Posts from April 2012

Papaya Salad, Sunny Days Are Here Recipe from Meat Free Monday Cookbook

Earth Day is almost here (April 22, 2012). It has nothing to do with salad going tropical.

Today's recipe, excerpted from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook (Kyle Books, Spring 2012) is perfect for Summer like Spring we've experienced this week.

Papaya Salad


Papayas, or pawpaws as they are known in some parts of the world, are sweet, perfumed tropical

fruits with deliciously soft flesh. This is an ideal dish for communal eating on a hot summer

evening, with everyone tucking in using lettuce leaves as scoops.

2 garlic cloves, peeled

3–4 small fresh red or green chiles, chopped

2 yard-long beans or 20 French beans,

chopped into 2-inch lengths

11/2 cups fresh papaya, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped

1 tomato, cut into wedges

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons lime juice

Papaya salad


Boston lettuce leaves

Pound the garlic in a large mortar, then add the chiles and pound again. Add the beans, breaking them up slightly, then tip into a bowl. Add the papaya to the bowl and lightly mash together, then stir in the tomato and lightly mash again.

Add the sugar and lime juice, stirring well, then transfer to a serving dish. Serve with lettuce leaves, which can be used as a scoop for the mixture.

(* Recipe from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook edited by Annie Rigg, photography by Tara Fisher, Kyle Books- March 2012, reproduced by permission of the publisher)

Frente Cumbiero to Speech Debelle, Sound Castle, Music at 25th Hay Festival, June 2012

Musicians can be poets, writers sometimes write lyrics or librettos so it makes sense that literary festivals include musical performances in their program.

For its 25th anniversary, Hay Festival 2012 in Wales (May 31-June 10) offers a myriad sounds from planet earth under The Sound Castle umbrella.

From June 1 to June 9 concerts include Frente Cumbiero, a cumbia band from Bogoto led by Mario Galeano and Speech Debelle whose first album 'Speech Therapy' described as 'soulful and raw' (i have not heard it yet) has been earning rave reviews.


Let there be music in the evenings after days of books!

Shakespearean Tout Bu or Not Tout Bu to Gama Sutra, 7 French Wines to Forget the Elections

The French election campaign to select a new president, deputes, senateurs is about to meet its first test, the first round, on April 22, 2012.

It inspired Sylvie Augereau to share her 7 bouteilles pour oublier les elections  or '7 wines to forget about the elections' (April 17, 2012, article is in French) for Obsession, a new site launched by French magazine 'Le Nouvel Observateur'.

Ironically, her first pick is 'L' Alibi' by Jean-Christophe Comor a former political operative who quit power politics 9 years ago for the south of France and made Domaine Les Terres Promises his new home.

L' Alibi is a Grenache-Syrah blend.

Looking for more details on Mr. Comor, I discovered via organic wine importers Jenny & Francois that he has also partnered with Antoine Pouponneau under the Comptoirs de Magdala label to produce organic Cotes de Provence. Jean-Christophe Comor is also described as a professor of political science at university of Aix-en-Provence so he might not have kicked the politics habit completely.


The Shakespearean inclined will fall for Tout Bu or Not Tout Bu 'All Drank or Not All Drank' (or is ir drunk) by Loic Roure of Domaine En Attendant La Pluie ('while waiting for the rain'), a Carignan-Grenache blend from Roussillon. Same winemaker also offers L'Herbe Tendre' (Tender is the Grass), a Syrah rosé petillant and 'Charivari', old vines Carignane for Domaine du Possible.

For meditative moments, Gama-Sutra by Olivier Lemasson of Les Vins Contés sounds just right, Gamay of course.

(* Image of Tout Bu or Not Tout Bu borrowed from French blog Le Vin des Copains)

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

One thing I missed when I started looking at Berlin as a great option for travelers looking for sensible airfares to Europe from the United States was that just before summer season gets in gear, the city is about to open a new airport, the Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg Airport (code BER?).

Paris and many other European cities are only an hour or two away yet what will it mean for anyone catching another flight on a different airline (on separate ticket from U.S to Germany part).

While it seems that Air Berlin and Lufthansa are moving all their flights there, Vist Berlin website only notes that budget airlines like Easy Jet and Ryanair will be flying to many destinations.


What happens if you fly United or Air France for example?

Will they move their operations from say Tegel Airport bit by bit?

I wish there was a detailed list of what these changes mean and how local transportation (rail, buses) will help travelers having to catch a flight somewhere else navigate the transition.

In the Green department, it believe it was decided to reduce noise polution that there would be no flights landing or taking off between Midnight and 5 AM.

Other eco-friendly features are highlighted on Berlin Brandenburg Airport official site.

