Food & Wine Writing

Remembering Donna Scala

donna

The last time I saw Donna Scala, coowner with husband Giovanni of Napa’s popular Bistro Don Giovanni, she was full of plans to renovate the restaurant. Which is notable mainly because she’d been diagnosed with a brain tumor and given just months to live. That was earlier this year and as it turned out the…

Diet of Worms

The setting: A balmy January night at a top-flight resort on the Mayan Riviera. The occasion: An ultra-chic dinner honoring  up-and-coming-chef Rene Redzepi, a guest at the hotel. Camera zooms in on subject, a woman of a certain age (as in I’m certain she won’t see 48 again)  who is gazing with trepidation at her…

An artisan partisan surrenders

Friends, today we mourn the passing of an integral player in the food revolution, the word “artisanal.” A few people have already denounced the term, including Grub Street, which has a fascinating chart of the rise and fall. I’ve hung on to this little verbal shortcut longer than most. But having seen it slapped on…

Carignan makes a comeback

Green, rough, bitter—for a hard-working grape, carignan shoulders an awful lot of insults. And it’s true the prolific variety, traditionally used in reds from France’s Languedoc region, has produced a lot of undistinguished wine. But lately, carignan has been coming in for artisanal treatment, notably at the hands of winemakers in Chile who are keeping…

Happy birthday to me

Summer and chardonnay, the perfect pairing /Michelle Locke

Vinecdote turns one this week and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have read, commented on, and maybe even, ever so gently, improved what’s been posted here. As some of you may know, I started this blog at a bit of a low point.  It was a time when…

What I learned in wine school

summer vines 2

I’ve covered the wine industry for a decade, but always from the business end. Facts, figures, and farming trends? Yes. Distinguish a Pinotage from a Pinot noir? Not so much. So I didn’t hesitate when I recently had the chance to take the weeklong course “Mastering Wine I” at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone. The…

Cooking outside the box

noodles

    There’s been a lot of chatter lately about avoiding processed food. The issue is time, how much of it we have and how we want to spend it. Some cooking-from-scratch proponents argue that if we’ve got time to watch “Dancing with the Stars,” we’ve got time to stick a chicken in the oven. (And…

A proper tea party

teapot

Tea parties have been in the news a lot lately. But not the kind where people are, you know, enjoying a nice cuppa. I wrote a story a while back about how specialty tea merchants are a bit put out to see their teapots in a tempest of political upheaval. Meanwhile, those of us with pure…

Must-have cookbooks

cook

Just pre-ordered a new cookbook, “High Flavor, Low Labor,” written by my friend and sometimes editor J.M. Hirsch,  Food Editor for The Associated Press. Judging by some tasty previews I’ve seen, it should be a must-read for the busy cook who wants to put something good on the table but can’t face any elaborate, 12-step…