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.  

Prevention part of the National Drug Control Strategy

I recently posted information from the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy.  The strategy highlights the importance of youth substance abuse prevention:

Drug use, including the abuse of prescription medications and underage drinking, significantly affects the health and well-being of the Nation's youth and young adults.  Substance use affects academic performance and military preparedness and is linked to crime, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities, lost productivity, and increase health care costs.  Stopping use before it begins can increase an individual's chances of living a longer, healthier, and more productive life.  Put simply, drug prevention saves lives and cuts long-term costs.  Recent research has shown that each dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18.  

The strategy goes on to describe the many community-level prevention activities that are supported by federal dollars.  Among them are Drug Free Communities (DFC) coalitions, such as Prevention WINS.  A national evaluation of the 718 DFC coalitions found that youth substance use declined significantly in communities with DFC grantees.

In NE Seattle, served by the Prevention WINS coalition, underage drinking rates declined significantly between 2006 -- when the coalition was formed -- and 2010.  During that time, the coalition's primary focus was the reduction of underage drinking rates that were higher than the state average.  Many community organizations and individuals came together and conducted a variety of prevention strategies and activities that supported healthy decision making among middle and high school students.

The chart below shows the 2006 and 2010 alcohol-related data for 10th grade students in NE Seattle -- Nathan Hale and Roosevelt High School combined -- according to the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey.  

A Big Wednesday in South Carolina politics

Two things came out Wednesday that reshaped South Carolina politics for the near future, and maybe for years.  

First, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that candidates who did not file a Statement of Economic Interests statement when they filed for election were not eligible for the ballots.  That removed nearly 100 candidates from the ballots and made this year's election very incumbent friendly.  Incumbents were excluded from the decision because they already file such statements on an annual basis.  

There will be some loud huffing and puffing among some about the State Supreme Court's decision, but it was sound.  The law is clear on the matter.  All the Court did was enforce the law.  

Less clear is how Governor Nikki Haley escaped a South Carolina House Ethics Committee hearing about her lobbying while she was a member of the South Carolina House.   The House polices its owns members on such matters, and as the questions were about Haley's conduct while a member of the the House, the House panel decided not to pursue it any further.  

They did so by a partisan vote of 5-1.  They cited ambiguities in the law, that frankly, it seems that they and other current House members want to take advantage of.  If they would have found that Haley was wrong to take nice checks from people doing business with the state for "consulting" then members would have to give up their own legal fees and consulting fees.   That is not going to happen. 

Instead, the so called "conservative" and "open" Republican State House of Representatives made clear and, to their credit, openly, they are open for business.  They gave the green light to members to rake in the money helping entities that do with the business with the state while those members serve in the House.  

It was a sad day for South Carolina.  It was a sad day for the House.  And, was perhaps a sadder day for Governor Haley then she might think.  After campaigning against "the good ole boys," they just declared her one of their own.  Her buddies in the House covered her, even if for their own sake. 

They did not do that for her.  They did that for themselves.  Not only did they protect selfish economic interests, but they now have a Governor in Haley, who was already weak on a number of levels, that owes them.  

Add it together, and those who hold the strings of power in Columbia had a very good day Wednesday and solidified their positions very well. 

Wednesday, May 2

Semilla -- Restaurant Review

Unmarked restaurant, hopefully they'll get a sign soon

Address: 54 rue de Seine, 75006
Nearest transport: Mabillon (10)
Est ouvert tous les jours: du lundi au samedi: 12:30-14:30 déjeuner, 14:30-19h diner et brunch. Dimanche: brunch de 12h30 à 16h puis supper à partir de 19h "pièce du boucher"justqu'`a 22h
Reservations: recommended
Telephone: 01 43 54 34 50

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+)

  3.5 - Star.................................................. (Prix-fixe menu)...............................................2 - Bell

Typically every month we meet up with a good friend to explore or retry a new restaurants. So, on May 1,  we decided to try Semilla.  Semilla has only been open for a month, and is the new restaurant venture of Miami born Juan Sanchez and New Zealander Drew Harre.  I've been to their restaurant Fish La Boissonnerie and liked it immensely and was extremely excited to try this new restaurant close to their restaurant  Fish La Boissonnerie.

Interior of restaurant

The restaurant is not marked. We took a guess and figured that the unmarked restaurant had to be Semilla; fortunately, we were right.  It's a quite spacious restaurant. It almost felt like you were in a loft because of all the exposed piping and air-conditioning vent. I liked it, it had a lot of character.

