Archive - September 2012

Cooking Tips of the Week


I hope you enjoyed our last week’s Cooking Tips

For this week, here’s our great tips:

Pecan pie is popularly served at holiday meals and is also considered a specialty of Southern America cuisine.

Lentils are added to sauteed onions, carrots and celery. Lots of crushed tomatoes and water are added, and the magic begins. Make some Lentil Stew and remember to use our tip.

Holidays are fast approaching, I can smell the roasted Turkey in the air.

Le Taste of France NYC to Benefit Action Against Hunger

Le Taste of France in New York (Image via Facebook)

Francophiles rejoice. On September 29 & 30, 2012, Le Taste of France will take place at Hudson River Park’s Pier 54. Why you should attend…lots of fabulous French Chefs have gotten together to benefit Action Against Hunger. Chefs from both Maîtres Cuisiniers de France and l’Académie Culinaire de France will be participating by showcasing some of their signature dishes from various regions in France.

There will also be live French Music; Pétanque (a national French pastime – the winner is he/she who drinks least rose – at least when you play with my friends); a “Marché aux Puces” (flea market) AND a French Bulldog Show.

The Cost:

$30 in advance; $40 at the door for day events
Saturday, September 29, 2012 – 11:00am to 5:00pm
Sunday, September 30, 2012 – 11:00am to 6:00pm
“La Soirée” Saturday, September 29th, 2012 – 6:30pm to 11:00pm $149
**If you join the Manhattan Original French Language group you get a discount

Who will be there?

The legendary Jacques Pepin, Marc Murphy the Executive Chef and Owner of Landmarc (best chicken burger in NYC) and Ditch Plains, Jean-Louis Guérin (“Chopped” Champion 2012), Jean-Louis Dumonet the Executive Chef of the Union Club, Ariane Daguin the Founder of one of my favorite food companies – D’Artagnan, Claude Godard the Chef/Owner of Madison Bistro and Jeanne & Gaston, Michelin starred Laurent Manrique (Millesime, Rouge et Blanc, Blanc et Rouge and Cafe de La Presse), Maste Chocolatier Eric Girerd, amongst many others.

Brusselicious Sculptures


2012 is Brusselicious year in Brussels. They describe it as “a year or more to (re) discover the gourmet delights of the capital of Europe.  Events, demos chefs, mouth places not to the products created for the occasion.” Brusselicious was launched by the Belgian Tourist Office to showcase Brussels and Wallonia, French-speaking Belgium, as a gastronomic destination.

The celebration includes food movie screenings with food and wine (they’re including some of my faves like Babette’s Feast). Each season, they are selecting 3 typical ingredients for participating restaurants and hotels to show case on menus. The ingredient of the moment is escargot. There’s a frites walk with the top 10 places for frites, and much more.

I happened upon the Brussels Park where I encountered the cutest touch of kitsch, sculptures of Brussels’ most famous dishes including mussels, frites, chocolate bars, and of course beer. These were some of my favorites with descriptions taken from Visit Brussels BE:

Cornet De Jambes: (Jérôme Désert & Sébastien Boucherit) Legs come in every shape and size – be they masculine  or feminine, plump or slim, and sensual or hairy. They  are represented here in their cone as a consumer product, thus changing them from real to apparent legs, in line with  fashion’s demands. Based on an original idea of Dorothée Schoonooghe.

La Moule A Gaufre: (Jérôme Désert & Sébastien Boucherit) A work that is very proud of its word play, combining two jewels of Belgian gastronomy: the mussel and waffle. it is surrealistic and thus very typical of Brussels. Jointly made by sébastien Boucherit and Jérôme désert. Based on an original idea by S. Boucherit.

Bruxelles C’est Choux: (Jérôme Désert & Sébastien Boucherit) A stork, symbolising rebirth, is carrying a huge Brussels sprout in its beak. An optimistic solution to the so-called ‘Brussels problem’, because the problem here seems to be so inconsequential.

Melting Pot: (Collectif Caocao) The beer glass is customized with 3d faces made of polyester. it features face molds taken from 19 Brussels citizens, one from each of the city’s communes. The color code  matches beer’s real color, so these faces remain visible  even at a distance of 100 meters. The facial expressions conveying pleasure have been worked on, with the aim of creating a sense of shared pleasure when drinking a beer.

Dites Lui Avec Des Frites (Jean-Marc Collier)  Who could have come up with the idea of offering a huge cone of chips to their loved one? it was Jacques Brel who first mooted the idea of transforming a bag of chips into a bouquet of flowers, in the lyrics of his song “Les Bonbons”. He offers sweets “because flowers are ephemeral…”, although the advantage of chips as flowers is that they elicit the response “that’s delicious” and they look “better.”

