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Sage Thymes

Vol. 01; Iss. 02 October 24, 2008

The CIA at Greystone Student Newsletter

Crush Arrives in Napa

Sauvignon Blanc grapes arriving at Sterling Winery

~Aneesha Bhogal Autumn is approaching very quickly, and while this is an extremely romantic and enjoyable time for many in the wine country, it also marks the busiest season for winemakers and viticulturists throughout the Napa Valley. “Crush” is not just a term that describes the harvesting of wine grapes, but an entire season throughout Napa that is entirely centered on the preparations required for the fermentation and later bottling of wine. “Crush” refers to the gentle squeezing (or crushing) of wine grapes that enables them to release their juices and other materials within. For many wineries, festivities take place during this crucial time, as tourists and locals gather to watch the evolution of the most esteemed commodity this valley offers. Since every winery throughout the valley participates in this event, it is important to understand, from the winemaker’s point of view, exactly what goes into this labor intensive process. According to Ted Edwards, a UC Davis graduate with a Master’s in Food Science and the Director of Winemaking at Freemark Abbey, “Winemaking starts in the vineyard. It begins back with pruning then you have bud break, new shoot growth, shoot positioning, watering (or not), suckering, bloom, set, thinning, etc., and watching your crop ripen to it’s peak balance of flavors, acidity and color. The harvest is the finale of the growing season!” Clearly, the days leading up to the crushing of the grapes relate directly to the final quality of a wine. It’s all about developing just the right flavor. For Freemark Abbey this means several tastings of grapes in their test kitchen until they have exactly what they are looking for. The sugar, tartaric acid, and pH have to be perfect before crushing. cont’d on p12 INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Letter from the Editor.....................2 OP Ed.............................................3 Features.................................................4-5 Notes from Slow Food..............................4 Restaurants and the Economy..................5 Greystone News..............................6 Chef Ken Returns......................................7 Napa News.....................................8

AKA Bistro Opens.....................................8 Hollingsworth Wins Bocuse d’Or USA......8 Tyler Florence Joins Copia........................9 La Toque Moves.......................................9 Restaurant Review- Go Fish....................9 Bocuse d’Or Primer........................10 Words on Wine..............................12 Wine Club................................................12

Wine Spectator Scandal..........................13 Vineyard to Visit: Hagafen.......................13 Featured Varietal- Malbec.......................13 Marcos’s 15 Minutes of Fame..................14 Food Photos............................................14 Upcoming Events...........................15 Cartoon and Trivia...................................15

Letter From the Editor

Fall Thymes

Cliché as it might sound, as this autumn season sets in, I can’t help but think about all that I should be thankful for. Maybe it’s watching the green of summer fade away as the vines turn golden and their leaves inevitably drop to the valley floor. Possibly it’s because there are so many exciting events to attend during harvest or perhaps it’s simply getting to enjoy meals, prepared by friends and mentors, featuring this state’s exquisite fall produce. Whatever the reasons behind these grateful feelings, before the days become too short and winter rains make us long for the brilliant California sun, we all should take a moment from our busy schedules of classes and work to give thanks for the bounty before us. In her article about the fall crush, Aneesha Bhogal reminds us to show gratitude for Napa’s raison d’être-- the Valley’s remarkable grapes, the hard work of local vintners, and the bewitching wines that those men and women produce. Most of you reading this at Greystone study food rather than wine, but simply by living in this area, you are provided with an invaluable education about that “poetry in a bottle.” I urge all of you to take the time during your stay here to visit as many wineries as possible -- to expand your palate not only by tasting but also by talking to the gifted men and women, the winemakers and viticulturalists, that have made Napa one of the most celebrated agricultural areas in the world. Though he presents mixed tidings, in some ways, Aaron Adalja’s article on the impact of the failing economy on the restaurant industry, also prompts us to express appreciation for our current location. Blessedly, Greystone and the Valley in general shield us from some of the current economy’s negative impacts. Far more Napa venues (AKA Bistro, La Toque, Bottega…) have opened (or reopened) than closed in the past few months and CIA students have no trouble finding jobs and externships at such venerated restaurants as Meadowood or The French Laundry.

Sage Thymes Editor

Lindsay Bater

Contributing Writers Aaron Adalja Abby Barkin Aneesha Bhogal Lauren Koller Joeseph Luna Melissa Manske Josh Steinberg Brit Sundin

Faculty Advisor Joyce Hodgkinson

Additionally, on November 6-8, we will be in the middle of one of the year’s most exicitng culinary events-- The Worlds of Flavor conference. How can we not be thankful for the opportunity to experience, for free, a conference that other culinary professionals pay hundreds of dollars to attend? This year’s theme, “A Mediterranean Flavor Odyssey,” will not only allow us to work alongside the likes of Jose Andres, Cat Cora, and Paul Bartolotta, it will also expose us to new flavor concepts and ideas that will forever impact our culinary careers. So I’ve waxed poetic long enough about all that we should appreciate, and I know a few of you may be rolling your eyes. I’d be the first to admit that cynicism comes a whole lot easier than the naïve gratitude I’m preaching. You all work very hard here (and pay a lot of money to do so) but there are so many reasons why you’ve arrived at this juncture in your life-- and why you are choosing to stay here. Rather than once again complaining about homework, lack of sleep, or the countless other stresses culinary school offers, take one moment to look up in thanks-- to the faces of your friends and teachers, the Garden of Eden around you, and all of the exciting opportunities ahead. ~Lindsay Bater Editor

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Editor Lindsay Bater giving thanks to the wild turkey she just gutted....

OP ED The Unfairness of Fair Trade Coffee

~Aaron Adalja

Ever since Fair Trade coffee hit the scene in the late-90s, the type of coffee you drink has become more of a political statement than a true assessment of taste. Marketed as social justice in a cup, Fair Trade offers consumers a convenient certification that eliminates the legwork required for actual conscious consumption, promising that no farmers were harmed in the making of that coffee. But this substitute guarantee is little more than a diluted version of the real deal, propped up with a clever marketing campaign. When the protectionist International Coffee Agreement dissolved in 1989 and free trade took over, several new countries jumped at the opportunity to begin producing coffee. The increased supply drove coffee prices down to 50 cents a pound, the lowest levels since the 1930s. Enter TransFair USA. TransFair USA is the American branch of a Netherlands-based company conceived to eliminate the middlemen in the coffee industry, known as coyotes, and ensure that coffee farmers get a fair price for their crop. Working with the Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO), Transfair USA certifies coffee farms as Fair Trade and guarantees farmers a minimum price of $1.26 per pound of beans, which is roughly twice the average market price. While this sounds great on paper, the devil is in the details. To be eligible, a farm must be a family farm that is part of a democratic cooperative, with no structural reliance on hired labor. This means that if a farm hires just one laborer for the year, it is ineligible. Furthermore, small family-owned individual farms are not eligible for certification. If they want to be certified, the farm must join a large cooperative, relinquishing control of their profits to the collective vote. Fair Trade certification does not just exclude private enterprise, though. In Africa, many coffee farms are structured around tribal demarcation. Because this is not technically democratic, these farms are ineligible as well. Beyond simply excluding a large percentage of coffee farmers, Fair Trade standards perpetuate mediocre quality and encourage freeloading, problems inherent to a socialist system. The coffee co-ops are comprised of hundreds of small farmers, each producing different qualities of coffee. More often than not, these farmers’ crops are all blended together for sale to a roaster. This masks any quality improvements employed by a single farmer. Moreover, the profits are distributed equally among the co-op members, so there is no monetary incentive for an individual farmer to work harder than the other members. This system also assumes that the co-op is well managed and free of corruption. With the co-op deciding how to distribute profits to individual farmers amidst limited checks and balances, the potential for abuse is high. To make matters worse, FLO charges upwards of $4,000 to certify a cooperative, along with annual fees and a small percentage of sales. With coffee yields averaging somewhere between 1000 and 2000 pounds per acre, the certification alone could cost a farmer up to four acres in crop sales. TransFair USA eliminated the coyote and replaced it with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. More frustrating than the hypocrisy of Fair Trade are the perverse economics that lie at its foundation. Fair Trade coffee is a bandaid solution to a basic economic problem of supply and demand. Rather than simply letting the market play out and equilibrate naturally, TransFair USA has set up an elaborate price floor to

