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Uncorking Some Napa Valley History with Peter Mondavi Jr.

Do you know what the oldest winery in Napa Valley is? It’s Charles Krug, established in 1861. Its namesake, a German immigrant, started the winery and ran it until he died in 1892. After Charles Krug’s death, the winery was acquired by the family of James Moffitt who were wealthy San Franciscans. In 1943, a former saloon worker -turned- grocer, who successfully started a fruit distribution business called Cesare Mondavi & Sons, purchased the property for $75,000. Imagine what that money represented back them (versus now!).

Charles Krug- Napa Valley’s oldest winery

Today, Charles Krug, more than 150 years later is under the stewardship of Cesare’s grandsons, Peter Mondavi Jr. and Marc Mondavi. Peter grew up on the wine estate and recently shared memories of his grandparents as well as his vision for the future of Charles Krug. #TheConnectedTableLive

Peter Mondavi Jr.

 

Peter joined us on The Connected Table Live May 2. Listen to our visit with Peter Mondavi on iHeart. On the same show, here from  author, Andrew Friedman.

 

 

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Cookbook Drink Eat Events

All Rise! The James Beard Foundation Media Awards


Congratulations to all the winners of The James Beard Foundation Media Awards, which comprises books, broadcasting and journalism. The Awards were presented April 27 at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers. I had the pleasure of attending and sitting with four nominees, Writers/Authors Kathleen Squires, Robert Simonson, Restaurateur/Chef and Author Maricel Presilla and Chef Gonzalo Gonzales Guzman, whose book, Nopalito, won in the International Category.

JBF Media Awards Host- TV Journalist Tamron Hall, who is active with the charity, Common Threads.

The Media Awards are usually overshadowed by the glitzier Restaurant and Chef Awards, which take place May 7 at Chicago’s Lyric Opera House. I feel they are as important. Writers and journalists are the chroniclers of our culture, news and history. It was evident by the nominated articles – several that addressed diversity and sexual harassment in the industry- that writers are the people who raise our consciousness through words. These words propel the rest of us to take action.

Cookbook of the Year Recipient Michael Twitty

Particularly poignant were speeches by Pati JinichMichael Twitty and Betty Fussell.  Pati, recipient of “Outstanding TV Host,” recounted her mixed emotions while shooting her show. “Pati’s Mexican Table,” at the Tijuana border. Michael, recipient of Cookbook of the Year for The Cooking Gene, talked about searching for his African roots and what it means to be a “fat, gay, black and Jewish.” Betty, resplendent at 91 and ever eloquent with her words, wowed everyone as she stepped up to the stage to receive the Cookbook Hall of Fame Award for her writings.

Pati Jinich- Best TV Host

The theme of the Awards is RISE. Participating Guest Chefs, which included dinner chefs, Michael Anthony (Gramercy Tavern, NYC), Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, NC – who made the best tomato tart!), and Hugo Ortega (H-Town Restaurant Group, Houston), all have risen to the occasion to help support those in need. And the reception and pastry chefs, also RISE for consciousness and caring: Emma Bengtsson (Aquavit), Daniel Alvarez (Union Square Cafe, NYC), April Anderson (Good Cakes and Bakes LLC, Detroit), Claudia Fleming (North Fork Table & Inn, Southhold, NY) and Zachary Golper (Bien Cuit, NYC). As always, Pier Sixty, executed a magnificent event. A special “Thank You” to them and to Host Chef Philip DiMaiolo.

It made me proud to be part of this professional community and motivated to Rise further to make an impact.  MY

The amazing Betty Fussell, Cookbook Hall of Fame Recipient.
(I’ll have what she’s having to look this good!)

 

Here is a link to the press release announcing all Media Award recipients.

Photos by  by Kent Miller.

 

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Meet Mr. Pisco! Johnny Schuler

He’s passionate about Pisco! Johnny Schuler is Peru’s leading expert on Pisco and Master Distiller for Pisco Portón, whose Hacienda La Caravedo is the oldest Pisco distiller in the Americas (est. 1684). He explains the distillation process and grapes used to produce Pisco. Johnny is also a professional chef and restaurateur, owner of Granja Azul and Key Club, both in Lima.

