ANDREW DORNENBURG & KAREN PAGE's Web Log
Named one of GourmetFood.About.com's "Top 10 Food Blogs"
Named to MUG 400 for its "distinctive contribution to life in New York"
"If you asked me what I came into this world to do,
I will tell you:
I came to live out loud."
—Critic and novelist Emile Zola (1840-1902)
"There is nothing under the sun better for man than to eat, drink, and be merry. Go, therefore, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with cheer.”
Debra Messing stars in "The Starter Wife"
Thursday, May 31, 2007 — We have had our heads down working away at our computers to finish our next book THE FLAVOR BIBLE this month. But we're still taking the night off to watch Debra Messing star in the premiere of "The Starter Wife."
In January, we were contacted by the powers-that-be behind the show (which is based on the book by Gigi Levangie Grazer, wife of producer Brian Grazer) for permission to use our culinary books in a scene where Messing ("Will and Grace") is cooking. We reviewed the script, but we're still looking forward to seeing how the scene unfolds — and whether our books will survive the cutting-room floor.
If so, it won't be the first time our books have made to the screen: Eagle-eyed viewers spotted our book THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF in the Steve Carrell movie "The Forty-Year-Old Virgin" in the scene where he walks through a bookstore.
"The Starter Wife" is on USA Network, and premieres tonight at 9 pm ET. As we don't have cable or TiVo, we're watching it over dinner at our friend Cynthia's home. Thanks, Cynthia!
As if we needed one more thing to keep us away from finishing our manuscript as we head into the final stretch:
Gael Greene announced today that her new Web site has launched at www.insatiable-critic.com. It features the gorgeous writing of Greene herself, and the gorgeous photography of Steven Richter. One of our favorite pages is in the "Travel" section on great spots in Venice...many of which we can vouch for personally after having visited them with Greene and Richter!
Wines for summer (Photo credit: Julia Ewan)
"Seems apallingly stupid, frigheningly arbitrary, and like some part of a police state's mentality to me, but it is his store,so he can do whatever he desires...."
—Robert Parker, writing on eRobertParker.com, of Darrell Corti's decision to stop selling table wines with more than 14.5% alcohol
Wednesday, May 30, 2007 — In our wine column in today's Washington Post, we lament the round of a dozen wines we recently taste-tested to go with barbecue (think Zinfandels) that proved so hot with alcohol that we "felt the burn" on our tongues and throats, requiring us to scrap almost an entire night's investment of time, expense and effort...if it weren't for the rose that mercifully saved the evening.
We'd grown so concerned about alcohol levels in wine that when we started writing our column in March, we'd insisted on listing the alcohol levels of every wine featured in the "In the Wine Aisle" box accompanying our column.
While we'd submitted today's column more than a week ago, we learned on Memorial Day that we're not the only wine lovers around who have grown weary — and wary — of over-amped wines.
One reader, Rick, emailed us this story:
"Here's the chronology of what might come to be known as 'Zin-Gate'....Darrell Corti (known by many...as the man who knows the most about food and wine) writes a note to his staff on his company's monthly wine tasting note sheet 29 March, which states his company will no longer accept table wine over 14.5% alcohol for consideration of resale, because of the vastly increasing number of Zinfandels and Syrahs in the 15-17% range.
Mike Dunne of The Sacramento Bee blogs in (scroll down to 27 April)
Robert Parker comments on his website, on Mike Squires' comment board (on page 2, scroll down 3/4's of the page)
Olivia Wu's San Francisco Chronicle article
Scott Harvey posts his letter to Olivia Wu on Parker's site."
Our thanks to Rick for forwarding this, so that interested readers can follow — and contribute to — the ongoing debate.
We've been hearing grumblings in recent years about how alcohol levels of wines have risen almost across the board, not only in the case of over-amped Zinfandels. For example, Pinot Noirs — traditionally among the most delicate and elegant styles of wine — have been creeping up in their alcohol levels, too, destroying the delicacy that made them great in the first place.
How can an industry turn grumblings into productive change?
Someone can put his foot down and say, "Enough!" Darrell Corti chose to take a step — one he'd probably admit himself was a radical one — just to register his opinion.
And now the reverberations of that action in Sacramento are spawning a heated national and even global debate.
That can be a great thing for the world of wine, if only participants stay focused on the issues.
Are all table wines over 14.5 percent alcohol hot and unbalanced and deserving of being banned from wine store shelves? Of course not.
