Posts from February 2010

Bye Bye Stryrofoam, Hello EcoCradle, Packing it Green at Greener Gadgets

We can spend hours on 'pie in the sky' fantasies.

Once in a while, it's nice to see good ideas turned into practical things.

I don't know about you but anytime I buy a new appliance, computer, kitchen tools, you name it, the stryrofoam packaging gets to me.

It is bulky, makes a mess when it breaks and worse even it pollutes landfills.

In the course of the day at Greener Gadgets 2010, I was glad to see Ecovative , a New York state start up come up with a green innovative solution to this headache.

Named the EcoCradle it is "100% compostable and biodegradable. It’s made from seed husks and mushroom roots" so it will not end up inflating food prices as corn did with ethanol.


As far as I can understand the material can be molded in different shapes (besides what's pictured above) to suit specific needs.

Will wineries, glassware and pottery makers looking for green shipping options become converts?

On the consumer's end, after unpacking whatever goods the EcoCradle brought to you safe and sound, you can drop it in your garden and let its fibers feed your plants.

Neat! Neat! Neat!

Kids and Garland Jeffreys Rock for Haiti at Petite Abeille, NY, March 7, 5 Pm

Back in my high school days, I remember times when along with friends idealism and a desire to help got us involved in similar efforts.

With that and the suffering of so many people in impoverished Haiti in mind, I had to lend my modest support to a group of kids who were passionate enough to decide to try and do something.


Who and what is behind this Kids Rocking for Haiti in NYC:

"A unique and growing fundraising campaign, a collaboration of New York City’s diverse multi-cultural communities, grew out of the vision of Pascal Jadot, a young Manhattan middle school student and musician. Pascal’s desire to do a concert with his band, Sidewayz, to benefit the children of Haiti, is creating a groundswell of support that has grown into a multi-faceted relief campaign."

It did not hurt that Pascal was able to get his father and other grown-ups on board:

"Yves Jadot, Pascal’s father, owner of Petite Abeille restaurant with his partners, stated, “We are very happy to donate our services and facilities for this worthy cause and further encourage Pascal and other young people to become more involved with causes as worthy as this one.” Granville Leo Stevens, is a long-time Stuyvesant Town resident who is collaborating with Yves, added, “We do not wish to see any diminishment in aid meeting the continuing needs of the people of Haiti with the passage of time. We hope to keep their dire medical condition in the spotlight to galvanize humanitarian efforts and the generosity of the families and businesses of our diverse communities, particularly the 30,000 neighbors of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, schools, and community-based organizations.”

Where is the ROCK FOR HAITI Benefit taking place:

 At Petite Abeille, 401 East 20th Street (at 1st Ave.), on Sunday March 7, 2010, 5-8pm.

What's on the program:

In addition to a performance by the SIDEWAYZ rock band, entertainment for the evening will also feature the extraordinary young singer-song writer, Savannah Jeffreys, who will perform a few of her original compositions.
Internationally acclaimed recording artist, Garland Jeffreys, is scheduled for a limited appearance and will perform two songs.
Jose Obando, Latin musical instrument consultant to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his Salsa All-Stars band will add their up-tempo rhythms and musical heat.

How can you get tickets:

Tickets for admission to the Benefit performance are $20 (fully tax deductible) and may be purchased in advance at any of the four Petite Abeille restaurants in Manhattan.

Where is the Money going:

Proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders (USA)/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the American affiliate of the international medical humanitarian organization formed by doctors and journalists in France in 1971.

You could find worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than supporting these kids effort.

March Kicks Off with Provence 2009 Rose Wines Tasting in New York and L.A

Will it melt the snow, I am not sure?

What I know for sure is that as long as I can shake the cold that caught me by surprise today, I will look for a Taste of Spring if not Summer at the "Provence in the City" Rosé Wines Tasting on Monday March 1st, 2010 in New York.


It takes place at Lunch time which is perfect for light fare and refreshing wines.

Under the umbrella of the Comite Interprofessionel des Vins de Provence (CIVP) the following producers, 26 of them, will be showcasing their 2009 vintage:

Cellier Saint Sidoine, Cercle des Vignerons de Provence,
Château d'Esclans - Domaines Sacha Lichine,
Château de Berne, Château de Calavon, Château de Pourcieux,
Château de Saint Martin, Château Elie Sumeire, Château La Mascaronne,
Château la Moutete, Château Margüi, Château Minuty, Château Miraval,
Château Roubine, Château Sainte Roseline, Domaine de Brigue, Domaine de Fontlade,
Domaine de la Sanglière, Domaine de Rimauresq, Domaine Saint André de Figuière,
Domaine Sainte Lucie, Global Vini Services, Les Quatre Tours,
Maîtres Vignerons de Saint-Tropez,
Mas de Cadenet, Vignobles Famille Quiot - Domaine Houchart

Amongst them, Sacha Alexis Lichine of Chateau d'Esclans is known for his highly rated high end Rosés like the small production Garrus (around 80 Euros a bottle).

