Posts from July 2012

Ice Cream Talent Show at Sherbeth Festival in Cefalu, Sicily, August 31-September 2

I hope panel of judges at Sherbeth Festival in Cefalu will not engage in competition on who is the meanest one and rather highlight the sweet side of each offering during the ice-cream talent show which is part of the event.

10 students from Carpigiani Gelato University will be asked to create 10 flavors of homemade ice-cream using quality Italian products as their ingredients.


During the 2011 Edition, 250.000 visitors tasted more than 25.000 pounds of ice-cream.

This year marks the 6th edition of the event. It takes place from August 31 to September 2, 2012 in the city of Cefalu (Sicily) 

(* Photo of Sherbeth Festival in Cefalu from event's Facebook page)

Food Snooping, See What Farmers Grow, Real Time Farms, Live Sometimes

If we are what we eat, we should better know where what lands in our plate comes from.

No need to become a food 'voyeur', a food snoop to do that.

Whether it's to check farmers in your state or close to a travel destination Real Time Farms let's you take a look at what they grow, if and when you can visit, directions and even see the catch of the day live sometimes.

Hazell dell

Among the Colorado listings is Hazel Dell Mushrooms in Fort Collins.

I was not that lucky regarding my state of New Jersey.

The few farms listed had merely a profile sheet.

I am sure this will change as Real Time Farms is always evolving.

Besides farms, you will also find listings for farmers markets and eateries.

Food Snooping on mushroom farms and other growers for Green Day # 234

Previously: Rethinking How We Live from Our Houses Up, Conversations with Paolo Soleri

(* Picture of Hazel Dell Mushrooms farm from Real Time Farms site)

Goat, Cow, Sheep, Sweet to Stinky, Wrap your Cheeses in Style with Cheese Papers

If you feel that your sweet to stinky cheese selection looks a bit dull visually after you took a bite out of it and put it back in the fridge rolled in plastic wrap, here's an alternative.

As part of its paper goods selection, Chronicle Books created Cheese Papers, a collection of 18 wrapping sheets in 3 designs plus 3 sheets of stickers.

Cheese papers

Stickers can be used to label each cheese according to the origin of its milk (cow, goat, sheep) or for gift tags (From, To).

No more dull days, Eat, Serve, Gift cheese in style.

Never Leave Opened Oysters on Bed of Ice, Never Use Vinegar, Tips from Paris for Men

Don't call it a guide, Paris for Men (Editions du Chene via ACC Distribution for USA and Canada) curated by Thierry Richard with illustrations by Aseyn and photos by Juliette Ranck offers educated opinions on topics ranging from Cycling to Buying Cufflinks, Having a Cocktail Made for You (best places), Lightning the Fire not to neglect Legs Akimbo or 'Where to go for a pleasant view of this light dance of women's legs' (time to see film 'The man who loved women' by Truffaut) to name a few.

To broaden the palette Thierry Richard ponctuates Paris for Men with 'words from Parisiens like Emmanuel Rubin (Journalist) on 'Le Train Bleu', Nicolas Bedos (Playwright) on his 'Noon-Midnight' moments, Patrick Roger (Chocolatier) in 'Life Size' on Musee Rodin and its garden, Franck Baranger (Chef, Le Pantruche) in 'Sunday Martyr' on week-end shopping in espadrilles starting with a stop for espresso on corner of Rue des Martyrs and Rue Choron.


As a Breton, I paid special attention to Thierry Richard's take on 'Shucking oysters with friends' with list of places where to buy them or where to taste them.

He concludes his oyster bit with how to get the most out of them and lists 2 no-nos's:

-Never leave the open shells on a bed of ice, as the cold will neutralize their flavor. It's better to use algae that you've gotten from your oyster shop

-For seasoning, never use vinegar, which is too powerful, but only lemon, and sometimes just a touch of ground pepper

Thierry Richard's musings can also be found at Chroniques du Plaisir, his blog (in French only).

Hopefully I will have a chance to put 2 or 3 of his suggestions to the test during my 1 day in Paris, early September.

Hand Caught Dinner? Gently Roasted Brown Trout with Summer Squash from Hero Food

During one of my summer vacations in the Pyrenees, I saw my uncle who knew all the good fishing spots of the local river catching trout right out of its hiding place.

When the trout showed up on dinner table later that day, I mentionned seeing him in action.

He denied being the culprit of course.

Recipe (below) from Hero Food, How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better (Andrews McMeel, April 2012) by Seamus Mullen brought back these memories of summers past.

