Posts from August 2008

4 Steps in the Right Direction: 'Cuatro Pasos' (Mencia 06), A Red Wine even a Bear could Love!

To be honest, I cannot remember the last Spanish wine that I mentioned here.

Looking for inspiration in a local wine store, I was asked have you tried this.

The 'this' in question was Cuatro Pasos (means 4 steps as footsteps).

Calling it 'old vines' would not be an exaggeration since the grapes come from 80 year old stock.

It is made 100% from Mencia more precisely brought to us by Bodegas Martin Codax in Cacabelos (Leon) and is part of the Bierzo DO (denomination of origin) in Northwestern Spain.

A fruit forward red, medium bodied, it clocks in at 14% alcohol.


Corie Brown in Old Vines, New Gambles (LA Times, Oct 07) described the 2005 Vintage as offering "aromas of berry and dusty blueberry and flavors of black cherry, this wine is reminiscent of a dry Lambrusco".

Where did the name Cuatro Pasos come from?

According to the winery:

"The discovery of four bear footprints in a magnificent vineyard in the
highest areas of the Bierzo inspired the name of this wine.
Four firm steps are necessary to reach excellence: the selection of
the land, the care of the vine, an suitable climate and carefulness in
the vinification.
Four places: Otero, Hornija, Corullón y Valtuille with four different
stories that define the character of their people and vines.
And this is how Four Steps came about, 100% Mencía elaborated
from grapes chosen from the over 80-year-old vines from the slated
lands located in the high areas of the Bierzo region.
After its vinification, its brief maturation is carried out in barrels of
oak originating from four woods: American, Allier, Limousine and

At times linked to Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc, the origins of Mencia are still a mistery. This varietal has been present in the area for hundreds of years.

Mencia used to be considered a poor cousin producing pale wines until outsiders came to the region bringing a fresh approach and putting the area back on the map.

This 2006 Vintage should be found for around $11.

So a great bang for the buck.

Our fiends at Catavino tells us more about the area's wines in their Virtual Wine Tasting of Bierzo (June 2007).

Michael Aptein called Bierzo: The Next Priorat, Only Better (Wine Review Online, August 07).

For the Consumed to Thrifty, another Spanish Wine Bargain of a year ago: Red wine from a Beloved Castle, Castillo de Monseran (Wine Blogging Wednesday #35)

From Gauchos to Green Things: My 5 Picks for BlogDay2008 (August 31st)

What would be the perfect mix, the right mix of recommendations for BlogDay2008, I asked myself?

Perfect does not exist so I decided to showcase 5 sites that span the globe and whose topics vary.

I mention them in no specific order.

Let's start in London with Green Thing which defines itself as "a new community that makes it easy and enjoyable to be a bit greener. Every month you'll get a different Green Thing to do. All you have to do is do it."


They use music, videos and a healthy dose of humor to get their message across.
I wrote about them in Ask for Tap (Water not Beer): Act Green in August (via Green Thing)...

For the  Consumed to Thrifty minded, some South American destinations allow you to stretch your dollar, Buenos Aires is one of them and Argentina's Travel Guide offers a wealth of information on the land of gauchos.

Have an eye for Design, Art, Photography, NY ART BEAT keeps you in the loop on shows and events in the Big Apple.


A current showcase is Kindred Cool (pictured above) where photography and a jazz groove intersect.
I have not seen it but it seems to have a classic Blue Note feel to it.

South Africa based yet with eyes and ears opened to the whole wide world, Thought Leader is well designed, entertaining and varied. Be more careful when taking on the train, my China by Rob Mackenzie caught my eye with his story of Chinese people hanging out at the train station after dinner wearing their best looking pajamas.
It reminded me of a Brazilian movie I saw maybe 30 years ago where the main character retires and spends his days on the front porch in his jammies (to his wife's consternation)...

Last is BLURT, a US online music site covering a wide range of styles which will appeal to those open to discoveries.
Check Issue #2 of their Digital Magazine with Calexico (a band from Tucson, Arizona) on the Cover.

Hopefully some of my picks were not already on your radar.

In that case enjoy!

Feel Free to add your own suggestions using the comments.

Happy BlogDay2008

Wanted to Vote, Try Again...The 'South by Southwest Panel Picker' was down...Seems to Work Again

If you tried to log on to the South by Southwest Panel Picker earlier today To Give Us Your Vote and could not, the system was down.
As of right now, it seems things are working again.
So please try again
Yes technology breaks down sometimes, things are not always perfect.
Thanks to Hugh Forrest for Updating Us.

