Arts and Entertainment
WILDE WAS RIGHT : the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. On that theory, we can't say that the current issue of Gourmet "The San Francisco You Need to Know" is a calamity, exactly, since we are talked about. Editor Ruth Reichl opens the issue with what amounts to a love letter to the place where she long lived and worked before going east to mount the ladder of the American publishing imperium.
I suppose the underlying New Yorkiness of the whole business is what grates in the end. I doubt that many of us have an issue with New Yorkers publishing magazines or eating in our restaurants, although whether they should print their findings about the latter in the former is a pertinent question, as some fairly lurid blunders in the magazine's reporting suggest. Example: "In North Beach, Gerald Hirigoyen lards his menu at Fringale with such Basque touches as ..." blah blah blah. Presumably the gastronomic imperialist responsible for this brief but lively misadventure in getting down the facts means Pastis, not Fringale (which has spent a decade securely anchored in SoMa), but even Pastis isn't in North Beach. Telegraph Hill, maybe, or the north waterfront.
If Gourmet were principally written, edited, and published here, in the city Reichl describes as being, "without a doubt, this country's finest place for people who care about food," we would probably see fewer howlers of this sort. But it isn't. Neither are its two chief competitors, Saveur and Bon Appétit, although a few years ago the editor of the latter did tell me that he had hopes of moving his editorial offices here from Los Angeles. Shockingly, this transposition has not occurred (perhaps because the Bon Appétit staff secretly have movie-star ambitions, like everybody else in L.A.?), and the result is that this city's food culture continues to be portrayed through media outlets hundreds or thousands of miles away. I hesitate to say this is pathetic ... but of course that's just what it is.
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The white stuff: Having relentlessly kvetched about how forgettable most California white wines are, I am happy to say that I had a good one recently. This would be the 2000 estate sauvignon blanc from Beckmen Vineyards, a Santa Barbara County vintner specializing in Rhône-style wines. The Rhône valley in southern France is better-known for reds, but somehow Beckmen has given its sauvignon blanc a beautiful, Sancerre-ish balance between fruit and acid, with none of the dreadful grassiness that wrecks so many other California sauvignons blancs.
Paul Reidinger firstname.lastname@example.org