Friday, December 26, 2014

25th December (Thursday),2014 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Thai rice exports to hit 11mn tonnes in 2014

The organisation’s president Charoen Laothammathat said that the Southeast Asian nation has already exported 10.07mn tonnes since beginning of January to 2 December this year, compared with same period last year’s of six million tonnes.He added that the rice prices were returning to normal after the end of the rice-pledging scheme, and exports could rise to 11mn tonnes at end of the year.

This would make Thailand the leader among rice exporting countries after losing the title to India for two consecutive years.Laothammathat forecasted that India could export only 8.5mn tonnes this year, and Vietnam 6.7mn tonnes.Thai Rice Exporter Association’s chairman Kongkiat Opaswongkarn, meanwhile, said that Thailand’s rice export in 2015 might be close to this year’s export figure.But it could hardly push up Thai rice price next year because of the huge rice stocks of 17mn tonnes, which will remain a major factor to deter the price rise.

Source: Far Eastern Agriculture

Rubber and rice farmers to receive compensation money faster

Tuesday, 23 December 2014By  NNT

BANGKOK, 23 December 2014  The Department of Agricultural Extension (DOAE) has adjusted its procedure on the payment of compensation to rubber farmers, allowing the latter to receive the payment faster. At least 300,000 of them are expected be paid by the end of this year.DOAE Director General Olan Pitak said there are currently nearly 900,000 rubber farmers who have registered for the financial assistance.
 Under the scheme, they will receive 1,000 baht per rai in compensation for the declining prices of rubber.A total sum of 107 million baht has already been paid to 10,388 households via the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC). The DOAE has set to compensate as many as 300,000 farmers by the end of this year.As for rice farmers, the BAAC has so far distributed 30 billion baht to 2.8 million families. The remaining of around one million others who have been eligible for the money are expected to receive it by the end of December as well.

Extreme weather delays Sri Lanka's post-war reconstruction

Wed Dec 24, 2014 12:46pm IST

Tamil people, who escaped Tamil Tigers rebels-held area following fighting between Sri Lanka army and Tamil Tigers, are seen inside a temporary refugee camp in Vavuniya, northern Sri Lanka February 23, 2009.
COLOMBO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A series of extreme weather events in the past three years has held back already slow post-war reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, officials and experts say.An 11-month drought eased only in early December, and has been followed by monsoon-linked flooding that could cause additional delays.This year’s long dry spell drove down agricultural production.
 Water shortages also hampered the building of thousands of houses to replace those destroyed in 2008 and 2009, during the last phase of the country’s 26-year war between the government and Tamil insurgents."The drought has been terrible - probably the worst in the last decade," said Rupavanthi Ketheeswaran, the top public official for Kilinochchi District, one of four that make up Northern Province. The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society said the drought had been a major concern for re-housing efforts in 2014."The project was partly affected by a prolonged drought," the Red Cross said in an update early this month. "Shortage of both surface and ground water, and limited water supply from the local authorities and local suppliers delayed construction.
"Only about a third of the 138,651 homes needed have been constructed so far, despite the war ending in May 2009.Experts say extreme weather events - which are expected to increase as the planet warms - are putting conflict-affected communities across South Asia in harm’s way.In the restive Rakhine State of western Myanmar, for example, aid officials say monsoon-related floods have periodically worsened the humanitarian situation.
Rising religious tensions have forced over 140,000 to flee their homes there, and aid agencies estimate that at least 800,000 people are in dire need of relief.In 2010, over 300,000 in the state were affected by two cyclones. According to Pierre Péron, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Myanmar, over 40 percent of the population in Rakhine lives below the poverty line, and reoccurring extreme weather events are making their situation worse.
In Sri Lanka, the drought has had serious repercussions for the farming sector in the north, with crop losses likely to exceed 30 percent.In the first half of this year, the rice harvest was only 122,000 metric tonnes, less than half of the targeted 300,000 metric tonnes, said Sivapatham Sivakumar, director of agriculture at the Northern Provincial Council.Overall, agricultural production is expected to fall by around 40 percent this year, with rice production contracting some 30 percent to a six-year low.
The drought’s impact on agriculture has been widely felt in Northern Province where around a third of the population of just over 1 million depends on it for income. About a quarter of the population are displaced people returning home after the war."There have been a lot of loan defaulters in the last year, because people don’t have the money to meet repayment obligations," said Murugesu Kayodaran, a rehabilitation officer for the Kilinochchi Divisional Secretariat who looks after the needs of returnees.
Poverty in the region is among the highest in the nation. Mullaitivu, where the war raged worst, ranks as the poorest district with a poverty level of 28.8 percent, over four times the national average of 6.7 percent, government statistics show.Despite this, people in the province tried to buy water for reconstruction purposes during the drought, the Red Cross said. In some areas the water available was not suitable for construction due to a high level of salt, making it unsuitable for mixing concrete, the agency added.
Officials like Kayodaran and Sivakumar worry that some of those affected by drought will lose their farm plots or their homes if they cannot repay loans."Land was the only asset that most of the returnees had to seek loans on - now they run the risk of losing that," Kayodaran said.This year’s drought is the latest in a series of back-to-back extreme weather events that have hit Sri Lanka’s former conflict zone in the last three years.
There were two major droughts in mid-2010 and late 2012, as well as heavy flooding in 2011 and 2012. The end of this year’s drought has now given way to floods, caused by the onset of the North East Monsoon that became active in mid-December.The rains have brought severe flooding, with almost half a million people affected across the country, including in the Northern regions, according to the Disaster Management Centre.Ahead of the monsoon season, which runs through February, the Red Cross warned rains could cause further delays to home reconstruction in the north.
(Reporting by Amantha Perera; editing by Megan Rowling)

