Posts from April 2010

Landed in Lulilandia, Lulina, Light Dreamy Pop from Brazil

Do you have mornings when energy level, focus is not what it should be?

It happened to me today.

Maybe it's the cooler/ colder weather of the past couple of days.

I want some sun.

To brighten up my mood, I went looking for sun in Brazil.

I landed in Lulilandia, a world inhabited by Lulina, a singer and musician.

The Recife native is now based in Sao Paulo

Some link her to 60's French Pop.

I thought more of Stereolab when listening to songs including Poesia (above) from her album Cristalina

If you are in Sao Paulo you can catch them live on April 29.

As the poster states concert is Gratis, Free...

Not a bad way to spend the evening.

Since I can't make it to Sao Paulo I might just cook some recipes from The Brazilian Kitchen while listening to Cristalina.

Chocolate, Mood Food and Depression Culprit, What is the Therapy

A new study from Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that Chocolate lovers 'are more depressive' (BBC, April 27).

Titled Mood Food: Chocolate and Depressive Symptoms in a Cross-sectional Analysis, it was published on April 26.

Here is what they found (I quote):

"Results  Those screening positive for possible depression (CES-D score 16) had higher chocolate consumption (8.4 servings per month) than those not screening positive (5.4 servings per month) (P = .004); those with still higher CES-D scores (22) had still higher chocolate consumption (11.8 servings per month) (P value for trend, <.01). These associations extended to both men and women. These findings did not appear to be explained by a general increase in fat, carbohydrate, or energy intake.

Conclusion  Higher CES-D depression scores were associated with greater chocolate consumption. Whether there is a causal connection, and if so in which direction, is a matter for future prospective study."

I will have to reach out to Italian chocolate lover Gilberto Mora of Compagnia del Cioccolato for his opinion as his site offers a piece titled Cioccoloterapia 'Chocolate Therapy' (in Italian, sorry).


Better conclude with 2 smiling faces (from L' Artigiano in Forli, Italy)...Chocolat d'Auteur might be the cure?

Eat Your Books and Books for Cooks Help you Cook the Books

I often ponder how many food related books just sit there on the coffee table along art books.

They end up delivering more visual stimuli than flavors to our palate.

A remedy to uncooked recipes can be found in 2 places.

First online, with Eat your Books who was formed on the premise that we often don't have the time or patience to find that one recipe we need now.

They "indexed over 240,000 recipes from the most popular cookbooks over the last 30 years. Indexing information includes the name of the recipe, the main ingredients it uses, and very detailed classification of the recipe, such as recipe type and ethnicity. Once you find the recipe you want then you use your own cookbook to get ingredient quantities and method."

Their database counts more than 16,500 cookbooks although each and every recipe has not been uploaded yet to the site.

Eat your books was founded by 3 women, one of them is T.Susan Chang, a contributor to Kitchen Window on NPR and Kitchen Daily on AOL 

Want to give the service a test drive, they offer a 30 Day Free Trial, after that a yearly subscription costs $25.

If your taste is more for face to face contacts and you live in London or spend time there, there is a book store just for you called Books for Cooks guided by yet another Frenchman Eric Treuille and his wife Rosie Kindersley.

They offer a beyond the books experience in their Notting Hill shop with 1000's of titles whose recipes are put to the test in the Cafe plus cooking classes with chefs and cookbook authors in workshop.


Their next 2 events are:

Tuesday May 11 at  6:45pm (£60 Limited to 15 People)

Wine with Food: Burgundy Whites Tutored Wine Tasting and Cookery Demonstration.

Books for Cooks’ own French Chef Eric Treuillé joins forces with wine merchant James Pymont for a truly gastronomic evening devoted to the white wines of Burgundy and a menu inspired by the seasonal cooking of the region.

Thursday May 13 at 11am (£40)

Explore the Sumptuous Side Dishes of Indian Cuisine with Reza Mahammad

India abounds with enticing and intriguing sides both savoury and sweet that boast richly imaginative flavour combinations, with an emphasis on the use of fresh ingredients, carefully balanced spices and simple culinary techniques. Join Reza Mahammad for a class that’ll take your tastebuds travelling on a flavourful tour of India’s tastiest sides.

Want more, check the Full Schedule.

As for Eric and Rosie, A recipe for a long shelf life (Telegraph, December 01) is a nice feature on their endeavor.

Hopefully this will help some recipes fly off the shelves and onto your plate.

Bon appetit!

U.S Ranks Last of 17 in National Geographic Greendex Survey, How Will You Fare

Is our interest in all things green similar to the Foodies world.

We read about it, we talk about it, how much we really act upon it is another matter.

Do we procrastinate in the same way than we browse through a cookbook, admire the illustrations yet cannot find the time or put the effort needed to turn a recipe into a dish right in front of us?

Does it all come down to discipline?

It takes a sustained effort to be sustainable.

