Posts from September 2011

El Posadero or Filon, Vinos de Madrid versus Catalayud, Under $10 Bargain Bin

The Iberian peninsula still offers its share of wine deals.

In the under $10 bargain bin, two of my recent picks are Filon 2010 and El Posadero 2009.

Young Filon 2010 (100% Garnacha) from Bodegas Terra Sigilata in D.O Catalayud born in arid conditions at high altitude is ripe and ready, clocks in at 14,5% alcohol.  This Spanish red from 30 year old vines will pleasantly surprise guests at your next party.


El Posadero 2009 (85% Tempranillo, 15% Syrah) hails from D.O Vinos de Madrid and is the creation of Manuel Martinez of Vinos Jeromin. Tempranillo comes from 60 year old vines at 2100 feet, a tight wine.

It calls for rabbit or game in food pairing department.

El posadero

Pour these two unpretentious wines and a smile will appear on your guests faces.

Fancy Robert Rothschild Farm Cranberry Merlot Sauce, 2 Chances to Win 1

We mark the arrival of Fall with a return of our weekly contests.

Don't you get bored once in a while, turning to the same recipe.

Using a different glaze or a new set of spices might be all you need to give dinner a fresh touch.

If plat de resistance is chicken breast, how do you feel about finishing your dish by basting it with Cranberry Merlot Sauce from Robert Rothschild Farm in Ohio.

It's all natural and gluten free by the way.

It seems to work as well with duck according to J Lohr Winery who shares a Duck Breast with Cranberry Merlot Sauce by Chef Janie Gwen.


We have 2 bottles for the taking.

How can you win?

Offer your own suggestions on how to use this Cranberry Merlot Sauce.

The 2 most appetizing entries will each win a bottle of the secret sauce.

Send your entries by e-mail to info [at] njconcierges [dot] com

All entries must be received by Midnight (Eastern US time) on Thursday, September 28, 2011.

This contest is limited to residents of the US and Canada.

(* Prizes for this contest are donated by Robert Rothschild Farm)

How to Tart, Plum Perfect Almond Ginger Tart Recipe from Tart Love by Holly Herrick

Early fall week-ends, especially rainy ones, can be just right to venture into baking a thing or two.

I found some inspiration in Tart Tove 'Sassy, Savory and Sweet' (Gibbs Smith, October 2011) by Holly Herrick.

Since Plum Perfect Almond Ginger Tart straddles Summer and Fall, I chose it as an introduction to Holly Herrick wonderful guide on how to tart.

Plum Perfect Almond Ginger Tart Recipe

Serves 8


A huge basket brimming with shimmering purple plums kicked my mind into plum tart gear. This is a classically satisfying combination. A simple almond cream of pureed nuts, butter and flavorings makes a gentle bed for this soulful, early fall fruit. The pastry crust is generously seasoned with a peppery kick of ground ginger. Super easy to make and delicious at any temperature, this beautiful tart could easily find its way onto your go-to list for fret-free entertaining.

Equipment needed:  One 9 x 1-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom, 1 recipe Master Sweet Pastry (Page 17) plus 1 1⁄2 tablespoons ground ginger

Almond Cream

1 cup slivered almonds

1⁄4 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons soft butter

2 large eggs

1⁄4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch kosher salt or sea salt


6 ripe plums

1 egg wash (yolk, splash water, pinch salt blended together)

2 tablespoons warm honey, for glaze

Vanilla ice cream, optional


Prepare the Master Sweet Pastry according to “Perfecting Pastry” (pages 17–18), adding the ginger with the flour, salt and sugar. Chill at least 30 minutes or overnight. Roll out into a round shape approximately 1⁄4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface, following directions in On a Roll (page 18). Delicately place into the tart pan and form the edges according to Elevated Tart Border (page 18). Chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To prepare the almond cream, pulse the almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade until very fine. Add the sugar, butter, eggs, extracts, flour and salt, and pulse to combine thoroughly. The mixture should have the consistency of soft pudding. Remove and refrigerate in a medium bowl for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep the plums by pitting and slicing each into 6 even slices.

To assemble the tart, brush the border and bottom of the prepped tart pastry with egg wash. Place the pastry cream into the tart shell, spreading with a spatula or knife to make it smooth. Top with sliced plums. Arrange them tightly, working concentrically starting at the outside of the shell. The thin edge should be tucked under the thicker, skin-on edge as you go. When you get to the middle, arrange a few slices (3 to 5) in a circular pattern to finish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven. While still warm, brush the top and pastry borders with warm honey. Best served warm with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream.

(* Recipe from Tart Love 'Sassy, Savory and Sweet' by Holly Herrick-Gibbs Smith, October 2011- Photograghs by Helene Dujardin, reproduced with permission of the publisher, all rights reserved)

Get on NY Chocolate Trail with Chocolate Week-End NYC, October 14-16

For some of us bec fins, there is never enough chocolate and chances to taste it.

If you fit that profile and happen to be in New York for the week-end from October 14 to October 16, the first edition of Chocolate Week-End NYC will open the doors to chocolate shops and their prep kitchens.


