Food & Dining
Hotel Blackhawk's Bix Bistro Is Wine Spectator 2012 Award of Excellence Recipient PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Tim Heim   
Tuesday, 17 July 2012 09:40

Yearly national award recognizes theme, selections in choosing recipients

Davenport, IA – Bix Bistro, the restaurant within Hotel Blackhawk, has been chosen as a 2012 Award of Excellence recipient by Wine Spectator, the preeminent voice of the wine industry. The award will be featured in the August issue of the magazine (hitting newsstands July 24th).

An Award of Excellence is received by a restaurant whose lists offer a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Typically, these lists offer at least 100 selections. The recognition is part of Wine Spectator’s annual Restaurant Wine List Awards.

“We’re delighted to have Bix Bistro recognized by Wine Spectator,” said Hotel Blackhawk General Manager Tim Heim. “It’s very rewarding to see our food and beverage team, including Abe Blair, our Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, setting this standard in the Quad Cities.”

Wine Spectator began in 1976 as a tabloid newspaper with circulation of under 5,000. It is now the most widely-read wine magazine in the world. In 1996, it launched and is the online source for news and information about the wine industry. The site includes archives of over 250,000 wine reviews.

Hotel Blackhawk re-opened December 15th, 2010. The hotel retains its 95-year-old historic character while featuring modern conveniences throughout the 130 guestrooms and extended-stay suites, six meeting rooms and up to 300-person banquet capacity in the signature Gold Room.

Other features include wireless internet, a fitness center, business center, swimming pool, hot tub, Spa Luce (lu-CHAY), Milan Flower Shop, the Bix Bistro restaurant, the Beignet (been-YAY) Done That coffee shop and Blackhawk Bowl & Martini Lounge. The hotel is part of the Summit Hotels & Resorts group ( and the Historic Hotels of America network (

For more, visit or find us on (Search: Hotel Blackhawk).


Galena Cellars awarded at 2012 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Janelle Keeffer   
Friday, 06 July 2012 13:16

GALENA—Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, at the hand of winemaker Christine (Chris) Lawlor-White, was honored with 19 awards, including the prestigious Governor’s Cup for its Vineyard Rosé produced from Illinois-grown fruit, two Top Awards for Wines from any Appellation and seven “Best of Category” designations at the recently held 2012 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition.

Sponsored and coordinated by the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association (IGGVA), the Illinois State Fair Wine Competition was held June 25-27, 2012 at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield where nearly 400 local wines (266 commercial entries) were presented to the panel of twelve judges.

Galena Cellars had five varietals that received a double gold award (consensus gold when all judges award the wine a gold medal) and were also rated best in their category for their Blackberry, Vineyard Rosé, Eric the Red, Daffodil and Traminette wine.

In total, Galena Cellars earned one Governor’s Cup, two top-awarded wines from any appellation designations, seven best of category awards, five double gold, one gold, eight silver and two bronze awards.

“We are excited and honored to receive these awards, and are especially proud of our Illinois-grown grapes and fruit,” said winemaker Chris Lawlor-White.

According to IGGVA, in total, the commercial competition awarded 40 gold medals, 99 silver medals and 87 bronze medals. A ceremony and public tasting of the award-winning wines will be held Tuesday, August 14th at the Illinois Wine Experience during the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Illinois.

IGGVA, established in 1992, is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing the viticulture and enology interests of Illinois through information exchange and cooperation among Illinois grape producers and vintners.

The Illinois wine industry has exploded in recent years, growing from just 12 wineries in 1997 to nearly 100 today. During this time, the acreage devoted to grape production has grown at a tremendous rate, and today Illinois is consistently among the top 12 wine-producing states. Today the Illinois wine industry creates a direct economic impact of more than $319 million annually on the Illinois economy.

Galena Cellars Vineyard, established in 1990 in rural Galena, Illinois, is home to 22 different specialty grapes, many of which are hybrids developed by universities throughout the country in an effort to create a vine and grape with the hardiness needed to grow in this region. The vineyard is open to the public April through November for tours, tastings and special events. Galena Cellars also offers tasting rooms, wine patios and gift shops in downtown Galena and Geneva, Illinois.

#   #   #


2012 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition Results for Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery





Hybrid Blush/Rosé

Vineyard Rosé


Governor’s Cup, Double Gold (Consensus Gold—all judges
awarded a gold medal), Best of Category




Top Awards for Wines from any Appellation + Double Gold (Consensus Gold—all judges
awarded a gold medal) + Best of Category

La Crosse



Double Gold (Consensus Gold—all judges
awarded a gold medal), Best of Category

Marechal Foch

Eric the Red


Top Awards for Wines from any Appellation

+ Double Gold (Consensus Gold—all judges
awarded a gold medal)




Double Gold (Consensus Gold—all judges
awarded a gold medal), Best of Category

Sparkling, Carbonated

Frizzante di Muscat Canelli



Seyval Blanc

Seyval Blanc




Britt White



St. Croix

Vineyard Red


Silver, Best of Category

Interspecific White Blends

General’s White



Interspecific White Blends




Flower / Vegetable



Silver, Best of Category


Late Harvest Riesling



Flavored Dessert

May Wine



Interspecific Red Blends

Vintage Red



Other Fruits




#     #     #

Spanish-Language Virtual Expert Answers Food Safety Questions on Your Smartphone PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Catherine Cochran   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 13:37

Take “Mobile Pregúntele a Karen” with you for on-the-go tips to prevent

foodborne illness this summer

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2012—A new Spanish-language food safety app is available to consumers around the clock on their mobile devices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. “Mobile Pregúntele a Karen” is the Spanish-language version of Mobile Ask Karen, the virtual expert who answers smartphone users’ questions about properly handling, storing and preparing food to prevent illness. The English version of Mobile Ask Karen was launched in May 2011.


