Posts from December 2009

Wear the Terroir, Bid on Trio of Wine T Shirts in the Waning Hours of Menu for Hope 6

Why? Oh! Why? is it that the Wine you Can Wear, T-shirt Trio courtesy of Terroir New York, my 4th Prize for Menu for Hope 6 does not seem to get the love it deserves?

Is it because you do not like our friends at Terroir NY.

In the waning hours of the 2009 edition of Menu for Hope, Menu for Hope 6, hope is not lost for you to be the one who will Wear the Terroir proudly comes January 2010.

By the way as I am writing this, we raised more than $75, 000.

Menu for Hope 6 closes its doors at Midnight (US Pacific Time) on December 31, 2009.

For the 6th year in a row, as Christmas and the end of the year festivities approach, food and wine bloggers around the world join in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the UN World
Food Programme with Menu for Hope 6 (December 14-25).


Here's the propaganda on this Wine You Can Wear (it does not stain):

"These graphic and yet educational T-shirts each feature valuable information about each winemaker on the back, baseball card style."

First, Prum: the quintessential Riesling maker,
Second, Palacios: creator of dramatic Priorat wines
Third, Draper: Philosopher as Winemaker."


Want them, get your bid in.

The Bid Item Number for  "Wine You Can Wear" is UE37.

  • Specify which bid item you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation.
  • You must write-in how many tickets you want per bid item, and please use the bid item code.
  • Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a bid item of your choice.
  • If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.
  • Check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

I will be so happy to have these shipped to you when the lucky few are announced in January, 2010.

Happy Giving!

Blue Moon, 3 Things to Celebrate, A Once in a Blue Moon Event, the New Year, a New Decade

I know you should not believe everything you read or hear but I did believe the Blue Moon segment courtesy of The World that I heard while behind the wheel this afternoon.

Who would not like the idea of celebrating three things at once, a Blue Moon and the New Year and the start of a New Decade?

I was in the dark as to what a Blue Moon was until today?

So what makes it so?
When there are two full moons in one calendar month, the second of those moons is called a Blue Moon, I learned.

In her program Open Country (BBC UK), Helen Marks found a way to treat this special occasion:

"She celebrates December's Blue Moon with artist Elspeth Owen, who is living outside and walking every night as part of an eccentric and unique project.
When there are two full moons in one calendar month, the second of those moons is called a Blue Moon. Elspeth Owen, who is in her 70s, has decided to live outside between the first full moon (on the 2nd of December) and the second full moon (on the 31st). She wants to discover something about the dark, about fear and about using her senses differently.For this Open Country special, Helen Mark visits Elspeth, who lives in the Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester, when the sky is at its darkest - mid-way through her project."

Elspeth Owen called this project In the Dark (illustration below, from her site) and 'invites people on this New Year's Eve to walk in the dark with her, eat, tell stories. She welcomes flasks containing hot or spirited drinks'.

Why should it be considered a special occasion?

The last Blue Moon occurred in 1990 and we will have to wait until 2018 for the next one.

Christine Russell offers some scientific details in Once in a New Year's Eve Blue Moon (The Atlantic, December 31) and notes that this Blue Moon "is expected to be visible to New Year's Eve celebrants across the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America and Africa, according to the AP's Alicia Chang."

Happy Blue Moon!

Warm Hearted Money, Cool Sheets, Quiet Sundays, Some Favorite Tokyo Thursdays, 2009 Vintage

It's Thursday and the last day of the year so I thought it would be fitting to revisit some of my favorite Tokyo Thursdays stories, vintage 2009.

Some of you might have given Warm Hearted Money Presents, French Spirit meets Japanese Tradition with Maïa Maniglier (September 17).

"Have you ever seen Kokoroduke Bukuro, exquisite gratuity envelopes to offer money in all occasions?
People might not be aware of this “warm-hearted money present culture” in Japan.
The way to give money in Japan is much different from Western culture. In Japan, people offer money or gratuities in Kokoroduke envelopes.
However, people are gradually forgetting to convey the custom in this traditional and smart way. Maia Maniglier wondered : if there were modern and designed envelopes, people might bring their own warm-hearted culture back."

Warm money

Can you remember these hot, sticky summer evenings then Cool Sheets End Sleepless Nights, Slow the Meter in Japan (October 15) was a perfect read and a neat idea.