Johnny Schuler is passionate about Pisco

Johnny says these four things distinguish Peruvian Pisco:

  1. Pisco is made from wine, not grapes. Juice is extracted from the grapes to ferment and distill rather than crushing and using the entire grape and stems.
  2. Pisco may only be made from the juice of eight designated grapes which are classified as ‘aromatic’ and ‘non-aromatic.’ The non-aromatic grapes are: Quebranta, Mollar, Negra Criolla and Uviña.  Aromatic grapes are: Albilla, Italia, Torontel and Moscatel.
  3. Pisco is a natural spirit whose distinct aromas and flavors come entirely from the terroir and grapes used. It is distilled to proof. No water, coloring, other flavorings or ingredients may be added. And we never utilize oak or any aging. Pisco is always crystal clear unlike a Cognac, Brandy or Armagnac.
  4. Distillation is a single process, always using copper pot stills. In comparison, other spirits like vodka may undergo double and triple distillation to achieve intended smoothness.”

Pisco has three distinct styles: Puro uses a single variety grape, either aromatic or non-aromatic. Acholado is a blend of two or more grapes of any kind. Mosto Verde a style that stops the fermentation process prior to the 100% conversion of grape sugar to wine. The result is a creamier, fuller style Pisco.

 

Pisco Sour is the signature cocktail of Peru.

Listen more on this edition of The Connected Table Live! Johnny is in the second segment.

 

 

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Bob Blue, Chief Storyteller for 1000 Stories

Bob Blue, Winemaker and Chief Storyteller for 1000 Stories in Mendocino, CA, takes a deliberate small-batch approach to winemaking. 1000 Stories utilizes old bourbon barrels for aging, which Bob says he began using in the 1980s when French and American oak barrels were hard to come by.

Bob Blue with Melanie

 

What we tasted:

1000 Stories Zinfandel 2016 Batch 044Attractive flavors of red licorice and brown spice usher into this blend courtesy of Paso Robles vineyards. Hedonistic, juicy Zinfandel from Lodi brings round tannins and opulent notes of dark fruit, while a touch of soulful Lake County Petite Sirah completes the wine, contributing depth of color and profound suggestions of black pepper. SRP: $18.99

 

1000 STORIES ‘BATCH BLUE’ CARIGNAN 2016

This wine is 1000 Stories first-ever release of Carignan as a single varietal. Look for notes of brilliantly racy red and black fruits set to a rich backdrop of toast, herbs and cocoa. SRP: $18.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this edition of The Connected Table Sips! Bob Blue explains how the char of bourbon barrels adds distinct and nuanced complexity to wine and specifically his 1000 Stories Bourbon Barrel-Aged Zinfandel and Bourbon Barrel-Aged Carignan. www.1000storieswines.com  

Instagram: 1000_stories_wines

 

1000 Stories Inspires

1000 Stories  works with the Wildlife Conservation Society  to develop programs to reintroduce bison into healthy environments where they may thrive and contribute to the ecosystems once again.

Thanks to strong conservation efforts started in the early 1900s by the American Bison Society (led by pioneering conservationist Theodore Roosevelt), the bison population has grown to about 450,000, yet fewer than 20,000 range freely. Realizing the bison population was still at risk, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) re-launched the American Bison Society in 2005. Wildlife Conservation Society has built a network of experts and strong relationships with ranchers and Native American tribes in an effort to restore natural habitats for the bison population. Info: www.wcs.org

 

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Events

Reflecting on The Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America

While many industry followers quiver with anticipation for The James Beard Foundation’s announcement of its Restaurant, Book and Media Award Finalists (LINK). I have a soft spot for the less flashy Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

This program pre-dates The James Beard Foundation, and I would like to shed a little light on its origins. The creators of the Who’s Who of Cooking in America (the original name) were Chris Kimball, founder, publisher and managing editor for Cook’s Magazine (the original one started in 1980 and later Cook’s Illustrated) and Jeffrey Berlind, at the time managing editor for Restaurant Business Magazine. For some reason Jeff’s name as co-founder gets omitted, and I know if he is reading this he will appreciate the shout out.

The program was started in 1984 to recognize leaders in all areas of food, beverage and hospitality. There were a few dozen original inductees including the late James Beard who also died the same year. I became involved in the Who’s Who of Cooking in America as a consultant in 1987. My role was to write short biographies for every Who’s Who member and handle publicity for the announcement of the new Who’s Who. I can thank Jane Freiman, a contributing editor for Cook’s Magazine, for introducing me to Chris and Jeff.

Initially, Chris asked me to write short biographies for all the current Who’s Who members and generate some publicity for the program. In 1988 he asked me to produce the event. In 1989, The Bonnier Group, owners of Cook’s Magazine, decided to close the publicaton. That was almost the end of the Who’s Who in Cooking in America. I worked with the owners to try to find a buyer for the Who’s Who. We approached the food magazines, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and credit card companies. But it was Peter Kump, the founder of The James Beard Foundation, who called me to say, “Let’s bring back the Who’s Who of Cooking.” Peter had been inducted into the Who’s Who in 1988. A deal was negotiated in 1990, and in 1991, the program was reinstated under the newly lanched James Beard Foundation Awards. The rest is history.