I am certain that most of the others will stay in the $12 to $15 range common for most Rosés.

They will continue their US roadshow in Los Angeles on March 5th with 13 of the producers this time.

If Cat in the Hat was a Baker, Whimsical Bakehouse Book Contest and Cover Recipe

In case you missed it, earlier this week in Get a Cake Art Education, Win Whimsical Bakehouse, the Magic Book that Shows it All we launched the Whimsical Bakehouse Book Contest.

How can you win a copy of the soft cover edition of the book (published in January 2010)


Either send us a picture of your own Fantasy Cake creation

Or give us 3 Memorable Baking Scenes in movies (with links to it if possible).

There is only one copy available so time is of the essence.

To get your chance to win, e-mail your entry to sls [at] njconcierges [dot] com

Deadline for entries is Friday, March 5, 2010 by Midnight (US Eastern Time).

The winner will be announced on March 8.

In the meantime, if you are snowed in like me and getting cabin fever, you might want to put the long week-end to good use and try this Recipe of the Birthday Cake gracing the cover (excepted from the book) courtesy of Clarkson-Potter:


If the Cat in the Hat were a baker, this is what his specialty might look like. It is probably our most popular cake—we make more than 100 a week in two different sizes—and it has become our signature design. If you prefer not to work with as many colors as we show here, try some of these alternatives: a glazed background, tone on tone (such as light pink to dark pink), or all white.

What You Will Need:

• Cake: one 10-inch round cake of your choice (we recommend Chocolate Butter Cake, see below)

• Filling: 6 cups of whipped cream (we usually mix in 20 crushed chocolate sandwich cookies such as Oreos)

• Icing: Buttercream frosting of your choice

• Decoration: 1 to 2 cups white wafer chocolate to make assorted chocolate candles

• Colors: Teal, green, yellow, blue, violet, neon pink, and orange liquid gel colors and neon bright pink, green, blue, or violet candy colors (plus yellow)

• Tips: #102 and #104 petal tip, #18 and #199 star tip, and #4 round tip

How to:

1. Bake the cake and let it cool completely. Prepare the filling and icing. Fill and crumb coat the cake. Chill the filled cake.

2. Melt 1 to 2 cups of white wafer chocolate. Set aside 1/4 cup of melted chocolate. Tint the chocolate with your choice of candy color. Pour the chocolate into a pastry cone and cut a medium-size hole. On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper pipe out as many 5-inch candles as you will need. They should be at least 1/4 inch wide and 1/8 inch thick. Set aside to harden.

3. Tint the reserved chocolate yellow. Pour the chocolate into a pastry cone and cut a medium-size hole. When the candles are hard, flip them over and pipe yellow chocolate flames on their tips.

4. Prepare the colored buttercream of your choice; we used 2 1/4 cups purple, 3/4 cup orange, 3/4 cup lime green, 1/4 cup teal, 1/4 cup neon pink, 1/4 cup blue, and 1/4 cup yellow.

5. Ice the cake with purple buttercream or the base color of your choice. Adhere the cardboard round supporting the cake to your base.

6. Place the orange buttercream in a pastry bag with a coupler, and with a petal tip pipe a Ruffled Ribbon Border around the bottom edge.

7. Place the yellow or blue buttercream in a pastry bag with a coupler. Pipe a Bead Border above the Ruffled Ribbon Border: With the same tip, pipe yellow linear swags. Place the lime-green buttercream in a pastry bag with a coupler; and with a star tip pipe lime-green Spiral Swags using the swag lines as a guide. With the same tip, pipe an evenly spaced ring of rosettes around the outer edge of the cake top. There should be the same number of rosettes as there are candles.

8. Place the teal buttercream in a pastry bag with a coupler, and with a star tip pipe a shell border around the top edge.

9. Stick the chocolate candles into the rosettes so the flat sides face the front, pressing them halfway into the cake.

10. Place the neon pink in a pastry bag with a coupler, and with a petal tip pipe bows where the swags meet.


Classic, moist, and delicious, this versatile cake is sure to please any die-hard chocoholic or party of screaming kids. It is the most popular cake at the Bakehouse.

