Posts from June 2008

When was the Last Time you Wrote a Letter, a Thank You Note?

That's the first thought that came to mind, a few weeks back when I wrote not one but two letters.
One was to my mother who is computer less and the other to one of my cousins who recently lost her mother.
Using pen and paper made me realize how few letters I have written and mailed in the past few years.
Even getting a Postcard from a distant locale might be nice from time to time.
A handwritten thank you note or request might carry more weight than an electronic message these days.

Clueless as to the proper way to couch your thoughts and words, The Morning News offered some How to Write a Thank You Note advice back in October of 2003.

On The Sideroad, Lidya Ramsey offers her 8 rules of Business Note Etiquette.
Number 5: Poor penmanship is no excuse unless your handwriting is totally illegible especially applies to me.

As she puts it: "The person who receives your note will appreciate your thoughtfulness and will not be grading your handwriting. If your penmanship does not meet your standards, it is never too late to improve. There are numerous resources at your library or on the Internet to teach you to write legibly".

I personally write a draft and then a clearer (neater?) second edition.

What is your solution?

Thanks to Lucy Kellaway for putting this on the front burner with Shock of BPC: before personal computers (FT, June 29, 2008)

That's it for Monday Work Etiquette #44

Last week: Rude Customers (Paris Hilton Syndrome)...Fire Them?

All Over Rosé Picks: From Jancis Robinson to SF Chronicle

Let's start with The Chronicle Wine Selections: Dry Imported Rosé (SF Gate, May 16).

Lynne Char Bennett notes that most of the Rosé found in the U.S is imported and reminds us that Rosé is made with juice from red and black grapes that has had minimal contact with the dark grape skins, which contribute color and a small amount of tannins to the wine".
The SF Chronicle Panel tasted no less than 93 Rosé offerings this year.
The only one to get 3 Stars is the 2007 Loimer Kamptal Rosé Table Wine ($15) which she describes as "Stony slate, strawberry-rhubarb compote and crushed blackberry aromas and flavors. Lean, grippy, taut profile with lengthy finish. A standout for the price. It's 100 percent Zweigelt, which is Austria's most widely grown red grape - a 1922 cross between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent" (Importer: Vin Divino). I have not tried any of them yet.

Susan Albarran of Moore Brothers had a Rosé drink down (June 9) with some friends.
Her only regret is that she did not serve the Sancerre selection (100% Pinot Noir) first.
The 2007 Corte Gardoni Rosé Bardolino Chiaretto intrigues me for its grape blend of corvina, rhondinella and molinera and its playful label (below).


As for Jancis Robinson in What is it about Provençal pink? she suggests that some of the best Rosé (and the worst as well) comes from Provence. Her grape of choice for a delicate pink would be anything but Cabernet Sauvignon. Her Australian pick, Charles Melton, Rose of Virginia 2007 Barossa Valley which she calls the prototype of this beefy barbecue style of pink" tastes different.

The 2008 Vintage is already available down under.

Related bits: Don't Blush! A Real Rosé from Chinon, Domaine Fabrice Gasnier and Rosé Number 2: Cotes du Ventoux « Cuvée Juliette » 2007

On Bees and Strawberries: Are both threatened? Time to Make a Buzz?

Carolyn Lochhead wonders "could strawberry ice cream disappear from our lives? What about vanilla Swiss almond?" in Un-busy bees a disaster for almost everyone (SF Gate, June 27).

She says that the people at Haagen-Dazs and other companies are alarmed at the "decline of honeybees and other pollinators of strawberry plants, almond trees and the rest of the roughly 90 percent of terrestrial plant life that needs pollination".
On the East Coast, she quotes Edward Flanagan, of Jasper Wyman & Son, a wild-blueberry grower in Maine who confirms "No bees, no blueberries".

Back in 1999, the NY State Agricultural Station at Cornell University explained that Honey Bees Deliver Beneficial Fungi to Strawberries and Increase Yield.
Rainy weather also added to delays in seasonal crops as Bainbridge Strawberries Slow to Hit the Stands highlights.

