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Spring Drinks to Enjoy Outdoors

Spring is finally here! With the change in season, it’s the perfect time to change your choice of beverage too. Whether you prefer wine, spirits or beer, we’ve chosen our favorite spring drinks to enjoy at your next night out, family gathering or cozy night at home.

Here are our top picks:

White Wine Spritzer: Made with True Myth Chardonnay & Fever Tree Club Soda

True Myth Chardonnay is a classic-style Chardonnay crafted within the Paragon Vineyard in the historic Edna Valley, CA. Known for its aromas of pear, white peach, pineapple and wet stone, along with its tropical fruit flavors and mineral undertones, True Myth Chardonnay will pair perfectly with your favorite club soda (our favorite is Fever Tree Club Soda.) Be prepared for an ultra-refreshing beverage that will quench your thirst on even the hottest of days.

 

West Michigan-made spirit: Made with Gray Skies Utility Vodka, Fever Tree Ginger Beer, & Musette Sparkling Lemonade

If you’re looking for a sweet and satisfying beverage, we recommend this West Michigan-made spirit. Distilled from one of our favorite local distilleries, the Gray Skies Utility Vodka is smooth and versatile, unlike most vodkas on the market. The smoothness of this spirit allows for a “clean” feel that pairs perfectly with your favorite ginger beer and sparkling lemonade.

 

Rosé: Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé, Domaine De La Fouquette Rosé

We can’t pick a favorite between the Domaine Lafage Miraflors Rosé and the Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé! The Domaine Lafage Miraflors is a French Rosé that tastes as good as it looks. It is a soft, dry Rosé, with hints of cranberry and strawberry.  Our second pick, the Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé is handcrafted in the Pfalz region, the “Tuscany of Germany,” allowing this Rosé to have a unique and bold taste. With light and refreshing tastes, blended with bright berry and fruit flavors, this Rosé will certainly come as a (pleasant) surprise. 

 

Roak Blow Your Face Out Double IPA

For the IPA lovers, the ROAK  Blow Your Face Out Double IPA is crafted in Royal Oak, Michigan. This beer has a whopping 10.10% alcohol by volume (hence, the ‘Blow Your Face Out’ name) and is known for its malty, hop flavors. This makes the perfect summer drink for any Michigan beer connoisseur.

 

Aperol + Prosecco

 

Known as the Aperol Spritz and “Italy’s Favorite Cocktail,” this wine-based cocktail is pleasantly citrusy and slightly bitter. To avoid bitterness, try adding club soda to the mix as well. Otherwise, we recommend mixing half Aperol and half Prosecco to create this deliciously bubbly drink.

 

Oberon

A Michigan-staple brewed by Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Oberon is a wheat ale blended with spicy hop and fruity flavors. Although Oberon is only made with four flavors, do not underestimate this beer’s distinct and thirst-quenching taste. Bell’s Brewery quotes, “Oberon is the color and scent of a sunny afternoon.” We recommend pairing Oberon with an orange pieces for an even greater refreshing taste.

 

Blood Orange Cider

You can’t compare apples to oranges, which is why we had to include a cinder in our list of spring drinks. Handcrafted on a fifth-generation family farm located in Hudsonville, Michigan, Farmhaus Cider Co. blends local ingredients to create a cider you’ll love. Farmhaus’ Blood Orange Cider is a crisp, tart, delicious drink ideal for a day spent outdoors, lounging on the deck with family and friends.

All of these beverages can be found in Russo’s International Market. To view the largest selection of wine in West Michigan, in addition to our plentiful spirits and beer options, visit the store from Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

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Russo’s Take on Easter

Easter is quickly approaching! As one of the most celebrated holidays for Italians, it’s only necessary that Russo’s International Market goes above and beyond for the holiday festivities. Allow the Russo family into your home this Easter, by purchasing one of their many holiday items:

Traditional egg bread, or colomba di pasqua:

Colomba di pasqua (also known as colomba pasquale), is a traditional Italian Easter cake that is typically made in the shape of a dove. Colomba di pasqua is traditionally made on Good Friday and/or Holy Saturday in honor of Easter. We will be selling ready-to-serve colomba di pasqua in the store, in addition to some of the ingredients needed to make the dish yourself.

