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Summer Reads to Whet Your Appetit For Food and Travel

Sunny- Sultry- Stormy- Scintillating

Sounds like a good book or film, right? Actually, it’s New Orleans in the summer, where we are now (with a pre-determined hurricane evacuation plan we hope we don’t need to use!)

As our 11th month on the #TheConnectedTableROADTRIP turns a corner, and the year we allowed to travel comes closer to its anniversary, we are taking July and August to unwind, unpack our suitcases and car for a while, and settle into one of our favorite cities. This allows us more time to write, read, look for more paid partnerships, and taste and savor the summer without the hustle.

And what better time than summer to tuck into a few books that transport us elsewhere? Here are two we recommend. Both authors were recent guests on The Connected Table LIVE.

Restaurant Critic Alexander Lobrano: “My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris”

How did a shy kid from suburban Connecticut become one of the leading restaurant critics in Paris? Many have asked Alexander (Alec) Lobrano that question with admiration.  Lobrano shares some juicy highlights  in his memoir, “My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris” ( Harper Collins).

My Place at the Table - Alec Lobrano
Photo of Alex Lobrano by Stephen Rothfield. Purchase book here.

A gifted storyteller with a curious palate, Lobrano had to fight the usual skeptics about his chosen profession, from his parents who questioned why he wanted to write about food to Parisians who doubted he knew anything about French food.

As a young boy, Lobrano preferred to write in his diaries over playing contact sports. He writes about being sent away on a cross-country camping trip, carefully documenting what he experienced and ate. Later, after graduating Amherst, he worked in publishing in New York City and then in London as a writer until Paris came calling.

Originally recruited to cover men’s fashion in Paris for Women’s Wear Daily, Lobrano continued to follow his passion, seeking out little-known restaurants with as much enthusiasm as booking a meal at Michelin-starred food temple. Frustrated with his requisite reporting on designers and socialites for Fairchild publications, he continued to pound the pavement to generate freelance articles on dining for other outlets to support his appetite for great food and his writer’s income. When an editor suggests Lobrano accept free restaurant meals, he demurs choosing to maintain his journalistic independence.

Reading Lobrano’s book makes us hungry for Paris and also humble about the chosen profession of journalism. As media outlets come and go, it’s always a hustle.  And when you schedule that visit to the Eternal City, make sure to check out Lobrano’s “insider list” of restaurants to try in the back of his book.

Paris Eiffel Tower - anthony-delanoix-QAwciFlS1g4-unsplash
Paris Eiffel Tower – anthony-delanoix-QAwciFlS1g4-unsplash

Television Producer David Page, “Food Americana: The Remarkable People and Incredible Stories behind America’s Favorite Dishes”

If you are a fan of Food Network’s hit series, “Diners Drive-ins and Dives,” you have David Page to thank as the originator of the show and executive producer for eleven seasons. A two-time Emmy Award recipient, Page spent many years working in network news at NBC where he developed and-co-produced “The Today Show Weekend Edition.” He also worked at ABC as a senior producer/line producer for “Good Morning America” and as a senior investigative producer for “20/20.” Page’s career in television news comes with fascinating stories about covering world news.

On the home front, Page is author of a new book, “Food Americana: The Remarkable People and Incredible Stories behind America’s Favorite Dishes.” (Mango Media). If you are a fan of food pop culture, you will glide through this book, savoring the tidbits of information, colorful characters and notable chefs who helped shape some of the foods we enjoy today. Importantly, “Food Americana” sheds a light on the valuable contribution immigrants to our country have made on the foods we enjoy today from Chinese dumplings to sushi to Italian pizza.

David Page- Food Americana
                    Hungry for American food pop culture? Purchase the book here.  

In addition to “Triple D,” Page’s Minnesota-based company, Page Productions, has produced many food shows including “Outrageous Food,” “Hungry Men at Work” and- currently in production, ”Beer Geeks,” which takes viewers inside the world of craft brewing.

Listen to our show with Alec Lobrano and David Page on The Connected Table LIVE! here:

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A Story of Family & Fortitude: Delia Viader

Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Delia Viader has a Ph.D in Philosophy from the Sorbonne, studied business at M.I.T., enology at U.C. Davis and speaks six languages. Her parents ran in global business and diplomatic circles. Her late father, Walter, was her inspiration and staunchest supporter when she decided to establish Viader Vineyards & Winery in Napa Valley in 1986.