Last Day to Vote for our 'Consumed to Thrifty' Panel (South by Southwest 2009)

Friday, August 29 is the last day to Vote for our Panel From Consumed to Thrifty: Strategies for the Good Life in a Wobbly Economy' at South by Southwest 2009.

Register your Vote by Clicking on the Stars (in our Panel Picker Page)

What it's all about you might ask:

With the economy on the rocks for the past year, the idea for a panel discussion at South by Southwest Interactive (Austin, March 2009) titled From Consumed to Thrifty: Strategies for the Good Life in a Wobbly Economy slowly percolated, like a good cup of espresso.

These Strategies for the Good Life in a Wobbly Economy go From Home Swapping and Thrift Shops to Dropping Bottled Water and Lattes and exploring what path we can take to live well without breaking the bank and being a Scrooge.
We will share tips and tricks on travel, work, food and more.

Vote via the South by Southwest Panel Picker.

This message has been approved by the Serge the Concierge campaign.

Merci beaucoup

Danke Schon

Muchas Gracias

Thanks a lot

Success in Life and Work requires Attitude x Effort x Ability says Kazuo Inamori

Checking the Japan Society calendar of upcoming events, I had the good fortune to find out about The Meaning of Life according to Kazuo Inamori...

Mr. Inamori notes the importance of courage and hope when facing problems.

His recipe for success is based on the right blend of Attitude x Effort x Ability:

The thinking goes that "the outcome of our life or work is the product of three factors: attitude, effort and ability. Effort and ability range from 0 to 100 points. As these two numbers are multiplied rather than simply added, it means that persons who exert unbeatable efforts to compensate for their only “average” ability can accomplish more than geniuses who rely just on their ability while making only a minimal efforts. This product is further multiplied by attitude, which can range from -100 to +100. Depending on our attitude, the outcome of our work and our life can change by 180 degrees. Thus, while ability and effort are important, it is our attitude that counts the most"

The Meaning of Life presentation by Kazuo Inamori takes place at 6:15 pm on October 1st at the New York Society for Ethical Culture.


The Event is Free but Registration is required.

The theme weaves together neatly Tokyo Thursdays and Consumed to Thrifty.

Think positive on Tokyo Thursdays #53

Sloppy E-Mails, the Weakest Links and a side trip to the New York Aquarium...Have you Voted for us Today?

Don't worry, I did not loose my inspiration today or fall off the surface of the earth.

I got my priorities straight and took the little one if only for a short visit to the New York Aquarium.
I had to rush back so I could get some lawyerly advice on old matters.

Besides that, I have been e-mailing away, trying to gather enough votes to make my Consumed to Thrifty panel planned for South by Southwest Interactive (2009) fly...

Am I spinning my wheels? The Deadline (Friday, August 29) is fast approaching!

For some of you it might sound like a waste of time or unhealthy habits.

In any case, I am still sending e-mails with broken links (thanks to Dan Pink for pointing it out), a sense of urgency or rushing though it.

We get sloppy.

The naked truth from yours truly, Serge the Concierge.

Confused as to How to Vote for our South by Southwest Panel: Register and then Click on the Stars

Confused by the Voting Process for our

'From Consumed to Thrifty: Strategies for the Good Life in a Wobbly Economy'

Panel at South by Southwest Interactive, it might have been our fault.

So here is a clarification, a correction

Register your Vote by Clicking on the Stars (in our Panel Picker page)

Feel free to add your feedback in the Comments

Voting Deadline is Friday, August 29 by Midnight.

Related: Vote for our Panel 'From Consumed to Thrifty: Strategies for the Good Life in a Wobbly Economy' at South by Southwest 2009

Slightly Greener House Cleaning Ideas courtesy of The Vinegar Institute

I could not call this piece 'Green House Cleaning Ideas' since Ammonia and other chemicals are on occasion part of the mix so I changed the title to 'slightly greener'.

Of all the cleaning tips compiled by The Vinegar Institute, there is only one that I tested, the Coffee Maker Cleaning solution (automatic maker only):

"White distilled vinegar can help to dissolve mineral deposits that collect in automatic drip coffee makers from hard water. Fill the reservoir with white distilled vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly with water when the cycle is finished. (Be sure to check the owner’s manual for specific instructions.)"

