Posts Tagged ‘TasteDC Calendar’
Foodie Celebrity Alert..
Yes, I went to my 2nd round at Capital Food Fight in Washington, D.C. at the Ron Reagan Building on Monday, November 11th, 2013. Getting to taste 60+ chefs, hobnobbing with Celebrity Chefs like Carla Hall, and Jose Andres and just soaking in the restaurant/hospitality way of life is such a treat!
This annual extraganza raises $100,000s of dollars for DC Central Kitchen and also has the added benefit of raising the profile of Washington, D.C. as a True Foodie City – we always appreciate the added push! What really fascinates me about these mega-restaurant promotional events is there really isn’t one kind of crowd that attends – there are the diverse interests of DC from Lobbiests with clients, to Foodies/Restaurant people who either produce/make the dishes or are somehow connected with the industry. It’s definitely a schmoozerama, but it’s also a chance to meet some of the Big Name out of town chefs/celebrities like Tom Colicchio from Top Chef, Rick Bayless, Todd English, Art Smith and Battling Chefs Erik Bruner-Yang, Bertrand Chemel, Spike Gjerde and Anthony Lombardo.
Dishes I Loved:
-Smoked Oyster Dish with Lamb Bacon by Beuchert’s Saloon – 3 reasons: smoke, oysters and bacon (in this case from the lamb neck!) – gets points for originality, interesting blend of sea/land and of course tastyness!
-Pulpo’s creative Shrimp Ceviche – I actually thought it was lobster and it had Aquavit in it – so booze and seafood combined!
-Farmer’s Fishers Crab Bisque – I’m not sure if that’s the name of the dish, but it had tons of crab in it – sweet!
-Slider from PJ Clarke’s – so lowbrow – Love It!
And many more..
Kudo’s to the Bloomery Plantation folks who allowed me (Illegally – Press was denigrated to the regular $250 Riff-Raff fold..) into the Chairman’s Double-Secret VIP area upstairs where I had their great cocktails, a wonderful 25 year old XO Cognac and got to hang with Carla Hall and Jose Andres before I decided that I actually wanted to taste the dishes downstairs!
And the Winner of the Battling Chef Competition: Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen!
Ohh, and purely for SEO, here’s the list of Restaurants that participated: 1789
Art & Soul
Belga Café / Btoo
Blue Duck Tavern
Charlie Palmer Steak
Eat the Rich
Equinox / Salamander Resort
Good Stuff Eatery
Hank’s Oyster Bar
Hill Country BBQ
Ici Urban Bistro
Jackson 20 / The Grille at Morrison House
Kaz Sushi Bistro
Mint Gastropub by Malcolm Mitchell
Nick’s River Side Grill
Ping Pong Dim Sum
Rappahannock River Oysters
Santa Lucia Coffee
Taberna del Alabardero Restaurant
Teddy and the Bully Bar
Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place
Trummer’s on Main
I attended a great craft experience – Meet the Distillers at Ris Restaurant in our Nation’s Capital on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 – a chance to meet and identify with 4 of America’s most innovative craft distillers.
Here are the Distillers: Barry Young who, together with his partner C. Prentiss Orr at Boyd & Blair, distills what is arguably the world’s greatest potato vodka in Glenshaw, PA, John Little, co-founder of Smooth Ambler Spirits in rural Greenbrier Valley, WV and Clay Smith, distillery manager at Corsair Distillery in Bowling Green, KY.
I had a chance to taste 9 spirits and various cocktails produced by Dan Searing who is actually the Rep for American Still Life Spirits who promotes the most diverse American portfolio of craft distilled spirits.
Each speaker had time to open up and discuss their respective perspective and products.
Boyd & Blair (Pennsylvania):
I had met Barry Young from Boyd & Blair a few years ago at a crafts spirits tasting in NYC when the whole movement was early, but building steam. His specialty is producing potato distilled vodka using exclusively Pennsylvania potatoes. Pennsylvania farmers were only receiving about 8 cents per pound for their potatoes which didn’t make much sense as an agricultural incentive. Boyd & Blair took this low-priced resource and turned it into a vodka that has won many rewards. We also tried the Vodka 151 Proof but it was in a cocktail made by Dan Searing. Interesting note: Boyd & Blair only throws out the heads and tails of distillation and only uses the “sweet spot” heart of distillation in their products..