cushion the industry at the expense of Pareto efficiency. It’s Econ 101. And they designed a P.R campaign to guilt consumers into buying it, making coffee political. Coffee connoisseurs should take offense to this, because no quality coffee bean would cost less than $1.26 a pound, anyway. In fact, consumers who buy only Fair Trade beans are denying themselves a lot of high quality coffee, and for the wrong reasons. No discussion of coffee would be complete without mentioning Starbucks. Once despised as the evil empire when it comes to Fair Trade, Starbucks has probably done more for the well being of coffee growers than the Fair Trade movement itself. In fiscal 2007, Starbucks bought 352 million pounds of coffee—over 2% of the world production—at an average price of $1.43 a pound, which is 17 cents above the Fair Trade price floor. It buys more coffee than gets Fair Trade certified each year. Starbucks massive growth also helps fuel demand for specialty coffee, naturally increasing coffee prices and restoring equilibrium to the market. The solution to the coffee crisis lies in that last detail. Instead of spending money on inefficient certifications and more bureaucracy, the industry should be using its money to increase demand for high quality coffee, much like the wine industry. It should focus on developing new markets in countries with burgeoning middle classes such as China and India, which account for over one third of the world’s population. This type of free market solution will provide a permanent, stable foundation for the coffee industry. But the catalyst for this change must come from consumers. Until we overcome our obsession with cure-all certifications and fully accept responsibility for our consumption, organizations like TransFair USA will continue to thrive.

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Taking the Fast Lane to a Slow Food Nation ~ Lauren Koller and Melissa Manske Take a pinch of wholesomeness, a dash of freshness, stir in a tablespoon of sustainablility, mix together and serve a new dining revolution-- the Slow Food Nation. The first annual Slow Food Nation event took place in San Francisco on August 29th through September 1st, bringing over 60,000 participants to the Civic Center and Fort Mason Center. Vendors representing local markets, as well as those from across the United States, partook in a three day tasting extravaganza. But the event was so much more than tasting! Though the majority of events were free to the public, some venues such as the nightly concerts (featuring headliners like Gnarls Barkley and The New Pornographers) as well as the palacial Tasting Pavillion, were ticketed events well worth the cost of admission. The purpose of bringing all the vendors together was to promote the “farm to table” idea. Slow Food Nation is the product of minds such as Alice Waters, esteemed Chez Panisse restaurateur and proponent of consiencious eating . The philosophy behind Slow Food Nations is two-fold: to promote the relationship between farmer and consumer as well as to educate consumers on how everyday choices can affect the well-being of oneself as well as the planet. Kyle Glanville, of Intelligensia Coffee, a company that promotes the direct relationship between roasters and farmers, spoke of Slow Food Nation as the “traceability, transparency, [and] breaking the commodity mold. This is a new model, a progressive model, of coffee making. The focus is taken off the [coffee] labels and more on the farmers.” Yin Cheng an ACAP student who attended Slow Foods commented on the expo. “As a CIA student, there is competition out there.” She mentioned she enjoyed seeing the local vendors and farmers, but there are also pitfalls to the Slow Food movement. With Slow Foods, “[you] don’t get to taste other foods from outside cultures, only the local markets.” Though Slow Food is a movement of food trend still in its infancy, judging by the size of the crowd and the enthusiastic response of the participants, the movement has made a lasting impact on the San Francisco crowd.

Grapefruit and Meyer Lemon Marmalade Recipe

Adapted by June Taylor (As published in the New York Times) 5 pounds grapefruit, rinsed 5 Meyer Lemons or small regular lemons, rinsed 1/2 cup lemon juice (from 2-3 additional lemons) 2 1/2 pounds sugar Remove the grapefruit skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut the peel into 1/4 inch slivers; stop when you have 3/4 cup. Discard the rest. Slice off the ends of the grapefruit and the remaining grapefruit peel and pith. Remove grapefruit segments, reserving membrane. Stop when you have 5 cups of segments. Cut the ends off the Meyer lemons, deep enough so you can see the flesh. Leaving the peel on, remove the segments of Greystone students check out the ice cream offerings at Slow Food SF lemon and reserve the membrane. Cut the segments crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Put membranes from the grapefruit and Meanwhile, put 6 sterilized eight ounce jars on a baking sheet and Meyer lemons in a jelly bag* and tie closed. place in the oven. When jam is done, remove jars from the oven. In a wide and deep pot, combine the grapefruit segments, grapefruit Ladle jam into the jars, filling them as high as possible. Wipe the peel, lemon pieces and jelly bag. Add the lemon juice and 2 1/2 rims. Fasten the lids tightly. Let cool. If you don’t get a vacuum cups water. Simmer until the grapefruit peel is tender, 25 to 30 seal, refrigerate the jam. Makes 6 8oz. jars of marmalade. minutes. Let cool. Preheat the oven to 225ºF. Working over a bowl in your sink, squeeze the liquid from the jelly bag; keep squeezing and wringing it out until you extract 1/3 to 1/2 cup of pectin. Add pectin and sugar *A jelly bag is used to extract the natural pectin from the fruit and can be found at most specialty cooking stores or online. Look for ones made of cloth and with a to the pot. Place over high heat and boil, stirring now and then, drawstring. until marmalade is between 222 and 225ºF and passes the plate test. (Spoon a little onto a plate and put in the fridge for 3 minutes. If it thickens like jam, it is done.)

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Faltering U.S. Economy: A Mixed Impact on Restaurant Industry ~Aaron Adalja

