Posts from July 2006

New Jersey Concierges is now our main Website, Montclair Concierges will be limited to a Welcome Page

In case some of you tried to visit our Montclair Concierges website recently and could not find it or where redirected to New Jersey Concierges, we apologize.
We decided to host all our websites with one service and the transfer for Montclair Concierges was not as smooth as planned.
So for right now, our Montclair Concierges site will be limited to a welcome page.
Please visit New Jersey Concierges for services, prices and other details.

Thank you

Serge Lescouarnec
Errands Express LLC
'We run Errands for You'

Can't stand the Heat...Try Bea's Cold Avocado, Orange and Lime Soup or Tarator from Bulgaria

It is too hot to work is the subtitle on the recipe for Cold Avocado, Orange and Lime Soup by Beatrice of La Tartine Gourmande. This is also a classic french song: 'Il fait trop chaud pour travailler'.
It was also a title chosen in June 2005 by Pascale Weeks who suggested a big pitcher of Citron Presse (lemon, lime, water, ice cubes, touch of sugar) as the perfect thirst quencher.
I also found advice to french workers Heat can kill, even at work on how to adjust your work habits to the weather. Taratorsoup
More Heatwave health tips are compiled by Disastersrus, What a name?
To finish on a Food note, I chose to illustrate this piece with a photo of 'Tarator Soup', a cold cucumber and yogurt recipe from Bulgaria that I discovered courtesy of Villa Stresov based in Borovets.
Beside offering accomodations in a luxury villa, they also have Gourmet Wine Dinners available.

Stay cool!

Pass the Snake and Lemon Cucumbers please

After tasting some sweet and tender lemon cucumbers Lemoncucumber (pictured here) in a couple of dishes recently, I decided to learn more about them and in the process discovered the existence of the snake cucumber also know as armenian cucumber. No snake charmer needed here.
Of all the family, my favorite is the cornichon (french for gherkin cucumber) which I especially enjoy with a little pate or prosciutto.
The Cook's Thesaurus offers a good overview of the cucumber family.

If you are looking for a low fat drink, WebMd even offers a recipe for Lemon Cucumber Seltzer (O calories, O gram of Fat).

I sometime indulge in a not so healthy mix: sliced cucumber salad tossed with creme fraiche. A leaner alternative could use low fat yogurt.

Time well spent, take a look at "Cheap Flights' for Deals to Europe

After reading an article on David Soskin of 'Cheap Flights', I was interested enough to check their website and put it to the test. I entered two of my favorite itineraries ( Newark, New Jersey to Toulouse and Newark, New Jersey to Barcelona) and was pleased by how quickly and clearly the results were displayed.
As opposed to most travel search engines, I was not asked for departure dates.
The results of my searches were displayed in alphabetical order of 'suppliers'.
It included main airlines such as Continental and British Airways, Budget Airlines and Consolidator Tickets.
It gave me travel options up to November of this year.
Obviously those in July and August were expensive (the cheapest being around $700.00) but if I was willing to travel early September after the tourist rush, there were attractive options in the $400.00 to $500.00 range.
The prices I quote are for round trip tickets and before tax and fees are applied.
The company is based in London but is building up its presence in the US.
All in all if you are flexible, 'Cheap Flights' seems an option worth considering.

How many 'Waribashi' (Disposable Chopsticks) does the average Tokyo resident use per day?

I have to say that I am way more comfortable with fork and knife than chopsticks but 'PingMag', one of my favorite information sources in Asia, got my attention with their Portable Chopstick Design article.
It allowed me to discover that most Tokyo residents use up to 3 pair of disposable chopsticks called 'Waribashi' in Japanese. According to the Waribashi Conundrum in 'Japan Visitor' it amounts to 24 Billion pairs a year for the whole country.
Ryoko who wrote the piece thinks it is a terrible waste and that everyone would be better off with well designed reusable ones.Chopsticks_1
In the US, Donna Keiko Ozawa organized the Waribashi Project in San Francisco to collect the chopsticks for Art Projects. Visit their BLOG for more details.

