Posts from April 2012

Kosher Class Room and other Eateries and Art Spaces, New Life for Jüdische Mädchenschule Berlin

A former Jewish girls' school, the Ehemalige Jüdische Mädchenschule on Auguststrasse in Berlin reopened in February 2012 as a space where you can explore architecture, art and food too. One of its restaurants named The Kosher Class Room "serves three times per week certified kosher cuisine, including a traditional Sabbath dinner."

As the name The Kosher Class Room suggests, they also offer "kosher cooking classes and wine tastings, kosher cocktail classes."


Current menu for Sabbath Dinner is:


Smoked Alaska salmon with Keta caviar, orange-aioli and Melba toast
Cauliflower mousse with ramsons croûtons and herb salad Vegan


Chicken soup with Krepplach
Consommé with shiitake mushrooms, spring onions and silk tofu Vegan

Main dishes

Filled breast of spring chicken with dates and almonds, grilled peppers and barley risotto
Asian vegetables with tofu, jasmine rice and lotus chips


Chocolate-walnut cake with berries
Strawberry mousse and strawberry tart Vegan

4-course menu 75 Euros includes 1 glass of kosher sparkling wine.

Thanks to Nadja of VisitBerlin for listing the place as one I should check durin my 1 day stay in Berlin this summer.

(* Image of Kosher Restaurant from their Facebook page)

Scratch Marathons, Swim Across the Seine, Paris a La Nage, September 2

Everyone trains for a marathon these days (many amateurs at least).

Sports inclined, scratch marathons from your calendar.

Instead leave room in your schedule for Paris a La Nage (Paris Swim), a chance to swim across the Seine and get a new perspective of the city of lights with other amateurs of water sports.

What's on the September 2, 2012 event's menu:

"The personal challenge is combined with a tour of Paris taking swimmers from the Josephine Baker swimming pool to the Parc André Citroën, via the Louvre, the Place de la Concorde and the Eiffel Tower. Swimmers will also swim under the famous bridges of Paris, the Pont Marie, the Pont Neuf, the Pont des Arts and the Pont Alexandre III."


The organizers aim for no less than making this event 'the largest sports swim in open water' in France.

This swim across Paris is not completely new. It is making its return after a 60 year hiatus.

Since I will be in Paris on September 2, I will make sure to capture a few snapshots of the event.

Thanks to Elodie of Paris Tourist Office for putting La Nage on my calendar.

(* Image from Paris a La Nage site)

Before the Soup? Hibiscus Beet Ice Cream Recipe from Humphry Sclocombe Ice Cream Book

I have a lot of catchup to do before I reach Twitter star status as Jake Godby and Sean Vahey of Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco have done with 300,000 fans. Word 'followers' at this level might make it sound like they are running a mega church not an ice-cream joint.

What attracted me to their first book, Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book (Chronicle Books, April 2012) written in collaboration with Paolo Lucchesi and photographs by Frankie Frankeny, was its offbeat flavors. 

When was the last time you tasted flowers, beets and spices in your cone?

Hibiscus Beet Ice Cream Recipe

As you may have gathered elsewhere in this book, Humphry Slocombe attracts a wide range of clientele. One of our most loyal (and beloved!) contingents is something we’ve dubbed the stroller mafia.

Need to trick your kid into trying vegetables? Look no further than Hibiscus Beet, not just a fresh and delicious sorbet, but also our prettiest flavor. See, when kids choose their treats in the shop, they always seem to gravitate towards Hibiscus Beet’s vibrant, deep red color. Little do they know that there are whole roasted beets—full of vitamins and minerals—in that sorbet. Suckers!

In fact, Hibiscus Beet’s hue is so ridiculous that we billed it as “O Negative” during the vampire hoopla a few years back. We hear it was a big hit at the viewing parties.

Inspiration: At Corton, in New York City, chef Paul Liebrandt served a dish of foie gras with hibiscus-beet gelée.

2 medium beets (about 1/2 pound), roasted until very tender
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
10 dried hibiscus flowers
2 tbsp corn syrup
Juice 1/2 lemon
2 tsp salt

Makes 1 quart

Humphry Slocombe_Hibiscus Beet and Cayenne Cantaloupe

Put the roasted beets in a blender and process to a smooth purée. Set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water and sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the hibiscus flowers and bring to a boil.

Stir in the beet purée and corn syrup and remove from the heat. Let cool completely, then add the lemon juice and salt. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl.

Cover the bowl tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight. When you are ready to freeze the mixture, transfer it to an ice cream maker and spin according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Eat immediately, or transfer to an airtight container, cover, and freeze for up to 1 week.

P.S: The scoop to the right of Hibiscus Beet in picture is Cayenne Cantaloupe, in case you wondered

Is this best before or after the soup?

(* Recipe from Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book by Jake Godby and Sean Vahey with Paolo Lucchesi Photographs by Frankie Frankeny-Chronicle Books, April 2012, reprinted with permission of the publisher)

Copenhagen to Istanbul, Map of Air France Escapes To/ From Marseille, One Way from 50 Euros

Travel bug bites us all especially as summer season gets closer.