Does something need to be done to fight the trend of creeping alcohol levels leading to hot and unbalanced wines? Darrell Corti thinks so.
Some good news: Our subsequent taste-test of several blended wines to pair with barbecue yielded some delicious standouts (all under 14.5 percent alcohol, by the way), which you can read about in today's column, "Four Hot Prospects for Summer Sipping":
Now that we've reached the unofficial kickoff of summer, it's time to stock your wine rack with bottles that will serve you well throughout this barbecue and grilling season.
In search of the best matches, we recently taste-tested wines by following the conventional wisdom when pairing with barbecue: Think "BBQ": big, bold and quaffable.
Big means full-bodied wines (such as shiraz/syrah or zinfandel) that can go head-to-head against this heavier style of cooking. Generally, wines with an alcohol content of more than 13 percent can be thought of as full-bodied.
Bold means young, fruit-forward, full-flavored wines that have a chance of standing up to the robust flavors of the grill, smoker and/or barbecue sauce.
Quaffable means easy-drinking, uncomplicated, affordable wines that suit the laid-back atmosphere of most cookouts.
Two basic pairing strategies can help match BBQ wines with barbecue and grilled food. The first is comparing, or seeing that what's in your glass has characteristics comparable to those of what's on your plate. (The second strategy is contrasting, which we'll get to later.)
Typically, comparing is the surefire route. Zinfandel historically has been our go-to BBQ wine -- often Rancho Zabaco or Ravenswood on a weeknight, and a special Cline or Ridge with guests. But on a recent unseasonably warm night, when we tasted a dozen wines hoping to discover a new favorite, we were disappointed to find that all the zins were so high in alcohol that they tasted "hot" on the palate and at the back of the throat. We even tried chilling them for an extra 15 minutes, which sometimes helps, but they stubbornly retained the effect. These wines couldn't be tamed by the food, either....
You can read the rest of our column in The Washington Post here, and more about our "Four Hot Prospects for Summer Sipping" here.
Searching for smiles...and heroes
Tuesday, May 29, 2007 — We count ourselves as lucky to know many heroes. But one in particular will be honored this week on CNN.
Our congratulations to our dentist friend Dr. Trey Wilson for his work bringing smiles to Kenya — and you can catch him on "CNN Heroes," a new program showcasing "ordinary people achieving extraordinary deeds," on Thursday, May 31st, at 11:45 pm!
Tabasamu (“smile” in Swahili) is a dental outreach project that was founded by Dr. Edward W. Wilson in 2004. Its mission is to provide free dental care and education to underserved communities in the Anglican Diocese of Kitale in western Kenya. Web: www.searchingforsmiles.net
Saturday, May 26, 2007 — After a dream last night, one of us woke up thinking about long finishes.
In wine, "a long finish" means that the taste of the wine continues on your palate long after your last sip. It is a paradoxical state of "there / not there."
At Blue Hill at Stone Barns earlier this year, we were savoring glasses of an exquisite wine that had been ordered by our friend AJ when Andrew got a faraway look in his eyes. Karen stared at him from across the table. When Andrew finally returned the gaze, he simply reported, "I stopped counting at 30." A long finish indeed.
There / Not There. Sometimes those we have known resonate with us long after we've been in their presence. This is most beautifully captured in Steven Mitchell's translation of "You who never arrived" by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke:
You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of the next
moment. All the immense
images in me - the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and unsuspected
turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods -
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.
You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house - , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon, -
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and, startled,
gave back my too-sudden image. Who knows?
perhaps the same bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, seperate, in the evening…
A wine is enjoyed in the moment, mingling with the events of our lives and becoming inseparable from them. A taste of the same wine years later allows us to travel back in time, bringing alive that moment, and its tastes and smells and sounds and sights.
Funny, - it sounds like a dream.
____________________Photo credit: Dayna Smith
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 — Pssst! Looking for a good deal on some cool wines this summer? Have we got some tips for you....
In our wine column in today's Washington Post, we share the insider favorite wines of Washington, DC-area chefs, restaurateurs and sommeliers — including Louis Alexander, general manager of DISH restaurant at The River Inn, who is pictured above. Best of all, they're all priced under $15:
We love hearing from you. And judging from the e-mails we've received since this column began two months ago, many of you have price on your mind.