Determined to find a home, build a business and establish a secure future for her family of four children as a single mother, she invested in remote, rocky land on Howell Mountain to build Viader Vineyards & Winery to produce small lot Bordeaux red blends. She consulted with leading oenologists and viticultural specialists Michell Rolland and Tony Soter. Viader’s first bottled vintage was 1989 with just 1200 cases. In 2000, Viader’s 1997 vintage was named #2 in The Wine Spectator Top 100 wines. The following year, Viader’s 1998 red blend was ranked #3.

View from Viader Vineyards
Viader Winery & Vineyards is located on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley.

The national recognition for her limited production wines created significant demand and offered a bright future for Viader. But in 2005, an offsite wine warehouse fire set by an arsonist wiped out Viader’s entire 2003 vintage and caused irreparable damage. Viader, along with many other wineries who warehoused their wines in the same facility were dealt a devastating blow.

Determined not to give up, Delia and her family dug in their heels and worked hard to salvage their losses and pivot (we know that word well these days). To help finance the recovery, Viader had to sell Il Masseto, her property in Bolgheri that she had acquired in 1999 to produce Super Tuscan wines and eventually retire to.

Many have shared that Delia is a fearless force of nature who is loyal to the core. The words, “Nevertheless, She Persisted” have never been truer. Now celebrating 35 years with a focus on maintaining standards of quality, sustainability and legacy. www.viader.com

Recommended:

Viader Proprietary Red Blend 2016, Napa. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Cabernet Franc. Aged 23 months in 100% French oak (60% new). Delia calls this wine her “Liquid Cashmere.”- Voluptuous blackberry, black cherry, plum, shaved cocoa and spice. SRP $195

Viader Black Label 2017, Napa. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Syrah, 12% Malbec, 9% Cabernet Franc. Aged 17 months in French barrel (17% new).  This wine is Alan Viader’s project. It delivers concentrated black fruit juiciness laced with cocoa and spice. SRP $150

Delia and Alan Viadar

Listen to our show with Delia Viader and son and fellow winemaker, Alan Viader on The Connected Table Live to share their inspiring story and vision.

 

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Happy 40th Anniversary to Inn at little Washington!

I once spent the right night with the wrong man at the Inn at little Washington in the 1990s. It was oh-so-right because the meal was beyond fabulous; the rooms were decorated down to the littlest detail. Even the stair railings wore pretty sleeves. The big claw-foot bathtub in our room was a sensual experience for a long soak. I was thrilled to be checking off a place I always wanted to visit on my lengthy travel and dining bucket list (thanks to my boyfriend’s credit card).  Too bad “William” passed out after imbibing  copious amounts of wine and Armagnac at our dinner and complained about the cost when we checked out. That’s a Big No No in my Code of Conduct.  We broke up soon after.

A member of Relais & Châteaux the list of awards and accolades both Patrick and Inn at Little Washington have received in 40 years could fill an entire wall, or maybe a room!

Flash forward to 2018. The Inn at little Washington celebrates its 40th year with a series a over-the-top events that guarantee an extraordinary experience for those lucky enough to snag tickets (details at this link). But anyone who stays and dines at Inn at little Washington has won the extraordinary experience lottery.

The Inn at Little Washington is a setting for romance. It’s like listening to a soft sonata after spending a work week amidst the loud percussion of the city. Forty years after opening in a former garage in tiny Washington, Virginia in 1978, Patrick O’Connell keeps a watchful eye over every detail. And that’s why he’s been referred to as “the Pope of American Cuisine.” Not King, but Pope!

Patrick O’Connell, Proprietor and Executive Chef, Inn at Little Washington. He is a self-taught chef who shared in our radio show that he once worked flipping burgers and called it a “great learning experience.”

Patrick’s vision begun 1978 is being celebrated this year as his “magnificent dream.” When we’re talking about Inn at Little Washington, it’s “go big or go home.” On  June 16 he hosted a “garden party” at George Washington’s Mount Vernon which also fêted culinary pioneers from around the world. In September he’s planned two more. Wish we were going but, alas not. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones!

But, honestly, I’ll be happy to settle in for another night (or two)  at the Inn at Little Washington for any occasion to enjoy another fabulous meal and a dreamy stay in one of the Inn’s gorgeous rooms. This time it will be with the Right Man, my husband, David.