Water dispensing machine

We were hoping to be able to eat earlier, so we met at noon.  We were the first one in the restaurant.  We asked if we could have a menu. The maitre'd said, "absolutely not, we would have to wait until 12:30" exactly, no less, no more. All part of the rigid french experience (but in fairness, the menus are printed each day and were only brought to the restaurant at 12:30).  So, while we waited they asked if we wanted water, flat or with gas. They had their own dispenser that makes sparkling water free of charge, so we opted for that, very green.

Chef's in the open kitchen

The Kitchen is quite open and exposed. I love that you can see them preparing the food and checking to see that they're not using pre-packaged food "a la Metro" (a sort of Costco of prepared foods for restaurants). Fortunately, we did not see any.

Chef's Luncheon

As we waited, we saw at least 10-young chefs preparing their lunch. In France, the Chefs prepare and eat their lunch before opening the restaurant to the public.  I was amazed how fast they ate, maybe 15-minutes tops.

Finally 12:30 pm arrived. We got our menu which was freshly printed on a sheet of paper. What struck me first and foremost was the price, 19 euros for the formule lunch which consisted of an entrée (the 1 and only 1 entrée contained 3 items, so no choice, an interesting concept), and a plat. Desserts were extra at 8 euros, so for all 3-courses 27 euros, with cheese there is a supplementary cost of 2 euros extra. Not bad.

Within 15-minutes the restaurant quickly started packing in. It was a holiday (May 1), but people were coming. And, what I found even more interesting, was the number of couples who brought babies in their strollers.

First course "L'assiette de trois entrees:" which consisted of a velouté champignons crème (mushroom soup), muffin chataîgne (chestnut muffin), and a "queue de veau vinaigrette" (veal tail). I liked the entrées in this order: (1) the soup was creamy, tasty and delicious, (2) the muffin was moist and light, you could tell it was made with a lot of egg whites to give it a nice soft texture as well as the moistness. One friend commented it was a bit on the salty side, but I loved it. And, (3) the veau, which we all commented that it tasted like tuna. It was like a deconstructed meat, egg-salad with a "citrusy" side.  So, with the first course we were off to a good start.

Then we got our plats: They had 3 choices offered, and so the 3 of us each chose a different one.  One got the Maigre, fondue de blette, champignon de Paris, buerre noisette. A fish. The presentation was very, very odd. It was literally covered in greens. If you didn't know any better, it looked like a green salad. Remember the commercial, "where's the beef?"my first question was, "where's the fish?. We finally found the fish, at the bottom of the forest. Despite the weird presentation, we all tasted this dish, and it was very moist and delicious.

Next we had the Involtini aubergines, chèvres frais, basilic. The only "lacto-vegetarian" dish on the menu. It was good. The eggplant had a nice taste and the chèvre wasn't overwhelming. I liked it, but my friend thought it was just average, saved only by the wilted basil it was resting on.

I had the Pintade, crème de cèleri, jus de rôti (guinea fowl). There were two pieces of fowl.  One  like a pale chicken breast, while the other looked like a guinea fowl leg that was definitely confit'd.  The breast was either steamed or sous vide. It was extremely moist, but absolutely tasteless. As for the confit'd leg, I was expecting that it would at least have a little more flavor, but it too was bland. I mixed some of the greens (Italian flat parsley and dill) and put a piece on each bite, it made a world of difference. It gave it some depth.   We all agreed, although this dish was cooked well, it lacked flavor.

Onto the desserts. Two of us had the Crèmeux guanaja, confit de kumquat, streuzel. At first I thought guanaja was some type of fruit, but turns out it's an island off Honduras that lends its name to a special blend of chocolate. This was very chocolaty and creamy with chocolate streuzel sprinkled on top, on a bed of a soft syrup-soaked cake with dashes of salt. I loved this dessert, I thought it was excellent, whereas one of us commented it was just OK.

The other dessert was the Soupe d'agrumes, glace Pamplemouse which was like a simple fresh fruit cocktail with only citrus (mostly grapefruit) which my citrus loving friend enjoyed.

We had an opportunity to speak to one of the owners Drew Harre. He told us parts of the menu changes daily, and the whole menu changes weekly. Admittedly, they're still tweaking the menu and he considers the restaurant a "work in progress." We had some friends that had gone the week prior and had the blanket de veau and said it was excellent. But unfortunately, they did not have it on the menu.

In summary, It's amazing that the restaurant has only been open for a month. They had some very strong dishes as well as some dishes that could use a little work.  While it's true they still have some tweaking, as Drew states, it's  a work in progress, I'm confident they'll come up with a winning formula "à tout de suite". I would definitely go back.

