Monday, May 7

Axuria -- Restaurant Review

54, Avenue Félix FAURE, 
75015, Paris
Tél : 01 45 54 13 91
Webiste:  "Axuria"
Hours: 7 jours sur 7 de 12h à 14h30
et de 19h à 23h

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on plats--main course)

1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  4 - Star......................................................................................................................2 - Bell

Axuria, which means milk fed lamb, is a restaurant not too far from where we live. A friend called last minute and asked if could join her for dinner. Never one to turn down a dinner invitation we said, "bien sûr" (of course). We had heard of the restaurant and we were able to make reservations on the same day.  I was surprised, but then I remembered it was election night, and also a Sunday, so not a typical dining evening.

We got to the restaurant, and the waiter/maitre’d answered the door and greeted us very warmly. Our friend was already at the table. We had a very nice table along the window, and the restaurant was maybe a third full. It has a very nice interior, nicely laid out with a very cooling blue color palate.

Almost immediately we got an amuse bouche of chorizo sausages and puff pastry cheese sticks.  I was surprised the chorizo had very little kick to it, and the cheese sticks were nothing special.

We were going to get apéros, but had decided just to get a half a bottle each of the Isabelle et Pierre Clément Châtenoy red and white.  We loved the wines, since I’m not a wine connoisseur all I can tell you was that the white was a tad dry, but not as dry as a sancerre, loved it. And, my companions thought the red wine dry and robust, it was a hit as well. 

Much to our surprise and delight, we got another amuse bouche, this time it was  a little creamy soup of leeks, celery and green onions, with a sprinkling of a little olive oil. We loved this dish. Rather than be dainty, I drank it and practically licked the bowl. I could’ve had that as a main course for sure.


Our friend ordered the “Ravioli de truffes noires court-bouillon et sa crème parfumée” (Ravioli of black truffle broth and flavored cream).  Just a little aside, our friend is Italian, so she knows ravioli. She raved that it was delicious, especially the sauce. Not wanting to dig into the ravioli, I asked if I could sop up some of sauce with my bread. It was delicious. Extremely tasty, or as they say in French, “Beaucoup de goût” lots of flavor.

“Coeur de scarole braisée farcie aux huitres fines de claires marennes d'Oléron cuit en cocotte, laqué” (Escarole stuffed with oysters fine clear Marennes d’Oléron broth).  This was a stuffed escarole with oysters. This dish was delicious. I wasn’t as polite and asked my companion if I could taste it.  Yum, yum. This dish wasn’t as creamy as the ravioli, but was not a shy dish, you could taste the oysters, and the accompanying broth was delightful.  It had a punch of flavors.

I ordered the “Pâte artisinale aux queues de langoustines, consummé d'épices et feuille de citron kaffir” (A dough stuffed with langoustines, broth of spices and kaffir lime leaf). This was probably the most refined of all the entrées we had. Basically, it was akin to a wonton stuffed with langostines. Normally kaffir leafs are used in Southeast Asian curries, but in this dish the citrusy element was quite mild and not overwhelming. It was a good, solid dish, again very refined.


Our Italian friend ordered the Parmentier de cochon Iberique braisé, sarriette (Braised Iberian savory pork pie). I’m not a big fan of “parmentier” which is akin to a sheppards pie, oftentimes it’s folded into the mashed potatoes, in this case it was all meat and then a layer of potatoes on top. I thought the pulled pork was a bit stringy, our friend thought it was OK, but I would definitely not order something that is typically made in a French home. It was not a complicated nor a sophisticated dish.

Cabillaud with a foam cream and variety of vegetables. The dish was flavorful, and my companion enjoyed that the dish was accompanied with various vegetables which is a rarity in most French restaurants, unless you’re ordering a salad as a plat, and contrary to popular belief, French fries don’t count.