In the past three months, Bennigan’s filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, McDonald’s announced huge profits, and The Cheesecake Factory posted a record decline in sales; and The French Laundry is still booked solid. The restaurant industry has developed a case of multiply personality disorder, and a host of economic factors is to blame. The Current State of Affairs Last month the National Restaurant Association (NRA) reported that the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) remained below 100 for the eighth consecutive month. The RPI is a composite index designed by the NRA as a statistical barometer to measure the overall health of the restaurant industry in the U.S. It accounts for current and future outlooks with indicators such as same-store sales, customer traffic, labor, and capital expenditures, all of which are based on monthly survey responses from restaurant operators nationwide. A value below 100 indicates a period of contraction, while a value greater than 100 signals expansion. Fifty percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales decline in July, and fifty-seven percent reported a decline in customer traffic levels. The sluggish economy and rising food costs were the top challenges cited by nearly fifty percent of operators. Despite these figures, the NRA still projects that sales will increase 4.4% this year for the industry. The reason for these seemingly contradictory figures lies in the details. According to Lynne Collier, restaurant analyst for Keybanc Capital Markets, “The absolute sales are up for the restaurant industry; that’s because new units are opening,” but same-store sales have been declining for the past two years. This decline has hit the casual dining segment the hardest as consumers reject moderately priced restaurants in search of better value. Restaurant chain Bennigan’s filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in July 2008, closing it’s 150 company-owned restaurants. While the company cited rising operating costs as a leading reason for the decision, industry experts also attributed it to an outdated menu, slow service, and poor food quality. Another victim of the economic slump, The Cheesecake Factory, reported a 4.1% decline in comparable restaurant sales for second quarter fiscal 2008, the largest decline in its history. According to Chairman and CEO David Overton, “Similar to most other casual dining operators, we continue to face headwinds from the current macroeconomic environment and are taking action to mitigate the impact of these conditions.” Despite these challenges, some restaurants buck the trend, possibly profiting at the expense of others. Collier noted that quick service restaurants like McDonald’s are attracting more families because of their lower prices, and they have increased the “price value perception” by adding healthier menu items. In fact, McDonald’s posted a 3.4% increase in U.S. comparable restaurant sales for the last quarter, with a 6% increase in operating income and a $422M quarterly dividend payout to shareholders. CEO Jim Skinner stated, “The four key growth strategies of chicken, breakfast, beverages, and convenience drove results.” A Confluence of Causes The industry’s schizophrenic behavior is attributable to a number of economic forces acting in concert; however, oil is the star of the show, with a supporting role played by interest rates.

Aside from the obvious effect on transportation costs, the rise in oil prices has created a ripple effect in the U.S. economy that threatens to forcibly restructure countless industries, the restaurant industry being one of them. As oil prices increase, demand for less expensive alternative fuels, namely biodiesel and ethanol, increases as well. This increase in demand for plant-based fuels has been accompanied by soaring prices in the underlying commodities of corn and soybeans. In fact, futures contract prices for commodity corn, which hovered around $2 per bushel in 2006, are now at $5 per bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). Similarly, a CBOT futures contract for a bushel of soybeans cost about $6 in 2006; now it is priced at $12. While these commodities may not appear to have any connection to the food we eat, the connection is almost intrinsic. Corn and soybeans are both basic energy inputs throughout our food system. They are used to make oils, sweeteners, flour, and, most critically, livestock feed. That last detail extends their collective effect beyond our pantry of processed foods and into the kitchen of our favorite restaurants. Dairy products, eggs, poultry, and meat all rely on livestock feed for production. Even foie gras relies on corn-based feed to produce the fattened duck liver through gavage. Bryan Elliott, restaurant analyst for Raymond James, put it simply by saying that rising oil prices caused an “ethanol-derived jump in food prices” that eroded the industry’s bottom line. Furthermore, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total consumer food and beverage costs have increased 5.8% since last year (almost 11% since 2006), while specific categories such as baked goods, fruits and vegetables, and fats and oils have experienced double-digit percentage increases in the past year. To compound the issue, the subprime crisis in the real estate market has had the dual effect of diminishing consumers’ purchasing power and discouraging capital expenditure by the industry as a whole. When the subprime market fell out, interest rates for variable-rate loans jumped up, increasing the burden on cash-strapped consumers. With less purchasing power, low-cost fast-food chains gained in appeal among consumers. Coupled with the aforementioned spike in food costs, the seemingly arbitrary performance of the restaurant industry begins to make sense. The rising interest rates have also made it harder for restaurants to afford capital expenditures for renovations and expansion. This means that already struggling restaurants are in a very bad position to help them out of the slump. As such, they are more likely to become outdated and obsolete due to lack of available funds. Moreover, overleveraged restaurants face increased expenses on their loan payments as mortgage rates climb. The combination of increasing food costs, decreased consumer spending, and rising interest rates has created a vicious circle for restaurants. Raising menu prices to protect the bottom line only drives away value-oriented customers, leading to erosion of the top line. Beyond simply having sufficient cash flow, the restaurants best poised to weather the current economy have found innovative ways to reduce expenses while offering a superior perception of value to customers.

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Happening at Greystone Welcome New AOS Students! ~Brit Sundin On August 25th, we welcomed the new AOS class section 6 to Greystone. The 17 students have been wandering around, trying not to get in everyone’s way, for quite awhile now, but many people don’t know much about them beyond their impressive collection of business casual attire. Being a section 6 student myself, I happen to have a bit of inside information I could share to help the rest of the students get to know us a little better. We come from a variety of backgrounds, both educational and geographical. There are a few youngsters fresh out of high school, several have completed college, and one has master’s degree in food science. We hail from all over the country tooArkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Texas, Utah, Arizona, California, and even one from Vancouver. That’s right, folks, a real live foreigner in our midst. While our diversity doesn’t get more exotic than our neighbor to the north, each personality is unique and intriguing, full of passion and drive when it comes to food and cooking. While type and amount of food service experience is varied, each person brings something important to the table, eager to share what he or she has learned and add to that knowledge at one of the greatest culinary schools in the world. We are a class of aspiring restaurant owners, caterers, food journalists, organic farmers, nutritionists, etc., who can’t wait to get in the kitchen and start doing what we love… even if it does mean getting in the way occasionally.

AOS Three Enters WSGR ~Lindsay Bater One of the questions most often asked by patrons eating at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant is, “Are you a student?” And, most of the time, waiters and staff have to reply to disappointed tourists that, no, they are not. Now, for the first time in a year, those guests hoping to see real, live culinary students just might be able to-- as section AOS 3 has entered the last leg of their classes at Greystone and is now cooking and serving at the WSGR. For the twelve weeks prior to their graduation AOS 3 will be split into two sections. In four three -week segments, the class will be divided in two-either working in the kitchen or training through various positions in the front of the house. Under the watchful eyes of Executive Chef Polly Lappetito and teacher Chef Patrick Clark, half of AOS 3 will be cooking the full WSGR menu, with a special focus on certain dishes such as a the “land and sea crudo” (house cured and smoked salmon, Proscuitto di Parma, and gigande bean salad), handrolled “Kuri squash agnolotti with Rosé butter and hazelnut emulsion” and the “Kurabuta pork chop with carmelized cippolini onions and cider jus.” While their classmates are in the kitchen, the other half of AOS 3 will shed their whites for only slightly awkward-looking black slacks and vests in order to learn the fundamentals of table service from instructor Martha Keller. Keller has had extensive hospitality experience-- working for eight years as a manager and director for Jeremiah Towers at his San Francisco Stars as well as serving as an industry consul-

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-tant on affairs of hospitality management, public relations, HACCP, and customer service training. According to Keller, “It’s really been my pleasure to teach the AOS 3 students as they are not only learning how to become professionals but also how to interact with their future customers.” Though many of the students are visibly excited to graduate, begin their externships, and enter the “real world,” they are also happy to gain valuable practice working in an operation unlike one they have ever seen before (and may never see again). As student Dan Gold puts it, “This experience (working in the front of the house) has given me a chance to try something I would never normally do.” Student Taylor Mason adds, “The WSGR is a high-volume restaurant, not like any place I’ve ever worked in. Cooking here has really given me a different outlook on preparations and pickup times.” Though the AOS 3’s presence in the kitchen and the dining room has inevitably shaken up the WSGR status quo, the permanent front and back of the house staffs have been overwhelmingly positive in welcoming the students. Chef Clark notes that “The best part of this class is watching the interaction between the staff and students. I’m really thankful to the staff for their willingness to teach and to relinquish some control over to my class.” The Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. AOS 3 will be in the kitchen and dining room Monday through Friday during lunch services. For more information visit http://www. or call (707) 967-1010.