 

Patrick told us he actually attended the original Woodstock Festival. We’re trying to envision this well-tailored chef as a hippie. INNStock will be a Day of Peace, Love & Feasting with Fireworks, of course!

September 2: Innstock. It’s not quite three days of peace, love and food. But, the town of Washington will be smoking hot with even more great food and entertainment. This event is a “family reunion” of 20+ alumni chefs of the Inn; each will prepare a signature dish at a two-hour reception that will be followed by a magnificent buffet. The evening will end with fireworks. Pow! https://www.theinnat40.com/innstock

 

Feast like a King! Patrick O’Connell is recreating one of France’s most historic, and decadent, meals at this Chateau.

September 30: For a truly decadent three-day experience, consider the “Spectacular Soirée” which will take place in France at the 17th century Château Vaux le Vicomte, just outside Paris. The inspiration for Versailles, it’s where King Louis XIV (“the Sun King”) hosted a gluttonous 6000-person feast prepared by Chef François Vatel. Only 150 guests will be able to relive this extraordinary experience which includes touring the magnificent gardens over cocktails and dining by candlelight in the grand ballroom with a feast inspired by the actual menu served to Louis XIV. Info & tickets:
https://www.theinnat40.com/chateau-de-vaux-le-vicomte

Listen to our show with Patrick O’Connell here:

 

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A Little Joie de Vivre with Jean-Charles Boisset

Does Jean-Charles Boisset have a James Bond complex? Perhaps. He definitely blends dapper and debonair in his style and businessman-meets-bon vivant. The descendent of Burgundy wine producers, Jean-Charles oversees the family business on two continents. In France this encompasses: Jean-Claude Boisset Winery, Domaine de la Vougeraie, Bouchard Aîné & Fils, Ropiteau Frères, J. Moreau & Fils, Château de Pierreux, Mommessin (all Burgundy), Bonpas (Rhône Valley) and Fortant (Languedoc).

 

Jean-Charles Boisset, International Man of Mastery When It Comes To Making Wine an Experience of the Senses

In the U.S.A., Jean-Charles acquired Buena Vista Winery (Carneros) the first bonded winery in California, Raymond Vineyards and De Loach Vineyards. And he’s created the lifestyle “brand,” JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset.  The Boisset Collection also includes jewelry, home decor, fine goods, gifts and exclusive tasting events in addition to his wines.

 

Buena Vista Winery (est 1863) was acquired by Jean-Charles Boisset in 2011. Read the entire story here.

Jean-Charles has also recently published a book, co-written with Sommelier Marnie Old, entitled

Passion For Wine: The French Ideal and the American Dream

The book takes a sensory-and sensuous- approach to learning about and enjoying wine and we found it easy to read and very informative. We love how they compare certain styles of wine to screen sirens. What do you think is the “Elizabeth Taylor” of red wine? Or the Bridget Bardot of white?

 

Jean-Charles Boisset and Marnie Old. (photo from The Boisset Collection)

 

Listen to our edition of The Connected Table Live! with Jean-Charles Boisset here:

Or click and listen here:

 

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This Herbalist Does Not Waste Thyme- The Connected Table LIVE! August 23

Herbalist Brittany Nickerson teaches people about the health attributes of herbs and how to use them in cooking in her workshops at Thyme Herbal.  She also offers a three-year Herbal Apprentice Program, teaches at the University of Massachusetts and is author of The Everyday Living Series for your home. We’re all about trying to simplify and create a healthier home.

Brittany Nickerson

In “The Herbalist’s Kitchen,” Brittany explains kitchen medicine and categorizes herbs by sweet, salty, sour, pungent and bitter and their health benefits. The book’s recipes are separated into seasons, and there are also some easy recipes to make your own lavender skin scrub and rosemary hair rinse.

 

Listen to Brittany here on iHeart.com

 

 

 

 

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Two Grapes Get a Makeover

Recently we attended two tastings that sparked our interest. Neither of the varietals spotlighted were front and center in our minds, and we welcomed the chance to educate our palates and try the wines.