Yummy Yummy: (Patrick Croes aka Jellyfish) A work dedicated to Christopher (Columbus, of course), to thank the explorer for his discovery of chocolate and the bright idea of bringing it to Europe. it goes without saying that the best-known chefs have made good use of this dark gold, crammed with ingenuity and filled with a hint of typically Brussels originality. for the young and old alike – as well as those who like chocolates with a soft center, mousse or filled with cream – the small box of chocolates is a universal favorite.

Cornet des Pastels (Bruno Delplanque) A transposition of his view of Belgium’s qualities: a profusion and confusion of colors, overflowing onto a relatively sober and inconspicuous cone.

Empreinte: (Isa derecque) ‘empreinte’ (print) is isa derecque’s way of representing all  of our lives through plastic and impersonal material. A print  consisting of paths and barriers is created with a collage of vinyl strips. This is a life map, which we can all identify with: these maps are all similar but each one is also unique.

Brassica Lampyridae: (Marie-Hélène Ellebout) By day it’s just a Brussels sprout. But when dusk descends, it glows as if it were alive. This glow gradually dissipates over the course of the night. After dawn and throughout the day, the phosphorescent coating is recharged by daylight, only to glow again when night returns.

Fritishisme(Alexandre-Igor Everard De Hazir) The chip and its cone are symbols of Brussels’ gastronomic culture, and are eaten with many different sauces…is this a cone or a corset? or something else altogether? No matter. Let’s all give in to temptation!

Casseroles D’un Moule: (Alexandre-Igor Everard De Hazir) A homage to Marcel Broothaers, the most-famous pan filled with mussels.

Bruxellus Nombrilus: (Alexandre-Igor Everard De Hazir) The people of Brussels are said to be know-it-alls (dikkeneks), but they have a heart of gold… They often think the world revolves around them. But this does not stop them from welcoming others warmly and with good humor, telling them lots of tall tales… a bit like this one. ‘Non, peut-être?’, as they say in Brussels.

Miam: (Areti Gontras) This artist is notable for her bizarre vision of the world around her. Common places suddenly become strange and poetic. she draws and will happily use any media, provided she feels a sense of exhilaration!

L’Impasse Est Dans la Bière: (Areti Gontras) There is a brilliant bar located at the end of the saint-Nicolas cul-de-sac. Visitors can taste Belgian beers while enjoying the wonderful feeling of being ‘divorced from the real world’. it’s an appropriate and inspiring location! And let’s not forget, a small beer can lead to highly pleasurable situations…

Golden Moule: (Valérie Kools-Fontibus) This shellfish – the queen of the cooking pan, a jewel in Belgian gastronomy – should be given all the praise it deserves. it is covered with copper leaves, making it both precious and magic.

Moules Fr’Hits: (Fabienne Massart) Place a collection of thinly sliced 45s on a large mussel which has been cooked just right.Let it simmer… listen carefully… and you may even hear it sing!

La Moule de Jules Verne: (Karha Nizharaze) The mythical mussel in two dimensions: interior and exterior, with distinct graphic representations which are built around fictional stories. its interior is a bright day’s sky, with stylized white clouds floating in a clear blue sky reminiscent of the skies of Magritte and renaissance frescoes; its exterior is dark, recalling the mysterious darkness of the ocean depths inhabited by sea creatures found in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the sea.

A Large Cone with Brussels Sauce Please: (Oli-B) We are all familiar with the cone of chips. People from all walks of life eat from cones, so they could be seen as something that brings us all together. Here the cone is presented as a link between the various different cultures that make up Brussels today. The colored chips in various shapes represent our diverse society. The cone thus becomes a paper medium to illustrate this cosmopolitan aspect of the capital. it spotlights the mix of characters, colors and shapes that live side by side and it offers people a vision of the positive aspects of these mixes.

La Fierté Des Belges: (Merab Surviladze) The Brussels sprout symbolizes the city and this work spotlights the mix of architectures found throughout the Belgian capital, as well as the contrasts between the old and modern. its compact and spherical shape suggests a concentration of energy and the city’s atmosphere is illustrated in a dreamlike and almost surrealistic vision.

Typography: (Anna Tourvon) Typographical wrapping for a symbolic food.

Panorama: (Sophie Vink) Metamorphosis of a cone of chips: buildings wrapped in a map of Brussels.

