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Monday, April 23, 2012

04/24/12 - Contemporary Indian Cuisine Wowing Napa Valley and TV's "Chopped"


contemporary indian cooking

As a child growing up in Bombay, Neela Paniz was drawn to the fragrant kitchen aromas
conjured by her family's skillful cook, Chandan. His traditional Indian cooking—based on
practicality and subtle application of spices—inspired her love of this warm and cultured food, which she has elevated with her own original style. Using fresh ingredients as in the India of her childhood, seasoned with freshly ground spice blends (never powders or pre-mixed), Paniz prepares dishes with her distinctive technique of tilting the pan to form a pool to infuse the spices, thus allowing less use of oil to ultimately create light, clear flavors for her bright and innovative dishes.

In the 1980’s, Paniz defied the stereotypes of rich, heavy Indian dishes with her unique brand of restaurants in Los Angeles: Chutney’s Indian take-out, and the hugely successful Bombay Cafe with partner David Chaparro. Her book, The Bombay Cafe published in 1998, put her on the national map as one of the leading voices of contemporary Indian cuisine. In 2007, she sold her partnership in the cafe and in 2008, she and her husband devised a plan to move to Napa where she would open Neela’s—featuring contemporary Indian cooking.

Neela Paniz is a guest chef at cooking schools nationally. She has also served as a board
member of the Los Angeles chapter of Les Dames D'Escoffier, the Southern California Culinary Guild, and the International Association of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.


Characterized by its sophisticated and subtle use of spices and vegetables, the food of India is considered to be one of the most diverse and exciting cuisines in the world. In Indian homes, marketing is done daily, primarily at the farmers’ markets. The produce is never more than a day old and the chickens are plucked to order. In most meals, meat is used as a supplementary ingredient while combinations of lentils and rice provide complete proteins.

True to the culture, Neela’s menu features the many different provinces of India—vegetarian
dishes from the south and tandoor-cooked dishes from the north, as well as chaat (street foods) and classic dishes of the British Raj—all made with the freshest ingredients available to create bright, home-style fare. Neela’s also features Bollywood music videos in the bar, plus Thursday Bread Night—a selection of stuffed flat breads served with salads and raita.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

04/17/2012 -Women in Print

Brandi Lynn Ryder

Brandi Lynn Ryder was born in a small town in California's scenic Gold Country and raised on a steady diet of stories, from the local lore to Dickens and Poe. She began writing at a prodigious age, completing her first story at four and writing a novel at the age of nine: a mystery à la the Hardy Boys, called Treasure under the Nile (typed on her mother’s Smith-Corona and bound in cardboard and construction paper). Her adult writing is influenced by her many passions: art, philosophy, travel, literature, classic movies and all things European. She graduated summa cum laude from San Jose State University, with Honors in English, and now lives in the heart of Napa Valley where she draws inspiration from the stunning landscape, gourmet cuisine, the local beverage and her beloved cat, Murphy.

 In Malice, Quite Close is Brandi Lynn Ryder’s first novel. She is currently working on a loose sequel, entitled Like a Guilty Thing, which is taken from Hamlet: "It started, like a guilty thing upon a fearful summons…" In this case, the summons is an invitation to an art exhibition sent anonymously to each of Robin Dresden's elite group of art students. When previously unknown works of the artistic prodigy Daniel Ekland surface five years after his death, they spell out events that each of the students—and Robin—would rather keep secret. Ultimately, the paintings unravel the riddle surrounding Daniel's mysterious death, in which everyone is more than a little guilty. The novel takes us deeper into Robin Dresden's world of art and illusion and the dangerous philosophies he passes on to his students, which have effects that even he cannot anticipate.

She would like to welcome you all to Devon— particularly the friends and family who have been so supportive while she disappeared inside

Praise for In Malice, Quite Close

“Quite a bit of fun. There’s murder! Deceit! Blackmail! . . . And soon enough there’s a dead body in the pool.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Ryder takes us down newfound paths in this uniquely told mystery.”

 “A mesmerizing read, Ryder’s first novel is assured and elegant.”

