Posts from February 2013

Squeezing New York Wine Expo and its Italian Pavilion in my Friday Schedule, March 1st

When late invitation to check Italian Pavilion at New York Wine Expo 2013 (March 1-3) landed in my email box arrived, first thing I checked before considering attending was the hours.

Thankfully hours on opening day are 6 to 10 PM so my work schedule will not prevent me to be there.

I might even be able to squeeze a couple interview in my evening.


6th annual New York Wine Expo takes place at Javits Center and is opened to general public.

I mentioned that Chablis Mustard by Maille will be served on Tap during event in prior story.

Unzen Takana Vegetable for Raw Vegan and Crudites Plates from Nagasaki Prefecture

Via Slow Food Presidium located in Nagasaki prefecture, I discovered Unzen Takana, a vegetable that sounds perfect for those on raw vegan and crudite plates.

According to Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, Unzen Takana found its way to Japan via China.

They say that it disappeared as a crop in the 60's and came back to life thanks to one person:

"A local farmer, Iwasaki Masatoshi, came across some wild plants in 2002, propagated and selected them, and distributed the seeds to local small farmers. This led to the creation of a local movement to recover Unzen takana involving 13 organic farmers, including Iwasaki, who undertake to produce seed for the others. A small workshop run by women transforms this vegetable into traditional Japanese tsukemono. The first plants, harvested in October, are eaten fresh (cooked or raw), while the second and third harvests are processed."

Unzen takana

In the garden for Tokyo Thursdays # 252


Vampire Bride to Flesh Pier, Girls Guns and Ghosts, Globus Film Series 2013 at Japan Society, NY

(* Image of Unzen Takana from Fondazione Slow Food)

Too Late for SXSW, Virgin America L.A to Austin Flights in June or September from 89 Dollars One Way

Too Late for SXSW, Virgin America offers L.A to Austin and/or Austin to L.A Flights in June or September from 89 Dollars One Way.

The $89 fare is good on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Flying on Mondays or Thursdays will cost you $109


This is part of their Book by February 27, 2013 (Midnight), fly later Special.

On Austin- Los Angeles route, it means from May 21 Through June 29 and September 3 Through September 30, 2013.

From the East Coast, a flight to Palm Springs late March sounds appealing for a holiday in the sun.

(* Image of red uniformed Virgin America personel from their Flyer Feed blog)

Perfect for Your Pocket, Braised Peas and Ham with Eggs from Spanish Flavors

After talking with the wife of a Japanese egg farmer yesterday, it feels just natural to follow the chicken and egg thread and feature this dish from Spanish Flavors (Kyle Books, US publication January 2013) by Jose Pizarro, perfect for your pocket.

Braised peas and ham with eggs 

This dish was one of my favorites when I was a student. It is really easy to make and filling—perfect for your pocket. These braised peas (without the egg) would make a lovely side dish, maybe with a piece of simply grilled chicken or fish. You can bake this recipe in individual small dishes as well—easy for a simple supper for one after work. Add some chopped mint if you have some, to give freshness to the dish. 

Serves 2

2 extra-large, free-range (cage-free) eggs

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the braised peas

3 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup shallots, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 cup homemade chicken stock

3 oz thinly sliced Serrano ham, finely shredded

Spanish Flavours braised ham, egg and peas

Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan. Add the shallots and garlic, cover, and cook gently for 5 minutes until soft, but not browned. Stir in the peas and chicken stock, partially cover, and simmer gently for 5 minutes until the peas are tender, and the liquid has reduced to leave them just moist. Stir in the Serrano ham, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Break the eggs, spaced well apart, on top of the peas, season lightly and cover the pan with a tightly-fitting lid. Leave to cook gently for 5 minutes, or until the eggs are set to your liking. Eat with some crusty fresh bread. 

Previous slice from 'Spanish Flavors' was Candied Orange Torrijas.

(* Recipe from Jose Pizarro's Spanish Flavors-Published in US by Kyle Books, January 2013- Photos by Emma Lee

Plavac Mali, Posip and Malvasia are Native Stars of Vina Croatia 2013 Tasting, NY, Feb 26

Let me start by aknowledging that I don't remember ever tasting a wine from Croatia in my life.

That was 1 more reason for me to sign up for Vina Croatia tasting taking place in New York on February 26, 2013.

Before heading for the Big Apple for this event, i tried to gather bits of information on country's native varietals and wineries.

'Vina Croatia' is an umbrella name under which Croatian wines are marketed to the world. The initiative is only a couple years old.

