Posts from April 2011

Flying to Green T2 Terminal in San Francisco where Virgin America gives Locavores their Fill

Tuesday is Green Day and since I am flying east to west coast very early courtesy of Virgin America on Thursday morning (April 28) from New York JFK to SFO (San Francisco International Airport) Terminal 2 or T2 which reopened after getting more than a fresh coat of paint, I thought I had to check SFO T2 green creds.

I could start by saying that Jerry Brown was there with Richard Branson for the ribbon cutting ceremony. It would fall short.

I swear I would have taken the train cross country just to be there for Hospice du Rhone in Paso Robles yet Amtrak did not call me.

They even seem to make it hard on you if you happened to fly into San Francisco and want to go to Paso Robles to use their services if the only option is bus service. Some train travel is requested.

Does Caltrain travel from the airport (SFO) to San Francisco qualify?

Maybe I should ask Pere Ubu?


Getting back to T2, here are some of its green attributes as spelled out by Virgin America:

SFO’s Terminal 2 renovation project focused on sustainability, giving you a new terminal that’s as green as it is beautiful. Check out T2’s sustainable design features:

LEED Gold Certification – The T2 Renovation Project is projected to achieve Gold Certification under the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The innovative sustainable elements will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1,667 tons per year.

Waste Reduction Program – Contractors recycled an impressive 90% of construction and demolition debris. Ongoing source separation of all recyclable solid waste will enable the attainment of 75% recycling by 2010 and 90% recycling by 2020.

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Initiatives – T2’s design includes a number of measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the terminal, including Preconditioned (PC) Air and power supply to all aircraft, energy efficient lighting and efficient machinery, and reuse of substantial portions of the existing building.

Food offerings at Terminal 2 skip the fast/junk food syndrome and instead put the accent on fresh, local food, sustainable products and local talent including Acme Bread Company, Kara's Cupcakes, Equator Coffee, Cowgirl Creamery.

Paolo Luchesi gave a quick tour of food options in Now Open: SFO Terminal 2 (Inside Scoop SF, April 14)

I will share more details on food difference after I check it first hand.

I will be a guest of Virgin America on my trip from JFK to SFO and back.

How green is my travel for Green Day # 174

Previously: Smart Move, The New Motion offers Electric Car Eco-System in Holland

Chestnut Cake Alla Pistoiese Recipe, 4 Steps, 1 Hour, Serves 8, from 'Tuscany' (Phaidon)

The 'Tuscany' book contest is now officially closed as we have 2 winners.

As a consolation prize for those of you who came close but not enough to winning Tuscany (Phaidon Press), here is a dessert excerpted from this winning tome, created by the Silver Spoon kitchen.

Castagnaccio Alla Pistoiese Pistoian-Style Chestnut Cake

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves: 6-8


50g (scant ½ cup) raisins

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for blushing

600g (51/4 cups) very fresh chestnut flour

1 teaspoon salt

100g (scant 1 cup) pine nuts

100g (scant 1 cup) shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 small sprig rosemary

Castagnaccio alla Pistoiese


1) Put the raisins into a bowl, pour in warm water to cover and let soak for 15 minutes, until plumped up. Drain, squeeze out the excess liquid and pat dry with paper towels.

2) Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Brush a 30-cm (12 –inch) round cake pan with about 3 table-spoons oil.

3) Sift the chestnut flour into a bowl and gradually stir in about 900ml (3 ¾ cups) water to make a smooth batter. Stir in the salt, pine nuts and raisins and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan  and sprinkle with the walnuts and a few rosemary needles.

4) Drizzle with the oil, put the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden and the surface is cracked. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly, then serve.

(* Castagnaccio Alla Pistoiese Pistoian-Style Chestnut Cake recipe and photo from Tuscany (May 2011, $39.95) reproduced by permission of the publisher Phaidon Press)

Floral to Caramelized, Flavor Wheel and Paso Robles Most Common Wine Varieties

In the run up to my visit to California for Hospice du Rhone (April 28-30), I was curious to see which Rhone varieties where most common in the area and visited Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance to find out.