Robert M. Parker Jr Hosts Tasting On October 23rd, prominent wine critic Robert. M. Parker Jr. hosted a tasting of, what has been called by many, one of the best Bordeaux vintages in recent memory. The Tasting featured eighteen of the appellation’s best 2005 growths, including all five of the left bank’s Premier Grand Crus. Attendees at the tasting enjoyed some of the world’s most expensive wines. Some of the featured bottles currently boast case prices as high as $75,000. Profits from the 5th annual “Robert M. Parker Jr. Seminar and Tasting” will go towards scholarships for students attending the CIA’s Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies. Tickets to the event cost $2000 (with an included $1000 charitable donation). Over the past five years, the Parker tasting event has raised around $1 million for student scholarships with a projected $50,000 being raised this year. Parker, a pre-eminent American wine critic and one of Bordeaux’s biggest supporters, is best known for his Wine Advocate newsletter and his popular 100 point scale for rating wine. His writings have been featured in many other publications such as Food and Wine and BusinessWeek.

Chef Ken Journeys to Singapore ~Interview by Joe Luna With hopes of furthering the knowledge of his students (as well as that of his own taste buds), Chef Ken Woytisek once again traveled across the world to absorb the mystery and diversity that is Singaporean cuisine. For nearly six months, Chef Ken ventured into this island-nation of nearly four and a half million inhabitants, rediscovering hawkers, real humidity, and actual Asian tap water worth drinking. What were your initial thoughts when you actually walked the streets of Singapore? Well, I have been to Asia many times but never to Singapore. I think that I was impressed by how modern Singapore is, the huge skyscrapers, the metro system, and unlike visiting other Asian countries you can actually drink the water! On your second visit had anything changed dramatically in regards to foods, culture…? One always imagines that after being away from a locale for some time that upon returning “dramatic” changes will have occurred. In fact, on my return visit I ran into an acquaintance whose first remark to me was, “Hey, Ken haven’t seen you around, lah!.” Do you see any significant changes coming towards the cuisine of Singapore? It’s my belief that all cuisines are constantly evolving but that the core foods and techniques remain the same. Singapore cuisine is not just one cuisine but the amalgamation of several cuisines. More specifically, Chinese, Malay, and Indian cuisine, can be separate but also fused, as in the uniquely Singaporean dish “Fish Head Curry” which was the invention of a Malay chef and an Indian chef. Can you explain the term “hawker” and who they are? “Hawkers” are sellers of street food. There was once a time when street vendors would ply the streets all over Singapore but in the 1970’s Singapore’s government wanted to oversee health and hygiene of the street stalls, so all the “hawkers “ were moved into food courts or hawker centers. Everywhere you turn there is a hawker center. Here you can choose from a wide variety of foods of regional Indian, Chinese, and Malaysian origins. These are all served in a covered area outdoors but in the modern shopping malls (and there are more shopping malls in Singapore than churches in Venice). You will also find Korean, Japanese, Muslim, Herbal/Medicinal Chinese, Italian, and Western food (usually in the form of a pork chop, French fries, and pork and beans.) The food is very inexpensive and most meals are under $5 SGD (approx.$3.50 USD). One of the more interesting aspects of the food courts is that you must bring your own napkins and you reserve your table by placing your napkins ( most often it is just a packet of tissues) on the table.

dietary restrictions. But you will find no shortage of pork and pork products because of the larger non-Muslim population. Let me add here also, that Singapore in a very ethnically diverse state and given that Singapore is an island only 24 miles long and 14 miles wide, diversity is embraced and encouraged. If I were to travel to Singapore, what food must I try? You mean you are going to limit me to one? I would recommend Singapore Chili Crab the “national” dish of Singapore (I actually like the lesser known Black Pepper Crab). On my first meal out, my hosts took me to a hawker center and insisted I try “Chicken Singaporeans Rice” the quintessential Singaporean comfort food which has “cult” status among some Singaporeans.

Black Pepper Crab 3 fresh mud crabs (about 1 lb each) ( You may also use Dungeness or Blue crab) Oil for deep frying 2 tablespoons butter 2 shallots, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped 1 tablespoon salted soya beans, mashed 2 tablespoons dried prawns, roasted and ground 2 tablespoons black pepper, ground coarsely 1/2 cup curry leaves 10 red or green bird’s-eye chilies, chopped 2 tablespoons black soy sauce 3 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons oyster sauce Clean the crabs and cut in half, discarding the spongy “dead man’s fingers.” Smash the claws with a cleaver to allow the seasonings in. Deep fry the crab until half-cooked, drain and set aside. Heat a wok, melt butter and put in shallots, garlic, salted soy beans, dried prawns, black pepper, curry leaves and chilies. Sauté till fragrant, then add crab and the remaining ingredients. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the crab is done. Serve immediately with rice (and lots of napkins!)

There is a large Muslim population in Singapore, about 14%. Do food establishments take into account the dietary restriction of the Muslim population? Interestingly enough, there are Chinese Muslims, Malay Muslims, and Indian Muslims so there are many Halal restaurants. In large hotels they even have separate kitchens which adhere to the Muslim

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News In Napa AKA Bistro Finally Opens ~Lindsay Bater

For some months now, the old Keller Brother’s building in downtown St. Helena has displayed ambiguous signage announcing the arrival of “AKA Bistro.” Two weeks ago, after much waiting, local residents and tourists alike were finally invited to try out Main Street’s newest restaurant during it’s soft opening. The restaurant/wine bar was slated to open earlier this summer but had been embroiled in heated legal battles which caused repeated delays. Restaurateur Robert Simon, of Bistro 45 in Pasadena, had originally planned to include the Keller Brothers name in his new restaurant’s title but lawyers representing the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group balked at what appeared to them as an attempt to capitalize on Chef Keller’s name. The TKRG camp prevailed in keeping Simon from using the Keller name, yet, above the current AKA Bistro sign, a cleaned-up version of the old Keller Brother’s Meats sign still stands. The restaurant space is large and open with very high tin ceilings, seats for 72--including a private dining area (around 20 seats) that can be closed off with curtains. Two picture windows in the back of the restaurant look into the wine cellar and the kitchen. Wine selection is a feature at this restaurant with an extensive list featuring over 600 hundred bottles and dozens of splits. The centrally located wine bar boasts an Oz wine dispenser which doles out the restaurant’s twenty by-the-glass reds while another two dozen or so by-the-glass whites are kept cool in a fridge underneath. GM Roman Alexander Grochowski explains that the Oz system uses inert argon gas to keep the wine fresh and “has been tested to show that wines will keep in it for as long as up to two weeks-- although we will go through them much quicker than that.” The menu, developed by Executive Chef Chris Kennedy Aken, features starters like “Cured Salmon with Candied Onions, Caper Berries, and Sweet Potato Chips” as well as soups, salads, and a Meat

After repeated delays, AKA Bistro is now open in downtown St. Helena.