Here's their introduction to some of its best assets:

Rich, textured Grasevina from the rich soil and golden summers of Slavonia and the Croatian Danube.

Fresh, lively, hillside wines from the cool climate of the sunlit Croatian Uplands.

Profound, powerful Plavac Mali from the sun-drenched slopes of Dalmatia’s World Heritage coast

Bright, fragrant, Spring-like Malvasia from the cooler air of mystical, green Istria


First source of information I could find was Wines of Croatia site which oddly enough makes no mention of Vina Croatia tasting.

Another good place to look was HR Wines, a Florida based importer of Croatian wines and their evangelist.

Local wines will surely benefit from the fact that International Wine Tourism Conference is taking place in Zagreb (March 15-16, 2013)

(* illustration is photo of Erdut vineyards overlooking the Danube, via Wines of Croatia Facebook Page courtesy of their friends at Taste of Croatia!)

Barmbrack, Master that Speckled Loaf from Rachel's Irish Family Food in Time for St Patrick's Day

After serving Pan Fried Mackerel recipe from Rachel's Irish Family Food (Harper Collins, February 19), here's something you might want to master in time for St Patrick's Day 2013.

Barmbrack, (Báirín breac) 


Serves 8
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Ready in 1¾ hours

12⁄3 cups (225g) white bread (strong white) flour, plus extra for dusting 
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (mixed spice)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (25g) butter, plus extra for spreading
1 (¼-ounce/7g) packet fast-rising baking yeast
¼ cup (50g) superfine (caster) or granulated sugar
2⁄3 cup (150ml) milk
1 egg, beaten
1½ cups (200g) mixed dried fruit, either ready-mixed or your own mixture of golden raisins (sultanas), raisins, and dried currants
1 ounce (25g) chopped mixed peel
Barmbrack is a traditional Irish sweetened bread not dissimilar to the Welsh bara brith. In Gaelic it’s known as báirín breac, or “speckled loaf” due to the way the dough is dotted with raisins. When barmbrack was baked for Halloween, the tradition was to add to the cake mixture a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a coin, and a ring. Each item had a special significance for the person who discovered it in their slice of cake. The person who received the pea wouldn’t marry that year; the stick meant an unhappy marriage; the cloth indicated poverty and the coin riches; while the person who found the ring would wed within the year. Nowadays it’s usually just a ring that’s added to the batter. The cake is delicious toasted and buttered and, if not immediately consumed, will keep for about 10 days.

This is a relatively quick recipe for barmbrack because it uses fast-action yeast, requiring the dough to rise only once.

Butter the sides and the bottom of a 9 by 5-inch (23 by 13cm) loaf pan.

Sift the flour, spice, and salt into a large bowl and add the butter, yeast, and sugar. Beat together by hand or in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.

Warm the milk just until lukewarm, then add to the flour mixture along with the egg. Mix until the dough comes together. Then knead using a dough hook in an electric mixer, or tip the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead by hand (don’t worry this is supposed to be a wet dough). Knead for 8 minutes by hand or for 5 minutes in the mixer. Add the dried fruit and mixed peel and knead for another 2 minutes to mix them in.

Put the dough into the prepared loaf pan, cover with a light kitchen towel or napkin and leave to rise in a warm place (by a radiator, for instance, or a sunny window) for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas mark 4).

Remove the covering and bake for 45 minutes, or until deep golden brown on top. When you think the loaf is ready, gently loosen the sides with a spatula and tip it out of the pan. If it’s fully cooked, it should sound slightly hollow when you tap it on the bottom and feel springy when you lightly squeeze the sides. Place it on a wire rack to cool.

Slice up the loaf and serve either fresh or toasted, and buttered

(* Recipe from Rachel's Irish Family Food by Rachel Allen- Harper Collins, February 19, 2013- reproduced with permission)

Oregonzela from Rogue Creamery, Selling Oregon Cheese by the Wheel to the World

Playfulness beats brainy in many instances including cheese.

I like a cheese like Oregonzola from Rogue Creamery whose name makes me smile even though I have not tasted it.

Culture Magazine reports in Rogue Creamery: Ambassadors of Cheese that "their moldy exports have been sold in the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Japan, Canada, and Spain since 2007."

You can buy a whole wheel of Oregonzola for $129.

Namasu, Sweet Vinegared Daikon and Carrots, Splash of Color from Japanese Farm Food

After sharing Soy Sauce Broiled Dango Balls, Salty Tea Snacks recipe by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
I continue exploring her book Japanese Farm Food (Andrews McMeel Publishing, Fall 2012) and its flavors with what might be considered a side dish.