Price Of Rice Falls To N9,000 In Jos  

Published on December 24, 2014 by admin pmnews   

With few days to Christmas, the price of rice has fallen to N9,000 across markets in Jos metropolis, a survey has revealed.In spite of the last minute rush and high demand for goods in the market, prices of some goods have remained stable with slight increases in some.At the Terminus Market in Jos North, Mr. Chidozie Osuafor said the price of a 50kg. bag of Mama Gold previously sold for N10,500 has fallen to N9,000.He said that bags of PGS Tomato and Stallion rice of the same measure had fallen from N10,500 to N9,500 each.Osuafor attributed this to low cash in circulation as both federal and state workers had yet to be paid salaries.

At Tudun Wada Market, Jos South, a rice merchant, Mr. Azi Galadima disclosed that the price of a 50kg. bag of rice had fallen to N9,000.“We sell all the brands of rice at the same rate of N9,000 to encourage people to patronise us for the Christmas celebration,” he explained.He said patronage was still very low despite the reduction in price.Galadima also attributed the situation to salary arrears owed civil servants by the government in the state.The situation in Pankshin town was even better as 50kg. bag of rice sells for as low as N8,500.Mrs.

Bridget Peter, a civil servant, revealed that even at the low price, many civil servants could not afford a bag of rice as they had been owed salaries.A trader in Tudun Wada Market, Miss Aweki Yusuf, however, said the price of a bag of onions had increased from N8,000 to N38,000 or N40,000 depending on the size.She attributed the increase to the security challenges in the North East, the source of supply.“The attacks in the North East have made supply of onions to this part very expensive and we cannot intervene in this issue as it is beyond us,” she stressed.A measure of flour at Tudun Wada market remained at N170 while some corner shops in Zarmanganda recorded slight increment to N180.

City folk find friends on the organic farm

Published: 25 Dec 2014 at 06.00
Newspaper section: News

With the festive season upon us, has anyone noticed a new gift-giving trend? People are increasingly picking organic rice as a present. The trend is boosted by groups of middle-class city people who have endeavoured to transform the relationship of rice growers and consumers to that of one between friends — with the former growing food for the latter.These groups of Samaritans are creating the perfect match — rice eaters who happen to be well-paid salary people with low access to chemical-free food, and organic rice growers who are short of marketing knowhow and a distributing channel.

One of the groups, Farmers' Friend Rice, kicked off its project earlier last year to work with about 50 rice growers in Yasothon province.Their principle is simple; the farmers are taking good care of the rice, while city people take part in improving the well-being of the farmers. Individual city people will pay 10,000 baht in advance for the 100kg of organic rice at the end of the harvest season. The organisers promote the project on social media and draw support from like-minded consumers and some companies with strong social consciousness.Harvested at the end of the year, the single-crop organic rice, grown from April to late November or early December, has served as an ideal product to be marketed as a New Year's gift.The buyers don't just buy the product, but the story behind it. At 100 baht/kg, this organic rice may be regarded as pricey for those who are accustomed to conventionally-farmed rice which sells for 30 or 40 baht a kilogramme.

But the Farmers' Friend group insists the 100-baht/kg price that comes down to just five baht for a plate of rice is reasonable when you know your friends, organic farmers, do not have to deal with loan sharks and toxic chemicals.Once the rice is harvested, it is vacuum-packed and sealed with a trendy label, so a family can set aside part of the 100kg portion as a present for a special occasion. Consumers from the city may also visit the growers during seeding in April or May and harvesting season in November to get first-hand experience of how the staple food is grown.Every time their "friends'' from Bangkok visit Yasothon, the farmers are more than happy to welcome them with the best food they have on their farm — the best form of hospitality from the villagers.I was with them during the harvest season and talked to Nauvaluk Sangsuwan, an Earth Net staffer who has convinced farmers to go organic.

She said the farmers are more than happy to grow food for their friends in the city — without stress about fluctuating prices. From 50 last year, the number of organic farmers under the co-op has doubled, with 106 altogether this year. The yields are no less impressive: from 180 tonnes/paddy or 90 tonnes/milled rice last year to 440 tonnes/paddy or 200 tonnes/milled rice this year. The additional rice production that is supplied to the group belongs to the farmers who can sell it separately. There is a promise between them that if the rice crop fails this year due to natural disasters, consumers in the city will have to wait for rice from the crop next year.For these farmers, no one has ever shown firm commitment to help them grow organic rice.  

 Some governments seemed to show interest, but Nauvaluk said, "they were not sincere".But such an organic project benefits small-scale farmers. Soon after the launch of the past government's rice pledging scheme, farmers realised it's wealthy rice millers who were the main beneficiaries, not them.The farmers are hoping the coup-makers will be interested in organic farming and set up an "organic agriculture ministry" instead of the current agency that acts as a sales rep for the food conglomerates."Farmers don't need a provincial agricultural extension officer who works more like a sales rep who tries to convince them to shower their rice fields with chemicals," Ms Nauvaluk said.

