Posts from November 2010

Wine Tiles, Build Your Wine Label Wall of Fame

Customization is a big thing.

When it comes to kitchen, the big splurge might be in appliances, cabinets, lightning.

I once saw a collage art piece made with wine foils.

Here's a more down to earth option.

Looking at the varied choices of custom titles offered by Filmore Clark for the kitchen, I fell in love with the Wine Tiles or 'Tasting Kitchen' as they call them from Tempest Tileworks.


Will you stick with a limited number of classic labels interspered with plain tiles or go all out?

That's your call.

The price tag and the practical fact that you might not want to turn the 'tilework' in a rotating art project will help you decide.

It is worth noting that these "wine tags can be customized with that special vintage or choose from their catalogue of exquisite wine labels. Each is silk screened and hand inked with your choice of color accents."

Located in West Hollywood, California, Filmore Clark sells only Artisan Tiles made in the USA.

Take Pears, Add Cranberries and Homemade Crust, Here's A Scrumptious Thanksgiving Pie

What would Thanksgiving be without pies.

Cranberries are definitely within the Thanksgiving theme, pears are in season.

If you're still strugling with the 'Which Pie Love' question for Thursday, here's one possible solution.

A Roasted Pear and Cranberry Crostata from Flour, Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe (Chronicle Books, October 2010)

Makes one 9-inch crostata (serves 8 to 10)

We’ve offered this scrumptious open-faced rustic tart for years at Flour, and I started making it long before that. It’s my go-to holiday dessert to take to dinner parties and such, and it never fails to stop conversation as everyone takes a first bite and exhales with a collective “mmmmmm.” It’s a sheet of flaky pâte brisée rolled out into a large circle, a generous layer of frangipane (almond cream) spread in the middle, and pears (roasted with butter, sugar, and fresh ginger) and fresh cranberries placed on top. It’s finished with an egg wash and lots of sanding sugar, and when it emerges from the oven, it is guaranteed to impress everyone with both its gorgeous appearance and delicious taste.

9 Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored  

1-inch knob fresh ginger, thinly sliced

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick/56 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Pâte Brisée II (see accompanying recipe)

Frangipane (recipe follows)

1 cup (100 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons sanding sugar, pearl sugar, or granulated sugar

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, toss together the pears, ginger, granulated sugar, and butter. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 11/2 hours, or until the pears are soft when pierced with a knife tip and golden. Let cool completely. (The pears can be roasted up to 5 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a well-floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough circle on the prepared baking sheet.

Using the back of a spoon or a small rubber spatula, spread the frangipane in the middle of the dough round in a circle about 9 inches in diameter, leaving a 3-inch border uncovered.

Place about 8 pear halves, cut side down, in a circle in a single layer on top of the frangipane, lining them up with the edge of the frangipane and with the stem ends pointing toward the middle. Place 1 or 2 pear halves in the center to cover the frangipane circle completely. Sprinkle 3/4 cup (75 grams) of the cranberries evenly on top of the pears. Top the first layer of pears with a second layer of pears, using about 7 halves and reserving 1 pear half, arranging them in a smaller concentric circle. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup (25 grams) cranberries evenly on top of the second layer of pears.

Place the reserved pear half on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, and starting at the squat bottom end, cut four or five lengthwise slices, stopping just short of the stem end. Fan the slices, and place the pear half in the center of the second layer of pear halves. Starting at one side of the crostata, fold the 3-inch border of dough up and over the fruit, forming six to eight loose pleats around the perimeter and pressing the pleats firmly together onto the fruit. The center of the crostata will remained exposed in a 3- to 4-inch circle, showing off the fanned pear. Refrigerate the assembled crostata for at least 1 hour before baking. (At this point, the crostata can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the pleated pastry with the beaten egg, then sprinkle evenly with the sanding sugar. Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the pleats are golden brown. Make sure all of the folds are evenly browned, so there are no chewy underbaked bits of dough in the finished crostata. Let cool on the pan on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The crostata can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days


Makes about 1 cup

1/3 cup (50 grams) blanched whole almonds or 1/2 cup (50 grams) almond flour

1/4 cup (1/2 stick/56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of kosher salt

If using whole almonds, grind them in a food processor as finely as possible without turning them into a paste. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer or wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until light. Add the ground almonds or almond flour and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, or until thoroughly incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

On low speed, beat in the egg. Add the all-purpose flour, vanilla, and salt and mix until combined. You should have about 1 cup. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, then let sit for a few hours at room temperature before using. Or, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, then thaw it in the refrigerator before using.