Alicia Linis family has been making Lambrusco wines in Emilia-Romagna since 1910. A fourth generation family member, Alicia was recently in New York at i Trulli restaurant to share her family’s portfolio of LINI 910‘s sparkling wines, one produced in the metodo classico style and the other through the charmat process. She joins us June 7 to discuss why she feels the time is now for Lambrusco

 

Alicia Lini

 

Meunier Steps Out 

The invitation was to learn about Meunier (a.k.a. Petit Meunier), one-third of the Holy Trinity of Champagne grapes, the others being Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s the second most widely grown grape in the region after PInot Noir and the least known. So, nine producers decided to band together to show Meunier some love, which they did at a tasting at Corkbuzz June 6th.

Fanny Heucq‘s family is an organic grower producer in the Marne Valley. She joins us June 7 to share Champagne-Heucqs story and why she feels the time is now to spotlight Meunier.

 

Fanny Heucq

 

Listen to this show on iHeart.com here and please give it a “thumbs up” and share”

 

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Wine Wonders from Down Under: Moollydooker and Bird in Hand

In 1989 I left my corporate agency job and went on a solo “walkabout” of sorts to Australia. It took 30,000 frequent flyer miles and 30 hours to land in Sydney where I stayed at a friend of a friend’s apartment near Bondi Beach. I spent the next six weeks hopscotching Australia on a cheap “kangaroo fare.”

I learned how to play a didgeridoo in Alice Springs, hitched a ride on a prop plane with the Outback mailman to deliver parcels, climbed Ayers Rock in the wrong footwear, took my first hot air balloon ride over some dusty dunes sprinkled with cheap sparkling wine, slept in a tent on a cattle station, snorkeled The Great Barrier Reef, sailed on an old brigantine through the Whitsunday Islands, gazed at the Southern Cross camping out on the deck of the boat and drank a lot of beer with assorted Aussie cowboys and sailors. My last stop was a drive to the Hunter Valley wine region where I tasted my first Australian Shiraz. I remember thinking, “This is what the earth must taste like if I licked the dirt.” It was a new sensation for someone who was brought up drinking Bordeaux and Chateauneuf- du-Pape thanks to my father, Chattanooga’s “Wine Professor.”

 

Climbing Ayers Rock: Good idea. Climbing Ayers Rock in the wrong footwear: Bad idea!

I never made it to Western Australia or the south which will be our next trip with a focus on wine and beach combing. And, despite over 30 years working in wine and food, my tasting experiences with Australian wines have been pretty limited, and some of the wines I have tasted were challenging to my palate.

Lettie Teague wrote an article on the resurgence of Australian wines in the January 25th edition of the Wall Street Journal saying “Wines regularly slip in and out of fashion, but few have fallen as far as the wines of Australia did over the past decade. Once among the world’s most sought-after bottles, they are now some of the hardest to sell. Recently, however, there have been signs of a small but steady recovery, thanks to some intrepid retailers, sommeliers, importers and, of course, the winemakers themselves.
Here is a link: WSJ

 

It was a treat to meet Sparky Marquis, founder of Mollydooker Wines, at Wine Spectator‘s New York Wine Experience last Fall. Sparky’s story is one of love, loss, recovery, reconnecting with what brings you joy and, ultimately, some very high scores. Mollydooker wines have some interesting (Aussie) rules like the Mollydooker Fruit Weight and the trademarked Mollydooker Shake. We read up, shook it up and tasted through the wines at a dinner party on Saturday. When Sparky’s brochures says they want to make wines with a WOW Factor he meant it! I had a week’s serving of fruit in one evening. And truly click here amazing fruit it was!

Sarah and Sparky Marquis

Sparky and Sarah met in wine college, fell in love and now run the iconic Mollydooker Wines. The word “mollydooker” means left-handed in Australia which both Sparky and Sarah are.  All of Mollydooker’s wine labels tell a story. The Boxer is actually and throwback (throwdown?) to Southern Wine & Spirits’ Mel Dick. The Violinist was named after Sarah, who was a young. Gigglepot was named after daughter, Holly, and Blue Eyed Boy named after son, Luke. As for the multi-award winning Carnival of Love…well, figure it out! And the top tier wine, Velvet Glove…well, it’s a knockout!

 

 

Nearby Adelaide Hills may seem geographically close but it is a world apart in terms of terroir with a more cool climate focus.  Bird in Hand Winery is named after the old Bird in Hand goldmine situated on Bird in Hand road. This region was littered with gold mines that were in operation through the 1800’s but nearly all were closed down by the early 1900s. Within 10 kilometres of property the gold mines ‘Two in the Bush’ and ‘Nest Egg’ were also in operation.