Colomba di pasqua recipes are passed down from generation-to-generation. We’re keeping our family recipe a secret, but take a look at these recipes for specific ingredients and cooking instructions:

We also have traditional Italian Panettone available as well.

Chocolate

Is explanation really needed for chocolate? If you’re not eating chocolate for Easter, you’re missing out.  And, we’ve got you covered in that department.

Homemade dinner dishes

Our store offers over 100 homemade options for customers to choose from, all of which are made in-store. Customers can choose from a variety of traditional everyday Italian foods, such as our homemade sausage and lasagna, both in a variety of flavors. Allow our family to prepare Easter dinner for you and your family.

Traditional Greek Easter Egg Dye

In many cultures, it’s a tradition to decorate Easter eggs in honor of the holiday. Take this one step further by dying hard-boiled eggs a shade of deep red to symbolize the redeeming blood of Christ. The deep red dye symbolizes Christ’s Resurrection, which is the main purpose of Easter. If you’re looking for the traditional deep red dye used for coloring Easter eggs, we’ve got you covered.

Adult Easter Baskets 

Are you attending an Easter gathering and looking for a special something to gift the host? Visit the store and put together an adult Easter basket, filled with mini liqueur bottles, chocolates, small kitchen gadgets and more.

(Note: You will be guaranteed a spot at next year’s table after gifting this!)

Don’t forget to check out our Adult Easter Egg Hunt, happening at the store on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit the store and be on the lookout for hidden Easter eggs that contain coupons for in-store items! Keep in mind that the store will be closed on Easter Sunday, in effort to spend time with family.

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Russo’s Branded Dressings

Are your appetizers and/or salads in need of something extra? Add a little unique flavor to your first course meal with our Russo’s-branded dressings.

Blackberry Walnut Dressing

As the weather starts heating up in West Michigan, try this sweet, fruit-filled summer salad dressing. Extremely refreshing, and enjoyed by adults and children, alike.

This dressing would pair well with: Spinach, walnuts, cranberries, apples, grapes, asparagus and blue cheese.

Garlic Vinaigrette with Olive Oil

Back to the basics. If you’re looking for a traditional salad dressing, try this classic recipe. Our branded garlic vinaigrette with olive oil has all of the essentials, wrapped into one dressing: olive oil, vinegar and garlic.

This dressing would pair well with: Lettuce, broccoli, carrots, peas and capers. The possibilities are endless!

Miso Sesame Scallion Vinaigrette

Delizioso! Our Miso dressing packs a punch with it’s distinct flavor. If your taste buds are craving an earthy, deep Asian flavor; this dressing is for you.

This dressing would pair well with: Kale, rice noodles, grilled chicken, zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, sunflower seeds, mandarin oranges, tofu, edamame and shredded carrots.


Creamy Roasted Red Pepper

Feeling extremely hungry, but still looking for something healthy? Our creamy roasted red pepper dressing is thicker in texture and has a fulfilling, vibrant pepper flavor. Keep in mind that it would also work well as a sandwich spread.

This dressing would pair well with: Lettuce, fresh or jarred peppers and corn. If you’re still hungry, spread some of this dressing over our Italian bread, baked in-house, and pick up some fresh mozzarella for an Italian twist on a grilled cheese.

All of these dressings, along with many of the pairing suggestions, can be found at Russo’s. Stop in to find your perfect salad pairings today!

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Wine and Sauce Pairings

The age old question, “What do I pair with ….”

And if there is anything in the wine world that has been overwritten about, it is experts telling you what food to pair with what wine. So we too, decided to put pairings to the test. We gathered eight people to taste six different pasta sauces with nine different wines. We’ll share the highlights, draw some conclusions and make some suggestions for your next meal: 

First, sparkling wine is versatile.

Ours was a Prosecco from Northern Italy. It had the most positive pairings, except for the Mushroom Alfredo. The Albarino, a light bodied, zesty white had the fewest negative pairings. Only the Pesto dish scored poorly. The heavier style of our Russian River Valley Chardonnay paired wonderfully with the Mushroom Alfredo and Bolognese sauce, but fell flat with all the other dishes. The aromatic, slightly sweet white, a Kabinett Riesling from the Mosel River Valley in Germany, scored highest on the two spicier dishes, the Thai Curry and the Bolognese. 

