Posts from March 2009

Going to Bratislava: Bookstore Guide is Your Guide to Book Shopping in Europe

While away from home, for business or leisure, we eat, we sleep, we also consume Culture in many forms.

If the printed type is your favorite past time and you happen to travel to Europe, the Bookstore Guide might be a place you want to visit online while planning your trip.

The oxford bookshop bratislava

If you visit Bratislava for example they suggest Oxford Bookshop (pictured above, by Bookstore Guide) as a favorite spot.

Sonja and Ivan, the duo behind the Bookstore Guide call it "an amateur guide to book shopping throughout Europe" and hope "this guide will help you find the book(stores) you are looking for"

Recent bit on travel to Europe: Summer 2009 Price Drop, Fly RT from US to Europe for Under $800

Scotland goes Green Egg Hunting on Easter Week-End

Our friends at the Soil Association combine in one clean swoop a holiday, Easter, family fun (Egg Hunting), going back to the farm and promoting green agriculture with their Go somewhere Green and Beautiful this Easter around Scotland.

Here is the program:

"A great credit crunch busting family day out hunting for Easter eggs, exploring the farm and enjoying activities like egg painting and meeting the animals. You might even be lucky enough to see some new-born lambs. There are six hunts in Scotland:

Saturday, 11 April: Torr Organic Farm, Castle Douglas, D&G; and Whitmuir Farm, Borders
Sunday, 12 April: Pillars of Hercules, Fife; Cream o’ Galloway, Castle Douglas, D&G; and Easter Ross Organics, Alness, Highland
Monday, 13 April: Wester Lawrenceton, Forres, Highland"

For some events a small admission fee might be charged

If you visit Whitmuir Organics whose tag is
"the earth works...look after the beasties and the earth does the rest" you might even meet the very healthy Mr and Miss Piggie (pictured below).


Chocolate Eggs for these events are generously donated by Green & Blacks Organic.

There are Green Egg Hunts beyond Scotland, more events take place in the rest of the UK from April 4th to April 18, 2009.

Plans for sweet and organic Easter fun on Green Day #71

Seattle Tilth helps you Grow Your Own

The Black Sheep of Italian Restaurant Reviews, Roma Nel Piatto

How many 'Black Sheep' (or Mouton Noir) dot the food and wine landscape I wonder?

After meeting Andre Mack, the Brooklyn man behind Mouton Noir Wines and tasting his Montgomery Place 2007, a Bordeaux style Blend (Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot) here comes another Black Sheep.


This second one, La Pecora Nera Editore (logo above) publishes a guide to the real flavors of Rome, Roma nel Piatto – Eat as the Romans do edited by Simone Cargiani and Fernanda D’Arienzo.


To help you navigate menus they include a glossary of common dishes, an illustrated guide to all types of pastas you might be served. Food stores and eateries are organized by neighborhoods as well as by alphabetical order and is completed by a short description as the sample pages displayed below show.

I discovered this guide thanks to Being ripped off eating in Rome? by Angelica Marin (Global Post, March 27).

Angelica writes that what distinguishes this Black Sheep team is that "they always pay for their meals and file away each receipt for proof. Unafraid to say what they think, they have been known to destroy the reputation of Roman landmarks or shame restaurant owners who take too many liberties with their customers. Although this may seem like normal protocol for restaurant reviewers elsewhere, it is rare in Italy. Many Roman food critics eat for free. Others write positive reviews for paying advertisers."

The first English language edition was published in May 2008.

Has any of you put it to work?

Was it useful?

Related: What price Spring in Rome ? $390 Round Trip from New York in April

Is Chrome the First Sugar Free Computer Program?

We tend to have an image of computer programmers as caffeine fueled geeks piling up hours after hours of coding and sleepless nights.

Add junk food to the mix and it makes for a pretty unhealthy lifestyle.

Is it myth or reality, I don't know for sure.

There must be some element of truth.

In light of this, The genius behind Google’s web browser (FT, March 28), Rob Minto's portrait of Lars Bak cuts a different picture.

