I recently spent a thoroughly beguiling three nights at The Meadowood Resort on the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley; really and truly, if you’re planning a Napa fantasy, you should most definitely book one of their mountainside cottages as your accommodation. The luxury, the pampering, the comfort…not to mention the fact that you feel so strongly that you are in a rural place.
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About a week ago, I attended the annual Wine Writers’ Symposium, based at the splendid Meadowood Resort on Silverado Trail. Increasingly, the Symposium has also shared facilities with the CIA, just across the valley floor in St. Helena. Now, as you may already know…..Napa Valley wine, at its most scale-tipping typical…..is not exactly my cup of tea. So I didn’t go into this thing expecting any wine revelations. I also thought I knew what to expect Symposium-wise, having spoken there four years ago. But lots of things rocked my world during this most enjoyable visit. Here are the five most interesting and relatable things I took away from my week in Napa Valley:
Unfortunately, I don’t pass through Germany’s Pfalz region too often (it’s a lusty wine-growing area that I love, just to the east of France’s Alsace). But, when I do get there, the top of my gastronomic list is the uber-hearty local specialty of saumagen (pronounced ZOW-mahg-en). Yup. “Sau” means pig (as in sow), and “magen” means stomach. So what we have here, mein freund, is a stuffed pig’s stomach!
I remember eagerly clutching my red Michelin guide in France, way back in the early 1970s, expecting to find at the starred levels nothing but the best of French food. Later, Michelin began publishing a red guide to Italy–but often took criticism that their judgments in Italy had a French sensibility. The same thing happened in Spain. Today, Michelin covers 23 countries in its books–but still has difficulty losing the image of “French-oriented.”
We’re sitting pretty in the food world at the start of 2013: gak, is there ever new-found sophistication among millions of American food-lovers! Of course this means that some dishes are going viral on us…and of course this means that many chefs are getting them wrong.