Some of the shops included: Michel Cluizel, Roni Sue, Fika and Vosges.

I will have to act on a long standing invitation to visit Eric Girerd of L'Atelier du Chocolat.

Animal lovers can check all the right boxes with Rescue Chocolate whose profits are given to animal rescue groups. They are "vegan, kosher, handcrafted in Brooklyn, and packaged in eco-friendly materials."

I would travel to Brooklyn to sample tu chocolates whose creations are made with 100% Venezuelan cacao. They will offer a free pairing of Dark Chocolate & White Chocolate Rum Ganache with Venezuelan rum Santa Teresa.

The general event iself is free. Some of the satellite activities are not, for example Chocolate Pairing - October 16, 4-5pm at Ayza Wine Bar (3 chocolates and 3 wines) which costs $29.99.

Give your taste buds a workout with this 1st Chocolate Week-End NYC.

Piglet Patting Pen, Country Comes to Town, Royal Melbourne Show, Sept 24-Oct 4

The French have Salon de l'Agriculture.

In Australia, country comes to town with Royal Melbourne Show from September 24 to October 4, 2011.

Families with young kids will surely make stops at the Animal Nursery Precinct with "450 animals of 18 different varieties to meet and cuddle! The Animal Nursery will house a large patting pen featuring calves, lambs, kids (baby goats) and chickens to name just a few."


Have you given a pig a hug lately?

If not, "get up close to pigs with their newborn piglets, in the dedicated Piglet Patting Pen" while "he Birthing Centre will have various animals give birth at the Show this year, including sheep, goats and llamas."

Native animals reign in "Animals of Oz wildlife education program. See and even touch live native crocodiles, snakes, lizards, birds and marsupials" which aims to educate show goers on these locals and their habitat.

If crocodiles and snakes keep you cold, Alpacas whose fleece you might wear will be spotlighted from September 24 to 30, ahead of the Alpaca competition from October 1 to 4.

Did you know that young alpacas are crias or tuis? I learned this from the program.

What To Drink on Last Day of Summer? Pomegranate Fizz from Neue Cuisine

What to drink on last day of Summer?

One option could be a Pomegranate Fizz or 'Granatapfel Fizz' in German, one of the cocktails offered in Cocktails and Starters section of Neue Cuisine 'The Elegant Tastes of Vienna' (Rizzoli New York, October 11, 2011) by Kurt Gutenbrunner.

Here's the Pomegranate Fizz recipe:

An Austrian take on the classic gin fizz, this colorful cocktail is prepared with pomegranate juice and a splash of elderflower syrup, which makes the drink both sweeter and tarter than the original.

Ingredients for 1 Serving

Ice cubes
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) gin
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Splash of elderflower syrup (see Tips,
page 43)
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Sekt or other sparkling wine


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the pomegranate juice, gin, lemon juice, and elderflower
syrup, shake well, and strain into a tall Champagne flute. Top off with Sekt, and serve.

Drinks in the picture are, Tomato Pepper Martini on left, Pomegranate Fizz in the middle and The Vienna 1900 on right.

(* Recipe from Neue Cuisine by Kurt Gutenbrunner (October 11, 2011) published by Rizzoli New York, shared by permission of the publisher, Photography by Ellen Silverman, all rights reserved)

Onitsuka Tiger to Madfoot, Sneakers Culture Stars in Kicks Japan by Manami Okazaki

With Get your kicks in Japan (Japan Times, September 18), Eriko Arita continues exploration of sneaker culture in Japan.

Even though the array of fashion styles found on the streets of Tokyo can be dizzying, she notes that one thing unites them all "look at their feet and more often than not they are wearing shoes that are more familiar — sneakers. Even if at times they may be like no sneakers you have ever seen before."

The article highlights a few of the local brands prominent in Kicks Japan (Mark Batty, July 2011) a book by Manami Okazaki, she is now based in New York.


Her favorite brand is Onitsuka Tiger (founded in 1949) which she likes for its combination of comfort and style.

A more recent addition to the scene, mentioned in Japan Times piece and also featured in Kicks Japan is Madfoot created in 2001 which Okazaki describes as pop and crazy.

Street fashion for Tokyo Thursdays # 206

Previously: Day of Hope with Films from Pixar's La Luna to Dai Sato's Five Numbers

Escargots in Potato Cups w/ Black Truffles,Toasted Pistachios from Cooking without Borders

Before I even got to the dishes Anita Lo shares in her first book Cooking Without Borders (Stewart Tabori & Chang, October 3, 2011), a quote and a reflexion shared in her introduction had me sold on her approach to food.

It takes an honest chef to quote 'everything exquisitely delicious is on the verge  of putrefaction' aphorism in her press materials.

She does not like waste and writes in her introduction:

'There are times when I visit a greenmarket and overhear a shopper buying a bunch of turnips or beets ask the farmers to discard the tops...All i can think is, what a shame, that was an entire separate meal's worth of vegetables. that's a free side dish with purchase, and it leaves no carbon footprint.'

After that 'Kansha' like observation, Anita Lo also notes that for her 'food isn't really about aspiration; it's about eating, and sharing time with others at the table'.

Here's a slice of 'Cooking Without Borders' a Frenchman could not resist sharing.

Escargots in Potato Cups with Black Truffles and Toasted Pistachios Recipe

Snails are prized as food around the world. All over Europe, from Greek kholi to Spanish caracoles to the well-known French escargots, they are an ordinary protein source. In Africa, some of the largest edible snails are grown. The ancient Romans considered them food fit for the upper classes, and snail shells have even been found on archaeological digs in Texas, proof that the consumption of snails dates to prehistoric times. So how did the diminutive gastropod become so widely shunned in the United States? The majority of our ancestors come from snail-eating countries, and those people grew up just like we did, finding the slimy creatures in gardens. The excuse that Americans are too used to packaged, processed foods won’t wash either—snails come in cans.

Regardless of the provenance of this cultural prejudice, snails are delicious. Mild tasting and earthy, they pick up the flavors of whatever they are cooked with. The spiral-shelled creatures are best known for being doused in butter, garlic, and herbs—à la French brasserie fare. This is not the only way to appreciate them; if anything, that preparation seems like a form of overkill that can easily overpower the feature ingredient. Here, to showcase the snails themselves, I’ve paired them with a chorus of other earthy flavors—heady black truffles full of umami, sweet and toasty pistachios, nutty potatoes, and green herbs. These make fine canapés as well as appetizers. Just don’t tell the fearful what they are. I’m sure they’ll like them if they don’t know.


Serves 4

For the truffle sauce (optional):

⅓ cup Madeira wine

4 cups veal stock (page 232), or 2 cups demi-glace (see Note)

1 black truffle, chopped, plus any juices it comes with

1 tablespoon black-truffle butter

(see Note)

Salt and black pepper

For the garlic chive sauce :

½ cup blanched, shocked, and squeezed dry garlic chive stems,

woody ends removed, or a mixture of 2 parts chives, 2 parts parsley, and 1 part tarragon and thyme leaves

About ½ cup neutral-flavored vegetable oil

½ teaspoon salt

A few grinds of black pepper

To serve :

20 escargots, rinsed, blanched for 1 minute in boiling salted water

20 baby potatoes such as German butterball, about 1 inch in diameter,

Two ends sliced off, one end hollowed out to form a cup,

blanched in boiling, heavily salted

water until tender

¼ cup black-truffle butter, softened

To serve (CONT’D):

Scant ¼ cup toasted shelled,pistachios, finely chopped

20 garlic chive stems, blanched and shocked, or raw fresh chives, cut into 1-inch lengths

CookingWithoutBorders98927J-1 (2)

Make the truffle sauce, if desired: Put the wine in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until it is reduced to a syrupy consistency.

Add the stock, lower the heat to medium, and simmer, skimming occasionally, until slightly thickened and well flavored. Add the truffle and its juices and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in the truffle butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the garlic chive sauce: Put the garlic chives in a blender with just enough oil to cover them and blend until smooth. Pour through a finemesh sieve and add the salt and pepper.

To serve: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place an escargot into each potato cup and pack the remaining space with the truffle butter. Put on a baking sheet and bake until hot and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Top with the pistachios. Decorate warmed serving plates, then top with the escargot filled potatoes. Garnish each with a garlic chive. Serve.

Fusion cooking is not a dirty word.

(* Recipe from Cooking without Borders by Anita Lo in collaboration with Charlotte Druckman, published by Stewart Tabori & Chang on October 3, 2011, photography by Lucy Schaeffer, reprinted with permission, all rights reserved)

Karine Lauverjat Sancerre with Dinner on Tuesday

After buying a pound of flounder, couscous and some vegies for a quickly prepared Tuesday dinner, it dawned on me that one thing missing in the picture was a nice white wine to go with it.

I thought Loire and Sancerre, without further ado stopped by local shop and picked a bottle of Sancerre (2010) by Karine Lauverjat.


What you get is sauvignon blanc in its pure expression and as fish friendly as any wine can be.

A delicious bargain with its $15 sale price.

The Lauverjat family has been making wine in the area for generations. They use sustainable methods.

Travel Inspired Pastries, Gateaux de Voyage Event at Fete de la Gastronomie, Sept. 23

France marks the arrival of the Fall season with Fete de la Gastronomie. At last count 2000 events are scheduled all over France on September 23, 2011.

Amongst these many events, I noted Gateaux de Voyage featuring pastries inspired by travel.

From 3 pm to 5 pm at Palais des Congres in Paris (Level-Floor 0), you will be able to sample these creations for free courtesy of Confédération des Artisans Pâtissiers de France and Salon du Chocolat at their stand.

Continuing our pastry round, Millefeuille fans (or Napoleon as we call it in the U.S) are in for a treat during Mois du Millefeuille ('Napoleon Month') running from September 12 to October 9, 2011 at all good pastry shops in France.


3 twists on Millefeuille are the stars of this epicurean treat including Poire-Croc (with Pear of course) from September 19 to September 25th. (* Poire Croc image from Mois du Millefeuille site. This site is in French only)