The Rose we chose, from the Savoie region in Eastern France, was probably the hardest to pair with the six sauces, striking out often, but not the Puttanesca sauce with its briny, olive and caper infused flavors. The light bodied Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon brought out the best of the Mushroom Alfredo and Puttanesca dishes, but the higher acid made it struggle with the Curry, Pesto and Pomodoro sauces. 

Secondly, the medium-bodied.

Of the two medium-bodied reds we tried, the Merlot based Bordeaux Blend from France stood out as the best pairing with the Pomodoro sauce, offering nice, juicy flavors that complemented the bright tomatoes. It had enough body to match the weight and richness of the Alfredo and Bolognese sauces, but, like most of the reds, the tannins and alcohol were too overpowering for the Pesto and Curry. The other medium red, a Sangiovese from the Chianti Rufina region of Tuscany, Italy, was the ideal partner for the two richest dishes, the Mushroom Alfredo and Bolognese, with its acid, spice and tannins. 

And finally, full-bodied.

The final red wine was a full-bodied Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from California. It paired well with the meaty Bolognese sauce, but, in the biggest surprise of the tasting, it also paired beautifully with the Pesto sauce as well! Besides the Curry, which the group universally declared was not meant to be eaten with any red wine, the Cabernet performed “ok” with its other dance partners. 

What kind of conclusions can we draw from this? 

The stronger the flavor of the food, the harder the pairing. The Pesto and Curry, with their intensely focused herb and spice presented issues with all but a couple wines. The bright, acidic Pomodoro tomato sauce didn’t produce as many bad pairings, but had few winners as well. 

Lower acid wines need low acid foods. Every time we paired the oaked Chardonnay with food that didn’t have enough fat to balance the acid in the dish, the wine came out tasting flabby. 

The higher the spice, the lower the tannin and alcohol should be in the wine. Wines with a lower alcohol level and a little residual sugar (Riesling, Prosecco & Albarino) paired best. 

So, what are our suggestions?

If you’re picking both food and wine:

  1. Start by matching the “weight” of the wine and food. Big Food=Big Wine. Chardonnays, Cabernets & Syrah are bigger varieties. 
  2. Make sure the acid in the wine is at least equal or greater to the acid in the dish. A good rule of thumb is that if you would squeeze a lemon on the dish, serve a bright, white wine. 
  3. Finally, the greater the spice of the food, the higher the sweetness and lower the alcohol and tannins should be in the wine. Think Chenin Blanc, Riesling & Gewurztraminer. 

If you’re charged with bringing wine to a dinner and don’t know what is being served:

  1. Leave the big, high alcohol and overtly oaked wines at home. Remember rule number two above: pick a wine that has an acid that is equal to or higher than the food. 
  2. In red wine, light to medium body wines that have red fruit flavor profiles work well. In white wine, light bodied wines like Albarino, several Italian whites, Chenin Blanc, dry Rieslings from Alsace, France, or Chablis-style Chardonnays that have little or no oak. 
  3. Don’t forget about Sparkling! Our group found these to be incredibly flexible wines that paired well with most food. 

If you’re cooking a meal and guests are bringing a mystery wine:

  1. Keep the spice at a minimum and make sure there is enough richness to balance whatever acid the dish has. This will minimize the chance of creating a difficulty pairing. 
  2. To reduce any awkwardness, have a backup wine ready and ask your guests when they arrive, “Would you like to open this tonight or was this meant for another day?” 
  3. If the gift is meant for tonight and you are certain the wine will be an awful pairing with the meal, suggest that we enjoy the wine before or after the meal, and have a different beverage during the meal. 

Whatever pasta you find in front of you, and whatever wine you are served, remember that at the end of the meal, it isn’t really what’s in front of you that matters; it’s who you find across from you. So, enjoy, make it meaningful, and make it memorable!

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Tips for a Great Red Sauce

The foundation of any delicious, homemade red sauce is easy: quality ingredients. Whether you’re picking items fresh-from-the-garden, or purchasing in-store, quality ingredients will ensure mouth-watering red sauce that will highlight any pasta dish (homemade or store-bought)!