Gently Roasted Brown Trout with Summer Squash

My friend Franca Tantillo’s amazing farm in the Catskills, Berried Treasures, is the source of the most incredible produce she sells at the Greenmarket in New York City’s Union Square. Sometimes when I’m lucky, she’ll also bring down some fresh German brown trout from a fishery nearby. I prepare these fish with herbs from her garden, both raw and lightly cooked summer squash, and lemon zest. Steaming the fish on top of the squash keeps it moist and delicately infuses the trout with summery flavor.

Serves 4

2 German brown trout, filleted, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper
½ pound mixed heirloom summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Small handful cherry tomatoes (I love sweet Sun Gold cherry tomatoes)
1 shallot, quartered and separated into petals
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus additional juice for the shaved squash
Leaves of 1 sprig fresh lemon thyme
Leaves of 1 bunch fresh summer savory
Leaves of 1 sprig fresh oregano
4 or 5 leaves fresh basil, torn
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or hot red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dry white wine
Few pieces baby summer squash, sliced into ribbons on a mandolin


Preheat the oven to 350°. Season the trout fillets with salt and pepper on all sides.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cut-up squash with the tomatoes, shallots, lemon zest and juice, herbs, and Aleppo pepper; season with salt and pepper. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the white wine. Evenly distribute on a rimmed cookie sheet and slide the pan into the oven.

While the squash is in the oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the trout fillets, skin-side down, and sear until golden and crispy, about 3
minutes. Carefully remove the fish from the pan and place them, skin-side up, on top of the vegetables in the oven. Finish cooking the trout in the oven until just cooked through, another 5 minutes. The squash should be bright in color and barely cooked, with a bit of toothiness.

In a small bowl, season the raw squash ribbons with salt, pepper, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and lemon juice to taste.

Divide the cooked vegetables evenly among 4 warm plates. Place a fillet atop each bed of vegetables and scatter each plate with a few raw squash ribbons. Serve immediately.

(* Recipe from Seamus Mullen's Hero Food 'How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better'-Andrews McMeel-April 2012, Photographs by Colin Clark)

Irouleguy to Cotes de Duras, Saint Sardos to Cotes de Millau, Southwest France Wine Appellations

Between Bordeaux and the Corbieres and then Languedoc-Roussillon at large, there are a myriad of wine appellations, many of which you might be unfamiliar with.

They are grouped under the France Sud Ouest 'Les Vins a Decouvrir' (Southwest France, wines to discover) umbrella.

AOP du Sud Ouest

Drive just South of Bordeaux region and you will find Cotes de Buzet and Cotes du Marmandais to name two.

Indigenous grapes include Tannat and Malbec (Cahors) which you have found sucess in South America and others like Liliorila and Precoce Bousquest (for whites) or Fer Servadou and Mouyssagues (for reds) that will draw a blank. 

All grape varieties grown in the region are listed below (whites on left, reds on right)

Cepages Sud Ouest

I will visit the Gaillac and Fronton appellations during my 2 weeks in Southwest France late August and complement these visits to the producers with tastings with 2 well versed 'cavistes' (wine shops) from Toulouse dedicated to Jurancon, Irouleguy, Marcillac.

Pairings with local dishes and cheeses will of course be on my list.

Click on both images to see larger version

(* Images above from web site of Association Viticole du Sud Ouest....France Sud Ouest site in French) 

203 Photos, 203 Londoners, 203 Countries of Origin , The World in London Exhibit, July 27-August 12

Athletes from 203 countries (or is it 204) are competing in the London Summer Olympics.

People born in each of these countries live in London.

Hence The World in London Exhibit (July 27-August 12) 203 photographs. 203 Londoners. 203 nationalities, part of London Festival 2012 (June 21-September 9)

"The World in London is a major public art project initiated by The Photographers’ Gallery, to coincide with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The project brings together 204 specially commissioned photographic portraits of 204 Londoners, each originating from one of the nations competing at the Games. Mounted on large-scale panels, the portraits will be exhibited in the public realm across central London during London 2012. Stephen Shore, Juergen Teller, Mary McCartney and Andres Serrano, alongside emerging names, have been commissioned to photograph the sitters over the last two years, all of whom live in London."


A good pick to experience alongside Olympics of Food, Globalfeast 2012 also in London (July 25, August 13).

(* Image of Laka, "a Mongolian-born Londoner, portrayed at his workplace – the kitchen of a pub – surrounded by freshly cleaned pots and pans" comes from the program pages.)