"Trends in Japan shares some of these efforts in Eco-Friendly Air-Conditioned Beds and Clothes

Combine a mat and a fan and they suggest you can say goodbye to sleepless nights."


In a more meditative state of mind, Quiet Time on Sundays in Tokyo at Hanazono Shinto Shrine's Flea Market (August 27) might be for you.

"It might not be eerily quiet, there are still conversations going on and pieces being shuffled around yet Yasuda Mako suggests in Hanazono Jinja Aozora Kotto-ichi (Real Tokyo) that the flea market at Hanazono Shinto Shrine is a quiet oasis a few minutes walk from the noise and bustle of Shinjuku."

Quiet tokyo

For book lovers and expat eyes there's Tokyo Sanpo, Sketches of Tokyo Life through French Eyes (June 25).

"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)."


I will wrap this up with Tokyo Metro Posters 'This is not your living room' Metro Etiquette (January 29).

No explanations needed


If you missed these stories when they were published, your chance to catch up.

A quick walk through a Year of Tokyo Thursdays for Tokyo Thursdays #120

A nice round number!

Add a visit to Japan to my 2010 Wish List!

Mastering Cheese, the Bible for Cheese Lovers, a Few Party Tips, my Chat with Max McCalman

In all honesty, I could only scratch the surface with the few questions I put to Max McCalman.

His recently published Mastering Cheese (Clarkson Potter, November 09) in collaboration with David Gibbons is more like a bible for the cheese lover.

Even if I extended my chat with Max to 59 questions there would still be plenty to cover.

I hope that at least my quick glance at his book will wet your appetite for more.


So here it is.

Q: Max, do you think there is a big difference in the way American and European cheese eaters and lovers approach the subject of cheese?

A: There certainly has been a difference between how Americans and Europeans approach cheese, however, those differences are gradually narrowing as Americans are eating more cheese, eating better cheese, and producing better cheeses than ever before. We have a ways to go before we catch up with the rates of consumption in France, Italy and Greece, but the per capita consumption is increasing rapidly along with the quality.
There remains a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation regarding cheese here, and this seems to be a problem in Europe as well. This is one of the fundamental reasons why we are designing a Fromager certification program that is being endorsed by the American Cheese Society.

Q: Could the US approach to cheese be more cerebral as for people like myself who grew up in France, it is part of our DNA, was always on the table. Maybe I and others with similar backgrounds take it for granted?

A: Could be more cerebral certainly but we must keep in mind that the types of cheeses you had available growing up in France were not available here, and still to this day a large part of them still are not. Missing out on the young unpasteurized varieties has limited us to producing and importing the more aged varieties (60 days or older) if we want our cheeses to be made with "uncompromised" (as in unpasteurized) milk. Missing out on those young cheeses has limited our appreciation efforts, as well as many of the heat-sensitive nutrients.

Q: In the last city where I lived prior to moving to the US, I used to buy most if not all of my cheese from 2 fellows at a local market. They always asked customers when their purchase would  be served/ consumed so it would be 'ripe' so to speak. Can you name for everyone's benefit a few shops across the US who have the same approach?

A: For the best advice available as to when your cheese will be at its peak, you would expect to get it directly from the cheese maker, either at a Farmer's Market or at the Creamery itself. More and more retailers are paying attention to this matter here, especially those whose primary focus is on cheese. All of them generally assume that you will be buying cheese for immediate consumption and wouldn't expect that you would be attempting to complete the ripening yourself. There are too 
many to name here; I would probably be leaving some exceptional establishments. However a few that come immediately to mind include Pastoral in ChicagoCowgirl Creamery locations in D.C and California, Di Palo's, Artisanal and Murray's in Manhattan; and Steve's in Portland, Oregon.

Q: My grandparents used to store the daily cheese in a cabinet whose door was really a frame with a screen to protect from visitors. Do you think that the tendency we have as Americans to refrigerate everything leaves some of the flavors out? How long prior to serving cheese should you take them out of the fridge? Could you give a few examples as all cheeses are not equal in that sense?

A: The biggest problem with refrigeration is that the humidity levels are inadequate in most types. The advantage in keeping cheese in a cooler environment is that it tends to maintain cheese at a more "static" state, slowing down the degradation of cheese. There are times when this may be advised - to help dry or mature a cheese - but that is rarely the case.

I recommend leaving cheese out of refrigeration at least an hour before consumption to bring it to room temperature. A larger, harder cheese may take longer.