Grease and flour two 10x3-inch round pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine and whisk until there are no lumps: • 1 cup hot coffee • 1 cup cocoa powder

Add and whisk until smooth:
• 1 cup cold water

On a piece of wax paper, sift together:
• 3 cups cake flour • 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat at high speed until light and fluffy:
• 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter • 2 1/2 cups sugar

On medium speed, add slowly and cream well:
• 4 large eggs
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Add the dry ingredients alternately to the butter and egg mixture with the cocoa, mixing until smooth.

Pour 3 cups of the batter into one 10-inch pan and the remaining batter into the other 10-inch pan. Bake the less full pan for 20 to 35 minutes and the fuller pan for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before turning them out of their pans.

Yield: 9 cups of batter

Have fun even if the result is not perfect

Take A Chance and Participate in the Contest

12 Months, 365 Days in Mugs and Coasters at Japan's Calendar Salone 2011

Any format can be a platform for expression when used by a graphic designer.

Japan as many other developed countries has seen a fall in advertising, product packaging and all these sometimes glossy and glamorous ways graphic designers put their stamp on our imagination.

To fight the gloom and dearth of projects the Japan Graphic Designers Association or JAGDA organized Calendar Salone 2011 in Tokyo from February 18 to February 23rd.


The Japan Times shares images of some of the projects and reports that while one of them used a different mug to represent each day another conceived his calendar as a set of 12 coasters.

Necessity can make creativity bubble to the surface.

Let a 1000 calendar ideas bloom!

A visual workout for Tokyo Thursdays # 128

Hours Left to Get Your Hands on Pair Tickets for Sword Fighting Men Japanese Film, NY Show

Mister Saumon and his Caporal, A Nice Little Loire Wine

As soon as I saw this little Loire wine, the Caporal by Mister Saumon in Husseau, the label made me thirsty for it.

Jim's Loire in Frantz Saumon: Portes Ouvertes (June 2009) describes this Caporal (Montlouis Sec) as 'floral, hint of honey, purity and long mineral finish'

A white wine it is, I believe 100% Chenin Blanc.

Thanks to Stephane Poulart for sharing his label snapshot (above) with us all.

Piranha Soup and Fumiko on the Menu of our Wednesday Interview

My first encounter with Fumiko Imano came thanks to a piece by Amelia Groom on Tokyo Art Beat.

As much as the fact that she was a photographer, I liked her playfulness, the fact that she designed some of her clothes (punk as in DIY) and her well traveled life from Brazil to Japan to Paris and London.

After sharing my thoughts on her adventurous path, I asked her if she would be game for an interview around life and food.

We both found time to make it happen in the past week.

Here are the results.

Q: You grew up in Brazil and Japan and lived in London, Tokyo and Paris. Is there an ingredient or a dish whose flavors remind you of a special  person, a moment, a memory associated with each place?

A: Yes of course. memory of my tongue, eyes and feeling. To eat is to use 5 senses.

In Brazil, our family went to Churrascaria restaurant called "Porcon" (big pig spell?) a lot.
Brazilian baguette and cafe latte for breakfast at Coroa Grande's Japanese farmer's house was really good memory.
When we went to Pantanal , we had piranha soup at restaurant but too many insects flew around, falling in, and Icouldn' t eat much of it.
The most memorable lunch was eating alone in canteen of Itanhanga golf club some weekends while my parents were playing golf. It was typically a plate with steak, spaghetti, mashed potatoes and rice. I also had Coxinha(chicken crocket) and Kibe (fried meat balls)  and then strawbery milkshake.
Time in Brazil time was about food and family and my mum's worried face saying "dont eat too much!"


When living in dormitory in London, I had Marmite toast with butter and boiled egg.
Each night we had a huge meal served in one dish.
Some people found that disgusting but i liked it. I especially liked boiled green peas also mashed potatoes and Chicken Kiev (Cordon Bleu in France).
Once in a while I visited Chinatown to eat pork rice with ginger sauce with friends.
I had so many cups of tea with friends to talk talk talk! I became teaholic in England.

Paris is city of Bobun!
Of course, i like Steak Tartar with french fries or Confit de Canard but Bobun was my favorite.
Thai take out place in Rue Lepic was great.
Once, I went to Le Cambodge with a friend and we had amazingly good Bobun!
Sauce tasted like gyu-don (japanese beef rice bowl)
As for me, I made a lot of tomato & lardon pasta and Maki sushi for friends I used to live
They made great dishes too!
I had strong coffee with friends in Cafes, dinner at friends' house or they took me to nice places.
Paris is the place for very very special moments. Somehow the air is different.

