She’s called “The First Lady of Tequila” and is the first female “Maestra Tequila” certified by the Academia Mexicana de Catadores de Tequila. And she makes a pretty amazing
tequila called Casa Dragones.
After years building the Cuervo brand globally, Bertha Gonzáles Nieves stepped out in 2009 to create her own style of tequila to rave reviews. Casa Dragones is an ultra premium, 100% Blue Agave, hand -crafted sipping tequila that’s smooth, soft and warm with no bite – the way a good tequila should taste. From the sea blue blue packaging and perfume bottle design to the platinum-hued liquid inside, everything about Casa Dragones speaks luxury. This is a sipping spirit to lift the spirits and savor slowly.
So what is Casa Dragones Tequila? Well, it’s a game changer – and part of a growing category of bottlings that are taking the art of crafting tequila, long thought of as a delicious and complex but somewhat pedestrian spirit, to new levels of refinement and elegance through the use of different techniques in distillation, aging and blending. With Casa Dragones, think Cognac with Tequila flavor, but without the burn, or in this case, the color.
Second, unlike the traditional styles of Tequila – Blanco (or Silver), Reposado, and Anejo – Casa Dragones makes what’s called a Joven Tequila, a blended tequila that is primarily Silver, but with other, more aged lots – in this case a bit of 5 year-old Extra Anejo (the recently added fourth main category) blended-in to add complexity and smoothness. In the case of the Casa Dragones Joven, the color is removed from the Extra Anejo portion to keep the final spirit clear.
With the proliferation of Tequila labels on the market these days, many of which are billed as traditional and with a classic Tequila style. Casa Dragones stands out for being exactly not that. It is not a rough, hot, meaty spirit that feels like it was made in a hand-made still in the barn behind the hacienda, but a soft, smooth, elegant spirit with a lightness and level of refinement that liken it more to the sipping equivalent of drinking silk than wool.
Casa Dragones Co-Founder Bertha Gonzáles Nieves joins us on The Connected Table LIVE! this Wednesday May 4, 2016 for a chat about Casa Dragones, and her views on Tequila and the state of the Tequila industry. Listen in at 2:25pm
When your wine is called Isolation Ridge, it’s a pretty sure bet that getting to where its made will probably include a lot of driving, and not necessarily on major roads. Of course, once one leaves the relatively few major cities on the world’s smallest Continent, that can be said for much of Australia.
That said, driving to Frankland Estate, situated in a remote region of Western Australia about 250 miles Southeast out of Perth, one gets the feeling that reaching it may never happen (helicopter, please!). But it’s the wines that keep you driving, as Frankland Estate, founded in 1988 on a sheep station situated about 25 miles north of the Southern Ocean, produces some of that country’s best.
For all the wine Australia makes, and it makes a lot, the wonderful wines of Western Australia, (the most notably recognizable region of which is Margaret River, further West and closer to Perth), often get overshadowed by their more Easterly counterparts from places like Hunter and Barossa Valleys, two of Australia’s most well-known winemaking areas. Which is surprising, since Western Australian winemaking accounts for over 25% of the country’s total production of premium wines.
All that is starting to change however, and it’s thanks to people like the Smith family, owners of Frankland Estate, who are dedicated to not only making superb wines, but making sure that they do it the right way, through organic farming practices and identifying what grows well (i.e., not just planting what people seem to be drinking at the moment) and making that.
And what Frankland Estate is known for is Riesling and Shiraz, both of which adapt well to the cooler climate of the region and make wines of particularly exceptional and unique character. The Riesling is consistently rated among the country’s top wines in its category, and the Shiraz also produce wines that are internationally acclaimed and sought after due to their distinctly different characteristics (more pronounced tannins and aging potential) than the softer, fruit-forward, drink-it-now Shiraz coming out of the hotter growing regions of Eastern Australia.
Frankland Estate produces about 15,000 cases overall and has about 75 certified organic acres under vine. Wines include Isolation Ridge Riesling, Shiraz, and Chardonnay, and the same varietals under the Rock Gully moniker, and ode to the geographic area and also street address of the winery. Other wines include Poison Hill Riesling and Netley Road Riesling, and also the Estate’s flagship red wine: Olmo’s Reward Red, an award-winning traditonal Bordeaux blend using Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec.
