Tuesday, June 22, 2010

test post

do a synopsis and then dig in for the remainder of the article?

somehow I don't think so.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A dessert from the U.K., perfect for summer

Summer Days and Tasty Treats

Summer has finally arrived in San Francisco, with a set of heat waves that have occasionally allowed us to sit outside at night without a down jacket. So its time for some delicious summer treats. I recently visited my brother in London, and his daughters served me a delicious British twist on strawberry shortcake, called Eton Mess. It’s a perfect, no hassle, summer dessert. And if you want to feel like you're at Wimbledon, open up a bottle of bubbly to go with it!

Eton Mess recipe

  • Meringues – you can make your own or just buy meringues at the store
  • Heavy cream
  • Strawberries

Break up the meringues into pieces about a half-inch long, in a large bowl

Whip the heavy cream so its thick. Do not add sugar.

Fold the whipped cream and strawberries into the meringues and voila! The mix of the sweet and crunchy meringue with the unsweetened, creamy cream and the juicy strawberries in every bite gets everyone asking for more.

“Eton Mess” isn’t in our game GourmetSmarts but it could have been a contender. The story goes that is was invented at Eton, a famous school, in Britain, when a dog sat on a picnic basket, single handedly creating the first version of the dessert. It is now served every June 4th at Eton's annual prize giving ceremon

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

SmartsCo featured in The Wall Street Journal!

We are delighted that the Wall Street Journal thinks SmartsCo is interesting enough to feature on page B1! The journalist interviewed Julie and focused on the Make Mine a Million $ Business Award from Count Me In and OPEN from American Express.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wine and Dogs...the perfect pair

Wine and Dogs...the perfect pair

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you give your pooch some Pinot (in fact wine is supposed to be bad for dogs). But ever since we released DogSmarts , I’ve been noticing how dogs and wine seem to go so well together. Today I saw an article in Wine Enthusiast that describes a pilot program to have dogs sniff out vineyard pests.

Some Napa and Sonoma wineries are training the dogs to sniff out the vine mealybug. The dogs can find the pests before the bugs are a huge problem in the vineyards, allowing wineries to catch the pest early and use less of those nasty pesticides.

As for other dog and wine connections, here are jut a few:

Wine & Noses. Canine Companions for Independence hosts this annual fund raiser in New Jersey. CCI trains dogs to assist people with disabilities and we donate 3% of proceeds from DogSmarts sales to CCI.

Wine Dogs . If I owned a vineyard I would have a dog, or several, to walk through the vines with me. This beautiful book of photographs shows dogs at their winery homes.

Chien Lunatique. Lucy the Jack Russell is the main attraction the label of Chien Lunatique, a Napa Syrah from Behrens & Hitchcock. The wine label features Lucy hen she was a tiny pup. If you want to see what she looks like now, Wine-People has a great interview of the winemaker and photos.

More dog sniffing tricks. The owners of Napa’ Cliff Lede Vineyards have trained their dog Miss Louis Beale to sniff out TCA in corks. TCA is a chemical that can form on corks and make wines smell terrible...sort of like wet cardboard.

There are dozens of wine labels featuring dogs, so invite some dog lovers over for a comparison tasting.

Close Print

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dog Fights Leg

A good laugh

While normally I'm not a huge fan of the America's Funniest Home Videos, genre, this one is a pretty funny dog scene.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Five Paris Discoveries

Five Paris Pleasures

I was recently in Paris and had so many delicious, relaxing, and enjoyable experiences, I thought I’d share them with anyone who’s planning an upcoming trip. Here are 5 of my favorites (good additions to all of the suggestions we’ve compiled in our ParisSmarts game).

1) Bicycles rule. Paris has embraced bicycles as a green way to lessen traffic congestion, and they've gone at it witVelibh gusto with Vélib, the new pay-as-you go bicycle share system. It seemed that on every block, people were riding the grey, slightly clunky, clean and new Vélib bikes. They’re available at several Vélib ‘stations’ and each bike has a basket for your stuff (a great place to place your fresh baguette), a lock, and lights in the front and back. The first half-hour is free, and then the charge is about $1.50 for each additional hour. To make things easier, Paris has created several new bike lanes too.

