Posts from June 2009

American Expats, Celebrate 4th of July in London with Green Man on a Boat Party

American Expats in London looking for ways to celebrate the 4th of July (Independence Day) might want want to get aboard the Green Man on A Boat Party described as a sun drenched event on the Thames River.

I would not guarantee that part as it is London after all.

Take a combination live acts and DJ's, spread them around the deck, let them fill your ears for 5 hours (2pm to 7pm).

Here's what's on the program (as quoted from Green Man):

Hotly-tipped newcomers 6 Day Riot will brew up a must-see “melting pop” of ukelele, violin and all-round acoustic loveliness before the dazzling James Yuill takes it to the (Tower) Bridge with his dynamic and highly danceable Justice-meets-Nick Drake songwriting genius.

We’ll have a raft (not literally) of disc jockeys spinning top tunes to while
away a lazy Saturday afternoon, including UK electro fiend and uber producer Serge Santiago and DJs from the legendary London club night Smash & Grab, plus comedy and maybe even a hoola-hooping Elvis to ensure Independence Day goes with a bang.

Tickets are 20 British Pounds a Piece while stock lasts...

The Fun Boat leaves from St Katherine’s Pier at  50 St Katharine's Way and you need to be there no later than 1:45pm.

Give and Get your Green Caffeine Fix with One Village Coffee

Sometimes topics just show up announced.

Such was the case this past Saturday when Steve Hackman happened to be offering samples of his drink local, think global coffee.

I tasted the espresso which was great.

What got my interest as much as the caffeine fix was the fact that his One Village Coffee company (based in Pennsylvania) is a 'social business' and that they are certified organic.

What is social about their business model you might ask?

The answer: part of the profits generated by One Village Coffee will go towards funding the Intercontinental Education Community Center whose goal is to provide schooling to children K to 12 as well as adult education (via its e-learning center) in Nigeria.

Some of their offerings are also Fair Trade certified.


They inform us that for example, one of their purveyors,  Cafe Mesa de Los Santos Estate in the Santander region of eastern Columbia besides "paying above average wages offers free health care for the workers and their 548 family members, education allowance for children, insurance coverage for temporary or permanent work disability, and a pension fund to provide retirement benefits."

I learned from Mesa de los Santos Revisited (John Cossette, 2003) that adding to its green credential Cafe Mesa is "certified by the Smithsonian as Bird Friendly for its shade tree cover, in addition to being one of the first certified organic farms in the country."

Java on higher ground for Green Day # 83

Previously on Green Day:  An Organic Verdejo with a Montrachet Bent, Ossian 2006 from Rueda

Back to the Loire, with Couly-Dutheil Chinon Rose 2008, All Cabernet Franc

Been invited to a barbecue on Sunday, it was suggested that I pick some beer on the way and decided to add French Orangeade and a bottle of Rosé Wine to the drink basket.

The store I visited offered only a few Rosé Wines including some Tavel and a Chinon.

Since my last Rosé pick was from Provence and the Chinon was a Cynthia Hurley selection and I trust her good judgment I went with the Couly-Dutheil Chinon Rose 2008, all Cabernet Franc.


The people at Carlo Russo (I did not buy it there) sing its praise and state that "this Rosé with its nervy charm and Cabernet Franc essence will completely win you over. You will be passing up your favorite summer white for it".

Those attending the party must have agreed as the wine was gone in no time, they left me just enough to charm my taste buds.

Guess I have to get another bottle or two of this Couly-Dutheil Chinon Rose 2008 before it's gone from the shelves.

Should cost you around $14-$15

Related: Rose Wines, Loire (Wilfrid Rousse) or Provence (Les Belles Bastides)?

In No Vacation Nation, She Wants 6 Weeks Summer Vacation, These Americans Settle for 3

A couple I run into on occasion has a taste for travel both in the US and abroad.

What makes them stand out from the crowd is that they take around 3 months vacations a year.
She wants 6 weeks summer vacation, they settled for 3.
Today they are on their way to Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltic Republics.
They organized their work around their play time.
She believes that she keeps him sane, healthy and more productive.
They return from their various trips, batteries recharged and full of new ideas and perspectives.

Refreshing by American standards

As to the reasons why more of us in the USA don't take at least a couple weeks off in the summer, Ezra Klein in Why We Don't Vacation Like the French (American Prospect, July 07) offered an answer:

"Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in No Vacation Nation wrote that the United States,"is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation." Take notice of that word "only." Every other advanced economy offers a government guarantee of paid vacation to its workforce. Britain assures its workforce of 20 days of guaranteed, compensated leave. Germany gives 24. And France gives, yes, 30.

We guarantee zero. Absolutely none. That's why one out of 10 full-time American employees, and more than six out of 10 part-time employees, get no vacation. And even among workers with paid vacation benefits, the average number of days enjoyed is a mere 12. In other words, even those of us who are lucky enough to get some vacation typically receive just over a third of what the French are guaranteed."

