Posts from September 2010

Cuba is Alive in Lena Konstantakou Photography Exhibit, London, Until October 3

Most of the exhibits staged at Idea Generation Gallery in London that I have mentioned so far had a rock music connection to them.

Their Fall 2010 line-up offers different flavors.

My favorite probably, Cuba is Alive features black and white slices of life on the island by photographer Lena Konstantakou...


Here's a bit of background on the artist:

"A London based graphic designer and photographer, Lena Konstantakou has worked for a wide cross section of British and Greek newspapers and publications. Having felt stymied by her day to day commercial practice, Lena recently decided to return to her creative roots - exploring her original love of photography for the pure joy and freedom of it.

This exhibition will feature a selection of Lena's photography of Cuba - documenting a country and nationality full of exhuberance, energy, passion and frivolity - a subject matter mirroring the artist's restored love of photography."

Cuba is Alive has a short run from September 29 to October 3, 2010. Event is Free.

Don't miss it.

Anything But Chardonnay, Celadon Grenache Blanc, Coriol White Rhone Blend

In a second instalment on what captured my attention at the Fall Tasting from VOS Selections, I leave Greece behind but stick with white wines.

It has been a while since I mentioned any California wines and I happened to find 2 interesting ones that Monday.

I was rummaging through the ice bin holding West Coast juice, I heard the call of Sonoma thanks to a creation from John Sweazey at Anaba with Rhone roots, Coriol White 08, a blend of Roussanne (48%) and Viognier (30%) rounded by touch of Marsanne (12%) and Grenache Blanc (10%).


Its peach and melon flavors would pair well with Sud de France fare. Should we credit the wine delicate touch to Jennifer Marion, a young and talented winemaker?

No mass production as only 264 cases were made. Grapes are sourced from 4 vineyards.

My second discovery hails from biodynamically farmed 'Beeswax' vineyard in Arroyo Seco (Monterey).

The Celadon 100% Grenache Blanc 09 guided by the hand of Larry Brooks at Topanga, gives us stone and tropical fruits and good minerality.

Suggested pairings by Topanga are oysters and shelfish.


Another small batch with 251 cases produced.

Catch them while you can!

Japanese Chronicles by Nicolas Bouvier, A Look Back at Japan from 50's to 70's

I think it would be fair to describe Swiss born Nicolas Bouvier as an adventurer inspired by his youthful reads of Stevenson, Jules Verne, Jack London, and Fenimore Cooper and his father's encouragement to travel according to his profile by New York Review of Books.

After crossing the Khyber Pass and spending time in Ceylan, he arrives in Japan in 1956, falls in love with the country and becomes an accidental photographer and travel writer.

His classic book on Japan is The Japanese Chronicles. The US edition was published in 1993 by Mercury House and now seems out of print.

Another English version of the book illustrated with some of Nicolas Bouvier's photographs filled the gap in 2008 thanks to Eland via Orchid Press (Hong Kong).

The editor's notes call The Japanese Chronicles:

"A distillation of Bouvier's lifelong quest for Japan and his many travels, so that the reader is able to discover the country through the eyes of both a passionate young man, the sensual appreciation of a middle-aged artist and the serenity of an experienced writer."

Japanese chronicles

A very short review by Chistopher Hirst (Independent, January 2009) is more colorful.

Let me quote it:

"Part history, part notebook, the reports of this Swiss photographer who travelled in Japan for three decades are transporting, beguiling and often amusing: One shouldn't dismiss Japanese music "until one has been subjected to it for at least six or seven hours."

In the Fifties, Bouvier set up home in an oddly rustic suburb of Tokyo where the only English-based words were "kissu (from 'kiss') and stenko (from 'stinky')". Bouvier describes a cluttered world, where poverty was common but begging unknown and cleanliness scrupulously observed. Bathing was particularly important for foreigners who "have the reputation of being easily tracked by their odour"...."

Many more Titles in French by Nicolas Bouvier ((1929-1998) are available.

This blast from the past has its roots in Luc Dubanchet travel notes Kyoto Pola (in French) for Omnivore where he mentions Nicolas Bouvier.

On the Japanese trails of yore for Tokyo Thursdays # 159

Previously: From Crime to Christ, Former Yakuza Member Tatsuya Shindo

5 Top London Supper Clubs According to The Guardian

While in the US we tend to compare these not quite official eateries to speakesies of prohibition times, our British friends use the classier 'supper club' moniker.

Oliver Thring gives us his list 5 Top London Supper Clubs (September 29, The Guardian).