"Would you consider a series on wines under $15 a bottle?" writes Marc Stern of McLean, echoing similar requests we've received. "Finding good everyday affordable table wine is my objective — with an occasional splurge on a higher-priced bottle, just to keep the search for the Holy Grail alive...."
Ask and you shall receive.
These days our home is filled with dozens of bottles awaiting their turn to be sampled in one of our roundups of wines grouped by style, grape, country or food pairing.
But before we started concentrating on tasting different wines every night, we'd often open an Osborne Solaz ($8) — a surprisingly well-balanced Spanish red with soft tannins, made from tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon — with chicken, salmon or steak. Our house white is Loosen Bros. "Dr. L" Riesling ($12), which we prefer over Rieslings at twice the price, and we've more recently come to enjoy Nora Albarino ($15), a Spanish "Dr. L" stunt double that complements spicy foods almost as well.
Even with such reliable favorites of our own, though, few things are more exciting than being turned on to beloved bargains of other wine lovers. A few weeks ago, Louis Alexander, general manager of Dish, introduced us to some terrific, gently priced wines by the glass at the River Inn's restaurant in the West End. Thus having earned our trust, he was one of the first people we asked in e-mail interviews about what they like to drink at home for less than $15.
Alexander, a passionate home cook, counts pork spareribs as one of his specialties. "One of my recipes for dry-rub pork spareribs is perfect paired with 2004 Edna Valley Vineyard Syrah [$15]," he says. "This wine's smoky black cherry and blackberry flavors with caramel and vanilla notes go really well with grilled pork."
To read the rest of our column, please click here.
DISH is at The River Inn in Washington, DC, and at www.theriverinn.com. While general manager Louis Alexander turns you on to some lovely, gently-priced wines by the glass, you can hit him up for the secret behind his dry-rub pork spareribs!
Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects
"She's funny without being mean or stupid, full of feeling without being sentimental, complex without being obscure... A consummate collaborator...her works embody, literally, this artist's gut level interest in natural phenomenon."
—Elizabeth Zimmer, The Village Voice on Jody Oberfelder
Thursday, May 17, 2007 — We met dancer-choreographer Jody Oberfelder and her architect husband Juergen Riehm through mutual friends not long after we moved to New York City in 1992. After sharing a very enjoyable weekend together at our friends' home in the country, we politely agreed to attend one of Jody's dance performances. It blew us away.
While only weeks away from delivering her second child, Jody performed in the dark in the nude, with a film of her dancing nude while pregnant with her first child projected on her abdomen. This was set to the soundtrack of a fetal heartbeat, which resembled that of a train racing along the tracks. Given Jody's extraordinary athleticism, she was still able to move with precision, grace and strength, with her backbends completely shattering every preconceived notion we'd ever held of a very-pregnant woman's physical capabilities.
We've been fans of her work ever since.
On Wednesday, June 13th, you're invited to join us for a benefit performance of Jody's latest works "Heavy Light" and "The Title Comes Last" at The Flea Theater (the intimate downtown performance space founded by Jim Simpson, husband of Sigourney Weaver). The 6 pm Champagne reception and 7 pm performance will be followed by an 8:45 pm dinner at Arqua right down the block. Tickets are $175-$250, which includes both the dance performance and dinner. To reserve, email email@example.com.
Hope to see you there.
Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects is at www.jodyoberfelder.com.
Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects presents sensual acrobatic work that distills the movement of life. In works ranging from witty to wild to reflective and personal, Oberfelder makes art out of people, creating dances that are provocative both emotionally and intellectually. Audaciously physical, her dances are rooted in humanism.
From our emailbox:
"WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT is being used now to plan the 'Great Feast' — an annual event of the Syracuse chapter of the American Wine Society! Thought you'd like to know."
—Cathy Wolff, General Director, Syracuse Opera
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 — We've both been fighting off bugs of late, with Andrew still battling strep throat — which caused us to have to send regrets for a Monday night event featuring Champagnes from Delamotte and Salon. If you're not familiar with them, you'll better understand our disappointment to miss this dinner after reading our column in today's Washington Post "Tying the Knot With Bubbles":
You can practically hear the clinking already. In June, July and August, when almost one-third of the annual 2.3 million weddings in the United States will take place, countless revelers will raise a traditional champagne toast.
With the national average cost of a wedding now topping $25,000, and with half of that being spent on the reception, and with half of that being spent on alcohol . . . well, let's just say there'll be a whole lot of bubbly-shopping and -popping over the next few months.
