One night Charlie Trotter from Chicago, Jean Joho of Everest , Douglas Keane of Cyrus and Michel Richard of Citronelle shared a kitchen to make dinner for 175. The next night, David Kinch of Manresa along with Josiah Citrin of Mélisse , Richard Reddington of Redd and Michael Mina from San Francisco cooked up a few things for 300.
It seemed like every longtime attendee of the Masters of Food and Wine was asking each other what they thought on opening night Thursday of the new Pebble Beach Food and Wine event, its successor. The new event is bigger and more sprawling, and there were plenty of hot wineries pouring samples and famous chefs dishing up tasty creations.
If it were not for the big, wide Columbia River running through eastern Washington, where virtually all of the wine grapes grow, it would be a desert. But the Columbia and its tributaries, mainly the Yakima and Snake rivers, provide enough water for booming agriculture.
When Naples-born Peppe Miele read an article that asserted pizza was an American invention, he had to do something. "I knew the history went back thousands of years," he says. "There were pizzerias in Naples that have been there for hundreds of years.
Yakima Valley wine isn't what it used to be, and that's good. In my 30 years of tasting Washington wine, I have often liked the bright fruit character and often zingy acidity Yakima can produce, but there's also a telltale vegetal character that crept into many of its red wines.
Ed LaDou changed the way we think about pizza. He's best known for inventing California pizza, also known as "designer pizza," which operates under the premise that anything you might put on a plate could go onto a pizza.
Tidbits picked up along the Washington wine trail, where I have logged about 400 miles this week: Quilceda Creek, once basically a single-wine winery (one of the state's flagship Cabernet Sauvignons), has added another bottling to its portfolio.
Leave it to maverick Washington state vigneron Christophe Baron of Cayuse to take his biodynamic vineyard beyond most others. He bought a 12-acre piece of flat, rocky land next door to his winery and one of his vineyards in 2006.
It has been several years since I visited with Gary Figgins and his winemaker son Chris at Leonetti in Walla Walla. I have always liked their wines. They are graceful wines; their rich textures and complex flavors find a balance with sufficient acidity and moderate alcohol levels.
The two men who started Rosemount Estate in 1974 are back in business together. Bob Oatley, now 80 years old, and Chris Hancock, 67, have seen the ups and downs of the wine world, come out of a turbulent phase bloodied but unbowed, and now are betting that America is ready for the bright, juicy wines of Mudgee, where Oatley owns almost 1,200 acres.
When Domaine Serene came out with a $200 wine called Monogram, I must admit I had my doubts. Not that a Pinot Noir can't be worth that much. Lord knows there are plenty of red Burgundies that go for far more than that, and I understand the argument that if California Cabernets can fetch that much or more, why not a great Pinot? I get it, it makes a statement, but that doesn't mean I'm jumping on the bandwagon.
I spent a week visiting pizzerias in New York recently for my upcoming story on pizza in America for Wine Spectator. And no, I am not going to wade into the perennial war over who makes the best pizza in a city renowned for it.
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