Posts from January 2009

Could Bad Spelling be Worse than Body Odor?

English or American English (a different beast) is not my native language even though my brain after 18 some years here in the US has English programmed as the default language as I realized recently when thinking about things I wanted to mention in a letter to my mother (to be written in French) and all that came to my mind where English sentences.

In either language, bad spelling makes me cringe.
Could bad spelling be worse than body odor?

In all my years in the restaurant field, I noticed that many American born chefs do not know how to spell?
It can be embarrassing on a menu.
It can sometimes be so bad that you would not have a clue what specific words stand for. They almost need to be translated.

In the wider world of work, I am sometimes amazed that certain people in the marketing, press relation, communication field cannot write in proper English.

In the past couple of days, words jumped at me from the screen while checking e-mails and news stories.

To put it simply, is bad spelling making you look unprofessional when your chosen field is marketing and communication?

According to Bad spelling 'puts off employers (BBC, August 2006), "a study by Hertfordshire University found bad English alienated 77% of the 515 companies it spoke to - more than twice the 34% annoyed by CV exaggerations."

Obviously we all slip sometime, I am not talking perfection here.

On language for Monday Work Etiquette # 74

Previously: Sick! Keep your Virus to Yourself! Stay Home

Passion for Piedmont marks my Return to Wine Blogging Wednesday

My almost neighbor David McDuff just announced the theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday #54.

I could not resist his call to share in the Passion for Piedmont which is what it will be all about.

Tuscany might be the most romanticized wine region yet the northern Italian region of Piedmont has a lot to offer with 46 DOC appelations.

David reminds us that  "while there are some fine white wines made in the region – from Gavi di Gavi to Roero Arneis to Moscato d’Asti – there’s no denying that Piedmont is red wine country. The Nebbiolo-based wines of Barolo and Barbaresco may steal the thunder. But it’s the wines made from Piedmont’s other two primary varieties – Barbera and Dolcetto – that appear most often on the Piedmontese table. Less common regional specialties like Freisa, Grignolino and Brachetto add local color and help to make Piedmont one of Italy’s most diverse wine zones."

I have not participated in Wine Blogging Wednesday in a while so this will mark my return.

Be on the lookout for my catch from Piedmont on February 18, 2009.

Recent wine bit: Spice up your Meal with Domaine Mas du Bouquet Vacqueyras 06, a Red with Integrity

And the Winner Is...Menu for Hope 5 Prizes Ready to Ship

Unless I missed something from what our beloved field general for the US Coast contingent told me, only 2 of the 3 prizes I offered for Menu for Hope 5 had a winner.


And the winner is, the winners are rather:

The incredible gluten-dairy and animal product free Nut Butters for Grown Ups go to Charles "Chas" Belov,
a webmaster and playwright in San Francisco who supported Menu for Hope because "Its a fun way to do good and a good way to pay forward the reading enjoyment that food bloggers have given me."
As for the prize "The nut butters intrigued me, are good for sharing and didn't contain any annoying flavor combinations."


Thanks again to Marilyn's Nut Butters of Seattle for donating the Prize.

The 16 Creative Sweets Chocolate Box was won not by 'the artist formerly known as...' but instead by "anonymous" in California.


Our kind appreciation to Oliver Kita for giving away this piece of his imagination.

Let's not forget to give kudos to Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen for leading the US Contingent.

This 5th Edition of Menu for Hope could not have happened without the dedication and passion of Pim at Chez Pim.

I stop right here as it starts sounding like credits at the end of a movie...

Missed this whole fundraiser, catch up on what Menu for Hope 5 benefiting the UN World Food Programme was about.

January 26th, 2009 is Australia Day

I never had the chance and pleasure to go down under so far.
Maybe I can remedy that in 2010 if not earlier, sorry for sentimental and family reasons Europe comes first .
In any case January 26th, 2009 is Australia Day as I came to realize.
Thanks to the Official Site I learned that Australia counts no less than 25,000 species of plant life.