It's hard to fly green and save green at same time, Green Day # 220

Previously:  Gleaning, Fighting Food Waste from Department of Agriculture to Giamarese Farm

(Rendition of Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg Airport by Bjorn Rolle from Visit Berlin site)

Becherel, Small City, Big on Books, near Rennes, Petites Cites de Caractere

Paying a visit to Visoterra, a French site in French only) that lets people share travel experiences and helps them discover new ones, a piece on Petites Cites de Caractere (Small towns with character).

The Petites Cites de Caractere label was initially launched in Brittany in 1975 to shine a light on small towns rich on history, culture, vision but poor in means (budget) to promote their assets and attract visitors by pulling them together and benefiting of network effect.

Since its inception in 1975, the Petites Cites de Caractere idea has spread to all regions of France.

Some of the 'petites cites' are also Cites d'Art (Art towns).


One such city not far from Rennes is Becherel which has reinvented itself as a place where books and history reign supreme.

It was the first City of Books in France.

(* Photo of Becherel from city page -French only- on Cites d'Art website, copyright F.Hamon)

Persian Cucumbers, Haricots Verts, Feta, 3 Reasons to Love Green Goddess Salad Recipe

With temperature in high 80's on Tax Day 2012, salad for lunch (or dinner) seems a good fit.

Persian Cucumbers, Haricots Verts, Feta are 3 reasons to love today's recipe from Salad for Dinner 'Complete Meals for All Seasons by Jeanne Kelley (Rizzoli USA, April 2012).

You get bonus points for making it a Meatless Monday.

Green Goddess Salad

-------------------------------------------------------| 4 servings

I am lucky that the closest restaurant to my home is a wonderful little place that is famous for its sea-salt caramels. Aside from her fabulous sweets, Christine at the Little Flower Candy Company makes delicious sandwiches and salads. The Goddess Salad is one of her most popular. While the Goddess Salad at Little Flower is dressed with a lemon-thyme vinaigrette, I just couldn’t resist merging Christine’s Goddess with a tangy green goddess dressing and juicy green zebra tomatoes.

8 ounces haricots verts (thin French green beans), trimmed

12 cups mixed greens

2 Persian cucumbers, sliced

2 tomatoes, preferably green zebra or yellow tomatoes, sliced into thin wedges

4 hardboiled eggs (page 97)

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled


COOK THE HARICOTS verts in a saucepan of rapidly boiling salted water until they are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool rapidly. Drain the beans well and pat dry with a clean dish towel. (Haricots verts can be prepared up to 2 days ahead; cover and refrigerate.)

Divide the greens among 4 large individual salad bowls. Arrange the haricots verts, cucumbers, and tomatoes in sections atop the greens. Using a cheese grater, grate 1 hardboiled egg onto each salad. Sprinkle the salads with the feta cheese and serve with the Green Goddess Dressing.

Green Goddess Dressing

----------------------------------------------------------| Makes about 1 cup

There was a time before my mom started making salad dressings from scratch when I was allowed to choose any kind of bottled dressing I wanted at the supermarket. I always picked green goddess. As I was a little girl, I think the whole goddess thing was a big part of the appeal, but even by the age of six I had acquired quite a taste for chives (chive cottage cheese being the only form of curds that I would eat). I don’t buy the bottled version anymore, but a taste of the homemade reminds me why this delicious dressing, created at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel in the ’20s, has never really gone out of style. Anchovies are in it, but if you plan on serving this to vegetarians, capers make a worthy stand-in.

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup snipped chives

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 teaspoons chopped anchovy (about 2 fillets)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

COMBINE ALL OF the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (The dressing can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Persian Cucumbers

You might notice that in many of the recipes calling for cucumber, I specify a Persian cucumber. If you are not familiar with Persian cukes, go and meet one right away. Persian cucumbers are smaller than the standard slicing variety; generally, they are about six inches long and an inch in diameter. These delicate cukes have thin, edible skin and are nearly seedless. Peeling or seeding is not required. The Persian cucumber has the sweetest flavor of any cucumber I have tasted and the coolest crunch. It used to be that I could only find Persian cucumbers at my local farmers’ market or at the Middle Eastern produce store. Now my neighborhood supermarket carries them almost year-round.

(* Recipe reproduced with permission from 'Salad for Dinner' Complete Meals for All Seasons by Jeanne Kelley- published by Rizzoli USA, April 2012- Photos by Ryan Robert Miller, all rights reserved)

New York-Paris late August, Round Trip Via Berlin for Just Under 800 Dollars

Once the dust settles, I will sure have explored a myriad combinations of trips in search of airfares from New York to France that don't break the bank.

After seeing someone suggest in a recent article that Berlin was the cheapest gateway to Europe, i decided to check it.