A small goat cheese such as a Wabash Cannonball, while a two-pound hunk of an aged Gouda would take longer.

Q: I remember bringing a Roucoulons to a party and I had to assure a couple of people that it was edible, not poison. One of the chapters in the book is 'Stunning Stinkers'. Do stinky cheeses tend to scare some people? Can you share with us the most pungent cheese you ever ate?

A: The aroma that some cheeses exude can be alarming to some, even though the cheese may be perfectly "at peak" the aroma is one thing, but the flavor can be much different, in terms of intensity.

Probably the most pungent cheese I've encountered is the Schaf Reblochon produced by Barmettler in Switzerland, The taste is delicious, the aroma can be a bit challenging to some.


Q: I noticed that two cheeses, Stanser Chua Flada and Vacherin Mont d'Or get repeated mentions in the book. I guess they are both favorites of yours. Can you tell us why?

A: The Flada is a very special cheese. It has a peak stage of ripeness when most anyone should love it. On the "ripe" side it can be too much for the uninitiated, though still yummy. Personally, the rind of this one is not what it's about; it is the glorious milk underneath.

The "real" Vacherin Mont d'Or is delightful, worth seeking out when it is available. There are some imitations that are fine but they don't quite hold a candle to the voluptuous quality that a true Mont d'Or can offer -rich creamy milk, a little sour and sweet at the same time, with a little resinous note.

Q: Which is your current favorite cheese region?

A: I've got more than one favorite region: Oregon, Vermont, a few other choice producers around the country, Portugal (most), Switzerland (some), Spain (various), the Pyrenees; there are so many places!

Q: Name 5 under the radar Cheeses or Cheesemakers on your late 2009, early 2010 list?

Consider Bardwell (West Pawlet, Vermont)
Rogue Creamery (Oregon)
Twig Farm (West Cornwall, Vermont)
Three Ring Farm (home of Rivers Edge Chevre in Logsden, Oregon)
Pholia Farm (Rogue River, Oregon)

Rivers edge logo

Q: Which are the most welcoming producers you ever met?

A: Gianaclis Caldwell,
David Gremmels & Cary Bryant,
Flavio de Castillos,
Anne Wegmore,
Pat Morford,
Liz McCallister,
John & Janine Putnam,
Judy Schad

Q: Do some of them offer accommodations for culinary tourists?

A: Yes, but I don't want to force any of them into that; they work hard enough.

Q: Last, if you were to serve a cheese selection at an informal New Year's Eve party what would you pick?

A: Queijo Serpa (Alentejo, Portugal) or Serra Classico
Covered Bridge Winter Wimer (from Pholia Farm)
Rogue River Blue (Rogue Creamery)
Dorset (Consider Bardwell)
Amarelo da Beira Baixa (from Portugal's Beira Baixa region)
Rolf Beeler Gruyere (from Switzerland)

Q: Should they all be easy to cut so people can help themselves? What  would you pair them with if anything?

A: A couple of first cuts is helpful, mark them so they know what they're enjoying.

Offer a range of wines and beers. That way you have a better chance of satisfying all parties.

I wanted to thank Max for finding time to take part in this chat in the middle of the holiday season.

Let me also give a grand merci to Allison Malec at Clarkson Potter who made it happen.

There will be more cheese on my infrequent interview menu in the future.
I don't know.
It will be a surprise.

Wishing you a wonderful cheese year in 2010.

When in France, New Year's Eve is La Saint Sylvestre

Each country and culture has its quirks and traditions.

When in France, New Year's Eve is La Saint Sylvestre.

Kimberly aka A Broad in Belgium in La Saint Sylvestre (December 28) shares her observations:

"It is usually celebrated with a feast, called le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre. You know me, I always choose feast over famine and this time of year, while the weather is certainly frightful, the feast is always delightful because Le Réveillon always includes special items like champagne and foie gras---two of my personal favorites. Foie Gras is French party food. America has its pigs in a blanket, the French have their goose liver."

You can dance the night away in Mijoux. one of the Monts Jura ski stations thanks to local group Val'zik.

On, Courtney Traub mentions that "a common Paris treat for the New Year are papillottes."

We wrote about these sweet treats in Chocolate, Passion and Billets Doux, Papillotes from Revillon (November 3).

A few good spots to celebrate in Paris are offered on NewsnIdea by Faria Chowdury.