But all those newlyweds may or may not be toasting with traditional champagne from the French region of Champagne. Although Brendan Cox, executive chef of Notti Bianche and Circle Bistro restaurants, and his wife, Leslie, got their 2001 party started at the Morrison House in Alexandria with a magnum of 1996 Bollinger Grande Annee, they poured Bisol Prosecco later in the evening. Ellen and Todd Gray, co-owners of Equinox restaurant downtown, served Oasis Brut sparkling wine at their 1995 wedding at Virginia's Tarara Winery before moving on to Zardetto Prosecco.
Nevertheless, sales of sparkling wines from Champagne and elsewhere around the globe are booming, thanks to consumers' growing enthusiasm for bubbly wines in general....
To read the rest of our column, click here.
"Tom Stanton's story of the rivalry-turned-friendship of Ty Cobb (with the Detroit Tigers) and Babe Ruth (with the Red Sox and Yankees) is as splendid as a sunny spring day at the ballpark."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007 — If the best tip we've ever offered baseball fans is to pair hot dogs with lager beer....Well, we've been underserving you far too long. Luckily, we have a tip for all of you that will make up for this neglect:
Run out and buy a copy of the new book Ty and the Babe:
Baseball's Fiercest Rivals; A Surprising Friendship And The 1941 Has-Beens Golf Championship
by Karen's friend Tom Stanton, which hits the shelves of better bookstores everywhere starting today.
Or, better yet, order it by simply clicking here.
The book has been winning raves from readers far and wide, making all of Tom's old friends from Sterling Heights (MI) High School — Karen included — very proud indeed.
Tom Stanton, author of Ty and the Babe, is at www.tomstanton.com.
MUG names "The 400" for 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007 — We can't think of many New Yorkers with their fingers more closely on the pulse of this city than Charlie Suisman, publisher of the Manhattan User's Guide. His free daily e-zine is must reading for thoughtful New Yorkers, and his Web site is an invaluable resource guide to some of the best New York has to offer.
So it's an honor to find our Web site on Suisman's list today of "The 400," MUG's self-described "update to our thoroughly subjective selection of 400 links — from institutional websites to single-person blogs — that we think make a distinctive contribution to life in New York."
Our modest BecomingAChef.com is the #2 site listed under "Food & Drink," and takes a place on "The 400" with sites as diverse as the 92nd Street Y, Craig's List, the New York Post, the New York Times, Three Lives bookstore, and 394 others.
Thanks, Charlie. Were we to compile our own list of 400, MUG would be right up there at the top of the heap.
Manhattan User's Guide is at www.manhattanusersguide.com. For a free subscription to our favorite daily e-zine, click here.
Also, check out these other Charlie Suisman efforts:
A Generous Impulse
"An intuitive leap can mark a breakthrough. 'When you're entering an area where the unknowns are high, and experience is important, if you don't rely on intuition you're cutting yourself short,' says Howard Gardner, professor of cognition and education at Harvard."
— Forbes magazine
Friday, May 11, 2007 — No matter what you do for a living, one of the most important work and life skills you can develop is finely-honed intuition. And we know of no better teacher of intuition than New York Times bestselling author Laura Day, who literally wrote the book on the subject.
We have both studied intuition with Laura Day, and have benefited enormously from her instruction. Even though the process of "getting" it can sometimes be frustrating (in some ways, intuition is something that can't be "taught" — it must be "caught"), we can't recommend this training more highly.
Laura will be teaching the skills outlined in her bestseller Practical Intuition to a lucky group of students at the New York Open Center on Sunday, June 10th, from 10 am - 5 pm. This training is a steal at $130. As of this writing, there are still spots available, but we don't expect them to last very long.
If we're in town, we're hoping to be there ourselves.
To register for Laura Day's Sunday, June 10th, session "Practical Intuition: A Training" at the New York Open Center, click here.
Laura Day can be found at www.welcometoyourcrisis.com.
"Leaders trust their guts. 'Intuition' is one of those good words that has gotten a bad rap. For some reason, intuition has become a 'soft' notion. Garbage! Intuition is the new physics. It's an Einsteinian, seven-sense, practical way to make tough decisions. Bottom line, circa 2001 to 2010: The crazier the times are, the more important it is for leaders to develop and to trust their intuition."
—Tom Peters, bestselling author and management consultant
"Intuition isn’t mystical. It’s a sort of background sense of how things should work; it's facts hidden in the brain. Intuition is logic. Laura Day guides you step-by-step through a systematic approach to getting in touch with this important faculty."