To be honest, I never paid attention to Australia's National Anthem until today, here it is.

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free,
We've golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share:
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

A few kids from other shores offer Their Take on the Holiday and what it means to be Australian

Happy Holidays to you Down Under.

Writing this while listening to New Order 'Round and Round'

It's a Natural Thing: Natural Winemaker's Week, New York, February 21-28

Our sharing and caring friend, Jenny Lefcourt of Jenny and Francois Selections fame was kind enough to share with us the program for the upcoming Natural Winemaker's Week in New York City.

It runs from February 21st to the 28th and offers event from Free to Small Fee to $100.

Here's what's on the menu for the first 3 days:


If you want to connect with the terroir and test your green credentials here's your chance.

I will go more in detail about specific events in the coming weeks.

Related: What is Natural Wine I ask myself before 'Jenny & Francois' Fall Tasting

Worlwide Toast Marks 250th Anniversary of Poet Robert Burns Birth

January 25th, 2009 is no ordinary Burns Night, it marks the 250th Anniversary of Scottish poet Robert Burns birth.
To celebrate the BBC created a Robert Burns Site where amongst other things you can listen to Prince Charles reading My Heart's In The Highlands.

Here are the first 4 verses of this 1787 song:

"My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go."

Which Highlands single malt should we be drinking to it? Maybe the Balblair Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky which is offered only in 3 vintages 1975, 1989 and1997 according to Laura Malesich of Luxist.

US West Coast fans of the bard can celebrate (a day early) at Edinburgh Castle Saturday January 24 at 8pm ($10 at the door) 950 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 415.885.4074.

I heard about it thanks to Burns Night 2009 by Kim Laidlaw (Bay Area Bites, January 24).

Burns night

In the heartland, you can join the Moscow Burns Night at the University of Idaho in...Moscow (my illustration, above).

To conclude, you can join the Worldwide Toast to Robert Burns. People can register their Toast to Burns to build a worldwide total – then on 25th January there will be an attempt to break the World Record for a simultaneous toast at 9pm (GMT).

Last year Burns bit: On 'Burns Night' Whisky, Poetry and Scotland

What's Good for Lunch Near You in London ? Check the Map!

While looking up information on my previous story about Sacred Cafe and a Great Cup of Java, I stumbled upon an online guide that helps us find out what's good for lunch.

Aptly named Good for Lunch, it combines Google Maps with reviews of Lunch Spots.

Unfortunately they cover only London at this time.

I did find some intriguing options such as Shaws Booksellers ( 31-34 St Andrew Hill). They call it a smart pub and mention such dishes as Steak & London Pride Pie with creamed mash & honey roast carrots and Risotto of smoked haddock, leeks, white wine, bay & peas. Open Monday to Friday.

On a budget DSum2 at 14 Paternoster Row near St Paul offers a Set Lunch with 3 options (including a Vegetarian one) at £11.99 per person
for example Crispy Won Ton (2pcs)plus Sui Mei (2pcs) plus Har Gau (2pcs) and Singapore Fried Noodles.
This menu is also available for Take Out. Their wine list is mostly Chilean and Argentinian.

Want to widen your options Good for Lunch shares their Lunch of the year 2008 selections with us.

Know of similar services in other cities, please notify us.

Bon appetit!

Related: Leftovers is the new Molecular Gastronomy, Polly Vernon Survival Tips

Kiwis in London Show How Great a Cup of Java Can Be

Over the past couple of months I have noticed a number of people heaping praise on a non Starbucks place to grab a great cup of java.

The joint in question is Sacred Cafe located at 13 Ganton Street (just off Carnaby Street) in London.
History has it that it was created 4 years ago by two Expats from New Zealand who felt let down in their search for a great coffee experience in the British capital.