I’ve always felt this program deserves a bigger spotlight. The Who’s Who is a history of the individuals who truly shaped the industry from every aspect. If you ever have the chance to look through complete list you will know what I mean:
https://www.jamesbeard.org/whos-who-of-food-and-beverage-in-america-members

Congratulations to this year’s new group of Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America: Jody Adams, Chef/Owner, TRADE, Porto, and Saloniki; Lally Brennan, Ti Adelaide Martin, Co-Proprietors, Commander’s Palace; Allison Hooper, Co-Founder, Vermont Creamery (Vermont), Daniel Johnnes, Wine Director, The DINEX Group.

Listen to our show with Ti Adelaide Martin with Miss Ella Brennan here LINK

 

Listen to our show with Daniel Johnnes here LINK

 

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Pati Jinich’s Matzo Ball Soup Has Kick!

As the snow flurries fell during the third (or fourth?) storm of the year just around the start of Spring, we both found ourselves craving the same warm  dish: Pati Jinich‘s Matzo Ball Soup with Mushrooms and Jalapeños.

Maybe it’s the zing of the jalapeño chilies or the nuttiness of sesame oil and grated nutmeg that make these matzo balls so tasty. Just one tablespoon of sparkling water adds the perfect plump and fluff. We found ourselves negotiating over the last matzo ball for lunch. Try this recipe for Passover, or any time of the year. Here is a link to Pati’s recipe which can also be found in her cookbook “Mexican Today.” (link) Or, cut and paste: https://patijinich.com/recipe/post_1/

Congratulations to Pati for being a 2018 James Beard Foundation Media Award Best Television Host Nominee for “Pati’s Mexican Table” (American Public Television)
Here is our radio show podcast with Pati on The Connected Table Live!  (LINK)
Or, cut and paste this link: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/209-The-Connected-Table-Live-27073513/episode/pati-jinich-and-bertha-gonzeles-nieves-27510414/

Happy Passover and Easter!  Whichever you celebrate, make it delicious

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Drink The Connected Table SIPS

Sipping Bordeaux Blancs

Many wine aficionados are familiar with the red wines of Bordeaux, but the region also produces exceptional white wines. One of the birthplaces of Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux put the art of blending on the map, creating balanced, expressive white wines, many available for under $25.

Dr. Valérie Lavigne is a specialist on aroma and the aging potential of white wines.
Dr. Valérie Lavigne is a global viticulturist and oenologist who is a specialist on aroma and the aging potential of white wines.

We sat down to taste a few Bordeaux Blancs wines with Dr. Valérie Lavigne, well-respected global consultant in viticulture and oenology. Based in Bordeaux, she is a researcher for Seguin-Moreau, affilliated with the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (I.S.V.V.). Her primary areas of research include: aroma science, reduction during vinification and aging of white wines, and premature aging of aromas in white and red wines. Valérie is also a consulting oenologist for about 70 crus and renowned estates in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and South Africa. She teaches diploma level courses at the University of Bordeaux along with white wine aroma training courses for the Bordeaux CIVB.

Valérie explained different styles of Bordeaux Blanc wines as well as their aging potential, in some cases 15 years or more.

Listen to our SIPS podcast here:

What we tasted:

Château Bonnet 2017 (Entre-Deux Mers), a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (60%), Sémillon (20%) and Muscadelle (20%). This wine had very fresh tropical fruit and lemony notes. Left me craving a dozen chilled raw oysters and a light green salad with lemon vinaigrette. SRP: $16

Dourthe Le Grand Cuvée 2016, 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Zippy, zesty citrus notes make this wine super refreshing. Try with ceviche or goat cheeses. SRP: $11

Clos Floridène 2015 (Graves), a blend of Semillon (50%) Sauvignon Blanc (48%) and Muscadelle (2%). This wine combined citrus (grapefruit, lemon) and white flowers and a tad touch of toast. Tru with a light seafood pasta. Valérie noted the aging potential of this wine is about 10 years. SRP  $29

Learn more about Bordeaux wines and Bordeaux Blanc at www.Bordeaux.com 

Connected and follow #Bordeauxwines

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Meet “Mr. Spain” at Kysela Pere et Fils

 

Jen Riis, aka “Mr. Spain,” scouts wines for Kysela Pere et Fils’ Spanish wine portfolio. Based in Madrid, Jen discusses some of Spain’s most well-known wine regions like Rioja and Ribera Del Duero, as well as smaller regions he says everyone should have on their wine drinking radar, such as Alicante and Jumilla. Jen underscores the increasing popularity of Spanish Sherry and white wines from D.O. Rueda, in addition to red wines made from Mencia, Monastrell and Garnacha. www.kysela.com  The Connected Table SIPS

 

Scene from the Duero Region of Spain (Photo: Wines from Spain USA)
Scene from the Duero Region of Spain (Photo: Wines from Spain USA)

Listen here The Connected Table SIPS!

