Posts from June 2010

Kusmi Tea Ready to Sprinkle Its Green Tea Magic With First US Store in NY on July 1st

Browsing through the aisles of the Summer Fancy Food Show on Sunday, June 27th, I happened upon the Kusmi Tea stand.

Being and old school (or just kinda old) French born guy, to me France is more coffee than tea.

I wondered what a French company was doing preaching the benefits of green tea.

When I found out that Kusmi Tea was about to open its first New York store in a few days, I wanted to know more.

I sat down for a quick chat with Sylvain Orebi, its president.
I found out that the company was founded in 1867 in St Petersburg, Russia.
It had its ups and downs from Revolution to Exile yet still kept a core buzz to it over the years.
Sylvain Orebi felt that Kusmi Tea had enough muscle left to plunge and purchased the company in 2003.
Like a good surfer he caught the wave when green tea's health benefits were going mainstream.

After getting its feet wet in France with a number of stores in Paris including at Galeries Lafayette, Kusmi Tea has proved popular in Scandinavia and Germany.

Their first North American store was in Montreal.

After being available in the US through a number of outlets, Kusmi Tea is putting the finishing touches to its first very own shop in New York.

Kusmi tea

Kusmi Tea's NY store is opening July 1st and they are ready to sprinkle green tea magic not pixie dust over the big apple.

Seems like they have a Lady Gaga endorsement of sorts.

I will update this story on Thursday with fresh paint shots of the New York outpost.

2011 Tasty Awards Judges Have Been Announced, I Am One of Them

I was offered the opportunity to join the roster of judges of 2011 Tasty Awards for food and fashion and said yes.

A new experience is always good. I will stick to what I know best, food.

Tasty pic

As an added benefit it will give me a chance to look at the work of many people beyond my inner circle.

I will do my best to be fair and balanced.

Wondering who might get the Outstanding Passion award.

In case you wondered, I'm not in the running (as far as I know).

Zombies Come Alive, Zombo Italiano Movie Series at MAD Museum, NY, July 8 to 29

I could not resist writing this story right away while the body was still cold.

As the program states, zombie movies go from gruesome to poetic and Museum of Arts and Design  Film Series “Zombo Italiano” brings to life popular Italian Zombie Cinema from 1972 to 1985.

The MAD Theater will present 10 characteristic works, including:

Dawn of the Dead (1979), directed by George A. Romero, crammed with social critiques of capitalism and consumerism and innovative horror and gore, which became the definitive blueprint for the modern zombie genre;
Demons (1985), directed by Lamberto Bava, the son of Italian horror master Mario Bava, which served as Italy’s entry into the 1980s punk rock zombie canon, with a score featuring works by Billy Idol and Mötley Crüe, and spawned five sequels;
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974), directed by Jorge Grau, a ground-breaking merging of the zombie genre with a critique of technology’s effect on the natural world;
Pigsty (1969), directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, two tales of forbidden flesh and unruly appetites woven into a biting critique of modern society, and considered by some to be the Italian master’s most intriguing film;
Zombie 2 (1979), directed by Lucio Fulci, featuring the infamous “zombie vs. shark” scene, which along with other “eye gags” made Fulci a legend of the genre.

Some of these flicks might make you sweat with fear, one of the reasons I learned that Japanese read ghost stories on warm and sticky days. It cools you off...

The movie series comes alive from July 8 to July 29, 2010. It is presented in conjunction with current exhibition Dead or Alive (running until October 24) at Mad Museum, Columbus Circle, New York.


Check Schedule for Full Details.

My First Shot of PM Blend, Corsican Whisky at Summer Fancy Food Show

What's in the P&M name, whisky is made jointly by Brasserie Pietra (makers of the chestnut beer) and Distillerie Mavela.

I am no scotch or whisky specialist.

When I noticed
P&M, Whisky Corse, despite the early hour, I had to take a few sips for what I think is a first in Corsica.

The brainchild of Lisandru Venturini of Distillerie Maleva it uses the oak casks from Brasserie Pietra for ageing.


This elegant well crafted Whisky Corse is getting kudos from aficionados and specialists like La Maison du Whisky who calls it Powerful, Fruity with a Long Finish.

So far this new kid on the whisky bloc is just available in France...