The wines of Frankland Estate are worth a drive if you’re feeling adventurous, have a Roo Bar on your Land Cruiser, and happen to be in Perth. Or, thankfully, they’re also available in the U.S. which would probably be a bit more convenient, particularly once you run out and need to get more.
Hear from Frankland Estate Co-Owner and Co-Vintner Hunter Smith, whose parents Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam founded Frankland Estate in 1988. Sheep farmers since the 1970s, Smith and Cullam were inspired by a trip to Bordeaux and working two vintages in that region of France. Hunter and sister Elizabeth joined the family business. And then there’s Gladys the Guinea Hen, the winery’s mascot, who’s in charge of critter and pest control. Can we have a “G’Day Mate” shout out for this show? January 27th, 2pm EST on The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY.com.
With more than 35 years of diversified experience in TV broadcasting, a background in wine, food, spirits, and craft beer reporting, and a burning passion for food and wine, Emmy award-winning producer and host Dave Eckert’s “Culinary Travels with Dave Eckert” has logged more than 275 episodes to date. Eckert’s extensive knowledge of food, wine, and spirits, and his desire to take viewers to “the source” of indigenous products and personalities around the globe, has made “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert” a huge success.
Recognized twice by the Academy of Wine Communications for his work, Dave has also built a loyal audience for “Culinary Travels,” which currently airs on AWE-TV on cable, and previously ran on Public Broadcasting affiliates across the country along with Direct TV, The Dish Network, and can also be seen in the air on Delta, U.S. Air, and Northwest Airlines.
For the past three years, Dave has also been a regular contributor to Kansas City Chowtown, the food blog for the Kansas City Star. His contributions were part of the blog being awarded second place in a recent national competition for newspaper food blogs. Dave contributes local, regional, national, and international pieces on the people, places, events, and products that make our world such a delicious and diverse place.
We’ll talk with Dave on The Connected Table LIVE! on September 30 at 2:25pm, to discuss his unique take on wine, wine regions, and food. We’ll also get a sneak peek at the 2015 American Royal World Series of BBQ, an event three times the size of Memphis in May, which is taking place in Kansas City Oct 3-4, and at which Dave will be judging.
Summer is the perfect time for exploring the lighter side of wines, but often people think that this means wines that are less expressive and flavorful. Pinot Grigio gets that bad wrap probably more than any other varietal offering.
Enter Giovanni Bonmartini Fini, proprietor of Italy’s Barone Fini wines, a producer premium Pinot Grigio from Trentino/Alto Adige in Italy’s north, where arguably the best wines from this varietal are made.
“When I took over the company in 1997 after my uncle passed away, Pinot Grigio as a category had become dominated by cheap agro-industrial mass-produced wine that didn’t require, or warrant, much respect.” says Giovanni. “Our family, along with a few other like-minded producers, had seen this trend and set out to re-build the perception of what Pinot Grigio could be, and prove the potential of Italy’s most important white grape to make one of the world’s best, most versatile, and food friendly white wines.”
Cultivating vineyards has been a family business since 1497 when the two noble Venetian families of Bonmartini and Fini united in marriage and began producing wines in northeastern Italy. Today, the Bonmartini family, direct descendants of the Barone Finis, continue to manage this venerable property producing 150,000 cases per yer. In the U.S. Barone Fini wines are marketed by Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, a company committed to working with family owned wineries around the world. Follow Barone Fini wines on Facebook .
When Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez, master blender for Havana Club for 35 years, decided to leave Cuba after the sale of the brand to an international spirits conglomerate, it was to Panama that he went. Already having a long history of travel to that country, and having worked in Panama to make his “Cuban style” rum for many years previously, this was a natural choice for Don Pancho. However, it was not with the idea that he would continue to make rum or launch his own brand.
That came later, after he met and became friends with one of Panama’s most distinguished spirits authorities, Carlos Esquivel, a Panamanian who had deep ties to the local spirits industry. Together, they created one of Panama’s, and the rum industry’s, most important resources: Proveedora Internacional de LIcores, S.A. (PILSA) Rums (www.pilsarums.com) a custom distiller whose efforts are behind some of the most important names in the category.
Now, 20 years after arriving in Panama, Don Pancho and Carlos are releasing his first eponymous effort, Don Pancho Originales rums (www.origenesdonpancho.com), some of which are bottled from reserves dating to when Don Pancho first started making and blending rums in Panama while still living in Cuba.
