Posts from August 2010

Greenbelt Festival, Faith and Music, Progressive Roots, Beer Tent Too, August 27-30

There are music festivals built on music and yoga, nostalgia, on reenactments of classic albums, on 'world music' and I could go and on...

Why shouldn't there be a festival bringing together faith and music, not in a preachy way but one with more progressive roots arching back to the 70's?

There is such a thing as I discovered recently and it is called the Greenbelt festival.


Here's a bit of history they share:

"Among farmers, actors, musicians, theologians and used car dealers, Greenbelt was a dream born on the unsettled non-conformist edges of the church during the early 1970s.

And a few brave and creative people who had a hunch it might be more interesting on the fringe than at the centre soon found themselves at the first ever Greenbelt festival in 1974 on Prospect Farm in Suffolk—and more and more have joined this founding band each year since then.

The Sun newspaper billed that first festival at 'The Nice People's Pop Festival', but perhaps it was more subversive than it appeared. In the 70s Greenbelt's wholistic take ' Bible in one hand and newspaper in the other ' had a transforming impact on those attending.

And if the initial draw of the Festival lay in its unashamed celebration of the arts, particularly rock music, the appeal broadened as a growing internationalism emerged from the concerns of festival organisers.

As the evangelical musical subculture dried up, the heart and mind of Greenbelt broadened and strengthened. Soon, artists were invited not just because they were believers or had a distant churchgoing relative, but because their vision overlapped with a biblical one of global justice (Bob Geldof) or engaging with the political powers (Midnight Oil) or was simply fuelled by a divine sense of wonder (Waterboys)."

Music wise this year's line up includes Gil Scott-Heron; soul singer Beverley Knight; jazz musician Courtney Pine; the London Community Gospel Choir and political punkers The King Blues...

There are also a lot of Talking Sessions some with a spiritual bent others not like a 'Self Confidence for Women' workshop by Rosalyn Clare.

Litterature, films, kids activities are not neglected.

Not a lads festival as you can see.

They are not uptight though, they do have a Beer Tent.

You can keep up with the preparations and the event in progress via the Greenbelt Blog...

The 2010 Edition takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse near London from August 27 to August 30.

Grilling With The Girls, The Video That Did Not Pan Out, Inspired by St Francis

Call me addicted to the written word if you will.

As those of you who have read 'Serge the Concierge' for a while, I share videos and photos from time to time yet very few of the photos and no videos up until now have been my own.

This summer, I decided to dip my toes in the video side of things and my initial shot was to be Grilling with the Girls. Well it did not pan out. It was a dud and I tossed it aside.

I was inspired by St Francis Winery who had the great idea to sponsor a Girls Guide to Grilling written by Elizabeth Karmel...

Guide to grilling

I never spent much time reflecting on the topic until then.

When you think about it though, go to any backyard party, at least here in the USA, and what you see is a big grill loaded with burgers, hot dogs, steaks and manned by a guy.

It screams red meat.

When I heard about the related video contest, I was on my way to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show which would give me I was sure some ideas on what to grill beyond the usual.

I did come back from that overwhelming event inspired and on track to fetch a few tasty food samples that would make the video possible and bring back a spirit of adventure to the outdoors grill.

For whatever reason when I think St Francis, I tend to see a Zinfandel like their Old Vines or Pagani Ranch, old favorites.

Some St Francis 'Syrah' Sonoma County (2006) arrived.


I sipped a bit of this Rhone style red. With berry and spicy tones it would be perfect company for Mediterranean flavors or even things a bit further far afield.

I then started putting a script/ menu together.

Excitement was in the air.


Until the video souffle fell flat.

In the next written episode, I will start telling you what I had planned to put on the grill.

Eat Your Yard, Add Color, Scents and Culinary Uses to Your Garden

While keen on having fresh ingredients for the next meal right outside your door, you might not want to turn every inch of your front and backyard into a produce garden.

One of the books I received recently offers a less radical solution.

In Eat Your Yard! (Gibbs Smith), Nan K. Chase reminds us that there are sensible ways to make your garden put food on the table from apple and pear trees to edible flowers, fresh herbs, berry bushes and the like.


Think of it as a different take on landscaping, besides the flavors they will deliver on your plates, what you plant will bring an array of colors and scents changing with the seasons.

Not to forget the preserves you will enjoy during the winter months.


Nan K. Chase lives in asheville, North Carolina and has 30 years of practice on the subject she documents in Eat Your Yard!

