When Rick Moonen opened RM Seafood in Las Vegas in 2005, he was like a breath of fresh air. The chef did not extend an existing restaurant empire. Instead he moved from New York, where his Oceana was an insider's favorite for seafood, settled in Las Vegas, and introduced the idea of sustainable, beautifully prepared fresh seafood to the desert.
I love the food, particularly the appetizers. We had a pristine sashimi of fluke, slices of of the fish folded with razor-thin lemon slices into a delicate flower. The vibe is different today, however, and I am not sure I like how it has changed.
On Calkins Lane at the edge of the Chehalem Mountains in Oregon's Willamette Valley, a beautifully tended 23-acre vineyard stands next to the pretty Bergström winery, where Josh Bergström makes some of the best wines in Oregon. The biodynamically farmed vines belong to Paul de Lancellotti and his wife, Kendall Bergström-de Lancellotti, who is Josh Bergström's sister. In the winery, Bergström has been making the wines from this vineyard, most going into a single-vineyard bottling for Bergström Wines, some for de Lancellotti's own bottling.
It was all looking so cozy, but behind the scenes there were family tensions that have resulted in wrenching changes for both wineries and for the Inn at Red Hills, which had been started and managed by Kendall.
Two newish wineries in Washington that deliver outstanding wine at relatively moderate prices represent different ways of getting there. One left a big bank to take a chance on starting his own winery. The other parlayed 15 years selling others' wines into a smart-business wine venture.
Neither Hestia nor Zero One involves planting a vineyard and growing grapes. Instead they're starting off slow by making a limited number of wines, getting their grapes from established growers. They both focus on a few wines and have an idea about how to establish an identity to us consumers.
The green color of the peas popped, and the intensity of their flavor was mightily impressive, balancing the velvety texture of a perfectly pink fillet of Copper River King salmon. The jus poured around it looked clear and tasted of pure fresh peas. Was it a reduction? A broth flavored with pea shoots?
No, it was pure pea juice, extracted by pureeing fresh peas and separating the juice in a centrifuge. This was the 17th dish of a 30-course marathon in the Seattle-area kitchen laboratory of Nathan Myhrvold, meant to demonstrate some of the up-to-the-minute techniques included in Modernist Cuisine, his landmark set of cookbooks released earlier this year.
The Book Bindery in Seattle has been setting off the kind of buzz among local foodies that I haven't heard in a while there. The individual elements looked auspicious. Its chef previously worked his way up to executive sous at Per Se, Thomas Keller's New York restaurant with the big reputation, and it's linked with an urban winery. I hadn't tasted the wines yet, but they just won a basket full of medals from the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago stopped by the other day to show off his latest wine. Unfortunately, it will not be available in the U.S. until the next vintage, but given the response in Australia to the new Bin 150 Shiraz, which comes entirely from grapes grown in the Marananga District of the Barossa Valley, I was eager to try it.