Smooth Ambler (West Virginia):
The next up was John Little of Smooth Ambler – he was quite a character and spoke a mile a minute with his exuberance and excitement! First up we tried the Greenbrier Gin which had a nice citrusy refreshing taste that enlivened my palate! Smooth Ambler is relatively new to the distillation process, so brown spirits have to be purchased. John took us through the process of choosing the right barrels of pre-aged Bourbons and how he chose their specific products (which in a roundabout way came from the US, was orderd and planned to be sold in Australia, but due to market conditions there, remained in U.S. stocks). Being a Rye fan, I really loved their Old Scout Rye (7-year old) and also enjoyed their Old Scout Bourbon (10-year old). John brought up the point or concept about whiskey and aging: does whiskey get better with age? He joked that some people are born “beautiful Adonis”, but most people feel we get better with age! He also brought up that Smooth Ambler doesn’t cold filter their products – fatty acids, which some people might consider gross, actually add interesting flavor and aromatics, and cold-filtering takes this away – Cheers to that!
Clay Smith of Corsair Whiskey was the 3rd Presenter and showcased 4 spirits: Corsair Barrel-Aged Gin, Spiced Rum, Old Punk Whiskey and Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey. The most unique product was their Triple Smoke: their malted barley is smoked with Cherrywood, Beechwood and Peat giving it some Scotch/peat overtones but also some American wood smoke aromatics. This kind of creativity is what makes American craft spirits so much fun – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
P.S. – Below is some cut and paste from the Arrowine email – if you’re truly interested in learning more, read on!
What are craft spirits and why we love them…
The days where distilled spirits were peddled by a handful of gigantic multi-national corporations have come to an end. In less than a decade the number of craft, or micro-distilleries, has mushroomed from a mere 50 to over 300 operational distilleries across the U.S. Craft spirits are the product of an independently owned distillery with maximum annual sales of 52,500 cases where the product is physically distilled and bottled on site.
Craft distillers focus on quality rather than quantity (often producing less in a year than multi-national brand distilleries bottle in one hour) and strive to educate consumers rather than supply them with cheap alcohol. Unlike the large spirits conglomerates that use continuous distillation to produce large volumes of the same product over and over, craft distillers employ pot stills that they often design themselves and distill in small batches using their senses to make cuts to achieve the desired results.
Most use locally sourced grains and fruits and trace their recipes, especially for whiskey, back to the days long before prohibition when America was a land of small distillers. Much like the craft beer movement that started in the late 1990s, micro-distilleries are making excellent products that pay homage to the authenticity and cultural heritage of their communities.
What we will be tasting…
We will taste a selection of Vodka, Gin and Whiskey (Bourbon & Rye), first in their pure spirit form, and then in a cocktail application that will showcase the wide range of flavors that these spirits can be expressed in.
About Barry Young and Boyd & Blair…
Barry Young and partner C. Prentiss Orr didn’t set out to make the world’s best vodka. They set out to make a really great vodka distilled only from local produce. They started with the best Pennsylvania potatoes and a hand hammered copper pot still and added passion for perfecting a recipe that includes only the ‘hearts’ of the spirit, not the extraneous stuff you’ll find in mass-produced, continuous-still vodka. They named their vodka after two family patriarchs, James Boyd Rafferty and Dr. William Blair.
The vodka is triple distilled by batch in the 1,200 liter pot still without the use of any automated controls, and the heads, hearts and tails are cut by taste alone. The result is an exceptionally smooth tasting potato vodka with a slight natural sweetness and viscosity that is unmatched by any other vodka. Every bottle is filled, corked and dipped in wax by hand, and personally signed by Still Master Barry Young.
About John Little and Smooth Ambler Spirits…
In 2009, John Little and TAG Galyean founded Smooth Ambler to produce fine artisan spirits by combining patient Appalachian know-how with the finest of American ingredients. Located in the rural Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia, Smooth Ambler uses state-of-the-art distillery equipment in conjunction with natural resources of the region: high-valley mountain air, natural waters, ideal temperature variations and friendly folks. These elements combined with a hands-on, grain-to-glass distilling, cutting and filtering process create a truly remarkable drink best enjoyed one slow sip at a time. It is a fact that Smooth Ambler Spirits are now produced at the highest and purest level possible anywhere in the world.