We met Don Pancho and Carlos Esquivel at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans July 15-19 and tasted both the 8 year ($40/bottle SRP) and the 18 year ($90/bottle SRP). And we learned what makes Cuban rum truly “Cuban”
He’s been called “the godfather of Nuevo Latino cooking” by media and food industry cognoscenti. His dishes pack a “pow” in flavor, texture and color.
I first became familiar with Chef Douglas Rodriguez’s muy sabroso culinary style when he was still in his tender twenties cooking “upscale Cuban” food at his restaurant YUCA (an acronym for “Young Cuban Americans”) in Miami. The James Beard Foundation Awards took notice early on and nominated him twice for Rising Star Chef of the Year; he won the award in 1996.
Doug exploded into the competitive New York City restaurant scene with Patria, where he honed his Nuevo Latino style. The New York Times awarded Patria three stars, and other restaurant developers came calling on Doug.
More restaurants followed: Chicama, a Peruvian restaurant and Pipa, Spanish tapas, both in NYC’s Union Square neighborhood; and Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia with restaurateur Stephen Starr. Today, Doug continues to run Alma de Cuba.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Doug was raised in Miami and starting cooking in his early teens, landing his first job at age 14 as a summer apprentice at the Four Ambassadors Hotel in Miami. Now, with his restaurants, a successful catering company and four books, DRod (as he refers to himself) is still at the top of his game.
We’re excited about his culinary trips to Cuba. With U.S.-Cuban relations opening back up and the tourism industry in Cuba looking at a renaissance, you may want to book a trip with DRod soon!
She’s the wine columnist for The Wall Street Journal and former executive wine editor for Food & Wine Magazine, Lettie Teague is one of the most articulate and straightforward wine writers in the industry, and her numerous James Beard Foundation Journalism awards attest to this.
We visit with Lettie June 10th on The Connected Table LIVE! fresh from being honored by the Wine Media Guild and on the heels of the release of her new – and third -book, Wine in Words (Rizzoli). This book is a collection of witty ruminations on wine from “Fun To Know,” “Need To Know” and “Who Knows?” It’s a pleasurable read best paired with a glass of milk(?) at bedtime (Ha! Ha! Not!). Perhaps a port instead
Lettie believes insatiably curious oenophiles should drink what they don’t know versus just what they like to pleasure their senses and expand their palates (There is an essay on being “a palate” in Wine in Words.
This book is a great gift for wine lovers. Here are also some other wine gifting ideas from Lettie:
May 4, 2015 – David Ransom and I have a special place in our hearts for New Orleans, the city where we were married in 2007. That’s why it’s a treat to have native New Orleanian David Guason our May 6th show.
This Harley-riding southern chef brought his love for New Orleans up the road North to Arlington, VA, where he owns and operates the Bayou Bakery Coffee Bar & Eatery. A second location opened this month in an historic carriage house on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Both offer discerning eaters a range of comforting options in a leisurely, rustic, counter-service hangout.
It’s grilling – or should we say grilling chefs behind the grill- where many of David’s fans around the country know him best. He’s host of the high stakes grilling competition television show, American Grilled (Travel Channel).
May 4, 2015 – The 25th annual James Beard Foundation Awards take place tonight in Chicago. This year is the first time the Awards have taken place away from the Foundation’s home base of New York City. It’s also the first time I’ve written my own personal remembrances about the start of The James Beard Foundation Awards and my significant role from the beginning and for more than 16 years. Looking back is bittersweet and filled with pride at the history we made and the lives we impacted.
The April 1st edition of The Connected Table LIVE! is a “liquid lunch”chat with two vintage guests from the world of wine. We’ve had the pleasure with working with both on many occasions over the years, so pour a glass with us and tune in.
One of the most well-known voices on the radio, with his Blue Lifestyle Minute on WCBS, Anthony Dias Blue is recognized worldwide as a leading food, wine, spirits, and travel expert. His reach includes TV, magazines, books, and of course, radio. Andy also heads a food & wine events company and hosts food & wine competitions worldwide, most notably The San Francisco International Wine & Spirits Competition and the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition.
A James Beard Foundation Journalism Award recipient and member of the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, Andy’s writing affiliations have included Bon Appétit (where we worked with him for years producing events around the nation), Food & Wine and Zagat. He is currently Editor- in- Chief of The Tasting Panel Magazineand The SOMM Journal, two of the nation’s top wine and spirits industry magazines, both of which he is also an owner.
