Posts from July 2012

Dishing out a Meal in Space, Animated Short by Corentin Charron via Enjoy Space

One of my stops while in Toulouse will be the Cite de l'Espace where space exploration is the star.

I am especially looking forward to their Explore Mars Exhibit.

Space buffs can get the latest space related news via Cite de l'Espace news site Enjoy Space where I stumbled upon the wonderful short animated film (below) by Corentin Charron titled Un Petit plat pour l’Homme (One small dish for Man).

Don't try chef in space moves at home.

In case you wondered, wine is a no no on space missions.

Olympics of Food? Global Feast 2012, London, July 25 to August 13, Curated by Ms Marmite Lover

Olympics of food, I don't know if medals (chocolate ones maybe) will be handed to best 'contestants' in Global Feast 2012 yet it seems a worthy addition to the sport competition during London Olympics.

What's Global Feast 2012 about:

"Over 20 successive evenings during the London Olympics, 80 guests will gather at the Old Town Hall in Stratford to travel through the cultures and cuisines of the entire world, tasting a different specialty each night.

The menu explores both London & the world – with a guest local chef each night joining culinary curator Kerstin Rodgers (The Underground Restaurant)."


To give you a taste of things to come, theme on August 1 will be Middle Eastern / Persian with guest chefs Sabrina Ghayour from Sabrina's Kitchen and Sally Butcher from Persepolis in Peckham and author of Persia in Peckham, and Veggiestan: A vegetable lover’s tour of the Middle East. 

Price for that dinner is 55 British Pounds ($85) per person
Worth a visit to London

Churchill's, Condom's English Grocer, Discovered via Gascony Local

I remember reading about the silence met by an Armagnac producer when he was asked where he was from and replied Condom (Gers).

I discovered recently thanks to Gascony Local that besides these cultural vagaries, Condom (Gers) is home to Churchill's its own British grocer which must mean a lot of British expats live in the area.


If I am to trust its website, they offer everything from Heinz baked beans to Duchy original organic biscuits and of course trifle (pictured above).

The shop is located on Place Scipion Dupleix in Condom .

I am not sure what the opening hours are.

(* Trifle image from Churchill's website)

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

The place we call home and how it blends into the wider canvas of our city and our world has an impact on the earth and its resources, the same way that a plane trip to faraway places carries its weight of carbon in its footprint.

Books like Conversations with Paolo Soleri (Princeton Architectural Press, March 2012) by Lissa McCullough help us open our eyes and minds to solutions from an architect's point of view.

"Drawn from the visionary architect's personal notebooks and sketchbooks, Soleri's most recently (2004–2009) documented ideas respond to contemporary issues such as climate change, oil dependence, suburban sprawl, and overconsumption. Soleri outlines a detailed proposal for urban reformulation and renewal, appealing to architects, urban planners, environmentalists, urban historians, philosophers, ethicists, and anthropologists."

Paolo soleri

Urban reset for Green Day # 233

Previously: Don't feel Bugged, The Story of the Fly and How it Could Save the World

Decanting an Older Wine is like Walking to an 85 Year Old and Shaking Her/Him Violently

A slightly lighter concierge workload has allowed me to catch up a bit on my reading.

One of the tomes I started tackling this week is Brunello di Montalcino 'Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy's Greatest Wines' (University of California Press, Spring 2012) by Kerin O'Keefe, well researched yet accessible to any reader interested in wine, terroir and history.


In her closing notes, she ponders the Shakespearan dilemna, 'Great bottles at home: to decant or not decant?' and notes that 'most winemakers who produce wines destined for long cellaring prefer that the bottle be opened hours beforehand as opposed to decanting, which many winemakers feel can cause schock.'

She then quotes the words of Maria Teresa Mascarello, daughter of Barolo producer Bartolo Mascarello:

"Decanting an older or old vintage is traumatic for the wine. It's like going up to an eighty-five year old person and shaking him or her violently, It is harmful, if not to say life-threatening."

Have you shaken an old vintage lately?

Moroccan Street Food, Snails in Spice-Tea Laden Broth from Marrakech 'Djemaa El Fna'

With Morocco 'A Culinary Journey...' (Chronicle Books, June 2012), Jeff Koehler takes us on a visit of the country's various regions through their foods from 'spice-scented markets of Marrakech to the date-filled oasis of Zagora'.

