Posts from October 2009

Spooky like Cupcakes for Halloween from London to Washington DC

I barely had finished a quick post mentioning their Football (as in Soccer) Cupcakes that Lola's Cupcakes of London were sharing their Halloween Collection on Facebook.


As you can see they are not delivered in a mini coffin but in a regular box.

Danielle of Delleicious DC put together a Nice Gallery of Halloween Cupcakes (October 16).


My favorite from her piece has to be the Red Dot Spider above.

Related: Cupcakes and Football, An Odd Pairing by Lola's in London

Has anyone come up with a Spooky Lydia Lunch cupcake or a Nick Cave or a Tom Waits or maybe Screamin' Jay Hawkins?

Practically Green Sites, Sustainable Table and EcoTech Daily

The abundance of choices we face or the lack of a framework or guiding posts we have when ready to make changes in our daily habits can inhibit us when we want to take steps to be more practically green.

If food is where you are meeting roadblocks, Sustainable Table is very down to earth in spreading the word on 'buy local, eat local'.
Sustainable table
With your well being in mind their latest Healthy Monday looks at the Culinary Benefits of Pumpkins (Daily Table, October 26).

They suggest Pumpkin Tempura for example and using smaller pumpkins as serving dishes.

Pumpkin risotto anyone?

Even though in my days, Halloween was not celebrated in France, Soupe de Potiron (Pumpkin Soup) was popular.

As far as energy waste and water issues are concerned, technology solutions can help.

This is the focus of EcoTechDaily which mentions innovative solutions to these problems for example University Of Iowa Using Oat Hulls From Quaker Oats As Fuel Source (September 2009) and Potty Tech: Which Is Greener, Toilet Paper Or A Bidet? (May 2008).


Practically Green as always for Green Day # 100

Previously: No Car Pooling When You Work Solo, No Impact Week, Day 3, Transportation

Skulls Red Wine and Istvan Orosz, Art for Halloween and Wine?

In previous years, I have found wines that even if they were not designed with Halloween in mind, fit the theme nicely.

I mean wines that were not just gimmicks, riffs on the Halloween theme but good juice too.

As I have not noticed much on the shelves that was close to my previous picks , I went hunting online for new blood.

After sifting through a few, I noticed Skulls Red Wine by R Wines of Australia. You must seen their mass market Evil Cabernet.

Call them kings of marketing as applied to wine, using all the pop culture they can to make their brands stand out from the crowd.

Their approach is closer to a music label or a fashion brand.

Since I did not taste this Skulls Red Wine, I wondered whether I should mention it until I looked at the notes from designer Beth Elliott and noticed that she was using an illustration from Hungarian artist István Orosz on the label.


Gallery Diabolus has more examples of István Orosz work.

As for the juice in the bottle, here's what RP has to say:

"The 2007 Skulls Red Wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Mataro (Mourvedre) raised in stainless steel. Dark ruby-colored, it offers up an expressive bouquet of garrigue, forest floor, spice box, and cherry. Forward, medium-bodied, and friendly, this savory effort will drink well over the next six years. "

This Rhone style blend retails for around $19.

Halloween and Wine 2009, Part 1

Are Older Employees Change Killers?

Catching up on my favorite business columns, I was reading Failing to cope with change? (FT, October 19) by Stefan Stern.

Maybe because I'm just over 50, I was stopped in my tracks by the statement from an engineering executive that "the longevity of some employees can become a problem. They have seen it all before. They know how things should be done. They have nothing left to learn and no reason, they believe, to start doing things differently."

In my view, for change to happen, you need to bring people on board.

One thing that matters even more is what kind of change.

Is your business going to bounce back by following what others do?

Is it change for change sake?

Will it be change dictated from above?

Is it change some executive getting up in the morning and coming up with an idea that he/she wants to put in place right now.

Instead of shutting down discussion in your organization, inviting a variety of voices to contribute might be more effective.

Decisions still have to be made in the end.

All of them won't please everyone but if they come after a genuine dialogue, there will at least be an understanding from most players of where the decisions came from.

Did our friend, the engineering executive, stop for a minute to ask himself if he tended to think he had all the answers?

Is change all about the mechanics or are people part of a successful process?

Should businesses be a place where we are entitled to our opinions as in a democracy?
Maybe I will find some answers in Who Killed Change (Solving the Mystery of Leading People Through Change) by Ken Blanchard (William Morrow, May 2009).

One for the Just Over 50 and Not Dead Yet on Monday Work Etiquette # 113

Previously: Have a Strategy for When You Get Discouraged

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats Event at British Library, London, October 26, 2PM

In less than an hour (at 2PM London Time) the British Library is hosting an event for children of all ages celebrating the 2009 edition of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot.

The poems dedicated to our furry friends are unchanged from the 1939 original.

Some of them inspired the musical 'Cats'.

The poems benefit in this new edition from illustrations by Alex Scheffler.

So what can you expect from the October 26 Event at the British Library, here's the program:

"T.S. Eliot’s playful cat poems have delighted readers ever since they were first published in 1939. The lives of Mr. Mistoffelees, Growltiger, the Rum Tum Tugger, Macavity the Mystery Cat, and many others were originally composed for his godchildren, with Eliot posing as Old Possum himself, and later inspired the legendary musical Cats. The award-winning illustrator Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo) talks to Nicolette Jones about his captivating new edition and drawing the memorable strays. With readings by renowned actor Simon Callow."

Price per person is £6, if there are any seats left and if you can make it there in less than 30 minutes.

