• From the department of "Yes he can [cook]!" Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., famously disparaged baking cookies and hosting tea parties while on the campaign trail for her husband in the early 1990s, but her current Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., seems to have taken the opposite approach: He's lent his name—and his words—to a cookbook aimed specifically at men. Real Men Cook, published in 2006 by Fireside, is a collection of recipes gathered from participants in a multicity charity event of the same name, founded by Karega Kofi Moyo, who also authored the book. Those hoping for some special Obama family recipes might be disappointed, however. Despite the prominence of his name on the front cover, the senator's contribution to the book is limited to a one-page foreword in which he praises the Real Men Cook organization, using phrases like, "There is a unity of purpose and a common joy that touches each one of us." Wait, didn't that come from a Texas or Ohio stump speech?
• OK, so, a baseball player, a Trekkie and a ukulele player walk into a wine tasting… Oh, there's no punch line or anything. This actually happened at last weekend's Premiere Napa Valley. Premiere is a barrel tasting and auction at which wineries whip up special, one-of-a-kind barrels that are auctioned off to folks in the wine and restaurant trades for tens of thousands of dollars, with proceeds benefiting the Napa Valley Vintners, the nonprofit trade association for Napa wineries. Sighted this year at the auction tasting? Former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, juicing up with some Napa Valley wines. William Shatner, a.k.a. Captain Kirk, was also present, but we didn't get near enough to make a dorky joke about Scotty beaming us up or to practice our Vulcan nerve pinch on him. As for the ukulele? That was vintner Judd Finkelstein of Judd's Hill winery, who caught our eye with his strumming, so we had to ask him about it. Watch out for the ending of this video, when real-life Hawaiians Michael and Terry Kakazu of Honolulu's Hasr Wine Co. stumble upon a familiar sound:
• Napa Valley's Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts' annual Death By Chocolate celebration took place last weekend. Nearly 700 attendees took part in tastings and demonstrations featuring about 40 chocolatiers and 13 wineries, including Rosenblum and Luna. British pastry chef Claire Clark, who currently heads up the pastry program at the French Laundry, conducted a baking demonstration, in which she prepared a chocolate cherry trifle and chocolate raspberry tartlet. In case you don't make it to the French Laundry to taste these desserts for yourself any time soon (not to worry, this was probably as close as Unfiltered will get to the French Laundry all year, too), Clark has a new cookbook, Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts (Whitecap Books), in which she modifies her French Laundry recipes so you can make your own three-star desserts at home. Because, after all, as Clark quipped, "Baking is a piece of cake." Don't quit your day job for a career in stand-up, Claire.
|No sweating to the oldies on the promenade of this ship.|
• Shipping wine from the south of France to the British Isles is all wet—but in a good way. Thirty-five producers from the Languedoc-Roussillon region have recently contracted a company to ship their wines destined for Ireland and Britain the old-fashioned way, all to help cut down on carbon emissions. The Compagnie de Transport Maritime à la Voile (CTMV) is providing one sailboat, outfitted to carry 89,000 bottles arranged on 148 pallets, to carry the wines on the four-day trip from Bordeaux to Dublin. CTMV president Frédéric Albert said the sailboat is already booked for 23 journeys this year alone. They don't plan to stop there, as interest in using earth-friendly transport is growing. "The next step will be to open new lines to Denmark, Sweden, Canada and the U.S.," Albert said. And the idea is not as far-fetched as it turns out. For starters, among the wineries participating is Domaine Cazes. In addition, British supermarket giant Tesco has started shipping wines via barges on rivers and canals in an effort to lower carbon emissions. Just a note to the importers: If the ship crew pulls into the dock singing, "What do you do with a drunken sailor?" at the tops of their lungs, there might be a few bottles missing.
• One of Long Island's most ambitious wineries is changing winemakers. According to two sources close to winery management, Bedell Cellars fired winemaker John Irving Levenberg earlier this month. Levenberg joined Bedell three years ago, leaving Paul Hobbs Winery in Napa Valley to take the reins at the North Fork winery from founder Kip Bedell. The hire was seen as one of a series of ambitious moves by owner Michael Lynne, the co-chairman and co-CEO of New Line Cinema, who bought Bedell in 2000. Levenberg helped oversee the development of two new blends—Gallery and Musée. The winery would not comment on the matter. Levenberg confirmed that he no longer worked at the winery, but said there was "nothing [he] wanted to discuss at this time." Bordeaux enologist Pascal Marty continues to consult for Bedell, Kip Bedell himself is still on staff, and according to one source close to the winery, assistant winemaker Kelly Urbanik will fill Levenberg's job for the foreseeable future.
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