“An accomplished and darkly sensuous debut . . . At once a murder mystery, a vivid exploration of the art world and a meditation on the secrets we keep, Ryder’s novel is unlike anything else you will read this summer. . . . In Malice, Quite Close is a triumph. Ryder’s writing is as gorgeous as the many works of art she describes, and her characters—especially the twisted Tristan and tortured Gisèle—seem to leap right off the page. The novel’s many mysteries unfold carefully and beautifully, and readers will be trying to connect the dots until the very last page.” —BookPage

“Sophisticates of the contemporary art scene show a lethally sordid side in this superbly crafted murder mystery. . . . Lucid prose, snappy dialogue, and sharp characterization combine to limn a credibly realized world where life imitates art, facades are deceiving, and forgeries cast doubt on seemingly certain truths. The unraveling of the mysteries . . . turns on perfectly prepared surprises and unexpected twists that will have readers guessing, like the characters themselves, until the final paragraphs.”
Publishers Weekly

 “A modern gothic that emits a creepy glow . . . with a nicely subdued sense of menace and dark intrigue.”
Kirkus Reviews

“In her stunning debut, Ryder delivers an assured blend of eros, suspense, abduction, and art. Like a finely aged wine, In Malice, Quite Close lingers on the palette with flavors of Fowles, Nabokov, and Ian McEwan, yet it is entirely unique. Ryder sweeps the reader back and forth over two decades and across the continent, from San Francisco to New York and to a remote art colony in the Pacific Northwest in this compulsively readable novel of ideas, intrigue, and mystery.”
—J. Sydney Jones, author of The Empty Mirror and Requiem in Vienna

“What a deft hand newcomer Ryder uses in telling this tale of an innocent muse caught in a web of artistic obsession. No one is wholly innocent, though, and every character has secrets in this extraordinarily well-plotted tale that holds its final revelations for the very last page.”
—Cammie McGovern, author of Eye Contact and Neighborhood Watch

Monday, April 2, 2012

04/03/2012 - Enriching Life - A gourmet walk? Learn an instrument on-line?

Whether it's getting out and embracing life and other people's passions, or acquiring a skill that will enrich our own lives, these activities all help to keep us balanced, aware and appreciative.  Our guests in this episode help to pave the way and simplify those activities by doing the groundwork and saving us valuable time and research.

Gourmet Walks has created a range of walks in San Francisco and Napa that allow you to visit purveyors and experience their art, while getting a good work out. They range from chocolate to city highlights and of course, wine.

ArtistWorks allows us to learn an instrument in the comfort of our home and our own time line through an on-line program, with professional tutors that can provide the same level of eduction as if they were sitting by your side.

But firstly, as Sally is in Australia rediscovering the wonders of Tasmania and sniffing out some truffles in West Australia for the coming season, we have invited our friend Wil Anderson to be a guest host for the night.  Indeed Wil has his own marvellous story to tell and we will welcome him back to tell his full story.

Here's a sneak preview on Wil:

Wil Anderson is a leading consultant in the Body/mind field serving a wide audience across the globe. He has appeared in the Master Level Psychocalisthenics DVD by Oscar Ichazo and has just released a new relaxation CD, Balance Point Relaxation. He has helped individuals and groups needing an accelerated method for total health that creates a change in 15 minutes. For over twenty years he owned and operated the Veranda Club Spa in Yountville. Wil is in collaboration with other leading health specialist integrating movement, body awareness techniques, theories on the nature of the unity, and designing movement/philosophy curriculum for schools. His years spent in the Napa Valley have also included time spent supporting Non-profits reach their stated goals.

Andrea Nadel
Gourmet Walks

Join us on our award-winning food tours in San Francisco and Napa. As seen on CNN, the San Francisco Chronicle and Via Magazine, our tours are fun, delicious and educational. We seek out the finest artisan chocolate, cheese, wines and more for you to sample as we explore the city's best foodie neighborhoods. It's the perfect way to spend an afternoon, whether you're a first time visitor or a seasoned local.

If you're looking for a unique gift, consider a gift certificate for one of our tours. And any Gourmet Walks tour can be turned into a memorable private event, ideal for alumni groups, company teambuilding, and birthday celebrations.

* Gourmet Napa Tour -

There is more to Napa than wine!  Explore wine country flavors from Oxbow Market to Napa's historic Riverfront.  Friday and Sunday mornings.  $68/pp.

