Posts from June 2012

Ping Pong and String Quartet at New Music 20x12 Festival, London, July 13 to 15

Movie festivals feature short films.

At Southbank Centre, this summer 2012, 20 compositions commissioned by PRS for Music Foundation, each 12 minutes long, will be performed at New Music 20x12 Festival (July 13 to 15).

"Every single New Music 20x12 commission will be performed over one weekend at London’s Southbank Centre, with most performances completely free.

The weekend will also include two full days on one-to-one composer surgeries and four workshops for composers of all ages and abilities."


Amongst the works, London premiere of Ping! for table tennis players, string quartet and soundtrack and Spinal Chords, Sally Beamish's new work for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment sets a text by Melanie Reid who broke her neck and back in a horse-riding accident in April 2010 which left her paralyzed.

Tried and Gave Up Booking Internet Only Toulouse-Paris Train Trip on Voyages SNCF Site

As I continue planning my 2 weeks in Europe, late August, early September, I had my mind set on booking the Toulouse-Paris segment of the trip and got to work on it last week-end.

As airfares for the date and time I was interested in had shot up to $150 a piece, I turned to Voyages SNCF for rail options.

I discovered a new (to me) 'internet only' option named Intercites 100% Eco where the fare on Toulouse-Paris for 1 person at the beginning of my search last Saturday was 26 Euros, You get a 10% discount if you travel as a family (say 4 people). As of today (June 29) fare for same train is 30 Euros per person.

From what I understand Intercites 100% Eco is a service similar to iDTGV.

Unfortunately, after selecting trip, seats, number of passengers and all other necessary booking information, I hit a wall during payment ( I chose e-ticket option of course).

I tried 2 or 3 times only to see my payment fail.


I contacted card issuer who told me that they had blocked transaction (and card) because of repeated tries. Being informed of my intended purchase, they told me to try again and that all should be smooth sailing.

I tried again to no avail, called Toulouse train station, Voyages SNCF and i forgot who else to find what the issue was and was told in the end it was because I used a foreign card and the system would not accept it unless it was from American Express.

I am not sure that information I was given was 100% accurate.

Nevertheless, I got tired of trying and passed the buck to a relative in France who will get tickets for me.

There is always Rail Europe but often their fares are more expensive (cheapest fare on similar train for same date was listed as $75 per person) and this particular train I was interested in was not part of what they offered.

I will try to get to the bottom of the issue when I am in France.

I wonder if things would have turned out differently had I tried to book via TGV Europe instead?

If you want to practice your French, Kelbillet has a piece titled  SNCF, Les trains Intercités ont aussi des prix « low-cost » on 100% Eco.

(* Intercites image from Kelbillet piece)

Thirst Quencher for 90 Degrees Day, Tarragon Lime Green Tea

Looking for a thirst quencher on 90 degrees day, look no further than this recipe from RIPE by Cheryl Sternman Rule published by Running Press (2012).

Tarragon Lime Green Tea

My sister Julie helped me conceive of this refreshing iced tea, a new favorite with citrusy, herbal notes that makes us both feel fancy. Boiling the water in a kettle speeds things up.

Serves 8

4 bags green tea

8 cups (2 liters) hot, just-boiled water

1/4 cup (85g) honey

1 bunch fresh tarragon

4 limes, divided



Place the teabags and water in a large bowl or pot. Whisk in the honey until dissolved. Add 2 leafy tarragon sprigs. Squeeze in the juice of 3 of the limes and toss in the spent limes, too. Set aside to steep, off the heat and uncovered, for at least 10 minutes, or until desired strength. Discard the teabags. Cool to room temperature.

Pluck out the limes and herbs. (If not serving right away, refrigerate.)

Cut the remaining lime into 8 wedges.

Divide the tea among eight ice-filled glasses, garnishing each glass with a fresh tarragon sprig and lime wedge.

(* Recipe reprinted with permission from RIPE © 2012 by Cheryl Sternman Rule, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group. Photography © 2012 by Paulette Phlipot.)

Mexican Street Food meets Southeast Asian Spices, Grilled Corn with Coconut Flakes and Spicy Mayo

If you are looking for recipes that will add zing to your summer parties, Flavor Exposed '100 Global Recipes from Sweet to Salty, Earthy to Spicy' (Kyle Books, April 2012) by Angelo Sosa has much to offer from Franco-Vietnamese Lobster Rolls to Spiced Watermelon Salad.