He dates their arrival on the local food scene to late 2008 while the recession was gathering strength.

Oliver was introduced to the concept while helping one of the early ones, The Secret Larder...

His 5 picks are:

Fatty Bristow's Sunken Supper Society, their opening night was in September, 7 courses for 40 Pounds.

Fernandez & Leluu run by an electrical engineer and a clothing and jewellery designer from the comfort of their appartment. They seems to be running things smoothly as their 3 upcoming dinners (Sept 30, Oct 1 and 2) are sold out) and one of them shares the Fernandez name with my mother (gives him extra points).

Next The Loft Project, an expensive (around 100 Pounds per person) and elaborate side project for chef Nuno Mendes, Oliver notes.

Moving on to The Old Hat Club where the earliest you can have a seat at the table is December 5th. Price is more of the people at 30 Quids.

Last Oliver files in Saltoun Supper Club located in Brixton and run by a food stylist so there is a strong accent on presentation (not that the others don't care)....No wonder their site is named 'Eat with your Eyes' offering visions and tastes.

This last one has 16 seats per dinner and pops open only Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Caesar salad

I don't remember a caesar salad looking quite like theirs (above).

(* photo of Caesar Salad via Eat with your Eyes)

Submarine Means Hot Chocolate in Buenos Aires, Submarino

For her Cultural Tuesday, Debora Mordowski serves Chocolate: Submerging into History (Marcus, September 28).

She starts by mentioning Theobroma which she writes "means “fruit of the gods” in Latin, and was the way Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, christened the cacao tree".

From there Debora segues into hot chocolate, the Argentinian way , perfect for September.

In Buenos Aires, a hot chocolate goes by the name Submarino (Submarine)...

The Argentinian connection reminded me of an exchange I had with Cristina of From Buenos Aires to Paris after I wrote about French afternoon tradition, Le Gouter and she related this:

"We, in Argentina, have the same "gouter" tradition ....we call it "la hora de la leche"(milk time) because no mother would ever accept our having anything but hot milk with cocoa...followed by toasts of bread, butter AND dulce de leche (milk jam, confiture de lait) (Normal, in a country with more cows than people!)"

Rather than dwell on history, Rebecca of From Argentina with Love tells us what makes a real submarino (as she learned from her husband Guillermo) in Submarino--an Argentinean Hot Chocolate (January 2009)."It's hot milk, served with a bar of chocolate on the side.  Dark chocolate--it has to be dark chocolate!"  he insisted.  "That's the submarine!  Then you take the submarine and you sink it!  The chocolate melts, and you have hot chocolate.  That's what they're drinking.  Submarinos."

Funny how little things like a cup of hot chocolate can bring strong emotions and memories.


Not to be nitpicking on the word Theobroma but it seems that others like Dogfish Head brewery which happens to craft a Theobroma Ancient Ale offers 'food of the goods' as the true meaning.

I am sure one of you will know who has the right answer.

(* photo of Submarino above courtesy of Rebecca at From Argentina with Love)

Wine Glass Is the Bottle with Froglet Single Serve 'Cup-A-Wine' by James Nash

It might not be everyone's idea of proper wine serving and etiquette yet Froglet Single Serve 'Cup-A-Wine' by James Nash has been a retail success since Marks & Spencer started selling it.


As you can see from photo above, in that concept glass is the bottle.

Glass is a plastic one, not perfect for our 'green' credentials.

Fake plastic fish wrote that In Hell, they drink Le Froglet wine in individual plastic wine glasses (June 16).

Sealed top brings to mind yogurts rather than wine.

As for how the wine tastes in its review of Froglet 5 Magazine quotes an anonymous wine blogger take:

“It was horrendous. Not balanced at all. Very rough on the palate, not helped by the (abrasive) glass. I took a couple of sips and threw it down the sink. It is hands down the worst ever glass of wine I have ever drunk.”

Even with all its negatives, the format might be appealing for outdoors events.

Since this 'innovation' generated a good amount of buzz in June 2010 (I am late to the party) has anyone emulated it while sourcing good juice?

Not for purists!

More than Nokia, Abba and Ikea, Scandinavia Show 2010, London, October 9-10

There's more to Scandinavia than Nokia, Abba and Ikea.

Ideas are bubbling from the kitchens of Rene Redzepi to bicycle culture and looking good on 2 wheels as Copenhagen Cycle Chic illustrates not to mention Opera Mini, the browser of choice on my smart phone from Oslo, Norway.