Melissa Waage on Switchboard (National Resources Defense Council) was one of the first to raise the bees and strawberries question (alarm?) in Does a world without honey bees mean a world without Haagen-Dazs? (February 26, 2008).
Jennifer Sass on the same Switchboard says That Bees need us to make a buzz for them! on June 27.
In a nutshell she reminds us that honeybees make the world go round.

What are your thoughts?
More alarmist news?

Tastes like Summer: Great Juice from Mr. Batard: Gamay Hautes Noelles

His Muscadet might be more popular but it is no reason to neglect Serge Batard Domaine Les Hautes Noelles Gamay.

I just bought a bottle of the 2007 Vintage (100% Gamay grapes) and it was perfect for hot muggy weather.
Not too high in alcohol (12%), great fruit, a lighter red for hot summer days.

Serge Batard calls it a 'vin de la soif' (a wine for thirsty people) displaying red fruits and black cherries.

Smith and Vine (Brooklyn, New York) suggest you "take a chance and chill this down like you were in the French countryside".

On his (French Only) website, Mr Batard writes that "each vintage is a challenge, it takes a lifetime to master wine...".

He does not use chemical fertilizers or weed killers.

The fact sheet tells us: "This Gamay is grown in the Coteaux d’Herbauges vineyard lying on the northern shores of the Lac de Grand-Lieu. These vineyards benefit from their southwesterly exposure and their proximity to the lake, factors that allow for great ripeness in the vineyards".

You can pay a visit to the property (the cellar) located in the small town of Saint-Léger-les-Vignes (near Nantes) on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Check the site for hours and contact info.


Enough said, find this Gamay and drink it.

A steal at around $12, good for the Consumed to Thrifty.

More Loire:  'Le Bois Jacou', Stands Out in a Forest of Average Wines

Picnic and Party Plates that Don't Trash Nature thanks to 'VerTerra'

How much garbage all our summer parties and picnics generate, god only knows?
A little company that could, VerTerra (from New York) has come up with a solution inspired by India.

They offer a line of plates, bowls, cups, and platters that they describe as "100% renewable and compostable plant matter and water. No chemicals, waxes or dyes, like those found in disposable paper and plastic options". They suggest that theses single-use products can be used "to reheat in the microwave, bake in the oven, or cool in the fridge".


Made in South Asia from fallen leaves, after collecting these leaves they "apply steam, heat and pressure to transform the leaves into durable products that will naturally biodegrade in 2 months".

At about $1 a piece, responsibility you can afford.


First read about VerTerra on Springwise.

Want to discover other earth friendly products, the California Waste Management Board offers a list of Compostable Products.

Related: Wanna Compost? 'The Daily Dump' can help

'Japan Cuts', Not Sandwiches, New Japanese Films Festival, New York, July 2-13

Tired of the same old film talent, want fresh cuts instead of stale ones, the Japan Society brings new celluloid heroes to New York with Japan Cuts.

From July 2 to July 13, Japan Cuts presents 18 feature films getting their U.S and/or NY premiere  plus a sidebar tribute to late filmmaker Kon Ichikawa.

They run the gamut from Sukiyaki Western Django (on July 5th) an homage to spaghetti western by Takashi Miike, featuring you would have guessed Quentin Tarantino to A Gentle Breeze in the Village (Tennen kokekko) based on a popular manga, a tender coming-of-age love story set deep in Japan's countryside, by director Nobuhiro Yamashita (showing on closing day, July 13).

The short form will also get a chance to shine with over 60 short films from Japan's emerging independent filmmakers, video artists and a special highlight on Naomi Kawase.

The Japan Cuts Trailer above was created by Motomichi, the Japanese visual artist based in New York.

Films from July 3 to 6 are co-presented with the New York Asian Film Festival.

On the Big Screen for Tokyo Thursdays #44

Other New York-Tokyo Links: In 'Japanamerica', Roland Kelts rides the New York-Tokyo Express

Monet Painting for 80 Million Dollars: An Investment Vehicle?