In sectors such as the hospitality industry, in some states employers who offer 'vacation time' to their staff have the option to pay them less than minimum wage for this 'earned benefit'.

Musician Jonathan Coulton in Summer Vacation (June 17) reminds us that the idea of Summer is to Slow Down:

"Part of my goal for this Summer is to take as much pressure off as I can and pry apart some space for doing just that. I’m not promising to write you a bunch of songs exactly, in fact I kind of have to keep my goals a little fuzzier than that in order to not frighten the muse away. I don’t know exactly where I’m going or what I’m working towards, and I forgive myself in advance for that because that’s sort of the point."

Should paid vacations be part of health benefits instead?

Like the outdoors, there is an inexpensive option in 2009, the US National Park Service offers 2 Fee-Free Weekends at more than 100 national parks that usually charge entrance fees on the following dates:

  • July 18-19, 2009
  • August 15-16, 2009

Amongst those included is the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (pictured below, from National Parks site).


Working for the Yankee Dollar on Monday Work Etiquette # 96

Previously: Can Boredom Steal the Show at Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston?

First Staircase Challenge-Defi des Escaliers, Unusual Race, June 28, Quebec City

Too bad I found out about the first edition of the Defi des Escaliers in Quebec City on the morning of June 28 after the race was over.

It is still worth mentioning for its unusual setting, staircases (escaliers in French) hence the name, Staircase Challenge-Defi des Escaliers.

Here is how it was run according to the program:

"In this 15 kilometers course, participants will take all the staircases that connect the Upper and the Lower town of Quebec City, alternately going up and down about 30 staircases for a total of more than 2 600 stairs.

This timed challenge is "against the clock", so all participants are starting 5 seconds away from each others."

For those wanting to pace themselves, the Staircase Walk was an untimed activity.


One of the flight of stairs that participants crossed is pictured above (from Defi des Escaliers site).

The event was organized by Courir a Quebec whose next big happening is the Marathon des Deux Rives on August 30th.

Quite a workout it seems!

Grand Fooding D' Ete 2009, Last Stop Toulouse on Sunday, June 28

If not for a last minute look, I would have failed mentioning it, the Grand Fooding D'Ete 2009 (Summer 2009) makes its last stop in Toulouse on Sunday, June 28.

Grand fooding

Where: Les Abattoirs

What Time: 6pm to 10pm

Price: 10 Euros (goes to Action against Hunger)

Here's what's on the menu (in French):

Cocktail « ricardito »
+ PAR MAURO COLAGRECO Le Mirazur, Menton
Abricot au fondant de brebis
+ Par François Bourgon
Fromagerie Xavier, Toulouse

La salade de riz frit à l'indonésienne, magret de canard laqué aux arachides et oignons croustillants
+ Par Michel Sarran
Restaurant Michel Sarran, Toulouse

Eau de poivron, émulsion de yaourt de brebis, légumes et herbes de la ferme Quyvie, poitrine de veau snackée
+ Par Patrice Gelbart
Aux Berges du Cérou, Salles

Marinade de poulpe au pimentón de
la Vera et vierge de vraie tomate
+ Par Christophe Comes
La Galinette, Perpignan

Langoustine fumée au thym citron, mousse de mangue et fruit de la passion, fine gelée au gingembre
et à l'orange sanguine
+ Par Frank ReNiMel
En marge, Toulouse

DESSERTS « regarde-toi dans la glace »
Parfums : Justaholique, Egotique
ou Angélique
Avec les crèmes glacées HÄAGEN-DAZS®

Le Clandestino
L'Amphitryon, Colomiers


+ par Jérôme Navarre Chez Navarre, Toulouse

Worth every penny if you are in the area.

Psst! The Grand Fooding is coming to New York on September 26 and 27, 2009.

June 28, Try Your Luck at the Door for Pinot Days 09 Grand Tasting, 200 Producers, 50 Bucks

The online reservation for Pinot Days 2009 Grand Tasting in San Francisco is now closed yet some tickets for the event will still be available at the door on Sunday, June 28.

Event starts at 11am so I suggest that if you want to try your luck you show up a bit early.

With 200 producers showcased and a price tag of $50, it is a great bang for the buck.