About Clay Smith and Corsair…
Friends Darek Bell, a dedicated home-brewer, and Andrew Webber, a self-described underground urban moonshiner, founded Corsair in 2007 and today, no other craft distillery in the U.S. better epitomizes the creative element of the craft spirit movement. From Quinoa Whiskey, Spiced Rum, Vanilla Bean Vodka, to Gin, Absinth, Pumpkin Spice Moonshine, the celebrated Triple Smoke Whiskey and over a dozen of seasonal and experimental spirits, the guys at Corsair don’t shy away from anything. And over 40 medals at international spirit competitions are a testament to the consistently high quality of Corsair’s innovative spirits, and it has been named 2013 Craft Distillery of the Year by Whisky Magazine.
Corsair operates out of two distilleries, one in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the other in Nashville, Tennessee. Our guest presenter Clay Smith is master distiller and distillery manager at the Bowling Green facility, where he oversees the production of Corsair’s various whiskeys and gins as well as the extensive renovation of the distillery’s new space.
About the tasting location…
Restaurant RIS is located in Washington DC, at 2275 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037, right around the corner from Arrowine & Spirits, our new shop in DC. Restaurant RIS is open late each night. We expect the event to conclude by 9pm and should you wish to stay at Ris and have a late dinner, they would be happy to serve you. For more about this excellent restaurant, please see their website.
Arlington, VA and our new DC location
Chocolate Fashion Show is a great concept..this is a winning event for any city
Charity in Chocolate Fashion Show – Over 50+ Top DC Chefs Express in Chocolate!
Top chefs turned chocolate and sugar into fanciful costumes and accessories for a delicious fashion show to benefit local charity with national impact.
Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate! This event had so many great dishes and some great drinks too including Catoctin Creek Rye and Boxwood Winery’s Red wine.
Award-winning chefs unveiled their mastery of cocoa and couture at the decadent Charity in Chocolate benefit event, featuring DC’s only Chocolate Fashion Show. The proceeds from Charity in Chocolate go to The Heart of America Foundation® (HOA), a DC-based nonprofit that combines volunteer service and literacy programming to support the needs of children living in poverty in the D.C. area as well as nationwide.
offered sweet and savory tastings. Attendees sampled delicacies, enjoyed an open bar before the event highlight – the Chocolate Fashion Show, where models walked the runway in chocolate and sugar couture designed by local chefs.
Celebrity guest judges of the fashion show included WTOP’s Kristi King, Kate Michael, President of K Street Kate, Heather Roth, 2008 RAMW Pastry Chef of the Year, and Michael McCarthy, Editor-in-Chief, DC magazine.
Some dishes were sweet, but chocolate was also incorporated into savory dishes.I enjoyed dishes with octopus, Nutella, passionfruit, something that looked and tasted like tapioca, olive oil, Wagyu Beef and on and on!
This is a light news coverage of a recent event I attended called Can Jam Festival which was held on Saturday, June 22nd 2013 at Kastles Stadium in Washington, D.C. This event was organized and promoted by Ontaponline – I’m very familiar with this organization which promotes lifestyle for 20s and 30s somethings in the DC Area – we were both founded in 1997 on the same block on Dent Place, NW in Washington, D.C.!
The concept for this event was to promote breweries that serve beer in cans – the most obvious and early adapter of this sustainable beer storage container is Oskar Blues, but many other breweries have caught on including a local favorite Lost Rhino in Ashburn, VA. I’m including the blurb on what breweries and food trucks participated below (hey, sometimes the news IS just the content!), but do want to mention I had a “Boss Dog” at Top Dog – and there is NOTHING like a well dressed hot dog on a hot day when you are drinking WAY TOO MUCH Beer!
Breweries include: Anderson Valley, Avery, Beck’s, Blue Moon, Budweiser, Cisco, Corona, DC Brau, Flying Dog, Genesee Cream Ale, Goose Island, Jack’s Cider, Kona, Leinenkugel, Lost Rhino, Modelo Especial, New Belgium, Old Speckled Hen, Oskar Blues, PBR, Pilsner Urquell, Redd’s, Redhook, Sam Adams, Shiner, Shock Top, Sierra Nevada, Starr Hill, Stiegl, Third Shift, Yuengling
Overall, a really fun event – the crowd was just the right size, so lines weren’t too long..also the weather was pretty perfect – sunny and no clouds. One comment – lagers, pilsners and lighter beers tend to refresh and are better in the hot weather. So if you decide to pop one open, remember – keep it light (but not lite!) – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Some upcoming Festivals on TasteDC:
–Neighborfood H St. Foodie Tour – Saturday, June 29th, 2013 – H Street, NE in Washington, D.C. opens up a to a new food tour – 8 restaurants (click on link for details) each showcase different dishes that represent the culinary diversity and uniqueness of this area.
