Monday, January 27, 2014

Article in Palate Press Features Top Sylvaner Vineyard in Alsace

In November, I visited the Zotzenberg Vineyard in Mittelbergheim - the only Sylvaner cru vineyard in Alsace. Here's the link:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Drinker's Notebook #13: Savoring a Drink at the Bar

Most things we do now feel differently than when we did them in years past. Not necessary better or worse, just different. I thoroughly enjoy my daily walks along the country roads of Pennsylvania, but they are seen through somewhat different eyes and certainly a different body than the kid I was, doing a little skipping and throwing rocks at first basemen disguised as trees, a few decades ago in West Virginia. Air travel? You know that story. I savor food more than I once did, and I could eat more of it in years past without thinking about consequences. And I was less jaded. The one thing that hasn’t changed over the years, at least for me, is having a drink at a really good bar with a friend or my wife. It’s exactly the same feeling that I had – with different thoughts, of course – when I had my first whiskey at a bar in college with an older buddy who was initiating me. The bar also has to be right. Can’t be a sports bar or a crowded bar, but a serious, adult bar with some good music, preferably jazz, playing on the sound system or coming from a real pianist off to the side. Bar tables don’t count. It has to be at the bar, and the drink has to be a cocktail or something on the rocks. My theory of alcoholic drinks is that beer is for refreshment, wine is for dining, and spirits are for relaxation. At a bar, that relaxation also comes with some sense of anticipation – a feeling at once of sophistication and camaraderie. My wife and I almost always drink wine at home, always at dinner and occasionally with some cheese in the afternoon, perhaps in front of a fire in winter or in the woods in summer. We wait to have cocktails at the bar when we go out for dinner, often getting to the restaurant a half hour early to sip and chat while waiting for friends to show up. A Manhattan for me, a Martini or gin and tonic for her, perhaps a Bloody Mary if we are travelling and are having lunch out. Amusingly, one couple we know has the same custom, so it’s a race to see which of us gets to the bar first. Then we have a pre-dinner chat before being seated and ordering wine. Yes, I’ve changed. And through the years I’ve acquired intimate knowledge of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of bars around the world – but the feeling remains the same as the first time.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

In the Winter 2014 Issue of Sante': Ray's & Stark Bar in Los Angeles

In the current issue of Sante' magazine is my profile of Ray's and Stark Bar at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Here is the opening page.