Here's a sample of the wineries present (from A to E):

Abiouness Wines, Adastra Wines, Addamo Estate Vineyards, Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards. Ampelos Cellars, Ancien Wines, Annapolis Winery, Arcadian Winery, Arista Winery, Athair Wines, Aubin Cellars, August West, Auteur, Balletto Vineyards & Winery, BATON Wines, Baxter Winery, Belle Glos Wines, Benovia Winery, Bien Nacido Vineyards, Bink Wines, Bjornstad Cellars, Black Kite Cellars, Bohemian Vineyard, Buena Vista Carneros, Byron Vineyard & Winery, C.Donatiello Winery, Ca' Momi Wines, Calera Wine Company, Calstar Cellars, Cambria Estate Winery, Canihan Family Cellars, Carmel Road Winery, Chasseur Wines, Chronicle Wines, Cima Collina, Clary Ranch Wines, Clos Pepe Vineyards, Clos Saron, Coterie Cellars, Couloir Wines, Crushpad, Dain Wines, DeLoach Vineyards, Demetria Estate, Derbes Wines, Derby Wine Estates, Domaine Chandon, Domaine Serene, Donum Estate/Robert Stemmler, DuNah Vineyard & Winery, Dutton Estate Winery, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Elke Vineyards Enkidu Wine, Eno Wines, Eric Kent Wine Cellars

Check the 2009 Participating Exhibitors List for the rest of the alphabet.

Pinot days

Interested in knowing more about the creators of Pinot Days and its history, read 5 Questions with Lisa Rigisich of Pinot Days SF by Ward (WineLog Blog, June 17).

Aficionados of the grape can follow the Pinot Noir news as they happen thanks to this Pinot Noir Thread (on Treehugger)...

I'm feeling thirsty now.

File under Sunday Picks

Related piece: June 25 to 28, Pinot Noir Fever Hits San Franciso with Pinot Days 2009

Chestnut Trees and Rose Wine from the Slopes of Luberon , Le Chataignier 08

Making plans for lunch on a hot summer day, can anything beat a picnic in the shade.

As a great companion for your meal bring along a bottle of rosé wine, chilled.

As the summer of 2009 is here I continue my exploration of rosé wines with Le Chataignier (2008) from Domaine de la Citadelle.

This producer is located on the northern slopes of Luberon in the picturesque village of Menerbes (population 1007).

The wine is a blend of Carignan (30 %), Cinsault (30 %), Grenache (20 %), Syrah (20 %).

They describe it as fruity, light and fresh which is true but not to be confused with sweet.


Around $14...

What have chestnuts got to do with it?

Well Chataignier is the French word for Chestnut Tree...


In London and on a Budget, Free Events Some Kids Friendly are Plentiful

Traveling with kids, maybe you want to join a Family spaceship workshop on Friday, June 26 (listed on Free London Events) where families and children under 7 are invited to join professional artists to create a spectacular 3D space ship and alien for the Waterloo Carnival.

Also in the family friendly department count the Art Trolley Weekend Sessions from 11am to 5pm at Tate Britain (no registration required) which I discovered via London is Free.

What's Art Trolley about?

"Visit and discover imaginative and weird and wonderful materials. You can build a sculpture, draw something that catches your eye or even create a pretty collage. Pose for a picture with your art work and then check out Tate's website to see if your work has been published online."

In a different sphere, London is Free lists the 60's tinged Monday 'Love-In' film & music in Camden Town at inSpiral Lounge.

Let's not forget Time Out London where I found Street Pianos which runs until July 12.

Here's Time Out take on Street Pianos:

"For three weeks 30 pianos will be installed in the street at locations all over London. Decorated to suit their location and marked 'Play me, I'm Yours', they'll be available to anyone who fancies a tinkle. Each piano will have its own songbook attached to encourage communal involvement - and a protective tarpaulin to pull over if rain threatens. A full time piano tuner on a pushbike will ensure the pianos remain in good condition."

Harrow Rd

This event is organized by Sing London in association with the City of London Festival and artist Luke Jerram whose photo of the London 2009 - (Harrow Rd piano) above illustrates this piece.

I could go on and on but I do not want to get you tired so I might come back with a second helping in a few days.

Just what we need in our Consumed to Thrifty times.

Yes You Can...Travel Around Europe this Summer with Rail Europe, Reduce Carbon Fooprint, Save Big time

Tokyo Sanpo, Sketches of Tokyo Life through French Eyes

Illustrator Florent Chavouet turned his 6 months in Japan into sketches of Tokyo life as seen through French eyes.

It became a book, Tokyo Sanpo (Editions Philippe Picquier).

Tokyo sanpo

Get a feel for Tokyo Sanpo with this 12 Page Sample.

He continues the adventure on his Florent Chavouet blog with a Daily Sushi illustration, the latest being Suchirurgien (June 24, illustration below from his blog). Chirurgien means surgeon in French.


You can find more of his creations on the Florent Chavouet site (in French).

If you are in Paris, his sketches are on display at the travel bookstore Itineraires at 60 rue St-Honoré until June 26.

File under Culture Clash for Tokyo Thursdays # 93

Previously on Tokyo Thursdays: Eatrip, People, Food and Rituals, A Japanese Film by Yuri Nomura