Posts from October 2010

Drink That Pecorino, White Wines That Teased my Palate at Vinitaly Day in Eataly

I was happy to join the crowd at Eataly in NY for Vinitaly Day 2010. This first Vinitaly Day in NY was also my first visit at Eataly. I was there early and was not able to check in until around 1:40 PM (tasting official start time was 2 PM).

I used the 20 or so minutes I had to walk around Eataly, big space, a bit noisy, blame it on high ceilings I guess.

The store is well organized, good signage, easy to navigate. If Whole Foods was not already nicknamed 'whole paycheck' I am sure Eataly could claim it. I did not have time to sit down and eat in one of the various 'cafes' dotting the store so I headed to the Pizza area only to find that they don't serve slices. I was advised to try Foccacia and declined. I was also trying to find a home for my heavy enough messenger bag (no coat check available) and was in the end able to leave it with the nice lady from Wine Enthusiast.

Getting back to Vinitaly Day, the primary reason I was there, 50 or so producers were scattered around the store which was open during event so we had to share the space with the lunch crowd.

In the 90 minutes I could spend there, I was able to sample around 15 producers.

A tasting is not complete if you don't discover grape varietals unknown to you.

I will cover only white wines today (except for 'Bombino Nero').

I had my first encounter as far as I remember with Pecorino (yes you read well) on the second table manned by Domodimonditi founded in 2002 in Montefiore dell'Aso (Le Marche). Their easy drinking Deja V (09) was 100% Passerina and the 'not cheesy' Li Coste (09), 100% Pecorino, displayed elegant fruit, not too rich, great mouth fill.


I was pleased by refreshing Feudo del Selvago DOGC (09), 100% Cortese.

The Greco di Tufo (09) from Donnachiara definitely is a palate pleaser.

Also worth trying, I suggest is the Ruah Salento IGT Fiano (09), 100% Fiano.

Another first was the Maniero di Federico 'Bombino Nero' IGT Murgia (09), 100% Bombino Nero, a grape I learned is only used for Rosé wines like this one. The producer Cantina Vignuolo noted that the locals often drink it as an aperitif.

I finished my visit with the Silbanis (09), 100% Vermentino di Sardegna by Tema, only 5000 bottles produced.

Tema stands for Terra e Mare (Earth & Sea). It also houses a Spa, an Equestrian Center and a Country Resort, not a bad place to drop your bags on a visit to the island of Sardinia.

Hope you enjoyed the quick tour.

I will bring you back to Eataly and Vinitaly Day 2010 in a couple of days for Red Red Wine.

A Kansha Kitchen Conversation with Elizabeth Andoh, Using Vegetables from Head to Toe

Before she took the stage at Japan Society with chef Masato Nishihara, chef at Kajitsu in NY for Field to Table: The Role of Vegetables in Japanese Diet, I am grateful I was able to have a Kansha kitchen conversation with Elizabeth Andoh.

Her new book Kansha: Celebrating Japan's Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions (Ten Speed Press) was published on October 19, 2010 (in the US).


Q: Elizabeth, could we say that ‘Kansha’ celebrates a tradition that was ‘green’ before concept even existed?

Kansha is not specifically about food. The word broadly means appreciation. As applied to food it translates in appreciation for what nature provides and how clever people are in turning things produced by the earth in edible treats.

Q: Are you a vegetarian yourself?

Not really, but vegetarian dishes are a big part of my daily diet.

Q: There is a sobriety in the look of the book that stands in contrast to many other food tomes, were it a deliberate choice?

The understated tone of the book is intentional and appropriate. It shows respect for the ‘Kansha’ mindset. It offers a different way to cook combining home feel, mindfulness and creativity.

Q: Are most of the recipes you share traditional?

70% of them are traditional; the remaining 30% were inspired by many sources from cooking shows to visual sources. The eggplant roll was inspired by saba sushi roll (mackerel)

Q: How far back in time do we have to go to get to the roots of this tradition?