More recipes to follow in the run-up to Thanksgiving to help you keep your Zen as the 2010 holiday gets closer and closer.

(* Recipe and photo excepted from Flour, courtesy of Chronicle Books)

Andalusian Roots Revisited, Sevilla 4 Ways illustrated by Tara Bradford

With a last name like mine, most hispanics here in the US think that I am joking when I mention my Spanish heritage.

I am 25% Spanish. My maternal grandfather was born in Spain, in Andalusia to be precise.

On my last summer in Europe before moving to the States, I spent about a month traveling around Spain.

That included time in Andalusia, from Cordoba to Granada, not to forget Sevilla of course.

A recent visit to the site of Tara Bradford a Paris based photographer had the Giralda in full view.

It brought back some fond memories and I asked Tara if she had a few snapshots of the city that I could share with you.

Here they are.

First the Alcazar Palace with its luxuriant gardens. It was very crowded when I was there.


Next the Fountain on Plaza near La Giralda, people in Sevilla like to hang out. I was surprised to see young families with a stroller out and about town close to midnight on a weekday. It was summer though.


Third is La Giralda, glowing in the dark. I stayed in an hotel nearby and got into the habit of having dinner around 9 PM at a little restaurant behind the plaza frequented by the locals.


Last, the Museo des Bellas Artes, I am not sure if I set foot there.


On Saturdays, the museum offers free programs including children activities, starting at 12 Noon.

All photos courtesy of Tara Bradford (copyright Tara Bradford) were taken in July 2010.

Thanks Tara for sharing and thank you all for tagging along.

Cheese as Art , Art of Cheese by Naturalmente Lunigiana, Tuscany

Browsing the photo album from Terre di Vite food and wine festival, I was stopped in my tracks by the wonderful cheese display pictured below.


Where do they come from I wondered?

The answer is Naturalmente Lunigia in Tuscany.

When I visited their site I was awed by their 'proditti'. The formaggi slide show made me wonder, Cheese as Art, Art of Cheese?

Pieces like the 'ricotta stagionata aromatizzata' (below) feel so perfect one could be afraid of putting a dent in them.

Ricotte stag aromi2

How else could I decide if the taste matches or surpasses the look?

Naturalmente Lunigiana also has a Salumi line with Coppa, Guanciale, Mortadella della Lunigiana and other delicacies.

(* all photos by Naturalmente Lunigiana. Their site is in Italian only)

World Celebrates Eating Local on Terra Madre Day 2010, December 10

Mother Earth produces what lands in our plate.

Slow Food invites the world to eat local on Terra Madre Day, a global celebration, December 10, 2010.

The organizers share that "in 2009 the very first Terra Madre Day organized by Slow Food saw more than 1,000 events take place across 120 countries in one of the largest collective occasions celebrating food diversity and the right to good, clean and fair food ever achieved on a global scale."

They showcase Adrienne in Mumbai as an example of Urban Garden advocates:

"She hands you fresh basil leaves, straight from the plant, at the herb garden she is growing on the terrace of co-working space The Bombay Hub in Bandra. They are more aromatic than any basil you'll buy from a packet. The 23 year-old wants the rest of Mumbai to discover the joys of eating food you've grown yourself.
Her new social initiative Fresh and Local will raise awareness about community gardening and edible landscaping."

On its second edition Terra Madre Day will use the opportunity to raise funds for A Thousand Gardens in Africa project.

