Back in the 1970s and 1980s, a few intrepid food-obsessed souls made it a point to eat at all the restaurants in France currently holding three-star ratings in the Michelin Guide. My colleagues James Suckling and Thomas Matthews did their version of this tummy pilgrimage in 1996, assessing 21 restaurants in 21 days.
At the end, all they wanted was a good steak and salad.
I thought of that last week when I read about Scott White, a painting contractor who lives in a San Francisco suburb. Last year, according to the story, White decided he had to eat his way through all 100 restaurants on the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100, an annual list of the area’s best compiled by the newspaper’s chief food critic, Michael Bauer.
What caught my eye, aside from the sheer size of the task, was the arc of White’s appreciation of food. Before his quest, he said, he was a regular at In-N-Out Burger and Applebee's. Afterwards, he lost weight on an Alaskan cruise. The all-you-can-eat buffet did not rise to his new standards, so he just picked at the food.
Ah, yes. This is a phenomenon all of us can relate to. Once you get a taste for the good stuff, there's no going back. I think this applies across species. At one point we had two Cairn terriers who were perfectly happy eating dry kibble as their healthful daily diet. Then I got an assignment reviewing a lot of restaurants in a short time span. We brought home doggie bags and gave them leftover prime rib and lamb chops from the restaurants. They never went back to kibble. They nosed the dry dog food and turn to stare at us accusingly.
It works that way with wine, too. My first exposure to wine involved decent but inexpensive blends such as Gallo Hearty Burgundy and Almaden Rosé. Then some friends introduced me to Bordeaux. That was my point of no return.
White's odyssey prompts me ask if anyone has tried to drink his way through our Wine Spectator Top 100. Published every December, it lists our choices for the most exciting wines tasted that year. What an education in wine that would be! The list covers the important wine regions. And the wines impressed us jaded tasters, so they’re pre-screened for you.
Obtaining the wines would be more difficult than getting reservations at French Laundry. But I wonder. Has anyone done it? Comment if you have given it a shot, or thought about it.
Jonathan Rezabek — Chandler, AZ — April 6, 2009 11:34pm ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — April 7, 2009 1:43am ET
Michael Bonanno — April 7, 2009 1:54am ET
Kirk R Grant — Bangor, Maine — April 7, 2009 7:53am ET
Stephen Lima — Wakefield, RI — April 7, 2009 11:51am ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — April 7, 2009 11:57am ET
John Richardson — April 7, 2009 4:14pm ET
Tristen Larson — Seattle WA — April 7, 2009 10:29pm ET
Russell Quong — Sunnyvale, CA — April 19, 2009 3:46pm ET
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