I had the “Braisée traver de Porc” (braised pork ribs).  These spare ribs are nothing like the typical spare ribs you get in US. They were slowly braised in a rich wine sauce and the meat literally fell off the bone. I loved the dish because it was rich in flavor.  Surprisingly, it was served with a side of haricot vert, carrots, squash,some potatoes and mushrooms. That was quite a nice accompaniment.


Our Italian friend ordered “Craquant de 3 sorbets maison, colis de framboises” (3 crisp sorbets, raspberry parcels), this was basically a trio of sorbets that consisted of raspberry, mango, and lemon accompanied with some sugar crispy wafers. Our friend said it was quite refreshing after a heavy meal.

Originally my companion ordered the “Petit feuilleté chaud de pommes, crème glacée à la vanilla.” Our waiter got it confused, and brought out the “Assiette de fruits frais de saison simplement minute” (Assorted fresh seasonal fruit ). He was about to return it until he saw the plate of fruit and incredible variety, it was too appetizing to return.  He liked the fruit and thought it was very fresh. It also had a dollop of mango sorbet

I ordered “Assiette de fromage” (plate of cheese). I have to say, I had quite the variety of cheese. Normally, you get 2 or 3 types of cheese to sample, but this particular dish had 5-cheeses, a nice salad tossed in a mild creamy vinaigrette, accompanied with walnuts and dried apricot. Whoever their cheese vendor is, s/he is a keeper.

After desserts, when we thought all was said and done, much to our surprise and delight, they served us a plate of madeleines as well as little chocolate fudge.  At this point, I’m thinking I'm liking this restaurant a lot!

Click here for video of "Axuria"

Summary: Although it's namesake is Axuria (milk fed lamb), I think there was maybe one lamb dish on the menu. Regardless, this restaurant is a winner. Chef Olivier Amostoy is one of the best Chefs in Paris.  Our favorite dish was the amuse bouche soup.  The only dish we weren’t that excited about was the parmentier, but other than that, everything was a winner. I really don’t want to share this restaurant, since it’s a neighborhood restaurant that I want to start frequenting, but I’m all about sharing.  Auxria is a hidden gem, so go before it becomes too popular.

Total bill came to 137€ for 3-people

Saturday, May 5

Délice de Shandong -- Restaurant Review

88, Boulevard de l'Hôpital
75013 Paris
Tél : 01-45-87-23-37
Hours: Le restaurant est ouvert tous les jours sauf mercredi. 
Les horaires d’ouverture sont de 12h00 à 15h00 à midi et de 18h30 à 23h00 le soir.

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on plats--main course)

1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  4 - Star......................................................................................................................2 - Bell

Typically we go for Asian food for lunch with friends on the week-ends (comme d'habitude), and usually around Avenue de Choisy in the heart of the 13eme arrondissement, Chinatown.  Today for lunch we decided to do something different and head over to the other side of the 13eme, along the boulevard de l’Hôpital.  We selected “Délice de Shandong”.  Shandong, being a Northeast province of China, and is known for its vinegars, grains, peanuts, seafood, and they favor steamed breads vs rice as their starch of choice. 

We were 5-people. A couple from NYC, and one in particular very well versed on Western cuisine as well as Asian/Chinese cuisine, a “foodie” in other words.  Myself, JJ, and my best friend who is from San Diego, and although he does not claim to be a “foodie” he has a fairly good palate.

We ordered several dishes and they came at varying times as in most Chinese restaurants. So here’s what we ordered:

We ordered the “Soupe avec le goût pimenté et aigre” (Hot spicy sour soup). Great consistency, tasty, but we all agreed it was lacking something. So, we asked for some soy sauce and vinegar, keep in mind Shandongregion of China is well known for their vinegar. I just added vinegar to mine, since I found the salt balance just fine. What a difference it made. It tasted like what “hot and sour soup” is suppose to taste like.

Ravioli au porc et chou (potstickers). They were a little bit on the doughy side, and one companion was expecting it to be a little pan fried so the bottom would be crunchy and the top steam sort of like gyoza (Japanese version), but it was all steamed. Regardless, I thought they were good.