I was not surprised to find sardines or steamed sheep heads in 'Street Food' chapter, yet did not expect to see snails in spice and tea laden broth served at Marrakech's Djemaa El Fna.

Om Djemaa El Fna Snails in Broth (babbouche) 

Snails are a street-stall staple, especially in Marrakech on Djemaa el Fna square, where a line of sturdy carts sells them by the broth-filled bowl. The flavorful broth sipped at the end is said to be a restorative and digestive. But what’s in it? One respected attar (spice seller) in Marrakech gave me a list of more than fifteen spices from thyme and licorice to lavender and tea leaves. “Which are the most important?” I asked. “They all are,” he said. “The balance has to be right.”

Here I have adapted the spice blend of Choumicha, the queen of contemporary Moroccan cooking. It’s a relatively simple one, but flavorful and balanced. 

Moroccan snails are white with distinctive chocolate brown whirls, smaller than the classic French escargot. Live snails added to boiling water will retract inside the shell and be hard to remove later to eat. When the snails are first cooked, it’s important to bring the water to a very slow boil. While live snails can be hard to find, many gourmet shops carry preserved ones in cans. 

Serves 4 to 6

2 lb/910 g fresh snails or snails in brine


Wine vinegar or other vinegar for cleaning snails

2 sprigs dried thyme

1⁄2 Tbsp aniseed

1⁄2 Tbsp caraway seeds

1⁄2 tsp gunpowder green tea leaves

Peel from 1⁄2 orange, white pith scraped away

Two 3-in/7.5-cm pieces licorice root or 1 tsp ground aniseed

2 bay leaves

1⁄2 tsp dried mint

10 sprigs fresh mint

2 small dried hot red chiles 

Morocco_Snails in broth

If using live snails, wash with plenty of water. Use salt and vinegar to scrub clean if the shells are dirty. Repeat as needed. Rinse well. Put the snails in a large pot with about 3 qt/2.8 L water. Bring to a slow boil over low heat—figure about 45 minutes for this—watching to keep the snails inside the pot. When the water reaches a boil and foam comes to the surface, drain the snails in a colander. Rinse the snails well with running water and rinse out the pot.

If using snails preserved in brine, drain the brine and rinse the snails well. In a large pot, add the snails and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the snails in a colander. Rinse the snails well with running water and rinse out the pot.

Return the snails to the pot. Cover with 8 cups/2 L water, and add the thyme, aniseed, caraway seeds, tea leaves, orange peel, licorice root, bay leaves, dried mint, and fresh mint. Season with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, loosely cover, and simmer for 1½ hours. The snails should be tender and the broth rich and flavorful. Add the chiles and cook for 10 minutes. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Serve the snails hot in bowls with some broth. Use a toothpick to extract the snails from their shells.

(* Recipe from 'Morocco' A Culinary Journey with Recipes from the Spice-Scented Markets of Marrakech to the Date-Filled Oasis of Zagora by Jeff Koehler-Chronicle Books, June 2012- All rights reserved)

Art Not Berets for Sale at Rue des 5 Parts Pop Up Art Gallery during Jazz in Marciac 2012

For its 2012 edition, Jazz in Marciac festival is acting like a magnet and attracting more than musical talent.

I told you last week about restaurant-bistro J'Go planting its flag in the city.

I since learned that Perry Taylor, Jon Wainwright and Veerle van Gorp joined forces to open another pop up, Galerie Rue Des 5 Parts to showcase their art, gain new fans and hopefully sell a few pieces.



Jon Wainwright paints landscapes from Gascony and the Basque region while Perry Taylor humors us with his take on topics ranging from ducks to the Tour de France.

Veerle van Gorp created the statues of shapely women.

Admission to Galerie d'Art Rue des Cinq Parts is Free.

Space will be opened daily (11 am to 9 pm) from July 27 to August 15, 2012

Go West and You Shall Find 26th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon, July 27-29

Go west and you shall find 26th International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) taking place on the grounds of Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, from July 27 to July 29, 2012.

70 wineries from the U.S and abroad will be present.

Let's start with one I don't know, Adea Wine Company (Gaston, Oregon), the good people at Anne Amie Vineyards whose Exhibit A i had the pleasure to taste are in attendence. 

The French contingent includes 2 women, Fanny Sabre of Domaine Fanny Sabre (Beaune) and dear Alexandrine Roy of Domaine Marc Roy (Gevrey-Chambertin) who reminded me to mention this event.


