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Monday, February 25, 2013

02/26 - North Meets South - American Chefs Embrace Australian Truffles

Winter truffles and summer produce - a delightful prospect that chefs over America are embracing with the bountiful supply of high quality Australian truffles.  Slow Living Radio welcomes some of the main players in the chain of supply of this "Black Gold" - Shane Styles, from the Wine and Truffle Company in West Australia, the largest farm in the country, Frank Brunacci, ex Aussie chef and now the major importer in the US, and Todd Spanier, King of Mushrooms, supplier of "all things fungi" to Bay Area restaurants.


The stage is set, and this week we come to you from the grand splendour of San Francisco's Grand Dame, the Fairmont Hotel, where old-world charm takes you back to times gone by.

World-renowned, The Fairmont San Francisco hotel, which opened in 1907, presents an awe-inspiring picture of historic San Francisco. The grandeur of the hotel, coupled with its reputation for impeccable service promises a truly memorable experience.  Centrally located, this luxury San Francisco hotel is a short cable car trip from the bustling Downtown, Financial District, Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf. In fact, The Fairmont San Francisco Hotel is the only spot in San Francisco where each of the City's cable car lines meet.  The Fairmont San Francisco’s Venetian Room was the venue where the legendary Tony Bennett debuted his version of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” The Fairmont has served as the San Francisco residence for U.S. presidents, world leaders and entertainment stars.

A fitting venue to welcome our esteemed truffle family, with Thomas Klein (part Australian) Regional Vice President for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts welcoming us to this city icon.

The Truffle Family: From Left,
Joe Giovannetti, General Manager, King of Mushroom, Frank Brunacci, Todd Spanier and Shane Styles

 Shane Styles

The Wine & Truffle Co is the largest producer of Superior Perigord Truffles in the southern hemisphere, with over 13,000 hazel and oak trees. The farm is located in the South-West Australian town of Manjimup on 52 hectares of picturesque, undulating land surrounded by Karri and Jarrah forests.

The Truffière (or truffle farm) was established under the expert guidance of Forestry Scientist Dr. Nick Malajczuk, who is recognised as a world authority on edible fungi.

Since the company began cultivating black truffles in 1997, their truffle production has grown exponentially from 600 kilograms in 2008 to a predicted 2.5 tonnes by the end of the upcoming season.

Truffles are mainly associated with European epicurean culture and for many centuries grew wild in certain parts of Europe, particularly in France and Italy. Their rarity and scarce availability make them a valuable and expensive delicacy, especially when bought for commercial use, as they can cost between $3,000 and $4,000 a kilo.

In Australia, cultivating truffles is a unique and challenging experience that The Wine and Truffle Company has embraced with enthusiasm and passion. Their truffles grace the tables of fine dining restaurants in Australia as well as being shipped around the world, including Germany, UK, Denmark, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, USA, Spain, Singapore and Indonesia. Truffles can be at a restaurant in the USA within 2 days of being harvested at the Manjimup truffière!

Being also a producer of
premium fine wines and the largest cultivator of the gourmet Superior Perigord truffle in the southern hemisphere, The Wine and Truffle Company is one of the main tourist attractions in the Manjimup region. It is also one of the few Truffières in the world where you can participate in the excitement of a guided truffle hunt and you can discover how to locate the rare and wondrous black truffle, which is often referred to as ‘black gold’ or ‘black diamond’.

Frank Brunacci
Owner, Chef
The Chefs Diamond
Purveyor and Importer of Year Round Truffles

Executive Chef Frank Brunacci's last official chef's appointment was at Trump International Hotel & Tower, Chicago, after cooking in some of the world’s most distinguished kitchens. With a modern American approach at the heart of his cooking philosophy—which unifies traditional European and Asian classic cooking techniques, Chef Brunacci oversaw all areas of the property’s culinary programs: its fine dining restaurant, Sixteen; its chic lounge, Rebar; room service and banquets.

The Australian native has lived, traveled and worked all over the world. The learning curve was steep as a young chef in a parade of world-class environs, but Brunacci was a natural; following an apprenticeship in Australia at age 21, he moved to London to work at Les Saveurs Restaurant.