 

Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are you best bet. We may be bias, but we love heirloom tomatoes because they’re a variety that has been passed down, generation to generation. Roma tomatoes, also known as plum tomatoes, are small in size but mighty in flavor. Grab a can of Cento San Marzano tomatoes – another variety of plum tomatoes, with the convenience of being peeled and chopped. These tomatoes are from the San Mrazano region of Italy, grown in volcanic soil from Mount Vesuvius, giving these tomatoes a unique flavor.

Russo family tip: when using canned tomatoes, drain the tomatoes out of the juice before adding into your sauce.

 

Herbs

If you’re using dried herbs, add them in early in the process to really pick up on the flavors in your sauce. We have a full-range of dried herbs for you to choose from, so you can stick with your traditional flavors or take a walk on the wild side with some new and exciting flavors! If you choose to use fresh herbs, they should be added in towards the final minutes of cooking. Because of their subtle flavors compared to dried herbs, you’ll risk losing the flavor of fresh herbs if they’re added in too early.

Russo family tip: add in basil after the sauce has cooked and has been taken off the flame.

 

Wine

While you’re picking up a bottle of wine to enjoy with your homemade pasta sauce, use some to cook with. Better yet, pick up a separate bottle! The type of wine you pick up can depend on the type of sauce you’re making and the foods that are being paired with it, but the most important factor is what makes your taste buds dance! Visit our wine section to get advice for our experienced wine department.

Russo family tip: If you choose a Chianti, you may see two kinds available – Chianti, and Chianti Classico. A Chianti Classico is produced from grapes that are harvested in what are considered the best vineyards in the region. But, we don’t play favorites!

If you’d like to use a less expensive, but flavorful wine, try Tavernello Vino Rosso in your pasta sauce!

 

At the end of the day, you have one rule: enjoy yourself! A red sauce can take time and practice, so turn on your favorite album, pour yourself a glass of wine (or two), and have fun! 

 

Sources:

https://www.tomatofest.com/what-is-heirloom-tomato.html

http://www.cento.com/sanmarzano/sanmarzano.html

http://vinepair.com/wine-101/chianti-italian-wine/

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Kitchen Favorites: Favorite Italian Kitchen Items

Some say it’s easy to make a good Italian meal, but having the right kitchen utensils will elevate not only your food, but also the whole experience. We’re featuring some of our favorite items carried in store to make pastas, pizzas, and desserts. Think of it as your must-have list for your Italian kitchen!

 

Pasta

Pasta maker

Test your culinary skills by making your own homemade pasta! Using a reliable and well-made pasta maker can lift your chef status in the kitchen and around the dining table.

Pasta drying rack

If you’re going to make your own pasta, you’re going to want a pasta drying rack. Using a drying rack allows each noodle to dry at the same pace.  

Ravioli forms and stamps

Presenting a plate of perfectly formed ravioli, consistent in shape and size, is an impressive feat. It’s also really easy with the right tool! We have a variety of forms and stamps for your signature ravioli.

Ravioli cutter 

Similar to a pizza cutter, it has small triangular blades on one side and a straight edge on another. It’s two tools in one; a time saver and a way to create beautiful ravioli as an end result.

Gnocchi boards

This small wooden paddle will make creating small gnocchi with consistency and ease. Use this board to help shape the gnocchi and you’ll have no problem!

 

Pizza

Pizza paddle

We love pizza, can you blame us? Using a pizza paddle can help with putting your pizza in the oven and taking it out after it bakes, as well as rotating it for an even bake. Assembling your pizza on the paddle makes an easy transition into the oven.

Deep dish pizza pan

Like all good Midwesterners, there’s a special place in our hearts for deep dish pizza. With this pizza style, you can add in all of your favorite ingredients – vegetables, meats, and cheeses. Bring a taste of Chicago home with a quality deep dish pizza pan.

 

Graters and Slicers

The right grater and slicer can be a game-changer when it comes to preparing your Italian feast. Providing consistency in sizing as well as small, delicate balance for your meal, you’ll impress your friends and family with your cooking skills!

Fresh parmesan graters

The Microplane cube grater is versatile and can be used beyond grating your favorite cheese. After you snag your grater, head over to our cheese selection – we carry a wide variety of cheese for you to choose from, including fresh Parmesan Reggiano, Grana Padana and other aged cheeses. 

Garlic slicer

Garlic is part of a classic Italian dining palate, but can be a pain to peel and chop finely. A garlic chopper is exactly what you’ll need to have perfectly minced garlic for all of your Italian cooking needs.

