David

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.
Fomenting a wine revolution close to the Liberty Bell

Fomenting a wine revolution close to the Liberty Bell

Serious modern winemaking took root several decades ago in Pennsylvania, but a handful of small wineries just outside Philadelphia's western suburbs are expanding well beyond the presumed limits for Keystone State wine. This third post takes a quick look at three wineries a short drive from Philadelphia. One challenges conventional thinking about Italian grapes for Eastern Seaboard winemaking. Nestled in a suburban neighborhood, another proves that “backyard winery” is not just a California phenomenon. And yet another is systematically proving that Pennsylvania can produce wines that age beautifully into a voluptuous maturity. Vineyards speak for themselves at Vox Vineti Ed Lazzerini refers to Vox Vineti (Latin for “voice of the vineyard”) as a nano-winery because it produces 200-300 cases per year. But the vines are...Read More
Fine wines in horse-and-buggy Lancaster County

Fine wines in horse-and-buggy Lancaster County

While you're as likely to get stuck behind a horse-drawn buggy as a tractor on Lancaster County's rural roads, the region is more than straw-hat and gray-bonnet country these days. Historic dairy and row crop farming is giving way to vineyards and hop yards as farm wineries and craft breweries pop up in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Traditionally, this has been a region of fruit winemaking, followed at the end of the 20th century by a reliance on French-American hybrid grapes. Slowly but surely, wineries focused on traditional European wine grapes have begun to prove that Lancaster County is fertile soil indeed for well-made classic wines. In the quest to look at the future of Pennsylvania winemaking, I was able to visit a pair of very...Read More
Pennsylvania wine begins to hit its stride

Pennsylvania wine begins to hit its stride

William Penn must be smiling somewhere. With more optimism than horticultural knowhow, the Quaker son of an English admiral planted a Philadelphia vineyard of French wine grapes in 1683. They soon died off, and what wine Pennsylvania made until the 20th century was largely vinted from native labrusca grapes. There are accounts that some Pennsylvania wine was well-received in London in the 1760s, but the correspondent might have been merely polite. There's no longer any need to cut Pennsylvania wine special slack. I spent part of a week in September touring nine outstanding wineries in eastern Pennsylviania. While these nine represent just 3 percent of the Keystone State's wineries, they demonstrate that Pennsylvania has the potential to make major league wines that can compete with...Read More
Stylish La Diosa Cellars blends wine, tapas, and music

Stylish La Diosa Cellars blends wine, tapas, and music

The marvelously outlandish Frida Kahlo homage décor might tip you off that Sylvia McPherson was an interior designer before she opened her bistro La Diosa Cellars (901 17th St., Lubbock; 806-744-3600, www.ladiosacellars.com) in 2004. La Diosa is a family affair. Sylvia's father hailed from Spain, and her food menu features many classic Spanish tapas. Her husband, Kim McPherson, makes her four house wines (including a sangría) at his winery across the street (see previous post), and their daughter, an Advanced Sommelier, chooses the other wines on the list. (Four of Dad's also make the grade.) It's one of the few places in Lubbock where I found a broad selection of Texas High Plains wine to enjoy with good food. There's live music at La Diosa...Read More
Sipping tips from the Texas High Plains AVA

Sipping tips from the Texas High Plains AVA

Here's hoping that Texas wines get a boost from the recent nomination of Kim McPherson for a James Beard award in the “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Producer “ category. He's the proprietor and winemaker at McPherson Cellars in Lubbock, one of the wineries finally putting the Texas High Plains AVA (American Viticultural Area) on winelovers' maps. Few Texas wines actually leave the state, and even fewer from the wineries around Lubbock. Yet the Texas High Plains AVA grows about 85 percent of Texas wine grapes. (Many producers in the better-known Texas Hill Country around Fredericksburg buy their grapes from Lubbock.) Although the region is more southerly than many wine-growing areas, the elevation of 3,000–4,000 feet makes all the difference. A wide daily temperature swing...Read More
Eat like a cowboy at Lubbock’s National Cowboy Symposium

Eat like a cowboy at Lubbock’s National Cowboy Symposium

To cut to the chase, "eating like a cowboy" means chicken-fried steak. It's practically the national dish of Texas. The state legislature even proclaimed October 26 as Texas Chicken-Fried Steak Day. I live in Massachusetts, where we claim, if somewhat dubiously, that we're the birthplace of America. We're very big on guys in buckle hats and long stockings, not to mention tea-dumping Sons of Liberty and midnight horsemen warning about Redcoats. Lubbock bases its identity on an equally powerful mythology. The city of a quarter million people claims ranch life and cowboy culture as its principal roots. Why not? It's the biggest place in the giant mesa known as Llano Estacado, or “Staked Plains,” that covers northwest Texas and a big piece of eastern New...Read More
Barbecue good enough for a Texas Tech tailgate

Barbecue good enough for a Texas Tech tailgate

I went to Lubbock, Texas, last fall for Buddy Holly's birthday (September 7) in his home town. I stayed a while to eat and drink, and the next batch of posts will hit a few of the highlights of this truly friendly West Texas city and center of the Texas High Plains American Viticultural Area. And since it was West Texas, the logical place to begin is a magnificent barbecue joint. Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue is ironic in a good way. The meats here are outsized and deeply … meaty. As a Texas pal once said, it's the kind of barbecue that puts hair on your chest. (She meant that figuratively, of course.) It's smoky and just fatty enough and so full of itself that...Read More
Getting a handle on premium Chilean wines

Getting a handle on premium Chilean wines

My understanding of Chilean wine has been minimal. Exposed largely to inexpensive Cabernets and Sauvignon Blanc, I've long associated Chile with good bargains. Oh, the occasional eye-opening bottle of Carignan found its way to our table—and we rejoiced when one did and marveled at both the price—roughly six times the cost of a bargain Chilean red—and the great quality even at that price. If the Wines of Chile marketing consortium has its way, we'll all be having more of those aha! moments over glasses of Chilean wine. The group just barnstormed through Boston, Chicago, and D.C. with 15 wineries in tow for trade tastings of what they call “site specific artisan wines.” More important, they brought along one of the most genial and knowledgeable interpreters...Read More
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