Board and Cheese Plate. In addition to two pasta dishes and four sandwich/burger options, entrees include “Grilled Opal Valley Lamb Chops with a Tomato Tart and Portobello Fries,” “Whole Roasted Game Hen with Crushed Potatoes, Crushed Garlic, and Cabernet Jus,” and a “Vegetable Blackjack” consisting of “21 Veggie Treats.” Aken describes his food as “American Bistro fare” that’s an “addictive cuisine.” Aken, who trained for three years in an apprenticeship program under Chef Kurt Fleishfresser at the Coach House in Oklahoma City, previsouly worked at La Folie in San Francisco, as well as Catahoula and Stomp in Calistoga. According to Grochowski, “We want to become a local joint. Tourists, they’ll come and go. We really want to be here for the neighborhood crowd.” If opening weeks can be of any predictive value, then AKA Bistro is already succeeding. The dining room was packed the first week with the notable Napans like Mike Grgich, Joel Gott, and the Peju family. AKA Bistro is located at 1320 Main St in St. Helena and is open Tuesday through Sunday. For more information visit or call (707) 967 8111.

Tim Hollingsworth Wins Bocuse d’Or USA ~Lindsay Bater

This past summer, American athletes proved their physical prowess by earning more Olympic medals than any other country. In fact, Americans have swept the past four Olympic Games medal counts-- which isn’t too surprising considering how much this country values winning and competition. It surprising, however, that, despite a characteristically competitive American nature, there is one international competition in which the US has not once placed first, second, or even third. What’s even more astounding is that, in the face of a national love of contests like Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen, that competition which Americans have never won is a culinary contest- the Bocuse d’Or.

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Early next year, Tim Hollingsworth of The French Laundry will be the 12th American to attempt what, for over two decades, has been unattainable- an American medal at one of the most celebrated and prestigious culinary competitions in the world. Affectionately nicknamed “the Culinary Olympics,” the Bocuse d’Or World is an international culinary competition held biennially in Lyon, France. Started twenty one years ago by renowned French Chef Paul Bocuse, the competition pits chefs representing 24 countries against each other. On January 27th and 28th, each country, represented by a chef and commis, will be allowed five and a half hours to create, from scratch, two presentation platters (one fish, one meat) to feed fourteen judges. The first place Bocuse d’Or (gold) chef will be awarded €20,000, the silver winner €15,000, and the bronze winner €10 000. The prize money means little, however, compared to the national prestige and promotional power a Bocuse d’Or win rewards a chef. cont’d on p10

Tyler Florence Appointed as Dean of Culinary Education at COPIA COPIA, “The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts,” has announced that celebrity chef/tv personality Tyler Florence will be taking the position of Dean of Culinary Education. This appointment is part of a larger revamping at Copia which also includes a COPIA TV concept as well as increased “lifestyle experiences” on both the Copia campus and online. According to Garry McGuire, Jr., President and CEO of COPIA, “COPIA is undergoing many changes that will allow us to better achieve our mission and become more valuable to our consumer base as well as financially secure. We are confident that Tyler’s contributions will enhance the experiences, content and retail offerings that COPIA offers to food and wine enthusiasts nationwide.” As Dean of Culinary Education, Florence will help COPIA design

new consumer food education programs including in-house and online classes. He will head a visiting celebrity chef program and will also work in conjunction with Jess Mosher, the executive chef at Julia’s Kitchen, to oversee the restaurant’s operations. Florence is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina. He has hosted several cooking shows including Food 911, How to Boil Water, and Tyler’s Ultimate-- all of which air on the Food Network. COPIA, which was founded in part by Robert Mondavi, is a “national organization dedicated to consumer wine and food appreciation.” It is located in downtown Napa at 500 First St next to the Oxbow Market. Hours are 10am-6pm daily through October. Winter hours are 10am-6pm Friday through Sunday. For more information visit

La Toque Moves to the New Napa Westin After ten years in Rutherford, Chef Ken Frank has moved his award-winning La Toque to the newly built Westin Verasa Hotel in downtown Napa. After a soft-opening dinner for friends, the restaurant officially re-opened to the public on September 18th. The old restaurant, in a new space, is located adjacent to the Oxbow Public market and is accessible from the street and from inside of the hotel. Designed by Cass Calder Smith architects (also designers of LuLu and Probecco), the new La Toque features an open floor plan (seats for 130), patio seating, and a chef’s table for six located in the restaurant’s show kitchen. La Toque’s new menu offers two, three, and four course options at

$49, $68, and $88, respectively. Wine pairings can be added to each of the course options for $32, $48, and $62. Dinners at the chef’s table run $120 ($200 with pairings). Updated menu options include exciting Cali-French items such as “Monterey Bay Baby Squid Stuffed with Pine Nuts and Candied Eggplant on Sweet Garlic Puree Drizzled with Sauce Verte”an “Liberty Farms Duck Breast with Twice Fried Tarragon Potatoes and Forelle Pears in Red Wine.” Innovative Deserts like the “Apple Tarte Tatin with Creme Fraiche and Brown Sugar Sherbet”, are produced with the help of Greystone Alumnus Damon Muchrush (B&P 57) who now works at La Toque as a pastry cook. La Toque is open nightly for dinner and is located on 1314 McKinstry Street, Napa. For reservations call (707) 257-5157.

Restaurant Review: Go Fish

~Lindsay Bater With the 2006 opening of Go Fish, fêted Napa Valley chef and restaurateur Cindy Pawlcyn branched out from the small plates and comfort food that made her previous ventures so popular. Much larger and sleeker than Mustard’s or Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, Go Fish also boasts Executive Chef Victor Scargle’s sexier and adventurous pan-pacific inspired cuisine which is handily complemented by the efforts of Ken Tominaga at a remarkable in-house sushi and sake bar. At Go Fish, seafood lovers will literally be swimming in a sea (sorrycouldn’t resist) of options from the extensive hot-side menu, raw bar, and sushi bar which features nearly four dozen sushi and makimono options. Tominaga’s rolls are a standout- the Ken’s Roll (shrimp tempura, avocado, spicy tuna, and pine nuts) is a must-order for the table. The seafood-averse don’t have to skip Go Fish as there are some options for them including a grilled chicken and Mt Tam sandwich, butternut squash ravioli, a chicken breast dish, as well as a $35 (yikes- the most expensive item on the menu!) rib eye. Still, this restaurant is about the ocean’s bounty and that is exactly what patrons should order. For the fish lover, overwhelmed with choices, the gem-like cuts of Hawaiian Ahi Poke complemented with sparkling wasabi tobiko (flying fish roe) and crispy wonton chips are a must-try appetizer. Highly recommened entrees include the umami-licious misomarinated black cod in a shiso broth and the savory/sweet day boat scallops over celery root puree, roasted squash, wild mushrooms and apple balsamic brown butter. The Sockeye salmon with garden

potato, tomato confit and preserved lemon sounded delicious (and the accompaniments were) but the main event arrived at the table unfortunately under seasoned. If there is any room at the end of a meal filled with raw bar, sushi, appetizer and, and entrée options, the banana bread ice cream sandwich, served with a slice of bruléed banana, may be one of the best desserts this Valley has to offer. This restaurant’s wine list is stunningly menu-appropriate with an intense focus on whites. Customers can choose from nearly twenty white wines by the glass while red drinkers will have to make do with much less (this is a seafood joint, afterall). For those looking to get the most out of their dining experience, however, the sakes by the glass and the bottle are a can’t miss. Don’t be frightened by the unknown, as servers at Go Fish are well-versed in rice wine and will be able to make some excellent recommendations. Go Fish offers a more refined ambiance than Pawlcyn’s other restaurants though, at times, her staff might do well to recognize it. The food shines at this restaurant but service can often be curt and even a bit sloppy. During this reviewer’s meal, plates were laid down from all manners of awkward angles and food runners didn’t appear to be well informed of a meal’s destination. Aside from these small complaints, front of the house service was decent and the host was down-right gracious, moving our large party of seven’s reservation up an hour and changing our table from the terrace to inside the dining room. Go Fish is located at 641 Main St, St Helena and is open seven days a week for both lunch and dinner. Call 707-963-0700 or visit