 

Forms and Makers

Cannoli form

These tools look simple, but a cannoli form will save you from hassle when you’re forming cannoli casings. For the shell, we recommend using an all-purpose Italian 00 Flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, white wine, and olive oil. Pick up G.B. Russo’s filling, a family recipe and perfect for your cannoli!

Pizzelle maker

While this utensil may take up a bit of space in your kitchen, it’s worth it. Pizzelle are the Italian version of a waffle, made from flour, eggs, sugar, Madagascar vanilla extract, butter or vegetable oil. We recommend adding anise extract, which can be found in-store! These sell out quickly, so contact us today to reserve your pizzelle maker.

Espresso maker

As Kelley says, an espresso maker is “my lifesaver when I work until 6am!” Once you’ve found your favorite espresso maker in our store, be sure to pick out some coffee to go with it. We love Illy, a premium Italian coffee brand or our GB Russo Brand Old World Blend Dark Roast.

 

Grocery Items

Now that you’re set with the necessary kitchen utensils, it’s time to focus on the grocery items you’ll want to make your Italian pizza/pasta creations authentic and delicious.

Flour

Chefs claim 00 Flour (pronounced ‘double-oh’) is the best flour to use.  It is a very finely ground flour that can be used to make pizza, pasta, bread, cakes, and more. Gluten free? No problem! We also carry gluten free flour options.

Dipping Herbs

Try adding Villa Russo Dipping Herbs to your pasta or pizza for an added flavor boost or anything your heart can imagine. Let your taste buds be your guide. The possibilities are endless!

Visit us today to find more kitchen essentials to help you make your next Italian entrée the best yet!

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Staff Favorites

This March marks our 112th anniversary and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate! We have always been a Grand Rapids business, and family-owned. The community relationships we’ve built over the years are the foundation of our business. We owe much of our success to our dedicated patrons and staff! To kick off the celebration, some of our staff is sharing their favorite items carried at G.B. Russo.

 

I chose the G.B. Russo sausage because I have fond memories of making sausage with my dad ever since I was a little kid, and the flavor is fantastic.  I chose the lasagna because I’ve never had anyone else’s lasagna that can possibly compare in flavor. My dad could come up with fantastic recipes!

– Phil

 

When it comes to wine, it would be easy to pick very expensive luxury wines that you only have very rarely as a favorite, but my favorite wines are those that give me pleasure on a regular basis because they are affordable enough to drink on a regular basis.  One wine that fits that category is the Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ($25.99).  It is made with a clone of Sangiovese called Prugnolo Gentile that has a little softer acidity than the clone used in Chianti, so it is great before, during, and after the meal. I love Champagne, especially the small producers as opposed to the big name brands. The smaller producers can do 100% Grand Cru bottlings of Champagne because there is not that much Grand Cru Champagne fruit available to supply the major brands.  The best thing is, it does not cost a penny more to go first class with these Grand Cru Champagnes.  My favorite “go to” Champagne is the Andre Clouet Grand Cru Brut Nature Silver ($39.99).  It is over $10 less than most major, well-known brand names of Champagne and twice as good.

– Dave

 

JR Ewing is a lighter, slightly sweet bourbon that is extremely smooth. It is such a great value for the price in a world of steep price increases on bourbon.

– Eric

 

 

Truffle Salt! I absolutely love truffle salt. It is intensely aromatic and flavorful. A few small sprinkles go a long way, so the jar lasts for quite some time. Truffle salt has a longer shelf-life and is more versatile than truffle oil.  Try it on any dish: pasta, chicken, vegetables, eggs, baked or mashed potatoes, risotto, chips and my absolute favorite – popcorn!  The flavor is incredible and the possibilities are endless.  I also love G.B. Russo & Son Sicilian Sauce – This is my family’s century-old recipe.  Its’ family tradition and uniquely delizioso flavor make it my favorite pasta sauce.  I also enjoy using it as a pizza sauce or bread dip.

– Kelley

 

My favorite items are the Cannoli and the G.B. Russo Smoked Brisket. I can still remember the first cannoli that I had – it’s unlike any other dessert in its sharp contrasting flavor and crunchy and creamy texture. Our smoked brisket is set apart both in flavor and style, the perfect blend of smoke and spice.

