Friday, October 31, 2008

French Food Books .. to get you in the mood…ooh la la

There is nothing quite like food to put you in mind of a place, or to conjure memories of a sojourn. Travelers headed to France, or those who have been, will enjoy these food-filled books written by creative women dedicated to truly good food with a local and organic focus.

Clotilde Dusoulier has a friendly, easy way of conveying the delights and nuances of French food with a focus on fresh, local, organic foods. She has written her blog, Chocolate and Zucchini, for five years and has authored two books. Her recipes are not only delicious, but are inspired from daily necessities, like what to do with crème fraiche that is about to grow mold, and incorporating it into an amazing Chocolate Frozen yogurt (see her blog for the recipe – yum!)

Her cookbook, Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen (ISBN 978 0767923835) is a colorful, paperback that grew out of Clotilde’s blog. The book has over 75 enticing recipes including my favorites – the Curried Turkey Sandwich and her Tarte Chocolate Caramel. I love the French green, Mache (see photo), which Clotilde includes in a delectable salad. Mache is cheap, delicious and available all over France year round – an everyperson’s food.

For those traveling to Paris, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris (978-0767926133) is a must have guide. This is not a cookbook (although it does contain some recipes), but rather a personal guide through the restaurants, cafés and markets of Paris. You will find information on 164 eating establishments, plus 130 listings of bakeries, and shops of varying interests from bookstores to kitchenware, as well as markets throughout the city. Clotilde provides in depth descriptions of each spot so you can decide which peak your interest. Please note that these are not necessarily organic or vegetarian food stops.

For more French food indulgences explore Barefoot In Paris, by Ina Garten (ISBN 9781400049356). Made famous as the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten has put her talents to the extreme in Barefoot in Paris. The full-color book offers truly delicious, sensible recipes like Salmon and Lentils. But the Piéce-de-resistance are the desserts – oh my gosh – desserts to die for… Mango Sorbet, Profiteroles, Coeur a la Crème with Raspberries.

Written in a narrative style rather than cookbook form, A Pig in Provence, by Georgeanne Brennan (ISBN 9780156033244), focuses on the local foods of Provence, the southeastern region of France known for its lavender, truffles, herbs and other delicacies. Georgeanne writes of her personal experiences living in Provence over thirty years ago including how she learned to make traditional, fresh goat cheese, and offers a special recipe at the end of each of the eight chapters.

Georgeanne has written numerous cookbooks and offers weekend cooking classes at her Northern California farm, “Provence in California Culinary Weekends.” Her farm is surrounded by other organic farms and the weekend begins with a trip to the local farmer’s market. Each class weekend runs from 9-3:30 on Saturday and 10-3 on Sundays – you are responsible for your own accommodations and evening meals.

When Georgeanne is not cooking or writing, she is working to increase the use of fresh, local, seasonal foods in her California school district.

For the France bound traveler, check out the beautiful, renovated, stone house that Georgeanne rents in the country northeast of Aix-en-Provence from April to October. See "Village House" on her website.

Visit the websites and blogs:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wild, Icy and Altogether Unusual Accommodations

Green and natural travel accommodations have taken on a whole new light with the fun and helpful website of Odd Inns and Uncommodations. Here you can choose between Treehouses, Ice Hotels, Yurts, Caves, Converted Railroad cars, Lighthouses, and more.

Most of the listings are in the United States, but a few are in other countries. The site includes the Top Ten Natural Park Lodges, Yurts and Hike-In Lodges all over Canada and the U.S., multiple Treehouses around the world, thirteen Railroad-Car Inns, fifty Lighthouse options and eleven Castles that are actually in the U.S.!

The Haunted possibilities are Bed & Breakfasts and Inns around the world. A friend of mine in the U.S. who is originally from Scotland said on hearing a homeowner’s alarm that there might be a ghost in her house, “Well that’s natural, why all the houses have ghosts in Scotland.” So not surprisingly, Odd Inns lists haunted accommodations in Scotland.

Personally the thought of sleeping in a room made of ice gives me the chills, but the pictures of the Ice Hotels in Finland, Sweden and Quebec are beautiful and inspiring.
The Odd Inns website is definitely worth a perusal even if you are not planning a trip right now, as the listings arouse the desire for adventure.

Sneak a peek at:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Green Laptops!!

Great news this week for green travelers and all others needing computers -- Apple has launched new laptops with environmental standards, claiming to be “the Greenest MacBooks ever.” They not only meet the government’s Energy Star criteria, but they have earned EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) Gold, an electronics industry top environmental standard.

They have figured out how to reduce packaging by 40% and at the end of the day – or life -of your Mac, they claim that most of your computer can be recycled.
Designing the computer so that most or all of its components can be recycled is great if not somewhat overdue and obvious. The really big news is that the new LED displays use thirty percent less power than standard LCD screens, and the smart computer figures out the most energy efficient processor for the task, further reducing electric use – so much so that Apple says “when it’s turned on, the new MacBook uses one-quarter the power of a single light bulb.” Wow.

The most important elements to me in these new Macbooks are the elimination of toxic metals and chemicals. The screen glass is arsenic-FREE, and the whole computer is FREE of Mercury!, brominated flame retardants (polar bears will be happy), and PVC plastics. Apple has also removed these highly toxic components from their iPods and other products as well. YAY!

These are milestones. Mercury and Arsenic (see posts about the health hazards on should not be used period. It is wonderful that Apple has smelled the mercury and arsenic-free roses. Let’s hope other manufacturers follow suit.

You can visit Small Dog Electronics, a groovy, family-run business in Waitsfield, Vermont supporting environmental and social justice organizations, for the new Green MacBooks, or of course any Apple retailer --

Monday, October 6, 2008

New Independent Travel Bookstore in New York City: Another Place to Visit Near Union Square

Idlewild Books, just two blocks north of Union Square, is the brainchild of David Del Vecchio, a former press officer at the United Nations. The store is filled with guidebooks (from over one hundred countries) and all manner of literature from classics to thrillers grouped by country so you can get the full flavor of a destination. A friend of mine recently went to the Czech Republic and Hungary. She was able to find authors from and books about these countries. On return she said that the fiction helped her understand the cultures immensely – far more than her guidebooks, which while helpful for practical information about specific sites and public transport, could not offer the deeper, emotional perspective of the novels.

Light and airy, Idlewild has places to sit while you browse your potential purchases, and friendly, informative staff to help you explore the literary terrain of your destination or interest. Look for maps and other travel accessories as well in this store where you could spend an enormous amount of time imagining all sorts of adventures. For those of you not in New York or not able to get there, you can browse and order online. The only downside to Idlewild is that you want to buy every book in the place!

Idlewild Books, 12 West 19th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenues), NYC; 212-414-8888; Open Monday to Friday from 11am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday from 12-7pm