Working 15 hours a day at Les Saveurs, Brunacci credits that time as “the best learning experience of my life.” After leaving Les Saveurs, he returned to Australia and cooked for two years before moving to the United States for the first time in 1997 after receiving an invitation to open the Ritz Carlton, Buckhead. “Cooking there afforded me the opportunity to cook with foie gras, truffles and many other rare ingredients we didn’t necessarily see in Australia at that time,” he says.

He spent three years in Buckhead before opening Victor’s, which was awarded five diamonds after only 13 months in operation at The Ritz Carlton, New Orleans. Three years later, Brunacci moved to L’Auberge de Sedona, an ultra-luxurious spa in Arizona, and then, to The Club & Spa at Fiddler’s Creek in Naples, Florida.

Chef Brunacci now scours the globe for the highest quality truffles that he can deliver in the minimum amount of time to his many chef and distributor clients.  He also accesses unique value-added truffle products for those times when the dollar or season keeps the fresh gem at bay!

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Todd Spanier
"King of Mushrooms"

Todd Spanier is known by many to be a kind, considerate, and passionate person, but he is better known as the “King of Mushrooms.” Todd is a well-known figure within the food industry, and is considered to be a pioneer of the “sustainable” and “wild food” movements in California. Todd’s company, King of Mushrooms, has been an essential and valued purveyor of wild foods for hundreds of local restaurants and businesses for almost twenty years. King of Mushrooms has helped create a community of local chefs, farmers, and foragers whose dedication to sustainable food assures that there is a steady supply of fresh, wild and exotic mushrooms as well as other choice edibles.

At age five, Todd was introduced to mushrooms and other various wild edibles by both of his grandfathers. Taking hikes and searching for different types of mushrooms became a weekly occurrence, and the more knowledgeable Todd became, his passion and interest for nature and the outdoors grew. His grandfathers taught him about different mushroom habitats, the influences of lunar cycles, rain, and temperature, and most importantly they taught him how to sustainably pick the mushrooms he most desperately sought out. Todd eventually became involved with the Boy Scouts of America where his skills and understanding of the wilderness further developed. He eventually received his eagle scout award, which is the highest honor a boy scout can receive.

Todd and his family would often go mushroom hunting together, and the person who found the largest mushroom that day was “the king.” One afternoon, Todd went hunting alone and stumbled upon an incredible porcini patch, and was able to pick hundreds of beautiful mushrooms. Todd brought them home, displayed them, and realized that he and his family were not going to eat them all. Having an incredible respect and appreciation for nature, Todd did not want to waste anything and immediately brought his fresh porcini into a local restaurant where he made his first sale. By the end of high school, Todd had already established many accounts with local restaurants.

In 1996, Todd founded King of Mushrooms, a purveyor of sustainable foods specializing in mushrooms, truffles, and other wild edibles. His company has become one of the top purveyors on the west coast thanks to excellent customer service, pricing, and quality products. King of Mushrooms loyal clientele, friends, and family are what keep King of Mushrooms thriving, and Todd’s company is constantly evolving in efforts to become more efficient and green.

Todd is also a passionate advocate for food safety concerning wild foods that are harvested sustainably. Proper identification, which is extremely important when handling and consuming mushrooms is one of Todd’s major concerns as well. Todd is a life-time member of the San Francisco Mycological Society, as well as many other fungus-focused groups such as the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz. Todd also participates in many mushroom and truffle events throughout the year where he sells, lectures about, and identifies mushrooms for curious attendees. Todd is very knowledgeable and has traveled as far as Italy to give lectures on mushrooms and truffles, and is known as an expert in his field.

Todd has lived in the bay area his whole life and currently resides in San Mateo with his beautiful wife Cristina Spanier. They have been married for almost five years now, and Cristina’s love and support has been a blessing for Todd. Cristina and Todd often hunt mushrooms together as husband and wife, and usually participate in mushroom events together. Foraging for wild mushrooms is Todd’s birthright and is a major part of Todd’s family heritage. Todd’s family has been foraging for wild foods for more than three generations, and now Todd and Cristina are happy to continue this family legacy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

02/19 - Luxury in London's Mayfair to Exploring Historic Bath - our UK Sojourn!

Slow Living's Stephen Andrews and Sally James come to you from their travels in London and Bath, bringing you just a teaser of their experiences.  And for a look at some of their personal highlights, go to

We begin with a delightful stay at the historic Chesterfield Hotel in Mayfair, Enjoy hearing the story of Red Carnation Hotels who founded this charming property and some insider tips on Mayfair from the Chef and Deputy General Manager.

