Posts from November 2008

Top 5 Toilets with a View from 'A Loo with a View'

I realized very quickly once I started reading Five best ... loos with a view (The Guardian, November 29) that views here matter more than creature comforts except maybe for the underwater loo at Akashi, Japan...

Not sure if that one matches a Japanese creation that I saw in the Big Apple which was like a cross between a bidet and a toilet, strange, convenient, amazing, I am not sure what adjective is most representative.

If you want a Frank Herbert moment, go to Namibia and use the wooden shack facing Dune 45.
These 5 picks by The Guardian are amongst those featured in A Loo with a View, a book by Luke Barclay (Virgin Books UK, October 08).


In The world's most scenic lavatories (Independent, October 18), Charlotte Philby writes that "Luke Barclay, author of Loo With a View, set off on a two-year global mission: to find bathrooms, dunnies, restrooms and outhouses of distinction to write home about. And not just toilets distinguished by innovative designs or a flash flush, what Barclay sought was a loo that offered more than just a facility, he wanted breathtaking atmosphere, a space in which to contemplate the world. On his journey, the intrepid Brit found 40 latrines that met his criteria: in the rice plantations in Bali, just off Interstate 15 in Las Vegas, and slap bang in the middle of a mini desert near Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, to name but a few."

Toilets as a tourist attraction is as far off the beaten track as one can think.

Thanks god the author has a sense of humor.

Related: Toilet Museum in New Delhi, Sanitary Culture

Sweet Potatoes, Chestnuts and Gala Apples with Catfish: Sunday Dinner

Not keen on turning my headline into a laundry list, I did not mention Asparagus or Brussels Sprouts as the potential green element.
What got me started on this Sweet Potato, Chestnut and Apple medley to go with Catfish for Sunday Dinner?
I did not make the Apple and Chestnut soup recipe I saw on Chow and since I had the elements for it decided to drop the usual suspect, rice, for them, adding sweet potato for good measure and some cumin to boot.
Not sure how it will come out, tastewise but I would not know if I did not try.

It will be Brussels Sprouts and the Catfish got a dusting of Paprika complemented by fresh lime juice.

Improvisation, Jazzing up Sunday Dinner.

Related: Size is not everything, Gospel of Cooking according to Jason Atherton

European Wine Quintet, Tuscany to Burgenland and Alentejano

Even though I have not participated in Wine Blogging Wednesday in awhile, one thing I enjoyed doing it was being challenged to get out of my comfort zone and explore wine regions or styles I tend to neglect.

Gleaning through recent purchases, I thought I would give a tip of the hat to WBW with 5 recent purchases, a European Wine Quintet which takes me from Tuscany to Burgenland and Alentejano not to forget Apulia.

Let's start with Tuscany which scored twice.

The Palladio, Rosso di Montalcino (2003) is 100% Sangiovese Grosso, hand harvested and deep purple red in color, good legs, stands up to hearty food such as Tripe with Beans (as suggested by Italian Made). This Rosso is like a youthful cousin to Brunello de Montalcino.

Next is a Morellino di Scansano from Fattoria Mantellassi (2007 Vintage) which combines Sangiovese (85%) with Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo Nero (15%).
Ruby red color, tobaccoey with leathery notes, would you have it with pizza even though some Italians swear that beer goes best with pizza.

The Italian Wine Blog offers a broader view of the Morellino di Scansano wines beyond this one.

A third Italian pick was the Salice Salentino 'Riserva' (2003) from Cantele.

It comes from Apulia (or Puglia if you prefer, map below ) which some describe as the heel of the Italian boot.


The wine is 80% Negroamaro, 20% Malvasia Nera, the rich candied fruits get you first balanced by a spicy touch and good tannins.

I finally leave Italy for Austria and a Pinot Noir from Burgenland by Wengut PMC (2004 Vintage).

The winery is located in the Neusiedlersee wine growing region (the sunny side of Austria) and the labor of love of brothers Peter and Christopher Munzenreider, only 800 cases were produced.

I close this chapter with Terra Grande (2006), a red wine from Alentejano (Portugal).

Nothing fussy with this one, a great table wine made from Trincadeira (described as having a passion for heat) and Aragonez (Tempranillo in Spain says Wine Geeks) by Antonio Ventura.

Fellow Wine Blogging Wednesday contributors, Gabriella and Greg from Catavino give us an inside look at Goanvi, the producer behind Terra Grande.

Greg calls this wine a Portuguese 'Zin'.

I hope you learned as much on this short European trip than I did in my exploration.

Related: Without Fados, Groval 'Touriga Nacional', Simply Red Wine and
Italy and Figs in your Glass? Borgogno Barbera d'Alba

A Dog as a Kids Meal and Snails in Coconut via Manilla Foodistas

Not a real dog as you can see!

I don't know about their nutrition value yet if you have trouble getting your kids to eat anything but pizza and pasta, the cute kid meal creations by OMG Kawaii Bento got my vote.


They landed on my radar thanks to the Manilla Foodistas who spotted them at an Anime Manga event in Manilla (of course).

Price sounds right at around $3

The same Manilla Foodistas, give us an overview of Dampa sa Libis which I learned from Connie Veneracion is what Filipinos call a carinderia.
Not quite a restaurant in the western sense but rather part of an open air food market with various offerings.
The food looks succulent as long as you are a seafood and shellfish fan.