–Wine Stock Festival – Saturday, July 13th, 2013 – Little Washington Winery, Sperryville, VA – Festival about 90 minutes from DC celebrating great American wines, food and lots of great music – the view is beautiful too!
–Best of Washingtonian – Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 – National Building Museum, DC – Big Shindig which has all the the great chefs and restaurants and tons of great drinks and food – worth the $125 ticket price, or the VIP $175!
Taste of the Nation is Always a Great Foodie Evening..
I attended the 2013 Taste of the Nation at the National Building Museum and had a chance to catch up with many chefs and mixologists that I hadn’t seen in some time – well considering all the events in the Spring..I pretty much had seen most of them within a week or so! Seriously, these mega-chef events showcase culinary talent in a different setting from the traditional restaurant roll. Successfully serving small plates to 2,000+ people outside of your restaurant shows a talent for both intelligent food production and maximum PR for your establishment – you have to be good..
Taste of the Nation 2013 – so many great chefs and restaurants – see below. Wonderful mix, check out the Gelato made with Limoncello, the lamb’s tongue, the great sliders and Adam Bernbach mixing it up..
Monday April 8
Washington DC 20001
2013 Chef Council
Bryan Voltaggio – VOLT | Lunchbox | Range
Nicholas Stefanelli – Bibiana
Scott Drewno – The Source
Mike Isabella – Graffiato | Bandolero
Victor Albisu – Taco Bamba | Del Campo
2013 Sommelier Chair
Nadine Brown – Charlie Palmer Steak
2013 Mixology Chair
Gina Chersevani – Buffalo & Bergen
2013 Participating Restaurants
I Got My Piggy On..
Cochon 555 in DC..This event is not just about the Pig..it’s also about the drink, the chef, and the Foodie..maybe even the Foodie Groupie (did I make that up??)..
I attended my first Cochon 555 on Sunday, April 7th, 2013 and it was all that I expected and even more..More pig combinations,
Cochon 555 is a celebration of life – just as everyone must eat, some of us eat to fulfill our passion or maybe it IS our passion. If I was going to explain this event to someone from outer space, I would say that man was once a primitive animal that lived primarily in caves or on the savannah. Over a period of thousands of years, he formed civilization and started culture (she too!)..but the need to satisfy those primitive urges never disappeared – thus Cochon 555!
Heritage Pigs – well, ever since modern industry took over the majority of our food system, food has been “designed” to fit consumer lifestyles – thus was created the modern pig – it gets fat fast, needs little space to roam (or it may need it, but it doesn’t get it!) and it has lean meat..Why lean? We food consumers (actually, I should change that to “industrial pig consumers” – forgive me if you’re Vegan..) read a study in the 70’s that suggested that eating too much fat, especially animal fat, caused heart disease and will shorten your life..it seems to make sense right.. I mean ever since the times of Henry VIII, only the wealthy could afford meat on a regular basis, and all of them were rotund and had gout – so obviously the study is right – I mean, surely if you eat Fat, you get fat, the fat becomes fat around your belly and thighs and of course there’s cholesterol in the fat, and that fills your arteries and you die young.. right??
No way – bad study, bad logic, but smart companies taking advantage of the reality of modern life: sell the benefit, not the product..it’s easy to convince people that fat = fat = fat..it’s total nonsense, but hey, who has time to even thing about such stuff??
Conclusion: these Heritage pigs with their thick covering of serious fat are actually healthier for the environment, healthier for the pig, but most of all – THEY WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHY – Eat Them!
Chefs competing for Prince of Pork in Washington, D.C. are Mike Isabella (Graffiato), Haidar Karoum (Proof / Estadio), Kyle Bailey (Birch & Barley), Jeffrey Buben (Vidalia), and Bryan Voltaggio [Volt, Range, Family Meal].
2013 marks a culinary milestone: The fifth anniversary of Cochon 555, a one-of-a-kind traveling culinary competition and tasting event created to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs. Arriving in the nation’s capital on Sunday, April 7 at The Newseum, the pork-centric tour gathers together five chefs, five pigs and five wineries at each event – ultimately touching down in 10 cities across the country and bringing its message of nose-to-tail cooking, breed diversity and family farming to food enthusiasts nationwide.
