• When Unfiltered thinks road trip, we think greasy fast food, so-bad-it's-good music, and questionable hygiene. When public television producers think road trip, however, they think beautiful young actresses and superstar chefs. For their forthcoming series Spain … on the Road Again, American Public Television has recruited Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali—along with curmudgeonly food writer Mark Bittman and Spanish actress-singer Claudia Bassols—to introduce viewers to the wine, food and culture of Spain while traveling together in a camera-equipped station wagon. Batali, who spoke with Unfiltered while waiting for a Madrid flamenco bar to open—at 3 am—actually lived with his family in Spain in the 1970s, during his teenage years, and he recalled eating food that was "swimming in olive oil, with burnt pieces of garlic floating in it … they have amazing products and an amazing cultural history but they were [messing] it up for a long time." Aside from their aesthetic value, Batali predicted that his comely female cohosts "will be a foil to the snotty Mark Bittman and the overexuberant Mario Batali." Bittman agreed, adding, "Gwyneth and Claudia will likely display a level of professionalism that I am incapable of providing." Sounds like there might be a grease-fueled, slightly dank late-'80s rock sing-along on that road trip after all …
|The look on Bonnasse's face says, "Please don't steamroll me as if I play for England."|
• You might not be aware that the Rugby World Cup is currently taking place in France. If not, you probably also didn't know that the best winemaking countries in the world are also the best rugby nations. France, Argentina, Australia, South Africa and heavily favored New Zealand are all among the quarterfinalists. In fact, France-New Zealand (this Saturday) is always a tough, exciting match, even more so since a famous French upset in the mid-'80s when New Zealand All Black Buck Shelford suffered a torn scrotum and lost four teeth on the same play and remained in the game! So one can only imagine what Château Canon's PR chief Béatrice Amadieu must have thought when former All Black Jonah Lomu—considered the game's most famous player ever—showed up at the St.-Emilion estate last week. Was he out for revenge? Would he tear through the place the way he so easily did through the French defense in the late '90s? Apparently not. Rugby truly is a savage game played by gentlemen, as Lomu and cellar master Stéphane Bonnasse tasted some barrel samples and posed for pictures. Expect the All Blacks to be just as nice to their French hosts before and after Saturday's game, but certainly not during. In the tournament's opening four matches, New Zealand has outscored its opponents 309 to 35.
• A little wine with your yoga? It may sound goofy, but Feudo Arancio, a Sicilian wine estate, has teamed up with yogi David Romanelli and business partner Angela Gargano to take their Yoga + Wine show on the road. Romanelli teaches a fairly vigorous 90-minute vinyasa flow yoga class followed by a tasting of two of Arancio's indigenous Sicilian varietal wines: Grillo and Nero d'Avola. Romanelli started his "yoga pairings" series in 2003 with a week-long Yoga + Chocolate retreat to Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2003. The retreat was so successful that when Romanelli met Gargano, a sommelier and owner of a yoga studio, the Yoga + Wine series was born. Romanelli is currently leading his Yoga + Wine classes at yoga studios, spas and retreats around the country. Unfiltered considered attending, but would prefer if they reversed the format to tasting wine for 90 minutes, followed by a couple quick yoga postures.
|Not the first place we expected to see Bourdain naked…and probably not the last.|
• What a great idea: Ask 50 top international chefs the same questions about what their last meal on earth would be like. What would you eat? With whom? Who would cook? What would the music be? And so on. These questions clearly put the chefs in the new photography book My Last Supper (Bloomsbury, 222 pages) at ease: From Mario Batali to Helene Darroze they answer with candor and humility, and their choices are more down-to-earth and surprising than you might expect. And each gives a fairly simple recipe too. But there's a down side: There are pictures of the chefs. Daniel Boulud gets off easy, wearing a tuxedo and lifting a flute of Champagne outside a château. Lidia Bastianich wears a hat made of pasta. You might find that charming. But it gets worse: Marcus Samuelsson is crowned with raw salmon. Gary Danko, well, let's not go there and just skip to the worst of all: Anthony Bourdain, who is naked but for an earring, a cigarette, some petulance and a well-placed raw cow femur. We do, however, like the picture of Au Pied de Cochon's Martin Picard, not just because he's out catching his dinner, but because he kindly kept his clothes on.
• Of course, everyone's wondered what wine to pair with their food, though they probably wish they didn't have to think about it at all. Enter Rigatoni Red, the first offering by cousins Ben and Darren Restivo, proprietors of importer Biagio Cru & Estate Wines. After spending three months in Italy conducting important "research" (read: eating lots of food and drinking lots of wine), Ben and Darren agreed that a simple red wine is the perfect complement to the country's classic tomato-based dishes, including pizza. The cousins were thus inspired to create a wine with "a modern feel, yet an ageless blend," said Darren, adding, "We wanted to take away the pretentiousness of the wine." Rigatoni Red is a blend of grapes from the Puglia region of Italy, said to be the birthplace of pasta. More varietals are due out later this year and into 2008, including a white designed to pair with fish and chicken. We haven't tried Rigatoni Red yet, but we're glad they're keeping it simple and not making the leap right away to Orecchiette Ornellaia.
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