For the 3 of we paid 123€ with 2-glasses of sancere and a bottle of
Gueule de Loup.

Tuesday, May 1

Seattle Police collect 697 pounds of unwanted medications

Saturday was National Drug Take Back Day and people dropped off expired, unwanted or unused prescription medications at the five Seattle Police Department precincts.  According to Seattle Police, a total of 697.15 pounds of unwanted medications were dropped off.  Here is the precinct break-down:

-- North Precinct-176.50 pounds
-- West Precinct-170.70 pounds
-- South Precinct-43.55 pounds
-- East Precinct-67.95 pounds
-- Southwest Precinct-238.45 pounds

Since Washington State does not have a statewide medicine return program, it is often difficult for people to get rid of unused medications in an environmentally safe way.  With youth prescription drug abuse on the rise in Washington State, getting rid of unused medicines is one prevention tool for families.

Saturday's event was was another great success and there will be another one again in the fall.  In the meantime, learn more about establishing a permanent statewide medicine return program at the Take Back Your Meds website.

Monday, April 30

Liquor Control Board still seeking comments about extending alcohol service hours

In August 2011, the City of Seattle petitioned the Liquor Control Board to consider allowing jurisdictions to extend alcohol service hours beyond 2:00 a.m.  (See posts from April 3, March 14 and November 15.)  The Liquor Control Board hosted hearings around the state and received evenly split testimony with about 50% testifying in favor of extended hours and about 50% testifying against extended hours.  The Liquor Control Board was to make a decision within the next two weeks but has postponed their decision until May 30.

From a prevention standpoint, the federal Community Prevention Services Task Force recommends against extending hours of alcohol sales/service.

In 2003, Vancouver, BC allowed bars in their Granville district to extend closing hours to 3:00 a.m. and, according to a 2007 report by the City and Police Department, between 2002 and 2006:

- The number of police calls between midnight and 6 am increased from 2,000 to over 3,500
- The number of fights doubled from around 140 to almost 300
- The number of disturbance and annoyance calls increased from approximately 310 to 410
- The number of requests for assistance to dispatch doubled from 80 to 160
- The number of stabbings and assaults in progress went from 40 to 100

The Liquor Control Board is still accepting public comments about the City of Seattle's petition.  Comments may be submitted to Liquor Control Board’s Rules Coordinator.  

Saturday, April 28

Insured against Uninsured - The Segregation of American Health Care

Everyone, at some time in his or her life, will need to seek medical care. The American health care system is a billion dollar industry, and it discards people that can't afford its services. The current health care system is divided into two groups--health care for the insured and no health care or limited care for the uninsured.
Insured against Uninsured
The kind of medical and personal care that an individual receives under the current American health care system depends on the person's insurance status. In the land of equal opportunity, segregation is still practiced.

It is a well known fact that people that have health insurance receive much better medical and personal treatment from health care providers than people that don't have health insurance. The insured are treated with dignity and respect. Sadly, the uninsured are treated with indifference and disdain. For uninsured people, obtaining health care can be an extremely demoralizing and frustrating experience.

When a person calls a medical practitioner for an appointment, the first question of the medical office staff is if the person has health insurance. If the person doesn't have health insurance, the attitude of the office staff changes dramatically. A lot of times the person is asked abrasive and invasive financial questions. Cash payment is requested before the visit will be scheduled, or at the time of the visit prior to services being provided. Some medical offices refuse to provide medical care if there is no health insurance and the person is unable to pay cash in advance. Uninsured people seeking medical care face embarrassment because they cannot pay in full for medical services without benefit of a monthly payment plan. They are made to feel like their health does not matter because they are uninsured.

In some hospitals and physician's offices, the type of medical care that is rendered to uninsured patients is much different the medical care that is provided to insured patients. During a personal interview with Carolyn Hagan, an uninsured Oregon resident, it was revealed just how shoddily uninsured patients are treated. According to Hagan, because she doesn't have health insurance, she is unable to obtain the necessary medical care for her heart condition. Hagan stated, "I have so much trouble getting medical care because I am uninsured, and I can't afford the cost of health insurance. I can't afford the high cost of the medical tests that I need. None of the doctors will treat me except for occasional brief checkups because I am not profitable to them. Every health insurance company that I contacted to see if I could get insurance refused to insure me because I have heart trouble. I have had to cancel medical tests because funding that I applied for to help with the cost became unavailable. The care that I need is expensive, and it is so frustrating because no one is willing to help me. I feel like no one cares."