Feel like a party animal you can always join the Alcazar crowd (poster above).

And if I may ask what plans do you have for La Saint Sylvestre?

South Tyrol Wine Museum in Kaltern-Caldaro, Vineyard Upfront, Founded 1955

Wine is a living thing so rather than give us staid history, the South Tyrol Wine Museum (in Italian Museo provinciale del vino) or as the locals call it in German Sudtiroler Weinmuseum, has real vines planted in the front yard. 

South Tyrol is known as the wine region of Alto Adige.

About the Museum in their own words):

"The South Tyrol Wine Museum was the first one of its kind to be created south of the Alps. It was founded in 1955. Until 1986 it was hosted in Ringberg castle above Lake Kaltern and in 1986 it was transferred to the center of the town of Kaltern/Caldaro.

Highlights of the permanent Museum exhibition are: the winegrowers' daily work in the vineyard, wine production and storage,  the farmers' working tools and implements (pictured below), glass and ceramic, and the relation between wine and religion"


An illustration of the connection between wine and religion can be found right at the door with the statue of Saint Corbinian of Freising holding grapes (image below).


The grapes in the museum's vineyard are ancient varieties not commonly grown these days such as Bozner Seidentraube, Weiße Erdbeertraube, Blatterie and Gschlafene.

The Museum is open from 1st April to 11th November Tuesday to Saturday: 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. Su. and public holidays: 10.00 a.m. - 12.00 a.m. Closed on Mondays Closed on November 1st

Admission : 3 Euros Per Adult

Even though South Tyrol is in Northern Italy, the climate is more Mediterranean than anything.

A place to visit once for sure

On my wish list for 2010

Great Odds to Fetch Coco, a Seminal Book or Trio of Terroir NY Wine Tees, Enter Your Bids by December 31, Menu for Hope 6

For the 6th time in a row, at the end of the year, food and wine bloggers around the world join in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the UN World Food Programme with Menu for Hope 6 (December 14-31).

The 2009 Edition of Menu for Hope benefits Purchase for Progress, a UN program buying food from small local farmers in turn providing them with a sense of stability.


Why are my Odds of Winning many of us think hen offered a chance to bid in a raffle type of event?

Well with Menu for Hope 6 even if you're not an insider as myself due to my participation (just kidding, I am just one of the many ants in the farm), there is a way to check the temperature of the bids on the items offered thanks to the Neat List (organized by region) shared by Pim of Chez Pim:

Many prizes are COOL, in the middle, temperate, not making waves.

Some items are HOT:

UW04 The Grand Tasting Menu+wine pairings for two at Michelin 2-star Manresa, AND a tour of the restaurant's biodynamic garden at Love Apple Farm details HOT 0
UW05 A selection of six jars of Chez Pim’s artisan marmalade and jam, plus an autographed copy of Pim’s new book, The Foodie Handbook details HOT 0
UW06 Dinner for two at Daniel Patterson's Michelin 2-star Coi. Plus, dinner for two at his more casual spot at the Ferry Plaza, Il Cane Rosso details HOT 0

Some are COLD

I was a bit chagrined I have to say when I checked my offerings and saw this

UE36 Coco" Book details COLD 0
UE35 Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda Gift Bag details COLD 0
UE37 Wine you can wear' tee-shirts details COLD

On the other hand, for those of you who wait until the bitter end to join the fray, the bidding, this leaves a lot of prizes that you have Excellent Odds of Winning.

If you still need convincing here's a brief take on each of my cold ??? prizes:

Number 2, Go Natural with Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda, Get your 12 Pack of Zen
The Bid Item Number for Mary Jane Soda + T-shirt  is UE35.


Next at Number 3, you can Lift Lives, Bid on 'Coco' 10 Future Food Stars picked by 10 Star Chefs thanks to Phaidon USA.

The Bid Item Number for  "Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs" is UE36.


This is Not a Cookbook
, Helen Rosner warns us in her review for Eat Me Daily (October 19):

"Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs will suck you in. As its neatly descriptive subtitle so concisely notes, this is a book filled with profiles of 100 up-and-coming chefs, as selected by ten "Masters": Ferran Adria, Mario Batali, Rene Redzepi, Alice Waters, Jacky Yu, Gordon Ramsay, Fergus Henderson, Shannon Bennett, Alain Ducasse, and Yoshihiro Murata."