I would not mind trying the snails cooked in coconut milk (their picture above by Raein on Flickr)  only $3 for a pound

They offer some great options for the Consumed to Thrifty traveler.

Related: On a Budget, $2 Buys You Pasta Bangkok

Buy Nothing Day makes sense as Shoppers reportledly killed Employee at Walmart

I had not paid much attention to the Buy Nothing Day campaign (French Poster is my illustration) until I read What a Terrible Country on Gawker (12:11 pm, November 28) reporting that a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by bargain hunters at a Long Island store.


An alternative to buying nothing as Buy Nothing Day (now in its 17th year) proposes is to Buy Local suggests Sarah Bruck of World Changing (November 27).

I still cannot comprehend how people could force their way in a store to get a cheap deal and in the process kill a man.

Related: Nothing to Lose but Your Overdraft: Credit Crunch Chic & The Thrift Book

On Lookout for Bargains: with Yahoo Deals cut to the chase

Want to shop and save?
It sounds contradictory, spending less might be a better way to put it.
Personally I like to spend as little time as possible in a store>
If it is a big item like a computer, a car or something like that, I will narrow my choices before deciding what to buy.
With the stressful Holiday Shopping Season upon us, rather than rummage through notes, flyers, coupons and endless choices, Yahoo Deals might be a way to cut to the chase.
The site offers a combination of deals of the day like this Toshiba Satellite Athlon Dual Core 17" Notebook on Woot for $499.99 (factory refurbished), weekly ads and coupons with an option to save them.
To save these coupons you will need to register or sign in which should be a breeze if you already use Yahoo.

Related: Gift Cards, the Next Toxic Asset?

Gift Cards, the Next Toxic Asset?

The Holiday shopping season usually gets in full gear in the US on Black Friday.

Lauren McKay (Destination CRM, November 13) suggests It's Going To Be a Disaster , a gloomy assessment for 2008 and raises one issue that I had not thought about.

What happens if the retailer you purchased Gift Cards from goes bankrupt in the early months of 2009?
In some instances they might be worthless.
She mentions Bankruptcies may sap gift cards (, November 12) pointing to The Sharper Image as an example.

Anne D'Innocenzio (AP) echoes these concerns in Gift cards may be losing their luster (November 26).

She quotes Brian Riley stating that "shoppers this season will be looking for much better cash deals at the stores. So getting that $200 sweater marked down to $50 for your grandmother might seem a better deal than just buying a $50 gift card. He also noted that gift card sales will also be hurt by the overall reduced holiday spending."

Going ahead and purchasing Gift Cards this season, the best choice might be to buy generic ones say American Express, Visa or Mastercard.

At least you can use them for many stores, restaurants and services.

Are they FDIC insured if your bank goes under, not sure?

Is anything certain these days?

Related: The Death of Black Friday? 'Don't Buy it' makes the case

Happy Thanksgiving 2008, Wine, Gratitude, Attitude and Turkey on the Menu

On Thanksgiving Day, I am taking a holiday from writing.

Here is a recap of my Thanksgiving Flavored stories circa 2008:

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate!

Okonomiyaki, Pizza or Pancake Japanese Style?

Browsing through the many suggestions offered by Japan Travel Info, I could not help but notice Osaka Affordable Gourmet.
The piece happens to bring together Consumed to Thrifty and Tokyo Thursdays two of the threads that I weave on Serge the Concierge.
I pledge ignorance on the subject of Okonomiyaki which is described either as a pizza or a pancake.

Described by Japan Travel Blog as a kind of "Japanese pancake containing diced meat and cabbage and flavored with Worcestershire sauce, it is usually cooked by the customers themselves at tableside hotplates. A good place to try it is at Okonomiyaki Kiji, one of many restaurants in the Umeda Sky Building basement."

As for Just Hungry, it gives us a play by play illustrated cooking lesson slash recipe in the art of making Okonomiyaki.

Have you tried this at home?

A tasty Tokyo Thursdays # 66

Previously: Breakfast with Joi Ito: The Sharing Economy at Japan Society (11/20)

Pick 4, Four Thanksgiving Wines by Greg Moore

Greg of Moore Brothers shares what he will drink on Thanksgiving:

Vin Mousseux de Table Vinsansricard Domaine Ricard (1 bottle)
This sparkling Gamay from my friend Vincent Ricard makes me laugh. I’m having a big glass before I carve the turkey.

Nahe Riesling Lenz Weingut Emrich-Schönleber 2007 (2 bottles)
Is this predictable? Off-dry German Riesling from a great grower in a great vintage? This one is impossibly beautiful.

Chénas Domaine Georges Trichard 2007 (2 bottles)
I know it’s disorderly, but I’ll be going back and forth between this and my glass of Lenz.

Vin Santo Isole e Olena 2000 (1 bottle 375 ml)
And here’s a sweet luxury. A wine for sharing. After the mincemeat pie. When I taste this I can’t help thinking of Paolo DiMarchi’s generosity.

I bought some Clos Cavenac (Cotes du Marmandais) that I wanted to suggest.

I have to put this pick on hold as I am not quite sure what the grapes in this red wine blend are.

I will spill the beans once I found out for sure.

Related: Syrah for Thanksgiving? Rayun from Chile, Great Price to Boot