I even realized belatedly while reading the very thorough Food, Wine, Burgundy by David Downie, that the region had a Danish connection, "Burgundia was created by the Burgonds from Bornholm Island in 442 AD."

Where is he going with these digressions, you might ask?

I only brushed upon a tiny bit of what these Nordic countries have to share.

On October 9 and 10, 2010, The Scandinavia Show in London will showcase what they promise to be the best in travel, lifestyle, fashion and food from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland.



History buffs have their chance to Get up close and personal with Vikings during the event, notes SCAN magazine, a good place to plan your visit.

One of their suggestions is you sample micro-brews from Randers Bryghus represented by Stefan Kappel.


I found out about this event thanks to Visit Sweden. They announce that "the most popular areas in Sweden will take you on a journey to clean, green, compact cities built on water, with delicious
food as well as traditional and contemporary culture and crafts during the Scandinavia Show."

I hope the Scandinavian quintet brings Scandinavia Show in some form to NY.

(* photo of Stefan Kappel above by 95% Danish for SCAN magazine)

No Train in Vain, Snowcarbon, Reach European Ski Slopes by Train

They are not the first or last to promote convenience and at times pleasures of train travel in Europe.

Most prominent I think The Man in Seat Sixty-One.

Snowcarbon does not stop at that.

The team at Snowcarbon helps you reach your winter sports destination in the most earth-friendly way.

They also put the combined ski and travel knowledge of their 12 writers to help you make the most of each mountain resort from dusk to dawn.

A few reason they offer to choose train over plane or car are that it is comfortable and relaxing, scenic, family friendly and without luggage fees (unless you travel like a king).

In France, besides the Eurostar service, another possibility to Bourg-St Maurice for example is the Corail Lunea for those who want to travel overnight (with sleeper car option)...


Snowcarbon selected 30 resorts in 4 European countries (Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland) plus Andorra and offers guides designed with travel from the UK in mind.

I am sure they can be of use for people from other countries who will just need to tweak the itineraries.

Snowcarbon was founded by Daniel Elkan and Mark Hodson.

Ski don't pollute for Green Day # 146

Previously: Dutch Fishmonger Shares 'Fish Tales' at Clinton Global Conference 2010, September 21

(* photo of Corail Lunea via Rail Europe UK)

Taste the Difference with Greek White Wines like Sillogi 09, Organic to Boot

Attending VOS Selections informal Fall tasting on September 19, gave me the opportunity to sample the somehow neglected Greek wines. Neglected by me at least, it was only my second encounter.

Coincidence or not, on my way to New York for the tasting, I was browsing through Oldman's Brave New World of Wine (Norton) which I received recently and noticed that he started his chapter on white wines with Moschofilero, a Greek favorite of his. In Marl Oldman's opinion, with a little education and good marketing, Moschofilero could go from insiders' secret to winner of the white pack as Pinot Grigio is now.

At VOS, I took the opportunity to sample the Mantinia 09 Moschofilero from Tselepos, nice sipping wine.

I continued my exploration of Greece with the Petra 09 (from Kir-Yianni), 100% Roditis, floral and refreshing.

Next was the Sillogi 09 (from Moraitis), a blend of Assyrtiko and Malagouzia, grapes we are all familiar with.


It talked to me on the first sip, different I thought, nice personality.

Maybe it is due to its provenance, the island of Paros (Aegean Sea), an hour and a half by speed boat from Santorini.This wine from the Cyclades does not try to be trendy. It shows its roots, that's it.

All I have left to do now is plan a visit to this special place.

Would Sillogi taste different in situ?

Octobre Numerique, for Geeks, Gamers, Aural Sculptures, Arles, October 1-10

I would have thought of other cities than Arles as host for a festival that celebrates digital culture and creations in all their forms from video game competition (LAN Party), to animation, movies, music, free software, e-books and multi-media art.

Not willing to be typecast as just a destination for lovers of history, with Octobre Numerique, the city of Arles shows us 0's and 1's on the move.

From October 1st to October 10, 2010, this first edition of Octobre Numerique (Numeric October) brings into its fold established events like Main (in 5th year), a competition for programmers and Art Court Video (short art videos).


One of the attractions is on top of the building that houses the festival, the newly renovated Grande Halle, a 3000 square meters (M2) screen/ roof considered the largest in Europe.

One for geeks, gamers, video fans and amateurs of aural sculptures.

(Sorry non French speakers, except for portions of the MAIN site, most of the details on Octobre Numerique are in French only)...