Old possum

And the weather is surprisingly mild this week for London with temperatures in the 60's

3 Decades of Manchester Bands in 400 Pages by Photographer Kevin Cummins

Going back to the 60's the Manchester music scene has a rich history and present.

In the past 3 decades starting with with Buzzcocks and Joy Division then The Smiths, Oasis, New Order and more recently Elbow, the city has kept its musical creativity intact.


Photographer Kevin Cummins documents that period in 400 pages with Manchester: Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain (Faber & Faber, UK, September 09).

He shared 15 of his favorite pictures with The Observer (September 20, 2009) with comments on the artists featured in each and background history on the shoot.

A musical break away from crepes...

7 Hours Left to Submit Entry for Everyday Harumi Book Contest, Part 2, Crepes in Japan

I am not going to make a long speech.

Just a quick reminder that there are 7 hours left to submit your entry for Part 2 of our Everyday Harumi Book Contest.

The theme is Crepes in Japan.

All you have to do is share your favorite Japanese Crepes and where you had them.

A picture would be a plus.

Submit your entry by e-mailing us at sls at njconcierges dot com no later than midnight (US Eastern) on October 25th.

Harumi quaterly

Harumi Kurihara's offerings besides Everyday Harumi includes Haru Mi, her recipes quarterly (cover above) listed by yutori no kukan...

Bonne Chance!

Japanese Crepes from Seattle to Melbourne, Plastic Replicas and All

Exploring the world of Japanese Crepes while drumming interest for Part. 2 of our Everyday Harumi Book Contest opened my eyes to a scene that has now spread its wings all over the world.

I discovered Unicorn Crepes in Seattle via CakeSpy's review A Cake Gumshoe's Thoughts on Unicorn Crepes (September 09). Their personal favorite was the Anko Custard Whip Crepe...

Opinions about the place seem all over the place from amazing to average.

Near Melbourne central train station, Agnes from Off the Spork Spotted Ichipan Crepes back in June 2008.

They mention in the Savory options, Tuna, Ham and Curried Chicken.

Ichipan crepes

Crepes are served in a paper cone with Ichipan logo as shown above in picture from Off the Spork's piece.

I am not sure the place is still opened as their website could not be found when I tried.

One thing that all these Japanese Crepes restaurants have in common wherever they are located is that they use plastic replicas of their offerings (as below, via mcity) to help customers choose.


It would have looked completely out of place on my weekly meal at the Creperie around the block in Brittany in my youth.

Eat Chocolate, Save Bats with Endangered Species Chocolate

I am not perfect, every once in a while I want a sugar kick, usually a chocolate kick.

That's how I felt a few days ago and noticed that Endangered Species was on sale.

I had neither paid attention to the brand nor tasted it until then.

Each of their bar showcases a different animal for which they are raising awareness as well as funds by giving back part of their profits.

I picked the Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs whose animal of choice was bats.


Two things I learned from the packaging, my choice was Gluten Free and bats are 'wonderful pest controllers'.

In addition, Endangered Species gives 1 energy conversation tip, in my case the need to unplug all my devices when they're not in use.

Chocolate for the Concerned customer in Halloween Times !

La Tour d'Argent, Serving Food since 1582, Wine Sale on December 7-8 includes Jurancon

I know that La Tour d'Argent is an institution but did not realize until I read The greatest wine sale ever known (Independent, October 24) that they have been in business since 1582, a mere 427 years that is.

The article reminds us that their guests ran the gamut from Cardinal Richelieu to Paul McCartney.

Asked by John Lichfield what Bill Gates drinks when stopping by, Chief sommelier David Ridgway says "Oh, I think he usually goes for a nice Chambertin Trapet 1993." This is one of the finest of red burgundies, which would sell in the restaurant at about €200. You can buy a dozen bottles in the December auction for an estimated price of €600 or €50 a bottle."

Yes the restaurant which the article quotes as having a 400 page long Wine List needs to make room for recent vintages is having a Wine Sale on December 7 and 8, 2009.

Event though their wine master is English, the list is all French selections except for the Ports.

Mind you, John Lichfield writes that the 18,000 bottles sale represents only a small fraction of the 450,000 in the 2 floor cellar.

Looking for a slice of La Tour d'Argent cellar at basement prices, there's Jurancon, a six bottles lot (number 936), for €30 to €40.


The Independent offers background information on this lesser known appellation from Southern France.

"A sweet white wine from the Pyrenees foothills. The wine is produced from a blend of local grape varieties, including petit manseng, gros manseng and courbu blanc. An appellation since 1936 (and therefore one of the first in France), Jurançon used to be a favorite in northern Europe but was virtually wiped out by the phylloxera plague in the 19th century. For much of the early 20th century, it was used almost exclusively in the Catholic mass but has started to recover its reputation as a dessert wine."

The Official Jurancon Site gives us more history on the appellation"Today, the rolling hills of Jurançon are covered with more than 1,000 hectares of vines. We know that the Romans planted vines here over 2,000 years ago and that the name "Jurasoo" first appeared in the Middle Ages. By the 15th century, the largest vineyards were owned by wealthy landowners and the viscounts of Béarn, based in Pau, in 1460. This was the beginning of the Golden Age of viticulture" and they trace "988 as the 1st recorded sale of Jurançon wine at the abbey of Saint Vincent"

Even though Jurancon is better known for its Moelleux (the sweet one), it also produces Jurancon sec which they describe as a "rich, round, dry white wine has plenty of character and good length. Jurancon Sec has a golden colour with green highlights and a bouquet that is both floral (broom and acacia blossom) and fruity (passion fruit, roast almonds and dried fruit)."

Wandering on the long and winding road of wine and history...