The tip was accurate as I found RT fares as low as $637 for departures from Newark between August 22 and 24 and return from Berlin on September 4.

I then went looking for RT fares from Berlin to Paris with departures from Berlin between August 23 and 25 and return on September 3.

Two options that gave me wiggle room regarding connecting flights were Easy Jet and Air France.

Air France at $143 for RT Ticket has the most civilized times both ways.

Cheapest option if my schedule was more flexible would have been Air Berlin.

OK it requires a little bit of creative thinking and 2 tickets, yet going to Paris from New York via Berlin can cost as little as $780 for a summer trip.

Not bad especially when there's more than 1 traveler.


On a closing note, classical music and theater fans in Berlin are in for special treat with 4th Long Night of Operas and Theatres on April 28, 2012.

(* Berlin image above from official Visit Berlin site)

British Adventure Comics 1950-69 to Island Stories, Free Exhibits at Victoria and Albert Museum

While main current exhibit at Victoria & Albert Museum in London is Bristish Design 1948-2012 (March 31-August 12, 2012), the museum offers V&A British Design Season displays to complement main attraction.

You get Free Admission to all these thematic exhibits.

Themes range from British Adventure Comics 1950-69 to Island Stories and travel related King's Cross: Regenerating a London Landmark.

Island Stories (March 16-September 19) will appeal to amateurs of photography.

"Drawn exclusively from the V&A collections, this display is a selection of around 70 photographs celebrating the variety of photography in the UK since 1945. It captures the diversity of the island and its people."


King's Cross: Regenerating a London Landmark (May 19- October 21) documents changes under way prior to Summer Olympics 2012.

"This display features original drawings, photographs, models, and film footage documenting the work by the lead architects and masterplanners John McAslan + Partners and engineer ARUP to transform London’s King’s Cross Station for Network Rail. Timed for completion to coincide with the 2012 London Olympics, the regeneration plans will triple the station’s size and re-orientate its entrance to enhance transportation links with St Pancras."

Will have to see if any of these fit into my travel schedule late August.

(* Illustration is "The Western Concourse nearing completion, King’s Cross station Hufton + Crow" from museum program pages)

Sagrantino di Montefalco Sommelier Tasting, Small Selection and Evening Hours Get My Vote

I often get more out of small tastings (50 wines and under) and focused wine seminars than portfolio tastings (300 plus selections).

One feels like a quiet walk while the other is more like a marathon.

Sommelier Tasting of Sagrantino di Montefalco became a must go for me when i noticed that just 6 Sagrantino di Montefalco and 6 Montefalco Rosso would be poured.

Vino montefalco

Here's what's on the menu:

Montefalco Rosso DOC 2007 – Adanti

- Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2005 – Adanti

- Montefalco Rosso DOC 2008 – Antonelli San Marco

- Montefalco Sagrantino “Chiusa di Pannone” DOCG 2004 – Antonelli San Marco

- Montefalco Rosso DOC 2009 – Arnaldo Caprai

- Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Collepiano 2005 – Arnaldo Caprai

- Montefalco Rosso DOC 2008 – Còlpetrone

- Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2007 – Còlpetrone

- Montefalco Rosso DOC 2008 – Perticaia

- Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2006 – Perticaia

- Montefalco Rosso DOC 2008 – Scacciadiavoli

- Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2005 – Scacciadiavoli

Organizers had the good idea to ask Salvatore Denaro to cook light fare to go with this red dozen.

Had tasting taken place during the day, i would have had to skip it so I am grateful it starts at 9:30 pm. I will be able to have a full day's work before.

While writing this piece, I found a Sagrantino restaurant, in Hong Kong.

Sagrantino di Montefalco wines come from vineyards around town of Montefalco, province of Perugia in Umbria and have to be made 100% with Sagrantino grapes.

You can find more details onappellation via Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco site.

BMI Flight Listed at $790 on Farecompare goes up to $950 When Trying to Book It via

In case you have not noticed, I have been scouted best fares and itineraries for summer trip to Europe from New York area.

Barcelona seemed the best option for 10 days but prices have gone up almost 50%.

Since Barcelona price rise my focus as turned to London, my second option as train to Paris only takes 2 hours and change from St Pancras.

In past 24 hours, a search via Farecompare for departure from Newark on August 24 and return on September 4 comes up with best fare of $790 (RT) via BMI (British Midlands International) if booked through their site.

Unfortunately, once you land on the outbound leg is listed at $401 (close enough) while return flight comes in at $550 which means a RT ticket at $950 not $790, a $160 difference.


I tried to contact someone at the airline for clarification but the contact us page in media center section is bare (for now).

I don't know if the discrepancy is due to a mistake on farecompare side or

I was just curious enough to want to find out.

(* Books for Cooks image from Visit London facebook page photo gallery)