Eating & Drinking

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“Exhilarating and Breathtaking” Eve Bushman Covers Riesling in Germany’s Mosel Region

“Exhilarating and Breathtaking” Eve Bushman Covers Riesling in Germany’s Mosel Region

I found myself describing the experience as both exhilarating and breathtaking, and these two words have now taken on a new meaning for me, probably forever. Raimund added to my thoughts when he said that here, we “always sit in the green.” 

Middle Mosel, aka Mittelmosel, wine region of Germany

Middle Mosel, aka Mittelmosel, wine region of Germany / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

Have you been to the Middle Mosel, aka Mittelmosel, wine region of Germany? I had learned about the area, saw photos of the steep vineyards and their ancient stone sundials dating back hundreds of years, during a tasting with Raimund Prum from S.A. Pruem many years ago. Fast forward to this year, and we planned our first trip there, where we stayed at the S.A. Pruem guesthouse and visited with Raimund again! We also toured and tasted with Eifel-Pfieffer, C.A. Immich-Batterieberg, Villa Huesgen and Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler.

A sundial in their vineyards

A sundial in their vineyards / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

Know before you go: Rieslings are not all sweet! They range from bone dry to sweet. And though “Riesling is King” in the Mosel we enjoyed sparkling wines and rose, as well as Pinot Noir during our tastings. Not all wineries are in Bernkastel-Kues, many are in towns all roughly within 30 minutes of each other. 

Wineries to Tour and Taste

S.A. Pruem: We must start with this winery as they are the reason we traveled to the Mosel for wine. I had met Raimund Prum in 2013 when he led a class for Ian Blackburn of Learn About Wine. Fast forward to this past May 2024, when I finally got to see Raimund again – this time at his home and winery. Raimund inherited the 800-year-old family winery in 1971 and has “expanded from 8.6 acres to 27.9 acres.” 

His family had used money that they made from their apple farms to fund their wine growing business. Back in those days 100% of the people living in the area worked in the wine industry according to Raimund. Nowadays young people may leave, but they come back.  

Raimund is a busy man, representing the winery almost all over the world. But he doesn’t do this alone. Raimund’s wife Pirjo, a WSET Diploma graduate, represents the brand in U.S. and Finland. Saskia, their oldest daughter, took over as the owner in 2017.

They produce many still and sparkling wines, from dry to sweet Rieslings to Rose of Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines. I had the opportunity to try most and had a hard time not finishing every sample that was offered. And though other places in the world make Riesling, Raimund said that the “character of the wine is different here” which began over 2,000 years ago by the Romans. (Many Roman pressing stations have been found along the Mosel.)  

Weingut Eifel-Pfeiffer

Weingut Eifel-Pfeiffer / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

During the days we visited we had many opportunities to talk, but at our appointed time for our interview Raimund took us on a drive to the top of one of his vineyards, and it happened to be the oldest one that also is famous for its sundial. His tallest vineyards are 336 meters high, and the Mosel River is at 136. The ground is a combination of lush earth, wildflowers, and different types of slate rock – the rock in particular adds to the minerality found in the wines.

mother and daughter Tanja Gorgen-Eifel and Mia-Katharina Gorgen. 

Mother and daughter Tanja Gorgen-Eifel and Mia-Katharina Gorgen from award-winning Weingut Eifel-Pfeiffer.  Photo credit: Ed Bushman

Eifel-Pfieffer: Did you know that award-winning Weingut Eifel-Pfeiffer has been in the same family since 1642, and is currently worked by three generations? We had a fabulous tour and tasting with mother and daughter Tanja Gorgen-Eifel and Mia-Katharina Gorgen

We also learned that they only produce Riesling wines, have the coveted 1A rating which means that some of their vineyards are considered the best in the area, motivated Romanians work the steep vineyards, rainfall can’t always be counted on as it changes from year to year, and they have a total of 10 hectares over 30 kilometers in the Middle Mosel. 

Their low-alcohol, not-overly-sweet, fresh, and mildly acidic wines are made from single vineyards – and also a blend of different vineyards that are only from the same area. Riesling “show character of each vineyard that you can really taste in the wine…the structure, minerality and acid” according to mother and daughter. 

There are less winemakers now than there used to be: several of the smaller wineries have been absorbed by the larger ones as it’s been noted over time that it’s too cost prohibitive to run a small one-hectare winery.