All this came to mind after I checked National Geographic 2009 Greendex Survey of 17 countries.


The U.S comes last while India comes first.

Why this surprising result by India, here's the main culprit according to report:

"On housing, Indian consumers rank second only to Brazilian consumers. The margin between these two groups has narrowed this year as Indian performance on this measure improved by 11 points. Factors contributing to their high ranking include a low incidence of having home heating (41 percent) and hot running water (38 percent) and a high incidence of using on-demand electric water heating (45 percent among those with hot running water), using solar energy to heat water (15 percent), and purchasing “green” electricity (34 percent, up 10 points from the past year). Contributing to their increased housing score are improvements in performance on several behaviors such as ownership of energy-efficient appliances, minimizing the use of fresh water, and laundering with cold water. The most notable improvement is for keeping the setting for heating/cooling at a low setting — 64 percent of Indian consumers report doing so now, up 15 points from the past year."

A quick look at the U.S Scorecard shows that what brings us down the ranks is the large size homes we live in and big vehicles we drive.

Here's what Greendex says about transportation in the U.S:

"Transportation scores for U.S consumers have decreased from last year, and their scores on this sub-index continue to be the lowest of all those surveyed. The reasons for this low ranking are consistent with the 2008 findings. The vehicles that U.S. consumers drive tend to be large:
American ownership rates of minivans and SUVs, and trucks and full-size vans are the highest of the countries surveyed. U.S. drivers are also among the most likely to drive alone (58 percent do so daily), and they are among the least likely to drive compact cars, to use public transportation or trains, or to walk or bike to their destinations." 

Curious to know how you would fare, use the Greendex Calculator for your own personal results.

From perception to reality, indexing our earth friendliness for Green Day #125

Previously: Take A Shorter Shower on Earth Day, April 22, 2010

On Tribeca Rooftop in May, South African Wines then Riesling, 2 Great Tastings

After a pause in my wine tasting escapades, I will get back to the trail with two glasses in hand (one for white and one for red)...It reduces the need to rinse your glass.

I am happy to return to what must be my favorite spot so far in New York for this type of events, the Tribeca Rooftop, on two occasions a couple of days apart.

First, the Great South African Wine Show presented by Wines of South Africa on May 11, 2010.

It will feature a broad range of what the country produces with 135 wineries, 10 varietals and 10 wine regions represented. I signed up for a couple of seminars to get up to speed on the offerings.


On May 13, Riesling & Co 2010 brought to us by Destination Riesling with around 50 producers not just from Germany but also from Alsace and Austria.


Fortunately this year my schedule will allow me to enjoy the Riesling event leisurely.

At Riesling & Co 2009 edition, the wine, the food, the view were perfect together.

I will attend the trade -media session but note that both events welcome general public later in the day.

The Great South African Wine Show consumer tasting is at 6 PM. with 400 wines from over 80 South African wineries.

To complement the wines, a tasty selection of passed and stationary hors d’oeuvres based on traditional South African recipes will be served:

Here's what's on the menu:

Tuna and Watermelon Tartare on Banana Crisps
Vegan Samosas with Tomato Chutney
Three-Onion Pissaladière with Shropshire Blue Cheese
Crispy Cauliflower Fleurettes with Peppadew Pepper Dipping Sauce
Malay-Style Tempeh Sosaties
Miniature Lamb Burgers and Mango Chutney on Mild Bread
Tamarind-Glazed Pork Belly with Piri-Piri Sauce
Bobotie > Traditional South African Minced Beef with Fruit
Thai-Style Rock Shrimp Biryani with Pineapple
Fire-Roasted Shishito Peppers with Sea Salt

Tickets are available via the James Beard Foundation for $55 per person. Part of the proceeds benefit James Beard Foundation Greens events for NYC-area foodies ages 21 to 40.

You can order tickets for evening session (6 to 9 PM) of Riesling & Co via Ticket Web for $40 per person.

Riesling and Co 2010 also makes a stop in San Francisco on May 11.

National Train Day 2010, May 8, I am Game, Put Me on a Train to Somewhere

There can be romance in rail travel.

You can fall in love with the experience.

I took the train way more in Europe than in the US where it was mostly for a few trips to Virginia.

I do take the train to the city but it's commuter lines here, not the real thing.

In order to fall in love with the experience, your trip has to be a longer one.

From my New Jersey digs, it would have to be at least the Vermonter to Montpelier (8 Hours plus) or the Maple Leaf to Toronto (12 Hours and Change).

Being more adventurous with time on my hands, Chicago would be an option or rather two.

I could choose to go the long way with Cardinal / Hoosier State (New York - Washington, DC - Cincinnati - Indianapolis - Chicago), a little over 26 hours.

My other choice to Chicago would be the Lake Shore Limited up through the Finger Lakes region, along the Mohawk River and Erie Canal not to forget Lake Michigan, around 20 hours.