Q: After Brazil, moving to Japan you lived in Hitachi correct? Did you eat out with your family? Are there dishes the place is known for?

A: There was a great place where to eat pilaf with crab on the top. It took time to get the meat out from the shell but it was delicious!
Sadly, it closed down...  the building and interior had a fake and tacky European look, and music was Saint-Saëns kind of music....funny place.
Hitachi is in the countryside and so many shops and restaurant have closed down now.
Fish is fresh here!  Anko (toad fish) hot pot is famous around this area.
It has a very rich flavor as we put the whole fish in it.
Also,my parents' Soba noodle restaurant during the summer is a really good place!

Q: Since you did that Pizza Twins picture, are you fond of Pizza? What's your favorite type? Where did you have the best Pizza ever?

A:  I' m not a big fan of Pizza but i like it. I like good Italian type and American type.
Once i had mid size salami Domino pizza each and coca cola with my friend in Paris. It was fun!

The most memorable Pizza I had  was in Denmark in 1982 when we traveled back via Europe from
Brazil to Japan.
It was november so the Tivoli Gardens were closed. We went to a Pizza place in front of it and ordered folded pizza. It was a big Calzone! I cannot forget it because it was the first time I saw one.
It was good pizza but i don't remember the taste, the look more than the taste.


Q: Do you always bake your bread as 'bread princess' post on your blog might suggest?

A: Not always but quite often is false cause I'm not a creature of habit.
I just follow my nature when I enjoy making it.
I used to bake with normal dry east but Ididn't like the smell of yeast much. It has a stronger smell but is easier to use than natural yeast.
Well, we only get basic Japanese bread here in suburb so I end up eating hard bread sometimes.


Q: Are there any foods that you stay away from?

A: Basically, I eat anything. from "junk" food to "luxe" food.

Q: Do you try different types of cuisines, experiment with things as you do with your pictures and in creating your clothes?

A: Yes. I do experiment a lot and it can end up tasting funny.
I think good food is simple fare and not overcooked with too many ideas, same goes for art work.

Q: Your favorite places to shop for food?

A: In London, I used to love Waitrose. I went to Borough Market once and it was fun!

Paris markets are nice. I like Monoprix and Picard (frozen food).

Tokyo? Seijyo Ishii for imported food and OK Store as cheap super market.


Q: Right now, what would your favorite meal be?

A: Gyoza (Japanese dumplings ) and rice.

Q: What do you like to cook best?

A: Pasta with tomato sauce!

Q: If you could pick 3 guests (famous, unknowns or in-between) for dinner who would they be?

A: Leo(dog in heaven), Alex(dog in heaven), Koo(he is here with us!). I want to cook huge steak for them! They love to eat but we control what we give them. They deserve a better meal!

Q: You were close to fashion circles, are there common elements between fashion and food?

A: Fashion needs food! Food needs fashion!
When we eat, we dress ourselves. We wear clothes and eat everyday.

Q: Best food to have in bed?

A: I never eat in my bed.  If I had a chance, I would enjoy a huge breakfast.

Q: Secret food that helps you keep youthful looks?

A: This is a funny question. I don't think about it but maybe green tea. I eat whatever i like? It helps me keep my chubby look!

Q: Having spent a number of years in Europe, are wine and cheese an essential part of your meals?

A: Not essential but I like to have it sometime.
When i was in London, I found French red wine made in 1995  price 2.99 pound.
It was really good. had rich taste. I don't know....
My taste is really bad sometimes though. ;)
If you ask my favorite , I like light and fruity wine like those from Alsace.
I love cheese!  Comte and goat cheese are my favorite.

Q: Either eating out or cooking at home, do you take snapshots of the  dishes?

A: I used to snap shot anything when I was more experimental and younger but not anymore... Capturing them with my eyes is enough.
It is bad because you can become a believer of what the camera takes, and fail to experiencing real raw time!
World is becoming more like that because of mobile cameras!
I' m not against it but it is better to just enjoy time than recording it.

Feel free to add whatever matters to you regarding food that I did not  touch upon?

A: I add a bit of salt, sugar, and pepper to finish it!

Thank you Fumiko!

All photographs used in this piece are copyright Fumiko Imano

That's it for this new round of the Wednesday Interview

Ben Rye Vino Passito, Sweet Dreams for My Tenderest Twosome

I don't really drink dessert wines usually.

