I.  The Cookbook – 

Friend Denise Chang-Yen wrote from Calgary last week to say she successfully cooked the empanada recipe provided on the last post here. It’s great to hear that a recipe from Chile, formatted and photographed in France, was tested by a friend in Canada. The internet continues to connect us – as do wine and food…

The cookbook The Winemakers’ Cooking Companion is still being prepared. Recipes have been collected and formatted for consistency. Measurements have been provided in both Imperial and Metric units. All dishes are now being test cooked and photographed. I’ll keep contributors informed as progress moves forward. And yes, I will be cooking those South African recipes soon and shall include some of the stellar photographs you sent me (with attribution) on this website. In the meantime, a recipe for delicious chicken and mango curry couscous from British Columbia is included below.

IMG_0411 TM photo

Chicken and Mango Curry Couscous

From Denise Brass, Co-Owner of Camelot Vineyards, Kelowna, Okanagan Valley Wine Region, British Columbia, Canada


Preparation Time and Quantity –

Total preparation time including cooking – 40 minutes. This includes 10 minutes to grill the chicken and 3 minutes to toast almonds. Serves 3 to 4 people.


Ingredients and Amounts


Chicken breasts – 2

Couscous (cooked) – 1 cup (160 grams)

Mango – 1

Raisins – ½ cup (75 grams)

Spring onions – 3

Almonds (sliced) – handful

Curry powder – 2 teaspoons (5½ grams)

Salt – ½ teaspoon (3 grams)

Stevia* – ¼ teaspoon (2½ grams); or ½ cup (100 grams) sugar

Cumin powder – ¼ teaspoon (½ gram)

Olive oil – 3 tablespoons (45 grams)

Pepper – to taste




Lemon (large; squeezed into juice) – 1

Agave or honey – 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters)

Salt – ¼ teaspoon (1½ grams)

Curry powder – ½ teaspoon (1 gram)


*Stevia is a plant-derived sugar substitute without calories. Alternatively, ¼ teaspoon of stevia extract powder is approximately the same as a ½ cup of sugar.


Preparation –

  1. Cook couscous.
  2. Peel and slice mango.
  3. Dice spring onions.


Recipe –

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet on low to medium heat.
  2. Combine curry powder, stevia (or sugar), cumin, and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Coat both sides of chicken breasts with this mixture.
  4. Grill chicken on a skillet until cooked through, turning over as necessary – about 7 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness (cut open to ensure meat is cooked before taking off heat).
  5. After it is cooked, cut the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces.
  6. Toast almonds in a separate pan (to provide them with a crunchier taste) – 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together – chicken, couscous, mango, spring onions, raisins, and almonds.
  8. Prepare dressing, then pour over other ingredients and mix.


Serving –

Denise wrote –

“Sometimes I add a bit more lemon, curry powder, or cumin at the end for more flavor.”


Comments –

Denise wrote –

“This is one of a few personal favorite recipes, provided by my daughter Timika Brass who now resides in Austria.”


Tom’s Comments –

This is a delicious smorgasbord of flavors. You may want to make the dressing first so that you can serve the chicken while it is still piping hot. Remember to cut the mango slices small enough so they are bite size. Serve with a white such as a Riesling, or a dry rosé.


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II. International Gypsies: Charlene’s Story – 

Yesterday I visited the town of Mirambeau – midway between the cities of Bordeaux and Cognac in France – to check out the renovated 5 star hotel Château Mirambeau. I posted that article on Forbes.

On the way home I took a 15 minute detour to the town of Montendre to eat and visit the newly opened wine bar called Le Cha’bernet – which is a play on words from the name of the owner (Charlene) and the grape (Cabernet Sauvignon).

Charlene at her store wine bar

It turns out Charlene opened her wine bar only a month ago, and apparently neighbors are enthusiastic, especially during the summertime Tuesday ‘night market,’ when plenty of locals swarm around the town square buying food and wine and listening to live music.

Charlene is a sommelier who studied at La Rochelle and worked in one, two, and three Michelin star restaurants in France (including, coincidentally, at Château Mirambeau, where I had visited earlier), Switzerland and England. She also worked at a wine store in Saint Émilion.


She now sells wine from all over France, as well as non-French wines, including Argentinian Malbec, Chilean Carmenere, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and Sicilian Zibibbo (the label calls it a ‘meditation wine’ – intriguing).  She runs the store alone for at least ten hours a day, and sells food as well as wine – cheeses from Limousin, Charentes, and the Pyrenees mountains, as well ham and charcuterie.


Charlene is one of many roaming nomads met in recent years who travel the world to learn their trade, then return home to use their knowledge to gain income and share their experiences with others. It is this incessant flow and tide of intelligence and experience that improves the world, opens minds, broadens cultures and keeps innovation churning. In preparing the cookbook mentioned above, I found recipes for Italian gnocchi from Tasmania, Australia; for chicken masala from Chile, and for chimichurri from Italy. The boundaries of the world are fading as new generators of innovators travel far from what is known and comfortable to seek excellence and experience. Bravo.

Well done neighbor, and good luck with business.

My other recent Forbes posts are included here.



This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Charlene’s story…

    …very much a life well lived.

    In the unlikely event I find my way to Montendre (made much more likely by your post), I look forward to wandering in to refresh body and soul.

    Meanwhile, I be rooting for her here on the sidelines.

    1. Thanks Jim. A glass of vino raised in solidarity shall be sufficient gesture 🙂 Best, Tom

  2. An email from Charlene –

    Hello Tom,

    Thank you for everything,
    Nice to meet you as well
    You are the welcome in the Cha’bernet

    Thank you

    Le Cha’bernet

    17 place des halles

    17130 Montendre

  3. A message (sent via text) from Fabrice Papin:

    Dear Tom, I’ve just read your article about Charlene and her new venture, this is really great of you to encourage young and dynamique people coming back home with ideas and actually doing something with it! much appreciated as I’m currently an expat but obviously felt concerned as I’m also a local guy from there. Cheers, Fabrice (Lafite Rothschild Asia based in HK)

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