Sweet-Vinegared Daikon and Carrots

Serves 4 to 6

Often served at New Year, namasu is a bright and crunchy dish that acts as a refreshing digestive during the holidays when there are guests and we tend to overeat. The sugar-to-vinegar ratio is one of taste, but I prefer these a bit astringent, with not too much sugar, since daikon and carrots are especially sweet in the winter. Namasu keeps for about a week and is a pretty splash of color on the table with almost any meal. The carrots are a dominant color that can overwhelm the dish, so keep the balance of daikon to carrot at roughly 2 : 1 (or 70 percent daikon and 30 percent carrots). This dish is best made in winter from freshly picked daikon and carrots at their peak of flavor.

1 cup (250 cc) organic rice vinegar
3 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
3 cups (700 cc) julienned daikon (1¾-inch/4-cm thin matchsticks)
1¼ cups (300 cc) julienned carrots (1¾-inch/4-cm thin matchsticks)
1½ teaspoons sea salt
Zest from 2 small yuzu or 1 large Meyer lemon, cut into fine slivers


Heat the vinegar and sugar together in a small saucepan over low heat to melt the sugar. Cool to room temperature before using.

Keep the daikon and carrots in two separate bowls. Sprinkle the daikon with 1 teaspoon salt and the carrots with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Massage the salt in gently and let sit for 10 minutes before squeezing out the excess water and dropping into a clean medium-sized mixing bowl. Toss the daikon and carrots with the slivered yuzu peel and cooled sweet vinegar. Chill for 1 day before serving cold.

(* Recipe from Japanese Farm Food-Fall 2012- by Nancy Singleton Hachisu reproduced with permission of publisher Andrews McMeel, photographs by Kenji Miura, all rights reserved)

West of the West, West Coast Sonoma Vintners Visit East Coast with Feb 26 Tasting, City Winery, NY

Off the West Coast, West Coast Sonoma vintners are sailing to the East coast for New York City West of West Wine Festival on February 26, 2013 at City Winery.

The afternoon Trade and Media session will be followed by a General Public (not the band) tasting starting at 6 pm.

Price per person is $100

25 Sonoma Coast Vintners will strut their stuff for the public.

Book your seat to General Public evening session via City Winery, the host.

If nothing gets in the way, I am planning to attend afternoon session.

Mackerel and Beet Nicoise, Colorful Lunch for Grey Days, from Kitchen and Co

I continue my advocacy for mackerel with this first excerpt from Kitchen and Co (Kyle Books USA, 2013) by French and Grace.

Back in 2009, Elie Grace and Rosie French started a blog named Salad Club. Its popularity led them to open a Supper Club in Ellie's apartment in Brixton. 

This underground venture became a full fledged restaurant in Brixton Village in 2011.

Here's their recipe for a colorful lunch on grey days.

Warm Mackerel and Beetroot Niçoise 

Smoked mackerel is a regular visitor to both of our fridges. Full of good fats and omega 3s to make us brainier and our eyes brighter (if you believe all that stuff), it’s wonderful whipped up into a quick pat. with some cream cheese, paprika, lemon juice and black pepper. It responds well to a light grilling too and gives a smoky and rich warmth to this remake of the classic tuna nicoise. 

Serves 4

6 small waxy potatoes

1 medium beetroot

2 handfuls of green beans

4 slices sourdough bread

Olive oil, to drizzle

4 smoked mackerel fillets

4 medium free range eggs

2 spring onions, chopped

Handful of parsley, finely chopped


3 teaspoons creamed horseradish

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

Kitchen&co mackerel and beet nicoise

Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 15 minutes. Peel and grate the beetroot into a large bowl and mix all the dressing ingredients together separately.

Add the green beans to the potatoes for the last 5 minutes of their cooking time. Drizzle the sourdough with olive oil and place under a hot grill with the mackerel fillets for 5 minutes, turning the bread once browned on one side.

Crack an egg into a cup and drop into a shallow frying pan of boiling water. Repeat quickly with each egg then turn the heat off and leave for 5 minutes.

Layer all the ingredients in the bowl with the dressing, being careful not to over toss the salad and stain it too pink with the beetroot. Top with the poached egg, break the grilled bread into croutons over the top and serve.

(Recipe from Kitchen & Co. by French & Grace (Kyle Books; 2013) Photo: Laura Edwards)