Making a signature dish for 250 to 350 people challenges a chef a whole a whole lot more than cooking for a table of two or four in his or her own restaurant. Even so, several creative chefs managed to produce some spectacular food at the lunches and dinners at this year's Masters of Food & Wine.
What's the deal with shattered food? Did I miss the memo or something? Maybe I just haven't been going to the right restaurants, but two different chefs on the first day of the 21st Masters of Food & Wine here in Carmel Highlands served plates with what appeared to be shattered purple glass as a garnish.
Gary Danko stands at a stove in the kitchen of the Park Hyatt Carmel , throwing handfuls of butter into a big saucepan. Hubbub surrounds him as other chefs work on their dishes for the first lunch of the 21st Masters of Food & Wine.
I never thought much of Valpolicella until my first visit to Italy in 1987, when I met Giuseppe Quintarelli. His wines were a revelation. In his hands, Corvina, Rondinella and the other little-known grapes of the region made a dry red wine of real substance and depth.
"That's a no-brainer," said our waiter at Roaring Fork, the still-hot Scottsdale, Ariz., restaurant that specializes in chile -laced dishes that sing with Southwestern spices. I had asked him what kind of wine he thought would go with the dishes we had ordered.
Ron and Elva Laughton, owners of Jasper Hill Vineyard in Australia, make good wines, and I like to drink them. They do what wine ought to do, which is to reflect the place where they grow. But tasting them blind in my office, or at the table with the Laughtons, I've never been able to get really revved up about them.
Something is up when, in the same week, the chef and wine director of a destination restaurant both pull out of the business they helped found. In the past few days, both Debbie Zachareas, who created an exciting wine list with more than 200 offerings by the glass, and Arnold Eric Wong, the chef who invented my favorite mussel dish, announced that they were leaving San Francisco's Bacar , citing differences with the new owners.
When you decide how expensive a restaurant is, do you look at the final bill, which includes tax and tip, or at the price of an entrée? Or maybe the prices on the wine list? If you said the final bill, you are in the minority.
Some months ago I made note of all the creatures I had encountered on Australian wine labels. I had been trawling through some low-priced wines, looking for good values, and had found in one tasting alone a blue-tongued lizard, penguins, cockatoos, pumas, sheep and yabbies.
Corey Ryan worked as a winemaker at Henschke for six years before he and viticulturalist Simon Cowham, who had been managing vineyards for Yalumba , started up their own winery. It's called Sons of Eden , and since its first vintage (2000) it has quickly emerged from the pack.
Australian vintner Michael Twelftree got into a taxi cab in Philadelphia last week. Hearing his Aussie accent, the driver turned to him and asked, "You Australian?" Then, without missing a beat, he added, "I love that Yellow Tail wine.
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