Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Did You See That?

There is so much happening on wine and food blogs, a lot of interesting material and some excellent writing and photography too. I want to step back and share some of the posts from the last month or so that made a big impression on me for one reason or another. This list by no means represents "the best" posts, or anything like that. Just some material that affected me in some way, and that I want to share with you just in case you didn't come across it yourself. Here they are, in no particular order:

Most of you read Vinography, Alder Yarrow's widely enjoyed blog. So you probably saw this piece on a Loire Valley family and a particular Sancerre. But just in case you didn't, or even if you did - take another look. Why did it impress me so? I learned something reading this piece, something about Sancerre, a Loire appellation that I pay no attention to but should, something about the Cotat family and about Les Monts Damnes vineyard. And the writing, in my opinion, is superb. There is some history, some details-for-wine-geeks information, and some descriptive tasting notes. Alder's personality and his opinions are threaded throughout the piece but they are not imposed upon the reader. After reading the piece, I understood that I must try this wine. This post is a model for me of what I want my wine profiles/reviews to be like.

I started reading Kitchen Chick when she hosted a Wine Blogging Wednesday back in November. She has quite the Chinese cooking and ingredients series going, really worth following if you enjoy that style of food. This post describes a pickled green beans and ground pork dish that looks delicious, and describes how she came to know this dish and to replicate it at home. What really impresses me, though, is how well the recipe is explained, how easy she makes it to give it a try. Made me think about including recipes when I write about food we cook. Easier said than done if you don't use recipes, and I usually don't.

And speaking of food, Fork and Bottle's review of Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller's new restaurant is a great example of what a restaurant review should be. It describes in detail every aspect of the dining experience - both the good and the bad. There are good photographs (how do they do that anyway - does the staff allow it, or do they shoot on the sly?) of the food so you get a better sense of what the restaurant is about. What really impresses me about this review is Jack and Joanne's committment to reporting their experience, which in this case, was not so good. They are not hesistant to pan the place even though Keller is some kind of restaurant-god. Too many reviewers work too hard to find some reason to recommend a restaurant. And most restaurants just aren't that good! Maybe it's because the job of restaurant reviewer demands generosity in that way, so bloggers are better suited to tell the truth. I don't pay any attention to restaurant critics who don't include negative reviews in their portfolio. With Jack and Joanne you can trust that they will call it as they see it.

And last but certainly not least, Jancis Robinson's site is a little frustrating to me because so many articles require membership ($120 annual) in order to access. I imagine that this is a fair price for the information she delivers (I am not a member and cannot verify this myself). Every now and then something noteworthy pops up in the "Free for All" portion of the site. This piece on recent vintages in Burgundy is simply excellent - great writing, so informative, and just plain thoughtful. This piece stimulates my own thinking, doesn't just tell me how to think. If this is any indication of what you get for your 120 clams, I may just have to join.

That's it for this month's installment of "Did You See That?" Please comment - I need to broaden my wine and food blog reading. Your suggestions are much appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Well, we try to shoot on the sly. Never with a flash, so the quality always varies widely due to inconsistent and sometimes changing light.

We think that both honesty and conveying whether a dish succeeded are key to giving a useful restaurant review. Ad Hoc really disappointed us and we didn't have high expectations. We also left out the details of why all of the food was at one point removed from the table, as we had to assume it was a random thing that wouldn't occur. (Yes, we're just not going to spell out what happened, but hope the kitchen will be a lot more careful.)

Those Cotat wines we love too...I even have some older ones.

Brooklynguy said...

Hi Jack,
HAve you ever been caught by servers or managers taking pix on the sly? What do you say when that happens? I agree about reviews, not enough useful information usually. I am guilty of that too, I think. I'm going to try my first Cotat wine on Monday night at a special dinner - looking forward to it. What vintages do you have? I guess I could look through your cellar on the Tracker.

Anonymous said...

You know, I think it's so common now that restaurants have the Yeah, Whatever attitude about most people taking photos of the food.

Brooklynguy said...

Yeah, but I got some funny looks last time I tried.

Marcus said...

With the way I take photos of my food, I can only do it at home. I get obsessive with it and it's guaranteed that the dish is half-way to cold by the time I start eating it. Doesn't bother me but I would think it insulting at a restaurant!

(Incidentally, that kitchen chick sounds like she's cracking with a Pépin pork charcutière kind of thing with those pickles.)

I just got an email regarding the worth of JancisRobinson.com... it's going up!

Dear purple pager,
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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nod, Neil. Glad you liked the Cotat review.

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Marcus! Glad to hear from you. I don't know, I think the point of the Chinese dish Kitch is making is the pickled beans, the pork is supposed to be one of the seasonings. Your man Pepin is making a pork dish that uses pickles as one of the seasonings. Both sound good to me...and Alder, the pleasure is mine. Thanks for stopping by. I will have my opportunity to try the Cotat on Monday night, if all goes according to plan.

Take it easy y'all.

Taste of the Vine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Taste of the Vine said...

Incidentally you can find lots of rich photos and good quality information, including a 'World Wine Library', and a Food and Wine Matching tool on the Complete Wine Course:

Complete Wine Course