“Expanding our food safety information to multiple languages means we are reaching a wider audience and preventing more foodborne illness,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “As consumers become familiar with these user-friendly mobile applications, they will develop good food safety habits and have instant access to reliable food safety information.”


The Pregúntele a Karen website has been available from desktop browsers since September 2010. However, FSIS recognized that consumers often need answers to questions like, “To what temperature should I cook steak?” or, “How can I keep food safe outdoors?” when they are not able to access a computer. The new mobile format now allows people to take the food safety information “Karen” provides in Spanish with them to the barbecue grill, farmers market, grocery store and kitchen.


Both Mobile Pregúntele a Karen, which is optimized for iOS and Android devices, and the desktop-based Pregúntele a Karen are available 24 hours a day at or, with more than 1,200 food safety answers searchable by topic and by product. Consumers can also email, chat with a live representative, or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features on the app, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in Spanish and English from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.


Mobile Pregúntele a Karen is part of a multi-faceted USDA initiative to prevent foodborne illness. As part of this initiative, USDA recently joined the Ad Council, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch Food Safe Families, a consumer food safety education campaign. Food Safe Families is the first joint public service campaign to empower families to further reduce their risk of foodborne illness at home by checking their key food safety steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill. For more information, go to


Today's action is in addition to other significant public health measures FSIS has put in place during President Barack Obama's Administration to date to safeguard the food supply, prevent foodborne illness, and improve consumers' knowledge about the food they eat. These initiatives support the three core principles developed by the President's Food Safety Working Group: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery. Some of these actions include:

  • Test-and-hold policy that will significantly reduce consumer exposure to unsafe meat products, should the policy become final, because products cannot be released into commerce until Agency test results for dangerous contaminants are known.
  • Labeling requirements that provide better information to consumers about their food by requiring nutrition information for single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products and ground or chopped products.
  • Public Health Information System, a modernized, comprehensive database with information on public health trends and food safety violations at the nearly 6,100 plants FSIS regulates.
  • Performance standards for poultry establishments for continued reductions in the occurrence of pathogens. After two years of enforcing the new standards, FSIS estimates that approximately 5,000 illnesses will be prevented each year under the new Campylobacter standards, and approximately 20,000 illnesses will be prevented under the revised Salmonella standards each year.


Iowa Distillery Releases Seasonal Strawberry Vodka PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Ryan Burchett   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 12:55

Le Claire, Iowa, June 26, 2012 – Mississippi River Distilling Company is excited to announce the release of their newest seasonal product, “Pride of the Wapsi Strawberry Vodka” on June 29, 2012.  MRDC is once again partnering with an Iowa business on this product.  This time Pride of the Wapsi, a berry patch near Long Grove, Iowa.  The new spirit is just in time for Independence Day celebrations.


“The whole idea of the seasonal spirits is to bring some unique products to the market and also partner with other local businesses,” Ryan Burchett, MRDC owner and distiller, says.  “We were really excited when the gang at Pride of the Wapsi said they would have enough strawberries to pull this off.”


MRDC used 1,600 pounds of hand-picked strawberries in this latest creation.  They loaded their still with fresh strawberries and their signature River Pilot Vodka.  After a 12-hour infusion, the strawberries and vodka were redistilled for a one of a kind flavor.


“We’re so excited about the result,” remarks owner and distiller Garrett Burchett.  “Our unique distillation technique gives us the essence, fragrance and flavor of strawberry without the sugary sweetness of a liqueur or other artificially flavored vodkas.  The aroma of this product is amazing.  It smells like fresh strawberry jam.”


For Pride of the Wapsi owners Pat and Lora Dierickx, this was a big project.  “This year we closed the patch down a little sooner than we had hoped, but we were happy to be able to get the 1,600 pounds of strawberries picked for the distillery before that.” Pat says.  “We think this project will bring a whole new awareness to our farm.  We never dreamt that our berries would be used for vodka.  But we’re so pleased to see this collaboration work out.”


The first bottles of the strawberry vodka will be released this Friday, June 29.  The following week, Pride of the Wapsi will be specially featured at MRDC’s First Friday event held Friday, July 6 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. Along with the farmers being on hand, fans who purchase bottles that evening will be able to get a free commemorative pint glass marking the release of the new vodka.


Mississippi River Distilling Company is open from 10 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday and from 12 to 5 PM Sundays.  Free tours are offered to the public daily on the hour from 12 to 4 PM or by appointment.  The tour takes visitors through the entire distilling process.  Tours end in the Grand Tasting Room with free samples of products for those patrons over 21 years of age.



Food experts tell it like it is on Best Food Facts PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Best Food Facts   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:03

Best Food Facts gives you the opportunity to connect with food experts from around the country who have done the research, checked their work and want to share the results. Through blog posts, experts provide answers to your questions about food. Best Food Facts encourages open discussion - please send us your questions.


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