Food will be plentiful and prepared by chefs including Jasper Shen, Sarah Pliner & Kat Whitehead of Aviary (Portland) and Jason Stonebrunner from Bastille (Seattle) for Vineyard Tour Lunch, not to forget local talent Jesse Kincheloe of Community Plate (McMinnville) for Sparkling Brunch.

Movie Date or Party Treat, Coconut Curry Caramel Corn from Susan Feniger's Street Food

My first recipe pick from Susan Feniger's Street Food (Clarkson Potter, July 17) was Thai Tea Pudding with Lime Caramel and Caramel Cashews and i keep walking down the caramel trail today.

Play Kid Creole and the Coconuts while cooking it.

Coconut Curry Caramel Corn

This is the recipe to think about if you are going to a party—it would make a great gift instead of a bottle of wine. I recently prepared this as a party favor for a luncheon of 750 women, and they loved it. Even more note-worthy: I still loved it after making such a huge batch! That says a lot. The combination of sweet and spicy in the popcorn is what makes it different from anything else you’ve tasted.

Olive oil spray

1½ cups shredded unsweetened coconut

3 tablespoons canola oil

¾ cup popcorn kernels

2 cups Candied Peanuts (page 21)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups packed dark brown sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons chopped fresh curry leaf (see page 20; optional)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (see page 78)

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg (optional)

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 

003_Feni_coconut curry caramel corn (1)

Makes 18 cups 

1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Liberally spray an extra-large mixing bowl (not plastic) with olive oil spray.

2. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast it in the oven, stirring it once or twice, until it is golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool, leaving the oven on.

3. Put the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot, add the corn kernels, and set over medium-high heat. Cover, and shake the pot occasionally until the popping begins, about 5 minutes. Once the popping starts, shake the pot continuously until the popping slows down dramatically, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, but continue shaking it until the popping stops entirely. Dump the popcorn into the prepared mixing bowl, trying not to let any unpopped kernels fall into the bowl. Add the toasted coconut and the candied peanuts. 

4. Before beginning the caramel process, spray a rubber spatula, a wooden spoon, and 2 cookie sheets liberally with olive oil spray. 

5. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with the oil-sprayed spatula, until the butter is melted. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and being careful not to splatter the hot caramel, until the mixture thickens and a candy thermometer registers 255°F, about 7 minutes. (If you do not have a candy thermometer, you will know it is ready when the bubbles of the mixture get noticeably larger and slower.) Remove from the heat. Add the salt, baking soda, curry leaf, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, turmeric, mace, paprika, cayenne, and cinnamon. Stir quickly to incorporate, and then immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn mixture. Stir with the wooden spoon until all of the popcorn is well coated. 

6. Pour the mixture onto the oiled cookie sheets and spread it out evenly. Bake for 1 hour, stirring it every 20 minutes to keep it from burning. 

7. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let the popcorn cool to room temperature. The popcorn will crisp as it cools.

8. When it is cool, you can serve the popcorn immediately or package it in airtight bags for storage. It will keep well for 4 days.

Curry Leaf

Used in curries in India and Sri Lanka, curry leaf is fried along with chopped onion in the first stage of cooking. Usually called “curry leaves,” they are also called “neem leaves” or “curry neem leaves.”Curry leaf is what they call the “mystery ingredient” in India. Used everywhere but hard to describe, curry leaf has a slight nuttiness that adds backbone to the flavor of a dish. There really is no substitute, so if you can’t find the leaves, simply omit them from the recipe.

(* Recipe from Susan Feniger's Street Food published by Clarkson Potter-Random House- July 17, 2012- Photographs by Jennifer May- All rights reserved)

Annaluisa Smiles, Roero Arneis from Fratelli Rabino in San Vittorio d'Alba, Piemonte

On a sticky hot day, white wines were welcome at Piemonte Land of Perfection tasting in New York (July 18, 2012).

The refreshing Roero Arneis (DOCG, 2011) from Fratelli Rabino (San Vittorio d'Alba) was one of them.  

Annaluisa smile

Being greeted by the wonderful smile of Annaluisa Oricco added to the pleasure of tasting the wines. or If it was Francesca Rabino (the winemaker) instead, I hope she forgives me for my mistake.

Airneis is a grape native to Piemonte and word can be loosely translated to 'little rascal'.

At the time of the tasting, the winery was looking for an importer in the USA.