Grilled corn is a quintessential part of summer. Angelo gives it a twist where Mexican street food meets Southeast Asian Spices.

Grilled Corn with Sweet Coconut Flakes and Spicy Mayo

Serves: 4 Time: About 30 minutes Flavors: Sweet/Spicy/Smoky

Growing up in Durham, CT we lived on the top of a hill right next to a cornfield that seemed to go on forever—as far as I could see there were corn stalks stretching out into the distance. This dish reminds me of that endless field as the sweetness lingers on your tongue and the smokiness of the chipotle hints at corn blistering on the grill.

Imagine the corn you buy on the streets of Mexico jazzed up with some Southeast Asian spice. That’s what this recipe is and, man, is it good.

I happen to be naturally drawn to the flavor of char, so I like to grill the corn until it’s black in spots. I swear that smoky aroma is intoxicating; if I could, I’d bottle it.

4 ears corn, shucked

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick)

unsalted butter

2 fresh thyme sprigs

1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted

Spicy Mayo

2 cups mayonnaise

1/4 cup Sriracha sauce

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1_grilled_corn (686x900)

1 Preheat a grill to medium-high.

2 Put a large pot of water over medium-high heat. Add the corn, butter, and thyme and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Continue cooking until the corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain; set the corn aside until you’re ready to grill.

3 While the corn cooks, make the Spicy Mayo: Combine thenmayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth; set aside.

4 Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until nicely charred on all sides. To serve, spoon a dollop or more of the Spicy Mayo on each ear of corn and garnish with the coconut flakes.

(* Recipe from Flavor Exposed '100 Global Recipes from Sweet to Salty, Earthy to Spicy' (Kyle Books, April 2012) by Angelo Sosa with foreword by Alain Ducasse, Photos by William Brinson, reproduced with permission of the publisher, all rights reserved)

Earth, Wind and Fire, Water Too at Isonzo Delta Natural Reserve in Friuli

Wine is obviously influenced by the elements.

Keeping that in mind the Friuli Venezia Giulia chapter of Movimento Turismo Del Vino offers to take willing participants on Friuli Respecting Nature Tour, a 4 day outing built around earth, wind, fire and water.

Program in a few words:

"Explore the essence of Friuli through a four-day full immersion in nature in close contact with its four elements. Air: the fragrance of the sea breeze cooling the coastline. Water: the fascination of the embrace between the river and the sea. Earth: our mountains, our trails and our DOC vineyards. Fire: the thrill of a living fire warming the atmosphere in a winery and the glare of candles lighting Summer nights. And the fifth elementWine: the essence and the spirit of our territory, harvested with passion by the region’s growers."

Second day, Saturday (Water) starts with visit to Isonzo Delta Natural Reserve, an example of sustainable tourism.

Map of the area (below) shows various hiking paths one can use to explore the reserve where birdwatching is a prime activity.


A walk around one of Italy's nature reserves for Green Day # 229

Previously:  Perfect Summer Lunch, Cucumber-Basil Egg Salad Recipe from Chicken and Egg

(* Image from the Isola Della Cona website)

Catch last 3 Hours of Vexations, an 18 Hour Piece by Erik Satie, Free at Make Music NY 2012

I would be curious to know if anyone has the stamina, especially in 90 Degrees weather, to be there for all or most of performance by roving team of vibraphonists of Vexations, an 18 hour piece by one of my favorite French composers, Erik Satie.

This tour de force coordinated by Amy Garapic is one of the main musical events taking place during Make Music New York 2012, celebrating the arrival of summer on June 21.

New York performers of the piece besides Amy Garapic include Matt Evans, Carson Moody, Doug Perkins, Owen Weaver, and Alan Zimmermann. Simultaneous performances of the piece will take place in Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Toronto, Amsterdam, Mexico City, Canberra and Melbourne (Australia), Amman (Jordan), Seoul (South Korea), Pitea (Sweden), and Golania (Brazil), as part of the Make Music / Fête de la Musique festivities around the world.


New York performance takes place on Corner of Broad St and Wall St and ends at Midnight.

Unable to attend, A Worldwide Day of Vexations is live streaming some of the performances around the world.

Explosion Free Homemade Ginger Beer from A Country Cook's Kitchen

With current mini heatwave the East Coast is experiencing, after downing umpteen glasses of water, I paused to think of drinks that might taste better while keeping me hydrated.

