Monday, February 28, 2011

WINEMAKER'S "OSCARS" NIGHT

Photographs by Kiyomi
Beer aficionados are fond of perpetuating the myth that Ben Franklin penned the words, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy". The saying has been popularized by beer makers and t-shirt companies alike. However, few people actually know what Ben really said. In response to a drinking song that was written about him in 1779, Ben Franklin wrote a letter to the song's composer, Andre Morellet (a French economist and personal friend). In it he said, "Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines,to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy." Spending time in Napa this last week gave me a more complete picture of what Ben Franklin was trying to convey.

When I drove into Napa, I wasn't expecting to see thunderstorms or visible snow blankets on the Mayacamas Mountains. But, this was the sight that greeted me upon my arrival. A magnificent rain dance was in full force. When the storm finally passed, I was able to see the effect it had on the various vineyards that grace the Napa Valley floor. It appeared that every single grape vine had been energized. In addition,the Silverado Trail pine trees were giving off a heady scent that is priceless - a perfect setting for this year's 2011 Vintner's Hall of Fame.

Through the Vintners Hall of Fame, the Culinary Institute of America (Greystone campus) celebrates the lives of men and women who have made significant contributions to the California Wine Industry. This year's inductees (and happy winemakers) include:

• Joel Peterson - the "Godfather of Zin"

• The late Richard Graff - a pioneer of California Pinot Noir
• The late August Sebastiani - first California vintner to make varietal wines affordable
• Professor Vernon Singleton - UC Davis expert of wine chemistry
• Bob Trinchero - pioneer of white zinfandel.

As a former graduate of the CIA, I consider myself extremely fortunate to be part of the the Vinter's celebration. I (along with several other chefs, winemakers, and CIA students) prepared a festive walk-around dinner for patrons. The evening was topped off with fabulous wine offerings, appearances of local celebrities, and bronze, sculpted plaques (that apparently take a year to make). You can see these bronze plaques when you visit Greystone. In fact, you can't miss them, the plaques are skillfully hung on 2,200 gallon redwood barrels. Proceeds help to fund scholarships for the Professional Wine Studies at Greystone.

The entire event is indeed a winemaker's "Oscars" night - just without all the fuss and pomp of Hollywood.

Cheers to each of the winners!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SLOW LIVING RADIO

Photograph by Kiyomi
Slow Living Radio - as the name implies, is a weekly program that encourages its listening audience to "reclaim the lives we've lost to the frenetic pace of our modern culture." SLR is a lifestyle program that covers food, wine, travel, health/fitness, greener living, and entertainment. The operation is based in Yountville in the Napa Valley and is hosted by travel industry veteran Stephen Andrews, chef/author Sally James, and sommelier Scott Lewis. During my recent trip to California, I was interviewed by the SLR team. I think you'll find the interview quite interesting. Here is a link to Slow Living Radio.


Friday, February 18, 2011

VINTNERS' INDUCTION HALL OF FAME 2011

Photograph © Kiyomi
Tomorrow, I will be in rainy Napa Valley for the 5th annual California Wine and Food Induction of Fame. I'm looking forward to sharing a glass of wine with the 2011 winning inductees.

Here is an article written by Peg Melnik which was posted in the Press Democrat:
"As the former White House executive chef, Scheib is privy to top secrets: the likes and dislikes of the First Family.

Scheib, who has since formed a business called "The American Chef," now speaks at conferences, teaches classes in cuisine and entertaining, and uses group cooking as a method of team-building among business leaders. He'll be in Wine Country over Presidents Day weekend for the induction of five new members to the Vintners Hall of Fame at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, sharing food and wine pairings that were on State Dinner menus during his tenure at the White House from 1994 to 2005.

Inducted at the Feb. 21 celebration at the CIA will be: vintner Joel Peterson, the late vintner Richard Graff, the late August Sebastiani, UC Davis Professor Vernon Singleton and vintner Bob Trinchero.

In keeping with the Presidents Day theme, Scheib was chosen in order to give the event a taste of the White House. He's credited for brining the best of American food to the President's table at a time when European entrees dominated State Dinners."

You can read the rest of the article here.


Friday, February 11, 2011

2011 GETTYSBURG FESTIVAL

Next week in Gettysburg the weather is predicted to get a little bit warmer. The folks at the Gettysburg Festival could not have picked a better time to announce the events for their annual cultural arts festival which takes place June 10th through the 19th.

It is not unusual for 22,000 visitors to flock to the 10-day event. The Gettysburg Festival is a unique cultural arts gathering that showcases American art forms in the visual arts, dance, theater, music, and culinary arts disciplines. A few of this year's artists will include "Straight No Chaser" - a stylish a cappella group from Atlanta, "All American Brass Picnic", and comedian Bob Newhart. Theater lovers will be treated to an inspiring performance called, "The Presidents of Mount Rushmore". Consider it an entertaining educational event. The show is put on by some of the best presidential impersonators in the country.

Last, but definitely not least, I will be heading up the culinary arts venue. I've promised to make this part of the festival a truly tasteful and memorable experience. All of the events have a themed menu that incorporates farm-fresh ingredients. Each of these culinary events is located in a distinct location that is fully integrated with the arts at hand.


A small sampling of the culinary arts program includes:

• The Edible Art Tour
• An Old Fashioned Sunday Supper
• Chocolate Sinema: A Sinfully Delicious Combination of Classic Cinema and Chocolate
• Blues, Beer, and BBQ