In recent weeks, my Facebook feeds have been busy with photos of friends working in the ricefields, helping organic farmers with seeding, harvesting, and packing. Back home, they are also busy help selling organic rice on social media. No doubt these eye-catching rice packages have hit city markets.I cannot agree more with Ms Nauvaluk and hope the government comes up with support for organic farming so those who care about the health and the quality of farmers' life is not limited to just a few groups of people.Sirinya Wattanasukchai is an assistant news editor, Bangkok Post.

Two witnesses to be questioned in Yingluck rice case

Case report should be finalised in January

Published: 25 Dec 2014 at 16.31
Online news: General

The joint panel of public prosecutors and graft-busters has agreed two more people still need to be questioned about the purported government-to-government (G2G) rice sales before a decision can be made on the indictment of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra over the loss-ridden rice-pledging scheme. Agreement was reached on Thursday at the fourth joint meeting between members of the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to discuss the case against Ms Yingluck. After a two-hour meeting, the panel agreed there was conflicting testimony from witnesses in the NACC case file about whether the G2G rice deals really happened.
Therefore, two witnesses would have to be questioned - the accuser, and a researcher with Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) - to further clarify the matter.The meeting also agreed to seek more information regarding the G2G contracts from the Auditor General's Office, a Finance Ministry subcommittee overseeing the rice subsidy scheme's accounting procedure, the TDRI's rice research paper, and statements made during the censure debate in parliament.
NACC secretary-general Sansern Poljiak said the two sides agreed on all points and Thursday’s meeting went well.The panel realised that the case was of high public interest and that the gathering of the additional evidence should not take too long, he said. He said the G2G rice deals required further witness questioning and additional documents. It  was a relatively small issue but it needed to be sorted out to ensure the completion of the case report and so that it would be accepted by court. He expected the process to be completed in January, and after that the OAG will decide whether it will prosecute Ms Yingluck.
If the prosecuters do not pursue the indictment, Mr Sansern said, the NACC will take the case to court itself.The NACC accused Ms Yingluck in her former capacity as the ex-officio chair of the National Rice Policy Committee of dereliction of duty and abuse of authority for failing to halt or review her government's  loss-ridden rice-pledging scheme, and the alleged corruption in it.It also proposed impeachment and her retroactive removal from the prime minister's position.The Finance Ministry has estimated the state had lost 682 billion baht in implementing rice-subsidy schemes over the past 10 years, of which 518 billion baht was occurred under the Yingluck government through its crop pledging scheme while it was in office from 2011 to 2013.
Source with thanks:

Traders’ awareness essential for a crop variety to succeed

Whatever hardship a farmer undertakes to grow a crop, it is ultimately the consumer preference that decides its success in the market place. Based on demand from the consumer, a crop is labelled a success or failure.Particularly for rice varieties, today in almost all the markets across Tamil Nadu, the popularity of raw rice is so much that whatever variety a farmer cultivates it is sold under a major brand name called “super fine variety.”
Two years back
Two years back the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, through its Rice Research Institute in Aduthurai had introduced a variety called ADT 49 which gave a good yield both under SRI method and general cultivation but traders simply refused to buy it from farmers because they had not heard the name and were not familiar about the characteristics of the variety.Many farmers who had grown the variety were put through lot of hardship in marketing it.“Compared to many previous rice varieties ADT 49 is quite sturdy to stand up to pest and infestations. But I could not sell it easily after harvest from my four acres.
I had to wait for nearly three months and the interest value on my investments for those three months increased several fold till I could sell it and clear my dues,” sighs Mr. M. Velu a farmer in Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu.Like Mr. Velu, several farmers who had cultivated this variety had informed the Rice Institute about the hardship in marketing it.Based on their grievances, scientists from the institute visited several ADT49 growers and checked the quality of the harvested grains.“In many places we found that the harvested grains were good without any infestation. But the problem was marketing since traders had never heard of ADT 49,” says Dr. R. Rajendran, Director-in- charge of the Institute.
Release details
Till date the Aduthurai Institute has released more than a dozen varieties all of which are well known among the rice growers in the state.Apart from these, a medium duration variety called BPT (bapatla) is also grown among a specified segment of delta growers.“We find that delta farmers prefer to cultivate BPT than other varieties since it gets a better price among the traders.“A 75 kg bag of paddy fetches Rs. 1,200 to 1,300 (per bag), but unlike ADT 49, bapatla is not a hardy crop. It cannot withstand the different infestations common among rice plants.“In fact, in some regions farmers reported total loss of the crop.
We do not recommend BPT among Tamil Nadu rice growers. In spite of this, farmers are opting for repeated cultivation of this variety due to its preference by traders,” explains Dr. Rajendran.Even though ADT 49 yields about 30 bags from an acre and sells for Rs. 1,300 than BPT, farmers are hesitant to grow it due to lack of a good market.However, farmers who have cultivated ADT-49 have given good feedback about it for its higher yield and grain quality which are better than or equal to BPT.
Better endurance
“ADT 49 has better endurance to pest or disease attack and the crop is able to recover after the incidence which is not so in case of BPT,” says Dr. Saraswathi, senior scientist at the Institute. As there were mixed responses from different quarters on these varieties the Institute decided to re-evaluate both.Seventy one participants including farmers took part in a evaluation procedure for checking characteristics such as appearance, cohesiveness, tenderness, chewing, aroma etc.
All the participants agreed that both varieties are somewhat same in all the specifications with ADT49 variety possessing a slightly better taste after being cooked.“So what is needed now is the awareness among traders that ADT 49 variety is equivalent and is no way inferior to other previous varieties,” stresses Dr. Rajendran.For more information farmers and rice traders can contact
Dr.R.Rajendran, Director i/c Tamil Nadu Rice Research Institute (TRRI), on email:, Phone : 0435- 2472098, mobiles:09443421207 and 09489056726.