Hagan is a productive American citizen that works and pays taxes, and she is among the working middle class that is wrongfully victimized by the American health care system. Due to health insurance company exclusions, she is not insurable, and she is unable to pay cash in advance for the care that she needs. What the current health care system in America is telling her is that even though she is a hard working American citizen, she doesn't matter because she can't help increase the bottom line of the health care industry.

Many practitioners refuse to work with uninsured people, and won't allow them to pay for medical care on a monthly payment plan. This additional exclusion prevents thousands of Americans from obtaining necessary health care. The American health care system has become so convoluted and expensive that American citizens are forced to seek health care outside the United States. Places like Argentina, Singapore, Manila, Bangalore, and Costa Rica provide high quality, low cost health care to American citizens that America should be providing to its own people.

American society is insurance poor--people are unable to get health insurance. Private insurance policies are too expensive for most people to afford, and the policies that are affordable to people of middle class and lower are frequently inadequate in the medical services that they cover. American insurance companies have exclusions that prevent many people from qualifying for health insurance even though having the insurance would prevent further illness and allow maintenance for current illness, consequently reducing medical costs.

America has some of the best trained medical professionals, and the cost of their education is enormous. No one can expect them not to make a good living at their profession; however, the migration of medical care to countries outside the United States is a glaring indication that the American health care system needs to be revamped and made affordable to everyone.

There have been many attempts at health care reform in America; by the time it finally happens, there might not be enough people seeking medical care in the United States for the reform to make any difference. America will still be health care poor while other countries will be getting rich by providing Americans the health care that America places beyond reach.

Friday, April 27

The office of Lt. Governor and the Governor's rant

The South Carolina House and Senate recently passed a bill that would submit to the people of South Carolina a measure that would amend the State Constitution to allow Lt. Governors to run on tickets with Governors, like Washington does, so called conservatives contend. That alone makes you wonder. People who rail against Washington want Columbia to be more like Washington. We will get into the merits of electing a Lt. Governor and why things are set up the way they are further in this post. But, first we will address the tantrum on social media Governor Haley threw when she found out the State Senate passed the bill effective for 2018. On the surface, it appears the Governor got what she wanted, wise or unwise, conservative or not. But, the Governor was angered by not getting to pick her own running mate in 2014, and launched into hyperbole with a statement that went “they don’t want the girl to get it.” Frankly, the Governor’s remarks are pathetic. Her sophomoric ranting embarrasses her and the state. The fact is fundamental changes to officers of state and federal government have always excluded the current office holders. Why does Governor Haley think she is different? Indeed her ranting makes one think that perhaps the office of Governor ought not to be elected and some sort of state manager should be hired by the General Assembly. I am, of course, using the Governor’s logic to come to that idea. The office of Lt. Governor of South Carolina is part time. It is to most an afterthought. Ken Ard did embarrass himself and the state with his antics, but legislation in the wake of such things has always proven to be shortsighted and rather dimwitted in the long term. When passions run high in public life, thinking things through runs low. The crafters of the State Constitution did not fear some Black man’s election, as the false propaganda of the pro federal government types say. There are papers, there are records. They feared egos and demagogues. They wanted the executive power of the state government to be not only spread out, but for the holders of it to be answerable to the people, not one politician who appointed them. The Lt. Governor, as President of the State Senate, was to be elected by the state at large, sort of a State Senator at large, if you will. The Howard Rich funded crowd will go on about efficiency and things like that. Fair enough. But, under the current structure, South Carolina has not created any George Wallaces or Herman Talmadges. We have not had the corruption seen in places like Illinois and New Jersey. Sure, the people of South Carolina have made some mistakes at the polls. Ravenel, Sharpe, Ard, they come to mind. That said, those mistakes, made by men who were in the political bed with the folks who want to change how our state works by the way, does not warrant us to throw out the structure of our state government. It was the very structure of our state government that protected the people from further harm. Indeed, who are these people who want South Carolina State Government to be like the federal government? Aren’t they the ones railing against the federal government? I believe in the people of this state. I swore to defend its constitution. I think the people are smart enough to elect their own executives, and I believe, that for their protection, South Carolina should not have concentrated executive power like Washington or New Jersey. Indeed, the point of federalism, and of states’ rights, is that we do what is best for South Carolina, not mimic other states or the federal government. When it comes to our leaders in this state, I think of what John Adams once said, “I look around and wonder if you all have gone mad.”