His award-winning work spans all forms of media and is circulated to more than 30,000,000 consumers each month.
Anyone who has the stamina to travel around the world for a year with Kevin Zraly visiting over 20 Countries, 80 wine regions, and 500 appellations, tasting more than 7,000 wines- for the sake of research- gets our bobble-head nod of appreciation. Not only that, but he’s run with the bulls in Pamplona, but we won’t go there!
We’re talking about Robin Kelley O’Connor who has spent 30 years in the wine trade as a leading educator, international wine judge, wine writer, advisor and sommelier.
Well-known as a Bordeaux and European specialist, and authority on fine and rare wines, Robin was Director of Trade and Consumer Education in the Americas for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) for 20 years, and was previously Lead Specialist & Head of Wine, Americas for Christie’s Auction House. Prior to Christie’s, he was Director of Sales and Education for Manhattan wine and spirits retailer Sherry-Lehmann,
Join Melanie Young and David Ransom, the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple, Wednesdays 2om ET on The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY.com and anytime on iHeart.com, the #1 digital radio network in the USA. Here’s our direct link to all show podcast which we encourage you to Listen “Like” and “Share.”
We have many friends in the food and beverage industry but none as dear to us like family as the Jammets. Parents Rita and André Jammet were proprietors of the La Caravelle restaurant, continuing the restaurant’s legendary reputation for exceptional French food, wine and service. Always, an evening at La Caravelle was delicious and memorable, and we had many. At the helm of La Caravelle, Rita and André truly “walked with kings” while keeping the common touch. Everyone who dined at La Caravelle was treated like royalty. The Champagne flowed as generations of couples and families celebrated special occasions and moguls inked deals over classic French food served with quiet refinement.
It was the end of an era when the Jammets decided to close La Caravelle in 2004. The socio-economic fallout from the September 11th attacks had not been kind to many New York City restaurants. The closing of La Caravelle was a terrible loss to the city and to the legions of customers who relished every moment dining at this amazing restaurant. But doors shut and others open. In Rita’s case, it wasn’t just doors opening; it was champagne corks popping.
Rita decided to carry on the torch and name with line of exceptional La Caravelle Champagne. The portfolio includes a blanc de blanc, brut cuvée and rosé, as well as a red Bordeaux from the Listrac-Medoc appellation. Her wines are now sold in dozens of NYC restaurants and elsewhere.
Rita applies the same dedication and hospitable nature to selling her champagne as she did to running her restaurant. On any given night she is out and about trying new restaurants, supporting charitable events and posting Tweets to acknowledge and praise chefs and sommeliers for their hard work and dedication. Even without her own bricks and mortar restaurant to oversee Rita is an indefatigable brand ambassador for exceptional hospitality, wine and food and all things fabulous and French. We are delighted that the spirit of La Caravelle continues with this sparkling reincarnation. And we are delighted to have Rita join us, followed by son Nicolas on March 25th on The Connected Table LIVE! as part of our Families in the Business series.
We were pleased to see Rita and Andre Jammet and entrepreneurial sons Patrick and Nicolas on the cover of the recent Restaurant Business Magazine. Third son Christophe, also an entrepreneur, was on a holiday that included a marriage proposal on a mountain-top at the time of the photo shoot,
On March 25th we also chat with son Nicolas Jammet, Founder and Co-CEO of sweetgreen, the much-loved, organic, farm-to-table salad shops originating in Washington, D.C. To say “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is an understatement with any of the Jammet sons and especially Nicolas. His is a classic success story of three college buddies with an idea and a business plan. Nicolas graduated from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in 2007, where he met his business partners, Jonathan Neman and Nathaniel Ru.
The three entrepreneurs founded sweetgreen during their senior year, opening their first location in Georgetown in August 2007 – just three months out of college. The idea was born from their belief that the community would benefit from a healthy, delicious, and eco-friendly dining option. They passionately believed it was possible to create “food that fits” – your values, your budget, your tastes, your imagination, and your community.
Since then, they have built sweetgreen to become the market leader in local, organic, healthy fast food, with over 1,000 employees and 29 stores throughout Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Virginia, and Maryland. 2015 will see a West Coast launch with stores opening in Los Angeles and Santa Monica in early spring. sweetgreen has become a local favorite not only for its delicious, healthy, high quality and affordable fast food, but also for its commitment to local farmers, the community, sustainability, and an outstanding company culture.