Pixel: (Sophie Vink) This slab of chocolate can be seen in two ways. Up close, it is a collection of black and white squares; from a distance, we make out the shape of st Nicholas.

Sint Lucas, We Always Want More: (Ecole Supérieure Des Arts)  The idea is to create thirsty little people who climb the glass beer. With wide-open mouths, they gaze at the overflowing froth. They are clearly very determined: nothing is impossible! We always want more

The Best Bacon Dishes in the USA (Infographic)


I know everyone enjoyed our very own Bacon Infographic which is full of fun and interesting facts. America’s love for bacon will never tarnish we even find ways to upgrade the taste of Bacon to make it more interesting. And by that, I know you will love our Infographic today – bacon dishes!

The data set uses social media ratings to find out the most popular bacon plates in ten major US cities: New York, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Austin, San Diego, Atlanta, Boston, Philly, and Seattle.

So tell me, what’s your favorite bacon dish? I definitively and will always love Bacon Wrapped Hotdogs!

Source: GiftRocket

Bruce Willis May Have Lost His Taste For Vodka


In 2009, Bruce Willis began endorsing Sobieski, a Polish brand of vodka [see vodka recipes] owned by French liquor company Belvédère. Willis appeared in dozens of television commercials and at promotional parties.

He also appeared in newspaper ads and was quoted saying: “I am very selective about what products I choose to associate myself with.”

His celebrity endorsed ad campaign was successful and Sobieski sales in the U.S. soared from 70,000 cases in 2008, to one million nine-liter cases in 2010.

“He has done a huge job,” Belvédère Chief Executive Krzysztof Trylinski said. “To get such a result, you can either spend in marketing for 35 years or hire a star: It is much faster and eventually cheaper.”

(Click “Next” to see Bruce Willis May Have Lost His Taste For Vodka)

7-Eleven Driving NY City Mom-And-Pops To Extinction


In the 1990s, New York City was invaded by corporate chain store behemoths like the Gap and Starbucks, then came Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway sandwich shops. Now it’s 7-Eleven stores, the world’s largest convenience retailer.

Manhattan now has at least 187 Starbucks, which is eight per square mile. Last year, Jim Dwyer with the NYTimes quipped, “There are more Starbuckses than subway stations.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Sumathi Reddy points out that “7-Eleven is the first retailer that could pose a direct threat to one of the idiosyncrasies of New York City: its thousands of corner bodegas and mom-and-pop green grocers.”

7-Eleven now has about 100 stores across the five boroughs, with at least a dozen more expected to open by year’s end. Reddy notes 7-Eleven has plans to open 30 new outlets over the next five years, making it among the city’s fastest-growing chains.

According to Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the nonprofit Center for an Urban Future, 7-Eleven has grown 72% between 2008 and 2012, ranking it among the five fastest-growing retailers with 50 or more stores in the city.

As part of their plan to devour and assimilate what’s left of the city’s unique character expressed through mom-and-pop businesses, 7-Eleven held a meeting earlier this month with its members to promote a business conversion program that allows established shop owners to become a 7-Eleven.

But Reddy claims no one showed up to an open house at an Upper West Side location earlier this month. And no bodega owners have applied for the business conversion program, though nine other business owners have since February.

“In the street, people are talking about 7-Eleven,” said Ramon Murphy, president of the Bodega Association of the U.S.

“Some people agree, some people not agree. The main thing is, let’s educate our members, let’s be prepared for competition. If you want to be 7-Eleven, great. You don’t want it, I’ll help you, too. We want to keep the bodega in New York.”

“They’re gonna close me,” said Sedki Ali, the owner of 374 Deli on Eighth Avenue. The 7-Eleven is just a few blocks away from another store owned by Mr. Yu, owner of Kyung’s Fruit Store in Chelsea who has owned the store for more than 25 years.

“If my business goes down, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Mr. Yu, whose offerings include Asian candy, orchids, coffee, a Korean bulgogi on a hero and a $2.99 turkey burger. Reddy notes his best hope is that 7-Eleven buys him out.

Ali said since a 7-Eleven opened about a month ago, his sales have been cut in half. “I usually order cigarettes every week, now this is the third week I still have them,” he said.

Similar concerns are felt by business owners in the East Village.

Reddy notes bodega owners experienced an instant hit to their bottom line when a 7-Eleven opened close to the once counterculture corner of St. Mark’s Place and Second Avenue, where sales on everything from coffee and soda to hot dogs plummeted.

“We are trying to do different things,” said the owner of Gem Spa, across the street. “We have to add. We are thinking of adding something. We don’t know what to add.”