Stand-Up Pork and Pickle Pie Thanksgiving Spectacular, East London, November 25

Stand-up comics are giving thanks with a Pork & Pickle Pie Thanksgiving Stand-Up Spectacular at The Scolthead, a pub in East London on November 25, 2010.

What's on the program besides pie, Here it is:

"Join the hottest rising stars of comedy for an evening of thanksgiving themed fun in aid of the De Beauvoir Underground community centre. Musical Comedy Award Best New Act winner Jay Foreman joins Latitude Best New Act of the Year 2010 Eric Lampaert, Hackney Empire New Act of the year finalist Pat BurtscherRob Beckett at The Scolt Head on 25th November. and Amused Moose Laugh Off Winner.

Comedy-goers pay just £5 for a ticket which includes the best of 2010’s stand-up circuit, a couple of surprise guests. A special gourmet Thanksgiving Pie and sweet potato mash will be available at the night."

The event is produced by the Idea Generation team

In case you want to give the dish a try, I found a Recipe for Pork and Pickle Pie by Tallyrand (Hub UK).


The Yorkshire Dales Food Blog in The Pork Pie Challenge – who makes the best pork pie (2008) chose Kendalls of Pateley Bridge 'Pork & Pickle Pie' (pictured above).

Not sure what the perfect beer pairing could be.

Any suggestions?

Smells Like Terroir, Shoes Prove It, Buvons Nature, 15 Wine Makers, Paris, December 10-12

Drink Natural, Buvons Nature 2010 is not one of these mega wine events where the endless choices overwhelm us.

This 5th Edition of Buvons Nature presents 15 producers of natural wines which they define as chemical free both in the vineyard and in their creation.


The 15 producers are:

Gilles et Catherine Vergé, François Blanchard, Frédéric Rivaton,
Jean Pierre Robinot, Sébastien Riffaut, Jean-Marie Vergé,
Joel Courteau, Béatrice et Michel Augé, Grégory Leclerc, Elise Brignot,
Patrick Bouju, Les domaines des griottes, Fanny Sabre, du Pech, et Lou Grezes

For only 5 Euros per person you can taste Buvons Nature from Friday, December 10 to Sunday, December 12, 2010 in Paris.

Where: Espace Beaujon (pictured below) 208, rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré (Subway : Ternes, Charles De gaulle Etoile)

Hours on Friday are 6 to 10 PM, Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 AM to 7:30 PM.


Thanks to Fabrice Vinsurvin for sharing

Sniffing, swirling, sipping for Green Day # 154

Previously: Environmental Protection Agency, Turns 40 on December 2nd, 2010


(* the Buvons Nature site is in French only)

Alone in Sydney for Thanksgiving 2010, Celebrate Holiday at Blue Plate Bar and Grill

It can really feel lousy being away from home on a holiday like Thanksgiving and not knowing anyone to celebrate with over dinner.

Shortly after I wrote Soul Food Thanksgiving Dinner is Served in Sydney which was really sharing tips and a sample menu, though the mysterious ways of the web, I found out that this Thanksgiving 2010, if you happen to be 'stuck' in Sydney away from friends, loved ones and home, there is a saving grace according to MsMaverick.

In Sydney, Blue Plate Bar and Grill in Neutral Bay is offering a Thanksgiving Dinner on November 25th.


The Menu ( Paired with American wines)
Entree: Acorn squash soup, followed by a honeydew melon sorbet palate cleaser
Main course: Corn-bread stuffed roast turkey with cranberry sauce, candied yams, sweet potatoe pie, succotash, green beans
Dessert: Pecan pie or pumpkin pie

Here's the deal:
Venue: The Blue Plate Bar & Grill, 24 Young St ( entrance on Grosvenor St), Neutral Bay, 2089,Sydney.
Time: 8pm sitting
Price: $76 per adult for 3 course set menu paired with American wines ( a child's price is available on request)


Blue Plate Bar & Grill describes itself as "the place satisfying homesick North Americans and hungry Aussies with Yankee favorites you can't get anywhere in Australia. Buffalo hot wings, ribs with home made BBQ sauce, Jambalaya, cowboy chili, gumbo, New England chowda are just some dishes on offer. We have sandwiches too; Philly Cheesesteak, Po' Boys, Reuben and hot dogs."