WECARD empowers 100 farmers on fish-rice-pig integration
 23.Dec.2014  DISQUS_COMMENTS   Femi Ibirogba
West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD), last week, trained no fewer than 100 farmers in integrated farming as part of poverty alleviation programmes.The training, themed, ‘Poverty eradication and grassroots empowerment through integrated aquaculture development’, was anchored by the University of Ibadan, using Nikol Farm, on the Akobo-Olorunda road, Ibadan, as a demonstration farm.
The fish-rice-pig aquaculture integrated farming involves using earthen ponds to raise fish, rice and using piggery waste to raise insect larvae as feed supplements for fish, thereby reducing cost of production and maximizing streams of income by selling fish, rice and pigs.The Head of Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management, University of Ibadan, Professor Bamidele Omitoyin, while inaugurating the training, said though it was sponsored by WECARD, it was part of the mandate of the department to disseminate information generated by academics to the farmers.
He said space, labour and capital are integrated and properly utilized for optimum farm output with the integration farming if done with care and adequate supervision.WECARD training grant coordinator, Professor Emmanuel Ajani of the Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management, University of Ibadan, said the research into integrated farming was farmer-generated and meant to tackle challenges of monoculture source of income to farmers.
He revealed that based on the success of the research into and implementation of findings of the aquaculture integration, the department had been called upon to train 5,000 farmers in Nigeria in the art of poultry-fishery-rice or pig-fishery-rice integration depending on demand.“This integrated farming has been helping and will continue to help alleviate poverty and create wealth, as well as employment,” Ajani said.Professor A. E. Falae said fishery had become the best traded commodity in Nigeria, with the annual production growth rate of between 9 and 13 per cent, adding that Nigeria is the largest producer of catfish in Africa.
He commended fish farmers under the umbrella body of Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN), saying their efforts had made Nigeria proud at the international arena, urging them to embrace the integration farming and value addition to their farm products to ensure higher income and wealth.He charged researchers to incorporate and integrate indigenous technologies to the solutions being packaged for farmers to enhance acceptability and adaptability, saying carrying farmers along in research processes would guarantee research success and adoption rate.
Source with thanks:

Global Rice Quotes
December 24th, 2014

Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade           420-430           ↔
Vietnam 5% broken     385-395           ↔
India 5% broken          385-395           ↔
Pakistan 5% broken     370-380           ↔
Cambodia 5% broken 460-470           ↔
U.S. 4% broken           510-520           ↔
Uruguay 5% broken    595-605           ↔
Argentina 5% broken   595-605           ↔

Long grain white rice - low quality
Thailand 25% broken NQ       ↔
Vietnam 25% broken   350-360           ↔
Pakistan 25% broken   330-340           ↔
Cambodia 25% broken            435-445           ↔
India 25% broken        350-360           ↔
U.S. 15% broken         495-505           ↔

Long grain parboiled rice
Thailand parboiled 100% stxd             405-415           ↔
Pakistan parboiled 5% broken stxd      395-405           ↔
India parboiled 5% broken stxd           375-385           ↔
U.S. parboiled 4% broken       580-590           ↔
Brazil parboiled 5% broken     570-580           ↔
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken             NQ       ↔

Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92%           890-900           ↔
Vietnam Jasmine         525-535           ↔
India basmati 2% broken         NQ       ↔
Pakistan basmati 2% broken    NQ       ↔
Cambodia Phka Mails 820-830           ↔

Thailand A1 Super       330-340           ↔
Vietnam 100% broken             330-340           ↔
Pakistan 100% broken stxd     300-310           ↔
Cambodia A1 Super    385-395           ↔
India 100% broken stxd          295-305           ↔
Egypt medium grain brokens   NQ       ↔
U.S. pet food   390-400           ↔
Brazil half grain           NQ       ↔