Each Cochon 555 event challenges five local chefs to prepare a menu created from the entirety of heritage breed pigs for an audience of pork-loving epicureans and celebrated judges. Chefs competing for Prince of Pork in Washington, D.C. are Mike Isabella (Graffiato), Haidar Karoum (Proof / Estadio), Kyle Bailey (Birch & Barley), Jeffrey Buben (Vidalia), and Bryan Voltaggio [Volt, Range, Family Meal].
Guests will be treated to an epic pork feast alongside wines from five small family-owned wineries including Sandhi Wines, Scholium Project, Elk Cove Vineyards, Westport Rivers, and Silver Oak plus special tastings from Rhone Valley Wines, Anchor Brewing, Crispin Ciders, Illegal Mezcal, and Blue Coat Gin. Twenty judges and 400 guests help decide the winning chef, who is crowned the Prince of Pork and will compete against other regional winners at the finale Grand Cochon event at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen on Sunday, June 16.
Also included in the evening is a preview of the new Heritage BBQ event in which John Critchley of Bourbon Steak will roll out family meal – an additional whole hog cooked barbecue-style immediately preceding the awards.
VIP guests receive early access to the event and special offerings including a special tasting with three competing chefs. The VIP hour is filled with experiences that will not be found on the main floor such as access to “Punch Kings” – a new cocktail competition featuring Breckenridge Bourbon and six local bartenders, a VIP-only gift bag, the all-new Tartare Bar, Rappanhannock River Oysters, and reserve wines and spirits. Guests can enter for a chance to win a roundtrip ticket from Southwest Airlines, Official Airline for the “Cochon US Tour”.
In addition, to celebrate five years of Heritage Breeds, Cochon added five bourbons to the lineup! All attendees will get samples of Breckenridge Bourbon, Eagle Rare, Templeton Rye, High West, Buffalo Trace and Four Roses in addition to the Perfect Manhattan Bar showcasing Luxardo and Eagle Rare. New to 2013 is also the Chupito/Mezcal Bar, a tasting experience featuring Mezcales de Leyenda, Pierde Almas and Fidencio. The infamous Craft Cheese Bar sees a facelift featuring a local cheesemonger, Cypress Grove Chevre, Vermont Butter & Cheese, Spring Brook Farm with an exclusive tasting of blues from Rogue Creamery, and favorites from Kerrygold. Everyone can commemorate the experience by visiting the City Eats photo booth and voting for the best bite of the day.
The fun continues with a butcher demonstration presented by Zwilling / MIyabi with Chris Fuller from Alleghany Meats and a raffle to benefit the student volunteers, ice-cold brews, Fernet Branca digestifs, Taza Chocolate pork-spiked desserts, Champagne toast, award ceremony, and of course, the after party will immediately follow.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
4 p.m. (VIP); 5 p.m. (general admission)
555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
Cochon 555 Tickets: $125 (general admission) and $200 (VIP); to purchase tickets, visit www.cochon555.com
ADDITIONAL EVENT: CHEFS COURSE DINNER
To kick-off the 5th Anniversary Weekend Celebration, Cochon 555 will curate an intimate “Chef’s Course” Guest Chef Dinner on Friday, April 5 at The Source by Wolfgang Puck hosted by Scott Drewno, two-time Cochon winner. The 5-course dinner will feature great chefs, including past participants, friends and judges paired with a winemaker, distiller or brewer. Go behind the scenes with Team Cochon for this amazing dinner and meet the folks driving the flavor train. Tickets to this dinner are $110, all inclusive and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at (202) 637-6100 and please reference Cochon555.
Guests can enter for a chance to win a roundtrip ticket from Southwest Airlines, Official Airline for the “Cochon US Tour”.
Please invite your facebook friends to this event. Invite over 75 friends, show us screenshot proof, and get a $25 discount code for being a partner to responsible agriculture.
This one takes the cake..I mean pie!
First a confession – I’m not much of a dessert eater, and I probably eat less than a dozen pieces of pie in the average year. Pies to me are SO filling and full of sugar normally, that they make me feel stuffed. Still, having been a wine judge, a chocolate judge and who knows what else, I felt I could do this..I mean, taste is personal, and I’m in tune with my own palate. I may not be able to detect every nuance in wine or for that matter pies, but I do cook and bake, and I know how ingredients taste when they come together well.
