Organic wine is on the rise, and the French, no dopes as regards marketing, are on the case. A recent tasting of organic and biodynamic wines by the importer Louis/Dressner (at K and L Wine Merchants) included offerings from some small producers from the south and northeast of France and the Loire Valley and served as a reminder that (1) French winemakers do right by chenin blanc in a way that American winemakers, to my knowledge, cannot yet even crudely approximate, and (2) if you are going to buy French organic wine, you might be better off with a white than a red.Read more »
EDIBLE COMPLEX In a very 20th-century way, steak connotes adulthood. A turning point for me was a visit to one of those cook-it-yourself steak restaurants with my extended family when I was 12. I aspired to be a grown-up at the time, and so I determined to take steak-eating seriously. I chose a big hunk of meat and grilled it until the outside was totally charred and the inside was thoroughly gray. The whole thing seemed very manly. Read more »
A good deal of blood gets spilled in Michael Pollan's intelligently gory new book, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Penguin Press, $26.95), but amid the accounts of chickens' throats being methodically slit and steers' assembly-line encounters with the so-called stunner, the shooting of a wild pig near Healdsburg commands a particularly dark fascination. Read more »
One way to temper the shock of the new is to leaven it with bits of the old. The Europeans are expert at this, though they are more likely to do it the other way around: fluffing the old with bits of the new. On a long-ago visit to Oxford, England, in the first gray days of 1989, I was startled to find a Benetton, slick with plate glass and multicolored neon, installed along the high street in a sooty medieval building. We did not go in — for what would be the point? — but continued on to Christ Church College after a brief pause for fish and chips in a hotel pub. Read more »
We haven't quite reached the point at which you can cuss somebody out with the phrase "farmed salmon," but for responsible fish buyers it's a fairly hair-raising expression nonetheless. Farmed salmon, while predictable, convenient, and relatively inexpensive, implies a great many bad things, among them water pollution, the spreading of pathogens, and the overuse of antibiotics whose long-term effects in people are poorly understood. Salmon farming is also part of the unfortunate American habit of industrially producing everything, from furniture to writers. Read more »
In the arena of raw seafood, the Japanese are not unchallenged. They are probably dominant, of course, being masters of nigiri and sashimi and of rolls in versions beyond count. But the Spanish and French and their New World offshoots offer us ceviche (or seviche)
THERE'S NOTHING LIKE in-the-moment enthusiasm to make you lose critical perspective. I can think of a hundred albums that have excited me to the point of thinking, "This is the best band ever." That a handful of those albums belong to early-'70s-era Funkadelic makes it that much harder to be unbiased, especially since the recent reissues of their Westbound Records catalog have been parked in my disc changer for the past month. Read more »
I WAS TURNED on to my new favorite restaurant, Jodie's, by Satchel Paige the Pitcher's dad, Mr. Paige the Pitcher. Indirectly. Mr. Paige the Pitcher ate there with a friend, and then raved about it to Satchel Paige the Pitcher, who told me. "It's a tiny place. Six seats. A counter. The guy working it's supposed to be a character."