In the case of Shojin ('earnest effort'), you could trace it back to indigenous 'Shinto' beliefs that preceded Buddhism's arrival in Japan in 7th and 8th century. What Buddhism did in cases such as Shojin was it helped give a label to previously existing ideas.

Q: In Japan, is this type of cooking practiced at home more in small towns and rural areas than big cities?

I would say the type of cooking I showcase in ‘Kansha’ has appeal in all parts of Japan. Few of the recipes I offer are challenging. The ‘Kansha’ ethic is rooted in society. The idea of smaller portions is associated with clean plates not just to prevent waste but also as a sign of respect for the person who produced the ingredients or in the case of processed food for the fact they made sure the product is safe.

The word 'mottainai' will be used in Japan to chide someone with wasteful ways.

In Japan there is a deep appreciation for nature and what it provides us with.

Q: Is it common in Japanese cooking to have summer and winter versions of dishes as offered for your pancake recipe?

Time and place is very important in Japanese cooking, whether it’s the seasonality of the produce or a link between a certain meal and a holiday.  There is also a commercial side to things using wordplay. Such is the case with Nato pancakes on July 10. Many supermarkets use the fact that 'Na' can mean '7' and 'To' can sound like '10' (7th month, 10th day) to run a sale on Nato pancakes that day.

Q: Has the philosophical, Buddhist ethos that underlined vegetarian cuisine evolved with the times?

The vegetarian choice was informed by a respect for life. You don’t end an animal life in order to get nourishment. It extends to honey as it is taken away from bees.

As for the evolution over time, Modoki is a recent addition, evocative, playful, food trompe l’oeil as is the case with my eel lookalike dish.

Q: Since recipes in Kansha are vegan, how can small quantities of meat, dairy and poultry added to them? Would they have to be kept separate from basic dishes?

The vegan choice was made in the last 6 months of the book creation. It did not require many changes except for eggs (and honey). Butter does not play a role in traditional Japanese food.

There is no set rule in that matter. I asked my advisory board outside Japan to review recipes and give me objective feedback.

Q: If you were to pick 3 recipes from Kansha according to level of difficulty and time needed (from quick to time consuming) which would they be?

The eel-lookalike is not difficult but time consuming. It requires many steps. In the high skill range, I would put the flower sushi roll. The easiest would be carrots and enoki mushrooms often served over noodles.

Q: Do you have favorite ingredients and dishes?

Some call me a Kombu freak. Kombu is the essence of Dashi stock. Now that everyone quotes umami, it fits right there in that concept. Most Kombu comes from North of Japan yet reveals different flavors depending on place, water, saltiness…

Q: Could you suggest good places where first time visitors to Japan to experience this type of cooking?

The best place for the Shojin food would be in temples.  They often serve lunch.

Q: Is there an easy way to identify these places (signage…)? Is this tradition stronger in some parts of the country than others?

You can find a cluster of them in the Kyoto-Nara area. An internet search for ‘temple vegetarian cuisine’ should fetch results.

Q: The last 40 to 50 pages of the book can be described as a how to guide to ‘kansha’ from tools and techniques to must have ingredients, would you suggest that anyone reads this thoroughly before tackling any recipe? 

Definitely, to practice, read this section which is clearly indexed. Having the basic ingredients and cooking tools on hand is helpful.

Q: Can ritual of going through these steps be soothing by taking your mind off the day’s headaches?

In my case, in times of stress, I was known to have 3 soup days.

Q: Is your ‘Taste of Culture’ culinary program in Japan more popular with people from some countries than others?

I began in the 70’s with expats as my primary prospects. In the 80’s, I linked with tour operators offering half-day programs that paralleled the theme of the visit (say flowers or gardens).

Lately, I added tasting sessions with one offering 25 miso cups exposing attendees to a range of flavors.

I have also a program on sea vegetables.