Last at Number 4, Wine you Can Wear, T-shirt Trio featuring Palacios, Prum and Draper courtesy of Terroir New York.

Bid Item Number for  "Wine You Can Wear" is UE37.


Not 'Instant Karma', maybe its wine version as served from deep down in New York City.

The wine and restaurant mavericks of Terroir NY liked the vision of Menu for Hope 6 and dropped some Wine you Can Wear, 3 of their famous/infamous Revolutionaries of Wine T-shirts from the Terroir Online Store in our gift basket.

You have a tad more than 2 days left to try your luck.

All it takes is a bid of $10 Minimum and many of these 'COLD' prizes could be yours.

Of course like anything in life, nothing is certain...

Don't keep these Menu for Hope 6 bid items in the Cold

Get Bidding

Thank you!

Merci beaucoup!

Pepy tries her hand at Ichiban and Niban Dashi stocks from Everyday Harumi

Even though I sang the praise of Everyday Harumi, I have to confess that my culinary skills as far as Japanese cooking is concerned are close to zero.

Nothing a little kitchen time could not change but in the meantime I will defer to Pepy, one of the winners of the Everyday Harumi Cookbook Contest in that field.

On her blog The Art and Science of Food which covers Indonesian and Asian Fusion cooking she took a shot at Harumi Kurihara's recipe for Ichiban and Niban Dashi Stocks (December 20).

The result of her work is pictured below (photos by Pepy as well).


I am looking forward to Pepy's next adventure in Harumi land.

2009, The Year in Cupcakes on Serge the Concierge

What could be more tempting with 3 days left in 2009 (and the decade) than doing a quick Year in Cupcakes roundup.

Let's start with Emerald City Cupcakes celebrate Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary (December 3).


Trick or Treat, Spooky like Cupcakes for Halloween from London to Washington DC (October 27).


It was not quite Spring yet for Cupcake Social, March 15, 2009 in Austin during SXSW with Rachel and Nichelle (March 6).

We're back in the Fall with Cupcakes and Football, An Odd Pairing by Lola's in London (October 20).

Then it was almost Provence with Feeling Blue, Check these Lavender Cupcakes from Brussels (November 28).


Let's finish with an oddball Avocado and Chocolate all in One Cupcake via Dinner with Julie (pictured above, December 22)....

2009, A Year in Cupcakes on 'Serge the Concierge'

Green Words of the Decade, Grass Station, Hypermiling, Locavore, Carbon Neutral

In his Scrapbook and on the air (December 29) , Brian Lehrer (WNYC Radio) was just sharing Words of the Decade as offered by Webster’s New World College Dictionary and the New Oxford American Dictionary in the company of Ammon Shea and Mike Agnes.

Amongst the 15 words, they mentioned a couple green words that did not live past the freshness date.

First was 'grass station' (Webster, 2007) which NetLingo describes as:

"A pun on "gas station" this term refers to a theoretical fill-up spot in the not-too-distant future; it reflects America's growing love affair with hybrid cars and vegetable-based fuels, including ethanol and biomass fuels, some of which are distilled from grass."

Second was the even geekier 'hypermiling' (so last year, Oxford, 2008).

Here's Wikipedia's take on 'hypermiling':

"Hypermiling is the act of driving using techniques that maximize fuel economy. Those who practice these techniques are referred to as "hypermilers."

Hypermiling is defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as the attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one's vehicle and one's driving techniques."

Ecomodder shares no less than 108 hypermiling / ecodriving tips ...

Let me mention 2 of them so I don't exhaust your patience:

1) Drive less

The best way to reduce fuel use is to drive less:

a) Live closer to work;
b) carpool;
c) bicycle;
d) walk;
e) take public transit

4) Clean junk from your trunk

The additional weight you carry in your vehicle doesn't ride for free. It takes energy to move it around. Removing unnecessary stuff from your vehicle saves fuel.

In the 15 Words of the Decade, I did see two Green Words that have found a place in our vocabulary,  locavore (2007) and carbon neutral (2006), both selections from the New Oxford American Dictionary.

Green Living Tips compiled a Green jargon and terminology list (in 2008).
On the practical side, want to eat local like a locavore and not sure where to start, there are local food wheels (picture above, available for San Francisco and New York areas). You can buy it here for $12.95 (plus shipping and handling).

Chewing on Green Words for Green Day # 108

Previously: Green Living Begins at Home on menu of Greener Gadgets Conference 2010, NY