At Vino 2010 and a just a couple of days ago at Tre Bicchieri tasting, I discovered Vino Passito and have grown fond of it.

When I noticed Your Tenderest Twosome offered by The Domestic Goddess as the theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday #66 in tandem with Sugar High Fridays, I had grapes to pick on.

Now I had to narrow my choices.

Maybe because it is the latest that I tasted and the memory is still fresh, I decided to go with Ben Rye Vino Passito di Pantelleria (08).

Ben rye

We have to thank Donnafugata for producing this 'miracle wine' on the island of Pantelleria near Sicily.

It is 100% Zibibbo grapes (also known as Moscato d' Alessandria).

Making Passito starts with letting the grapes dry after harvesting them.

You can sense orange flavors in this Passito. What I like about it is while intense it is not sugary sweet, rather sweet and subtle.

I would give it a try with an almond or nut cake or if you are in the mood for sipping , munching and taking it slow, get some almonds, nuts, figs and hard cheeses and enjoy the moment.

Pairings are often a very subjective matter.

Nick Stephens of Bordeaux Undiscovered gives us in Pantelleria, Passito and Carole Bouquet (October 08) a guided tour to Passito's history and roots.

Sweet dreams, sea and sun!

4482 Sasapari Exhibit, All Aboard Seoul to London Art Express, February 25-28

Had Gyeyeon Park, the event coordinator not contacted me a few days ago, 4482 [Sasapari] would have come and gone without my knowledge.

2010 marks the 3rd Edition of 4482 [Sasapari], an annual showcase for Korean contemporary artists living in London.

What's this group project all about?

Here's how the organizers describe it:

"What started with ten Korean artists exhibiting in ‘The Open’, New Malden, 2007 has transformed into 4482<1> Sasapari , Barge House, Oxo Tower, and has consequently become the largest ever showcase of contemporary Korean artists in the UK.

4482 stands for the combination of the UK and the Korean international dialing codes. For 4482 artists, this is not just a set of numbers but a formula that represents a cross cultural dialogue. Specifically, fifty three artists who were raised and educated in Korea, came to the UK for further education, and their practice now reflects the result of two cultures interacting.

This exhibition has now become a significant cultural movement, one of contemporary Korean artists delivering the spirit of ‘Yuhakseng <2>’ to a wider British and European audience. This is mirrored in the curatorial process, which stays true to Korean cultural identity by closely involving all of the fifty three artists."

The work of 53 artists will be displayed.

Creations come in a variety of styles and forms from High-tech Driving, Full HD(Brain), Zinc Plate, Aluminum, Oil colour, 2009 by 홍승표 Seung-pyo Hong (below)


To revisiting the classic (Dutch?) masters in Existing in Costume Sleeping Beauty,230x180Cm, C-Print, 2009 by 배찬효 Chan-Hyo Bae (below).


4482 [Sasapari] 2010 opens on February 25th and runs until February 28, 2010.

Admission is Free.
Hours are : 11 AM to 6 PM.

Event venue is the Bargehouse located in Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London WE1 9PH

Enjoy, if you have a chance!

Get a Cake Art Education, Win Whimsical Bakehouse, the Magic Book that Shows it All

Magic comes in many shapes and forms.

Sometimes it is an illusion.

Kaye and Liv Hansen, a mother and daughter team, create edible magic.

If you want a cake art education there are no better teachers.

Originally published (in hardcover) in 2002, their Whimsical Bakehouse book will wow you, charm you and even explain step by step how to re-create the real and the fantasy world, one layer and one butterfly at a time.

Their Ode to Jackson Pollock (page 42) is a clear nod to Liv's art background.

Summer Nights (page 80) with its fleet of butterflies warms up your heart on a damp Tuesday in February.

After the single cakes, my favorite multi-tiered ones have to be New York, New York (page 129) with its bustling life and Safari (page 136), hippos, zebras and all.

How can you win a copy of the soft cover edition of the book (published in January 2010)


Either send us a picture of your own Fantasy Cake creation

Or give us 3 Memorable Baking Scenes in movies (with links to it if possible).

There is only one copy available so time is of the essence.

To get your chance to win, e-mail your entry to sls [at] njconcierges [dot] com

Deadline for entries is Friday, March 5, 2010 by Midnight (US Eastern Time).

The winner will be announced on March 8.

Have fun.

Clarkson Potter was kind enough to donate the book for this contest, thank you!