Thursday, April 26

2012 National Drug Control Strategy

Earlier this month, the Office of National Drug Control Policy released the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy.  There are a few items from the strategy that I will share through this blog and I thought I'd start with the introduction to the chapter entitled, "Strengthen Efforts to Prevent Drug Use in Our Communities".

Youth illicit drug use up since 2006
 . . . while overall youth drug use did not statistically change between 2010 and 2011, past-month use of any illicit drug among 10th graders increased from 16.8% in 2006 to 19.2% in 2011.  

Youth marijuana use up
Marijuana typically drives the trends in estimates of any illicit drug use, and, accordingly, past-month use of marijuana among 10th graders increased from 14.2% in 2006 to 17.6% in 2011.  

Perception of risk down
In addition, there continues to be a decline in the perceived risk of marijuana use among teens.  This is troubling, as research shows drug use trends among youth typically increase one to two years after a weakening of the perceived danger of using drugs.  

Few prevention messages
One possible influence on this observed trend in drug use and perception of risk is the decreased exposure of youth to prevention messages and the presence of messages and policies that downplay the consequences of drug use.  

Legalization not the answer to youth drug use
The Administration also recognizes that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use. 

The paragraph from which this information came is heavy with citations.  To view the citations, the strategy is available online and the excerpt above appears on page 5.

For additional information about youth marijuana use:

-- I blogged about local youth marijuana use data earlier this month.  Statewide data about youth marijuana use are available through the Healthy Youth Survey website.

-- The University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute's website contains multiple science-based fact sheets about marijuana.

-- The American Academy of Pediatrics published an article about Marijuana Legalization: The Potential Impact on Youth.

Get rid of unused medications at police precincts on Saturday

From the Seattle Police Department:

On April 28 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm the Seattle Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.  Bring your medications for disposal to any one of the five Seattle Police Department precincts. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds – 188.5 tons- of prescription drugs at over 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners.  In its three previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in almost a million pounds- nearly 500 tons- of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.  Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the numbers of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.  In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines-flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash-both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them.  The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances.  DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act, a process that can take as long as 24 months.  Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like the Seattle Police Department and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months.

Friday, April 20

"Alcopops" get around marketing restrictions and target underage drinkers

Earlier this month, I posted information about free webinar entitled "Joe Camel in a Bottle: Alcohol Trends & Update".  I participated in that webinar yesterday and here are a few of my notes along with some presentation slides.

In the United States, underage drinkers make up 10-19% of the alcohol market producing $10-$20Billion in revenue for alcohol producers.  

Increasingly, underage drinkers consume liquor (distilled spirits).  Girls who drink alcohol report that liquor is their alcoholic beverage of choice.  

During the webinar, James Mosher, JD, described the efforts of one company, Diageo, to take advantage of advertising regulations to market to youth.

As the slide below states, beer is less regulated than liquor when it comes to marketing.

"Alcopops" are sweetened alcohol beverages that are usually sold in single-serving bottles or cans.  They are often fruit-flavored and/or bubbly, resembling soft drinks.  Alcopops are popular among young, especially underage, drinkers.  Examples of alcopops are Blast, Smirnoff Ice, Mikes' Hard Lemonade, Four Loko, and Joose.  

Though it might seem like alcopops would be considered liquor, they are in fact categorized as malt beverages like beer.

Though they may start as beer, the vast majority of alcopops get most of their alcohol from the liquor that is added to what is left of the beer.

Though most of the alcohol content in alcopops comes from liquor, they are considered malt beverages which means that they can be marketed like beer.  As noted in the first slide, this means fewer advertising restrictions, more stores selling them, and lower taxes.  All of which have an impact on youth alcohol use.

In Nebraska, the State Supreme Court ruled that alcopops are indeed distilled spirits and must be marketed as such.  Within a month of that ruling, after concerted lobbying by the alcohol industry, the Nebraska Legislature over-ruled the court's decision.  

Thank you coalition members!

It's National Volunteer Week!

National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, in unison, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals. National Volunteer Week is about taking action, encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change—discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to foster positive transformation.

This is exactly what coalition work is all about.  Prevention WINS is fortunate to have so many volunteer members who take action to be at the center of social change and create a safe and healthy community for our children!

To all Prevention WINS coalition members: THANK  YOU!

Tuesday, April 17

Red tulips blooming at Eckstein

Last October, students at Eckstein Middle School planted hundreds of red tulip bulbs, in observance of Red Ribbon Week, to increase awareness of the need for youth substance abuse prevention.  Now that is is spring, those red tulips are blooming!

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