Oct. 24, 2008 Sage Thymes 9

A Bocuse d’Or Primer cont’d from p8 Naturally, the French have dominated the French-founded competition focusing on French culinary techniques. French chefs have won gold in six out of the eleven past competitions; Norway has three gold medals and Luxembourg and Sweden each hold one. The United States has not once placed in the top three, coming closest in 2003 when Harmut Handke achieved 6th place. Last year, American competitor Gavin Kaysen placed 14th. Throughout Europe, the competition is so highly regarded that some teams will spend upwards of $1 million preparing for the contest and its preliminaries. Believing that America’s poor showing over the last twenty years reflected a lack of funding and resources, Chef Bocuse personally asked celebrated chefs Thomas Keller, of The French Laundry and Per Se, and Daniel Boulud, of Daniel, to head the search for the next American finalist. Keller and Boulud then created the not-for-profit organization Bocuse d’Or USA, which raised $400,000 for the US semi-final competition and to aid the selected finalist in his training efforts. In a press release Keller commented, “The world has long considered America the ‘Fast Food Nation,’ and though we have made considerable advancements in the past 25 years, it is still important to reinforce at every opportunity our ability to compete on the world stage. Sending a team to Lyon that is organized, supported, trained, and serious is a step in that direction, and adds credibility to all our culinary efforts.” Earlier this summer, the Bocuse d’Or USA advisory board selected eight semi-finalists to compete at the Bocuse d’Or USA Cuisine Contest which was held at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival on September 26th and 27th. Among the competition’s judges were some of the most lauded culinarians in the country including Traci des Jardins, Patrick O’Connell, Alain Sailhac, Andre Soltner, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Emcees included Food and Wine editor Dana Cowin, Al Roker, and John Besh. The competition mirrored the Bocuse d’Or World format with each team preparing one beef and one fish presentation platter which were judged on excellence in technique, flavor, sophistication, harmony of ingredients, originality, and presentations. The chefs and their commis were also assessed on cleanliness, efficiency in the kitchen, and their abilities to work cohesively as a team. Out of eight teams, Tim Hollingsworth, a sous chef at The French Laundryg, and his commis Adina Guest emerged as the winners with Hollingsworth’s presentations of Brandt Beef Tenderloin Roasted in Bacon with Beef Cheeks and Oxtail garnished with Port Wine-

Tim Hollingsworth, a sous chef at The French Laundry, will represent the US at the Bocuse d’Or photo courtesy

Braised Oxtail in Feuille de Bric with a Violette of Figs, Scallion Salad and Truffle Coulis; Beef Cheek Enveloped in Swiss Chard with Yukon Gold and Black Truffle Mille Feuille, Tokyo Turnips and Pickled Pearl Onion Petals; and Hudson Valley Fois Gras with Cooked Fig Leaves with Jacobsen’s Farm Crosnes. Additionally, Guest was awarded “Best Commis” for which she received three one week stages with Rougié Foie Gras, Resigs Marcon, and the eponymous Paul Bocuse. It should be noted that, though Hollingsworth is employed by Thomas Keller, Chef Keller only officiated at the competition and was not involved in the competition judging at all. Hollingsworth and Guest were awarded $15,000 and three months paid sabbatical in order to train for the world competition in January. They will receive intensive training from CMC Roland Henin in a special facility built adjacent to The French Laundry. In order to best prepare the winning finalist team, the training facility will be built with nearly the same dimensions as the contest kitchens in Lyon. The hopes of foodies and culinary professionals across the United States now rest on Hollingsworth’s shoulders. Perhaps the wealth of resources and famed chefs supporting Hollingsworth and Guest will give Team USA the extra edge needed to finally attain gold after over two decades of disappointment. To learn more about the competition visit or

The Other Culinary Olympics

Though it is often called the “culinary olympics,” giving the Bocuse d’Or this nickname is actually a misnomer- since another competition already holds that title. The IKA-- Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung Culinary Olympics are held every four years in Erfurt Germany. Five-chef teams from around the world compete in National, Regional, Military, and Youth categories. The American Culinary Federation National Team will represent the United States in this year’s competition which will be held from October 18 through 22.The ACF team will be captained by Richard Rosendale who was also a semi-finalist for Bocuse d’Or USA. For more information visit

10 Sage Thymes Oct. 24, 2008

The Semi-Finalists

The Semi-Finalist Teams which competed at the USA Bocuse d’Or Cuisine Competition held at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on September 26th and 27th, 2008: Gold Medal: Chef Timothy Hollingsworth, Sous Chef, French Laundry, Yountville, CA. Over seven years working for Thomas Keller at the French Laundry and Per Se. Best Commis*: Adina Guest- Commis, The French Laundry. Silver Medal; Best Technique with Sous Vide: Chef Richard Rosendale, Chef/Owner, Rosendales, Columbus, OH; US Culinary Olympic Team Captain, Over 15 Gold Medals in national and international culinary competitions Commis: Seth Warren, Rosendales, Cook Bronze Medal; Most Promising Chef and Bocuse d’Or Candidate: Chef Michael Rotondo, Chef de Cuisine, Charlie Trotter’s, Chicago, IL; New England Culinary Institute

Alumnus, experience at Four Seasons Hotels Commis: Jennifer Petrusky, Charlie Trotter’s, Sous Chef.

Chef John Rellah, Jr., Executive Chef, Hamilton Farm, Gladstone, NJ; Former Executive Chef of the Union Club in New York; Experience working at Gray Kunz, Lespinasse and Le Bernardin. Commis: Vincent Forchelli, Chef de Partie Hamilton Farm Golf Club

Best Meat Award: Chef Kevin Sbraga, Culinary Director, Garces Restaurant Group; (Amada, Distrito, Mercat, and Tinto), Philadelphia, PA; Formerly Executive Chef of Le Mas Perrier of the Georges Perrier restaurant group. Commis: Aimee Patel, Amada, Line Cook.

Chef Percy Whatley, Delaware North Parks, Executive Chef, Yosemite, CA, Oversees operations of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park; works closely with Coach Roland Henin Commis: Joshua Johnson, Delaware North Parks, Chef de Partie

Best Fish Award: Chef Hung Huynh, Executive Chef, Solo, New York, NY; Top Chef Season 3 Winner, Formerly Sous Chef of Guy Savoy in Las Vegas Commis: Girair Goumroian, Student, Culinary Institute of America

*all commis must not be above the age of 22 on the date of the Bocuse d’Or World competition.

