Sunday, December 30, 2012

The quirkiest kitchen items of 2012

2012 comes to an end but your kitchen is definitely revamped. This year brought a series of colorful, fun, quirky and easy-to-use kitchenware you may or may not  need. But admittedly those can make your life simpler, give your  kitchen a sleeker look and often help you be environmental friendly. 

Re-Pac Bags 
Re-Pac Bags are the eco-friendly, food-safe bag alternative to disposable plastic baggies. Pack your lunch, tasty snacks, sandwiches or pieces of fruit and you are ready to go. Those stain, leak and mold resistant bags are also hand-sewn; they are perfect for your daily on-the-go snack or when traveling. Kids will love it as well as adults. Prices start at $5.95.

Blogger's Note: Tested. Easy to pack and clean but I often felt that those nice bags are for my cosmetics rather than peanuts!

The FreeForm 

This inventive item introduces an easily adaptable and creative concept to any kitchen or dining setting. FreeForm takes the form of both a tray when lifted by the cut out handles and a placemat when lying flat. It is available in numerous contrasting colors with smart stitched detail edging. Prices vary from $19.99 to  $29.99.

Blogger's note: Not tested yet. Will be available from

Tilt Chilling Ball

Tilt is a new word to the chilled drinks and the newest addition to your cocktail set. The chilling sphere is iceless and flavorless so it does not interfere with drinks and their flavor. All you have to do is to store tilt in the freezer a few hours before your cocktail time, then insert it in your wine glass, cocktail or a party dip to keep it chilled. Tilt is center-weighted so it will always sit up-right and is easily removed by an included retrieval hook. It comes with a silicone freezer stand. Prices start at $17.99 for the single and $34.99 for the twin tilt.

Blogger's note: Tested. It chills your drinks but the ball looks strange in the glass. Easier to use than ice cubes.

Bella Vita Chill It

BellaVita’s new freezable, insulated Chill It bags are perfect for keeping wine, beer or sodas cool on the go! Keep those bags in the freezer and they become instant coolers for whatever you want to chill. They come in six different bright colors and in three designs: square, cylinders or totes. Bella Vita Chill It bags are reusable and perfect for gifts. Prices start at $9.95.

Blogger's note: not tested yet.


If you don’t like big salad spoons for your salad or pasta servings, try Snapi. This single handed server allows easy serving of salad, pasta, fruit and everything else that comes in a bowl! This kitchen item is ergonomic and colorful. Grab a full serving without putting your plate down.

Blogger's note: Tested. Use rather in a large bowl when there is plenty of salad to grab. 


Give your veggies a makeover but putting them in this new microwave cooking bag. Forget about plastic containers that may melt or any other ceramic plate that becomes too hot after a few minutes in the oven. The Corn-n-Tater is said to cook your food without loss of flavor as it is made with a blend of cotton and bamboo materials. It is easy to clean: machine wash and air dry. Good for vegetables but also pizzas, tortillas, bread and frozen foods. It comes in various designs; each pack contains a recipe booklet. It will cost you $12.99.

Blogger's note: Not tested yet but sounds intriguing. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ya Mastiha Liqueur & MastihaShopNY Holiday Extravaganza‏

145 Orchard St.
New York, NY 10002
Tel: +1-212-253-0895

Check out for more details.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The New MOHAI opens

The new Museumof History and Industry will re-open on December 29th in the Naval Reserve Armory landmark building at the center of  Seattle's growing and lively South Lake Union neighborhood.  The signature institution of the Emerald City that was first inspired by a costume party in 1911 has grown and became the largest private heritage organization in the Washington State - with nearly 4 million artifacts and historic photographs.

Visitors will have the opportunity to experience history, heritage and tradition in an innovative space with a fresh look while viewing Seattle's Lake Union.

The MOHAI museum will offer a series of permanent and temporary exhibitions together with numerous public and educational programs, participation in citywide activities and brand new initiatives.

The permanent exhibition Waterways to the World in partnership with the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society explores the region connection to the water. Visitors will face Lake Union while learning about Thomas Mercer, who in 1854 correctly predicted that canals would someday join Lake Washington to Puget Sound in a "union of waters” and became the godfather of the Lake Union.

The core exhibition on the first story illuminates how history shaped the culture of the Pacific North West by presenting Seattle’s history from wilderness to world city. Four are the themes to be discovered: Community and Diversity; Creativity and Innovation; Relationships with Nature and Global City Seattle.