All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel,

Amira Nature Foods : Raises Fiscal 2015 Guidance

12/24/2014 | 09:53am US/Eastern
Amira Nature Foods Ltd (the “Company”) (NYSE:ANFI), a leading global provider of packaged Indian specialty rice, announced today that it has raised its revenue and adjusted EBITDA guidance for fiscal 2015. The Company expects to grow both revenue and adjusted EBITDA by more than 25% for the full year Fiscal 2015 driven by ongoing distribution gains and market expansion across India and our international markets.
 The Company’s previous guidance for revenue and adjusted EBITDA growth of 20% was included in its second quarter fiscal year 2015 earnings release dated November 24, 2014 under the “Fiscal 2015 Outlook,” which was furnished with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the ‘SEC”) on a Current Report on Form 6-K.
About Amira Nature Foods Ltd.
Founded in 1915, Amira has evolved into a leading global provider of branded packaged Indian specialty rice, with sales in over 60 countries today. The Company primarily sells Basmati rice, which is a premium long-grain rice grown only in certain regions of the Indian sub-continent, under its flagship Amira brand as well as under other third party brands. Amira sells its products through a broad distribution network in both the developed and emerging markets. The Company’s global headquarters are in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and it also has offices in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Amira Nature Foods Ltd is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol “ANFI.” For more information please visit
Cautionary Note on Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. federal securities laws. These forward-looking statements generally can be identified by phrases such as that we or our members of management “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “foresee,” “forecast,” “estimate” or other words or phrases of similar import. Specifically, these statements include, among other things, statements that describe our expectations for the growth of our business, expansion into new geographic markets, maintaining and expanding our relationship with key retail partners, the financial impact of new sales contracts on our revenue, our plans to make significant capital expenditures, and other statements of management’s beliefs, intentions or goals.
It is uncertain whether any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will transpire or occur, or if any of them do, what impact they will have on our results of operations, financial condition, or the price of our ordinary shares. These forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to our ability to penetrate and increase the acceptance of our products in new geographic markets; our ability to perform our agreements with customers and further develop our relationships with key retail partners; our ability to recognize revenue from our contracts; continued competitive pressures in the marketplace; our reliance on a few customers for a substantial part of our revenue; our ability to implement our plans, forecasts and other expectations with respect to our business and realize additional opportunities for growth; and the other risks and important factors contained and identified in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
All forward-looking statements attributable to us or to persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by these risk factors. Since we operate in an emerging and evolving environment and new risk factors and uncertainties emerge from time to time, you should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. Except as required under the securities laws of the United States, we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking or other statements herein to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise
Amira Nature Foods Ltd
Bruce Wacha, 201-960-0745
Chief Financial Officer
Beth Saunders, 212-850-5717


Where to take the family for cheap eats over the holidays in Vancouver

by TARA LEE on DEC 22, 2014 at 5:32 PM

In addition to the thin-crust pizzas at Pizzeria Ludica, the downtown restaurant has hundreds of board games on offer to keep the clan entertained for hours.
SANTA CLAUS MAY have demanded a chunk of your savings (apparently, the elves got a raise this year?), but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a dinner out with the family over the holidays. Here are some recommended places that will feed your brood for cheap ($15 and under per person) and satisfy the palates of both grandparents and younger ones.
Pizzeria Ludica 
(189 Keefer Place; closed December 24 and 25, and January 1) 
If your kids are already bored with their Christmas loot, Pizzeria Ludica had, at last count, 624 board and card games (there’s everything from more obscure geeky options to old standbys like Scrabble) to keep them occupied while you dine. “Board games are something that can make them [the kids] put the iPhone away and spend time with their parents,” says co-owner Darryl Boone by phone. In between game strategizing, the family can dig into thin-crust pizzas like the Montreal, with pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper, and mozzarella ($13). For $7.50, diners under 12 get juice or milk, pasta or an eight-inch pizza, and a choice of gelato or sorbetto.
Dinesty Dumpling House 
(various locations) 
Watching the cooks in the glassed-in kitchen work their dumpling magic will have you instantly dying for xiaolongbao (soup dumplings, $5.95 for six). These elegant, modern rooms are devoted to topnotch Shanghainese and Taiwanese fare at prices that will keep your wallet plump. Other dim sum items include pan-fried Chinese dumplings ($3.95), shredded duck in deep-fried tofu wrap ($4.95), and pan-fried pork buns ($3.95). The extensive menu features dishes like shrimp and squid on vegetables and crispy rice ($12.95), stir-fried spicy shredded pork ($11.95), fried rice with veggies and salted pork ($9.50), and stir-fried rice cakes with pork or chicken ($8.95).
Zeitoon (1795 Pendrell Street; 1615 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver) 
The subtle but flavourful spicing of Zeitoon’s Persian offerings will please everyone in the family. Order two ground-beef skewers ($11.95) or grilled boneless chicken breast ($13.95) with saffron rice for the younger diners, while the adults enjoy slow-cooked lamb shank with baghali polo (basmati rice with dill weed and lima beans, $12.95). A couple of you can share a bowl of saffron-flavoured ice cream topped with pistachios ($6.95) for an aromatic finish.
Bob Likes Thai Food