Q: What is your relationship to the US after all these years in Japan?

Japan is my home. I visit the US regularly and the UK once a year for Food symposium at Oxford.

Q: What would be your closing words?

Kansha is about celebrating abundance and being happy for what you have.

Kansha is not based on location and ingredients. It is more an approach, a mindset.

Vegetable peels can be turned into stock.

Nothing goes to waste in the Kansha kitchen.

Let me thank Elizabeth for taking an hour of her time to enlighten us on the subject.

Thanks also to Kristin at Ten Speed Press who made it happen.

I hope this piece wet your appetite for more. In that case Elizabeth will keep the conversation going on her site Kansha Cooking. A new lesson will be posted every 5 to 6 weeks

B Monster and Black Fairy Come Alive on Halloween 2010, A Taste for Absinthe

Why should kids have all the fun on October 31st?

After a review copy of A Taste for Absinthe (Clarkson Potter) landed on my desk a few days back, I thought right away, here's a natural fit for story in runup to Halloween 2010.

Scare factor was not the reason even though you might remember Absinthe was banned in the early 20th century after this poets favorites was branded as a method to madness by French authorities.

Cocktail names such as B Monster (page 102), Last Second (page 85), Thyme and Punishment (page 159) made is a must share.

I serve you a taste of the book with 2 of its recipes.


First, Death by Dusk (pictured above):

This is a version of the cocktail Death in the Afternoon (absinthe and champagne), which was created for a 1935 book of humorous cocktail riffs called So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon. While Death in the Afternoon is a great name, San Francisco-based Neyah White, from Nopa, admits it is a little lacking as far as drinks go. The addition of crème de violette has a rounding effect and gives the drink some subtlety.

½ ounce crème de violette

5 ounces sparkling wine

¼ ounce absinthe

1 maraschino cherry, for garnish 

Pour the crème de violette and wine into a flute. Float the absinthe on top, and garnish with a maraschino cherry. Serve.

Second, Black Fairy (pictured below):


The creator of this cocktail—Erika Fey of Cyrus in Healdsburg, California—frequently draws inspiration from the bounty of spectacular seasonal ingredients available from local Sonoma County farms to create unique cocktails with playful and surprising flavor combinations.

4 fresh blackberries

Fresh mint sprigs

¾ ounce Kubler absinthe

¾ ounce Michter’s rye whiskey

¾ ounce fresh lemon juice

¾ ounce Fever Tree tonic water

In a cocktail shaker, muddle 3 of the blackberries with a mint sprig. Add the absinthe, rye whiskey, lemon juice, and tonic water. Fill the shaker with ice, and shake well. Strain the drink over an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with the remaining blackberry and a sprig of mint, and serve.

In one clean swoop, A Taste for Absinthe brings back to life classics and adds contemporary ones to the mix, 65 recipes all in all.

It was masterminded by R.Winston Guthrie, founder of Absinthe Buyers Guide and James F.Thompson with illuminating photos courtesy of Liza Gershman.

Twist, shake, stir?

No evil doers.

Clubhouse for Good at Green Spaces, Tip Your Toes in Eco Business

I guess I could include Green Spaces in CoWorking realm where people share ideas and costs by sharing space.


Want to start an eco-friendly business from scratch or retool your existing venture for greener pastures, their Clubhouse option is a good way to test the waters on whether Green Spaces meets your needs before you sign a contract to anchor your boat there.

Here is what registering for the Ecopreneurs Clubhouse will cost and the benefits:

Membership: $50/month

Locations: New York City, Denver, and Los Angeles (coming soon!)