The Celluloid Seattle: A city in the Movies exhibition will remain open to the following September and will examine the unique relationship of the city with the movies. How the idea of going to the movies changed Seattle as well as how the city was captured in the movies are the two themes of this exclusive exhibition.

If visitors want to learn how to make their own video games, they will have the chance with the Building a Video Game exhibition. Fig Fish, the leading game company of the city, will explain each step of game development using its mobile game Fetch.

Finally, the Center for Innovation is expected to open in the fall of 2013. The center will offer classes, lectures and youth programming with a permanent exhibition presenting Seattle’s role in innovation and entrepreneurship.

For more information visit the museum’s website here

For the Grand Opening tickets, opening hours and directions, click here

Monday, November 26, 2012

Victrola Cafe

After the first weeks of my recent relocation to Seattle, I felt that I have to pay my tribute to the local coffee scene. Seattle has been known for its coffee culture since the first Starbucks opened its doors in the 70s. A few days of online research for the best Seattle coffee shops and a long list was created. Then it was time to start exploring.

My first stop was the Victrola Cafe in Capitol Hill. The store wasn't particularly busy last Saturday evening. The lighting was minimal but the Joe's aromas plenty. I decided on a "regular" cappuccino of the 8-oz size.  The beans, a blend of Brazilian, Colombian and Guatemalan origin were  rich, chocolate-y and with a full body. A balanced flavor and taste, this cup of coffee was a pure pleasure. Victrola roasts its own beans and, according to the website which thoroughly describes the roasting process, never use beans after the "second crack". If you are not familiar with the coffee jargon, check here for some self-education.

They also sell their roasted beans in the shop. Although it will be difficult to decide between the Triborough Espresso, Kenya Kamuchuni or Sumatra Lintong Peaberry and many other single origin or blended beans, I can reassure you that the quality will be unique. Click here to view the choices.

Seattle residents or caffeine addicted travelers can visit the Capitol Hill cafe for free tasting and cupping each Wednesday at 11am. See you then!

Victrola Cafe and Roastery
310 E Pike Street
Seattle, WA 

Monday, November 19, 2012

20 something The New Vintage - What you missed!

I attended hundreds of wine tastings in my recent, food and wine writer's life. They all seem to be quasi the same: exhibitors standing at various tables with a few bottles of wine each, wine glasses, the “spit bucket”, notebooks to make notes and plates with crackers or slices of bread. But the 20something event organized by the Washington State Wine Commission and the Seattle’s Convention and VisitorsBureau was different and against the mainstream. See what you missed from last Saturday’s event for the younger crowds:

- Tasting wine in a new shape and form. No tables with tablecloths, bottles next to the other and standing marketing execs from the winery. In a complete new setting, those who poured the wines, were standing or walking around with a bottle and a badge. They explained a little about the product and handed out access code cards for those who liked it for special offers and more information

    - The Washington Beef Commission and the three color blind tasting trays: blue, yellow or green? Each had a different type of beef….

    - Cheese from Mt. Townsend Creamery in a well-decorated table that took them two hours to make! The beet chips were also outstanding matching with the Red Alder, Seastack and New Moon cheeses

    -  Comfort foods from with Hook & Plow Turkey “Martini” Pop and the  Black Pepper Gougeres Aged Gouda from RN74 

      - Bordeaux blends, Syrah, Pinot and even Mourvèdre were some of the amazing wines offered

     - The 20something Turkish latte from Fonté Espresso Bar – nothing like Turkish coffee but a pleasant latte

      - Good looking men and women mostly in the 30s with big smiles and in a good mood for more wine and food

    - Maybe you missed that you are no longer 29 -you can still attend this event next year!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Top foods and wines of the Taste of Tulalip

I believe that you won't disagree with my personal visual selections after a day at the Taste of Tulalip....

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Affordable Art Fair Seattle

G Gibson Gallery Julie Blackmon Fire

The Seattle Affordable Art Fair opens on November 8th. For four days, Seattlites and out-of-towners can participate in this inspiring, fun and artistic event. A unique space – the Seattle Center –will become the home of 50 galleries exhibiting original paintings, prints, sculptures and photographs at prices starting from $100 a piece. The Affordable Art Fair is an international Fair that takes place annually from Los Angeles to London to Hong Kong and Brussels. Jennifer Jacobs, the director of the Affordable Art Fair Seattle, reveals more about this unique Fair as an insider, provides insight for young artists and describes one of her busy days!