 

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Meet Champagne Jacquart Cellarmaster Floriane Eznack

For International Women’s Month in March, we’re recognizing inspirational women in wine, spirits, food and hospitality. In this post we spotlight Floriane Eznack, Cellarmaster for Champagne Jacquart.  Floriane works with a cooperative of 1800 grape growers in 60 villages and oversees blending and daily taste-testing for Jacquart’s signature Mosaïque Collection (Brut, Extra Brut, Rosé) and Blanc de Blancs, Jacquart produces a modern-style champagne dominated by the Chardonnay grape in its blends, and with longer aging- 5 to 6 years for vintage wines.   www.champagne-jacquart.com/en

Floriane Eznack

 

 

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Chinese New Year Bites- Gung Hay Fat Choy!

We never need a holiday to enjoy Chinese food, but we always partake a bit more for Chinese New Year for good luck!  We started celebrating the Year of the Dog February 14th on The Connected Table Live! with guest, Hsiao-Ching Chou, author of “Chinese Soul Food.”

Hsiao-Ching’s parents, came to the U.S. from Taiwan and owned a Chinese restaurant in Missouri. She worked in the restaurant after school. After earning her college degree in journalism Hsiao-Ching became a successful food writer, most recently working at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for many years, Hsiao-Ching teaches cooking and shares her recipes on her blog, MyChineseSoulFood.com.

Hsiao-Ching Chou's dumplings ("Chinese Soul Food")
Hsiao-Ching Chou’s dumplings (“Chinese Soul Food”)

On February 15 we attended Lucky Rice Founder Danielle Chang’s Lunar Year Celebration at Canal Street Market (NYC) which continues through February 28. Different food and drink stalls served bites that were more global than Chinese, like Silk Road Falafel Wrap with Pickled Cabbage, Scallions, Crushed Cashews, Ginger and “Silk Road” Harissa Sauce from Ilili Box and Miso Lucky Salad (Brown Rice Topped with Miso-Marinated Beets. Bok-Choy and Avocado with Sesame Seed Dressing (loved!). Danielle Chang will join us on The Connected Table Live April 4th.

Danielle Chang, Founder of Lucky Rice (center)

My favorite discovery at this event was the Lunar Year Kakigori from Bonsai Kakigori, which  created powdery shave ice topped with icy snow drifts of mango and ginger and cream. Theo Friedman, the cofounder of Kakigori showed me how his Japanese shave ice machine worked and let me taste another Kakigori topped with shave ice matcha green tea.

Mango-Ginger Kakigori (snow ice) from Bonsai Kakigori

Our February 16 visit was to Red Farm NYC on the Upper West Side, where Owner Ed Schoenfeld recommended some “long life” and “prosperity” dishes. Ed said he was heading to London this month to open a Red Farm there. It was fun to see families celebrating Chinese New Year together and their kids all dressed up. This place always is one of our favorites.

Black truffle chicken soup dumpling at Red Farm NYC

Here is a link to our Chinese New Year show with Ed Schoenfeld and Chris Cheung, East Wind Snack Shop which aired live in 2016. Now on iHeart:

Listen to our show with Hsiao-Ching Chou here:

 

Purchase Chinese Home Cooking now on Amazon:

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Drink

Celebrating 50 Years with Trefethen Family Vineyards

“What were you doing 1968?” That was the opening question Kevin Zraly asked the group attending this week’s tasting at Corkbuzz Wine Studio to commemorate Trefethen Family Vineyards’ 50th Anniversary Retrospective. Kevin was joined by proprietors Janet Trefethen and her son, Lorenzo Trefethen, who shared the history and milestones of this family-owned winery located in Napa’s cool climate Oak Knoll district.

The tasting notes included a historical marker for our nation. Some were happy times: the growth of the American culinary revolution and California wine industry. Some noted the natural disasters that impacted the region, such as floods, earthquakes and drought. And the federal debt went from $316 billion in the 1960s to 20 trillion in 2010. The Good News is that the wines survived it all and each vintage we tasted was exceptional.