(3755 Main Street; 1521 West Broadway; closed December 24 and 25) “Come and have spicy food so you don’t have to light the fireplace,” jokes owner Tai Keattivanichvily during a phone chat. Décor is nothing fancy but suits the no-fuss but well-executed Thai classics that the kitchen lovingly produces. For a family of four, Keattivanichvily suggests veggie spring rolls the kiddies are bound to love ($5), a refreshing shredded green papaya salad with green beans and tomato ($7), Thai-style fish and “chips”, served with fried rice balls ($12) in place of the usual French fries, pad Thai ($13), and roast duck red curry in a fragrant tamarind and coconut milk broth ($14).
Peaceful Restaurant 
(various locations; closed December 25) 
C’mon—who doesn’t love noodles? And they can be darn cheap. Noodle pick number one is Peaceful for its oh-so-slurp-worthy handmade-noodle dishes that range from spicy cumin lamb stir-fried noodles ($12.95) to stir-fried “cat ears” (like gnocchi) with pork and veg ($13.95) to dan dan noodles with spicy peanut sauce, minced pork, and spinach ($7.95). Get there early to avoid the crowds.
Pho Tan 
(4598 Main Street, closed for dinner December 24 and 31; 2076 West 41st Avenue, closed December 25 and January 1, and for dinner December 24 and 31) 
For more quick and cheap noodle fun, head to a perennial favourite pho destination where $8 will get you a large bowl of rich beef broth, rice noodles, and a meat of your choice. While kiddies might want to stick to the plain rice noodle soup or just beef balls with rice noodles (small for $7), grownups can go for versions with rare beef, beef brisket, tendon, and tripe. Add an order of spring rolls ($6), and the family will be well fed.
House of Dosas 
(1391 Kingsway) 
Take the family out for southern Indian dosas—basically, large rice and lentil crepes (the crispy edges are the best part) with your choice of filling. At the restaurant, manager Gavaskar Ethiraj points out a few menu highlights, like the cheese and spinach dosa ($10.99) and the beef, chicken, or lamb vindaloo dosa ($10.99), as well as the chicken biryani ($12.99), the deep-fried paneer ($9.99), and themedu vada—savoury doughnuts ($4.99). Go on Monday, when dosas are only $5.99. It’ll be so inexpensive and delicious that you may just want to dine out with the family multiple times this holiday season.

Review: Mynt spices up Hannibal Square in Winter Park

The kofta lollipops are served with a artfully pooled sweet-and-sour sauce. (MYNT FINE INDIAN CUISINE)

By Heather McPhersonOrlando Sentinel Food Editorcontact the reporter
Fine Indian cuisine in the heart of Winter Park's shopping district

Mynt Fine Indian Cuisine is spicing up Winter Park's Hannibal Square with precision and panache. A sister restaurant to Saffron Indian Cuisine on Orlando's bustling Restaurant Row, Mynt has a more refined ambience than its 3-year-old sibling. But both offer some of the best Indian cookery in Central Florida.Taking over the space formerly occupied by Fresh, a café that only utilized the tiny ground floor of the structure, was a brilliant choice for Mynt's owners. The closest Indian restaurants are in Winter Park and far enough away to give Mynt a nice niche.The new interior squeezes big-city chic into several small dining areas.
The downstairs has seating for about 25 — tops. But upstairs there's a cozy private dining area and bar that can also be used for overflow.The menu reminded me of my meals at Saffron in 2011, but there's a fresher finish on the palate at Mynt. I don't know how the recipes might have changed but I like what I tasted.Meals begin with a free basket of six papad ($4 a la carte). The thin lentil wafers are skillfully rolled into a crisp cylinder. Break them up and dip into the delightfully syrupy tamarind sauce and the thick mint concoction.For appetizers, newcomers to the cuisine should start with a Delhi samosa ($5), a crisp triangular turnover lightly stuffed with seasoned potatoes and peas.

Often the dough used to make these are thick and heavy. Not here. The compact dumplings had a crisp outer shell with an almost fluffy filling.Our Kofta lollipops ($8) were a mix of vegetables and paneer cheese molded into oblong meatballs and encased in a light layer of breading on a slim stick. The four pops were positioned on a serving plate with a curved platform with holes to hold each. Alongside was an artfully pooled sweet-and-sour sauce.For entrees, the saagh paneer ($16) was a meld of cooked spinach and the unaged cheese.

 The dish had subtle notes of cardamom and nutmeg.Our lamb roganjosh ($19) blended cut-up meat with fresh ginger, tangy yogurt, sweet onion and a full-bodied tomato sauce. I ordered the dish with medium heat and it did not disappoint, popping on the palate with additional flavor, not random fire.You will be three-for-three with the old Delhi butter chicken ($19). The tender pieces ofbreast meat soaked in a creamy tomato butter sauce. The deeply colored red sauce gives no clue to its complex layering of delicate flavors.All entrees come with a bowl of aromatic basmati rice.Butter naan ($3), a warm puffy bread, is a requisite accompaniment as well. You are in sopping nirvana here.Servers were knowledgeable and well-engaged with diners

Mynt is a mint-condition newcomer that should have a long run., 407-420-5498 or Twitter@OS_thedish
The Dish on dining
Mynt Fine Indian Cuisine
¿¿¿ (out of 4)
Where: 535 W. New England Ave. in Winter Park's Hannibal Square (near Pennsylvania Avenue)
When: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily; dinner 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Sunday brunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
How much: $6-$30; brunch $16
Beverages: Wine and beer
Wines by the glass: From $8
Attire: Casual
Extras: Good for groups, private dining, takes reservations, vegetarian options
Noise level: Nice conversational buzz
Wheelchair access: Good
Credit: American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa
Call: 407-636-7055
Online: and Facebook