Membership Package & Benefits:  

  • Three complimentary Day Passes/month (valued at $105/month, EcoPreneurs have a 50% discount and additional passes are available for $20 per day)
  • One complimentary Conference Room reservation/month (additional discounted reservations available)
  • Access to Events At no cost (or a discounted rate), join our weekly gatherings: Weekly Lunches, Networking Events, Cocktail Parties, Leadership Salons, Open Houses, Workshops, Film Screenings, Gallery Openings, Supper Clubs, Pop-up Shops and more.
  • Connections within our Community Connect with the other EcoPreneurs in our space through our networkUtilize our Referral Network, which includes Green Leaders Global, sustainable businesses, and national media. 
  • Marketing & PR Inclusion in our newsletter sent to nearly 10,000 socially minded people nationwide, the Green Spaces Business Showcase, and a feature on our Clubhouse Members webpage (over 10,000 views per month).

For more information or to register, click here or call 646.783.8616.

The Complimentary Day passes  and the access to Conference Room once a month by themselves make it worth the $50 cost. It gives you a place where to meet clients and prospects in a professional setting.

Getting down to business for Green Day # 150

Previously: Sockeye Salmon Versus Gold Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, Vote With Your Fork

Farmers Markets, Victims of Their Success Asks David Karp

While not singing Don't Believe The Hype, David Karp in Problems with farmers markets — and how to fix them (LA Times, October 21) highlights how some great ideas can become victims of their success.

Not everyone following the trend he suggests can attest to the 'organic' creds they are claiming.

David Karp notes that "in a way, California certified farmers markets are a victim of their own success, since their numbers have roughly doubled over the last decade, to more than 700, while the numbers of authentic farmers to meet this demand — and of agricultural inspectors to enforce market regulations — have not increased proportionally."

Should we be alarmed that there are bad apples in the mix or should we just trust that the collective body with flush out the profiteers?


(* Carrots and scallions display snapped by the Portland Farmers Market in Oregon)

Lambic Got Soul, Happy Beersday, Beer and Music, Brussels, October 30

Lambic got soul

Happy beersday

Beer and music come together for this Happy Beersday in Brussels on October 30, 2010.

Local stars Frown-I-Brown will play Taras Boulba in hommage to Brasserie de La Senne's brew bearing that name.

I could have seen a band picked from Crammed Discs roster for all I know.

There will be a taste of Italy with Toccalmatto on tap : Zona

Festivities start at 5 PM with a Manouche (gypsy) surprise at 8 PM followed at 10 PM by Frown-I-Brown the cult band from St-Gilles !

Dinette in Seattle, No Playtime, Comfort Food, 5 Nights a Week

What the word dinette brings to mind first is childhood, memories of pretending to be cooking.

In the case of Dinette in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, this is no child's play.

This eaterie serves comfort food with a European flair 5 nights a week.

Twice a month their Sunday Supper takes a page out of the Supper Club trend with a menu served at a communal table to 30 something diners.


Here's the most recent dinner menu they share:

Thick & Chewy
Frittata thin-sliced egg crepes tossed with white truffle oil & frisee $5.
Roasted Zucchini caramelized onions & goat cheese $5.
Creamy Gorgonzola toasted walnuts & balsamic syrup $6.
Rapini Pesto Beecher’s sharp cheddar, mama Lil’s peppers $5.
Fig & Anchovy Spread La Quercia Proscuitto $6.
Croque Monsieur smoked pork, béchamel, Gruyere $5.
Thin & Crisp
Chicken Liver Mousse Tuscan-style with spicy pickled peppers $7
Country Pâté grain mustard, cornichon $7.5
Peperonata smoked sardine, Feta cheese $7.5
Herb Egg Salad oliveta, white anchovies $7.
Snacks & Salads
Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates balsamic syrup $6.
Tapas Plate cocktail snack of marinated olives, spiced nuts & Manchego cheese $6.
Wild Arugula Salad green beans, fried almonds, Mission figs & Bleu d’ Auvergne cheese $11.
Butter Lettuce radish, lemon cucumber, Parmesan & lemony crème fraiche dressing $9.
Sweet Corn Cakes green onions, herbs & Beecher’s sharp cheddar. Topped with cherry tomatoes $9.
Chicken Thighs free range thighs with panzanella salad of wine soaked apricots, radicchio, toasted pecans,
curly endive & red wine vinaigrette $17.
Trofie Pasta Chanterelle mushrooms, French lentil Ragoût, crispy bread crumbs & white truffle oil $17.
Crespelle buckwheat crepes filled with braised pork, m ascarpone cheese & roasted peppers baked in a spicy tomato sauce
with Fontina béchamel $17.
Alaskan Halibut pan-roasted over a spicy, curried corn chowder topped with tomato jam $22.
Ricotta Gnocchi tomatoes, homemade Italian-style sausage, fresh basil & Parmesan $18./lg $34
Smoked Pork Chop over soupy Corona beans with radish, kale & pickled rhubarb $18.