"Proving that you can have a beautifully landscaped property and eat it too, Eat Your Yard! has information on 35 plants that offer the best of both landscape and culinary uses. Edible plants provide spring blossoms, colorful fruit and flowers, lush greenery, fall foliage, and beautiful structure, but they also offer fruits, nuts, and seeds that you can eat, cook, and preserve. Eat Your Yard! includes ideas for creating the landscape as well as an overview and tips on canning, pickling, dehydrating, freezing, juicing, and fermenting."

Not all experiments were succesful. You find out by trial and error and learn along the way.

In the backyard for Green Day # 141

Previously: Foliage as Chair Material, Harvest by Asif Khan

Mr. Okra and Beer Wars on Program of First Ever Chicago Food Film Festival, September 24-25

The team that created the NYC Food Film Festival is bringing a slightly different slate of flavors to the windy city for the first ever Chicago Food Film Festival, September 24 and 25, 2010.

For this first edition, they bring with them Mr. Okra, "a portrait of a man who sells produce from his rolling farmstand/pickup truck in New Orleans. Winner of the Audience Choice Award, 2009 NYC Food Film Festival" and Beer Wars which was featured this summer at NYC Food Film Festival.

Another feature, Eat your Fill is about Milwaukee Adman and professional eater Phil Wesson who embarks on his annual mission to consume every food item at the State Fair that is either A) deep fried, or B) on a stick.


Check the Full Listing of foodie films for the rest.

As is the case in New York, you will be able to eat what's on the screen.

The Chicago Food Film Festival Blog will keep you updated.

(* photo of Phil Wesson in Eat your Fill from pages of 11th Annual Milwaukee Short Film Festival in 2009)

Time is Running Out, Nominations for Tasty Awards 2011 Close on September 5th

A short and friendly reminder, nominations for Tasty Awards 2011 will close on September 5th, 2010.

Until then you can submit your own favorites in a number of categories including Standard (listed below):

"Best Drink or Beverage Program - TV Best Drink or Beverage Program - Web Best Food Program - TV Best Food Program - Web Best Fashion or Design Program TV Best Fashion or Design Program - Web Best Food Travel Series: Television Best Food Travel Series: Web Best Film or Documentary Best Food or Drink Video Podcast Best Fashion or Design Video Podcast Best Mobile / Out of Home Series Best Reality Series: Food Best Reality Series: Fashion or Design Best City or Regional Program Best Branded Program Best New Series Best Single Topic Series"

Since I am one of the (many) judges who signed up for the Food Awards, I wonder if it represents a conflict of interest if you nominated Serge the Concierge in one of the web categories?

I guess as long as I did not bribe you, it should be OK.
You can enter your nominations HERE.

The Tasty Awards cover Food and Fashion in Film, on TV and on the Web.

Winners will be announced on January 5th, 2011.

Whisky and Food, From Prawns to Cheese, Courtesy of Whisky Kitchen and Sip Smoke Savor

Marcia of Sip Smoke Savor had mentioned to me that if there were 2 persons one should consult on ways to pair whisky and food it would be Sheila McConachie & Graham Harvey, talented cooks with a restaurant in Speyside and authors of The Whisky Kitchen, some 100 recipes.

Whisky kitchen

Sip Smoke Savor enlisted them for a series of articles on the topic and in Whisky and Food, Part One, they share their insight as well as a recipe for Creamy Prawn Pots to get you started. Suggested pairing for the prawns is Talisker 12 year old.

While you're visiting Sip Smoke Savor, double up and read Pair My Cheese With Whisky Please, say Piave Vecchio with 14 year old Clynelish for example.

NY Toques Battle SF Chefs for Le Grand Fooding 2010, September 24 and 25 at PS 1

Take 2 Cities, New York and San Francisco, 12 Chefs (6 from each city), 2 nights (September 24 and 25, 2010), one space, PS 1, showcase half of the talent on each night, pair the dishes with Champagne courtesy of Veuve Clicquot and you have the outline for Le Grand Fooding 2010.


The NY chefs:

David Chang, Dan Barber, Mario Carbone & Rich Torrisi (Torrisi), Nate Appleman plus Brian Leth (Vinegar Hill House) and Rob Newton (Seersucker) for the Brooklyn contingent.

The SF chefs:

Daniel Patterson, Mourad Lahlou, Laurence Jossel, Jeremy Fox, Melissa Perello and James Syhabout.

The 2009 event, Le Fooding d'Amour, was a New York-Paris match/encounter.

This second edition brings a few other changes besides the bi-coastal twist.