I perused my cookbooks and noticed a title that I have yet to mention here, A Country Cook's Kitchen by Alison Walker (Rizzoli New York, March 2012).

Under Liqueurs and Cordials, she offers a range of recipes from Wild Plum Brandy to Lemon Barley Water.


I picked her Ginger Beer recipe.

Ginger Beer

Once the ginger has fermented, drink within a couple of days.

Preparation 20 Minutes plus standing

Makes about 2 cups


2-inch piece of fresh ginger

4 teaspoons cream of tartar

2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 quarts boiling water

1/2 tablespoon dry yeast

1) Roughly slice the ginger and put into a large bowl with the ream of tartar, sugar and lemon zest. Pour in the boiling water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let stand until hand-hot.

2) Add the lemon juice and yeast. Cover; let stand in a warm place for 24 hours.

3) Skim and strain the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into sterilized swing-stoppered glass bottles.

4) Leave for 2 to 3 days, checking daily to make sure the ginger beer is not too fizzy, loosen the caps if the liquid looks too fizzy to avoid the bottles exploding.

Store in the fridge and use within 3 days.

(* Recipe from 'A country cook's kitchen ' by Alison Walker published by Rizzoli New York, March 2012, Photos by Tara Fisher, reproduced with permission, all right reserved)

No Free Love, Free Music, Celebrate Summer's Arrival with Fete de la Musique-Make Music 2012, June 21

Summer has arrived and on the longest day of the year, it means the return of Fete de la Musique.

On June 21, musicians of all styles are bringing their sounds to the sidewalks, parks, bistros and even music venues around the world, and it's Free.

The theme chosen by Fete de la Musique 2012 is Celebrate 50 Years of Pop.

Why? Because of a little fact they remind us of:

"In 1962, four lads from Liverpool released their first EP…The Beatles marked the dawn of a new era with Love Me Do: Pop music was born.

Like jazz music, pop caused a musical revolution which transformed our society.

On Thursday June 21st, music lovers, amateur and professional musicians, have been invited to celebrate pop in all its forms on the streets !"


Not every city follows the pop theme, Make Music in New York has many strands from Punk to Gospel to a premiere of a mass by Philip Glass.

I will cover some of the NY programs in a separate piece.

To find out what's happening in your corner of the world, you can check the Program from Argentina to Zambia.

In Madras (India) festivities run from June 21 to June 26 and take place either at Alliance Francaise or Goethe Institute.

London where event goes under the name Exhibition Road Music Day waits until Saturday, June 23 to join the fray.

Butt King Sandwiches by Le Truc to New Ganges Vegetarian Indian, Food Line Up at Outside Lands Festival 2012

In case you feel let down by some of the acts performing at Outide Lands 2012 (August 10-12) in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, you can always take a break from the music and turn your attention to event's food line up under A Taste of the Bay Area banner.

Carnivores will get satiated thanks to Butt Sandwich offered by Le Truc while New Ganges will satisfy vegetarian palates.


Headlining bands (at time of this writing) include Foo Fighters, Stevie Wonder, Metallica, Beck, Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

Perfect Summer Lunch, Cucumber-Basil Egg Salad Recipe from Chicken and Egg

Official start of Summer is 2 days away. Here is a perfect summer lunch recipe for Thursday or Friday in case you need fresh ideas from Chicken & Egg 'A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes' by Janice Cole, Photographs by Alex Farnum (Chronicle Books, 2011).

Cucumber-Basil Egg Salad

The glories of summer are captured in this pale green egg salad redolent of fresh basil, green onions, and crunchy cucumbers. Serve it surrounded by greens or tucked into pita loaves or slices of crusty bread for a satisfying lunch. 

6 hard-cooked eggs, diced

3/4 cup seeded, diced cucumbers (about 1/2 cucumber)

1/4 cup minced shallots

1/2 cup sliced green onions (green part only)

3 tablespoons lightly packed chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 

Chicken and Egg_Cucumber Basil Egg Salad (2)

Gently combine the eggs, cucumbers, shallots, green onions, and basil in a medium bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.

Serves 6

In addition to Chicken and Egg, the memoir and cookbook, Chronicle Books is publishing this summer (August 2012) Chicken and Eggs, 10 Prints or 10 images from the book, ready to frame.

Providing inspiration to turn part of the lawn into an edible garden for Green Day # 228

(* Recipe from Chicken & Egg 'A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes' by Janice Cole, Photographs by Alex Farnum, Chronicle Books, 2011, reproduced with permission of publisher)