Chef Rogers Powell, Instructor, French Culinary Institute, New York, NY; 23 years of experience throughout New York and France, including La Côte Basque and Maxim’s Commis: Kyle Fiasconaro, French Culinary Institute, Student

Previous Bocuse d’Or Medalists

The Last Competition In 2007, a 27 year old sous chef from a restaurant in San Diego held American hopes of winning the first Bocuse d’Or world medal. Gavin Kaysen, then of El Bizcocho, entered the competition as a favorite of many chefs-- even Chef Bocuse was rumored to support him. Before the competition, Kaysen spent $150,000 for practice ingredients, equipment and a kitchen assistant. An additional $20,000 went to the fabrication of two shining silver platters for the presentation of his competition entries. He and his teammate also paid to ship 2000 lbs of equipment a distance of over 10,000 miles. As part of their training for the competition, Kaysen and his commis endured grueling twice weekly five hour drills. After a broken light bulb rained glass over his kitchen during the US semifinals, Kaysen was more than careful to prepare for any mishaps--going so far as to start the world competition by laying carpet and taping down any loose wires. Unfortunately, it seemed that, in the face of all that preparation, fate would flaunt Kaysen’s dreams of winning. As the final hour approached and his fish dish reached the judging table, slices of his over-cooked Halibut torte fell apart before they even reached the judges. When the second platter arrived shortly after, the judges looked visibly aghast as they saw that two of the plate’s garnishes had gone missing. Apparently a hungry French dishwasher had mistaken the garnishes (two chicken wings) for rejects and had consumed them before the platter could be presented.
















































Who’s Coming.... Three Preliminary Competitions along with Individual Competitions decide which countries will compete in the Bocuse d’Or World Competition. The 2009 competitors are: Bocuse D’or Europe: France, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Czech Rep., Estonia, United Kingdom, Luxembourg

Bocuse D’or Asia: Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Copa Azteca (Continental Selection Latin America): Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico. Individual Participations: USA, Canada, Australia Wildcards: Belgium, South Africa

Poor Kaysen had arrived in Lyon riding on the high hopes of chefs across America and left the competition with a lackluster fourteenth place.

Oct. 24, 2008 Sage Thymes 11

Words on Wine Crush Arrives in Napa cont’d from p1

Edwards states, “If you don’t have the flavors that you want, then you can’t make the wine that you wanted to make.” After those flavors are at their peak, harvest can begin. Hans Van Dale, who works in production at Cakebread Cellars states, “It’s the most important time of year and there is a lot of preparation that takes place right before the grapes are brought in. Everything needs to be sanitized and prepped before the fruit gets here. This ensures quick processing.” For big wineries timing is crucial due to the high volume of grapes that come in for crushing. Van Dale states, “We are crushing twenty-six tons of Chardonnay grapes tomorrow, which should take approximately three hours.” This season has been rather difficult for some growers throughout the valley as weather fluctuations brought about several challenges. So how does this affect production? According to Van Dale, “This year the fruit has been coming in a little lighter. The cold weather caused a lot of shatter, but we were able to save a lot a fruit. Still, it was not 100 percent.” While production may be on the lighter side, for many Napa wineries, it’s quality over quantity. Just how long will this harvest season last? According to Barry Dodds, the Assistant Manager in the tasting room at Freemark Abbey, “until the very last grape is picked.” This generally means that vineyards will be crushing anywhere from mid to late November. So, it is definitely worth making the trip to watch this extraordinary process take place in one of the world’s most esteemed areas for viticulture. Each winery offers something unique to its customers, spending much time and effort to ensure consumer satisfaction. As Ted Edwards eloquently states, “With diligence, skill and observation, the new produce will be turned into fine wine, destined to be at its peak when it makes the dinner table.”

Vineyard to Visit: Hagafen ~Josh Steinberg

Ernie Wier, owner of Hagafen Winery, prides himself on making quality kosher wines. Since 1979, Weir has been producing bottles that have changed they way the wine world thinks about Kosher wines. Wier’s wines, which are largely produced by environmentally friendly practices, have been featured in fine restaurants and have even been served to foreign dignitaries visiting the White House.Hagafen produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, White Riesling, and Zinfandel wines along with three Brut Cuvée Sparkling Wines. Though Wier’s wine portfolio is extensive, Hagafen only produces about 8,000 cases total per year. According to Wier “Our small family winery competes successfully alongside other Napa Valley wineries at wine competitions and blind wine tastings. We are proud of our success and honored to be able to produce these fine wines according to Jewish dietary laws.” Wier’s passion for his job is evident in his strong attention to detail and his efforts to consistently produce high quality wines. Through his efforts, Hagafen has become the recipient of numerous awards over the past thirty years and, without doubt, there will surely be more awards to come. Hagafen is located at 4160 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA. Tours, by appointment only, are conducted daily at 11am. For more information call 1-888-HAGAFEN (424-2336) or visit

Monthly Wine Club

While living and learning in the Napa Valley, it is only fitting that Greystone offers its students a wine club where they can hone in on the art of sniffing and sipping. In addition to typically tasting five to six wines, wine clubbers gain knowledgeable insight into viticulture, winemaking, tasting notes, and information on the wines sampled from a vast array of guest speakers. Most recent wine club meetings have included tastings on “picnic” wines, roses, and Sauvignon Blancs. In the coming month, Thanksgiving dinner wines will be highlighted; look for information in the computer lab or contact the advisor Dr. Loss. Meeting Time: 9:00pm, first Tuesday of every month, Rudd Center Faculty Advisor: Dr. Chris Loss Student Contact: Aaron Adalja

12 Sage Thymes Oct. 24, 2008

Wine Spectator Magazine Duped

~Lindsay Bater

Since 1981, Wine Spectator magazine has published an annual list of restaurants throughout the world that it deems worthy of its three levels of awards. This past August, Wine Spectator’s “Dining Guide” issue awarded 73 restaurants the lofty “Grand Award,” presented 802 restaurants with the distinguished “Best Award of Excellence,” and bestowed upon 3,254 venues the (most basic) “Award of Excellence.” One of those decorated 3,254 restaurants did not exist. As part of research into what it took for a restaurant to win a wine award, Robin Goldstein presented a paper at the August 2008 conference of the American Association of Wine Economists in Portland, Oregon, detailing the efforts that eventually led to his imaginary restaurant winning the magazine’s Award of Excellence. Noting thatWine Specator makes almost $1 million annually from the fees that 4,500 restaurants submit in order to be considered for an award, Goldstein created a fictional restaurant, Osteria L’Intrepido, located in Milan, Italy. According to his blog (which details the farce), Goldstein “ submitted the fee ($250), a cover letter, a copy of the restaurant’s menu (a fun amalgamation of somewhat bumbling nouvelle-Italian recipes), and a wine list. In order to make the application appear genuine, I also obtained a Milan phone/fax number, as required by the application, and established a small online presence. Aside from creating the menu and wine list, all of this took less than three hours.”

Editor Thomas Matthews published a response stating that the magazine had attempted to contact the restaurant in several manners (googling, web searching Chowhound and the restaurant’s site, as well as leaving messages on Osteria’s “answering machine”) Matthews explained, “Fifty-three wines earned ratings of 90 points or higher (outstanding on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale) and a total of 102 earned ratings of 80 points (good) or better. (139 wines were not rated.) Overall, the wines came from many of Italy’s top producers, in a clear, accurate presentation.” He goes on to note that the “Award of Excellence” is the magazine’s “most basic award, for lists that offer a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style….The list from L’Intrepido clearly falls within these parameters.” Goldstein parried this claim with a response on his website noting that, “The only message WS ever left at the restaurant’s number was left after the award had already been granted, by an advertising salesperson asking if I wanted to buy an ad (starting at $3,090 and going up to $8,860).” He then lists a link to the posted MP3 of that message as well as a copy of the email from Wine Spectator’s ad department asking for additional funds to place an ad for Osteria in a prime location next to the restaurant’s award. To learn more about Goldstein’s experiment visit his blog:

