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An Insider's guide to restaurants, wine, spirits and culinary travel

                                    trending now:

                       Glass Half full: 4/24/2018

A roundup of the most interesting food, wine and spirits stories on the web (because even Al Gore, who invented it, doesn't have time to read them all)

Apocalypse or no apocalypse, some of us will get our protein.

For a mere $6,000, Costco will sell you a year's worth of survival supplies:


Tell us something we don't know.

America's obesity epidemic is getting worse:


Paving the way for McDonald's at Mount Rushmore:

No, you can't visit a national park without a frappuccino.


The Rodney Dangerfield of Whisky

A prominent cocktail website actually runs a piece extolling the virtues of Canadian whisky:


Leave the gun, take the cannoli:

Thieves in Quebec steal $500,000 worth of beer, dried beef and pepperoni:


By the cheese they eat, ye shall know them.

The sociology of cheese:


               a conversation with Eileen Crane

Eileen Crane has been called the doyenne of California sparkling wine. After studying at the Culinary Institute of America and taking courses in enology and viticulture at U.C. Davis, Crane took a job as a tour guide at Domaine Chandon in 1978 and worked her way up to assistant winemaker. She was hired away by Gloria Ferrer in 1984 to supervise the construction of their sparkling wine facility in Sonoma. Three years later, the Taittingers selected her to build and supervise their operation at Domaine Carneros. She has been there ever since, establishing both a palate memory and sense of continuity.

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                    domaine Carneros: the dream

The world of French sparkling wine ventures in California began in 1973, when Moët et Chandon established Domaine Chandon. This was followed by Mumm Cuvée Napa (1979) and Roederer Estate (1982). The idea was no longer novel by the time Domaine Carneros came along in 1987, but they had several things going for them. The Taittinger name was familiar to many Americans, and the graceful style of the wine was comfortable to them as well; when it was transplanted to California, it became even riper and more appealing.

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                      beer, wine, food and books

The conventional wisdom in America is that restaurants are booming and bookstores are dying. Neither statement is completely accurate. Profit margins in restaurants are shrinking to a low of 2-3% in some cases. Ironically, many of the most expensive restaurants are making no money at all, since their profits are consumed by linens, stemware, china, rents, salaries and exotic ingredients.

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           saving the world, one beehive at a time

Long before they consumed any other alcohol, humans drank a fermented honey beverage called mead: pottery found in China indicates that people were quaffing it as far back as 7000 B.C. It became popular around 2000 years ago in Ethiopia, where it is known as t’ej. Most modern drinkers associate mead---or honey wine---with sweetness, but it can be made in almost any style. It has several advantages over grape wine: no crops have to be pulled up to plant grapevines; no irrigation is needed, and no chemicals or pesticides are required in the field.

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         almost classified: chateau phelan segur

The Bordeaux Classification of 1855 is one of the most controversial gambits in the history of wine marketing. The situation was simple enough: There was an international exposition underway in Paris, and Napoleon III asked for a ranking of the wines of the Médoc. Sixty-one properties (out of more than 10,000) were rated from First Growth down to Fifth. Despite the revolution in technology and wine quality that has occurred in the region, the Classification has remained almost unchanged ever since. There’s little question that it functioned at times as an excuse to make mediocre wine---particularly during the 1960s and 1970s. At its best, it stands as a promise of what certain great vineyard sites are capable of achieving under the right circumstances.

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                            national absinthe day

The mere fact that March 5 was National Absinthe Day is proof that we’re living in a new and enlightened age.

Until the early years of this century, absinthe was illegal in the U.S. and many other countries around the world. The drink had been invented in 1792 by Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor living in Switzerland, and quickly became the rage throughout Europe---so popular, in fact, that by 1910 a stunning 36 million liters (the equivalent of 48 million bottles) were consumed annually. In Paris, the period from 5-7 p.m. became known as L’Heure Verte, or the green hour.

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         flavored olive oil and balsamic vinegar

                                                               By Ken Schechet

        Our roving correspondent looks at a culinary trend going mainstream

Did you know that olive oil can reduce the risk of many types of cancers? It can make you less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.  It can slow the aging of your heart, lower your bad cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of stroke and of getting Alzheimer’s. Such are the claims made by the Olive Oil Times, (yes, there is such a publication), as well as many, many other sources.  There is a lot of evidence that the monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil can have a very real and positive effect on your well-being. 

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                        a primer on vietnamese food

                                                                  By Ken Schechet

This is the last in a series of dispatches from our correspondent, who has been eating his way through Asia

I have been to Vietnamese restaurants in the United States, France, and several Asian countries.  I recently spent two weeks eating my way from one end of Vietnam to the other and quickly realized that before I got here I had absolutely no clue what Vietnamese food was all about.

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                                 hanoi street food

                                                                      By Ken Schechet

Eating his way through Asia, our correspondent has reached Vietnam. Here is his report on the street food vendors of Hanoi.

Like many foodies I have a Tony Bourdain addiction.  I have followed him through three networks, actually ran into him filming in a butcher shop in Tuscany, and have seen every show he’s done from his favorite country, Vietnam.  According to a recent New York Times Magazine story he seriously considered moving to Vietnam, specifically Hanoi, a few years ago.  So Vietnam went to the top of my bucket list and I finally got there recently.

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                              singapore street food

                                                                    By Ken Schechet

This is the second in a series of dispatches from our correspondent, Ken Schechet, who is eating his way through Asia.

Singapore is probably the most food obsessed place I’ve ever been.  It is a constant topic of conversation.  Cab drivers ask you where you’ve eaten.  It’s a place where WTF stands for “Where’s the Food”  (I didn’t make that up.  It was on a billboard.)  Being a major trading and banking center there are no end of fine restaurants, but what Singapore is famous for is street food.

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                              singapore food wars

                                                                  By Ken Schechet

This is the first in a series of dispatches from our correspondent Ken Schechet, who is eating his way through Asia.

If you’ve ever been to South Philadelphia and are a foodie, you have probably been to the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue where the two signature cheese steak joints, Pat’s and Gino’s, are directly across the street from each other and staring each other down constantly.  Of course, you need to try them both.  Rivalries like these are so delicious to me, on so many levels, that when I heard about two similar situations in Singapore I had to see them on a recent visit.

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                     great wine for under $15?

It’s not a typo, oxymoron or stupid question. There’s a lot of very good wine at very low prices, but discovering it is a challenge---particularly when you’re strolling the wine aisle of your local supermarket or beverage superstore, staring at a tsunami of unfamiliar labels.

The answer is Mark Spivak’s Affordable Wine Guide to California and the Pacific Northwest, available as an e-book for $7.99. The book profiles 43 producers and contains hundreds of wine reviews, and gives you a clear-cut view of the good and the bad. The criteria are simple: What does the wine taste like? What kind of food does it go with? Is it worth the money?

Click here to order (fulfillment is handle by E-Junkie and payments processed through PayPal):

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