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An Idea for the Holidays

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By Dan Clarke

All right, it’s been a lousy year. Most of us want to put 2020 in the rear-view mirror and look forward to what must be a better 2021. 

In normal times, we’d be sharing convivial gatherings with friends—football bowl games during the day and casual parties and dinners in the evenings. Given the circumstances, most of us will be constrained this year. Many medical advisors and most governmental figures are telling us we must forego the socializing that we’re used to. However you feel about that, we suggest trying to take an upbeat attitude and looking for something to celebrate. Pop the cork on a bottle of something bubbly at least once this season. Champagne is never a bad choice, though it tends to be a little pricey. Acceptable substitutes include Proseccos from Italy and Cavas from Spain. However, we’re called Taste California Travel and there are plenty of tasty sparklers from this state.

Even if you’re not having friends over this Christmas season, we suggest you try snacking on this preparation for almonds while you sip your wine. It reminds us of the way our grandmother fixed almonds around this time of year. Though our recipe is defined as Mediterranean Almonds, we found it at the website for the Almond Board of California (we’re sticking with that in-state theme).

Restaurants may be closed, but it’s likely you can find all the ingredients for this appetizer in a grocery store, including wine possibilities to serve with it. If the budget is a bit pinched, Barefoot Cellars Bubbly Brut is a decent option (about $8-$10). Otherwise, there are many quality products that are widely available. We’d suggest the non-vintage Brut from J Vineyards & Winery (about $22-$25) or the Domaine Carneros Brut (about $30).

Live a little and look forward to the post-Pandemic world!


Mediterranean Almonds


  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp paprikax
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds whole natural almonds
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin


1.            Preheat the oven to 225-degrees F.

2.            Combine the egg whites and tomato paste in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.

3.            Whisk in half of the olive oil, the lemon zest, paprika, garlic powder and cayenne. Add almonds and toss to coat.

4.            Place almonds in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

5.            Cool slightly and transfer to a large bowl.

6.            Drizzle almonds with the remaining olive oil and toss to coat

7.            Sprinkle with the kosher salt and cumin and toss to coat.

8.            Cool completely while stirring occasionally

9.            Store in an airtight container.

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