Out of the 7 most commonly grown in Paso Robles, 3 have Rhone roots, Roussanne, Viognier (for whites) and Syrah (for red).

Under Varietals Produced, the Alliance reproduces a flavor wheel (below) created by American Wine Society.


They also list some of the attributes specific to each Rhone variety:

Syrah - blackberry, white pepper, black pepper, smoky, tar, blueberry, violets, roasted game, leather and dried herbs.

Viognier - peach, apricot, citrus blossom, floral, wet stone, honeysuckle and sweet spice.

Roussanne - honey, lemon-lime, floral, apricot, corn, pear, allspice and lanolin.

Honey falls in the 'Caramelized' sphere while Violet and Floral of course belong squarely in 'Floral'.

Maybe sommeliers should not push 'lanolin' or 'roasted game' too much.

When we meet at Hospice du Rhone, I will ask Condrieu producer Francois Villard what he would add or retract to these.

Oregano from Pindos or Ikaria, New Greek Cuisine at Sani Gourmet 2011, May 13-22

The first time I noticed Sani Gourmet was in 2010 when Maria Elia mentioned she was on her way to Thessaloniki for this yearly food event.

The 2010 edition honored Women Chefs.

In 2011, the focus is on the variety, subtlety of Greek cuisine.

"From Macedonia to Crete we see examples of refined versions of similar dishes, each adjusted to reflect the special features of the region and the different flavours of the ingredients: the oregano of Pindos has a slightly different taste to that of Ikaria; the vegetables of the barren islands vary in flavour from those grown in the rich soil of the Peloponnese.

Meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruit – Greece has them all in abundance, the raw materials of a creative process that yields fabulous culinary results. We need only reach back in our memories to our childhoods, when our grandmothers and mothers brought to the family dinner table daily miracles of the culinary art, often beautifully presented. These were the dishes and recipes we are in danger of losing, along with the flavour of the real Greece."

The sights and Greek wines that I am sure will be served might make the trip worthwhile by themselves.

Detailed program and line up of chefs and other culinary luminaries has not been released yet, at least in the English version.

I will update this story when they do.

Sani Gourmet takes place at Sani Resort near Thessaloniki from May 13 to May 22, 2011.

Century of Silver Art Exhibit at SFO Airport Fresh Terminal 2, Til September

Gathering practical details, visual cues for my planned trip to Hospice du Rhone in Paso Robles (April 28-30),  I paid a visit to the online home of Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport where I will be landing on Thursday.

Travelers wanting to stretch their mind before boarding will me glad to know that A Century of Silver Art and Metalwork is gracing Departure Hall at T2.


Of 250 pieces from Margo Grant Walsh Collection at Portland Art Museum (Oregon), a number were selected and lent for this small exhibit which runs until September 2011.

I hope I will have time to take it in.

Taste Tube Rose Wine from Chateau de Brigue, Prelude to Hospice du Rhone 2011

A few days ago, one of the parcels I received was making a dangling noise and I wondered what caused it.

Had I taken the time to read the shipping label, I would have realized it was wine.

What the relatively large box contained was 4 taste tubes with Rose Wines from Chateau de Brigue in Le Luc en Provence.

There were 2 samples each of Prestige (Cinsault 50%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Syrah 10%, Grenache 10%)

and Signature (Grenache 50 %, Syrah 40%, Cinsault 10%) both from 2010 Vintage.

I am not too keen on Cabernet Sauvignon in Rose so that might explain why Signature gets my vote.

Winemaker suggests you pair Signature with Mediterranean fare or Asian dishes.

I might try it with a recipe from Big Book of Noodles (Kyle Books).


Maybe my palate is off right now as I am fighting a cold.

I will surely have another chance to taste them.