We then continue to Bath, where we stayed at the delightful Hill House, hosted by proprietors, Douglas, Harry and their lovable dog, Jasper.  Douglas gives us the low down on where to eat, drink and explore, and some of the history of this enchanting city.

Situated in the heart of London's most prestigious district, the quiet and understated elegance of The Chesterfield Mayfair is celebrated for its style, comfort, and exceptional levels of personal service. Discreetly tucked away near Berkeley Square and a mere stone's throw from Green Park Tube station, the quiet, calm and efficient service blended with supreme comfort characterize this luxurious four-star hotel. The 94 deluxe guest rooms and 13 luxurious suites are each uniquely designed and equipped with the latest technology.

Butler’s Restaurant is renowned for serving “the best Dover Sole in London”, the light Conservatory provides an airy setting for cocktail parties, light lunches, and award-winning traditional afternoon teas, while the Terrace Bar provides the perfect early evening retreat.

Mons Henningson
Deputy General Manager

Having come to the UK from Sweden I started my career in sales. Over the last 13 years I have worked through positions within Front of House including The Eton Collection and later took on the role as General Manager in Bloomsbury for 5 years. I have now joined the prestigious Chesterfield Mayfair hotel and look forward to being a part of the great team here. My approach in the hotel industry has always been to provide a service that is above and beyond expectations that will make your stay unforgettable

Ben Kelliher
Executive Chef

Born and bred in London I started my career at North West Kent Collage where I trained as an apprenticeship chef for three years. After finishing my course I started my culinary journey where I learned my passion for this great industry. Working at some of London’s top hotels my passion for food has grown and grown. I am please to be here at the Chesterfield Mayfair where, using fresh local seasonal produce from around the United Kingdom I am sure me and my team can create a dining experience that you will remember forever.

The Heart Of Red Carnation

The Red Carnation Hotels (RCH) story is a love story. It started over fifty years ago, and has lasted a lifetime.
It all began, back in the 1950s, when a beautiful young South African woman named Bea caught the eye of a distinguished hotelier named Stanley, who was known for wearing a small red carnation in his lapel. In 1954, as newlyweds of modest beginnings, their shared love for, and innate understanding of, world class hospitality, exquisite style, fine cuisine, grand architecture and inspiring travel, set the foundations for the establishment of leading hotels in South Africa.
Groundbreaking for the times, each hotel was hailed as the height of taste and excellence in dining, accommodation and service, while staying true to the promise of value. In 1975, their journey took them, and their four young children, to Great Britain. It is there that the next chapter of their story unfolded. In 1984, starting with purchase of London-based “The Chesterfield Hotel”, Bea Tollman, decided to create RCH. RCH is where her lifelong love for the hotel business, and her husband’s signature flower, first came to life.
 RCH evolved since into what is now an award winning, family owned and run collection of fourteen five and four star boutique luxury hotels, along with a gastro pub and a South African inspired London restaurant. From Africa and the USA to Europe, RCH has established a reputation for timeless décor, exceptional locations, highly personal and genuine guest care, and celebrated cuisine. RCH has become a ‘home away from home’ for the business and holiday travellers who know, feel and appreciate, the RCH difference.

Stylish Mayfair – Your Chic Residence For Exploring The Best Of London

Mayfair has a cachet that the rest of London cannot match. No other London address is as smart while no other area offers so much exclusive shopping.

From The Chesterfield Mayfair, you can easily explore central London on foot. The glittering shops on Bond Street, Regent Street, and Piccadilly are just a few minutes away. To the south, the Royal Parks offer an inviting stroll towards Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard. Nearby attractions include the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Arcade, and Fortnum& Mason – all situated on Piccadilly.

Just minutes walk from Chesterfield, you'll find the bustling hub of Shepherds Market, home to some marvellous pubs, Euro-centric and Middle Eastern restaurants.   (We loved Boudin Blanc, a cosy, warm French restaurant with great food and wine list - the carafe wines were a reminder of how fantastic regional simple French wines are!)

A little further to the east takes you to Soho and London's vibrant theatre land, or towards Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye.  When in Soho, hunt down either Flat White or Milk Shake for some seriously good coffee!