“Intestins de porc aromatisé” (flavored pork intestines). This was probably our favorite dish. It’s a spicy dish accompanied by sweet banana chilis, with a nice layer of hot chili oils. Pork intestines can have a funky odor and taste, but the Chef did a great job of ensuring they were cleaned properly We devoured this dish like no tomorrow. It isn’t for everyone, in fact, my best friend would not eat the intestines, but he did eat the banana peppers. And, it is a very spicy dish!

Porc fumé sautés pimenté (Spicy smoked pork sautéed).  This was our second most favorite dish. It was spicy, smoky, and was "chowed" with leeks and tofu, with the latter having the consistency of tempeh. The pork was pork belly, now how can you go wrong with that. 

We had one vegetarian dish. “Aubergines à la sauce piquante” (Eggplant with a spicy sauce).  Eggplant has a tendency to absorb a lot of oils, but there’s a difference between being greasy and oily, and this dish did have chili oils as a flavoring agent, which gave it a little heat, it was delicious. We loved it. I think there’s a trend here that we’re liking the really spicy dishes. 

Lastly, at the request of one of friends who doesn’t really eat spicy, we ordered two dishes: the “Poulet aux ciboulettes à la vapeur” (Steamed chicken with chives), and Boeuf sauté aux oignons (Beef sautéed with onions).

Poulet aux ciboulettes à la vapeur.  This was a very mild and delicate dish. Surprisingly, the chicken was very, very tender and moist; probably due to the steaming and the fact that they didn’t over steam it. The added chives gave it another delicate layer. We liked it, but were not wowed by it.

Boeuf sauté aux oignons.  Except for one person, this was the dish that we all unanimously agreed was “boring”. I don’t know how else to describe it except it was dull and not very imaginative. It’s something you could get at the Chinese “traiteur” in Paris.

It looks like this group really liked the spicy dishes. I’ve noticed in France that a lot of restaurants that would typically be “spicy” in their native countries "Frenchify" their food and tone it down. This restaurant stays true to its roots. The dishes that were suppose to be spicy, were.

All of us liked the food; however, my best friend preferred the Chinese food around the Ave de Choisy.

Summary:  This is the next best thing to be being in China, San Francisco, or NYC. Unfortunately, we had ordered so many dishes that we neglected some other dishes that are known for this region, such as the seafood, steamed breads and peanuts...  Oh well, there’s always another day. And, we’ll be sure to go back!

For 5-people including 2-beers, 2-sodas, and a big bottle of Badoit (sparkling water), our bill came to 18 euros each.

Friday, May 4

Webcast: Getting to Outcomes in Underage Drinking Prevention

On May 21, from 10-11:30 a.m., the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will host Getting to Outcomes in Underage Drinking Prevention, a live, interactive webcast.  The webcast will highlight communities that are using Town Hall Meetings to engage individuals and organization in achieving measurable outcomes through the use of evidence-based environmental prevention strategies.  A panel of national, State, and local activists will discuss approaches that are working to prevent and reduce underage alcohol use and its consequences and will respond to questions and comments from online participants.  The webcast supports SAMHSA's National Prevention Week and, specifically, Underage Drinking Prevention Day on May 21.  

Details on how to log in or pose questions to the panel will be posted on May 21. No registration is required.

Is Pet Health(Medical) Insurance For You

Pet Lovers are really increasing day by day as the awareness is increasing in the human being.Pet Health Insurance is a big ask for some people but we can't afford to risk some one very like a part of our family.It wasn't that long ago when you could only get insurance for people and property. But for some time now, pet owners have been demanding insurance cover for their pets and the insurance companies have been listening.
Pet Health(Medical) Insurance
With the cost of veterinarian care spiraling ever higher, many pet owners are choosing to insure their pets against illness or accident. In doing so, they are not hit with unexpected medical costs that can and often do run into many thousands of dollars.

When people ask me, "what insurance company do you recommend", this is what I tell them.

