I must admit that I haven't been much of a fan of reality tv. I prefer my entertainment to be of the made-up variety. As much as I love food and cooking, the cheftality tv shows have been pretty horrendous. Watching Gordon Ramsay turn red while yelling at idiots is fun for about five seconds. And witnessing Padma and Tom Collichio's eternal scowls and disapproving head shaking is as inviting as cold oatmeal.
They call it Slow Food, but let me tell you that some of the biggest lines are at the drinks tables. Of all the sections, though, I have to give the nod for the beer pavilion as the best of them all. Why? Not just because it's the quickest service, but because of the diversity and breadth of the selection. The beer pavilion is divided into three bars, each representing a method of beer delivery: bottle, cask, and draught (below).
I recently became reacquainted with some of my favorite wines in the world, the wines of COS, a small producer from the southeast corner of Sicily in the DOCG region of Cerasuolo di Vittoria. A year and a half ago, I was fortunate enough to visit this property and spend some time with its owner, Giusto Occhipinti (below).
Some of his wines, such as the bottle pictured here, are unusual in that they're fermented and aged not in steel tanks or in wooden barrels but in terra-cotta amphorae.
Last week, Serge Hochar (above right), proprietor of one of the world's most unusual wineries, was in town to do a vertical tasting. His winery is Chateau Musar, improbably located in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. About 7,000 years ago, this area was perhaps the world's first fine wine region, as its products were exported around the Mediterranean, even to Greece, which already bustling with wine. Hochar has managed to steer the winery out of trouble, miraculously guiding it through Lebanon's 15-year civil war of the 1970s and '80s while losing only one vintage (1976).
This was a dinner I attended during the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers up in Napa. It was a good three days, and I gleaned some valuable information about publishing. More than that, however, I made some excellent new friends. Not a bad use of time, particularly for people who are just starting their career.