save the dates: 12 days of christmas 2018…

•September 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It's glowing a lot like Christmas

It is hard to believe that the year has tipped once again, and I find myself hurling through time and space towards those dozen, wonder-filled days at the end.  As I tap out these words, I count fewer than 15 days left at home between now and then, scraped together from a splinter of gaps between trips to Denmark, Greenland, both coasts, and points in between.

Christopher Kostow and The Restaurant at Meadowood will be hosting the Twelve Days of Christmas again this year.  And, for the sixth time, I have the honor of photographing the series, which, like last year, will benefit the St. Helena Preschool for All, a nonprofit organization that, in partnership with five private preschools, provides pre-school readiness programs for four year-olds in the St. Helena Unified School District.

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rumination 37: killing meritocracy…

•August 29, 2018 • 3 Comments

A few months ago, I posted a picture of a plate of food to my Instagram story.  I purposely  framed the photo tightly – providing as little visual information as possible beyond the linen-lined table top.  But by context, it was clear that I was at a rather nice restaurant, with frilly rimmed china and white tablecloth. Over this photo, I superimposed the following:

“Female chef.  Two Michelin stars.  Where am I?”

I received dozens of guesses, not one of which was correct.

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travel: the city by the bay… (san francisco; 2018)

•August 22, 2018 • 2 Comments

Crab & Egg Buns

According to the year-end travel summaries and stats issued annually by my airline of choice, San Francisco has been my most-frequent destination for the past four years.  And yet, I rarely mention the city on this blog.

I’ve written about eating in cities like New York, Copenhagen, Paris, Kansas City (where I get my mail), Tokyo, San Sebastian, among many other far-flung destinations around the globe, like the Laplands of Sweden, the Auvergne of France, and the ever-exotic and alluring Bentonville, Arkansas.  But I’ve never dedicated a post to the city where I have spent the majority of my time recently.  And, just off the heels of editing the latest  issues of Drift Magazine (vol. 7) and Ambrosia Magazine (vol. 5), in which we explore the coffee and food cultures, respectively, of the San Francisco Bay Area, I think it’s time I do.

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rumination 36: quantum soulless…

•March 8, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It’s not enough to land the fly in the right spot.  The fly has to alight convincingly.  At the slightest hint of mischief or deceit, the fish won’t bite.  The art of fly fishing – from the craft of “tying” flies and lures, to deploying them successfully – is a sophisticated game of hide-and-seek.

Be it fisher or hunter, success is determined by how well prey is fooled.  And because of this, since time immemorial, the survival of man has hinged on convincing artifice.

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favorites of 2017: the restaurant edition…

•March 3, 2018 • 6 Comments

Clown Bar

In 2017, my most exciting destinations had little to do with food.

That’s not to say that I didn’t have any good food.  Rather, finding good food wasn’t my priority.  So, there are no dark horses for me to champion this year; no surprises to report.  You’ll find no exciting news here.

On the bright side, the tried remained true.  I continued to eat very well where I have eaten well before.  And that consistency and reliability is rewarding.

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rumination 35: worth a special journey…

•February 20, 2018 • 4 Comments

It’s no secret that I have been an unamused critic of restaurant lists and ratings.  Much of food media has succumbed to the pressures of collecting clicks, sponsorships, and advertisement.  And sensationalism sells.  So, to reach the widest audience, they cast the widest net.  As a result, lists and ratings rarely reward craftsmanship, originality, quality of cooking, or professionalism.  No, that’s boring. Instead, they reward diversity – geographic and demographic. They reward those with a large social media presence.  And they reward the ones who will play along.

For years, I have been calling for chefs to reject and resist these influences, not only to preserve their own careers, but the craft to which they have dedicated their lives.  Of course, this is a risky move, and a long-game approach, which is why, understandably, few have done so openly.  But the collective inaction is finally coming home to roost.
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favorite desserts of 2017…

•January 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Plums off the hearth.

Plums, ashen from the hearth, bleeding into gauzy muslin.

Figs, syrupy and charred, nestled in a flakey frame.

Saffron suspended in a milky cloud glinting with gold.

And apricots, fleshy and warm, hugged in a doughy crust, with ice cream beside; a slice of the great American songbook.

These are just a few of my sweetest moments in 2017.

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