Talkin' Wine & Food for Thought








Hanna Update

Hanna Floods Wine & Words

I'm writing from home, on generator power. Our electricity went out about 4:00 AM here at the house, but no flooding and no damage. We've checked with folks in Belhaven, and the streets are flooded but power is on. Flooding is expected to recede after Hanna passes and after high tide at 11:00 AM.

Things are OK in downtown Washington (Stewart Parkway is flooded).

So we're planning to open both stores at 1:00 this afternoon. We'll be open for dinner at Back Bay Cafe tonight.

Stay safe, and when you're ready to come out...come by and see us!

Something Fishy II

More adventures in the fish trade. We never did find an American provider for Tilapia. One customer told us there was a local Tilapia farm right here in eastern North Carolina. Then he leaned in close and said, "Do you know who controls the world Tilapia trade?" Of course, I didn't; but I knew he was going to tell me. "The Chinese drug mafia," he said. "They bring in suitcases of cash and buy out all this guy's fish to launder the drug profits." Well, that was certainly appetizing. I guess it's appropriate, considering Tilapia are bottom feeders.

Cutback Cuisine

We recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about what they call “cutback cuisine”. It’s how the big, fancy restaurants in New York City are making changes in ingredients, portions and menu items to deal with the spiraling cost of foodstuffs.

High oil prices and a world-wide thirst for ethanol have triggered a run-up in corn, feed and transportation costs that is driving up food prices. Restaurant owners last year saw wholesale price increases of 7.4%, the biggest jump in nearly three decades.


Something Fishy

Chef Yvonne and I found a nice recipe for a "Tilapia with Mushroom Aioli," and we decided to include it in our April Dinner Specials at The Back Bay Cafe. I wrote in the menu about "US farm-raised Tilapia..." figuring we could easily get some. Wrong. One of our foodservice vendors said they had two kinds of Tilapia - one from China and one not. Where was the "not" from? No idea. We gave our standard lecture about how we, and our customers, are concerned about the sourcing and handling of the food we eat. We do not trust the food safety standards in China or other parts of Asia.

Heretat de Taverners update

Just got Issue 175 of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and am very pleased to find two of the wines we tasted at the Heretat de Taverners winery are highly rated. The 2005 Graciano that we first tried at Canela y Clavo in Xativa is rated 90 Points, with the comment: "Forward, full-flavored, and layered, it is meant for near term gratification." And the 2005 Mallaura got 87 Points. Still working on getting these fine wines to downeast Carolina.

Wines Tasted in Spain 2008 - II Utiel-Requena

Utiel-Requena DO We visited this region, on the high elevation meseta just on the edge of Castilla-La Mancha. We drove between mountains from Xativa, west then north, into an area of extensive vineyards but left behind the fruit orchards, the olive trees, the cactus and rosemary of the Mediterranean climate. The temperature is Xativa was 15° C., while up in Utiel it never got above 8°, with a heavy, depressing cloud cover. We parked in front of a little workman’s café by the train station, got a quick café con leche, then went to check out the Museu de Vinos, located in an old bodega (winery).

Wines Tasted in Spain 2008 - I

James & Yvonne Somewhere in Spain (drinking wine)

…being some notes on our wine experiences during our vacation in January.

Upon our arrival at the rented house just outside of Xativa, the owners had left us a bottle of “one of the local wines.” It was Baron de Turis Tinto Garnacha 2006 with a Valencia DO. It was a nice thought, but the wine was rather thin and uninteresting. Turns out we saw it at the local Mercadona for less than €2! Cheap plonk, indeed.

A Trip to Fontanars dels Alforins

Canela y Clavo Restaurant in Xativa, Spain

We had been trying for several days to get El Bodegero (based on “the one who operates the bodega” – my translation of “Wine Guy”) to help us set up a visit in one of the local wineries.He had given me a phone number to call in Moixent, but I demurred, my phone Spanish not having the benefit of gestures, facial expression and written notes. We passed a big winery on the outskirts of Moixent and saw signs for others, but that was the day we had company with us, and we limited our visit to the Iberian village at Les Arcusses.

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