But I also have a slight bias – I prefer foods with a balance of ingredients and decent acidity – if you gave me a chocolate covered piece of chocolate cake smothered in chocolate sauce, that would score VERY LOW to me – and I would call that a “heavy” cake..The same with pie – things that are truly delicious on their own – chocolate sauce, fudge, peanut butter, gooey sauces – can overwhelm my palate when combined. When I was a kid, I LOVED Chocolate Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, but today I could probably only eat 2 bites – that is simply too heavy for my palate..now if you add a citrus or sour flavored sauce to that, different story!
Pie #6 – Triple-Crust Cast-Iron Skillet Apple Pie This was heavy – heavy/doughy crust, heavy filling and the apples were chewy and didn’t seem acidic enough. This was a “heavy” pie – but of course, made in a Cast-Iron – so you might call this a “country pie”.
Pie # 4 – Old-Fashioned Vinegar Pie My favorite pie or a tie with my other favorite pie which was #3 – Raspberry Rhubarb. I’m not sure if this was the first Vinegar Pie I ever had, but it had a wonderful tartness of cider vinegar against the weight of the eggy filling..ohh, and the crust had tons of butter – Gooood!
Pie #3 – Raspberry Rhubarb – This pie was one of my favorites – both tart and sweet and even rich – according to the pie baker, they use tapioca pudding which acts like a gelatin to give the ingredients some weight..Yummm! Excellent pie crust too, lots o butter..
Pie #2 – Peach Cobbler This was very sweet and on the heavy side..needed some acidity – maybe work on presentation too – but all-in-all very authentic and homey..
Pie #1 – Fruits of the Forest Pie VERY tart, but I tasted it right after a really sweet dessert and it just seemed a bit too tart/acidic..which normally just means add some sugar! Beautiful presentation..
Pie #10 – Chocolate Chess Pie These were mini-pies and I was pretty full at this point. They tasted like pecan pies without the pecans..but I couldn’t detect any chocolate. Not bad, enjoyable, the crust was good too.
Pie #12 – German Chocolate Pie This came in 3rd in my tasting (tie for 1st mentioned above) – it had pecans on top, but was not a pecan pie. I would call this one of the “rich” pies – dessert as a meal in my book – but it had a few real positives which included texture, crunch and a very good crust – this was the only of the “heavy” pies that I gave a top vote..
Pie #9 – P-Chocobana Pie Visually, over the top – and the
The Next Food Network Star?presenter was so Bubbly! It was about 6 inches thick and Rich, rich, RICH! A “heavy” pie with a peanut butter custard filling. Great looking, decent crust, this would go over GREAT for a kids party.
Pie #8 – Dottie Sweet Potato Pie Traditional – this was a very steady original version of this – the maker actually said this was a “slavery recipe” from the 19th century..I would have given this a winning vote, but it is a very simple delicious pie with a very good crust – give it 4th place or 5th place – having said this, there was nothing wrong with this pie – solid!
Pie #7 – Cheryl’s Nice and Naughty Sweet Potato Pie This was good, but very modernized version of Sweet Potato Pie – it was almost a cheesecake with cream cheese added..I liked it, but I wanted whipped cream on top of it – shame on me!
From Jancis Robinson…”the thing I hate is limiting the mouthfuls”….of wine that is 😉
It was a fascinating evening of back and forth banter on Thursday, March 21st, 2013 when Jancis Robinson “performed” at the event “Jancis Robinson Toasts American Wines at the Smithsonian”
Dave McIntyre of both the Washington Post and his own Wine Line Blog interviewed and cajoled Jancis on a comfortable stage setting – the two seated in “comfy chairs” (OK – bad Monty Python reference! )
The discussion related to wine, specificially American, and Jancis’ latest book (with the fellow authorship of Linda Murphy) American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United StatesJancis has a very British speaking style and a dry wit that is best appreciated with a glass of wine. She mentioned that there are now 8,000 wineries in the US – the majority outside of California – and this is part of why America has become a great wine producing region on the international scene. I haven’t read the book, but she mentioned that it was primarily written by Linda Murphy who is a sports writer – and there is very little technical information about wine, the book was designed to be a fun read. I want to say – it is VERY difficult to make talking about wine interesting..Dave McIntyre did a very good job by broadening the topic from just American wine into lifestyle (mentions of wine tourism and also Dave’s own organization DrinkLocalWine ) as well as an interesting word association back-and-forth at the end:
Overall, an excellent evening and the finish was a wine tasting in the famous Natural History Museum Auditorium with the elephant..nobody probably noticed, but the famous dinosaur Shark Jaws were hiding behind the wine exhibition..sort of like the evening – a subtle discussion of wine with amazingly delicious wines by American wineries from Idaho to Virginia – is America “biting back” at the French/Italian wine dominance of the past? Who knows – Cheers!