His commute is a 30 minute bike ride and amongst office guidelines, Rob Minto reports that "Bak has introduced a no-sugar policy: “It’s not no sugar as such – you get natural sugar from fruit. But no chocolate, no obvious candy"

I was left wondering is Chrome the first Sugar Free program?

How much sugar is too much?

How detrimental is it to a good day work?

Should we kick the sugar habit at work?

Browsing the sugar isle for Monday Work Etiquette # 83

Previously: Telling the Truth versus Fudging It (Monday Work Etiquette #82)

From Socialism to Martha Stewart: When Skateboards Will Be Free

Is it Ubuesque, Kafkaesque or Absurd?

When I heard Saïd Sayrafiezadeh share his life as the child of an American socialist mother going from 'grape' avoidance to support the struggle of farm workers in California to groupie of Martha Stewart, my head was spinning.

This web of contradictions led him to write the just published When Skateboards Will Be Free (Random House).


Hey after all 'Punk's Not Dead' T-Shirts are still doing brisk business.

Related: What do I get? 'Anarchy in the UK', $400 at Christie's Punk Rock Auction

Summer 2009 Price Drop, Fly RT from US to Europe for Under $800

Planning a vacation to Europe and doing some comparison shopping, here's a must read.

In Yes! Continental Breaks the $800 July Europe Barrier (March 29, 2009), Rick Seaney of shows us instructive fare tables of Continental and American Airlines side by side and Continental comes on top with an average fare of $790 while American Airlines has an average of $916.

In both cases, he notes that the average fare come under the usual minimum of $1000 charged for RT travel during the Summer season.

The cheapest fare for Continental is New York-Dublin (or Shannon) at $455 while American's best deal is Chicago-Dublin at $651.

On the other hand, New York-Barcelona is $765 on American but costs $100 more on Continental.

In between these two , US Airways average is $868 in Rick's survey of other carriers.

According to his study, the highest average prices overall seem to be the territory of Northwest ($1084) and Air France ($1044).

Related: Barcelona $206 now, Toulouse $432 in May (Round Trip), Are Deals Back?

7 and a Half Ways to Slash your Restaurant Bill in a Recession

From the depression times let me have bread and gravy with a glass of water (no charge for that) to the distasteful taking your kid along and pretending half way through the meal that the food made your child sick in order not to pay the bill, Patty Inglish highlights In How to Reduce Your Restaurant Bill (Hubpages), many ways to slash your restaurant bill in a recssion.

In London (UK), Peter Ilic of the Little Bay restaurant group adopted the Radiohead approach, reports in The pay-what-you-like restaurant (Evening Standard, February 2009).

Laura M.Holson takes a look at business recession etiquette in At the Power Lunch, the Check Is Kryptonite (NY Times, February 11) and we find out that instead of fighting over who pays the check, people are trying hard not to pick the tab or in the case of book publishing moved the lunch meeting from power spots to the local diner or even fast food joints...

Where have the perks gone?

Related: Oysters Happy Hour at The Ten Bells in New York: $1 a Piece

Expats in Japan from Bespoke Tokyo to Shizuoka Gourmet

Cultural and language barriers might make it harder for many expats to find their footing in Japan yet some ventured there and have planted their tent.

I found my way to Bespoke Tokyo via On a Roll in Tokyo (Budget Travel, April 09 Issue) a piece by newlyweds Laura Stern and Mike Soltz, of Springfield (New Jersey) so we are almost neighbors.

Their visit to Tokyo's Tsukiji Market was arranged by Bespoke Tokyo and they were guided through the maze of stalls by Yukari Sakamoto whose food writing and appetizing pictures can be found on Tokyo Station her Japanese Food and Food Lover's Guide to Tokyo.

Bespoke Tokyo calls their city tours 'Urban safaris for savvy city trekkers' a whole program. They want you to feel the pulse of the city and help you discover off the beaten path spots.