And towards the other direction brings you to Sloane Square and Chelsea - great shopping and more great restaurants.  For coffee and organic smoothies, try Joe and the Juicer, for a Copenhagen import, and snuggle down to a basement for French small plates and a great eclectic wine list at Le Cercle.

Park Lane is a few minutes to the west of the hotel. At one end, you'll find Marble Arch and Speakers' Corner, while at the other there's Apsley House, the magnificent home of the Duke of Wellington. Beyond Park Lane lies Hyde Park and its popular boating lake, The Serpentine.

A few other spots to lay your head at night and explore this exciting city.......

If you'd like to stay just a few blocks from Harrods, in the heart of Knightsbridge, yet in a quiet residential street, try The Beaufort, an elegant guest house offering complimentary champagne (yes the real thing), and drinks through the evening and high tea on request.  It's close also to the Victoria and Albert Museum and Hyde Park.

Or if you'd like to be nestled in the heart of South Kensington, surrounded by gastro-pubs, shops, all manner of restaurants, and a stone's throw to Notting Hill, try the Millennium Baileys.  A renovated Victorian London Townhouse, right on the tube station to Heathrow and Piccadilly. Bonus? Lovely spacious rooms!  Try dining at La Bouchee, cosy, romantic, and very French!  Or Bibendum for locally sourced dreamy seafood dishes.

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A Glimpse into Bath
Douglas Yeates, Proprietor
Hill House Bed and Breakfast

Proprietors, Harry, Douglas and Jasper

Hill House is a three storey Georgian end of terrace situated in the heart of historic Bath. Originally built around 1760 it has formerly been a hotel, wine merchants and public house. In 2011 it underwent extensive renovation into a 6 bedroom guest house retaining much of its original charm and character with all the amenities expected of the traveller in the 21st century.

ll the guest accommodation has refitted contemporary en suite shower rooms, flat screen TVs with Freeview, and complimentary White Company toiletries. The central location opposite Camden Crescent means you are literally only a few minute’s walk from all the major sites, places of interest and wonderful restaurants that Bath has to offer.

Their satisfying and delicious breakfast menu changes seasonally, even to making their own marmalade and preserves!. There is a freshly prepared buffet each day or you can order a hot breakfast cooked to order and made from locally sourced ingredients where possible.

A bit on Bath....

From the World-renowned Roman Baths, the unique Christmas Market in the run-up to Christmas, Premiership Rugby at the Rec, guided walks around ‘Bizarre Bath’, the Jane Austen Centre and many other museums to the renowned Bath International Music Festival, there is no shortage of things to do.
The Weir used in the Movie, Les Miserables,
where the fatal dive took place.

Bath is the home of Bath Rugby, Bath City Football Club, flat horse racing at Bath Race Course, motor racing at Castle Combe as well as a well known base for hot air ballooning and many other activities.

Bath has a wide range of local restaurants, bars and nightlife.
Further afield and easily accessible from Bath are Bristol, Glastonbury, Wells, Stonehenge, Longleat and the Cotswolds as well as many National Trust sites, all with their own unique appeal and charms.
Click here for the official Visit Bath listing of the hundreds of things to do while you are in Bath.

The Chequers

For dining, we enjoyed two terrific British meals - one at Circus Restaurant, for a more refined, seasonally focused approach, and The Chequers for an up-market gastro pub experience housed in a building dating back to 1776.  The fish and chips in ale batter was to experience indeed!

Monday, February 11, 2013

02/12 - Exquisitely French!

This week, Slow Living gets a glimpse into some of the food, wine, regions and culture of France.  We get an overview of the wonderful wine region of Burgundy, learn the history of Dijon from mustard house, Rein de Dijon and hear the magical story of a family of apiarists from Apidis.  And La Tourangelle's founder sheds new light on the sumptous nut oils that the Loire Valley's historical oil company has started to make in California, bringing the true sense of "French Slow Living Flavor" to the US with French finesse!

Visit,  to find out more about the French food and beverage.

Mrs. Cécile Dechelotte-Petit
Vive La Bourgogne

Vive la Bourgogne! was created in May 2006 on the initiative of 10 Burgundian companies. Today, it unites over 20 companies, which produce the best Burgundian regional specialties. Its objective is to promote, communicate, and develop sales of member companies.