Firstly, it is important that you do a little bit of research. Create your own simple pet insurance comparison chart. All pet insurance providers have differing insurance options available and of course, every pet and their owners have differing needs.

There are however, a handful of pet insurance 'must-haves' that absolutely must be included in your policy. If not, when the time comes to call upon the policy, you might find yourself out in the cold. By including these five elements in your pet insurance plan you will know you're covered no matter what happens. I'll discus these five elements in more detail in a moment so you'll know exactly what to look for.

Begin by short listing three or four pet insurance companies and request a free quote from each. The information you will typically provide is your pet's age, breed, any pre-existing conditions, and so on. You will also want to know about the costs involved, what exclusions there are, what's deductible etc. Most pet insurance companies have application forms online.

Once you have the policy information in front of you, start thinking about what your pet's needs are likely to be, how's your pet's health? Is she healthy or is here some type of medical condition. Then compare the different offerings of each company and their cost structure. By comparing the plans offered by each pet insurer, you can get precisely the type of pet insurance you need at a price you can afford.

There are some web sites that can make the process of pet insurance comparisons a lot easier. The good ones have accurate information which compares and rates the leading pet insurance providers based on real customer experience and reviews. On good pet insurance comparisons sites, the work has pretty much been done for you with easy to follow charts and reviews, even Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports and so on that will help you streamline what otherwise can be a confusing and laborious task.

Now. Back to the Five Vital Pat Insurance Must-Haves.

The facts are, there are five vital inclusions that you must have in your pet health insurance plan.

Here are the five Must-Haves.

Coverage for Chronic disease
Continual coverage for chronic disease
Coverage for Hereditary/congenital conditions
Cancer Coverage
Coverage for Breed specific conditions

Why do you need these inclusions?

If you do not include these five essential inclusions in your pet insurance coverage, you are wasting your money. Without them you will not be fully protected.

These pet ailments can and probably will affect your pet during its lifetime and each of them are singularly expensive and difficult to treat.

For example:

Almost 50% of pets over 10 years of age will die from cancer. Chronic Diseases are generally long in duration and slow in progression. Many breeds and species are predisposed to some medical conditions like hip dysplasia. These conditions can be fatal and the ongoing medical care can be upward of ten to fifteen thousand dollars and more.

The cost of pet insurance normally ranges between fifteen and thirty dollars per month. This amount varies form company to company and is dependent factors like the coverage levels you choose, your breed of animal, your pet's age etc.

When you consider how much it would cost you to meet these medical expenses yourself, pet health insurance doesn't seem that expensive.

Advances in veterinary medical technology results in our pet's living longer, healthier and happier which is a great thing but unfortunately it comes at a cost.

Thursday, May 3

Overview of youth substance abuse problem and possible solutions

A commentary published in the May 2012 edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health provides a good overview of the adolescent substance abuse problem.  Some things I learned from the article are:

  • Among adolescents who use addictive substances, 65% use more than one drug.  
  • Among adolescents who have ever used tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs, 19% meet the clinical criteria for having a substance use disorder as do 33% of current users.
  • Only 6% of high school students who have a substance use disorder receive formal treatment.  Fewer teens who need treatment receive it compared with other age groups.
"Moreover, addictive substances have a greater negative impact on the adolescent brain than the adult brain, increasing the risk of further use, adversely influencing the development of the regions of the brain associated with judgment, attention, memory and reward seeking, and increasing the risk of addiction."  

The article goes on to outline influences that drive adolescent substance abuse such as parents, the media, availability and individual challenges.  It closes by stating, "Despite a significant body of scientific evidence demonstrating these facts, this knowledge [about adolescent substance abuse] has not been translated broadly into public health and medical practice."  

This is where coalitions can begin to create change.  Since coalitions are composed of individuals representing different sectors of a community, information about adolescent substance abuse and how we can prevent it can be widely shared.  Coalition members can play a significant role in educating others in the community.  
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