It was founded by 2 British expats, Nicole Fall and Charles Spreckley (pictured above, from their site) who turned the knowledge and contacts they gathered while working in media ventures into this service opening eyes and doors in the Japanese capital.
They help both individuals and companies navigate the Tokyo waters.

As for Shizuoka Gourmet, he describes himself on Foodbuzz where we got in contact as an "Agnostic Hedonist Forever! Frenchman (Bourgogne) who spent the last 33 years riding his bicycle in search of great food and drink in Shizuoka, Japan."

In The Pride of Shizuoka: Sakura Ebi/Cherry shrimp! (March 26, 2009), I learned that "With Spring comes the season for a specialty found in Shizuoka Prefecture only!
“Sakura Ebi” or Sakura shrimp is a vey small (maximum 5 cm) crustacean caught in the Suruga Bay of Shizuoka Prefecture" and that local French and Italian restaurants use these crustaceans in quiche.

Feel free to share the adventures and ventures of other Expats in Japan with us.

A little hand holding for Tokyo Thursdays # 81

Related: In 'Japanamerica', Roland Kelts rides the New York-Tokyo Express
and Hedgehog leads me to Villa Kujoyama, a French Artist Den in Japan

Previously on Tokyo Thursdays: The Grassy Aroma of 'Igusa' Tatamis

Consultant Free Tuscan Wines states proudly Caroline Pobitzer of Pian dell'Orino

It sometimes take little details to plant a certain wine producer in your brain.

Besides her friendliness and knowledge, one thing that hit my memory button with Pian dell'Orino at Polaner Tasting was owner's Caroline Pobitzer proud statement that they are the only Consultant Free property in the area.

Pian dell'Orino is based in Montalcino, Tuscany (near Biondi Santi) and comprises 4 different vineyards for a total area of 6 hectares.

After studying the soils extensively they adopted organic-biodynamic methods.

I started with their Rosso di Montalcino 2006, 100% Sangiovese Grosso, rich, a bold wine if there was one.

Fact Sheet:

"The warm microclimate, often ventilated by by south west winds “Libeccio and Scirocco” and the north wind “Tramontana”, creates large temperature differences between day and night.
Grapes come from the vineyards Pian Bossolino and Pian dell’Orino, which are situated at
280-370m above sea level."


Then Caroline gave me a sneak preview of the Rosso di Montalcino 2007 which they had just bottled a week prior.
Very similar in style to the 2006, it will not be available in the US until May 09.

Last came the special treat, the Brunello di Montacilno 2004 for which grapes are checked individually.
Also 100% Sangiovese this time from the vineyards "Pian dell’Orino and Pian Bossolino, which are
situated at 420 and 330-370 m above sea level; the age of these vines are between 9 and 32 years."

The wine was bottled unfiltered in January 2008 including for Magnum collectors, 248 of these big boys.

More Italian Reds of Late: Best Sangiovese Bang for the Buck, Poggialupi 2006 by Fattoria Rodano

Clemens Busch's Red Slate Riesling Label breaks with German Ways

One of the free spirits I discovered at Polaner Portfolio tasting (March 24th, New York) was Clemens Busch from the lower Mosel region thanks to Mosel Wine Merchants.

Since his wines are Terroir driven he decided to break with the German labeling orthodoxy and put the individuality, the personality of each plot in his vineyard front and center.

An example of that is his 'Vom Roten Schiefer' (From Red Slate) Riesling 2006 named after the soil where it comes from. It retails for around $20.


Clemens (and his wife Rita) switched to organic methods in 1984.

He is considered as one of the best at turning off-dry rieslings where some acidity is balanced by the slight sweetness of residual sugar.

Maybe he gets that balance because he is known to hold off harvesting the grapes as long as he can.

Besides the Vom Roten Schiefer (biodynamic), I also tasted the Pündericher Marienburg Spätlese trocken 2005 (lighter to me) and the Pündericher Marienburg Fahrlay Spätlese 2005 (mostly blue slate soil).

This last was my favorite for its subtle tones.

Other organic iconoclasts: Wine Aged in Concrete Eggs at Meinklang in Austria (Return to Terroir 09)