Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Wines Are Becoming More Alcoholic – International

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Canada’s French Speaking Population Shuns “Big Wines”

French Canadians, especially the over forty group, enjoy to drink lighter European wines and pass over New World Wines such as big, high-alcohol Australian wines and avoid California bottles that exhibit rapidly climbing alcohol levels. They prefer a Muscadet to a giant Aussie Chardonnay or a 12.5% alcohol Bordeaux or Burgundy red to a 14-15% red Australian monster. They echo my sentiments as does Europe, and I am increasingly disappointed in the steady rise in alcohol levels in wines.
In addition to the cravings of the general populous for fruit bombs part of the reason for the rise of higher-alcohol wines, again comes down to money, as lower-alcohol wines need a longer time in the cellar. Another sad fact of this modern and disturbing trend, is that these wines are “hotter” when sliding down the throat and much more difficult to pair with food.

Robert Parker’s remark to a California Pinot Noir wine producer who was trying to make wine with less power and more finesse, “If you want to make French wine, do it in France”. This outburst was uncalled for and did not help matters, as most California winemakers would halfheartedly acquiesce to Parker’s preference for California wines to be a boozy confectionery.


Fast Food Adapted Around The World

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

In countries outside the USA with a cafe culture already highly developed, McDonalds adapts their McCafe brand. In Thailand where I live, that means local menu selections are integrated into the menu. In Brazil, it means Pão De Queijo their famous cheesy bread is featured; in Montreal it is poutine (a mixture of gravy and cheese curds); in France it is an oblong hamburger in a baguette McBaguette with Elemental cheese and may be accompanied by a McBeer; In Italy Mozzarillo Burger Mozarella cheese accompanied by basil and tomato mayonnaise on forcaccia bread; United Arab Emirate branches of Pizza Hut offers a pizza with the edge of the crust stuffed with mini-cheeseburgers and a topping of cheeseburgers, Thousand Island dressing, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. There is nothing I can add after this last abomination from the Emirates, as that is about as unappetizing as it gets, as far as I am concerned.



Olive Oil Is Healthy! But Here Is The Revealed Truth About Olive Oil That You May Not Know

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

The Revealed Truth About Olive Oil

Following are a few of the pitfalls you  must be aware of when purchasing olive oil:

  • A high percentage of olive oil is adulterated by blending with other vegetable oils.
  • It is a common practice to use “Made in Italy” on labeling even though foreign oils have been blended in.
  • Flavoring low-grade canola oil, or soy oil with beta-carotene and coloring it with industrial chlorophyll, or doctoring it with hazelnut oil and deodorized lampante olive oil.
  • For the past ten years, Spain has produced more oil than Italy, but much of it is shipped to Italy for packaging and is sold, legally, as Italian oil.
  • Recently there have been mass-market price wars and a flood of low quality olive oil — much of it falsely labelled extra virgin.
  • Australian olive oil may be on average the highest quality on earth.
  • Fraud is widespread throughout the industry.

Article: Slippery Business by Tom Mueller, New Yorker, August 13, 2007

Links to: Quality Olive Oil Producers:

List of Quality Olive Oil Producers

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Producers (Italian)

Other Interesting Stories:

Longevity through Consuming Olive Oil

Cuban Cigar Sales Out Of The Doldrums – Bangkok

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

hand-rolled cigars from Cuba

In spite of global economic worries, things are looking up for at least one luxury item: Cuban cigars experienced a 9% increase in sales last year, and that is something to puff about. Cuban cigars are still illegal in the U. S., but there are always ways around it. At one time, I had them sent by post from Davidoff in Switzerland, they were sent minus their bands, and always from a different individual with a different address. Of course, that was long ago and today I look back at the experience as a pleasant one, although certainly not worth the health risk one takes by smoking them.