Best Eats 2014: The 12 top Huntsville-area dining reviews from this year





ChuckWagon BBQ's Three Meat Plate with ribs, brisket, chicken, slaw and potato salad. (Matt Wake/
By Matt Wake |
 December 23, 2014 at 8:00 AM, updated December 23, 2014 at 9:24 AM
It doesn't really matter if a restaurant employee notices the Times entertainment reporter is seated over there at table nine. Or if they don't. Because with all internal and external variables involved in the wild animal that's the restaurant business, getting well-prepared food out to a tableful of people in a timely, courtesy and interesting manner is never truly easy.
To use a baseball analogy, a major league pitcher knows he's supposed to throw a strike into the catcher's mitt. But that doesn't mean he'll be on target when there are 20,000 fans in the stadium. Or that he'll get the ball past the batter. That's why restaurants and food trucks that do pull off stunning food and sterling service deserve much respect ... and a place on our Best Eats of 2014 list.
Please note: Pricing, available items and hours of operation indicated below reflect those on the date the dining review was conducted. Please call ahead for latest information.
ChuckWagon BBQ
8982 Hwy. 20, Madison
Monday - Wednesday: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Thursday: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 5 - 8 p.m.
Recommendations: Chicken, ribs, pulled pork, brisket.
Price range: Most main dishes $7 - $16.
Suspense builds as you get to the front of the line at Chuckwagon BBQ. A tall gray bearded gent wearing a cowboy hat - and looking like he just finished shoeing a horse - brandishes a large knife and presides over a steaming table of various meats. The ribs are excellent - smoky, tender, a subtle sweetness - and paired well with ChuckWagon's medium barbecue sauce, which has enough kick for most folks. There aren't many barbecue joints in Huntsville that take a stab at brisket. ChuckWagon nails it. The chicken, my serving was basically a breast halved, might have been my favorite main dish here - a pronounced smokiness, super tender well-cooked white meat.
The Eaves Restaurant (Sunday brunch)
501 Church St.
Sunday brunch: 10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Recommendations: Surf & Turf Omelette, Crab Cake BLT, Bourbon Peaches & Cream Signature Stuffed French Toast.
Price range: Most entrees $9 - $22.  
The Eaves brunch menu indicates the Bourbon Peaches & Cream Signature Stuffed French Toast ($15) requires extra prep time. It's worth the wait. Dusky, spicy bourbon notes imbuing the gooey peach stuffing inside the two large planks of French toast, which were expertly cooked. Golden. Right on. The fresh whipped cream on top was super rich and super airy, and when combined with the bourbon peach filling made for a truly decadent experience. The side of bacon, thick cut, Applewood-tasting was a smart, savory counterpoint to all that lights-out sweetness.
Brasserie Juno
964 Airport Road S.W. Ste. 3
Tuesday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday - Saturday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. 
Sunday: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Recommendations:  Tour du Fromage, Duck Au Poivre, Charbroiled Flounder, Chicken Provencal.
Price range: Most entrees $10 - $22
 If you've never eaten snails before, it's actually not a freaky experience. The Escargot ($10) at Brasserie Juno is quite lovely, broiled in a subtle garlic-butter and the snails themselves, served sans shell, had a bouncy texture not dissimilar from clams and a woodsy, Portobello-like flavor. Squeezing the accompanying lemon wedge over the Escargot really made this dish pop. Virtually every molecule of our meal at Brasserie Juno - formerly the long-running German restaurant Café Berlin which ownership rebooted in mid-July as a French place - was assured and elegant. Transportive. And flat-out delicious.
Viet Cuisine
405 Jordan Lane
Monday - Saturday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. 
Recommendations: Lemongrass Chicken, Dry Phnom Penh Noodle, Tofo And Mixed Vegetable On The Skillet, Seafood Pho.
Price range: Most main dishes $7 - $8.
The Lemongrass Chicken ($7.25) arrived on a sizzling skillet similar to those Mexican restaurants utilize for fajitas. A perfect portion of tender stir fry chicken, supported with a balanced amount of green bell pepper chunks, red onion (caramelized sweet), baby corn, mushrooms and, in a deft move, a few bits of pineapple. Served with white rice. Several sprigs of cilantro imparted exotic, fresh notes. Minced chili pepper added pow. An awesome dish.
Rollin Lobstah 
Visit for locations, dates and times
Recommendations: Connecticut Lobstah Roll, Maine Lobstah Roll, Mac & Cheese Bacon Lobstah Bites.
Price range: Most items $7-$11.
When Lobstah debuted this summer at a Downtown Huntsville Inc.'s Street Food event, people were waiting in 90-minute lines to order from this food truck. An hour-and-a-half. Just to order. The Connecticut Lobstah Roll ($11) is particularly excellent. Warm fresh lobster chunks on a toasted lightly buttered bun (with a favorable lobster-to-bun ratio), and this is one of those dishes where the ingredients meld into one.
Abuela's Mexican Bar and Grill
8694 Madison Blvd. Ste. 7
Monday - Thursday: 10:30 - 9 p.m.
Friday- Saturday: 10:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Recommendations:  Marinated Pork Enchiladas, Tortilla Soup, Diablo Shrimp.
Price range:  Most entrees $6.50 - $13.
