Celebrating Association Vinea’s 20th Birthday

July 1st, 2013

by Dennis Payne

Located in Sierre, Switzerland, Association Vinea’s birthday party on September 6 – 8, 2013 will be an event to remember.

Together with hundreds of wineries – and thousands of wines – from every growing area of Switzerland, visitors can now add the pleasure of fine foods to that of sampling great wines, for a happy sensorial pairing experience. Vinea, in short, now includes gastronomy in its lineup.

Vinea, 20 years ago, was behind a revolution in the wine world, bringing together, side by side in the streets, a number of wine producers. The event was a winner on two counts: it offered for the first time an open-air event for wine tasting in the centre of a city, and it also brought together wine producers who were competitors and rarely inclined to share their space. The success was such that similar types of events followed elsewhere, throughout the country. It’s now Vinea’s turn to re-invent itself in order to remain out front serving the Swiss wine industry. A fresh new approach marks this 20th anniversary wine fair in Sierre.

Association VINEA

Twenty years ago Vinea was the only major wine event that brought together the public and wine producers. Its lead paved the way for a number of other events that were mainly local and organized around the grape varieties with which regions wanted to be identified: Amigne, Arvine, Humagne, Cornalin, Chasselas. Food and wine

routes were created in a number of areas in French-speaking Switzerland. Wine open house days became widespread throughout the country. So many interesting opportunities for winelovers ! This development, a positive one, nevertheless explains a slight dip in interest for the Sierre wine fair. The organizers decided that rather than taking this in stride it presents an opportunity to renew the underlying concept of Vinea. The 2013 fair is the first in a new era for the Sierre wine event.

Vinea, in brief, is taking on a new image to better meet the needs of both Swiss wine producers and visitors to the fair. “During a difficult time for the entire wine industry, we have to multiply our efforts to promote our wines,” says François Murisier, president of the Vinea Association.

An experience to share.  Vinea continues with the role that lies behind its originality and its success, bringing together wine artisans and consumers in an atmosphere that is festive and encourages shared knowledge. Its slogan “Wine, with intelligence” remains as strong as ever, but in addition Vinea is opening up to the world of gastronomy. The fair thus offers a new experience, one to be shared.


For additional information:

Association VINEA

Elisabeth Pasquier, Managing Director

Rue Sainte-Catherine 10

CH – 3960 Sierre

Tel +41 27 456 3144



Bruce Rubenstein Author of the Rockwell Heist

June 28th, 2013

Bruce Rubenstein has published one novel (Smoke – Calumet Books), short stories in venues including The North American Review and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine; two non-fiction books (Greed, Rage and Love Gone Wrong – Univ of Minnesota Press); and most recently The Rockwell Heist (Borealis Books). He has published hundreds of articles in weeklies and monthlies, most of them about crimes. His 1991 article in Chicago Magazine, Lost In Translation, was about the conviction of four Mexican immigrants for a quadruple murder in Chicago that they didn’t commit. As a result of his article the men were pardoned.

The Rockwell Heist Book Synopsis

The Rockwell Heist concerns the theft of seven Norman Rockwell paintings and a fake Renoir from a Minneapolis gallery in 1978, and the decades- long quest that resulted in their recovery. Robert Wittman, best selling author of Priceless – How I Went Undercover To Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures, called it: “A fast-paced and engrossing expose of the shady underbelly of the art world.”

In 1978 seven Norman Rockwell paintings and a supposed Renoir, later discovered to be a forgery, were stolen from Elayne Galleries in St. Louis Park. It is still the biggest theft in Minnesota history, and no one was ever convicted of the crime. Veteran crime writer Bruce Rubenstein, author of the new book The Rockwell Heist, details the story of the theft, the investigation, and the twenty-year quest to return the art to its rightful owners. Mr. Rubenstein recently answered some questions about his new book.

Why do you write crime stories, Mr. Rubenstein?

Because I always have something to write about. At least that was my standard answer when I was a freelancer selling articles to weeklies and monthlies. There is more to it than that, of course. People who write about business, or politics, or any number of other things always have something to write about too. But with crime your story has a dramatic hinge. And people are fascinated by crime.

Why were you drawn to the story of The Rockwell Heist?

It had everything a writer could ask for–feisty, sympathetic victims, bold villains who were part of a colorful local underworld, a sexy female con artist and her quasi-sympathetic dupe, a quest to recover the stolen paintings that went on for decades with one twist after another, hundreds of pages of files and many knowledgeable people to interview. And nobody got killed. I’ve been writing about crime for a long time, and I’m pretty tired of murders. This art theft and the many attempts to trade the loot for cash or something else of value seemed good-natured compared to the kind of crimes I’ve written about in the past.

Did you manage to solve the crime?

I found out who did it. So had the investigators. Like many crimes, it went into the books unsolved, even though the perpetrators, locally based professional criminals, were identified. There simply was not enough evidence to indict them. Their names were blacked out of the files, but I got in touch with one of the FBI’s informants and he told me who they were.

Why? Did he want credit? Notoriety?

No, in fact he went to great lengths to remain anonymous. It’s a phenomenon I’ve encountered many times. There are people who like to talk. There’s nothing in it for them. Just the opposite. In many cases they are risking their lives.

rockwell-heist-coverYou say that the value of the paintings that were stolen has mushroomed to more than $1 million by now. How much did the thieves realize?

Not much. The value of Norman Rockwell’s work waxed and waned during the time they retained possession of the art, but it didn’t really take off until long after they’d turned it over for a pretty minimal price to the mobsters who’d hired them to steal it.

So the theft was a failure, even though they got away with it?

Not at all. It accomplished exactly what the real authors of the act, Miami-based mobsters, wanted it to accomplish.