Check my previous review of Signature 2007, A Rose Wine that Sings (June 2010).

The taste tubes go by the name of WIT (wine in tube) and contain only 60 ml, a tease.

This baby tasting was a nice prelude to Hospice du Rhone 2011 starting April 28 (in Paso Robles), my first visit to the event.

Bretons and Money, Musee de Bretagne, Rennes, May 10-October 30

Europe has a new episode of Night at the Museum each year.

On Saturday, May 14, Nuit des Musees as they call it in France will be in full swing.

One of the exhibits highlighted on the Le Blog de La Nuit  is Les Bretons et l'Argent (Bretons and Money) at Musee de Breatagne in Rennes.


The show opens on May 10 and runs until October 30.

(* Please note that many of the links are to French language sites)

Have a Jurassic Paques, Bite a Chocolate Dinosaur, Happy Easter!

To mark its 250th Anniversary, French chocolatier A La Mere de Famille in Paris created unique pieces for Easter 2011, including this dinosaur to make Steven Spielberg proud.


They prefer not to ship this delicate creature, you have to buy it in their stores.

Have a Jurassic Paques, Happy Easter!

(* I requested image from A La Mere de Famille, since I did not hear back from them, I borrowed one shared on Actufraise, a French site for Strawberry addicts)

My Contribution to Earth Month, I will Carpool to Hospice du Rhone on April 28

I did not buy carbon credits for my round trip flight from New York JFK to San Francisco.

As a way to make up for it, I will be car pooling with a couple of other French speaking attendees on my way to Paso Robles for Hospice du Rhone on Thursday, April 28.

Since winemaker Herve Bizeuil should be one of them, I might have a chance to do my first interview in a car.

Maybe it's the best place to conduct an interview as the other party does not have the chance to escape (evade) your questions.


A more creative expression for Earth Day 2011 is Litter Critters on The Loose where Philadelphia takes out the trash in style on April 27 (from 4 to 5 PM)...

(* Litter critters image from Mural Arts program pages)

Get Stitched Up At Roger, Don't Venture Too Far into Tsin Sha Tsui, Hong Kong 10 Do's and Don'ts

An exchange with Nicole Koo of Hong Kong based (more than marketing) firm Catch On on the paucity of Asian restaurants from Asia offering Asian food in World's 50 Best Restaurants list for 2011 leads to the return of 10 Do's and Don'ts with Hong Kong in the limelight courtesy of Paul Calder, an Australian transplant (Expat).

10 Hong Kong Do’s & Don’ts

1) Do zip up to the top of the Peak on the gravity-defying tram (Peak Tram/ 33 Garden Road). Once at the top, stroll up to Victoria Peak or, for a less challenging trek, take path along Lugard Road. The vertigo-inducing city views are a true treasure.

Don’t bother if it’s smoggy or if the Peak is smothered in cloud (it often happens). On those days, you’re lucky to see two feet in front of you, let alone any spectacular view. And don’t leave your Peak visit to the weekend. During those times, the only view you’ll see is hordes of camera-toting tourists.

Peak Tram HK

2) Do cross Victoria Harbour on the iconic Star Ferry. The lolling, leisurely pace offers a nice respite from Hong Kong’s fast-and-frantic lifestyle. And aside from the old-world charm it evokes, the journey from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui lets you soak in Hong Kong’s photo-worthy skyline.

Don’t bother venturing too far into Tsim Sha Tsui or along the always-congested Nathan Road. Once you dock at Tsim Sha Tsui, you’ll find every store you need at Harbour City, Hong Kong’s biggest mall.

Victoria Harbour+ Star Ferry

3) Do take a hike and tap into your wild side (and, no, this is not about a night in Wan Chai!). Contrary to popular belief, Hong Kong isn’t only about neon lights. Hong Kong’s national parks are dotted with hiking trails. For the novice walker, start with the Dragon's Back trail. About a 20-minute cab ride from Central, this gentle walk offers some spectacular natural scenery. There’s a reason why Time magazine named it “the best urban hike in the world.”  