I could not resist using PingMag's illustration on the proper use of chopsticks.

J&R Music and Computer World, Customer Service beyond my Expectations

As I have to submit a number of photos for an article to be published in a New Jersey magazine later this year, I went shopping for a (new) digital camera.
After checking a number of stores in my area and being disappointed by the narrow selection offered, I decided to move my search online. Of all those checked, only two, 'Compusa' and 'J&R World' seemed to offer a wide selection. I settled for a Panasonic DMCLZ3S. I bought it through 'J&R'  because of their proximity (New York City), previous very positive buying experiences and the price ($169.99). Since I needed the camera very quickly (I need to send the photos by Friday), I called their 800 number to find out about the shipping times, got someone right away who offered to take my order. They do not charge tax for orders sent outside New York State so I picked the faster 2 day delivery option.
It took a few minutes and I was assured that I would get it by Wednesday.
I actually got my delivery on Tuesday (yesterday) at 11:00 am.
This is what I call going beyond your customer's expectations.
Thank you 'J&R'.
All I have left to do is take a few good shots.

Tourist Remover, Clearing the View on your Vacation Pictures...

You are travelling to exciting places and want to save memories of your trip. The only problem is that as you take your pictures there is always something (and ice cream cart) or someone (another tourist, passers by) who obscure the view. Well, from Switzerland comes a nifty Tool called Tourist Remover. You feed it with a number of shots you took of the same (busy) sight and it takes care of removing people and things who are in the way. The final result is kind of a 'best of' of all the pictures you took with sometimes 'funny editing accidents' such as having the same person crossing the street twice in the background (at different stages of crossing) as a user of the service commented on their site.
'Tourist Remover' is part  of the online photo manager 'Snap Mania' .
A Free Account allows you to store up to 100 MB.
Their site offers a number of tutorials on how to use the service which includes simple ways to use your photos for T-Shirts, Cards and more.
I discovered the service on (Wired) Monkey Bites today.

Happiness...From the Beatles to Aristotle and Smiling Chimps

We are more likely to scan the cover of People Magazine than sit down with a book of one of the Greek philosophers such as Aristotle these days.
Happiness might be doing something you like and being somehow good at it.
Happiness could also be watching the river flow.
The Beatles sang that 'Happiness is a warm gun'.Stumbling
Daniel Gilbert of Harvard wrote 'Stumbling on Happiness' and I like his comparison on the flurry of books on potty training and 'happiness management'.
Should we go back in time and listen again to Funkadelic (1971) 'Free your Mind and...'?
The FT ' A Subject worth taking seriously' book review got me going.

Take the Stellenbosch Wine Route and end the day with Dinner at Blue Danube in Cape Town

I was looking at some home furniture designs originating from South Africa and ended up discovering The Blue Danube, a restaurant located in Cape Town. If you are also a wine lover, you could combine visits to wineries in Stellenbosch with dinner at Blue Danube. Bluedanube_2 What caught my eye first with this eatery was its decor that has a kind of magical quality to it. Austrian born chef Thomas Sinn blends european and african ingredients and influences to create a unique cuisine.
Tom Cannavan's Wine pages has a review of this eatery and others in Cape Town.

E Lycee, A Virtual French School for Teens

Using an engaging mix of french comic strips, books and movies, E Lycee offers a Virtual Classroom to French Speaking teens and pre-teens (11 to 18 years old) in the USA. They use whiteboards and videoconferencing to help students stay engaged in the class. The service was started as they realized that many students do not have the time or opportunity to go to a language school and also because of the need to offer a more contemporary approach to learning French language and culture.Lyceepondichery_2
In a more traditional fashion, Lycees Francais around the world serve the same purpose. The Pondichery (India) location is pictured here (picture by Claude Renault, a photographer from Brittany, my birth place) .