—Dr. James Watson,
Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of DNA
"Laura Day is a remarkable woman with remarkable abilities. She teaches everyone to see how intuition works on all levels of our lives, and how we can take back our personal power...instead of giving it away."
_____________________ Credit: Stephanie Gross
Wednesday, May 9, 2007 — Our recent visit to the Virginia countryside yielded us many tastes befitting a queen, from magical dishes that emerged from the kitchen of chef Patrick O'Connell at The Inn at Little Washington to sips of some of the increasingly impressive wines coming out of Virginia wineries. You can read about some of them in our column in today's Washington Post "Virginia Vintages That Can Hold Their Own." Here's an excerpt:
...While Queen Elizabeth II visited Virginia last week to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, 65 wines representing 33 of Virginia's 119 wineries were showcased May 2 at the Virginia Wine Experience back home in London.
Held at Vinopolis, a wine-themed visitor attraction on the Thames a few miles from Buckingham Palace, the event was intended to show London's media and trade just how far Virginia wines have come. Today, Virginia is the fifth-largest wine-producing state, with its winemakers winning national competitions.
Are Virginia wines worthy of comparison to fine wines from other global wine regions? Richard Leahy, executive director of the Virginia Wine Experience in London (www.vawineinlondon.com), believes so. And he says the May 2 event helped win over some prominent wine writers. "Steven Spurrier, who organized the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting, deemed it 'an eye-opener for chardonnay and particularly Viognier,' " Leahy reports. "Hugh Johnson was visibly impressed with both whites and reds and was so delighted with the Veritas petit verdot that he took a bottle with him."
To read the rest, click here.
From our emailbox:
"Dear Mr. Dornenburg, I am writing to thank you for your article, Dyslexic Chefs Of America, Untie! It was both uplifting and inspiring. I have referenced it and provided a link to it on my blog: ADHD & LD Resource Blog. I know that my readers will be inspired by this success story."
—Shane Hawk (South Carolina)
Karen's chocolate polenta birthday cake
The gelato at Grom on Broadway near 76th Street
Tuesday, May 8, 2007 — It's hard to complain about getting older when it means getting taken to Babbo for your birthday. We were the lucky beneficiaries of dinner at Babbo on Friday night for an early birthday celebration for Karen (whose birthday is today) and Cynthia (whose birthday is May 15, when she'll be away in Italy) — and the celebration included both a delicious chocolate polenta cake as well as the best blueberry dessert of our lives created by Babbo's extraordinary pastry chef Gina DePalma.
We were truly blown away by Gina's gelati / sorbetti, including a green apple concoction that Andrew hasn't been able to stop talking about.
However, true to her perfectionistic self, Gina brushed aside our compliments and told us that she was eager to sample the gelati at Grom, the renowned Italian gelateria which had just opened its first U.S. outpost on the Upper West Side. We made plans to take a break from the book deadline for our exciting next book THE FLAVOR BIBLE that we're racing to meet this month to meet up with her to do so, braving a line half-way down the block for our tastes of chocolate, coconut, pistachio, strawberry, et al gelati.
Yes, they were delicious (and definitely recommendable) — but they didn't hold a candle to Gina's at Babbo.
Babbo is at 110 Waverly Place, New York City.
Grom is at 2165 Broadway (at 76th Street), New York City.
Birthday flowers from Rosanne's garden:
Purdue University President France Cordova
Congratulations to our friend Susan Bulkeley Butler, a Purdue University trustee who was part of the search committee that yesterday named named Purdue's first woman president: astrophysicist
and former NASA chief scientist France A. Cordova.
To read more about Cordova, click here.
Sunday, May 6, 2007 — We wanted to thank our many food-world colleagues and friends who have emailed us to wish us luck and to mention that they hope to see us at tomorrow night's James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony in New York City. However, we're not planning to attend. Here's why.
Our book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT wasn't nominated for a 2007 James Beard Award.
Yes, we understand the confusion — after all, this is the same book that won the 2006 Georges Duboeuf "Wine Book of the Year" Award in November, and the 2007 IACP "Cookbook of the Year" Award last month. (In fact, it was recently pointed out to us that WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT is the first book in history to have won both awards — and that we're the first authors in history to have won both awards — which was definitely a moment for us.) It also won the 2007 Gourmand World Cookbook Award as the Best Book on Matching Food and Wine in the United States.