Intoxicatingly Southwest France, Prune-Armagnac Shake from Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes

Will one of these land in front of me when I visit Southwest France next month?

This recipe from Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes (Paperback Edition, W.W.Norton, June 2012) by Adam Ried definitely has 'couleur locale' (local flavors) all over it with Prunes (pruneaux d'Agen anyone) and Armagnac.

Prune-Armagnac Shake

Armagnac, the brandy from the Gascony region in southwestern France, may not be as well known as its more famous cousin, cognac, but it is certainly no second fiddle. Arguably, Armagnac tastes even richer and earthier than cognac. It’s usually drunk as a digestif after the meal, but it also pairs well with certain sweets, among them prunes, another product of the region. The combination shows up in cakes, tarts, custards, and ice cream (and as a classic accompaniment to foie gras), and of course, in milkshakes. At least in this book.

Armagnac and prunes are very distinctive flavors on their own, but I didn’t stop there with the combination. I mingled it with the common French practice of softening prunes in tea (often as a
nonalcoholic alternative to Armagnac) before baking with them. The tea is wonderful, adding both depth
and a flavorful backbone that highlights the prunes and Armagnac even further.


8 or 9 small pitted prunes (about 2 ounces/57 grams), quartered
6 tablespoons strong black tea, hot or room temperature (about 3 ounces/90 milliliters)
1/4 cup Armagnac (2 ounces/60 milliliters)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 medium scoops French vanilla ice cream (about 1 3/4 pints/21 ounces/ 595 grams), softened until just melty at the edges


Place the prunes and tea in a small bowl and set aside to soak for 1 hour. Place the soaked prunes, the tea used to soak them, Armagnac, and vanilla extract in a blender and blend to break down the prunes completely, about 45 seconds. Add the ice cream and pulse several times to begin breaking it up. With the blender motor off, use a flexible spatula to mash the mixture down onto the blender blades. Continue pulsing, stopping, and mashing until the mixture is well blended, thick, and moves easily in the blender jar, roughly 30 to 90 seconds. Pour into a chilled glass or glasses, and serve at once.

Prune-Armagnac with Chocolate Variation

Follow the recipe for the Prune-Armagnac Shake, substituting 1 scoop (¼ pint/3 ounces/85 grams) of chocolate sorbet for 1 scoop (¼ pint/3 ounces/85 grams) of the vanilla ice cream.

(* Reprinted from Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes: 100 Thick and Creamy Shakes You Can Make At Home by Adam Ried. Copyright © 2009 by Adam Ried. Photographs copyright © 2009 by Andre Baranowski. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.”)

Don't Know Much about Japanese Calligraphy? Sign Up for Shodo Summer Class, Japan Society, NY

Don't know much about Japanese calligraphy?

Sign up for late summer Shodo class (starts Monday, August 13, 2012) at Japan Society in New York.

It could be a soothing exercise on a hot day to retreat to a quiet class and learn from Masako Inkyo who teaches that class. She started learning the art of Shodo at age 3 and got serious about it at age 6.

Japan Society's program describes Shodo this way:

"Shodō is an art form using a brush and charcoal ink on paper, wood plaques and fabric. It includes Chinese characters (kanji) and Japanese hiragana. Although it originated in the techniques used for letter writing, with its unique form of expression it has developed into an art genre. This hands-on workshop will introduce the techniques of shodō." 


Practical details on program:

$260 per course for Japan Society Members
$290 per course for nonmembers
*For tuition discount, please contact Reiko Sassa at 212-715-1256.

Mondays and Wednesdays, 8/13 – 9/17 (no class: 9/3); 10-11:30 AM / 2-3:30 PM / 4- 5:30 PM

Learning the art of the Japanese brush for Tokyo Thursdays # 239

Previously: Fly Through the Skies with Astro Boy, Manga Meets Science at Miraikan Museum in Tokyo

(* Shodo image from Japan Society program pages)

Ring All Bells at 8:12 AM, London Time on July 27 to Mark Opening of Summer Olympics

Besides scaring cats and dogs and waking up late risers, I wonder how loud the noise generated by people simutaneously ringing bells to mark opening of the 2012 Summer Olympics will be.

All are invited to ding dong any type of bell at 8:12 AM (London Time) on July 27.

This crowdsourced happening is the brainchild of Martin Creed who explains his vision below.

Find details on Work No 1197 as it is labeled on All the Bells site.

All the Bells is one of the myriad projects and cultural events offered during London Festival 2012 (June 21-September 9)