 

Bird in Hand winery is located on the site of old gold mines with the same name.

Kym Milne, MW, Bird in Hand Winery,was named Winemaker of the Year by Winestate Magazine in 2014, and the second Australian to pass the Master of Wine test.  An Australian native, Kym worked at Villa Maria Winery in New Zealand and overseas in Europe before joining Bird in Hand as Chief Winemaker.

Bird in Hand's Kym Milne is the second Australian to be named Master of Wine
Bird in Hand’s Kym Milne is the second Australian to be named Master of Wine

The wines are the antithesis of traditional Australian fruit bombs, elegant and austere in an appropriate minimalist style. Kym uses French varietal clones and French oak. Tasting the Bird inHand Chardonnay and its luxury level Nest Egg Chardonnay, we could have been tasting a fine French Burgundy with out eyes closed.  The Shiraz was more silky satin than deep velvet. What we learned from tasting both Mollydooker’s and Bird in Hand’s wines is that wine making in Australia should never be typecast to one style, and luxury labels deliver an exceptional tasting experience.  Bird in Hand Wines were recently introduced to the United States by HP Selections.

 

Listen to our February 1st show with Sparky Marquis, Mollydooker Wines,  and Kym Milne, Bird in Hand Winery, anytime, anywhere at this iHeart.com link. Click image to listen and share.

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She Dreams of Cookies

Baking Expert Dorie Greenspan says she dreams of cookies in her sleep. She notes she has at least 300 cookie recipes to her name. Dorie managed to narrow her recipes down and create even more….to 170 for her just released 12th cookbook “Dorie’s Cookies,” including some very interesting savory cookies (not crackers, she notes!)

 

dories-cookies-cover

Who doesn’t have a cookie memory? My favorite is a crunchy white meringue made with whipped egg whites, sugar, almond extract and cream of tartar. The recipe was passed down from my grandmother, Mimi. My mother calls them “forgotten cookies” because she says she puts them in the oven and just forgets about them. For years, there wasn’t a holiday homecoming for me where my mother didn’t have meringues waiting. Dorie’s version of “Meringue Snowballs” is on pages 224-25.

 

Meringue Snowballs
Meringue Snowballs

Dorie joins us November 9, 2:25pmET, to discuss her passion for baking and cookies. She’s a multi-James Beard Award recipient and the “Everyday Dorie Columnist” for Washington Post who divides her time between homes New York, Connecticut and Paris. Life sure is sweet!

 

Living the sweet life: Baking Expert and Journalist Dorie Greenspan
Living the sweet life: Baking Expert and Journalist Dorie Greenspan

Dorie shared her cookie memories with us November 9th on The Connected Table LIVE! Listen to our show on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.


 

 

Dorie’s Cookies is a great gift for cookie lovers and bakers. Buy it now!

 

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A New ICE Age for Chef David Waltuck

David Waltuck is now Director of Culinary Programs for Institute of Culinary Education (ICE)
David Waltuck is now Director of Culinary Programs for Institute of Culinary Education (ICE)

Chef David Waltuck and his wife Karen ran Chanterelle restaurant for 30 years, first in Soho and then in Tribeca.

Each menu was a work of art as was each dish. Seasonal, locally sourced cooking was David’s style long before “farm to table” became embedded in our culinary lingo.

Gael Greene referred to David in a cover story in New York Magazine as “The Daring Young Man on Grand Street.” Back in the those early days many considered traveling below 14th Street “daring.” And it was a long way from The Bronx, where David was raised. He caught the restaurant bug early, enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America, traveled and worked different jobs. He was just 24 when he opened Chanterelle.

squash-blossoms
Lobster and shrimp sausage inside steamed zucchini blossoms.

David’s food was artistic yet approachable. It was nouvelle cuisine with his special twist. A personal favorite was the seafood sausage which recently enjoyed at a special dinner at Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) with David cooking a selection of Chanterelle’s signature dishes. The evening commemorated David’s appointment as ICE’s Director of Culinary Programs where he will develop curricula, teach and mentor.

David joined us September 28th on The Connected Table LIVE! to share his story and talk about his new role at the school.

Listen hear on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App. Pleas give it a “thumbs up” and share.

Purchase “Chanterelle: The Stories and Recipes from a Restaurant Classic” here.