If your vacation budget is minimal and your dates flexible, Air France offers great escapes to and from its 3 French hubs of Marseille, Nice and Toulouse. Fares start at 50 Euros one way.

After writing about the program in general in Great Escapes, i thought that sharing maps of destinations served from each hub would be better than writing them down.

I start with Marseille connected to cities from Copenhagen to Istanbul.


Bon voyage!


Cuban Style Chicken Soup from 80 Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker

Did you know that the new and improved pressure cooker is easier, greener, quicker and safer to use than ever before?

To prove it, British food writer Richard Ehrlich, who you might know for his column in The Guardian, penned 80 Recipes for your Pressure Cooker (Kyle Books, 2012).

I will not serve all 80 of them.

Let's start with 1.

Cuban style Chicken Soup Recipe

The garnish of avocado is a delicious surprise—as long as the avocado is of the Hass variety, and properly ripe. If you can’t get that, just skip the avocado.

serves 4

2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 lb free-range chicken

meat, cubed or thickly sliced

1 quart chicken stock (from cubes will be fine)

1 onion, quartered

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 bay leaf

4 small new potatoes, thickly sliced

1/3 cup orzo or another very small pasta shape

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

orange and avocado slices, to serve

chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish (optional)

Cuban chicken soup

Pour some oil into the pressure cooker, using just enough to coat the base of the pan generously. Bring up to a brisk heat and put the chicken in, stir-frying just long enough to get a bit of color into it (3–5 minutes). Pour in the stock, and then all the remaining ingredients except the tomatoes. Clamp on the lid. Bring up to full pressure, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and vent immediately.

As soon as you can remove the lid, drop in the tomatoes and put the lid back on. Simmer without pressure just long enough to soften the tomatoes. Serve with the orange and avocado slices passed separately so that everyone can help themselves. You can also add chopped fresh cilantro as a garnish, if you wish. 

Chicken stock

Making poultry stock (and meat stock, even more so) takes a very long time. Hours are needed to extract all the flavor from those bones and their accompanying meat. And the cooking must be a gentle simmer, or the stock will become cloudy. My friend John Whiting, who knows more about the pressure cooker than I ever will, doesn’t mind cloudy stock—and that’s why he makes it in the pressure cooker. I am a fetishist for perfectly clear stock, however, so I do the conventional simmering. The exception: boiling up a chicken or duck carcass when the bird has already been cooked. This is not “proper” stock, in my view, and since I always use the stuff for everyday soups, cloudiness doesn’t matter. Method: chop the carcass into four or five pieces, using all the scraps, and chuck it in the pressure cooker with a carrot, a celery rib, some garlic, some dried herbs, and a halved onion. Put in water to cover, then clamp on the lid. Bring up to full pressure, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to vent gradually. Strain off the solids and you’re done.

(* Recipe from '80 Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker' by Richard Ehrlich, Kyle Books-May 2012, Photography by Will Heap, shared with permission of publisher)

Great Escapes, Berlin-Toulouse, Marseille-Copenhagen, Nice-Athens, Air France Flights From 50 Euros One Way

While planning my summer escape to Europe, I discovered that Air France is not conceding the domestic field to budget airlines and instead is now using some of its regional bases including Toulouse to offer travelers new direct flights both within France and to and from other European countries as well as across the Mediterranean for fares as low as 50 euros one way.

I was made aware of the 'Evadez Vous' (Escape) flights after I booked my flight from New York area to Berlin (RT for $650 for late August departure and return on September 4) and learned that Air France had just launched, on April 1st, direct flights from Berlin to Toulouse.

The 'Evadez Vous' campaign was started in Marseille in fall 2011 and Nice and Toulouse came on board in April 2012.

Fares depending on destination start at 50 Euros, then 80 Euros with higher fare at 110 Euros .

In my case, on date I am looking at for travel from Berlin to Toulouse, August 22, fare is currently 80 Euros ($114).


I will not return to Berlin from Toulouse as I will stop in Paris on way back so I did not look at round trip ticket option.

Passengers can selecti multi city option when booking. In my case I could book Berlin to Toulouse as first leg and Toulouse to Paris as second segment.

People traveling to/from Nice could pick Amsterdam-Nice then Nice-Athens as second leg.

With Marseille as hub, you could fly from Copenhagen to Marseille and then Marseille to Marrakech for example.

Frequency of flights to each destination varies so being somehow flexible with your travel schedule will help fetch a good fare.

For Berlin to Toulouse on August 22, there is one flight at that fare leaving at 12:55 PM and arriving at 3:15 Pm.

Besides the attractive fares, Air France is committed to offering the level of service you expect from them.

You will not be charged for peanuts.

On flights under 1H and 40 minutes, passengers get a hot drink and baked goods in the morning and soft drinks and snacks the rest of the day.

On those between 1 hour and 40 minutes and 2 hours and 30 minutes, baked goods are served in the morning, a sandwich for lunch or dinner and a selection of snacks the rest of the day.

For flights that last between 2 hous 30 and 3 hours (Athens for example), breakfast is served in the morning, a cold meal for lunch and dinner and a sandwich the rest of the day.