What was that?

I’m afraid you’ll have to buy the book to find out. I’ll tell you this much: the Rockwell paintings were peripheral to their real objective.

Well, if the mobsters didn’t really want the Rockwell paintings, what did they do once they got them?

They offered them for sale through a stolen art network in Europe. The evidence suggests that the paintings were bought and sold several times there, and maybe again in Argentina, before someone who was attempting to enter Brazil surrendered them to the Federal Police in Rio de Janeiro, probably in return for expedited processing of an application for Brazilian citizenship. Brazil doesn’t extradite its citizens to face charges in other countries, and wanted criminals often seek refuge there.

How much are the paintings worth now?

Rockwell’s work has undergone a critical re-evaluation in the last decade or so, and several of his paintings have sold for more than $1 million. The collective value of the Rockwells that were stolen from Elayne Galleries is conservatively $4 million.

Connect with Bruce:

Website     Twitter

View The Rockwell Heist on Amazon.

Wildly Affordable Organic Book Excerpt

June 27th, 2013

Linda Watson is a food evangelist: convinced we can make the world a better place by voting with our forks. She started the Cook for Good project after becoming obsessed with the national Food Stamp Challenge: living on a dollar a meal per person for a week. Her three-week experiment became a lifestyle, this website CookforGood.com, the book Wildly Affordable Organic, and now the Wildly Good Cook videos and teachers’ training program. Her story took a romantic turn recently when I wrote the spoof Fifty Weeks of Green: Romance & Recipes. She teach cooking classes and give talks on thrift, sustainability, and creating your dream life across the country.

If you’ve wanted to eat like it matters but felt you couldn’t afford it, Wildly Affordable Organic by Linda Watson is for you. It’s easy to think that “organic” is a code word for “expensive,” but it doesn’t have to be if you do it the Cook for Good way!

Learn the incredible secret of how you can eat well every day—from blueberry pancakes for breakfast to peach cobbler for dessert – averaging less than two dollars a meal. It’s a cookbook and more, with ingenious cooking plans, shopping lists, and month-long menus for every season.

Get ready for wild savings! You’ll discover how to:

  • Ease your family into a greener lifestyle with the 20-minute starter plan
  • Go organic on just $5 a day—or go thrifty and spend even less
  • Take advantage of your freezer and freeze your costs
  • Find the best deals at your local farmers’ market or grocery store
  • Cook easy, scrumptious, seasonal dishes from scratch

Packed with tips for streamlining meals, from shopping and cooking to washing dishes, this book shows how sustainable living is within everyone’s reach.

Slow global warming with delicious dinners? Lose weight, save money, and save the polar bears at the same time? When you live the Wildly Affordable Organic way, it is possible! Join the movement to change the way you eat and keep the change.


Apple Walnut Crumble

Welcome fall with this quick, lighter version of the classic Dutch Apple Cake. It has more apples plus healthy walnuts, half the fat and flour, and less than half the sugar. Instead of wasting time peeling apples, just slice them thinly and cut the slices into bite-sized pieces. The baked peels add texture and nutrition. In October 2012, I updated the recipe to use coconut spread or oil instead of butter.

This recipe is a tribute to Steve Jobs and to my mother-in-law (see notes below).

cut granny smith apples into thin slices then crossways so you can bake the peel without getting long strings of peel in the final dessert

Active time: about 30 minutes. Total time: about an hour. Serves six to eight.

Recipe ingredients

2 pounds Granny Smith or other tart baking apples, about 5 medium apples (900 grams)
1/4 cup white sugar (50 grams)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt
1/4 cup Earth Balance coconut spread or coconut oil (57 grams)
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour (60 grams)
1/2 cup walnuts (50 grams)
1/3 cup brown sugar (67 grams)
2 tablespoons water

Recipe method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. Cut each apple into quarters and cut out the core. Slice each quarter into four long slices, then cut slices across three or four times. Put apple pieces into baking pan as you go.
  3. Mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle over apples.apple walnut crumble ready to be baked with lots of fruit in in this healthy dessert plus nuts and less sugar and butter many recipes
  4. Mix flour and brown sugar in the bowl used for sugar mixture. Chop walnuts and stir into flour mixture. Melt coconut spread in a microwave-safe container, about 30 seconds on high power. Pour spread over flour mixture and stir until all flour is coated with butter, then crumble over top of apples.apple walnut crumble ready to be baked at 400 degrees
  5. Pour water into container used to melt coconut spread, swish around to pick up remaining flavor, and pour into pan along the edge without wetting the topping.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until topping browns slightly and apples are fork tender. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.apple walnut crumble hot from the oven
  7. Serve warm. Keeps covered at room temperature for a few days. Best reheated briefly before serving.two servings of apple walnut crumble

Recipe tips and notes

This recipe is a tribute to Apple visionary Steve Jobs, who saw the beauty in simplicity and living your true life. Steve was a vegetarian and animal lover. (Did you know that iPhoto face-recognition software recognizes cat faces as well as human ones?) What he said about work applies just as well to cooking:

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it, and like any great relationship it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don’t settle.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

This recipe was inspired by my mother-in-law Catherine Watson’s Dutch Apple Cake. At ninety two, she still doesn’t settle, finding love and purpose in her life with a fascinating mix of hospitality, home cooking, and hard work for social justice. When we visited her last week, I made the mistake of saying she had made a difference. “Still am making one!” she piped up from her nursing-home bed. She’s right, too.

Thank you, Steve Jobs and Mother Watson, for making the world a better place and moving others to join you.

Continue reading and view Wildly Organic Affordable on Amazon.

Connect with Linda at CookForGood.com.

Images courtesy of CookForGood.com.

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