Restaurant Bugenvila, Food with a View in Cavtat


Dubrovnik is a beautiful old city. Sadly it is plagued by your typical cruise tourist. Those that scamper through the city, taking pictures and not really enjoying it. Instead of Dubrovnik, may I suggest Cavtat. It is only a few minutes away, has a ferry to King’s Landing and has some wonderful restaurants. If you end up going to this lovely town, I seriously recommend Bugenvila.

It is really easy to get to the restaurant. As soon as you arrive in town, there will be a huge parking lot towards the right. Park there, walk towards the town, and make a right. The restaurant will be on your right a short walk away.

Our server at Bugenvila was wonderful. He kinda looked like Dominic West from the wire (who I find quite attractive). He spoke English (almost everyone in Croatia does) and was gentle, knowledgeable, and attentive.

We started off the afternoon with a bottle of Posip Cara. Posip is one of Croatias most well known white wine varietals. It is pronounced sort of like “pushup”…think “poship”. The wine was fine. I tried a lot of Croatian white wine during the trip, and liked none. This one was drinkable, but lacked backbone (as most white Croatian wines that I sampled). Stick to the reds, Plavac Mali is quite nice as a varietal.

Antonio and I shared a tomato salad. Please do yourself a favor. When you go to Croatia, order tomatoes everywhere. They are sweet, fleshy, and simply scrumptious. Croatian olive oil kicks ass. So make sure to douse your tomatoes in it. I don’t recall the salad being on the menu, but our server gently suggested we should have one with our meal. I was incredibly thankful. The salad was simple, and perfect in its simplicity.

Being in Croatia and overlooking its gorgeous waters, I knew I had to order fish. My choice was scorpion fish with homemade pasta with Swiss chard, black olives, garlic, white wine and cherry tomatoes. It cost 90Kn which converts to about $15USD. The pasta was gorgeous. Better than any homemade pasta I have made. The fish was elegant, and juicy. The olives added a nice salinity to the dish. The best part about it was not having that overly full feeling when I was done.

Antonio is not a fan of seafood. This presented a great deal of trouble in the Dalmatian coast (which is heavy on seafood – as expected). The issue was most restaurants had very boring menus. After a while, he was bored of having beef and lamb. Almost no restaurants had chicken or pork on the menu (later someone explained that pork season was over). He ordered a chicken grappa with a creamy mustard seed sauce with arancini whic cost us 80KN ($14USD). The chicken was juicy, and the mustard seed sauce was lovely. The arancini were perfectly cooked, and sinfully delicious.

I loved the experience and the food at Bugenvila, do not hesitate to go there,


Bugenvila is located on the Cavtat Promenade at Obala A. Starčevića 9.

Hangover Cures that Work Around the World (Infographic)


A wild last night can be great fun but the aftermath the day after is certainly not. To be in the hurt locker is the last thing one needs after the euphoria of a wild night. Hangover cures that work are hard to find.

Abstinence may be a sure shot way to not have a hangover but to some it is just not possible. Partying harder after a long day at work is today’s mantra.

In different parts of the world, people follow different methods to cure a hangover.

Here is a graphic for hangover cures that work to help you get ready for another wild night without having to worry about how to rid of the next day hangover.

Source: Flavored Delights

Is The Predicted World Shortage of Bacon Real?


According to Britain’s National Pig Association, a world shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable.

But as Slate points out, is the claim of a bacon shortage by a pork trade association really a reliable prediction, or do UK pork vendors want British consumers to buy more of their product at higher prices?

It’s true that the drought has elevated corn and soybean prices this year, and a feed shortage has led to sharply declining herds across the US and European Union as farmers liquidate stocks early to avoid the higher cost of feed.

But prices will eventually rise for all meat, not just pork, because the US is the world’s largest exporter of corn and soybeans.

And as Slate’s Matthew Yglesia notes, what the British call “bacon” isn’t the same as what Americans call “bacon.”

“Their bacon is from the back cut of the pig and corresponds to what we call ‘Canadian bacon.’ Our beloved bacon, made from pork belly, is known in the United Kingdom as ‘streaky bacon.’”

In other words, the issue is the shortage of corn and soybeans, and the resulting higher price for feed. There will be a global increase in meat prices as a consequence of the increase in corn prices, but there shouldn’t be any actual shortages.

According to the USDA, in U.S. warehouses pork supply soared to a record last month, rising 31% to 580.8 million pounds at the end of August from a year earlier. The surge was a result of farmers thinning out their herds because of the high cost of feed.

According to USDA estimates, beef output will slump to a nine-year low in 2013 after drought damaged pastures from Missouri to Montana.