Socrates on Futebol and Brazil, July 18 at London Literary Festival, July 1 to 18

I did not mean to start with an event on July 18, the last day of London Literary Festival and end with the beginning.

As things are heating up in the past few days at World Cup 2010 in South Africa,  Socrates on Futebol and Brazil just felt perfect to put some perspective on recent intense discussions about players, styles, strategies, egos and coaches.


The Socrates appearance at the festival will be a team effort as program notes:

"Sócrates is a Brazilian legend, best known as the captain of the great Brazilian football team of the eighties - the team of Zico, Falcão and Éder - and subsequently one of the nation's leading cultural commentators. Socrates is joined by José Miguel Wisniek, one of Brazil's leading composers and author of Veneno Remédio - O futebol e o Brasil (Poisonous Remedy - Football and Brazil), and Alex Bellos, a London-based writer and broadcaster specializing in Brazil, and author of Futebol - The Brazilian Way of Life."

The Futebol and Brazil trio (July 18, 5 PM) is one of the many offerings of Brazilian Words itself one element of Festival Brazil (June 19-September 9).

In different spheres, Brazilian Words also invited Twins Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, the hottest comic book artists in Brazil, on July 5.


The same day at the same time (7 PM), Ana Maria Goncalves, Patricia Melo and Maria Valéria Rezende in A Woman's Eye on Brazil discuss their work and Brazilian life from a woman's perspective.

For all those of us poor souls who cannot spend 2 weeks in London taking the pulse of the Literary World, organizers launch the first ever Litweeter Festival via Twitter.

Here's the plan:

"An interactive compendium of word play, twittery challenges and literary gossip. Each day of the festival sees a new online event, from creative challenges and comment to scavenger hunts for free festival tickets. Festival authors like Slavoj Zizek and Ben Goldacre will be taking over our twitter for conversation and debate, and you can win great prizes by contributing your own creative twitterings.

Litweeter Festival is co-curated by Nikesh Shukla and Southbank Centre, there will be two tweet ups during the festival, on Wednesday 7th July and Sunday 18th July."

London Literary Festival opens on July 1 at Southbank Centre and runs until July 18.

Things I Missed on Sunday, UnFancy Food Show 2010 in Brooklyn, June 27

Unfortunately or fortunately as enough of us multitask I cannot be in 2 places at the same time.

Because of that impossibility, while I was at the Fancy Food Show on Sunday, I missed the UnFancy Food Show 2010 at The Bell House in Brooklyn.

I only realized today when I noticed Lucy's Whey mentioning the event so there was no tension as to where to be.

Lucy's Whey used the event as an opportunity to share "samples of Prairie Breeze Cheddar from Milton Creamery in Iowa. Prairie Breeze Cheddar is made by Mennonite cheesemakers with rBST-free milk from hand-milked, seasonally-grazed cows and vegetarian rennet. It’s delicious! A sweet, creamy more continental expression of Cheddar…Prairie Breeze is full flavored, nutty and full of crunchy tyrosine crystals."

I will have to find another occasion to try Brooklyn based food creators such as SCRATCHbread, not sure why one of their bread is called fogousse (pictured below). Did they mean fougasse?


Want jams, jellies, chutneys made in Brooklyn, Anarchy in a Jar suggests 'the revolution starts in your mouth.' I hope what's in the jar is as tasty as their humor is light.

Cathy Erway was there also, not sure if it was for her new Lunch at Sixpoint 'reviving the working class lunch' project.

All in all around 50 vendors of all stripes were there...

Next year I'll try to show up....

Things I missed #1

World Cup of Cheese, June 26, Cheesemonger Invitational in Long Island City, NY

Maybe I am pushing it when I label it a World Cup of Cheese yet if 9 teams hail from the USA, cheeses on display will come from all corners of the world.

On the evening of June 26, leave your golf clubs at home and head for the Cheesemonger Invitational in Long Island City.


I will not be able to join the fun.

I would have liked to meet Rodolphe Le Meunier of Les Fromages du Moulin, nicknamed by Dorie Greenspan the Zidane of cheese affineurs (no head butting).

I am pretty sure I will make up for it in the cheese tasting department at Summer Fancy Food Show on Sunday.

I also plan various cheese flavored pieces in the coming week including one on Alto Adige wine and cheese offerings and how they pair.