I doubt I would be travelling down under and look for any of these dishes except after a long stay which might bring a craving for American homecooking.

Is MsMaverick connected in any way to this Blue Plate? That I don't know.

In any case nothing wrong with wanting to feel home away from home on a major holiday.

Spiced Up Thanksgiving with Skewered Pumpkin Recipe from India Cookbook

Without upsetting anyone, wouldn't you like to have spiced up Thanksgiving dinner with a few new touches here and there.

Maybe someone at the table is a vegetarian or you invited Indian friends.

Browsing through the many recipes (1000 of them) gathered in the India Cookbook (Phaidon, November 2010), I noticed the Lauki ki Seekh ('Skewered Pumpkin) dish on page 93 and thought this could be a welcome change from pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie.

Here's the Lauki ki Seekh Skewered Pumpkin recipe:

Origin Awadh

Preparation time 30-40 minutes, plus cooling time

Cooking time 8-10 minutes

Serves 4


300g / 11oz (2 2/3 cups) peeled and grated pumpkin

300g / 11oz Paneer (see recipe below), grated

3 tablespoons chopped onion

1 x 1 cm / ½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

4 tablespoons chopped carrot

1 tablespoon chopped green chili

20g / ¾ oz (½ cup) chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves1

pinch of ground allspice2

30g / 1 ¼ oz green chili paste

1-2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs, for binding

ground white pepper



Parboil the grated pumpkin with a pinch of salt in a pan of boiling water for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Drain, then put the pumpkin into a bowl of cold water to cool.

Prepare a tandoor3 or charcoal grill for a moderate heat, or alternatively preheat the grill (broiler) to medium. When cold, put the pumpkin into a clean towel and squeeze to remove any excess water. Transfer to a clean bowl, and add the paneer, onion, ginger, carrot, chili, and coriander and mix well. Season with salt and white pepper, then add the ground spices, green chili paste and breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly until the mixture binds together. Divide the mixture into 16 equal portions.

Using damp hands, mould some of the mixture into a sausage shape along the length of metal skewers. Roast in a moderately hot tandoor, over a charcoal grill or under the hot grill for 8-10 minutes.

Assorted Spices

1 coriander (cilantro) is an annual herb, the entirety of which is used in Indian cooking: the fresh leaves as a garnish or in green chutney; the whole seeds in temperings, pickling spices and some non-vegetarian dishes; the powdered seeds, or ground coriander, is among the most commonly used spices in everyday cooking.

2 allspice is a spice made from the dried berries of a small tree. The name is derived from the berry’s fragrance, thought to resemble a blend of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

3 Tandoor: The clay tandoor oven used in the Indus valley dates as long ago as 3,000 BC. Traditionally they were heated with burning charcoal, but modern tandoor ovens are often heated with electricity. A skilled tandoor cook can manipulate the heat of the oven to bake, roast or grill a variety of foods.

(Recipe and 'Assorted Spices' illustration From India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant (November 2010) $49.95, courtesy of Phaidon)

Brussels Daily Digest from Train Strikes to Comedy Clubs on Xpats, English Only

Moving to Brussels or just landed there, Xpats could be a valuable resource to you, especially if your French is lacking as Xpats is an English language site.

They cover practical questions through the Q&A, for example how to find au pairs and babysitters and daily news like the upcoming 30 hours railway strike starting Tuesday (November 23).

More whimsical events like the Custoprothetik show of custom-designed prosthetic limbs at design shop Septante Sept opening on November 23 also have their place.


In Out to Eat, they review Chez Gaston, a new cafe that for the time being serves only lunch, Monday to Friday, from 12 Noon to 2:30 PM....The place was decorated by Belgian artist Cäät...

Visits to Xpats will help until you get acclimated and want to know Brussels more than skin deep.

(* Custprothetik image by way of Brussels is Burning)