Goldstein’s submitted wine list “was a perfectly decent selection from around Italy that met the magazine’s basic criteria… However, Osteria L’Intrepido’s high-priced “reserve wine list” was largely chosen from among some of the lowest-scoring Italian wines in Wine Spectator over the past few decades.” Indeed, some of Wine Spectator’s own scores for Osteria’s Reserve list couldn’t be called anything less than scathing. One wine, rated 60 points, received the review “Unacceptable, Sweet and cloying. Smells like bug spray.” Another, 69 point, wine was once described by the magazine as having “just too much paint thinner and nail varnish character.” Despite these questionable selections, a few months after turning in his application, Robin Goldstein earned the “Award of Excellence.” Naturally, Wine Spectator expressed shock and dismay once Goldstein made his paper public. On the magazine’s forum site,

Varietal to Try: Malbec

Thinking about branching out from the standard Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon? Want to try some quality deep, inky reds with robust tannins at bargain bin prices? Maybe you should try Malbec… Supposedly named for the Hungarian peasant who distributed the grape throughout France, for years, Malbec was merely one of the lesser esteemed varietals used in Bordeaux blends. In particular, when combined with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec created the Bordeaux blend known as claret. Malbec also grew (and still grows) in the South West France appellation of Cahors where AOC regulations designated that wines contain at least 70% of the grape to create the “black wines” known since the Middle Ages for their dark, inky color and ability to stain tongues purple. Over the past 40 years, Malbec has been steadily declining in popularity among the French because of its sensitivity to rot, coulure, frost, and mildew.

Harvesting grapes at a private vineyard along Silverado Trail

Though overshadowed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in France, Malbec came into its own when Michel Pouget brought it to Argentina in 1868. The thin-skinned, large-berried grapes love the plentiful sunlight and heat that the Argentinean (Mendoza in particular) climate provides –creating wines full of plum and blackberry touched with potpourri and spice. Names (there are hundreds- here are a few): Auxerrois, Magret, Malbec, Malbek, Pressac, Côt Growing Areas: Bordeaux, Loire Valley, Cahors, Argentina, South America Flavor Profile: plum, blackberry, boysenberry, earthy, potpourri Pair with: Steak! Recommended Malbec: Salentein Reserve, Argentina, 2006 ($20)

Oct. 24, 2008 Sage Thymes 13

Pay Attention to Marcos ~Abby Barkin

Have you ever looked around the TK and wondered, “Who are these people?” Well, we sat down with Chef Marcos Hernandez, the only person to correctly answer last issue’s “name that fruit challenge” (it was a feijoa), for the first in a series that spotlights the people who make Greystone the place to see and be seen. Tell me a little bit about yourself, the basic stats. My name is Marcos Hernandez. I’m 31. I’m from the East Bay, Contra Costa County. I’m married, and I have no children. So, why cooking? Food and cooking brings everyone together regardless of status, race, or creed. What is your favorite fruit? Perfectly ripe pineapple, it’s the king of fruit. Who is your favorite baking and pastry girl? Abby. Hands down. What is it like living in the TK? It’s my second home. It’s fun, interesting, and an adventure everyday. I keep a bed under my desk, and if the do not disturb sign is up, please respect that.

Food Fotos

“Taylor Mason’s Your Plate” photos by Aaron Adalja

Send your food photography to

14 Sage Thymes Oct. 24, 2008

What is the one thing that students do that irks you? They can be close minded and unwilling to try new things. Who is your culinary hero? Charlie Trotter. I admire his commitment to excellence, just like the raiders. So what’s harder, being a TK manager or supporting the Raiders? Supporting the Raiders. What is your favorite food of all time? I can’t answer that. It would be like asking a parent who their favorite child is. If you were on a desert island, and could only have 3 food items delivered for the rest of your life, what would they be? Fresh water, bacon, and potatoes. How did you get your start in the culinary world? I was a cook and cashier at KFC. Besides a knife, what is your favorite kitchen implement? The colander. I’ts great for straining, washing, and it can be a good hat.

Upcoming Events OCTOBER 25: 40th Harvest Celebration at ZD Wines 10:00 AM - 4:30 pm; Cost: $20, $15 for members; ZD Wines; 8383 Silverado Trail; Rutherford, CA 94558 27: Telethon for Napa County Meals on Wheels; 6:00- 9:00 pm; Napa TV and KVON/KVYN (707) 257-0574; NOVEMBER 2:” My Plate” featuring cuisine of AOS 3 stuedent Rob Mattoch 3: Dinner & a Tasting of Dr. Loosen wines. Dinner by ZuZu; $35; 6- 8:30 pm; Back Room Wines. First & Main Streets, Napa; (707) 226-1378. www.www. 5: Napa Valley Viticultural Fair

Napa Valley Grapegrowers; (707) 944-8311

Domaine Chandon; (707) 944-2280

6: Ceja Vineyards tasting dinner. 6:30 pm; $59.95. Made in Napa Valley Culinary Centre; 388 Devlin Rd., Napa. (707) 603-3250. events@madeinnapavalley. com

27: Thanksgiving

6-8: CIA’s Worlds of Flavor A Mediterranean Flavor Odyssey (800) 313-6374

8-9 Women in Wine Symposium and Wine Walk-around tasting; Copia, Napa 16 Meet the Tastemakers Dinner at Étoile Restaurant; Sparkling Winemaker Tom Tiburzi; 5:30 pm. $75, $95 with wine.

Cauliflower “Panna Cotta”

aaron adalja

DECEMBER 1-2 The Green Wine Summit; Hyatt Vineyard Creek, Santa Rosa (707) 2559222; 22-29: Hannukah 25: Christmas

I’m allergic to quotation marks...

Cauliflower “Panna Cotta”

“Veloute” of Asparagus


30: “My Plate” featuring cuisine of AOS3 student Poncho Vasquez

6-8 Sensorium event at Copia; $595; (888) 51-COPIA.

Any dietary restrictions?

28: Yountville Festival of Lights. (707) 944-090429 Annual Napa downtown holiday parade and Copia tree lighting party. Copia, Napa

“Veloute” of Asparagus

“Pave” of Bluefin Tuna

“Pave” of Bluefin Tuna

“Peanut Butter & Milk”

“Peanut Butter & Milk”



Did you know... ...the following American Diner Slang?* “Adam ’n’ Eve” = two poached eggs “wreck ’em” = scramble the eggs “moo juice” = milk “on wheels” = take out “bucket of hail” = glass of ice “axle grease” = butter

“gravel train” = sugar bowl “hemorrhage” = ketchup “sea dust” = salt “in the alley” = as a side dish “life preserver” = donut “warts” = olives

“hounds on an island” = sausages on beans “bucket of cold mud” = chocolate ice cream “two cows make them cry” = two hamburgers with onions

“breath” =onions “java” or “joe” = coffee “lumber”= a tooth pick “on a raft” = on toast “side arms” = salt and pepper “sand” = sugar

“put out the lights and cry” = liver and onions “shingles with a shimmy” = toast and jam “burn the British” = toasted muffin

*I bet Jesse Elridge does...

Oct. 24, 2008 Sage Thymes 15



In Our Next Issue: ~Reports and Recipes from Worlds of Flavor 08 ~ CIA and Napa News ~Words on Wine ~Restaurant Reviews ~ and more....

16 Sage Thymes Oct. 24, 2008


Fancy yourself a food writer? Come to Sage Thymes meetings9pm Mondays, Ventura Center tables/ Computer Lab Don’t have the time? You can still send submissions (as well as comments, critcisms, photos, etc) to

The Sage Thymes  

Issue 2, Vol. 1

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