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David Ransom Drink Melanie Young THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Some Like It RAW And It’s Pretty Hot

We recently spent a damp Sunday afternoon navigating wine tables and elbowing hipsters in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to taste a global sampling of natural, biodynamic, organic and other low intervention wines at RAW WINE New York.  The event was conceived by Master of Wine Isabelle Legeron, author of “Natural Wine,” and featured over 150 producers, with just over 50 seeking representation.

We’ve been curious about natural wines after attending a dinner at Rouge Tomate hosted by Wines of Georgia and led by Pascaline Lepeltier who was wine director there at the time. Recently on separate editions of The Connected Table LIVE!, organic wine producer, Phil LaRocca, LaRocca Vineyards, and Pascaline, discussed natural wines. Isabelle Legeron will join us December 13.

Link to our show with Pascaline

Link to our show with Phil LaRocca

 

Stefano Menti (left) is a 13th generation farmer for his
family’s Menti estate in the Veneto

RAW WINE is like a Woodstock for wine with two days of peace, love and waxing poetic about going natural. Over vegan sandwiches and Roberta’s pizzas, we sat with some consumer attendees who swapped stories and spouted knowledge about natural wines with an intentisity of a seasoned and somewhat nerdy wine writer. One actually chuckled when I mentioned we wrote about wine. As if! Whatever! The producers we chatted with were proud to point out what wasn’t in their wines as much as what grapes they used to make it.

Spanish superstars René Barbier (Clos Mogador) and Sara Pérez Ovejero (Mas Martinet) at RAW WINE NY
Spanish superstars René Barbier (Clos Mogador) and Sara Pérez Ovejero (Mas Martinet) at RAW WINE NY

Some of the wines were kind of funky, like that guy or gal you know who doesn’t wear deodorant or shower every day. Some were fizzy,  cloudy, barnyardy and earthy and, of course, there were orange and apricot-tinged wines. And there were many standouts, like Italy’s Gravner and 1701 Franciacorta, Anderson Valley’s Donkey & Goat, Georgia’s Gotsa Wines and Spain’s Clos Mogader and Mas Martinet.

Mateja Gravner, Gravner, Collio, Italy
Mateja Gravner, Gravner, Collio, Italy

RAW opened our eyes to the range of styles and possibilities ahead for this niche of the industry. If the size and scope of the enthusiast attendees at this sold-out two day event is an indicator, RAW has a hot future.

Wine Writer Alice Feiring and Master Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier at RAW WINE

Suggested reading about Natural Wines:

Wine Writer Alice Feiring is a longtime advocate for natural wines. Pascaline Lepeltier wrote the introduction.
Master of Wine Isabelle Legeron explains the terms and shares vintners’ stories.

 

Our radio show with Pascaline Lepeltier:

Our radio show with organic winemaker Phil LaRocca, LaRocca Vineyards, California:

 

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The First Lady of the Organic Food Movement

Chef and restaurateur Nora Pouillon is Washington, DC’s- and the nation’s – Forever First Lady in the world of organic food and sustainability. When she arrived in the U.S. in the 1970s from her native Austria, our country was on a diet of processed foods and agricultural products treated with chemicals -and in too many communities still is. Determined to feed both her family and her customers healthy, farm fresh food like she grew up eating in Europe, Nora set out to find local farmers to supply her food. It wasn’t easy but Nora was committed to finding a better and healthier solution to serve

local, seasonally prepared meals.
nora-photo-in-chair
Restaurant Nora opened in its 19th century red brick building in 1979 (the same year McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal just to give you an idea of what many Americans were eating). Twenty years later in 1999, Restaurant Nora became the first certified organic restaurant, which means 95% of all ingredients must be produced by certified organic farmers, growers and suppliers. Thank goodness Nora stuck to her guns; many restaurants don’t even last 20 years.

Nora has received countless awards, too many to list here. But what struck me at the panel discussion where she spoke about Chef-Activism is how she cultivated farmers and helped nurture their businesses by organizing bus tours to introduce DC area chefs to the farmers. In the process she sustained both their businesses and hers by helping ensure the viability of their farms. Nora also initiated DC’s first producer-only farmer’s market, FRESHFARM Markets, which now includes eleven markets in the metropolitan area.

nora-in-market

These days “Farm-To-Table” is a frequent phrase in restaurants around the nation. Sustainability and ethical cooking are top of mind. We all have Nora Pouillon to thank for leading the way. She recently announced plans to pass the torch at Restaurant Nora. Somehow we know there’s an interesting new chapter to be written. If you haven’t read Nora’s full story, check out this book. And listen to our show here:

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David Ransom Drink Melanie Young THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

A Beer That Is Good for What Ales You

Remember that college mantra  “beer makes you smarter?” Memory hint: it was usually uttered by someone with beer goggles on.

We did a little research asking if drinking beer made you smarter. A 2012 study at Oregon State University reported that xanthohumol in hops, a main ingredient in beer, has been found to increase brain function in high doses. Here’s the catch: “High doses” equals about 3,520 pints or 2,000 litres of beer. And, the study was conducted on “young animals” and not “young men.” Maybe the folks in Oregon should stick to studying coffee. You can read this article on the subject

Here’s a more intelligent rationale for drinking beer according to this article in OrganicFacts.net:

The health benefits of beer include anticancer properties, a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, increased bone density, the prevention of dementia and coronary disease, aid to the digestive system, and anti-aging properties, as well as treating diabetes, gallstones, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and hypertension. Beer also acts as a serious stress buster and a diuretic.

Okay, that’s more like it. What’s more intelligent is drinking better beer, sustainably produced and organically made.  Just ask Gabriel Heymann, founder of Smart Beer, New York State’s first certified organic beer.

20150918-gabesmartbeer_headshot2_SSP

An avid beer drinker, farm advocate, and certified yoga instructor, Gabriel felt he wanted a beer he could feel good about drinking, and that wouldn’t compromise his health conscious, environmentally-inclined lifestyle. When he couldn’t find it, he decided to make it.

SMART BEER

Made in the Hudson Valley (near us!)  from sustainably farmed and sourced ingredients, Smart Beer is made for those who don’t want to compromise their food philosophies to drink a few suds. “I wanted to enjoy both my social life and my healthy, active lifestyle,” Gabriel says, adding. “You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your lifestyle or values in order to celebrate, and that’s what this beer is about.” www.smartbeercompany.com

We welcome Gabriel to The Connected Table LIVE! on Wednesday December 16, 2pm  EST to talk about striking a balance between  health and healthy imbibing and Smart Beer, a which he says proves the fact that “we can have it all.”

Listen live Wednesdays, 2pmEST on W4CY.com

Listen to show podcasts anytime on iHeart.com and the iHeart App.

Follow us on Twitter@connectedtable and Facebook/TheConnectedTable
Follow us on Twitter@connectedtable and Facebook/TheConnectedTable