For those over 3 hours (Moscow and Beyrouth to name two), breakfast is served in the morning and a cold meal including cookies is ogffered the rest of the day.

A selection of French and International newspapers is available for free before boarding.

Each passenger can register a luggage of up to 23 kilos plus take onboard a garment bag, a messenger or laptop bag and a 12 kilos carry on bag, all that at no additional cost.

New 'Evadez Vous' destinations added on April first include:

To/ From Toulouse:

Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Venice, Naples, Istanbul, Athens, Malta, Tunis, Sevilla, Malaga, Casablancam Marrakech

To/ From Marseille:

Hamburg, Berlin, Venice, Barcelona, Marrakech

To/ From Nice:

Venice, Naples, Athens, Tel Aviv

Thanks to Cecile and Marina of Air France Media Team for taking the time to speak with me and share details on these new Escapes that make flying fun and affordable again.

Time to pack your traveling bags.

P.S: If you want to see the full map of flights offered from/ to each hub, let me know and I will forward it to you.

(* illustration from Air France prmotional campaign for 'Evadez Vous')

Beeswax Salve, A Natural Way to Keep Wooden Kitchen Tools in Top Shape

One wants to keep her/his good kitchen knives sharp and ready.

Making a sauce, a dessert, i would rather use wooden spoons and ustensils than plastic ones.

I never gave much thought on how to clean wooden kitchen ustensils besides soap and water option until I discovered that Beeswax Salve can keep them clean and shiny.

Beeswax salve is the bi-product of honey and is also the main ingredient for natural personal care product.

Beeswax salve

No waste natural cleaning for Green Day # 221


Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) Opening on June 3 Will Shut Down from Midnight to 5 PM

(* Beeswax salve displayed above from Herriott Grace, creators of unique home and kitchen wares)


Bouchot Mussels Please, Creamy Mussel Soup with Saffron, Recipe from Nature by Alain Ducasse

After sharing Alain Ducasse take on Tartines as a first excerpt from  Nature (Rizzoli USA, March 2012), I stay with comfort dishes by picking soup as second recipe.

Creamy Mussel Soup with Saffron

Preparation: 30 minutes

Cooking: 20 minutes

… Serves 4


… Clean and scrape 31/2 pounds of mussels (use Bouchot mussels if you can get them) or get your fishmonger to do it for you.

… Peel and quarter 1 white onion. Wash and peel 3 or 4 medium potatoes (10 ounces), 1 leek, 1 celery stalk, 2 carrots, and 1 fennel bulb. Crush 1 garlic clove.

… Cut half the fennel and one of the carrots into very fine slivers. Set this julienne aside.

… Thinly slice all the other vegetables.

… Heat a splash of olive oil in a soup pot. Add the sliced vegetables and the garlic.

… Stir, then cover the pot and sweat for 10 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of water and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

… When the potatoes are nearly cooked (check with the tip of a knife), add the mussels, then 11/4 cups of white wine, 1 quart of lowfat milk, and 15 threads of saffron. Stir well and simmer until all the mussels have opened.

… Then take the mussels out with a slotted spoon and remove the shells.

… Set aside about 20 of them, and return the others to the pot. Blend with a hand blender until the soup is nice and smooth. Taste and adjust the salt seasoning. Add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

… Place the reserved julienne of vegetables in a (warmed) soup tureen and pour the hot soup on top, add the mussels, and serve. 

AD— If you find your soup a bit too thick after blending, just thin it with a little water. The julienne of raw carrot and fennel adds a nice crunch.

PN— Check the freshness of the mussels and take out any that are open or broken. Shellfish are bursting with minerals, especially iron and magnesium, so this soup is perfect for recharging your batteries.

Bouchot mussels refers to the French technique of growing the mussels on large pilings, or bouchots, driven into the sea. They tend to be smaller than other varieties, but any small mussel will work in this recipe.

(* Recipe from 'Nature, Simple, Healthy and Good' by Alain Ducasse with Paule Neyrat-Rizzoli New York, March 2012- photography by Francoise Nicol, reproduced with permission of publisher, all rights reserved)

Please Do Not Sit Couch, Desk I Would like as Birthday Present at Ralph Pucci Showroom

If you home furnishing showroom doubles as a special event space on occasion, the occasional spill or stain might ruin a good piece.

With that in mind, it makes sense that Ralph Pucci showroom in New Room opens its doors to such events while allowing only white wine and Champagne to be served.

Such was the rule at Made in New York book launch party on Thursday, April 19, 2012.

Moet was served, only natural since LVMH NY was the event sponsor, no food.

There was a strict Do Not Sit Down policy for couches on display.


I noticed desk i would like as a birthday present.


Not sure who the designer was for both pieces.

Watch the River Flow, Fete du Port de Bruxelles 2012, May 20, Free

Even some of us who don't know how to swim dream of setting sail and leaving the crowds behind.

If you are in Brussels on May 20, Fete du Port de Bruxelles 2012 will offer a day of free water themed festivities.

From visits to boats anchored nearby to short river cruises and demos on how not to rock the boat and a taste of what comes from the sea on the food side, it sounds enticing.

Let your mind wander for a few minutes, listen to the waves on Event website.