Posts from June 2010

Bite Insects Back at Canape Kitchen, London, Thursdays in July

If you've suffered from insect bites in the first 2 weeks of summer, here's your chance to bite back.

Events handler London Kitchen will serve "Thai green crickets with coriander and coconut cream, and chocolate dipped scorpions with a white chocolate and chilli fondue" according to the Guide Girl...


This pop up restaurant, Canape Kitchen will be serving these "free canapes from 5.30pm - 6.30pm, Thursday 1st July on Carnaby Street, Soho.Following the Soho launch, the free canapes at lunchtime on 8th July in The City, and 5.30pm - 6.30pm at Covent Garden on 15th July and Chelsea on 22nd July" writes View London

The same site reassures us by letting us know that 'for sale' items on the same dates will be more mundane and include "mini Yorkshire puddings with roast beef and horseradish on the menu, as well as ham hock on toasted croute with piccalilli as well as specialities such as tandoori rabbit, bison carpaccio and ostrich nicoise."


(* illustration from Guide Girl piece).

June 30 is Social Media Day, I Declare July 1st Serge the Concierge Day

Don't worry, I am not becoming full of myself.

I just thought that if Mashable can decide that June 30 is Social Media Day why can't we all decide which day of the year is our day in the sun.

So as not to delay my pick, I declare July 1st, 2010 to be the 1st ever Serge the Concierge Day.

On Social Media Day so far, I have been doing a lot of back and forth with PR people and others.

On Serge the Concierge Day, I doubt I will travel but I can definitely eat good food and drink wine.

Do I need to choose an animal as a mascot?

On June 30,is there also such a thing as Leap Second Adjustment Time?

Bonne journee...

(For full disclosure, I love Mashable)

Come Taste Miss Vicky's Fun, Fresh and Sexy Juice, Fleurie 07, NY, July 1st

Come Taste Miss Vicky's Fun, Fresh and Sexy Juice at Alphabet City Wine, 100 avenue C in New York.

Our wandering French friend will be pouring her Fleurie 07 from 6:30 to 10: 30 PM on July 1st.


Fleurie and Vicky's company is all you want on a hot summer day...add maybe a picnic basket, a blanket and a nice park...

Reservations via Eventbrite, Price : $5 per person (plus $1.11 Fee)...

Espresso Italiano, Talking Coffee the Italian Way with Carlo Odello

Thanks to an invitation from Gennaro of the Italian Trade Commission, I had the chance to sit down for 20 minutes with Carlo Odello of Italian Tasters for a look at the fine points of Caffe Italia on Sunday, June 27 during the Summer Fancy Food Show.

I knew right away that Carlo was the right person to talk to as you could feel his passion for the subject.

The Italian Espresso National Institute is not there to sell but rather set a standard of taste with its Certified Italian Espresso stamp of approval.


The association makes sure its 43 members live up to its standards and helps train Baristas in Italy and abroad on the steps to a heavenly coffee.

7 of the members were present at the show, namely Torrefazione Saturno, La Genovese, Filicori and Zecchini, Mokarico, Caffen, Zicaffè and Torrefazione Paranà.
Italy counts around 700 coffee roasters.

Each region has its style and preferences and Carlo noted that in most cases, a coffee aficionado from one region would not like what another region has to offer.

I decided to try coffees from both ends of the country.
First La Genovese in Liguria (rounded, fruit, acidity) up North then Zicaffe from Sicily (mouth filling, more rustic, robust).

I then asked Carlo a few questions on the Italian espresso etiquette and approach.

Q: Carlo, which are the most common Negative and Positive Odors regarding Coffee?

Positive: Roasted, Chocolate, Bread, Spicy, Flowery, Fruity

Negative: Earth, Wood, Rubber, Burnt, Pharmacy

Q: Is there a standard 'pour' (size) for a single espresso?

It's 25 mls +/- 10% (0.84 fl oz +/- 10%)


Q: Amongst your members, how many use fair trade and/or organic beans and have adopted green practices?

Some of them have, although it is not so common in Italy compared to the US.

Q: We tasted La Genovese and Zicaffe, in what ways does a Roman coffee differs from both?

Instead of profiling a single brand, I think it would be better to provide your readers with the official sensory profile:

On sight, a Certified Espresso Italiano has a hazel-brown to dark - brown foam – characterised by tawny reflexes – with a very fine texture (absence of large mesh and larger or smaller bubbles). The nose reveals an intense scent with notes of flowers, fruits, toasted bread and chocolate. All of these sensations are felt also after swallowing the coffee in the long lasting aroma that remains for several seconds, sometimes even for minutes. Its taste in round, substantial and velvet-like. Sour and bitter tastes are well balanced and neither one prevails over the other. There is no, or a barely perceptible, astringent taste.