Dave: “Natural Wines” ?
Jancis: “Very trendy right now..They have to be good!” (approximation of a quote!)
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Wine Events Coming Up Over at TasteDC:
–DrinkLocalWine Conference, Saturday April 13th, Tremont Suites Hotel, Baltimore MD
–Local Wines from Local Vines, Thursday April 25th – Anne Arundel Community College
–Wines of Portugal 2013 Annual Grand Tasting (Special Discount..) National Tour comes to Washington, D.C., Thursday May 2nd, “W” Hotel Washington D.C.
Professionals Spit Their Wines Out for a Reason..
How many times have I heard at a wine tasting – “why should I spit out or dump my wine out – I paid good money to attend this event?” Well, at a recent wine tour that came to DC Around the World in 80 Sips presented by Bottlenotes everyone behaved pretty orderly, but I had to recant tales to fellow wine lovers what the point of the spit bucket is – to prevent being bombed! What I always find entertaining about 100+ person walk-around wine tastings is how formal people are at the beginning of an event..maybe even a bit uptight..but how much they loosen up after the first hour or so.So Is There Proper Etiquette at a Wine Tasting?
You know what they say about Americans – Anything Goes we take our democratic freedoms seriously, and we don’t like when people tell us to behave. Having said that, Americans often feel directionless when it comes to cultural events and particularly wine – what is the “proper” way to behave at a wine tasting? Believe it or not, I think many people are TOO polite at wine tastings, so here are some fun rules which you may feel FREE TO BREAK:
Rule #1: “Thou Shall Not Drink Everything In Thy Glass” The purpose of a spit bucket is 2-fold: first, so you can spit out wine so that you can drink more and not get drunk; second, so you can dump out excess wine for the same reason – not to get drunk! The wine professionals pouring the wine EXPECT you to dump out excess wine..they’re hoping you do so, they don’t want people to drink too much! Maybe it seems wasteful to Americans to throw away wine, but there’s a reason these are called “tastings”..dump away..
Rule #2: “Thou Shall Rinse Thy Glass Between Wines, But Not With Water” You rinse your wine glass so that the next wine tastes like the wine should. If you rinse your glass with water, that water will DILUTE the wine you’re about to taste..and it’s usually a pretty small pour. The way the PRO’s do it, is we ask for a little pour of the wine we are about to drink, we swirl and pour that excess into the bucket, and then we wait for the wine to be poured..in this way, the wine you’re tasting tastes like the..well, uhh..wine you’re tasting – not a blend of water/wine or wine and something else..I know, it seems like YOU’RE WASTING WINE..get over it..
Rule #3:“Thou Shall Move Close to the Pourer and Put Thy Wine Glass Out To Receive a Pour” I actually have a funny story in my book I Drink on the Job about a woman who walked up to receive a pour of wine, but never put out her glass..she just stood in front of the table..thinking..about what, I have no idea, but when she was offered a pour of wine, she acted like it was an offense! Don’t use your time at a wine tasting to ruminate..you’re there to taste (NOT DRINK) wine..yes, of course take a few breaks, talk with your friends, get some food, etc..but use your time EFFICIENTLY. Walk up to the wine table and find a little space to stand, put out your wine glass (do not hold it close to your body..this is how you get wine on your clothing, and that’s a BAD THING!), and either wait for the wine to be poured or request a wine to be poured..this is NOT RUDE – this is actually proper..it’s efficient too..Personally, I’m a machine when I taste: stand, offer glass, swirl, look, sniff, taste, spit or swallow, spend moment in reflection on the wine, dump wine, REPEAT..
Rule #4: “Thou Shall Not Wear Perfume, Cologne or Anything That Has an Aroma at a Wine Tasting”I’m smelling coconuts in my wine..but, it’s not emanating from the glass – somebody wore a body lotion that smelled like coconuts! Actually, I spoke with her and she was very nice, but whenever she was within 5 feet of me..ALL I COULD SMELL WAS COCONUT LOTION!