I heard the sale of Claude Monet "Le bassin aux nympheas" characterized as an investment vehicle.
It fetched around 80 Million Dollars at the Christie's sale in London.

The Independent shares the details in Monet masterpiece sells for nearly £41m (June 25, 2008).
Do you collect Art for Art's sake or as an hedge against market turbulence?
Is is wise or plain wishful thinking?

Related: Milles Sabords...1932 Tintin Cover Original Painting fetches $1.2 Million

Wind and Solar Powered 'Charge Station' for your Mobile at Glastonbury Festival

For the second year in a row, Gotwind will provide a solar and wind powered Recharge Station for your mobile devices (commissioned by Orange) at the Glastonbury Festival (UK) on June 27 to 29.

The station generates enough power to charge as many as 100 phones per hour.
And it glows in the dark as their illustration shows.


As for the music, Johnny Sharp says I still love Glastonbury. Here's why.

The Guardian site also offers its Free Glastonbury Album which includes bands from as near by me as Yeasayer of Brooklyn (don't know them, they play on Sunday ) and as far as Australia with Operator Please.

Did notice that Lightspeed Champion which I saw in concert at South by Southwest plays on Friday.

More Batteries: Charge your Tech Toys (Mp3, Cell Phone, PDA) with Solar power by using Solio

Are you 'Distracted', Out of Focus? Maggie Jackson raises the red flag on Multi Tasking

Maggie Jackson describes our current world as an ADD (Attention Deficit Society) in her book Distracted subtitled The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.


She worries as The Brian Lehrer Show put it that "today’s tendency to multi-tasking has us headed for a new Dark Ages, as human beings lose their ability to pay close attention".

The last part of the title might be too much gloom and doom, nevertheless she has a point. It seems that many of us confuse getting attention and making noise.

Can we ceaselessly twitter, comment on blogs, social networks and still have time for rest and reflection?

Should we sit at our computer eating junk food while catching up with the latest cooking trends?

The middle aged man that I am cannot help being concerned and sometimes irritated by mostly younger people constantly checking their instant messages and somehow unable to turn off their 'smart' phones.

How much connection is too much?

I suggested to a friend recently that in the not so distant future there might be a place for a trading scheme similar to carbon trading for pollution where those of us who are connected yet sensible could swap connection time for money with the addicted crowd.

What are your thoughts on the topic?

Check the Monsters & Critics Review.

Maggie Jackson also writes the Balancing Acts column for the Boston Globe.

Related: Twitter...Blackberries and the Age of Constant Interruption

Cold Yogurt Soup, Philosophy and Food: Ottolenghi the Cookbook

What turned my attention to Yotam Ottolenghi at first was his Cold Yogurt Soup recipe for The Guardian.
A perfect eat on a hot summer day.

In Cooking the Books, Nigel Slater sings his praise, confessing that "Ottolenghi has been part of my life for some years now. I find it difficult to pass its doors without at least a peep at its Mediterranean delights. There is no more vibrant food store in London. Leaving there without a box of passion fruit tartlets or a slice or two of plum cake with my 'good boy' broccoli salad requires more willpower than I currently possess. The fact that the proprietors Yotam Ottolenghi and his friend Sami Tamimi have been generous to put their recipes in a book is something I had long dreamed of".

Which led me to Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, no less than 140 recipes from "meat and fish main courses, through to many healthy and quick salads and suppers, plus cakes and breads".
Their love of food is rooted in their childhood in Jerusalem.
Over the years they were influenced by other middle eastern cuisines and many other strands.


If you are in London on July 24th, they will have a Book Launch Party at cheese shop La Fromagerie.
Get all the details on the event as well as a reservation link in Celebrating the Cookbook with La Fromagerie on the Ottolenghi Blog.
Lychee Martinis & Saffron Scented Prosecco will be served.

The book was published May 1st in the UK.
I am not sure where it might be available otherwise.

On UK Restaurants and Cookbooks: Size is not everything, Gospel of Cooking according to Jason Atherton at 'Maze'