Q: Could you refresh my memory on the 4 to 6 origins used in an Italian coffee blend and the reason why?

There is not a determined number of origins, in any case Italian coffee roasters usually use at least 4 origins. Each coffee used provides the blend with specific aromas, this means getting a more complete aromatic profile.

Q: Biggest challenge you met training people abroad in the Italian Caffe Way?

There's no challenge, actually. They usually are very interested in the Italian espresso, it is up to us Italians to spread the word about it.

Q: Are some countries adopting this style of coffee with more ease than others?

Japan loves our way of making coffee, as they are really passionate about Italy.

Q: If you order an espresso or any other type of coffee will the barista or the server offer sugar or will you have to request it?

You have sugar on the counter and can take it. In Naples some baristas pour sugar in the cup for you.

Q: Cappuccino, when, where, with what food?

In Italy we have cappuccino for breakfast, just along with a croissant.


I hope this keeps us all out of trouble if and when we visit Italy.

It reminded me that standards do not mean one size fits all as local taste still has its place.

Carlo Odello is also co-author of the very instructive guide 'Espresso Italian Tasting' (in Italian and English) Number 8 in L'assaggio-Taste collection published by International Institute of Coffee Tasters.

Previous interview:

Cook Italy by Katie Caldesi, Italy in 400 Recipes, Sausage Making to Bread Kneaking

Gastronomic Week-End for 2 in Armagnac, Yes You Can...Win

Don't tell me that you're not interested in a chance to win a two days one night stay at a cozy hotel or bed and breakfast with food and wine pairings served for dinner in Gers, Southwest France.


What's on the table is a Week-End Alambic good for a stay between November 2010 and January 2011.

On its English site, Loisirs Acceuil Gers calls it a Still Week-End (two days, one night, full board).

To win all you have to do is answer these 3 questions:

  • What difference is there between the way Armagnac and Cognac get their color?
  • Name a famous figure from Gascony
  • List 4 common grapes used to make Armagnac

E-mail your answers to info [at] njconcierges [dot] com

We must receive your answers by 4 PM (US Eastern Time) on July 4. 2010.

This contest is open to readers in any country.

Consolation prize for the runner ups is Armagnac Perfect, a guide to Armagnac based cocktails (5 copies).

Reading my Armagnac and Food Pairing piece might help you find the answers.

Don't duck this chance to win.

( * Package (worth around 115€ per person) does not include admission to museum and other visitor's fees, includes meals, drinks and a room for 2. You are of course responsible for all transportation costs from your home to your destination and back.)

Will Intensive Farming Ease Climate Change As Study Quoted by Nature Suggests

I doubt that the 3 authors of the study quoted by Nature in Intensive farming may ease climate change (June 15) will win a popularity contest.

Their paper Greenhouse gas mitigation by agricultural intensification published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) posits that "land saved from cultivation offsets carbon emissions" as planted surfaces are more productive.

The Nature piece quotes the study as having found that "agricultural advances between 1961 and 2005 spared a portion of land larger than Russia from development and reduced emissions by the equivalent of 590 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide — roughly a third of the total emitted since the start of the Industrial Revolution."

On the the positive side Nature notes that "fortunately, there is plenty of cleared land that is underperforming and massive potential for boosting yields in developing countries" and concludes with these words from David Tilman, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota in St Paul "If we want to save the Earth, we have to feed the world."

Would turning more empty lots in cities like Detroit help if only marginally. Urban Farm offering tips on 'backyard goat grazing' and 'self watering containers' in its latest issue might have an opinion on that.

Urban farm

Do I want to raise goats in my backyard? That's another story.

Looking at all sides of the coin for Green Day # 133

Previously: Soft Mobility, Car-Free Vacation in Werfenweng near Salzburg, Austria Eco Tourism

5 Steps to Heaven with Chuao Chocolatier Bonbons and Sip Smoke Savor Scotch Picks

Sunday, June 27, finished on the perfect note with the invitation that Chuao Chocolatier and Sip Smoke Savor extended to some happy few to join them at St.Andrews restaurant and bar (NY, 46th Street) for a Scotch and Chocolate Pairing.

This 'Arousal of the Senses' session started with Honey Vanilla  as both flavors are found in Dalwhinnie 15 Year old and honey of course in the Miel Bonbon from Chuao.

