Posts from February 2021

Think You Asked Client Too Many Questions. Until Moment You Realize You Missed Very Important Detail

When I start working with new clients, I like to meet with them prior to first assignment with my New Jersey Concierges service so I can assess their needs.

I sometimes wonder if I am peppering them with too many questions.

That is until the moment I realize I missed a very important one.

Case in mind: years ago a client asked me to take his car for service.

When I got to the car, I found out it was a 'stick shift'.

I don't know how to drive them.

Triumph locmariaquer july 2015

So I had to reschedule until I could get a teammate who drives 'stick shift' to do it.

Since that day, when I need to deal with someone's car issues, guess what my first question is?

Stuck in the wrong gear for Concierge Mondays # 8

(* Took photo of this vintage Triumph in Locmariaquer -Brittany, France- July 2015)


Higher Service Price Does Not Always Mean It is the Most Costly. Sealed and Insured for Concierge Mondays #7

Higher service price does not always mean it is the most costly.

To give you an example, a number of years ago, a client asked me to mail a somehow heavy box with printed matters.

Person declined adding insurance to the shipping.

A week or so later, I learned that the box had arrived not just damaged but empty.

Boite serge

I then learned that box contained an original book in multiple copies put together by my client, not an off the shelf publisher's creation.

Had I known that from the get go, I would have insisted on package being insured.

Client had to get all these 'books' reprinted at a cost of a few hundred dollars.

Since delivery was time sensitive by the time the second print was ready, I delivered that batch in person.

Sealed, insured, delivered! for Concierge Mondays # 7


Holly Holly Best Food Writing 2016 and The Hungover Cookbook, Book Distancing Number 4, Win 2 Books at Once

Holly holly, Best Food Writing 2016 and The Hungover Cookbook, make the cut for Book Distancing Number 4.

Each Giveaway is a Twofer, book cleaning before Spring.

First, all words, no illustrations, Best Food Writing 2016 (Da Capo Press) edited by Holly Hughes and featuring pieces by Todd Kliman, Dianne Jacobs and Oliver Sacks to name a few...

Best food writing 2016

Second, The Hungover Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2010) by Milton Crawford, title says it all

Hungover cookbook

Answer this question, and you win, first come first serve 

-Question: Name writer who called a hangover 'The Sewing Machine'

First come first serve.

E-mail your answers to: s.ls [at] mediterraneanworkandplay [dot] com

Book Distancing Number 4, Friday Giveaway, 


Get a Grande 'Polissonne' for 20 Euros at Maison des Vins du Minervois, Round and Carnal

When in France and whenever possible, I like to visit the local 'Maison des Vins' to taste and select a dozen or so bottles from the local producers always at 'wine lover' friendly prices.

My favorite so far have been the Gaillac and Angers outlets.

Next on my list I hope, when I don't know, should be Maison des Vins du Minervois ,  35 quai des tonneliers in Homps (Aude), near Canal du Midi.

Vin du minervois

I noted their selection of Magnums, including 'La Polissonne', a Grenache Gris-Roussanne white blend (2019) from Domaine JP Charpentier, round and carnal in the mouth according to tasting notes from La Maison.

(* Photo from Maison des Vins du Minervois Facebook Page)


Working Man Street Food, Harissa Couscous with Pine Nuts and Fried Eggs from Vegetarian Tagines & Couscous by Ghillie Basan

Working man street food in Morocco, Harissa Couscous with Pine Nuts and Fried Eggs recipe from Vegetarian Tagines & Couscous, 65 Delicious Recipes for Authentic Moroccan Food (Ryland Peters & Small) by Ghillie Basan.

Harissa Couscous with Pine Nuts and Fried Eggs

This is a tasty street dish, which is also popular in working men’s cafés in the markets and ports. It is great served for brunch or for a quick spicy snack late at night. If you want to create a meal around it, replace the eggs with one of the egg tagines, or serve it with pickled chillies and a yogurt-based salad.

Harissa couscous vegetable tagines

Ingredients:

350 g/2 cups couscous

1 teaspoon sea salt

400 ml/1 2⁄3 cups warm water

1–2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons ghee, or 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 tablespoon butter

2 generous teaspoons Harissa *

a small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

4 eggs

sea salt and freshly ground

black pepper

*Harissa

12 dried red chillies (Horn or New Mexico), deseeded

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon sea salt

3–4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

a small bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

a small sterilized jar

Makes a Small Jar

Directions:

Put the chillies in a bowl and pour over enough warm water to cover them. Leave them to soak for 2–3 hours, then drain and squeeze out any excess water.

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the cumin and coriander seeds to a coarse paste with the salt. Add the garlic and pound until creamy, then add the chillies and pound to a thick paste. Stir in the fresh coriander/cilantro and bind with most of the olive oil.