To remedy to that Matthew Clark and Tubbs Wanigasekera (the 2 expats in question) offer this statement as to what they stand for:

"We’d had enough of the bland, watery, weak coffees and teas from the high street chains! We‘d had enough of mass-produced tea bags with cheap powdery fillings! We’d had enough of boring shrink-wrapped food created in vast factories and left in fridges for days! We’d had enough of bored, uninterested, devoid-of-personality serving people! 

And we’d certainly had enough of sterile, plastic, homogeneous surroundings that all seemed identical regardless of where we were in London." 

Hopefully they will keep their standards as they expand with their latest location at mega-mall Westfield London.

Sacred cafe

Besides the usual mocha, latte and espresso they also serve ristretto (the nec plus ultra for coffee geeks) and flat white, the down under version of a latte.

Related: Trade Cup of Tea or Coffee for Google Search, Reduce Carbon Footprint?

The Green Granny Video Guide to Recession Survival

Need to adjust your spending habits to the new circumstances, here comes the Green Granny guide to recession survival.


Watch Barbara Warmsley's (Oxfam Green Granny) videos from the comfort of your office.

To stay on topic, it just happens that we are in the middle of this year Bring Back Thrift Week as I found out thanks to the Frugalista, Natalie McLean.

The original Thrift Week harks back to 1916 as the country was in the middle of the 1st World War.

As the BBTW site notes:

"The activities of National Thrift Week were guided by several specific principles and behaviors and each was given its own day. Hence, Americans joined together every January in celebrating Have a Bank Account Day, Invest Safely Day, Carry Life Insurance Day, Keep a Budget Day, Pay Bills Promptly Day, Own Your Home Day, and Share with Others Day. Then, as today, critics often maligned thrift as simple hoarding, but these principles demonstrate how the founders envisioned Thrift Week as so much more—they saw it not as a way to encourage miserly behavior, but instead to cultivate responsible consumerism and civic progress."

I found out about the Green Granny via Springwise.

Related: Our Consumed to Thrifty bits and pieces

Pigs in The City, Yukihiko Yoshioka's Animal Farm in Setagaya

Thinking of farms while living in urban centers, we believe we would have to get away from the city, maybe 30 minutes or an hour to experience the country life.

Well someone decided to show us that it hasn't got to be so.
In Setagaya ,one of Tokyo's 23 Wards, one man, Yukihiko Yoshioka, raises no less than 43 pigs and 450 chickens roaming about freely, oinking and clucking in the middle of the day what we would call free-range.
I learned of his endeavor thanks to Urban Hogs dig Setagaya by Tomoko Otake (Japan Times, January 18, 2009).

There is a rationale behind the animal farm in the middle of Tokyo as the writer explains.

"A pile of dark-brown compost — a mixture of pig and chicken dung, protein-rich rice bran and tree branches — sits in the 220-sq.-meter pig pen, with steam wafting up here and there. The compost is fermenting. Feel it, Yoshioka says, scooping up a handful of mud to show me. To my surprise, it is warm, and doesn't have the noxious smell of ammonia. You see? he continues with a sense of confidence in his voice. Pigs don't get cold in the winter. Also, it hardly smells, because we mix it with wooden chips that we make from the branches of trees we trim. The chips absorb the smell and serve as a deodorant. In fact, this steamy chunk of mud is why Yoshioka keeps free-range chickens and pigs on his premises; their dung makes a perfect fertilizer for his trees."

His pigs are from a specific type called Tokyo-X which the article describes as tasty and tender, with a fine marble of fat mixed in it." Yoshioka says "that its supply is so limited that it is only available at top-rate restaurants and at department stores in Tokyo. One restaurant charges ¥3,000 for a tonkatsu pork cutlet made from Tokyo-X."


I was able to dig a few details on this pig style via the Ohtama Ham Company.

Pigs in the City for Tokyo Thursdays # 73

Last week: For Hire: Husband, Mother or Companion, Lonely in Japan

Related stories: Saucisson and the Happy Pig...An acquired taste for the French