Don’t believe the hype about Stanley Market. Yes, it’s out of the throbbing metropolis. Yes the journey aboard the double-decker bus from Exchange Bus terminus in Central is fun (take 6, 6A, 6X or 260 and snag the upper deck front seat). Yes, admittedly some of the waterside eateries are worth a visit. But the market is wall-to-wall kitsch. If cheap factory overruns and chintzy Chinese souvenirs are your thing, then you’ve found your Mecca.

4) Do drop by Aqua restaurant (30F, One Peking Road, Kowloon) and head upstairs to the bar to enjoy the spectacular panoramic view.

Don’t bother to eat there. The food isn’t nearly as delicious as the view.

5) Do get stitched up at Roger Concept Tailor (Room 504, 5F Takshing House 20 Des Voeux Road, Central). The father-son duo offer expert workmanship, quality fabrics and speedy service.

Don’t bother crossing the border into Shenzhen (China) for a cheaper deal. You may save a few dollars, but the shoddy work, ill-fitting outfits and cut-rate fabrics will cost you in the end.

6) Do dine at the Pawn. Widely considered one of Hong Kong’s most successful conversions of a heritage site, The Pawn was once the site of the infamous Woo Cheong Pawn shop. While retaining the building’s rustic charm, The Pawn is now home to one of Hong Kong’s best restaurants.

Don’t ignore the other great eateries in out-of-the-way neighborhoods. The guys behind The Pawn are also responsible for a number of boutique wine and cheese shops dotted throughout Hong Kong. Classified also serves what is arguably Hong Kong’s best coffee.

Classified (2)

7) Do stay at Eaton Smart, Hong Kong. Ideally located in downtown Kowloon, Eaton Smart, Hong Kong is surrounded by a buzzing shopping district, heritage-rich buildings and sites of historical importance. The streets are dotted with fortunetellers, Chinese opera singers, snake shops and Chinese Medicine practitioners selling authentic herbal teas. Best of all, the hotel hosts complimentary nightly tours of the nearby markets, neon-lit neighborhoods and cultural enclaves. Eaton Smart guests can also take part in the free Tai Chi classes led by a certified, award-winning Tai Chi Master.

Don’t be taken in by the cheap hotel offers in nearby Mongkok. When a hotel charges by the hour, you know you’re in the wrong place.

8) Do find a decent Dim Sum restaurant. Tourists flock to Maxim’s Palace, City Hall, but get there early or the long wait will test your patience. For a more authentic experience, try Dim Sum (63 Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley) or the sprawling, noisy Metropol Restaurant, 4/F United Centre, 95 Queensway, Admiralty.

Don’t fool yourself: Often the best, most authentic Chinese food is found in less-than-swanky street cafes and hawker stalls. If it’s crowded with locals, take your chances.

9) Do take a step back in time. Local history buff Jason Wordie hosts educational walks though some of Hong Kong’s infamous districts. Fascinating and fun, book through the Jason Walks site

Don’t miss out on Hong Kong’s regular cultural festivals. To stay in the loop, pick up a free copy of the weekly HK Magazine in restaurants and bars.

HK Magazine

10) Do visit the bars along Wyndham Street, Central. Cool, cosmopolitan crowd.

Don’t bother with Lan Kwai Fong. Once considered the go-to place to party, the glory days are well and truly over. Sweaty, slobbery crowd.

Based in Hong Kong, Paul Calder has lived and worked in Asia for 15 years. Originally from Australia, his ramblings, rumblings and random thoughts have appeared in a number of prestigious publications (that should have known better).

Find out more about what Nicole, Paul and the rest of the team at Catch On are up to and taking a liking to via Catch of the Day, the Catch On blog.

Previously: Bach Themed Music Garden, Vaughan Mills Outlets, Scheffler Deli, Toronto 10 Do's and Don'ts