– Nate

 

It’s hard for me to decide what my favorite items are, so I love diving into a G.B. Russo gift basket! Whether it’s pre-made or a customized basket, I’m always excited and delighted to try new items.

– Dawn

 

 

My favorites are the Kitchens of India curry paste and Alessi Porcini. Both items I chose because they are quick, easy, and tasty. For a savory and simple meal, mix the Kitchens of India curry paste with chicken, onion, and 1cup of water. You can also master the Alessi Porcini risotto by using 2 ½ cups water and simmering for 18 minutes. They are great together!

– Brian

 

My favorites are the Tahitian vanilla gelato and vanilla pizzelle. The gelato as a rich vanilla flavor that goes great with any dessert!

– Camden

 

 

My favorite things at Russo’s are Chicago Italian Style loaf, Pesto Capelleti salad and spinach and cheese roll. Chicago Italian Style loaf is great for making croutons, excellent for dips as well and a nice pairing for soups or appetizers. It’s one of our best sellers, in our bakery. Pesto Capelleti salad is good cold or heated up. The salad is made with our in house pesto sauce. Our sauce is available for purchase. The spinach and cheese roll is great for appetizers or a light lunch. The roll is great for dipping with cucumber sauce. It can be served cold or warmed. Personally, I like it warm.

– Sylvia

 

A favorite Michigan beer is Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. When I moved from Florida to Michigan in the early 1990’s, this was one of the first Michigan beers I tried. After all these years, I still enjoy it today. I also enjoy Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout. This is one of the first imported beers that I tried. I still enjoy it today!

– Victor

 

 

OXO measuring beakers make measuring liquids much easier and more accurate. No more holding a measuring spoon over your bowl and adding more than the recipe calls for when the spoon overflows. In addition, with multiple sized beakers, it’s possible to have several ingredients premeasured. TheseNothing For Granite cheese boards are not only made in Michigan but made in Middleville, from stonecutters’ scraps. The spreaders are locally made from furniture makers’ scraps. The boards can be heated in a low oven to serve hot foods, as well as cheese.  Stylish and environmentally friendly:  can it get any better?

– Gisela

Be sure to stop in the store to say “buongiorno” to our staff and try a few of our recommendations! 

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How to Construct a Crostini

The word ‘crostini’ translates to ‘little crusts’ in Italian, but don’t let the name deceive you. With the crispiness of a cracker and the weight of bread, crostini make the perfect base for piling on your favorite toppings. Trust us, crostini can hold a lot! Find all of these items in our store and make G.B. Russo your one-stop shop for your crostini party.

 Before you start layering your toppings, here are a few tips to step up your crostini game.

  • Choose a loaf of bread that is crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. We recommend our Italian loaf, made fresh in-store. It’s simple with a flaky crust and a soft, billowy inside. Perfect to hold meats, cheeses, and other additions without being too dense.
  • When you cut your bread, use a serrated knife. It will help cut through the crust without ruining the inside.
  • To make the perfect crostini, cover both sides of the sliced bread with butter and put in a pan over medium heat. Flip when one side gets nice and toasty without burning. This will help keep the bread from getting soggy and breaking mid-bite.

Toppings: The good stuff

For our crostini garnishes, we go for maximum flavor to make your taste buds dance. Try these combinations to really get the flavor party started:

  • Start with your favorite soft cheese as a base for your crostini. We suggest seasoned ricotta, garlic & herb goat cheese, fontina, or tallegio. All these varieties add the perfect balance for what comes next.
  • After cheese, comes the meat. Delicately thin slices make it easy to layer without overpowering the rest of the crostini components. There are a variety of flavors that can complement your cheese selection. We recommend black forest ham, hot coppa (pork), soft and salty prosciutto di parma, or our homemade wine and cheese sausage.
  • The grand finale is your topper. There are lots of options when it comes to your topper, but we are all for a veggie. Fresh bruschetta, chopped peppadew, roasted garlic, or marinated artichoke. For a vegetarian version skip the meat and pile on more veggies and sprinkle with freshly chopped basil or flat leaf parsley.

All of the items above are compatible; so let your palate decide. Try one of our flavor combinations, or pick up something else from our store to make your perfect crostini!