It was an afternoon to share family stories while enjoying the wines. Patriarch Eugene Trefethen purchased the Eschol Ranch in 1968 and planted vineyards with the intent to sell the grapes. Janet and John Trefethen met, married and started the winery in 1973 with Tony Baldini, as their first viticulturist. Janet noted there has been a Baldini family member involved with the winery since Day One. Lorenzo also underscored that Trefethen winery workers are treated like family with salaries and health benefits, no contract workers. Many employees have worked at Trefethen for years.

Chardonnay vintages from 1977 to 2016

Trefethen is world-renowned for its Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lorenzo noted with a smile that the family was unaware their 1976 Chardonnay- the family’s fourth vintage- had been named “Best Chardonnay in the World”  at the Gault-Millau World Wine Olympics in Paris until a CBS news helicopter landed to request an interview. Numerous awards and accolades have followed.

At Corkbuzz, owner Laura Maniec and her team poured first a selection of Chardonnays, vintages 1977, 1985, 1991, 2005, 2011 and 2016; and Cabernet Sauvignon, vintages 1979, 1986, 1999, 2006, 2011, 2015. Kevin Zraly wisely encouraged us to taste at our leisure to allow time for us to really savor and contemplate the wines.

Kevin Zraly, wine educator and raconteur

I (Melanie) like to play a mental game when I taste wine: I create personalities and stories for each vintage and style. For me the Chardonnays were a multi-generational family of pedigreed blondes, starting with elegant elderly dowager (1977) to the perfectly coiffed classic Bergdorf blonde (1991) to the more preppy and peppy 2012 and 2016. And, yes, drinking these wines I thought, “These Chardonnay blondes are more fun.” Each generation had its spirited personality.

Cabernet Sauvignon vintages 1979-2015

The same went for the Cabernet Sauvignons which ranged from my timeless idea of the “dreamy matinee idol” (1979) to the sophisticated “Rat Pack” (1986, 1999) to the ”Leonardo Di Caprio” (2011) and “Bradley Cooper” (2015). They were all stars with different appeal. For some reason I conjured all men for these wines.

Oh, there were plenty of wine terms tossed around to describe the wines, like the ABC’s of acidity, balance and concentration. But, inspired by the stories Janet and Lorenzo shared and Kevin’s always enjoyable remarks, I let my mind daydream about each generation of wine and its place in time and the remarkable family who brought them to life. Thank you!

Janet and Lorenzo Trefethen

Listen to our show with Janet and Hailey Trefethen broadcast from Napa Valley last year:

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Prosecco’s Enore Ceola, Managing Director & CEO, Mionetto USA

Sales of Prosecco, the sparkling wine produced in the Veneto region of Italy, are bubbling.  According to Vinexpo CEO Guillame Deglise, “Sales of Prosecco will surpase 412 million bottles by 2020, as the sparking wine tases over from discounted Champagne.” (The Drinks Business, March 2017).

Many years ago we took on the responsibility of promoting Prosecco in the USA. It was tough sell!  Now days, bottles of Prosecco are flying off the shelves.

So, what caused the sure in Prosecco’s popularity?

We discuss Prosecco’s appeal with Enore Ceola, CEO and Managing Director of Mionetto USA, who has had a large role in helping change the image and driving sales for Prosecco and his brand in the USA.

Enore Ceola, Managing Director, Mionetto USA

Born in the heart of the Prosecco region, Enore Ceola grew up on a winery bordering the Friuli and Veneto regions of Italy. He graduated from the Institute of Technology at Pordenone with a degree in architecture. He had a brief stint as a civil engineer before deciding to drop everything to marry the love his life, Ursula, an American exchange student after a two-year courtship.

In early 1997, he returned to his family roots and reached out to Mionetto for employment prior to leaving for the U.S. With a stroke of luck, he was informed that the Director of U.S. Exports position had recently been vacated and was promptly introduced to the entire Mionetto family, leading him to immediately accept an offer at the company.

Soon thereafter, he found himself in New York City, newly married, introducing not only Mionetto Prosecco, but also the Prosecco category itself to the American market.  Mionetto, est 1887, just celebrated its 130 anniversary.

 

In our conversation, Enore reflects on the past, present and future of Prosecco. Listen now on The Connected Table LIVE! iHeart.com.

 

 

Read Melanie’s article explaining Prosecco in Wine4Food.com

https://wine4food.com/wine/prosecco/