They might as well all be franchises of some chain called McMexican's. Those interchangeable, boilerplate Mexican restaurants that serve food so similar you could be in Topeka or Tennessee.  Many of us still eat at them on the regular. Mostly because of proximity to work or home. Located in Madison, Abuela's Mexican Bar and Grill is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Huntsville and not particularly convenient to here but I'll be driving back there soon. Fresh, higher quality ingredients and a menu with some delicious deviations from the norm are the primary reasons why.
1892 East (vegetarian lunch menu)
720 Pratt Avenue 
Lunch: Monday - Friday 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. 
Dinner: Monday - Saturday 5 - 10 p.m. 
Brunch: Sunday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Recommendations: Mushroom Pot Pie, Portobello "Burger," Crispy Tofu Sandwich.
Price range: Most items $9 - $12.
My cheeseburger at 1892 East was juicy, plenty, rich, savory, tender ... and completely meatless. The Portobello "Burger" ($10) is served on a soft, bakery-style roll, the Portobello Burger was ideally grilled. Balsamic aioli imparted bright notes while Wright Dairy white cheddar cheese contributed lush texture. The green leafy lettuce, onion slices and ultra-ripe tomatoes served with all the sandwiches we ordered upped the ante, as did the abundant and crunchy fresh-cut fries.
5 A's Restaurant 
6297 Highway 53 
Tuesday - Saturday: 10:30 a.m. - 9 p.m
Sunday: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. 
Recommendations: Feisty Feta Spread, Chicken Kabob Plate, Kataifi, Vegetarian Plate. 
Price range: Most items $5 - $10.
Just because food is served on a Styrofoam plate doesn't mean it can't look and taste phenomenal. Witness the Chicken Kabob Plate ($7.99) at 5 A's Restaurant, a two-year-old-plus Greek eatery in Harvest. Tender, juicy chunks of chicken breast, crisp lettuce, sliced cherry tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, soft pita triangles plated attractively atop perfectly cooked, long-grain basmati rice. This entrée really delivered some subtle-yet-zesty flavors while retaining a relatively healthy vibe. The accompanying, on-the-side tzatziki sauce offered cucumber coolness, garlic zip and clean creaminess, and the hummus boasted lothario levels of smoothness and earthiness.
The Bottle (lunch menu)
101 Washington St. N.E. 
Lunch: Monday- Friday 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. 
Dinner: Monday - Saturday: 4 - 11 p.m. 
Recommendations: Apple and Blackberry Mixed Green Salad, Pan Fried Trout, Seared Ahi Tuna Nicoise Bowl. 
Price range: Entrees $13 - $16.
The skin-up plating of trout always looks a little crazy to me, but you cannot argue with the flavor. The Bottle's Pan Fried Trout ($16) possessed - snow-soft texture, flaky, hints of buttery sweetness. It started off tasting good and got better with each bite. And there were lots of bites. Generous portion. The accompanying lemon meuniere sauce - dotted with a constellation of capers - evoked earthy notes, and whenever I bit into a caper, it added an intense bright burst. The few neon-green drops of basil oil added some sweet and leafy kicks, and I found myself searching the plate for a few more dots.
Brix (lunch menu)
964 Airport Road 
Dinner: Monday -Thursday 4:30 - 9 p.m.; Friday - Saturday 4:30 - 10 p.m.
Lunch: Tuesday - Friday: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. 
Recommendations: Brix Salad, Chicken & Waffles. 
Price range: $9 - $15.
If you've ever been underwhelmed by chicken and waffles, try the version on Brix's lunch menu. The problem you can run into with this dichotomous dish, as prepared at soul food restaurants, is the chicken is often three or so fried wings. So the protein is skimpy and a hassle to eat with a knife and fork. Brix's Chicken & Waffles ($12.95), ordered on a recent Monday, featured a sizeable, boneless chicken tenderloin, fried juicy-crisp without being overdone or greasy.  Granted, Brix is a white-tablecloth restaurant. But this is an upscale refinement that really, really works and a fair trade for whatever "funkiness" is lost.
Cotton Row Restaurant (lunch menu)
100 South Side Square 
Lunch: Wednesday - Friday: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. 
Dinner: Monday through Saturday 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. 
Recommendations: Gnocchi Spinach Soup, Pan Seared Corvina, Grilled Mahi Mahi, Chicken Pot Pie. 
Price range: Most lunch items $11 - $17.
Ever since star chef James Boyce opened Cotton Row in 2008, the downtown-square fine-dining spot has earned a reputation for transcendent food and car-payment sized tabs. While Cotton Row dinner entree prices are no joke, the restaurant's fantastic  lunch menu is much more accessible. I ordered the Grilled Mahi Mahi ($14). When the gorgeously plated Mahi was placed in front of me, it felt like I was living inside a cookbook photo. The fish couldn't have been cooked better. Super, tender flaky interior, and a slightly-crispy exterior which was subtly salt and herb seasoned. The fish was served atop sunset-soft ringlets of house-made, slightly buttery fettuccine. Wow.
Nick's Ristorante 
10300 Bailey Cove Road 
Monday - Saturday: 4 - 11 p.m. 
Recommendations: Veal Saltimboca, Pasta Nicky, Crab-Stuffed Portobello "Jaclyn."
Price range: Most entrees $18 - $39.
Nick's Ristorante is located in a South Huntsville strip mall, so approaching the humble exterior you might wonder, "Is this really somewhere I want to drop some big coin on dinner?" The answer is a resounding, 72-point font "YES." The Veal Saltimboca ($24) was possibly the best in a strong field of entrees we ordered. Layers of veal, prosciutto, cheese and, I believe, sage, resulted in a dish that was sophisticated and supper-comfy. Our server recommended mushroom risotto as a side, and man, was she right-on. Chunky, woodsy and a must-do side.

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