Before he was a food and travel writer, David Lyon was a commercial fisherman, a line cook, a poet, and a sometimes teacher of writing and cooking.
Cail Bruich sets the bar high for Scottish cuisine

Cail Bruich sets the bar high for Scottish cuisine

“We serve wild game and it may contain shot,” cautions a note at the bottom of the tasting menu at Cail Bruich (725 Great Western Rd., Glasgow; 0141 334 6265; cailbruich.co.uk). For those who like their meat nice and brown, the menu further advises, “Some ingredients are cooked sous vide.” With warnings like that, who could resist? (Against my mother's admonitions, I was always the child with beans in his ears.) It's a bit of a schlep from Glasgow central city out to this bohemian stretch of West Glasgow near the Botanic Gardens, but it's worth the pilgrimage. Now in its 10th year of serving elevated Scottish cuisine made with classical technique in a semi-casual setting, Cail Bruich (Gaelic for “Eat Well”) continues to amaze....Read More
Clydeside shows Glasgow history through whisky glass

Clydeside shows Glasgow history through whisky glass

Glasgow's Clydeside Distillery began operation late last fall and opened to tours just after Christmas. The attraction was so new when I visited in late January that my taxi driver didn't know how to find it. But once I finally arrived, it turned out to be worth the effort. Nearly a century after Glasgow's last old-time whisky maker closed, the Clydeside is the second new whisky distillery to open in the last year. It sits at the site of the Old Pump House at Queen's Dock (100 Stobcross Road, Glasgow, 0 141-212-1401, theclydeside.com, tours £15). The River Clyde provides the best protected deepwater ocean port in the west of Scotland. The world's goods flowed into the United Kingdom here—and fine Scotch whisky flowed out around...Read More
Firing a steak with Argentina’s Francis Mallmann

Firing a steak with Argentina’s Francis Mallmann

Some of the best food writing these days appears in the pages of venerable old Esquire, where the late Jim Harrison set the tone the way Hunter S. Thompson defined the ethos of Rolling Stone in its heyday. I was reminded of that when I got an email tickler in my mailbox pointing me to an overblown but heartfelt profile of one of the greatest chefs I've ever met. The online article (please go read it before it's taken down) by Jeff Gordinier is entitled “Is Francis Mallmann the Most Interesting Chef in the World?” Well, yeah. One of the most memorable evenings of my life was the pre-opening opening of Mallmann's Siete Fuegos at the Vines Resort & Spa (Tunuyan, Mendoza, Argentina, +54 261...Read More

WhistlePig launches Farmstock Rye (and it’s good)

As a Kentucky-born grandson of a contract whiskey distiller, my allegiance to bourbon as a spirit of choice is practically genetic. But the older I get, the more I'm inclined toward the drier, spicier sensations of good rye for a serious, contemplative tipple. And I've had to become less of a Kentucky chauvinist ever since master distiller Dave Pickerell (above) and founder Raj Peter Bhakta started releasing aged ryes from WhistlePig (whistlepigwhiskey.com) in Vermont. The distillery has 10, 12, 14, and 15 year old whiskeys in release. Those are all made from stock rye spirit that WhistlePig buys from Canada and Indiana. That's how a new distillery was able to bring whiskey to market even before they built their first copper still in 2015. Their...Read More

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano re-emphasizes terroir

Judging by the wines from the nine producers who visited Boston, Montepulciano winemakers have returned to native Tuscan blending grapes. DOCG rules permit up to 30 percent non-Sangiovese grapes in Vino Nobile. In truth, more than half the wines I tasted were more than 90 percent Sangiovese. And those producers blending in other grapes have largely stopped using Merlot. Instead, they opt for Canaiolo (which softens the acidity of Sangiovese), Colorino (which provides color and structure), and Mammolo (which gives a velvety violet note). Since each producer presented three to five wines between the technical tasting and a dinner, my full tasting notes would be overkill here. Suffice it to say that Montepulciano superstars Boscarelli (poderiboscarelli.com), Dei (cantinedei.com), and Poliziano (www.carlettipoliziano.com)—along with Antinori-owned La Braccesca—continue...Read More

Reassessing rich reds of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Less oak, more Sangiovese. In a nutshell, that's the good news about the latest releases of Vino Nobile di Montepulchiano. Having just celebrated the 50th birthday of the D.O.C., the wine makers of Vino Nobile are converging toward a distinctive modern style. Nine leading producers visited Boston on a tour just ahead of ProWein in Dusseldorf and Vinitaly in Verona. Following on the heels of glowing coverage in Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator, it was a chance for the small region to shine without the distraction of comparisons to Tuscany's other major Sangiovese areas: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and even Morellino di Scansano. Traditionally known in the Montalcino area as Prugnolo Gentile, the Sangiovese grape is almost ideally suited to the clay and sandy soils...Read More

London meat pie saves pretty penny at lunch

I sometimes find myself doing business in big international cities where the cost of living far exceeds my budget. The challenge at lunch is to eat well without breaking the bank. In Paris that could be a croque monsieur or a sidewalk hot dog on a baguette. I'd opt for a square of pan pizza in Rome. My preference in Madrid is a thick wedge of tortilla española (Spanish potato-onion omelet) and a beer. In London (and many other British cities), the solution is a meat pie. Back when Simple Simon met a pie man, a British meat pie cost a penny. In the cafe of a department store like Selfridges, Marks & Spencer, or John Lewis, a meat pie will now set you back...Read More

Radicchio di Treviso: sweet winter crunch

We've written about the beautiful Venetian city of Treviso as a center for Prosecco DOC and the birthplace of tiramisù, but it's also home to one of our favorite winter vegetables. Radicchio Rosso di Treviso IGP is the blanched winter chicory indigenous to the region. Treviso radicchio generally comes in elongated, slightly pointy, tightly packed heads. But as Lucio Torresan of Park Farm (actually, Azienda Agricola Tenuta al Parco) shows above, field-grown radicchio looks little like the market product. Those big red and green weeds he's holding “are so bitter that even the goats won't eat them.” When Torresan and his workers get done with the field-grown plants, though, they will be tender and sweet, with just a slight residual bitterness. Magic in the dark...Read More

Limestone mountains loom over Jerzu vines

Famed for its local strain of Cannonau, the vineyards of Jerzu grow in a massive natural amphitheater scooped out of the side of a limestone range. The basin ascends from sea level to 750 meters, and the soils are all a mix of soft limestone and crumbly schist. The photo above shows the ridge and the hillside village of Jerzu. The industrial site in the foreground is the Antichi Poderi Jerzu cooperative (www.jerzuantichipoderi.it/en/), which produces 1.8 million bottles a year. The predominance of limestone subsoil at Jerzu means that the vines have to live with scarce water that drains away underground. This drainage carves out great cavern systems for spectacular spelunking. On the outskirts of nearby Ulassai, the Grotta di Su Marmuri (www.grottasumarmuri.it) is open...Read More

Mamoiada and its wines evoke primal power

The little community of Mamoiada sits at the foot of the two highest mountain ranges on Sardinia, the Gennargenti and the Supramonte. It is known for two powerful forces: ancient vines of Cannonau and atavistic carnival masks. The most famous masks are the Mamuthones, shown here. The pre-Christian figures perform in ritual ceremonies that mark the turn of the agricultural calendar from the dark of winter toward the season of spring growth. The parade through Mamoidada predates Lenten carnivals. Men dressed in these shaggy black sheepskins with primitive wooden black masks dance slowly through town, each laden with more than 30 kilos of bronze bells. The figures appear first on January 17, the feast of Sant' Antonio Abate, when the people of Mamoiada dance around...Read More