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Straight from the Russo’s: Our favorite dessert wines

Valentine’s Day falls on February 14 every year, but sharing and enjoying a delicious bottle of wine can – and should – happen all year round. We carry lots of options to keep things sweet for dessert or anytime you’re craving something different than your ordinary go-to wine varieties. Below are some of our favorite picks for wines to accompany dessert at the end of a meal. Or, just let the bottle be dessert!

 

RED

Pedro Ximenez 1983 Gran Reserva Bodegas T Albala

Stored in oak barrels, this red wine is aged to perfection. The vintage has a rich mahogany color which plays well with the flavors of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and smoke. A dense red, you’re left with notes of spice and caramel that linger, leaving you with a sweet bite in the after-taste.

 

Six Grapes Graham’s Reserve Porto

Fruit with chocolate is a dessert that will never go out of style. This wine will pair perfectly with an aroma of fruits including plums and cherries mixed with chocolate notes. It’s full-bodied and complex but leaves a satiny, long finish on your palette. If stored in a cool, dark place the wine should stay fresh up to two months, giving you more time to enjoy!

 

Trentadue Chocolate Amore red dessert wine

This is decadence at its best. Produced from Merlot grapes, neutral grape spirits are added to stop fermentation. This act blocks a percentage of sugar in the wine from escaping. When the wine is finished aging, a small amount of natural chocolate extract is infused. The chocolate flavor is exceptional with a simple vanilla bean ice cream.

 

WHITE

Hores de Climens Barsac 2010 grand vin de sauternes

If you love desserts with a hint of honey, don’t pass up this wine. The palate is layered with honeysuckle, apricots, and grape. A French Bordeaux wine with great maturity, you’ll love the delicate but strong nature of this vintage.

 

Petit Guiraud 2011 Sauternes

Peach cobblers and pies are great all year round but especially when they are in season. Get a head start on testing your peach wine pairing with this wine. A forward and open taste that combines the flavors white peach, apricots, toasted almonds, and piecrust, you’ll notice a slight hint of freshness and sweetness. The finish is creamy, with the slightest trace of ginger to add a little zing to your taste buds.

 

Chateau La Tour Blanche 2010 sauternes

Take a trip somewhere warm and exotic without leaving the comfort of your home with this sauternes wine. Enjoy aromas of kiwi, apricots, and minerals work surprisingly well with a smoky palate that includes orange marmalade, ripe citrus, and saffron. Even if it’s cold outside, let your mind drift to a sunny beach.

 

ICE

Ice wines are dessert wines are made by freezing the grapes while they’re still on the vine. The sugars don’t freeze but the water does, creating a more concentrated grape that makes for a very sweet wine.

 

Frost Bitten Ice Riesling

Cookie fanatics will love this wine. Combining the flavors of vanilla and butter cookies, you’ll feel indulgent without a high price tag. You’ll also note honey and peach tea that softly settle on your tongue as a gentle reminder of this smooth wine.

 

Black Star Farms Sirius Cherry Dessert Wine

Nothing screams ‘Michigan’ like a cherry dessert wine from a Traverse City winery! Black sweet cherries strengthened with Black Star Farms cherry brandy and sweetened with a tart cherry juice. Barrel-aged for nine months to get a slight toasted oak mixed with the warmth of brandy. The ultimate wine for cherry lovers!

 

Chateau Chantal Ice

Incredibly sweet and delicate like a traditional Riesling wine, but provides a balanced of flavors of apricot, toasted caramel, and baked apple to delight the palate. For political junkies, this wine was served at the 2016 White House Canadian State Dinner for the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau!

Source: Detroit Free Press

 

42 Ice Wine – Sweet White Wine made with frozen grapes from Michigan’s 42nd parallel

This sweet wine is made from grapes frozen at Michigan’s 42nd parallel. A wine that is best enjoyed by sipping, you’ll pull flavor notes of peaches, mango, apricots, honey, and raisins with the slightest hint of violets. The sweetness of the fruit marries nicely with the sweetness of the ice wine without being overpowering.

 

Bowers Harbor Vineyard Ice Cider

Think outside the box with this sweet ice cider. Using the same technique as traditional ice wines, frozen apples are pressed to create this sweet treat. This sweet and slightly tangy ice cider is made with Michigan apples, and best paired with any apple-based dessert. The perfect gift for an out-of-town guest or to keep all for yourself!