Chapter 2 was Fruit with Glenkinchie 12 Years Old, more lemon and wildflowers, splendor in the grass paired with Le Citron Bonbon, perfect match for citrussy notes of the scotch.

We then moved to Spice thanks to Aberlour a'bunadh, a Speyside production, full of life, rich finish.
It is aged in sherry casks and finished in Oloroso sherry butts. Picante Bonbon with raisin fondue and cabernet caramel center stands up to the cherry, ginger and spicy tones of a'bunadh, a small production, my first try.

Bacon and smoke on the water were right there at Chapter 4, Smoky Peaty Caramel,  in 12 Year Old Ardbeg's Uigeadail Scotch from coastal area of Islay, matured in both bourbon and sherry casks, smoky with a touch of sweetness on the finish.
Chuao raised up the ante by pairing it with Melao Bonbon (salt butter caramel) first followed by Candela (chipotle and macadamia nut praline)...


We had a chance to breeze before the last hurrah, Coco Java.
This second 'menage a trois' had Glenmorangie's Signet Scotch unique for the 15 to 20% of 'chocolate malt' also used in Porter and Stout beers. The result is orange, chocolate and coffee notes to go with the crunchy Dark Grignottine and the buttercream richness of Java Bonbon.

My favorite chapters Scotch wise were definitely 3 and 4.

For the bonbons, a trio emerges: picante (below), melao and dark grignottine.


Feel free to disagree...or agree with me.

Sip Smoke Savor is a new site dedicated to Scotch, Cigars and Chocolate.

Favorite World Cup 2010 Teams Based on Food or Places You Visited

At this stage of the game in World Cup 2010 your home team was eliminated (or maybe never qualified to start with), is there anyone else you want to root for and why?

In Who to support in the World Cup, based on national cuisine (SBS, Mouthfull Blog, June 10), Phil Lees shares that Ethan Zuckerman solved this by showing a preference for “Places I’ve been to over those I’ve never visited, with quality of national cuisine as a tiebreaker.”

Phil Lees then lets food run the show in his piece with following criterias:

  • Perceived popularity and distinctiveness of barbecue in that nation. This makes Group A more complex with Uruguay’s asado; Mexico’s carne asada and South Africa’s braai.
  • Number of cookbooks that I own, from or about this nation. This places developing nations at a huge disadvantage and place a large bias towards English speaking countries. At least, this is a quantitive measure.
  • Number of national breweries that I can name. I unashamedly like beer.
  • Number of restaurants that I’ve eaten at from that nation’s cuisine, this year.

Russell (Britannia) offered his snarky ratings of all 32 countries with teams playing in World Cup of Food (Endless Simmer, June 7). He deserves a red card for it.

World Cup fever is also strong in Dubai where Kitsch Cupcakes created some custom team treats like these...


Finishing on a sweet note...

(* Photo above from Kitsch Cupcakes photo album)...

Paris Cinema Festival, Stay Cool for Only 5 Euros Per Film, July 3 to 13

Not sure what Paris weather will be like in the first 2 weeks of July yet if it's warm and sticky as in our New York area lately, plopping yourself down in the (hopefully) comfy seat of an air conditioned movie theater sounds like a plan.

That was reason number 3.

Reason number 2 is the price, only 5 Euros Per Screening.

Reason number 1 is the rich and varied program of the Paris Cinema Festival...

Let me mention just one part,  the international COMPETITION, the festival offers a competition of 8 feature-length films short-listed from over 1100 films coming from all over the world. Accompanied by their authors, the films are running for four prices.

ALAMAR (THE SEA) by Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio

Mexico, 35mm, Spanish with French subtitles, 1h13 / 2nd Film

LE BRAQUEUR (THE ROBBER - DER RÄUBER) by Benjamin Heisenberg

Austria, 35mm, German with French subtitles, 1h36 / 2nd film


Switzerland - France, 35mm, vostf, 1h38 /


Romania - Sweden, 35mm, vosta et vostf, 1h34 / 1st film

MUNDANE HISTORY (JAO NOK KRAJOK)  by Anocha Suwichakornpong

Thaïland, 35mm, vosta & vostf, 1h22 / 1er film


South Korea - France, 35mm, vostf, 1h29


Japan, 35mm, vosta, 1h52


Japan, 35mm, vosta & vostf, 1h57

As for Premieres, they add up to 40 Films, a number of them prize winners at Cannes 2010.

Paris cinema

International feel is on at Paris Cinema Festival, July 3 to July 13, 2010.