Tuesday, July 1

Sangrias made Simple: Easy to make red and white sangria recipes

Summer + sangria = Great way to cool down on a hot, muggy day. While searching for recipes to make the fun wine cocktail and found, instead, recipes with long lists of ingredients and, quite frankly, I am not certain I know anyone who wants to go to that much trouble for a drink. Particularly on a hot summer's day.

Soooo, enlisting the help of friends in the know on these things; answers ranged from, "experiment," "put in whatever you want," "throw in some vino and voila," and some great recipes also. All great advice.

Watch me create these recipes on Fox 59 Morning News Show by clicking here ~

One thing became clear: they all had four core ingredients. Deciding that's good enough for me, I started with those four. Below are the core recipes, with some tips and options.



Easy Red Wine Sangria
1 bottle of  semi or dry red wine (Spanish Rioja is great like Tempranillo)
1/4 cup brandy
1/3 cup white sugar
3 cups fruit or berries

Do NOT use a sweet wine as you have no control of the sweetness.
Use flavors that complement when selecting fruits and berries, but don't feel scared to try new combinations. Example, red wine goes great with mixed berries ~ I used 1 cup each of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Do NOT smash the berries or fruit.
Put the cleaned berries or fruit into a bowl and pour all of the brandy over it to let it soak into the mixture. It should absorb all of the brandy, about 15 minutes.
Pour red wine into a pitcher (clear is prettiest) or drink container with a spigot. Add the white sugar and stir. Slowly put in fruit or berries then gently stir again. Cover and refrigerate overnight (minimum four hours) to let brandy infiltrate wine and sugar.
Prior to serving, use a slotted spoon to pull out some of the berries or fruit and add a little to each glass before pouring sangria into glass. Any glass works; Mason jars are great as are hurricane glasses.
Scoop ice into pitcher and glasses (if person wants ice) and pour in sangria. 

Easy White Wine Sangria
1 bottle of  semi or dry white wine (Spanish Rioja is great like Viura)
1/4 cup brandy
1/3 cup white sugar
3 cups fruit or berries

Do NOT use a sweet wine as you have no control of the sweetness.
Use flavors that complement when selecting fruits and berries, but don't feel scared to try new combinations. Example, white wine goes great with fruit ~ I used 1 cup each of limes, lemons and oranges. Do NOT smash the berries or fruit.
Put the cleaned berries or fruit into a bowl and pour all of the brandy over it to let it soak into the mixture. It should absorb all of the brandy, about 15 minutes. Leave the peels on the fruit and cut into small chunks as people like to pull them out and nibble on them.
Pour white wine into a pitcher (clear is prettiest) or drink container with a spigot. Add the white sugar and stir. Slowly put in fruit or berries then gently stir again. Cover and refrigerate overnight (minimum four hours) to let brandy infiltrate wine and sugar.
Prior to serving, use a slotted spoon to pull out some of the berries or fruit and add a little to each glass before pouring sangria into glass. Any glass works; Mason jars are great as are hurricane glasses.
Scoop ice into pitcher and glasses (if person wants ice) and pour in sangria.

Other tips to remember
I like Spanish wines as Spain is where sangria was created. The brand I used is Franco-Espinolas and I had great success.
Fruits and berries can (for an extra flavor oomph) match the brandy you choose. A good friend who knows more about spirits and wine then most sommeliers I know suggested apples and apple brandy for the white wine sangria, which I will be making verrrry soon. Another great combination would be peaches and peach brandy with the white.
Red could easily welcome blackberry brandy and berries still with it or cherry brandy and a mix of cherries ~ you get the idea. Strawberries and rhubarb, passion fruit... the sky's the limit now that you have the basic recipe. Just switch out the fruit/berry choice and the brandy flavor.
Some folks toss in vodka of various flavors and that's good also. Anything goes, almost, is the key tip to remember. It's super easy to make and fun to switch things up a notch or two. I am already thinking of what I want to try next. And, you will never have a problem finding someone to taste test the flavors for you!

Let me know what flavor combos you like or try and whether these work for you.

Images: E. J. Musgrave
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living, travel, food, wine and spirits columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts antic for Gotta Go. Catch her as Fox 59 Morning News Show's Travel & Leisure expert. Read Infused, her spirits & wine column at www.GottaGo.us and www.FoodDigital.com. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Sunday, June 22

Theater Review: The Book of Mormon ~ Broadway Across America Indianapolis 2014

The Book of Mormon opened to a sold out audience in Indianapolis this week and it continued that rare status throughout its run at Old National Centre. In fact, the only thing that surprised me is Broadway in Indy didn't realize its potential and originally schedule more shows or add on performances.

There are shows which are carried by the story line and writing quality; others by the sheer talent of the performers. Then there are those that bring it from the talents of every factor: acting, directing, writing, music, choreography ~ all of it comes together to bring the show to the elite status of a must-see show. The Book of Mormons accomplished that and more...it was a pure delight to watch. The entire audience was ricking with laughter all night as the top quality performers burst from their seams with energy, enjoyment and rock solid talent.

There is no way to fit all the mentions that should be in this review, unfortunately, as they do deserve mentioned.

I will not put out a spoiler with the plot, but know if you (and who hasn't) have had one too many pairs of Mormons approach your door with that zealous speech ready to give you help in finding their religion, you will be howl with laughter at this Broadway phenomenon and Nine-time Tony award winner.