Hopefully, you take this post with good humor – none of the above mentioned Rules is really written in stone. We Americans love our independence and freedom, but when we try to behave at a cultural event, maybe we’re actually too polite..I’m not saying you should be a hillbilly and come into a wine tasting with a cavalier attitude, but it’s OK to loosen up, enjoy, and even have lively banter at a wine tasting. Within the confines of a wine tasting, there is room for self-expression, creativity, and of course conviviality, but it’s best to get the etiquette down pat first – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Some Upcoming Wine Events on TasteDC:
– 4-Course Wine and Soul Wine Dinner, Tuesday, March 19th at The Fairfax Hotel at Embassy Row
– Cheese Class with Rogue Creamery’s Cheese Maker, Wednesday, March 27th, Ici Urban Bistro, 806 15th St., NW, Washington DC 20005
– Wines of Portugal 2013 Annual Grand Tasting (Special Discount..), Thursday, May 2nd, W Hotel Washington D.C. 515 15th St NW , Washington DC 20004
Sometimes You Get More Than You Expected at a Wine Tasting..
I’ve been to alot of low-priced wine tastings – and normally, the price of the event and the quality of food/wine/ambiance match – but not this time! Redwood Restaurant in Bethesda, MD which is right in the heart of the burgeoning retail sector on Bethesda Ave (anchored currently by Barnes and Noble) is a beautiful high-ceilinged restaurant with plenty of redwood (surprise!) and glass fronting on a lovely outdoor open-aired pedestrian atrium.
Although there was not actually a private area for this walk-around tasting (no seating) it was in the back of the restaurant and began at 6 pm before the hordes of diners and bar loungers came in. It was a simple basic setup of regular tables with wine reps pouring a selection of their wines at each table based on a theme: Table 1 – South Africa, Table 2 – Italy, Table 3 – France/Germany/Spain and Table 4 – Argentina/Australia/California. Each table had 5 wines, so that adds up to 20..the 20 wines for $20 title..but really, this event had more: generous hors d’oeuvres! Unfortunately, I couldn’t take photos of the food, but it was well-prepared, presented by servers with a napkin (nice touch..funny how important a napkin can be when you are trying to drink wine in a glass!).
The Wines (my apologies for forgetting vintages!): Since I find reviewing wine boring and frankly hard to follow, I’ll focus on what caught my attention. I started at the South African Table with wine rep Matt Leemhuis of Cape Classics, a well-known importer from that region. Two wines were really noticeable – the Kanonkop Pinotage and the Detoren Fusion V, both over $50 retail in Montgomery County. Pinotage is a funky, earthy smokey kinda wine, but it goes great with food. Detoren was it’s polar opposite with a Bordeaux Blend that was luscious rich black fruit and soft tannins and extremely accessible.
At Table 3 which was a mix of European wines, the Leitz Dragonstone Riesling really stood out – all the things I like about a German Riesling with a hint of petrol, but lots of minerality and acidity to balance a bit of sweetness – although Rieslings are great food wines (think Asian food), this one was actually so vibrant on the palate that me a Red wine drinker was just savoring it!
At Table 2 Italy, there was a very interesting white, but I was really enjoying the Argiano Non-Confunditor which is a blend made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese – a Super Tuscan wine, and it actually tasted like a blend of Old World and New World – earth and soil from Italy, but roundness from Cabernet – a really interesting contrast!
Table 4 had contrasting Malbecs: Finca Sophenia Malbec Reserva vs Voodoo Moon Malbec – the first was pretty traditional with a touch of rough tannins and earthy overtones, while the latter was all perfume and weirdly candy-like – unexpected but delicious!
Food: I didn’t try everything, but all hors d’oeuvres were passed – the chicken wings were especially good and enormous – they were in a sweetish BBQ sauce that was decadently good, thumbs up (I ate them to the bone!). The fried foods were served hot, an although the pimento cheese biscuit was only OK, I was overall impressed by service and the food in general.
Conclusion:If they do another 20 for 20 event, snap up a ticket – it’s a great deal, great food and really decent setup and service. If I could Yelp this event (I probably could!), it would be 5 Stars, no caveats. Forgot to mention..even the wine glasses were very nice and big allowing for good swirling..Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Upcoming Wine Tastings at TasteDC: