Posts from February 2012

Take a Leap, Drink 2009 Old Vine Carignane by Seghesio on February 29, Carignan Day

It sometimes feel like the calendar is not big enough to accomodate all the 'celebrations' taking place.

In the wine field, add Carignan Day whose first edition takes place on February 29, 2012.

Why? Here what organizers put forward as reason for it:

"The year 2012 endows us an extra day... Let’s take advantage of this spare time to drink and celebrate the CARIGNAN. February 29, 2012 will be the first global CARIGNAN DAY in history! So open your bottles and dare to be CARIGNAN. You won’t regret! Share your CARIGNAN"


Carignanmonamour (2)


Fiona Beckett gives her Lowdown on Carignan (Guardian, February 29, 2012)

Amongst U.S made wines, for this first Carignan Day I give my vote to 2009 Old Vine Carignane by Seghesio which I had the pleasure to taste last summer.

This first 'Carignane' bottling in a while by Seghesio comes from a vineyard planted in Dry Creek Valley in 1954.

Winemaker suggests the wine is versatile enough to pair well both with red meats and herb crusted fish.


Thanks to Louise Hurren for making sure Carignan Day did not slip by me.

(* Illustration from Carignan Day site)

Libera Terra, Wine and Food from Land Freed from Italian Mafia's Hands

Social entrepreneurship and activism comes in many shapes and forms.

I only recently heard of Libera Terra (or is it Libera) which amongst other things produces and sells wine and food from land freed from Italian mafia's hands.

It was founded in 1995 to create alternatives to the economic stranglehold the Italian mafia had on many localities.




Whether it's wines from Cooperativa Terra di Puglia in Brindisi region, Centopassi wine estate in Corleone area, agro-tourism of Portella della Ginestra or olives from Marro Valley.

They invite you to taste il Giusto di Viaggiare for a visit of some of their properties in one or more parts of Italy. Along the way, you will taste some of their offerings and meet the people you bring them to life.

A number of Libera Terra products will soon be available in the UK via Market Quarter.

To mark their arrival Slow Food London is having a Libera Terra evening on March 15 at 6:30 PM where you will be able to sample some of their fare.

Summer Fish in February, Olive Oil Poached Fluke Recipe on Leap Day

Thinking about Leap Day (February 29), I was wondering if it should be a day when we take some risks, have a leap of faith.

As it happens only once every 4 years, if this is the only time we get out of our comfort zone, it would not be much.

I was giving a second or maybe third look at The Italian Table (Kyle Books, Fall 2011) by Ron Suhanosky and really liked the feel of the fluke dish in Chapter 4 (Week Ends, Fancier Recipes for Memorable Meals).

So on leap day 2012, I am taking a leap and sharing a summer fish recipe in February. 

Olive oil poached fluke with grated radish and caper vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6 

2 cups olive oil

3 pounds fluke fillets, folded into 3-inch “rolls”

1⁄2 medium Spanish onion, sliced 1-inch thick

2 fresh sage sprigs, leaves only

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1⁄2 cup capers, rinsed and drained

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only

juice of 1 lemon

6 radishes, washed, trimmed, and grated (medium)


Fluke, a member of the flounder family, is also known as summer flounder due to the fact that it spawns in deep ocean waters in the early spring, then moves closer to land to feed as the spring and summer progress. It’s one of the most popular mild, delicate, white-fleshed fish among commercial and recreational fishermen up and down the East Coast of North America. Freshly caught fluke is one of the many seafood treats we enjoy throughout the summer months on Nantucket. The challenge, as with all fish of this nature, is to find ways to cook it so as to preserve its subtle textures and flavors. Poaching the fish in olive oil is among the best solutions—clean, simple, and guaranteed not to dry out. For me, it makes the ideal light antipasto for a warm-weather gathering. You can also apply this recipe to other white-fleshed seafood such as skate wing or trout.

I n g r e d i e n t  N o t e : For poaching, be sure to use a light, pure olive oil, not the heavier, spicier, green extra virgin type used to dress salads.

1. Place the olive oil in a shallow 12-inch sauté pan. Add the fluke, onions, sage, salt, and pepper. Bring the oil up to a simmer over medium heat, then simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, leaving the fluke in the oil in the pan.

2. Place the capers, shallots, thyme, 1/2 cup of the olive oil from the pan, and the lemon juice in a blender. Blend at medium speed for 2 minutes to make a dressing with a chunky consistency.

3. Transfer the fluke and onions from the pan to a platter, discarding the oil. Place about 1 tablespoon of the caper dressing on top of each fillet, garnish with the grated radish, and serve.

(* Recipe from The Italian Table by Ron Suhanovsky-published by Kyle Books, Fall 2011- all rights reserved, Photo by Alberto Peroli)

Last Call, Nectar Wine Bar in Harlem is Closing its Doors on Leap Day 2012

A pioneer in Harlem, 4 years ago when they opened their doors, Nectar Wine Bar is giving its last call on Leap Day 2012.


If you are in New York, you can join them to say adieu and thanks for their good work from 8 pm to 12 am on Wednesday, February 29, 2012.

Beacon Food Forest in Seattle will Show What Growing Food looks like

Turning hills currently only covered with grass into a food forest is serious work compared to front lawns turned into edible gardens.

Urbanites who don't really know how things grow will be able to see it up close and personal in Seattle once Beacon Food Forest becomes a reality.


Robert Mellinger lays out details on the project in Nation's largest public Food Forest takes root on Beacon Hill (Crosscut, February 16, 2012).

Harrison Design, the landscape architecture firm who helped turn ideas offered by the community into a working plan describes itself as focused "on bringing nature into people's daily lives to promote physical and mental well being. We work to make spaces that are healthy for the body, comforting to the spirit, and beautiful to the eye."

On Beacon Hill for Green Day # 214

Previously: Search Your Slow European Travel Options with Loco2, a Search Engine for Rail Trips

(* Beacon Food Forest layout image by Harrison Design)

Amaranth Sesame Breadsticks Recipe from Dairy Free and Gluten Free Kitchen

I am back with second helping of The Dairy Free & Gluten Free Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, Paperback, January 2012) by Denise Jardine . Book offers 150 recipes (from Pancakes to Pizza) for all occasions and seasons.

After spinach, doughy goodies.

Amaranth Sesame Breadsticks

Free of egg, soy, nut
makes 12 breadsticks

1 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup Gluten-Free Flour Mix (page 172)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
1 package (21/4 teaspoons) quick-rise dry yeast
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt, for sprinkling (optional)


Amaranth sesame breadsticks (2)


Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

To prepare the dough:

Combine the amaranth flour, flour, sesame seeds, sugar, xanthan gum, salt, and onion powder in a large bowl. Mix together with a whisk until blended. In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in warm water and whisk in the olive oil. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, stir until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. Divide the dough into 12 balls. Line a flat work surface with parchment or waxed paper. Using your hands, roll the dough to form 12-inch-long, cigar-shaped rolls.

Transfer the rolls to the prepared pan. Cover the pan with a damp kitchen towel and place it in a warm, draft-free location for 20 minutes or until the breadsticks have risen slightly. If desired, sprinkle with kosher salt. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the breadsticks are dark golden brown and slightly crisp on the bottom. If desired, sprinkle with additional sesame seeds.

(* "Amaranth Sesame Breadsticks recipe from THE DAIRY-FREE & GLUTEN-FREE KITCHEN by Denise Jardine, Paperback published by Ten Speed Press, January 2012, all rights reserved)

Easier to Navigate Brusselicious than Searching Brussels Airlines Fares and Flights

I have been invited to attend 2 wine events, one in Burgundy (Grands Jours de Bourgogne), the other in London (London International Wine Fair).

A two week summer stay in France with side trip to Barcelona is also in the cards with a better chance to happen as my work schedule will be lighter in August.

When trips are on your radar, the first thing you do is check airfares.

I am keen to find the most affordable airfare for summer trip and I was curious to see what Brussels Airlines had to offer as they will start flying from New York in June 2012.

They share details on creature comforts aboard their planes like ergonomic seats below.Seatsbrussels

The search has been an exercise in frustration.

I entered my departure airport (JFK) and destination airport (Toulouse) with mid-August departure dates with return first week-end of September.

Lowest fare offered on New York-Toulouse via Brussels on August 19 is $324...I select it yet the shopping basket shows $0. I click on next step to choose my return flight.

Now best fare offered is $952 on August 19 and $506 for return flight.

Confusing at best.

Conclusion it seems easier to navigate Brusselicious site than searching Brussels Airtines fares.

(* Image of ergonomic seat from Brussels airlines pages)

2012 is a Brusselicious Gourmet Year in Brussels, Tramway Included

After celebrating Fashion & Design in 2006 and Comic Strips in 2009, Brussels is the capital of culinary delights with Brusselicious in 2012.

This yearlong celebration puts the accent on fresh, seasonal and local foods and talent.


Belgium is known for its beers and chocolates.

In the chocolate department, Brusselicious created the caraque:

"The caraque is a chocolate made from flavoured or spiced solid chocolate. Our best trainee chocolate-makers from the CERIA/COOVI hotel management schools have created these delicious little gems: black chocolate/Kriek – milk chocolate/speculoos - white chocolate/pear. They will be produced by chocolate master Anne-Marie Nihoul.
Caraques Brusselicious - presented in 3x3 sachets – available from January. On sale, among
others, at the Maison des Maîtres Chocolatiers, Grand-Place 4, 1000 Brussels"

Event also has its own Brusselicious brew using "know-how of the Faro goes back to the time of Breughel; it is obtained by the brewers by adding brown sugar to a bitter lambic."

Tramway is part of the city scene and Tram Experience will offer food on wheels.


To help visitors navigate the city's food scene, maps will be created along the following themes:

• Sweet Brussels 

• Savouring the markets 

• The chocolate counter

• The grand tour of the chip stands

• The best of gourmet Brussels

• Brussels and sustainable gastronomy

Some of these themes will be printed on small maps that fit in your pocket and will also be available online.

Loose Yourself in Yoshitomo Nara's World with art book 'The Complete Works'

Publishers are ready to unleash a wave of Spring 2012 books upon us and I took a little time to peruse their lists and see what I might be interested in sharing with you.

Each time I go though this process, i find books that I missed for one reason or another.

Yesterday, i realized I should have noticed Yoshitomo Nara ' The Complete Works' (Chronicle Books, November 2011), a perfect fit for weekly Tokyo Thursdays

This objet d'art is described by publisher as "the most extensive, authoritative, and beautiful expression of the artist’s work ever published." In includes "two 400-page volumes bound in fabric featuring Nara’s designs, the catalog covers all of the artist’s prolific output over the span of his career to date, including more than 4,500 paintings, drawings, editions, sculptures, photographs, and collaborations with other artists. Including new essays written by Nara himself—as well as texts from Banana Yoshimoto, Takashi Murakami, Hiroshi Sugito, and Midori Matsui—this unique reference is the definitive book on one of the world’s most important contemporary artists."


Since I have not held the book in my hands, I cannot tell for sure how many pieces that were featured in exhibit  Yoshitomo Nara Nobody's Fool at Asia Society in New York (Sept. 9, 2010–Jan. 2, 2011) are included in 'The Complete Works'. This show was first major one for artist in the U.S.

The exhibit pages introduce Yoshitomo Nara as "a leading Japanese Neo Pop artist who is internationally known for his work depicting small children and animals in solitary settings."


He also has a strong connection to the music scene and created covert art for the band Shonen Knife for example.

The $250 price tag for Yoshitomo Nara ' The Complete Works' will make some of us pause before purchasing it.

It makes for a wonderful gift.Completeworksnara

Loosing myself in Yoshitomo Nara's world for Tokyo Thursdays # 224


Love Will Tear Us Apart, Celluloid Heroes Version, Japan Society Film Festival, NY, March 2-18

(* Illustrations from Yoshitomo Nara ' The Complete Works'-Chronicle Books, November 2011- reproduced with permission of the publisher, all rights reserved)

Gewurtztraminer Vendange Tardive 1989 by Hugel, Foie Gras or Sorbet?

When I recently served the Gewurtztraminer Vendange Tardine 1989 by Hugel, i did not know that that vintage of this special wine coincided with the 350th anniversary of the winery.

Vins nobles

Harvest ended on November 9th.

In the eyes of the producer, the 1989 vintage of this wine was even better than classic 1976.

Should guests have started their meal with it rather than have it with sorbet?