Each night will offer a pizza cook off, with "2 of the greatest pizzaiolos of each city"(Charlie Hallowell of Pizzaiolo in Oakland for SF and David Sclarow of Pizza Moto, a mobile brickoven pizzeria for NY).

Their pizza will be paired with Rhone Valley wine.

Also nightly, there will also be an American dish cooked with French Cheese:

  • On 24th, April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig will serve a beef onion pie with bleu d¹Auvergne.

Need another reason to attend, proceeds from Ticket Sales for Le Grand Fooding will be donated to Action Against Hunger.

General reservations begin on September 13 at 2 PM.

Love in Reverse for U.S Restaurants as Closings Pick Up Pace, LA Times

France laments the drip drip loss of its bistros.

In the U.S it feels like love in reverse for restaurants with closings picking up pace as highlighted by U.S. restaurants starved for business (LA Times, August 21).

Article notes that in the past year, the number of restaurants operating has 'dropped for the first time in a decade."

They also state that California has one third of the closings.

The article by Sharon Bernstein also suggests that many other eateries are treading water and that chains are not exempt from the fall in business.

My take on that side of the business is that with many of their locations in malls, the drop in shopping trips must hit sales.

Maybe long term changes are not all bad.

Do we need to spend $10 to $20 on a salad or a pasta dish which on occasion might just taste average?

Are many diners deciding to make many restaurant trips a special occasion?

Will creativity and talend matter and be rewarded?

One spot quoted as hurting is Zach's Cafe in Studio City, LA.

After taking a look at their website, I think they might benefit by giving it a makeover and rekindle some of the attraction.


In a related piece Steve Dolinsky notes that in Chicago recent openings like Masu Izakaya barely lasted a few months. Place looked nice in a spartan way.

(* photo of Masu Izakaya from Steve Dolinsky's piece)


Deep In France Cow Country, Bed and Breakfast with Vegetarian Options

What could be more France Profonde ('heart of France') than Limousin.

An enterprising couple turned a former priory 'Le Vieux Presbytere' of Felletin (Creuse) into a bed and breakfast 3 Places des Arbres, a 10  minute drive from Aubusson.


From Felletin, you can explore the Auvergne region including Le Mont Dore and the Puy-de-Dôme.

Not sure what the locals thought when Andrea and Bruce, the owners decided to offer Vegetarian dinner options to their guest.

Limousin after all is well known of its cows. Limousin breeds are amongst the oldest in Europe.

Building on their own effort, they decided to list food and travel options catering to non-meat eaters around France via Vegetarian and Vegan France which also shares recipes and food products.

(* photos of Kitchen and Dining Room from their site)

Found my way to Felletin thanks to Nadine of Indulgent Foodie.

Brew, Bake, Preserve, Make Cheese, Get Crafty at School of Artisan Food in UK

Whether you want to have a career brewing beer, making preserves, creating cheeses or chocolates or just eager to be a better amateur, the School of Artisan Food can help you on that path.

As their name implies, you will not be taught how to churn out mass market food but rather small batch, locally sourced fare, the kind with roots.

Classes can last a day or less as does the Artisan Kitchen Dairy (October 30) for enlightened amateurs:

"Discover how to make soft cheese, yoghurt and butter with this one-day practical course dedicated to dairy products that can be made at home.

With the expert guidance of cheesemaker Julie Cheyney, learn the skills and techniques to transform milk into a range of products in your own kitchen."

Julie is known for Tunworth – a Camembert-style cheese made in collaboration with Stacey Hedges on Hyde Farm, Hampshire (soft, unpasteurised, cows milk cheese)

For the aspiring full time cheesemakers they offer a number of short Professional Courses from Fundamentals to more specialized topics like Blue Cheese or Washed Rind Cheesemaking.

Another interested upcoming class is Hedgerow Cordials (October 9):

"Make the most of wild ingredients and discover how to create your own fruit cordials, elderflower fizz and sloe gin. Join Dan Welch from Belvoir Cordials for this one day practical course. Explore the science of artisanal drinks and unlock the magic of natural sugars and sweeteners as you produce your very own cordials, syrups, gins and lemonade. Learn how to identify wild fruits, herbs and flowers with a series of tastings, before you begin bottling seasonal flavours."


The School of Artisan Food is based on the Welbeck Estate in North Nottinghamshire in the UK. "The school is housed in a stunning former fire stables, dating back to 1850. Newly-refurbished training rooms are specially equipped for the teaching of bread-making, cheese-making, brewing, charcuterie and preserving."

(* Pickles and preserves photo from School of Artisan Food's site)