Space, pure country air, romance, peace, beauty, tradition, sophistication, style and the simple pleasures of life combine - look no further …
Burgundy, or Bourgogne as it is known in Europe, is made up of four departments - the Yonne, the Côte d’Or, Nièvre, and Saône-et-Loire. Dijon is the capital of the whole region - a lovely, traditional town to visit. Everywhere in the verdant countryside there are unspoilt villages, and somehow, even when the buildings are falling apart, they still manage to charm. There are architectural details at every turn.

For many people traveling through France from north to south, the Abbaye de Fontenay and the vineyards of Beaune are just attractive road signs along the way. But linger a while and this area of France will quickly captivate. Châteaux and canals, beautiful countryside and a relaxed rural lifestyle await you.

In the land where food and wine is an art form, enjoy leisurely lunches and dinners, lovingly prepared. Burgundy wines are famous across the world. The vineyards, planted mostly with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape varieties, are lovingly tended and produce the prestigious red burgundy wine and white burgundy wines respectively. Visit some of the wineries, the beautiful and historic abbeys and châteaux, walk or drive around this gloriously unspoilt countryside. The roads are uncluttered and the pace of life meanders along. The local people are hospitable and you will find that it is a perfect place to explore. With a surface area of 31,500 sq km, Burgundy is larger than Belgium, with a low density of population totalling 1.6m.

Take a canoe on one of the lovely lakes in the Morvan forest, or play golf at a grand château. Burgundy has a rich and glorious past, and there are abbeys, churches and museums, archaeological sites and monasteries to explore. We look at the myths and legends, with some surprising results. Go wine tasting, visit the markets and delight in the choice in the supermarkets. Visits to the boulangerie are a ritual in France and the freshly baked baguettes and patisserie, impossible to resist.

Ease of transport has been one of the factors in the greatness of Burgundy throughout history, and the canals have played an important role in this. Today, tourists enjoy these waterways - the Canal de Bourgogne, du Nivernais and du Centre - 1,000 km of navigable routes and ports along the Saône river are equipped for wide-gauge barges. They are now used mainly for pleasure, barging holidays or canal cruising, and cycling and walking along the tow paths are popular.

The TGV high-speed train crosses the region, and the A6 motorway makes Burgundy an important crossroads in France. There are 597 km of motorways in all, making for good access to Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and the United Kingdom. We have guidelines to make your travelling easy if you are coming by air, by car or by train.

Hotels in Burgundy range from the elegant châteaux, decorated with great style and panache to convenient motorway stopovers for travelers en route. Often the châteaux have their own cellars offering wine tastings and maybe even their own vineyards. There are hotels in all price ranges in Dijon and Beaune, plus country auberges away from it all. We offer a choice of over 500 hotels throughout the region.

Tobin Haywood
Rein de Dijon

Rein de Dijon was founded in 1840 and is located in France by the historical city of Dijon. The are the producers of authentic French mustards, including classic smooth Dijon and whole grain Dijon, and a wide range of flavored mustards in attractive packaging for retail. They are a IFS / GFSI certified.


Matthieu Kohlmeyer, CEO
La Tourangelle

The production of gourmet oils is a time-honored tradition in France. Originally, each village had a mill which roasted and extracted the oil from nuts gathered by local farmers. These delicious oils were used in hearty rustic fare and were also found in Paris' finest restaurants.

La Tourangelle is one of just a handful of these remaining mills that keep this tradition alive. Through a partnership between one of the oldest and most respected French artisanal oil mills, Huilerie Croix Verte SAS from Saumur, France, and California Oils Corporation, La Tourangelle has succeeded in recreating the spirit of a traditional French oil mill in Woodland, California.
Hand-crafting a wide range of delicious artisan oils in both California and France, La Tourangelle distributes an exclusive line of premium quality oils in many countries around the world.


Mr. Thomas Decombard-Perronneau 

The Apidis/Perronneau family company specializes in the harvesting, packaging, and marketing of honeys and products made with honey from bees that are circulated around France to get the best flavors of the country. They have been beekeepers since 1890 and are committed to the search for the quality and respect of traditions.
With more than 4,000 hives, Apidis/Perronneau Family are at the forefront of French honey production.
Some of the products made from their monofloral and regionally selected honey are:
• Royal jelly, flower pollen, propolis
• Gingerbreads filled with jam
• Gingerbread
• Confectionery made with honey