I also gave a quick glance to the Wine List, not a run of the mill effort with a variety of choices from Rhone and Albarino to Greece and Alto Adige.

Wine prices are kept sensible (most under $40) by sticking to vintages 2007 to 2009.

Afterwork Wine and Cheese at Kitchen Studio, Boulogne-Billancourt, October 27

Like a first date when you're not ready to commit to a relationship, the Kitchen Studio gives Parisian Foodies a chance to get acquainted with the space by inviting them to an Afterwork Wine and Cheese evening on October 27.


Located in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburb of Paris known for its movie studios and auto plants, the Kitchen Studio is a culinary oasis in a large loft hosting cooking classes for all ages, food and wine tastings, a gourmet boutique, meet the chef events, photography classes.

The Afterwork Wine and Cheese happening costs 15 Euros per person and takes place on October 27, 2010 from 7:30 to 9:30 PM.

Ghoulies and Chocolate Pumpkin, Will I be Tricked Into Buying One this Halloween

Will I be tricked into buying one of William Curley's Chocolate Pumpkins filled with Ghoulies for Halloween?


Only if the travel fairy drops a round trip ticket to London in my mailbox before October 31st.

This seasonal fare is available in William's Richmond and Belgravia stores.

If your kids like to get their hands dirty in the kitchen and you are in London on Saturday, October 30th, sign them up for the Halloween Masterclass at Curley's Belgravia shop.

Smell the Coffee, Feel the Breeze, Island Coffees from Tonga to St Helena via Hawaii

Last August, having noticed my taste for a good cup of Java, Guy Wilmot of Sea Island Coffee (Knightsbridge, London) asked me if I would like to taste some of their offerings, I said why not.

In September, I received samples from 4 of the 13 exotic coffees they carry.

They were the Royal Tonga, Jamaica Blue Mountain Clifton Mount, Hawaiian Greenwell Private Reserve Estate and Geisha from Coffea Diversa in Costa Rica.

I took the slow and steady approach to tasting them. The diversity of flavors reminded me of the espresso sampling and subsequent interview with Carlo Odello.

Each coffee had its own character and might not please all palates.

My favorite of the 4 is Hawaii Kona Private Reserve from Greenwell Estate. What sold me on it was acting as a counterpoint to rich aromas, a slight bitterness on the finish (what you call good acidity in wine). Greenwell Farms was founded in 1850 by Henry Greenwell is still in family's hands.

Second in my book comes the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee: Clifton Mount Estate...Body, acidity in balance, long and smoother finish. At 1300 meters, this estate which started producing coffee in the mid 18th century is at a relatively high altitude...


In the future I hope I have a chance to try a second batch of Sea Island Coffee starting with Civet Cat “Kopi Luwak” from Indonesia (never had any 'civet cat' coffee) and Napoleon Valley Estate Coffee from Saint Helena.

The small estates distributor notes that (i quote) coffees produced in proximity to the sea develop a special character since large body of water generates thermal air currents crrying moisture, as well as trace elements which contribute to the profile (end of quote) of these island coffees.

(* Jamaican estate photo from Sea Island Coffee site)