Transfer the paste to a small sterilized jar and pour in the remaining oil so that there is a thin layer floating on top. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

_________________

SERVES 4

Put the couscous into a large bowl. Stir the salt into the warm water and pour it over the couscous. Stir once to make sure all the grains are submerged in the water, cover the bowl with a clean tea/dish towel and leave the couscous to absorb the water for 10 minutes. Rake the couscous with a fork to break up the grains.

Dry roast the pine nuts in a heavy-based saucepan, or the base of a tagine, until they begin to turn golden brown. Stir in half of the ghee until it melts, then add the Harissa. Tip the couscous into the pan and toss it in the ghee and Harissa, until it is thoroughly mixed.

Season the couscous, toss in half of the parsley, cover the pan and keep warm.

Heat the remaining ghee in a frying pan and crack the eggs into it. Cover the pan and fry the eggs until the whites are just firm.

Tip the couscous onto a serving dish, place the eggs on top of it, and garnish with the rest of the parsley, to serve.

Veg Tagines Cover

(* Recipe from 'Vegetarian Tagines & Couscous, 65 Delicious Recipes for Authentic Moroccan Food'  by Ghillie Basan, © Ryland Peters & Small, Photography by Steve Painter)


Stamp Your Heart for Valentines Day with Balmain 2017 St Valentin Timbre Created by Olivier Rousteing

Stamp your heart for Valentine's Day with this Balmain 2017 St Valentin timbre, created by Olivier Rousteing.

Balmain st valentin stamp 2017

It was released on January 23, 2017 and withdrawn from sale on January 31, 2018 according to Phil-Ouest...

Did not realize until today that I had something of a collectors item on my hands with this unused sheet of 10 or so stamps.


Best to Meet Cleaning Person Before First House Clean Up, It Will Make for A Smoother Start. Higher Price First Time

When possible, meet cleaning person before first house clean up. It will make for a smoother start.

For years now, I work primarily with the same 2 cleaning ladies.

As with other service providers, I want to work with people (companies) that are reliable, show up on time and do the work right.

Giving them repeat work allows me to call on them on short notice, when an emergency arises, and most often than not have them squeeze my clients' tasks into their schedule.

Tidying up house (2)

Emergencies need to be the exception rather than the rule. 

I like to schedule tasks in advance and stick to the scheduled times as much as possible.

There is close to no worse thing to have to cancel jobs at last minute unless there is a good reason for it.

Getting back to cleaning crews, reason they want to meet you and you want to meet them before first cleanup, is that you will be able to show them exactly which areas need attention and they will be able to see which products and tools they need to bring.

You will also get a precise quote for each cleaning cost.

First cleaning will often be more costly as it will involve more detailing.

Tidying up the house for Concierge Mondays #6


Paris in 'Living' Color plus Grilled Cheese Please, Book Distancing Number 3, Friday Twofer

Book Distancing Number 3, Friday Giveaway, 

Each Giveaway is a Twofer, book cleaning before Spring.

Travel in pictures and Cheesy recipes today

First, Paris In Color (Chronicle Books, 2012) by Nichole Robertson

Paris in color

Second Grilled Cheese Please! 50 scrumptious cheesy recipes (Andrews McMeel, 2011) by Laura Werlin

Grilled cheese please

Answer 2 questions, and you win, first come first serve 

-Question 1: Wh0 can you associate with Chat Noir?

-Question 2:  What would you add to a Camembert and Comté sandwich?

First come first serve.

E-mail your answers to: s.ls [at] mediterraneanworkandplay [dot] com


Are you Crepe Ready, Chandeleur 2021 is Tomorrow February 2, Crepe Batter Recipe to Get you Going

Are you crepe ready?

Chandeleur 2021 is Tomorrow February 2.

Actually La Chandeleur always falls on February 2. 

I will make some for lunch, couples that it. Two crepes with in the middle (for me) a mix of cheese, eggs and ham.

I make my crepe batter an hour ahead of actually making crepes to give the batter time to rest.

Sweet ricotta crepes dolci

Ham is not a pre-requisite so make your own version, vegetarian if you wish. 

To help you get started, check this Starter guide to Crepes batter from Crepes50 Savory and Sweet Recipes (Chronicle Books, April 2012) by Martha Holmberg.

(*Illustration is 'Sweet Ricotta Crepes' also named 'Apostles' Fingers' from Dolci -Stewart, Tabori & Chang- October 2011 by Francine Segan, photography by Ellen Silverman)


No Chilling Out, Don't Wait Until Cold Spell for Yearly Heat Service, Schedule it in the Fall

Don't wait for cold spell to have your yearly heat service!

Like right before a snow storm similar to the one we are experiencing right now in the Northeast.

You might land on a long waiting list.

Furnace service

Schedule it in the Fall.

No chilling out when house is chilly for Concierge Mondays #5