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 April 2010  Features at Wine & Spirits

21st Annual Restaurant Poll
“There’s never been a better time in my lifetime—or even in my father’s—to be a wine drinker.”
   Reflecting back on 2009, Chris Deegan of San Francisco’s Nopa wasn’t describing some small, elite group insulated from the ravages of the economy. He was pointing to the surpluses, the stocks of great vintages gone begging, the purveyors of rarity for rarity’s sake now hawking two-for-one discounts.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Chefs Turned Grocers
Call it the Pickle Effect. Or the In-house Butchering Syndrome. When a chef finds himself in the throes of either (an increasingly common phenomenon), people begin to come to him: They want a piece of the pig. Or cukes that aren’t pickled for eternity. Or grits wrangled from a local mill. In a departure from the super-grocer, a sprawling city of packaged goods interspersed with a sushi counter, bakery, soup station, salad bar, pizza shop and deli, the new grocery-restaurant is a tiny place, offering only things close to the chef’s heart (or stomach). Here are five that epitomize the trend: from Farm in Bloomington, Indiana, to Cochon in NOLA, Evoe in Portland, LA’s Cube and Northern Spy, the latest entry in NYC.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Cocktail Bars with Ambitious Kitchens
A nice side effect of the current cocktail craze, with its accent on fresh ingredients and an artisanal approach, is that a bowl of nuts or olives no longer cuts it. Bars are stepping up their offerings and approaching food with the same care and attention they focus on their drinks—which in cases such as Drink in Boston, Macao Trading Co. in NYC, Leon’s Full Service in Atlanta and The Tar Pit in LA, makes for the sort of bar you never want to leave.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Tuscan Wine with Soul
In the land of merchant princes and cooking schools, where are the wines of the earth?
  “The future of Tuscany is Chianti.” David Lynch believes it with certainty. As the wine director at the recently reopened Quince, at the edge of San Francisco’s financial district, he’s staked his claim with 20 Chianti Classicos on a relatively short list. It’s not a region where contemporary sommeliers tend to mine gold, but for Lynch it’s the place to find Tuscan wines with soul.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Sake + Cheese
During a sake tasting a couple of years ago at Obata on Sado Island, in Japan’s Niigata province, I asked head brewer Kenya Kudo what he liked to pair with his sakes. Niigata is blessed with an abundance of delicious things to eat, and I expected him to mention one of the region’s delicacies, such as wild salmon, the local red shrimp called nanban ebi, or noppe, a stew made from local vegetables. Instead, he unhesitatingly replied, “Cheese. Especially with daiginjo.”

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Pinot Immigration Boom...or Bust?
In pursuit of ever better wines, American pinot growers have demonstrated an uncommon preoccupation for more than two decades with two matters of subtlety, confusion and even mystery. The role of site, aka terroir, tops the list, but the role of plant material, expressed as clones or selections of the variety, is a close second.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.