London Calling, The Auction, Til July 1, Chance to Put Tracey Emin, Paul Simonon on Your Wall

The London Calling, Ray Lowry Exhibit and Tribute is now in its last week at Idea Generation Gallery in London.

You have a chance up until July 1. 2010 to get your hands on an original art piece.

As part of the exhibition,  a whole host of artists, performers, writers and general creatives were invited to donate a work, using the London Calling sleeve as a starting point. The results are now on display alongside a large collection of Ray's work in the gallery and they are all available to buy - going under the hammer in aid of the Ray Lowry Foundation, which financially assists budding art students.

Key Pieces are:

Creation by Paul Simonon with a real piece of the bass Immortalised forever being smashed in Pennie Smith's photo for the London Calling sleeve.


Entitled Strummer Calling, a powerful shot by Peter Anderson of Joe Strummer taken on the railway bridge above Shoreditch, which has just recently reopened.
Peter published Then, There and Now in April 2010 with an introduction by Paul Morley.


Having produced a large amount of her early work in the early 80s, alongside boyfriend Billy Childish (also exhibiting), it could definitely be said that punk and The Clash played a heavy role in Tracey Emin' s artistic development, as can been seen in her contribution.


Former lead guitarist and second vocalist for The Clash, Mick Jones is now part of the superteam behind The Gorillaz, along with Paul Simonon. Mick's contribution to the Ray Lowry show is a collage drawing upon the influence punk had on the indie scene in Manchester.


Of what I saw, my favorite might be what I will call Clash, Roots and Elements (below)...not sure what real title is.


You can Request a full auction catalogue, guest list for the live event on July 1st or place a silent bid
by emailing rachel [dot] wood [at] ideageneration [dot] co [dot] uk

The exhibit closes on July 4.

Should I stay or should I go?

Coffee the Italian Way From North to South in 20 Minutes at Fancy Food Show, No Twist

I definitely like a good cup of Java or to be precise a nice and short espresso.

When I was invited by Gennaro of the Italian Trade Commission to join them for a 20 minutes tour of Coffee, I should say Caffe, the Italian Way, from North to South with many turns but no twist at the Summer Fancy Food Show on Sunday I had to say yes.

Want to know about the Etiquette of ordering coffee in Italy, How to REALLY drink Coffee - the Italian way!(Felice in the Kitchen, October 2009) makes a number of suggestions from practical to warnings on what not to do unless you wish to be excommunicated.

For example:

"Requesting a mint frappuccino in Italy is like asking for a single malt whisky and lemonade with a swizzle stick in a Glasgow pub. There are but one or two regional exceptions to this rule that have met with the blessing of the general coffee synod."

Italians are passionate about many things including the perfect cup of Java.

In that spirit I looked for kindred spirits in and around New York.

I found Third Rail Coffee "setting up shop inside the Rapha Cycle Club, located at 352 Bowery (at Great Jones). This pop-up shop, which will open on July 3, for 3 months is part store, part coffee bar and part art gallery."

The Citroen truck (sorry not a Fiat) sold me on them.


Reminds me of the grocery or butcher shop on wheels we used when I was on vacation in small villages of the Pyrenees with my parents.

Any Takers for A Week-End Treat for 2 in Armagnac, Our Contest Prize this Week

You read my Cuisinier Gascon interview with Pascal Aussignac and the Armagnac and Food Pairing piece.

How would you feel if you had a chance to win a week-end for 2 in Armagnac itself?

Our Contest this Week is just that chance.

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).

"In the Autumn... the ‘Flame of Armagnac’ lights each still in Gascony. Extend this magical moment for the duration of a ‘Still weekend’...and let the festivities begin!

Visit, presentation of the Armagnac vineyard, tasting, discovery of the region.

Bed and breakfast or Logis de France-rated hotels."


The 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 to and from you Hotel or Bed and Breakfast.

To get the winning ticket, 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 2. 2010.

This contest is open to readers in any country.

Thanks to Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l'Armagnac for making this Loisirs Acceuil Gers gascon treat possible...

We will require the winner (there is only one week-end to win) to give us 2 possible dates in case their first choice is not available...

Consolation prize: Armagnac Perfect, a guide to Armagnac based cocktails (5 copies).

A countryside week-end in Armagnac.

One for all, all for one!