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Taste3 on Drinks

I was fortunate enough to attend the Taste3 conference in Napa last week. Sponsored by the Robert Mondavi company, the gathering of food, wine and art minds from around the world is supposed to be a sort of culinary TED conference and—if you have an extra $2-grand and consider yourself a die-hard foodie—is well worth your time and money. Great thinkers, scientists, story tellers, cooks, taste makers and thinkers gather together for two days of awesome talks on everything from bees and mushrooms to terroir, food blogging and new kitchen inventions. And you can rub elbows with the speakers at several lunches and dinners.

Needless to say, my favorite presentations were the ones involving drinking. There was Randall Graham of Bonny Doon talking about growing vines from seeds, Leo McCloskey the famous consultant talking about the idea of a official classification and ranking of Napa wines, and the former head of Sotheby’s in London talking about the issue of wine fraud.


Dave Arnold

For me, the most entertaining presentation was from a guy I’d never heard of, Dave Arnold, the director of food technology for the French Culinary Institute in New York. Arnold, who is depicted in the picture, gave a very personal yet technical, fast-paced and completely absurd Power Point presentation of his attempts to build a better gin and tonic through technology. In this picture he’s showing his methods of clarifying fruit juices by using gelatin, but his talk was long and involved about the numerous and unimaginable challenges of simply carbonating a mixture of gin and tonic so it doesn’t go flat when the ice melts (hint: it required procuring quinine to make his own uncarbonated tonic water, distilling lime juice and then recombining it with the various acids that were lost in distillation, and then a lot of carbonating and shaking).

Arnold is my new hero.