In 2010, the sweetgreen partners founded sweetlife, which over the last four years has grown to become the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest music and food festival. The event features a curated selection of cutting edge and high profile artists and attracts 20,000 attendees – not to mention outstanding food from top chefs, food trucks, local purveyors and farmers. The event embraces good living, along with health and well-being, community and sustainability, and leaves a gentle footprint as a carbon-neutral event – a party with a purpose.
Nicolas and his partners have been selected as Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30: Food & Wine” and Food & Wine magazine’s “40 Big Food Thinkers 40 and Under.” The brand has received numerous accolades from the press, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Food & Wine, Forbes, Bloomberg, Washingtonian, CBS, and CNBC, among others.
Join the Insatiable Curious Culinary Couple Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays on The Connected Table LIVE! 2pm ET/11 am PT on W4CY.com Shows podcasts are available on demand anytime at IHeart.com. Each week we bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality. Connect with us at:
If you have a dog-eared copy of any of these cookbooks on your shelf at home: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Marion Cunningham’s Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking or Jacques Pepin’s Art of Cooking, you can thank Judith Jones. If you ever read the published Diary of Anne Frank or a book by author, John Updike, you can thank Judith Jones.
To say Judith Jones has had an estimable career in publishing is an understatement. As a longtime editor at Alfred A. Knopf her authors included Julia Child, Lidia Bastianich, James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Rosie Daley, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Edna Lewis, Joan Nathan, Jacques Pépin, Claudia Roden, and Nina Simonds.
Judith is the author The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food and The Pleasures of Cooking for One. She is the coauthor with her late husband, Evan Jones, of The Book of Bread; Knead It, Punch It, Bake It! (for children); and The Book of New England Cookery. She also collaborated with Angus Cameron on The L. L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook. Recently, she has contributed to Vogue andSaveur. In 2006, she was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Judith’s new book is a charming, practical guide to sharing the pleasures of home cooking with your dog, in her case her frisky white Havanese named Mabon. Titled Love Me, Feed Me, Judith’s book dispenses tips that both nurture and nourish the heart and palate with recipes that both humans and canines can share. Judith explains the nutritional benefits of substituting, or supplementing, store-bought food with a diet of fresh, home-prepared ingredients. She offers helpful extras like advice on portion size, what to do with scraps, and the latest research on controversial ingredients such as garlic (newly vindicated), ginger (use sparingly) and eggplant (an acquired taste, but scrape out the seeds). For Judith, food is love and love of good food should always be a pleasure and a joy to prepare whether man, woman or dog.
We have another new book on our shelf filled with slips of paper marking passages and information Melanie has dog-eared. It’s Karen Page‘s Vegetarian Flavor Bible, a detailed guide to the benefits of eating a vegetarian diet with “matchmaking list” of ingredients, flavors, pairings, caloric/nutrition information and a history of vegetarianism.
When Karen says she is researching a new book, believe us, she means volumes of research and attention to detail presented in a way that is easy to follow and digest. Karen starts The Vegetarian Flavor Bible with this line: “The book started with a problem: I didn’t know what to eat.” You have to ask yourself how a well-regarded food professional with a shelf of critically acclaimed books and access to the greatest chefs in the world had this problem. More, important, how did she face it and how can you learn from it? It’s a problem many people who want to eat healthier face: minimizing excess calories/fats/carbs/sugar and maximizing flavors and the pleasure of eating.
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible has been cited as one of “The Best Cookbooks of 2014″ by leading media including Bloomberg, The Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle, KCRW Radio, Miami Herald, The Washington Post, and WBEZ Radio.
Karen is a two-time James Beard Foundation Award- winning author whose previous books with chef-husband Andrew Dornenburg include The Flavor Bible ,which was named one of the 100 best cookbooks of the past 25 years by Cooking Light and one of the 10 best cookbooks in the world of the past century by Forbes, and What To Drink with What you Eat, which won the IACP’s “Cookbook of the Year” Award and the Georges Duboeuf “Wine Book of the Year” Award. Karen is a graduate of Northwestern and Harvard University as well as the plant-based nutrition certificate program at Cornell in conjunction with the T. Colin Campbell Foundation.
Join Melanie Young and David Wednesdays on The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY and iHeart Radio. Each week we bring you dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits, hospitality and publishing.