Friday, August 14, 2009

A One of a Kind Coffee Cafe

Mocha Jo's 012 Last night I had the opportunity to spent the evening visiting a new coffee shop located in downtown Monett . The owners have put a large amount of effort into bringing some much needed night life to the downtown area.  The coffee shop offers an enormous array of beverages as well as sandwiches and wonderful homemade desserts.

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However, the food and drinks are only a small part of what makes this such a great place to spend the evening.  More importantly is the unique ambiance that one feels the moment they walk through the door. This is due impart by the involvement of the local youth who provide a great deal of the entertainment on various nights. From piano to guitar playing to one act plays this makes Mocha Jo’s a one of a kind place.


This particular evening the Monett High School NFL(National Forensic League)performed some of their award winning improvisations for the audience.  This is just one of the many forms of entertainment that makes this a top notch place to spend the evening with family.Mocha Jo's 007

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kansas City Chef Shon Mickles Named Culinary Winner in BRAVO! Competizion

BRAVO! Cucina Italiana, a BRAVOBRIO Restaurant Group concept, BRAVOBRIO Restaurant Group has announced that Kansas City’s Shon Mickles is the winner of the 2009 “Culinary Competizion.” The competition was held at the BRAVO/BRIO Restaurant Group corporate headquarters in Columbus, Ohio with 17 culinary experts judging the competition. The concept behind the competition was to offer BRAVO chefs the opportunity to be a part of the company’s continuing efforts to make BRAVO’s the best Italian restaurant company in America. The judges based their decisions on strict guidelines that included flavor, presentation, the name of the dish and how it fit in with BRAVO! brand.

Chef Shon Mickles' "Tuscan Roasted Garlic" Takes Top Award at Annual BRAVO! Chef Competizion

The winning culinary masterpiece, “Tuscan Roasted Garlic” consisted of wood-fired roasted garlic bulbs served with Boursin cheese, roasted red pepper relish and oven toasted ciabatta bread garnished with red grapes and pesto oil. The competition is open to all BRAVO! Cucina Italiana chefs with 44 chefs from 19 states competing this year. Full Story

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Spice Worth More Than Gold?

saffronflower The history of saffron a native of Asia Minor dates back to well over 4000 years ago. It’s popularity spread quickly and it wasn’t long before it was being used around the world not only for the seasoning of food but also as perfume, hair dye, clothes dye and as a medicinal herb. In Ancient times its large variety of uses made it the most sought after spice in the world and has many legends tied to its use. Throughout history it has been and still remains the most expensive spice in the world due to the labor intensive production process.

The saffron crocus, a member of the lily family, is a purple flower that blooms once a year in late September.  It is during this time that each flower is picked by hand to ensure that the yellow/orange stigmas inside are not damaged during the harvesting process. These yellow/orange stigmas sometimes referred to as threads are the saffron. Each flower contains only 3 stigmas with a length approximately  3 to 4 cm long. These threads are also removed by hand after a short drying time. It takes approximately 220,000 of these stigmas to make a pound of saffron making it more expensive than gold by weight.

In order to ensure that saffron does not lose any of it’s moisture or flavor it is sealed in special air tight containers that has also been designed to keep out light. After purchasing saffron the recommended storage requires the threads to be wrapped in foil, placed into an air tight container and kept in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months to ensure it maintains maximum flavor. While it is also available in powder form, the purchaser always runs the risk that it is not pure saffron.


While Saffron is grown around the world today, Iran is the largest producer and Spain is the world’s larger exporter.


saffronstems Saffron has a very potent aroma of honey with grassy or hay like notes. The taste can also be describe as having a hay like flavor with a strong bitter- honey like taste.Not only does it add a pungent and aromatic flavor to food it also adds a beautiful golden color. It is used in Mediterranean cooking but is more often associated with Spanish cooking. Soaking the saffron threads in water before use will bring out the flavor. Before using any of the saffron threads please separate each thread and look closely for any foreign partials that could have been accidently missed in the cleaning process. After you have completed the inspection and are ready to continue make sure to use enough water so that the threads are completely covered and then soaked for a least 2 hours. The threads should not be crushed but left whole during the soaking process. Wooden utensils seem to absorb saffron quickly therefore using wooden utensils is not recommended.  While it is considered very expensive, a little goes a long way as one thread can accommodate several dishes. Here are a few saffron recipes from GroupRecipes. Enjoy!