Christopher John O'Neill EXPLODES onto the stage with all the enthusiasm of a 10-foot, 400 pound orangutan and the adorability factor of the entire Little Rascals Gang. Brilliantly portraying Elder Cunningham, positive of what he is spouting one moment then flipping to the clueless way he actually feels underneath then immediately transforming into a child needing love and attention (lots of both) ~ O'Neill sets a level of energy that would require the average person a dozen highly caffeinated drinks to accomplish. It is no doubt this will not be O'Neill's last professional stage performance, although it was a complete shock to find out this was his debut.

Elder Price, the new recruit who believes he is incredible and meant for greatest of all things, like living in Orlando, is portrayed by Mark Evan. Evan is able to convey a vulnerability within the pompous attitude of his character who believes that he is a higher quality Mormon than all of his counterparts and ready to excel at being No.1. His insecurity shows when he finds himself out of element and not the wonder recruite he believed himself to be.

Bottom Line: If you didn't catch Broadway Across America's The Book of Mormon 
this week in Indianapolis, well, may God ~ or Joseph Smith ~ have mercy on your soul.

Images: Broadway in Indy

Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as the Travel & Leisure Adviser on FOX59 Morning News Show. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for businesses, media, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Read Infused, her spirits, wine & beer lifestyle column, at www.GottaGo.us and www.FoodDigital.com. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Thursday, June 19

Top 10 Best Things to do at River City Casino and Hotel, St. Louis 2014


Returning from a trip is always a bit overwhelming ~ the origin of that feeling coming from two (or more) worlds colliding, I suppose. Leisure conflicting with work and home modes. You have been
either walking about a cruise ship, racing to see all family members or, perhaps it was a business trip and you need to relax before returning to local work mode and family duties.

Generally for me it entails a breakneck pace participating in, attending and trying as much as I can so as to report back to you. Kind of like the first guy across the ice before everyone else attempts it. Or the one who tastes the hot sauce first then cautions the others. Either way, I love it and upon returning home, I like to take a day or two, when possible, to let the world I just left swirl through my mind and see which ones are the ones I recommend the most. Here is the list for River City Casino and Hotel, located in St. Louis.

Top 10 Things to do


~ 1 ~
Nosh on German Chocolate Pancakes


This is to-do list No. 1 for a reason. I have never seen anything like this anywhere else. Available at Lewy Nine's, no way will you eat this all by yourself, so be prepared to share with tablemates, onlookers and complete strangers as this is a showstopper dish.

~ 2 ~
Book a Director's Suite

If you do not believe these hotel rooms are worth the drive alone, we need to talk. It's a must to experience the Director Suites, with amenities such as glossy magazine-level bedroom, sitting room and.... those bathrooms, wait until you see those.

~ 3 ~
Bathe

No, you are not the smelly kid, which is a good thing because the shower is big enough for you and four of your closest friends in this spa-like retreat. The tub is a romance-inspiring deep soaking joy just waiting for a couple to slip in and enjoy a Hollywood movie moment.

~ 4 ~
Play
Although there is more than enough to keep busy without stepping onto the gaming floor, go ahead and hit the slots (more than 2000), and throw some dice. There are live dealers (55 tables), which is always more enjoyable, and the top-end venting system makes any nearby smokers a complete non issue.

~ 5 ~
App Up
The free app was so helpful in checking out the entertainment calendar, menus, and a map to keep you going in the right direction. But don't wait until you're there to download it ~ it's great ahead of time for reservations and more. Click here to download.

~ 6 ~
Throw (or eat) a Tomahawk Steak
A great ice breaker meal with friends, coworkers or family and found by order at 1904 Steakhouse,  Let them know when reserving a table that you want the 44 oz. prime ribeye and the optional 8-10 lb. lobster and your group will have plenty to enjoy.

~ 7 ~
Take a Stroll
I mean it... walk throughout the property enjoying the beautiful design, water fountains and other ooh and aah factors. This is not just another casino, folks. I have seen a few in my travels, and this one blew my mind that it is not located on the Las Vegas Strip.

~ 8 ~
Cater Events and Conventions
I am not in the convention-booking field, nor do I set up catered affairs, but if I did ... this is the place dreams are made of. I was priviliged to try out many items from their customizable catering menu and was impressed with how many could be served without losing quality, pricing or flavor.

~ 9 ~
Be Entertained
The ever-changing schedule makes me believe they truly care what their patrons want. It varies with boxing, music of all genres and other shows to keep it fresh. Click for schedule.

~ 10 ~
Toast a Little Lasagna
 
Seriously ... with St. Louis as the home to toasted ravioli, Executive Chef John Johnson uses his mad culinary skills (and I do mean over-the-top mad skills) to twist things up with this Beerhouse dish. Click here to watch his video on making it at home.

Images ~ E.J.Musgrave

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living, travel, food, wine and spirits columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic for Gotta Go. Catch her as Indy’s Personal Lifestyle Adviser on Indy Style, WISH8 (CBS). Read Infused, her spirits, wine & beer lifestyle column, at www.GottaGo.us and www.FoodDigital.com Gotta Go is published on www.Gottago.us, and in magazines. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.