Kim Jong-il, An Infamous Gourmand

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

The late, Kim Jong-il,  was a famous gourmand who fancied a wide variety of delicacies, purchased by his personal chef  from all over the world, and flown back to be consumed at lavish banquets for his friends and generals.  It was estimated that he had a cellar of over 10,000 bottles including wine and his favorite cognac and scotch Hennessy XO and Johnny Walker Swing. He was purported to be the largest single buyer of Hennessy, spending between $650,000 and $720,000 per year on the cognac during the nineties.

Kim Jong-il’s, now-escaped former chef, who managed to make his run while on a buying trip for Sea Urchin (Uni) to Japan. He went into hiding and wrote a book under the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto, throughout the pages he emphasized that the Dear Leader refused to eat anything but the very best.

Food Fashions

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Many restaurant enthusiasts think that the quality of food in restaurants serving haute cuisine is declining. In the past, ingredients were impeccably prepared in fine restaurants, especially in the inimitable gastronomic Republic of France. It is presently becoming more difficult to find good food on any price level. Produce from Japan is of higher quality than in France of late.
Today, generally produce for the mass market is picked green and sealed in containers and topped off with nitrogen, shipped to market and held in warehouses until needed. The fruit or vegetables ripen immediately after being exposed to the atmosphere, although they spoil sooner. This nitrogen preserving technique, introduced in the U.S., has reduced most produce to tasteless rubbish.
French gastronomes have traditionally considered haute cuisine as an art form. Due to the high cost of obtaining top-quality produce and the constantly rising expense of the preparation of excellent cuisine, it is becoming increasingly harder to find fine cuisine, as we used to know it. Only a few top echelon chefs in the finest restaurants use quality vine-ripened produce and must seek it out from small growers. Supply is limited and seasonal. While dining out in France usually is a delight, International French cuisine can be disappointing and overpriced. French food is also losing ground in favor of Italian cuisine that was sweeping the world but has finally made an about face and the French bistro is becoming the darling of the minute. Presently in a few major U.S.cities and around the world there is an attempt at the resurgence of inexpensive French bistros. The thrust is toward low food cost and inexpensive prices on the menu–nothing wrong with that–however, in most cases it is at the expense of quality. It the past, it was possible to obtain a good meal at a reasonable price in Paris, due to the demand created by large numbers of people dining out. They complained loudly if the food is not up to par; and that was the reason why France maintained high standards of quality compared to the rest of the world. It was also possible to dine well at a reasonable priced bistro in France if you knew where to go. (Today the younger generation in Paris is less interested in good food and has taken to the practice of ordering in fast food.) Most restaurants still offer an inexpensive Menu Touristique that usually consists of French regional cooking served in three simple courses. Don’t be put off by the unappealing name, as it is usually good value for money. In the seventies, nouvelle cuisine dominated the menus of most French restaurants. Regional dishes were out of fashion and restaurants, no matter which region they were in, would serve the same boring nouvelle dishes as all the others. Many dishes served in these restaurants depended heavily on the ubiquitous sauce beurre blanc.

With the arrival of the eighties, nouvelle cuisine started to lose favor; restaurant patrons became bored with minuscule portions laid out on oversized plates and feminized by frilly decoration. Vegetables served undercooked, in fact, almost raw were never popular with most of the clientele who longed for the good, sturdy regional dishes to return.