But truthfully, our real disappointment was not so much WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT's not receiving a James Beard Award nomination, but rather recently learning why it wasn't nominated.
A sharp-eyed restaurateur friend forwarded us a link to a Web site listing the James Beard Award judge's rationale for nixing our book as:
"The authors have tried to match various wines with different foods and vice
versa. They will list a dish (say Tuna) and then suggest wine types to accompany
the entree. They do not, however, take into account the various methods of
preparation or the sauces that might accompany the dish."
This is simply not true, as anyone else who's actually cracked the cover of our book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT could tell you. In fact, under Tuna, you can find specific recommendations for various preparations including "Casserole, Ceviche, Grilled, Nicoise, with Pesto, and Raw." Under Beef, you can find literally dozens of preparations — from Barbecued Brisket to Beef Wellington — and drink recommendations for each.
This James Beard Award judge has posted his erroneous critique online, and mentions that he's also shared it with members of the New York Tasters Guild and in the Wine Investor Buyer's Guide.
We hope you'll help us set the record straight: WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT is a comprehensive reference guide that does indeed allow readers to look up specific methods of preparation (e.g. Boiled Dishes, Deep-Fried Dishes, Grilled Dishes, Steamed Dishes, Stewed Dishes, Tandoori, Tempura, et al) and sauces (Bearnaise, Black Bean, Butter, Cheese, Clam, Cream, Hoisin, Hollandaise, Marinara, Mayonnaise, Ponzu, Puttanesca, Red Wine Reduction, Romesco, Seafood, Tomato, Vinegar-Based, and White Wine) — a strength of our book noted by numerous other reviewers who praised the book as one of the year's best food and/or wine books.
As Nick Fox's May 2 New York Times article "After a Scandal, Questions Linger for Beard Foundation" pointed out,
"The most important function of the foundation is generally considered to be the awards, and for a while it seemed that their existence was far more precarious than the foundation's. The awards to chefs and restaurants are overseen by a committee composed of journalists. But when representatives from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Gourmet magazine, USA Today, and the Seattle Times resigned in the fall of 2004 to avoid connection to the troubled organization, it looked like the awards might go under."
While the awards are continuing tomorrow night in name, their relevancy now and in the years to come will be determined by the reliability of the judging process. The 2004 resignations from respected members of the press resulted in a "brain drain" from the organization that is still in need of restoration.
We were heartened after reading in the May 2 New York Times article that James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Emily Luchetti now chairs the James Beard awards committee, which oversees the awards program. Emily is a smart, talented professional who did a wonderful job of leading the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs association several years ago — which makes us hopeful that she'll be able to straighten out ongoing issues with the awards program.
The same New York Times article raises the question of the organization's ability to survive its financial and organizational challenges. As two authors whose first book was recognized with the 1996 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Best Writing on Food, we've benefited from the awards program ourselves and seen firsthand how it's benefited chefs, restaurants, and culinary writers over the years. As contributors to its scholarship program, we've also seen how it has benefited aspiring culinarians.
Every field needs an organization that brings its members together to reward and foster excellence, and in so doing, to help shape its future. In the wake of both recent and ongoing challenges, we sincerely hope that the leadership of the Beard Foundation is able to restore the trust of its members and stakeholders and to ensure its credibility in the years to come.
Kinkead's sommelier Michael Flynn in DC
(Photo credit: Carol Guzy)
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 — We've been out of town for most of the past week, so we've got some catching up to do to fill you in on recent meals in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.
As many of them involve seafood, you can prepare yourself by reading our column in today's Washington Post "With Seafood, Try Reeling In a Great White." Here, we'll even get you started:
In summer, as you sit on your beach blanket on the sand with the ocean's waves lapping near your feet and the gulls flying overhead, you lick your lips. What do you taste?
The salt in the air reflects the salty ocean water in which fish and other sea creatures brine naturally all their lives. And the innate saltiness of most seafood is the key to selecting a wine. Just as a squeeze of lemon or other citrus juice is a natural accent for seafood's flavor, a high-acid white wine or sparkler can provide the right contrast.
Which wines? As the late food writer and memoirist Richard Olney wrote, "Like Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, Muscadet washes down raw shellfish to perfection...."
To read the rest, click here.
Lovers of Spanish wine will want to check out Jose Penin's new 2007 PENIN GUIDE to Spanish Wine, which features reviews of more than 10,000 brands.