appetizer

Fundraiser gala fare channels Shaker spirit

Fundraiser gala fare channels Shaker spirit

In early August, we had the pleasure of attending the annual fundraising Gala at Hancock Shaker Village (hancockshakervillage.org). One of the more prosperous of Shaker communities in the Northeast, “The City of Peace,” as its inhabitant called it, reached its height in the 1830s. More than 300 Shakers worked 3,000 acres of land just west of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the heart of the Berkshires. Since 1959, the community has been a history museum with 20 original buildings, a working farm, a wealth of Shaker artifacts, and many excellent interpretive programs. The village's signature building is the Round Stone Barn, pictured at the top of the post. It's a landmark structure in America vernacular architecture. We ate dinner at tables in the hayloft level. Shaker beliefs...Read More
An American shortcut to Spanish tortilla

An American shortcut to Spanish tortilla

Wherever we go, the local cuisine always seems to have a go-to item—something easily ordered, quick to prepare, widely available, and nearly foolproof. In much of the U.S., that's often a hamburger. In France, a slice of quiche and a salad. In Spain, it's the potato omelet, or tortilla española. You never know where you'll get a great tortilla. The lowliest dive bar serves tortilla and bars attached to fancy restaurants offer it. You can even get a decent one in the refrigerator cases in many supermarkets. The tortilla can be the model of simplicity—a magical amalgam of eggs, potato, onion, and olive oil. That's the first image on the right, shown with tomato-rubbed bread in La Gardunya at the back of La Boqueria market...Read More
Gourmet pioneer Cafe Gandolfi a Glasgow must

Gourmet pioneer Cafe Gandolfi a Glasgow must

Every city's gastronomic revolution has its pioneers, and one of the most important in Glasgow is probably Cafe Gandolfi (64 Albion St., 0141-552-6813, cafegandolfi.com). When photographer Iain Mackenzie opened the restaurant in 1979 in the city's old cheese market offices, he was running against the tide. Adventurous foodies would take a taxi from Central Station, about a 10-minute walk, because the old Trongate neighborhood was so shady. Now Gandolfi is one of several good restaurants in “Merchant City,” the newish moniker for the redeveloped district. The current owner, Seumas MacInnes, came to work as a kitchen hand in 1983 and took over the reins from Mackenzie in 1995. By all accounts, it was a seamless passing of the baton between two Gaels whose families hail...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
Breaking bread over bourbon with Michael Veach

Breaking bread over bourbon with Michael Veach

While we were in Louisville, we met historian Michael R. Veach for dinner one night at Decca (812 E. Market St., 502-749-8128, deccarestaurant.com). It was a felicitous convergence of Kentucky food and spirits. Veach, pictured above, is the author of Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage (University Press of Kentucky, $24.95). And under chef Annie Pettry, the farm-to-table restaurant is one of the city's best. Veach absorbed bourbon history as archivist for United Distillers and later for the Filson Historical Society. He has also worked closely with the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown, Kentucky. While at United Distillers, he sharpened his palate by joining the quality control sampling of barrels in the warehouse. “We did ten a day,” he recalled, describing what...Read More
Cave Spring Cellars shines in Jordan, Ontario

Cave Spring Cellars shines in Jordan, Ontario

Jordan Village compresses the Niagara Peninsula experience into a single stop. In just one kilometer along Nineteenth Street, the downtown packs in lodgings with character, a bakery, restaurants, a tavern, and just enough boutique shopping to stave off retail withdrawal. This being Niagara, there is, of course, also a winery. Cave Spring Cellars (cavespring.ca), in fact, is the centerpiece of the community. The Pennachetti family began buying land on the Beamsville Bench in the early 1970s and by the end of the decade, they had become visionary viticulturalists. Conventional wisdom held that only the area around Niagara-on-the-Lake was warm enough for European wine grapes to thrive, but the Pennachettis began growing Riesling and Chardonnay with considerable success. In 1986, Len Pennachetti and family members joined...Read More

Vineland Estates Winery: a clone of one’s own

“These trees are the beginnings of Canada,” David Hulley told us as he welcomed us to the cathedral-like log barn that serves as the tasting room of Vineland Estates Winery (vineland.com). “Trees were being cut down for warships. Some of them weren't needed, so they were used for this barn.” The 1877 structure and the landmark stone tower are among several practical and handsome buildings remaining from a 19th century Mennonite homestead. They perch on an elevated slope along the Twenty Mile Bench of the Niagara escarpment. The chinked log-cabin barn certainly makes the region's most dramatic tasting room. The winery's setting atop the rise among vineyards makes it among the most picturesque estates in the Niagara region. The buildings anchor 42 acres of vineyards,...Read More

Inniskillin icewines hit the sweet spot

Like many wine drinkers, we've always thought of icewine as an after-dinner treat. But if Inniskillin (www.inniskillin.com) has its way, we'll be drinking it with dinner as well. As Debi Pratt told us when we toured the property, icewine makes an excellent, if somewhat extravagant, table wine. Inniskillin is another pioneer in the Niagara wine region. It was founded in 1975 by Austrian-born Karl Kaiser and Canadian Donald Ziraldo. “Karl said, 'If I'm going to live in a new country, I'm going to drink the wines of my new country,'” Pratt told us. Ziraldo had actually planted Riesling, Chardonnay, and Gamay vines the year before at his commercial nursery. But when Inniskillin launched, the winery relied heavily on two winter-hardy French hybrid grapes, Vidal Blanc...Read More

Utiel Requena wines conjure tastes of northeast Spain

We're convinced that there is nothing like taste to evoke memories of place. A sip of wine will call back the flavor of the food, the sun on our faces, the wobbly leg of the cafe table, and the street life around us. We're just starting to taste several wines from the Utiel Requena region in the northwest corner of the autonomous region of Valencia. As we taste, we're reliving trips to Catalunya, Aragón, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. In addition to speaking variants of Catalan, these regions feature cuisines that pair very well with the Bobal wines of Utiel Requena. We'll be enjoying them with some of our favorite dishes. As shown in this photo just below, D.O. Utiel Requena sits in the rain...Read More

108 Brasserie redefines British comfort food

The simple but delicious starter of Dorset crab on toast with watercress and apple perfectly encapsulates the style of the kitchen at the 108 Brasserie (47 Welbeck Street, 020 7486 6600, 108brasserie.com) at The Marylebone hotel in London. “It's a very simple recipe and it's all about the ingredients,” executive chef Russell Ford (right) told me. When Ford took over the kitchen more than five years ago, the food was very dated. “We pared it back,” he recalled, “and focused on keeping it simple, with great seasonal ingredients.” Ford works directly with several butchers and fish and produce suppliers. He also has a good relationship with some of the specialty shops in the Marylebone neighborhood, including the marvelous cheese shop, La Fromagerie (2-6 Moxon Street,...Read More