Last summer, the USDA reported the impact of the US drought on the Corn Belt was the worst since 1956.

Global Food Prices On The Rise

Los Angeles Times writer Tiffany Hsu, also points out that global food prices jumped 10% in July from the month before, driven up by the severe Midwest drought which has pushed the price of grains to record levels.

The price of maize and wheat rose by 25% from June to July, and soybeans rose by 17%, according to the Washington-based organization.

The Times noted the sharp price jumps are attributed to the Midwest drought, which has destroyed more than half of the country’s corn crop.

“The drought, the worst in decades, has pushed the price of corn to record prices. Corn futures have jumped about 60% since the drought started in late June. They are now trading above $8 a bushel.”

“We cannot allow these historic price hikes to turn into a lifetime of perils as families take their children out of school and eat less nutritious food to compensate for the high prices,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

“Countries must strengthen their targeted programs to ease the pressure on the most vulnerable population and implement the right policies.”

In 2011, the Food Price Index, a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities, reached its all-time high at the beginning of the year.

And according to The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Food Price Index rose nearly 40 percent higher in June 2011, than a year earlier.

Higher food prices has caused demand for more expensive brand-name food products to plummet as cash-strapped consumers flock to cheaper off brand items in droves to save money.

Froot Loops Vodka?


I never thought I would see the day. I cringed when bubble gum vodka came out. The latest atrocity from Three Olives is “Loopy“…hmm, I wonder what this refers to. I’m seriously surprised that there has been no uproar from MADD and other such organizations.

I’m cool with tasty cocktails and spirits. I have yet to meet a cocktail containing St-Germain that I have not liked, but do we really need for our cocktails to taste like candy.

Man up boys and girls. Drink like a grown up. I’ll stick to vodka seltzer while you all re-live your childhood.

Enjoy the hangover.

Otto Restaurant Dubrovnik Croatia


On my recent trip to King’s Landing…errr…Dubrovnik, I was seriously disappointed. I expected a lovely, quiet, old town. Idiot me did not know that Dubrovnik was a landing spot for CRAPPY EVIL CRUISE SHIPS. This, combined with Game of Thrones tourism resulted in a city over run by tourists and shitty food. (New travel rule – do not visit cities where cruise ships land). Most restaurants are over priced (why was I paying US prices in Croatia?), homogenous, and simply sub par.

Thankfully, I stayed in a wonderful apartment outside of the old town, near the Luka. Our host, Maro recommended that we try the restaurant that was just a few steps away from our apartment. We ended up going various times for the food, service, value, and it’s owner, Otto.

Otto opened up the restaurant about a year ago. He is one of those people who really loves his business. He was there every time we showed up, chatted with each table at the restaurant and made everyone feel at home. He even gave us some great restaurant suggestions (like Buganvila in Cavtat) which were wonderful.

The restaurant has a lovely outside area, and we sat there on all our visits. On our first visit I opted for the grilled tuna steak with sage sauce on Swiss chard and lentils (105kn approximately $18). Although the tuna was cooked to medium (and I had asked for medium rare), the flavors were spot on. The lentils were delicious, and I ate the entire thing.

Antonio ordered the pork fillet with string beans and saffron-garlic mashed potatoes (99kn or $17). The pork was reminiscent of a kebab, juicier than any we had in all of Croatia. Simple flavors on the pork that worked perfectly. The saffron mashed potatoes were almost polenta like, and while Antonio usually likes them a little less creamy he really enjoyed them.

On our second visit, I opted for the onion soup (35kn, $6USD). I was not quite sure what to expect. Let’s just say the execution on the crust was flawless. It was fluffy and flaky. Once you broke into it, the aromatics of the soup were released which prompts your mouth to salivate. The dome stays up, but the edges fall into the soup. This was a seriously fun dish. The soup itself was sweeter than I am used to, but I would order it again in seconds.

Antonio decided to be adventurous and get the chicken breast with hummus and celery root, parsley-tomato salad (85kn, $15USD). I was a little worried about this seemingly strange combination. but it was surprisingly good.  The hummus was chunkier than usual, which highlighted the chickpeas. It had nice texture, which we both welcomed. The celery root tomato salad was great! He could barely stop eating it.

If every restaurant owner was like Otto (not his real name, but what everyone calls him) they would automatically garner themselves 3/5 stars. He was pleasant, welcoming, and we look forward to seeing him again on our next visit to Croatia.


Otto is located at Nikole Tesle 8 in Dubrovnik, Croatia. If you are going there from the old town, take the #6 bus.