Taste magazine is printed quarterly as a wine and spirits magazine available to consumers in all of Pennsylvania's start-run retail stores. The current issue contains my article on New Zealand wines. Here is the opening spread.
Many of us who love food and wine enjoy a taste of getting as close as we can to the real thing - a night on Islay watching and smelling the grain being roasted at Bowmore over a peat fire, gathering truffles in Umbria, sitting in the kitchen at Talula's Table in Pennsylvania as the chefs do their magic. So I especially savored my last evening at Cakebread Cellars' annual American Harvest Workshop, when I and 10 other foodies and winos helped five professional chefs prepare a dinner for 65 guests seated outside on Cakebread's Pecan Patio in the warm Napa Valley September evening air. The real chefs of Cakebread were Greg Biggers of Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, Jim Severson of Sevy's Grill in Dallas, Brad Turley of GoGa in Shanghai, Marc McDowell of Makena Beach & Golf Resort in Maui and Eric Haugen of The Lambs Club in NYC. I was assigned to Chef Haugen, a personable young man who teaches as well as he cooks. For about three hours, I chopped, peeled, seeded, cut and mixed for him along with another amateur cook. As the last course was being plated, we started bringing out our glasses and the partial bottles of various Cakebread reds that were coming back into the kitchen. That's Chef Biggers, glass in hand, as we wrapped things up and a few minutes later all toasted to an evening spent with the grown-ups. What was I drinking? I never looked at the labels at this point - just as long as it was red and Cakebread.
Eight years ago, I got a call from an editor asking if I would contribute a regular feature to a new publication he was putting together called Signature Brandywine. Usually an editor you don't know seldom contacts you cold for an assignment (unfortunately), but, in this case, I was at the time also writing a weekly wine column for the magazine's publisher, The NewsJournal daily newspaper in Wilmington, Delaware. So the call wasn't all that unusual.
Almost all the publications I write for are national or international, and that's where the most money is to be made, but I have to admit that I have written some of my best articles - generally profiles of artists and artisans - for local magazines, including Signature. In the years since that call in the summer of 2005, I have written dozens of articles for at least three different Signature editors who held the post for more than an issue.
Now, that's all over.
Signature Brandywine abruptly ceased publication last week coincident with the September 2013 issue. I have two articles in it, one on the new First State National Park and another on some unusual grape varieties grown by local wineries. An article I wrote on a local auto museum and handed in the week before will not be published - at least not in Signature.
Even in the magazine heyday of the 1960s - 1990s, publications came and went, so now is not a particular time to be maudlin about the loss of another one. I do feel sorry for the editor. While she will apparently get another assignment within the organization, I know she loved editing Signature and was doing a good job at it. But I feel sorry for myself, too. In addition to the money aspects of writing, most of us writers want - need - a variety of places to express ourselves. It was a dependable forum, and I will miss it.
Roger Morris writes about wine, food, and travel for several publications including Town & Country, Robb Report, Wine Enthusiast, Intermezzo, USA Today Magazines, Sante', The Daily Meal, Sommelier Journal, Beverage Media, Drinks, Drinks Business (UK), Writer's Digest and Details.com.
Morris may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to 331 Quimby Drive, Wilmington, DE 19808, USA