It’s a bit difficult for me to restrain my enthusiasm for Vélib. It’s sort of a ZipCar for bikes, with one great difference: you can return the bike to anywhere there’s Vélib parking...no need to go back to where you got it! Paris did this right (see what The New York Times has to say about it). Not that everyone loves them. We were in a cab that nearly ran over one Vélib -er.

One note: If you’re Canadian or American, bring your American Express (and we’re not just plugging Amex, which is a supporter of Count Me In). I tried using a Visa, but there’s a glitch in the system that they’re working on. So for now, the Vélib swipers accept European Visa/MC, but if you’re American or Canadian, they only accept American Express.

2) View fr Eiffel Towerom the top. Take the elevator or the escalators to the rooftop of the Georges Pompidou Museum to the Restaurant Georges. Here you can see all of Paris in an incredible panoramic view. It’s free to go up there, and then if you want you can get a very expensive drink. The restaurant looked totally cool: the décor was Jetsons meets James Bond, with huge windows to take in the view.

3) Falafel Heaven. For the tastiest falafel, go to L’As du Falafel, a busy falafel stand and restaurant on the rue des rosiers in the Marais. The falafel sandwiches are luscious: warm pita, falafel, fresh cabbage salad, fried eggplant, tomatoes, and tahini. As you approach from a block away, you’ll see people eating these big messy sandwiches with looks of extreme pleasure. The muffintop blog has a great descriptions and pictures that make me rather hungry. And David Liebowitz also loves it (he just wrote a book all about ice cream, so that’s a man I trust).

4) Tea for two. My friend Kimberly Charles is a Parisian Manqué and brought me some tea from Mariage Frères last year for my birthday. The fragrant black tea in muslin teabags felt like a little Parisian indulgence, so when I went to Paris I had to go to their store…which, it turns out, not only sells tea old school (they have hundreds of teas, which they scoop out from large, old tin canisters on wooden shelves), but also features a tea room, and a tea museum (!) that can be reached by ascending a curling rickety staircase.

5) Books and wine. Walk into La Belle Hortense, a little bookstore with a light blue sign, and you’ll discover books and wines by the glass in an unpretentious, neighborhood atmosphere. This wine bottles bookstore-winebar has a little area in the front where you can order wine…without the pretensions of fancy glasses and long wine descriptions. There’s also a little sitting room in the back too. And, you’ve got to love a place that has a special section on their website to show off pictures of their aqua tiled bathroom. They are open until 1 or 2am and now that there is no smoking in Parisian restaurants (hallelujah) it’s a great place to sit, sip and read, which I did with my Henry James, Wings of the Dove…a book that reads at a pace that pairs well with this wine bar.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Champagne Naming

Is It Fair?

I was reading my beloved New Yorker this week and was struck by a one-page ad from the Champagne Region of France. In it they say "Masquerading as Champagne ... might be legal, but it isn't fair. There are many find sparkling wines, but only those originating in the chalky hills of Champagne, France can bear that region's name. A legal loophole allows some U.S. wines to masquerade as 'Champagne.'" Then they want you to demand accurate labeling.

Several wine regions have signed a "Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place & Origin , " which essentially is aiied to educate consumers about the importance of location to winemaking. These signatories include: Napa Valley, Oregon, Washington, Walla Wala Valley, Champagne, Porto, Jerez, and now Paso Robles, Sonoma, Chianti Classico, Tokaj, and Victoria and Western Australia. Map of sparking wine producing countries

So this brought up a discussion in the office regarding the "fairness" of people using the term "champagne" to describe sparkling wine. The folks at Xerox are thrilled that their name comes up everytime someone uses their name rather than "photo copy." Why do the folks of champagne spend so much time and money trying to prevent people from using the term champagne to for sparkling wine? I'd argue they would have better use of their time.

When we created our WinePassport: Bubbly , we took great pains to use the term Champagne correctly, however, the title often confuses people. I was at a party the other day and asked for some "bubbly". The waiter brought me sparking water. The fact is, "champagne" as a general term describing sparking wine is here to stay and it (as well as terms such as Port) help people know what they're going to taste.

The press release announcing this Joint Declaration say "Americans are more knowledgeable than ever before about wine and will not settle for anything less than authentic products." If you believe that, give them credit for knowing that a "California Champagne" is not from France. They should spend more time focusing on creating quality wines with strong marketing and branding, not fighting a naming battle they cannot win.