I actually got the suggestion from a lady at a local supermarket. It does work.

in the 100% Green, count removing Water or alcohol marks on wood:

"Stubborn rings resulting from wet glasses being placed on wood furniture may be removed by rubbing with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and olive oil. Rub with the grain and polish for the best results."

Do you get Ants issues during the summer here is an Ant deterrent:

  "Ant invasions can sometimes be deterred by washing counter tops, cabinets and floors with white distilled vinegar."

Worse trouble is Getting Rid of Fruit  Flies, Have you tried this:

"Place a bowl filled with ½ quart water, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar and a couple of drops of dish soap to attract the fruit flies.  Always eliminate the source of attraction, i.e., ripened produce."

As The Vinegar Institute notes, none of these tips have been lab tested, they are only suggestions for you to try.

Found my way to The Vinegar Institute thanks to Village Green (San Francisco Chronicle)

A practical Green Day #41

Previously: Can you Walk or Ride your Bike Down the Street without being Run Over?

Connected with the World yet Out of Touch with our Immediate Surroundings

Ben Stein starts his Everybody's Business Column of August 24 (NYT) Connected, Yes, But Hermetically Sealed by quoting Jean-Jacques Rousseau "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains"...

The chains in question are not physical ones but rather of the electronic kind.

We can share our meaningful and meaningless moments with friends and strangers alike.
We keep working after hours by having access to our e-mail and the web on the go 'thanks' to our Blackberries and I Phones.

Can't we just turn our devices off for an hour while having dinner and show some social skills.

Does being opened to the world 24/7 and flooded with a constant stream of news bits make us miss on what's most important, things and people in our immediate surroundings.

There are still places that live on a different beat.

Ben Stein tells us: "I spent much of the summer in my beloved Sandpoint, Idaho, far north in the Panhandle, overlooking Lake Pend Oreille. People there still have some freedom of thought. They walk along the streets without phones. They ride in their boats and water-ski or fish without any talking over the airwaves. They talk to one another. They look up at the sky. Children line up to swing on a rope over Sand Creek and then drop into the creek. Businesspeople walk to their appointments, greeting the people they see, not talking to a small plastic box. In other words, they are connected to the glorious Bonner County sky and water and land, and, most of all, connected to their own ruminations."

Is it a mark of self absorption, narcissism.

Did we end up defining our importance, our status by how many Tweets we send and most importantly get?

Another reminder that being Consumed is not just about financial matters.

Time is precious.

What was your last 'stolen moment'.

Old school thoughts for Monday Work Etiquette #51 in the Consumed to Thrifty realm.

Previously: Beyond 'BS" at Work: Is Straight Talk the Answer?

Related: Ready to Draw Back? 'Recession has its blessings' says Harry Eyres

Ready to Draw Back? 'Recession has its blessings' says Harry Eyres

While acknowledging the negative effects of a recession on many lives, Harry Eyres in Yes, recession has its blessings (FT, August 23) notes that "the word “recession” implies drawing back, rather than proceeding ever onwards and upwards. Now we have a chance not just to stay put but to appreciate being where we are".

I agree with him that by racing through the days, we forgot the art of walking.
On my recent Wednesday visit to the Museum of the City of New York, I walked from the subway stop at 110 Street onto Malcolm X Boulevard, crossed Duke Ellington Circle and walked my way up to the museum along the northern tip of Central Park.
Even though we were in the big Apple, the pace of the afternoon felt much slower.
I also discovered that El Museo del Bario (currently closed for renovations) was my destination's next door neighbor...

Brings me back to Harry Eyres argument that "how, if you don’t walk, can you get the feel of a neighbourhood, its nooks and crannies, individual buildings and trees and gardens, or the still more subtle scents and sights of the countryside?"
He also points out that "one of the positive outcomes of an economic slowdown may be that people can once again think of and experience their homes as homes, not as appreciating assets. Try cooking more at home (forgive me if I am preaching to a beleaguered housewife): it will certainly save you money, and bring untold satisfaction, too."

Fits right there in our Consumed to Thrifty thread...

Do not forget to Vote for our Consumed to Thrifty Panel (South by Southwest 2009)...

Bon week-end

Enjoy the walk

Related: Walking: The Cheapest Way to Move Around: Walkscore can help