On another front, a young chef called Michel Guerard invented Cuisine Minceur (slimming cuisine). It spawned out of his need to lose weight. Nevertheless, even on a diet he did not want to give up good food. Michel used the Robot Coupe (known outside France as Cuisinart) to puree the sauces. He used a mild cheese called Fromage blanc which he beat into the sauces as a thickening agent. With these two elements he created delicious dishes that had extremely few calories. This cuisine had limited popularity outside France, especially in the U.S., where diners went to French restaurants to eat rich food. When they wished to diet, they stayed at home.
As weight conscious yuppies emerged onto the food scene, they thought that Italian food was lighter and contained fewer calories. This might be true, although judging from the choices they made from the menu these weight conscious diners might have been deceiving themselves.
Young chefs from Italy were bringing new Italian cooking into the United States. The old American-Italian mom and pop operations were closing. Replaced by noisy, trendy and stereotyped restaurants serving designer pizzas and outrageously priced grappa, in fancy hand blown Venetian bottles. These grappa bore no resemblance to the ones poured by Italian peasants into their espresso coffees for centuries. They were rough, gasoline-tasting distillations while the new-wave grappa was smooth, no doubt tamed by sugar. Meanwhile, modern Italian wine made by large conglomerates became complex, refined and balanced—slowly replacing wines made in the villages which were cloudy, rough, unfined, unfiltered and tainted with migrating sediment. These wines, if for no other reason, were at least genuine and natural. Progress is not always a step in the right direction. Italian winemakers were taking courses at U.C. Davis (University of California at Davis, specializing in viticulture) to learn the newest winemaking techniques. Italian restaurants now needed to create more sophisticated cuisine to go along with the new style of wine. Italy once an inexpensive country to visit became more and more expensive and after joining the EU it is on its way on an upward spiral to becoming the most expensive country on the European continent.
Chef Wolfgang Puck, born in Austria and trained in France, opened a restaurant concept, borrowed or not, which changed food fashion in a radical way. He made his name, in California, working at the once famous restaurant Ma Maison, a hangout for the Hollywood film crowd. He opened Spago and started a new craze, serving pizza to his celebrity clientele. He adapted and modernized classic Italian dishes to the new style of light dining. This style of cooking is copied by many all over the world. In his restaurant called Chinois, he stylized Chinese food adding a bit of French flare. Also, in vogue and gaining popularity is the Franco-Japanese restaurant. Japanese chefs that trained in France and are cooking in the French style with Japanese overtones, the cooking in these restaurants can be excellent.

Now it appears Ferran Adrià, and his brother Alberto,who is the pastry chef at El Bulli, are following in the footsteps of  Wolfgang Puck and Mario Batali and are researching in Italy how to make  pizza, and claim that they will create a straightforward version of a pizzeria in Barcelona, no chemicals or foam please!

Miele Guide, Asia Restaurant Ratings, 2011-2012

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

  1. Iggy’s, Singapore

  2. Restaurant Andre, Singapore

  3.  L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Hong Kong, China

  4.  Robuchon a Galera Macau, China

  5. Caprice Hong Kong, China

  6. Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  7. Mr & Mrs Bund – Modern Eatery by Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China

  8. Pierre Gagnaire a Seoul, Seoul, Korea

  9. Bo Innovation, Hong Kong, China

  10. Tippling Club, Singapore

  11. Antonio’s, Cavite, Philippines

  12. Mozaic, Bali, Indonesia

  13. 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong, China

  14. Gunther’s Modern French Cuisine, Singapore

  15. Dum Pukht, Mumbai, India

  16. Dakshin, Chennai, India

  17. Yung Kee, Hong Kong, China

  18. Sarong, Bali, Indonesia

  19. Les Amis, Singapore

  20. Bukhara, New Delhi, India

Fad Diet Wipes Out Norway’s Butter Supply

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Culinary Tidbits . . . I have recently written about a butter shortage in Sweden and now it seems, that due to an immensely popular high-fat/low-carb fad diet, Norway’s butter supply has dwindled to almost nothing, well, unless your are willing to pay $13 for 250 grams.

Link to related article:

Leila Lindholm Contributing to Butter Shortage


Julia Child’s “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” Released in Ebook Format

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
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Alfred A. Knopf the publisher of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” by Julia Child has released the book in eBook format after technology caught up and was able to duplicate the unique two-column layout, allowing the reader to see the ingredients alongside the recipe, among other things. It is best read on tablets rather than eBook readers due too the intricacies of the layout. Cookbooks have a long future in print, but due to advances in technology you probably will see more cookery books in eBook format.

Herradura Tequila, Jalisco – Mexico

Saturday, November 26th, 2011


Herradura Silver Tequila
Herradura Reposado Tequila
Herradura Anejo Tequila
Herradura Seleccion Suprema Tequila
Antiguo Tequila

Founder: Aurelio Rosales, founded Herradura in 1870
at Amatitan, Jalisco, Mexico