By the time I get to Chicago, I might be caught up enough in the rhythm of the rails to throw reason to the wind, board the Southwest Chief to Los Angeles by way of Kansas City and Albuquerque.

How best to have long chats with strangers, peek into people's backyards, go from industrial cities to suburbs, countryside to mountains and lakes than the train?


Treat yourself to life at a leisurely pace on National Train Day coming to a Station near you on May 8.

It's Earth Friendly too.

The 2010 event marks the third edition of National Train Day.

Name Cheese from Extramadura and Bread Dish, Win Copy of Jose Pizarro New Book

I have no idea what Jose Pizarro' s musical tastes are so we will stick to food questions for this week's book giveaway.


Jose does not miss a chance to be an ambassador for specialties of his native region, Extremadura.

We decided to follow his lead for our Seasonal Spanish Food cookbook contest.

Answer these 2 questions and if you're fast enough you might be the lucky winner.

-Name a semi-hard cheese from Extremadura made with raw goat milk and often rubbed with local peppers.

-Name a peasant dish made with stale bread popular not just in the region but all over Spain.

Send your answers to info [at] njconcierges [dot] com by Midnight (Eastern US Time) on May 2, 2010.

This contest is open to readers in the US and Canada.

Since there is only one copy to win. Contest is on a First Come, First Serve basis.

In case you wondered, you will not find the answers in Soul of Tapas Brindisa, Jose Pizarro, Talks to Us About his Road from Extremadura to London our recent interview.

(* our illustration Croquetas borrowed from Dos Hermanos)

Viva El Mariachi at Barbican, April 26, La Linea Latin Music Festival, London

London gets Latin Fever for a long week with La Linea Latin Music Festival which kicked off on April 22 with Kid Creole and the Coconuts.

Up next on April 26 is Viva El Marciachi! at the Barbican Hall (7:30 PM).

Here's what's on the menu:

"Mariachi El Bronx (pictured below), The La Linea Mariachi Horns and guest vocalists.

There isn't a sad song in the world that doesn't sound better (and sadder) in a mariachi arrangement with those soaring horns and strings. Viva El Mariachi is putting some surprising UK vocalists in touch with their inner mariachi and encouraging them to sing to hide their tears."


Looking for a different beat, on same night the festival has Salsa Celtica and Ensamble Criollo at Queen Elizabeth Hall (same time)

Any good Mexican or Latin restaurants nearby to round up the theme of the evening?

This 10th Edition of La Linea Festival runs until April 30, 2010.

Iranian Mint and Cucumber Yogurt Recipe by The Chemiranis for Womad Abu Dhabi 2010

I previously mentioned in Taste of the Desert, Musicians Cook Favorite Dishes at Womad Abu Dhabi, April 22-24 that Womad artists bring more than music to the table.


Surej Madhavan on the festival team was kind enough to send me some of the recipes served under the Taste the World tent at Womad Abu Dhabi 2010.

Not all are from the middle east actually.

Today, I share 2 recipes offered by The Chemiranis (an Iranian French ensemble).

First, Mast o Khiar (Iranian cucumber and mint yogurt)


500ml Greek-style yogurt
1 peeled cucumber 

1 tablespoon of raisins
1 tablespoon of lightly crushed walnuts

1 tablespoon of dried powdered mint

A handful of chopped fresh mint

Preparation: Put the yogurt in a bowl, grate the peeled cucumber into it, add the other ingredients, mix well and salt to taste.

Second, Kolech Badenjun


2 large aubergines
2 onions

500 ml tomato sauce (passata)
Shoulder or leg of lamb (cut into cubes)

Juice of 2 lemons

3 teaspoons
1 tspn Turmeric

Salt and pepper


Peel the aubergines, slice quite finely lengthwise, salt them - leave them to sit for at least half hour so that salt can draw out some of the moisture. 

Pat the aubergines dry, fry them in a pan, (then set aside).

 In a deep pan with a lid – (preferable cast iron) chop the onions finely, fry them and add the turmeric, salt and pepper, tomato sauce and the meat. Cook in the pan for a good hour then add the lemon juice and the aubergines and leave to simmer for another half hour.

Serve with steamed white rice (Thai or Basmati)

I might share other dishes over the week-end.

(* my illustration is from the Womad Abu Dhabi 2009 edition, not sure who the artist is)

Pinot Gris Rose from Alsace, Unusual Rose Wine by Arthur Metz

Laurent Baraou at IdeeMag (a French foodie site) recently tasted 10 Rosés sur le grill (French only piece).

From the 10 wines, they picked 4 favorites.

I paid attention to the unusual one, for its origin and the choice of varietal.

The 2009 Roséal by Arthur Metz comes from Alsace and is 100% Pinot Gris. 


Producer writes of salmon color and notes of yellow fruits like peach and mango.

Suggested pairings, fish with beurre blanc sauce, spicy white meats or even chocolate.

Now I have to see if I can find a bottle of this surprising Rosé in my corner of the US.