FF: What is the Affordable Arts Fair and how did you come up with this concept?
JJ: I’ve lived in the NW for almost 20 years, and have found it puzzling that it has been so long since Seattle has had a great art fair!

The story of the Affordable Art Fair is best seen on our website here. I have been a part of building the Seattle launch of the Affordable Art Fair, which started well over a year ago in research and planning; for us, Seattle seemed a natural destination – the region has long been known as a place of creativity and innovation, with a fantastic artistic community.

FF: What type of art is exhibited in this Fair?
JJ: You’ll find a little something for everyone. It’s our job to make sure a variety of aesthetic traditions, viewpoints and geographies are represented, all of the highest quality. Works are priced from $100-$10,000 – with 50% of works at $5,000 and below.

FF: How many artists take place?
JJ: We have approximately 50 galleries featuring hundreds of artists – each applicant is required to show at least three artists in their booth.
Patricia Cameron Milan Heger Million Dollar Man

FF: Is there a particular gallery or artist you would like to single out for this year Fair? A must-visit?

JJ: In addition to the fantastic galleries on show, I would make sure not to miss our artistic programs and demonstrations. As a print lover, I’m particularly excited about the 4 day demonstration with Sidereal Press, featuring some of Seattle’s best-known artists. (Full description and schedule here). I would also recommend checking out our schedule of tours led by art experts – a great way to see the fair and learn more about collecting art.

FF: On a personal level, are you an artist?

JJ: I’m not an artist, but am lucky to have many in my life. I have been fortunate enough to have been working in the arts for almost 2 decades!

FF: Tell us about a typical day in the life of the AAF Seattle Director

JJ: It starts early, catching up on email and skyping with colleagues in Europe and the East Coast. I spend the rest of my day on the phone, talking to galleries about the Fair, and flushing out different aspects of local programming and outreach. When I’m lucky, these visits are done in person, giving me a great excuse to get out and see the different exhibitions on view…sometimes it stretches into evening openings and events. It’s a great life!
FF:  If you could decorate your work area any way you liked, what theme would it have and why?

JJ: Looking around right now, my work area has a number of framed prints and photographs, all with black frames and white matts. It’s a great contrast against my white desk. I’m a minimalist at heart, and love to surround myself with colorful art as the focus for neutral furnishings.
FF: What advice and tips would you give to young artists?

JJ: Most of the artists I know thrive by experimenting; researching different concepts, techniques and influences. But most importantly, get out and see as much art as possible, visit galleries and museums, attend lectures, and talk to other artists.
FF: How many visitors do you expect at this year's Fair? Tell us why Seattle-based residents and out-of-towners should visit this year's Fair.

JJ: We anticipate about 9,000 people at this first year’s Fair. I hope both Seattlites and out-of-towners come and see what we’re all about. Art Fairs are a fantastic way to see what is relevant and current in the art world, a chance to see work by local, national and international artists. Perhaps you’ll find something you fall in love with and take home. Most of all, I hope you’ll come and have fun!
Ochi Gallery Erin Rachel Hudak Campfire

Monday, October 29, 2012

AppleLooza at U-District Farmers Market - Seattle

As a new resident of the Emerald City, I experienced one of the city's farmers markets. Last Saturday, the University District Farmers Market celebrated one of Washington's most famous and sought-after farm products: Apples. During this AppleLooza, visitors could taste numerous varieties, try cider and attend cooking demos featuring recipes with apples, of course. They could also sample over 15 varieties of unique, local heirloom apples and vote for their favorite.

My knowledge about apple selection extends to the Orange Red, Golden Delicious and Jonagold. During the AppleLooza celebration, I had to taste forty different varieties that included amongst others the following: Winter Banana, Pirus (best for cooking apparently), Black Gilflower, King David, Spigold, Honey Gold, Hawkeye (a Red Delicious heirloom), Pink Pearl, Blue Permain, Belle de Boskoop, Kidd’s Orange Red, Golden Delicious, Ruby Jon, Jonagold and Snow Sweet.

As I am not an expert in this field, I just indulged in the "tasting" and enjoyed the entire process. Some were crunchy, others had more flavor, going from sour to sweet, from green to yellow to red. My favorite? Sweet Sixteen: a sweet apple but with a nice acidity, full complexity and texture.

Disappointed at my ignorance, I left the market intrigued and I promise that I will immerse in this fascinating apple's world. Washington State will provide everything I need. Sweet Sixteen included.