* San Francisco Gourmet Chocolate Tour -

Taste the best San Francisco chocolate makers on this 3 hour walking tour through the downtown and waterfront.  Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings and Saturday afternoons.  $52/pp

* San Francisco ULTRA Chocolate Tour - 

We've added wine pairings and a chocolate martini to our popular Chocolate Tour.  Saturday afternoons.  $75/pp

*  Gourmet San Francisco -

Learn what's hot in the
San Francisco food scene as we taste our way through trendy Hayes Valley.  Friday and Sunday afternoons.  $68/pp.

Founder, Andrea Nadel, has been drawn to food from a young age. She grew up in Maine, planning elaborate dinners as her mother followed her around the kitchen doing the dishes. At Williams College she wrote restaurant reviews, taught a cooking class and studied wine tasting. But like many a foodie, it was her time abroad in southern France that opened her eyes to the pleasures of fine food and of course, gourmet chocolate.

After college, Andrea worked for many years in marketing and advertising in New York City. She moved to San Francisco with her husband in 2000, where she pursued a Masters degree at Berkeley while exploring San Francisco's diverse food scene. She always dreamed of running her own business connected to food, and after moving to Mill Valley in 2005, that dream became a reality as Gourmet Walks was born.

Today Andrea is a very busy mother of three young children, but she always has time for chocolate. She regularly serves as a judge or panelist for Taste TV Chocolate events, including the popular San Francisco Chocolate Salon. She writes about chocolate on her blog and has presented on chocolate at Macy's Cellar and various local hotels. Andrea is a licensed tour guide in San Francisco.

Her favorite chocolate is the Ginger Elizabeth Salty Cocoa Nib Brittle Dessert Bar. Her favorite restaurants are Aziza and Saison in SF and Ubuntu in Napa.


ArtistWorks provide the solution to one sided learning experiences online. Giving quality feedback and guidance to learners of all levels and experience in the field of music and beyond. All visually taught subjects can be learned using Video Exchange Learning.
ArtistWorks partners with experienced instructors whose goal is to leap beyond the in person lessons they’ve been teaching for years into the most innovative online instruction available today: Video Exchange™ Learning. All teachers make extensive use of this innovation by providing Video Responses to each student’s video submission to them. This requires a depth of knowledge that only comes from being an experienced performer and musician.
We offer lessons in 13 different styles of music including acoustic guitar, jazz improv/gypsy guitar, finger style solo guitar, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, acoustic bass, harmonica, jazz/fusion drums, rock drums, DJ scratching, classical piano and banjo. Each video lesson is offered with multiple angles for optimal online learning. Often, slow motion lessons are also available where appropriate. Study Materials accompany many lessons.

James Taylor, President

After studying Business Administration in the UK, James worked for pioneering technology company Linn Records and music instrument retailer Sound Control before co-founding P3 Music Ltd with entertainment lawyer Alison Burns.

By the time James had reached the age of 21, he had negotiated his first deal with a Japanese multi-national and by the age of 22 had negotiated deals with major corporations including BMG, Sony, BBC, PBS and Yamaha. He then went on to build worldwide marketing campaigns for artists including Deacon Blue, Steve Howe of YES and Justin Currie of Del Amitri. During this time James also personally worked with artists including Jamie Cullum, Bryn Terfel, Tony Christie and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. In 2007 James sold a large stake in P3 Music to a private equity company and by this time the business was encompassing record labels, artist management, talent booking and music publishing.

He served as Chairman of the Scottish Music Industry Association and the PRS Scottish Consultative Committee as well as being a specialist advisor to the Scottish Arts Council.
In Dec 2010 James Taylor became Director of Global Business Development for leading education technology company ArtistWorks in California.

At the age of 10, James Taylor started playing drums and by the age of 20 he had worked with some of the UK’s leading jazz musicians, recorded with the legendary Stephane Grappelli and joined Martin Taylor’s Spirit of Django, which won Best Group at the 1997 British Jazz Awards.

He has toured in both Europe and the Far East, played on TV and radio shows and performed in some of the great music venues including London’s Royal Albert Hall and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. During this time he performed with artists including Ronnie Wood, Mick Hucknall, Paul Carrack, David Grisman, Bill Wyman, Kiki Dee, Guy Barker, Alan Barnes and the Royal Liverpool Philarmonic Orchestra.