 

SPARKLING SPIRITS

Rosa Regale Banfi Sparkling Red

The luscious scent of rose petals meets the delicate flavors of raspberries and strawberries. This sparking red is a great alternative to champagne, there are less bubbles to tickle your nose but you still get to enjoy some bubbles for a special occasion or a special treat on an ordinary day.

 

Codorniu Anna Blanc de Blancs

Enjoy the tastes of apple pie without using up your manpower on homemade dough. You’ll quickly find a nutty personality that goes well with the flavor of apple. Top it off with a finish of clove and nutmeg. This is a dry drink but if soft and smooth, due to its composition being 70% Chardonnay.

 

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava Seleccion

Sparkling wine with a clean palate of ripe pear, apple, and citrus that flow into a long, smooth finish. You’ll notice a touch of ginger in its finish to bring a little more excitement to the experience. It’s extremely versatile and can be easily paired with any dessert.

 

J.P. Chenet Ice Edition

Small, delicate bubbles fill your glass of this lovely drink. Your nose will fill with the scent of white flowers, citrus, and tropical fruits. An energetic palate with classically smooth creamy makes a refreshing delight that’s ideal for summertime, or anytime!

 

VIN SANTO

Belcaro Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico 2008

This Belcar Vin Santo has an amber color that will make your mouth water and warm your heart. Delicate notes of honey dance with a hint of almond, tied together by the slightest touch of spice. Perfect with a carefully cultivated cheese board with a mixture of nuts, fruits, and cheeses.

 

A.D. MDX Vin Santo Lanciola 2008

Luxuriously gold in color, complex notes of dried apricots blend with acacia honey and orange peel. A bouquet of yellow flowers enhances this dessert wine. Sit back and relax while you enjoy the aftertaste of candied fruit.

 

Fattoria Il Lago

Deeply intense in color with a dark yellow base and amber undertones, the aromas are equally intense with honey and dried fruits. Somehow this dessert wine is both complex and delicate at the same time. The finish is nutty and has a long-lasting taste. Best served slightly chilled.

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How to Make Your Popcorn Really Pop

It’s National Snack Month, and we’re celebrating with one of our favorite snacks – popcorn! It’s easy to make, fun to share, and even easier to eat. Popcorn is just about the perfect snack. Try out one (or all) of our popcorn accoutrements to make your snack time extraordinary, all available at G.B. Russo’s.

 

Parmesan Garlic

You may have had cheesy popcorn before, but I bet it’s never been this good! The trick is to combine melted butter and garlic powder together and drizzle over freshly made popcorn. Next shave Parmesan cheese and sprinkle freshly ground pepper on your popcorn. To shave cheese like a pro, we recommend using an OXO Cheese Grater because it’s easy to use and easy to clean. This combination creates cheesy garlicky popcorn that will quickly become your go-to favorite.

 

Red Curry Coconut

Culinary daredevils will love this! Combine red curry paste with melted butter and a dash of paprika. The curry paste promises a unique flavor that will take your average popcorn to exotic new heights. Top it off with toasted coconut flakes to balance the heat and cool things down while providing a nice crunch.

 

 

Chocolate and Dried Cranberries

It’s hard to resist a sweet and salty mixture, so don’t! After popping, place the popcorn on a baking tray lined with wax paper. Using a double boiler, melt semi-sweet chocolate and lightly drizzle over the popcorn. To stir the chocolate so it doesn’t burn, we love the spatulas from Zyliss because they’re durable and come in a variety of colors. Let the chocolate set if you can! There’s nothing wrong with chocolate-covered fingers. This becomes the perfect treat for Valentine’s Day by adding some of G.B. Russo’s dried cranberries.

 

Sriracha

We love to kick things into high gear when it comes to exciting snacks. With the right amount, sriracha sauce gives the slightest hint of heat without overpowering the other flavors. Melt sriracha and butter together and layer over the popcorn. Need one more punch of flavor? Top it off with sriracha straight from the bottle.

 

 

Plain

If you’re a purist, you probably love simple popcorn with a touch of sea salt. We might not be able to twist your arm to try some of the more unusual flavors but we encourage you to try a few of our add-ons. You can find a variety dried fruits and nuts in-store to make your everyday plain popcorn a little more adventurous.