picked (a difficult task on such sloped land), but they must also be hauled up the hillside on trolleys — features which can add to the price.
  2. MéridionalCôtes du Rhône winefrom Avignon to Montélimar is produced by 123 communes. Plucked from vines on the eastern Rhône between the Vaucluse-Luberon stretch of mountains and the river bank near the town of Orange, these wines often come from the Grenache noir grape but also include others such as Syrah and Mourvedre. Reds produced in this area range in color from deep crimson and ruby to nearly purple and are typically full-bodied with smooth, rich tannins.

If you’re looking for a Côtes du Rhône wine to take to next weekend’s dinner party, consider Domaine St. Michel’s 2015 vintage from a retailer such as Wine Online —  a wonderful wine for summer dinners that feature game and other rich meat dishes. It’s a rich blend of Syrah, Cinsault, and Grenache grapes, and features a full, rustic bouquet, and stands as an outstanding cuvee from a small but well-established family estate run by the Boyers in their Medieval fortified house in the Rhone valley.

2015 was a particularly good vintage — one of the best there has been for some time in the Rhône — and this delicate bottle offers a creamy mouthfeel and delicious finish, which will drink now and over the next 18 months. Be the wine hero at any party and consider a Domaine St. Michel 2015 vintage!

Insanely Easy Ways to Decorate a Cake

Cakes are one of the joys in life. Nothing beats a plate of cakes or a tower of gorgeous desserts in Boston. A trip to a cupcake house or a coffee shop that sells delicious homemade desserts and cakes is the epitome of a fun day out. It’s not great for your waistline, but with so many tasty goodies on offer, who cares?

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The best cakes, however, are those that you bake yourself. You don’t need to be a master baker to create a wonderful cake. With a bit of practice and an eye for detail, anyone can produce a cake worthy of any magazine shoot. The flavor of a cake is supremely important, but looks matter and a well-decorated cake makes a wonderful first impression.

Here are some fun and fabulous ways to decorate a scrumptious cake that looks good enough to eat. You will have many of the following items in your store cupboard, but if not, check out the baking section in your local supermarket, or perhaps the garden…

Butter Icing

Butter icing is a classic way to bake a cake. All you need is icing sugar and butter. Beat the two together until you have a sweet, spreadable paste. Cover your cake in butter icing and add flavoring or color to suit. Butter icing is very sweet, but it always goes down well with the kids.


A bag of candy is a quick and easy way to create a fun cake. You can use any type of candy you like. Mix and match with your favorite flavors or stick to something simple like jellies to create a pattern. You can even insert candy canes into the cake for a 3D look. Go wild and be creative. Throw as many sweets at your cake as possible. The more the merrier!

Sugared Fruit

Fresh fruit won’t last long on a cake, but if you dip your fruit in a melted sugar solution and wait for it to harden before adding it to the cake, it should last a few days. Cherries, raspberries, strawberries, and small exotic fruits are perfect. Add a touch of icing sugar once your design is complete and your cake will look truly magical.


Fresh flowers look fantastic on a cake. Dip petals in sugar or add them immediately before you serve the cake. Use edible flowers such as carnations or begonias for added flavor, but make sure they are fresh and clean.

Edible Glitter

Edible glitter is a fun way to decorate a cake. Sprinkle edible glitter liberally over your creation or use it to paint a design on fondant icing.

Edible Paint

Are you artistic? If so, paint a picture on a cake using edible paint. Simple designs are best if your artistic skills are rusty, but if you have a flair for painting, express your creativity in a cake painting.

Cake decorating is fun, so don’t forget to post photos of your amazing creations on social media!

Tips For Eating Healthy With a Tight Schedule

Making healthy eating choices when you have a busy schedule is something that you should try to do regardless of the challenges in your agenda.  When you feel good about yourself it carries onto every other aspect of your life, so making the right choices nutritionally is something you should strive to do.

Many people make the mistake of reaching for unhealthy choices when they are in a rush rather than reaching for something that gives them proper nutrition and won’t be stored as fat or unwanted calories.  However, being busy doesn’t have to mean being unhealthy. All it takes is being aware of the ingredients that you are putting into your body.  Here are the best tips for being busy and healthy.

Always Keep Healthy Options At Home

When all you have on hand are things like cookies, potato chips, and high-fat options then you are going to be tempted to reach for that instead.  Try to keep things close that are healthy quick options.  

Some ideas are fruits, hard boiled eggs, cheese, and whole grain crackers.  Many of these options can be purchased gluten free or low carb if you want to go that route for health reasons. Usually reaching for protein before carbohydrates will make you feel fuller longer since carbohydrates burn at a faster rate.

Prep Your Meals

Try making an effort to prepare your meals for work at the beginning of the week.  This way you can know that you will have something ready to go that is a healthy choice while in the middle of your work day rather than going to a fast food restaurant or whatever is easy and fast.

All it takes is about an hour and a half of prepping, cooking, and storing for your weekly meals. You will be grateful to have something healthy and nutritional to reach for at work when hunger strikes.

Eat Meals Instead Of Snacks

Try eating full meals rather than snacking.  When you eat a full meal it will carry over longer throughout your busy day rather than graze small snacks endlessly.

When you snack you have the impression that you might be eating less than when you eat small snacks throughout the day but in fact, the little things add up quite a bit.  

Low-Calorie Frozen Meals

For the days that you really don’t have any time to do anything, you can grab a healthy frozen meal from your freezer.  Often you can find these at places like Trader Joes which offer healthy organic choices with low calories.

Another option is freezing your prepped meals to save for a day when you are busier than usual.

How To Increase Your Appetite Again After Being Sick

When you become ill it can be challenging to have an appetite.  Even just getting the slightest thing down seems to take tons of energy.  Some people lose a significant amount of weight when they are ill since they aren’t eating as much as usual.

When the illness finally subsides it can be hard to return to a normal appetite since our stomachs may be churning and quite sensitive after the upset cause on your stomach during your illness.  You will need food to get back to your former self, however, and provide your body with the fuel that it needs.  Here are some tips for making sure that you get your appetite back to where it needs to be.

Avoid Unpleasant Smells

Your stomach is going to be quite sensitive and your gag reflex will be on extreme sensitivity level.  Make sure that you avoid kicking it into gear by not being around unpleasant smells which could kickstart your urge to vomit.

Try to avoid things like litter boxes, rotten garbage, or even chemical sprays for cleaning or  moth prevention.  If you manage to avoid these things then you will be that much less likely to want to vomit.

Eat Meals Rather Than Snacks

When you snack throughout the day in small amounts you may find yourself eating less overall.  Try to build your appetite up throughout the day by avoiding snacking so that when you sit down to a full meal you have the urge to eat a lot in one sitting.

Try to make sure that they are foods which are easily digested and not too overly greasy or full of intense flavor and spice.  Your stomach will still be quite sensitive so it is best to start with foods which are easy on your system.

Work Up a Sweat

When you engage in exercise and work up a sweat you will be more likely to have a big appetite and will be more likely to be ready to eat a big meal.  If you aren’t necessarily ready to start jogging a 5k, you can do something light like walking or dancing in your living room.

Once you start getting a sweat going then you will find that you are much more ready to eat. Try doing this every day and watch your appetite increase.

Start With Easy Foods

Start with foods that are easy like rice, pasta, and fruit.  Instead of going for foods which are heavy or not your favorite, try going for comfort foods which you enjoy and can easily eat and feel comforted by.

Don’t risk being put off by a meal by making a complicated choice.  Start simple and work your way slowly back into a normal diet.