2021 Mia from Trittenheimer Altarchen

2021 Mia from Trittenheimer Altarchen / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

These Rieslings pair well with all types of food – German, Indian, Chinese to name a few – and China just might be the largest importer of Eifel-Pfieffer wines. I was super impressed with all of their wines, from dry to sweet, but must give a special nod to a 1990 vintage from Trittenheimer Apotheke and the 2021 Mia (made by Mia while she finishes up winemaking school) from Trittenheimer Altarchen

Immich Batterieberg

Immich Batterieberg wine roster / photo credit: Ed Bushamn

Immich-Batterieberg: This time we had the opportunity to sit down and taste with winemaker Gernot Kollmann while learning all about Immich Batterieberg. Let me just start by saying we liked every wine that Gernot opened for us. Most were very dry, all are organic, and 96% of the wines that they make are Rieslings. 

Immich-Batterieberg where we were able to sit down with winemaker Gernot Kollmann

Immich-Batterieberg where we were able to sit down with winemaker Gernot Kollmann / photo credit: Ed Bushman

What makes them special: they are the largest owner of old and ungrafted vineyards in the Mosel, all rocky and steep, and the winery dates back to 1425.  

Seventy-eight percent of the 80k bottles they produce a year is exported to Japan, Italy, U.S., Switzerland, and the U.K. They receive top scores from Suckling and Parker, and those top-scoring wines sell out quickly.

The wines are a perfect example of the trend toward dry white wines (which means not sweet) and the continual production of lower alcohol wines.

Pic credit: Ed Bushman 

Villa Huesgen: If you are looking for a grand tasting experience, Villa Huesgen is it. Of course, if you have the opportunity to be charmed by Adolph Huesgen VIII himself, then it’s even more special. Adolph’s wine curriculum vitae is almost as interesting as the winery alone! He regaled us in stories of his many collaborations (from Australia to South Africa), work in wineries in California (he started his career at Robert Mondavi as the European sales director with Michael Mondavi) and what he and his family have currently achieved (sparkling, still, rose in the original blue bottles Riesling were first made in) at Villa Huesgen. 

Adolph Huesgen VIII

Adolph Huesgen VIII / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

The Huesgen family established the vineyard nine generations before, in 1735. The art nouveau-styled estate was built in 1904. They grow Riesling and Burgundy grapes, currently have their first block of Chardonnay in barrels and make more dry than sweet wines. They import to 35 countries.

We tasted ten wines, one of which recently was listed as one of the top nine Rieslings in the world by the Robb Report April 2024. We would have a hard time not liking any Villa Huesgen wines.

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler: This estate is right in the popular part of Bernkastel-Kues, and just adds to the beautiful Mosel landscape. We were greeted by Stefan Pauly, who led us on a tour of the building and the many tasting areas for their guests. As this was the last tour of our trip, we “drank it up” for the history, and of course, the wines. We tasted many Rieslings, and even a beautifully made Eiswein, and were thrilled to discover that our local Total Wine stores has the exclusive label, Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler, and it’s very reasonably priced though it sells out every year. (Made a mental note to go there as soon as we get home!) 

Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler

Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler // Photo credit: Ed Bushman

We learned that the winery was founded in 1556, they own 22 kilometers of vineyard along the Mosel, and they even offer an alcohol-free wine. One of the tasting areas we saw had a slight walkable ramp and was large enough to “seat a whole boat” of tourists that preferred not to climb up or down ancient steps for a wine tasting.

Stefan Pauly for Dr. Pauly Bergweiler wine estate

Stefan Pauly for Dr. Pauly Bergweiler wine estate / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

When to Visit

We happened to be in Bernkastel-Kues area of the Middle Mosel during Open Wine Cellar Days, which this year began on Germany’s Father’s Day. The holiday and the multi-day event brought many German tourists to the area, which added to the trip for us to “pick up some local color” so to speak. The event shows off many wineries not just during the day for tastings but also for night for tastings, meals, and live music. We chose to stay at the guest house at one winery, S.A. Preum, which made it even more convenient to walk over each night. We have been told that there are always wine festivals, so I highly recommend that you look at the calendar for these before planning your trip.

Raimund Pruem from Weingut S.A. Pruem

Raimund Pruem from Weingut S.A. Pruem / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

We got to Bernkastel-Kues from the Frankfurt airport, we rented a car and enjoyed the easy freeway routes and arrived just under two hours. We went in May, as we tend to pick times of the year when tourist areas are less crowded with summer travelers.

Bernkastel-Kues city

Bernkastel-Kues area / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

Besides wine tasting many tourists rent bicycles and e-bikes, tour on motorcycles, rowboat, parasail, take a boat tour and hike the vineyards. It’s a very walkable area in town with many wine bars, brew pubs, restaurants, and shops along the cobblestone streets. In other parts of the Mosel River, you can find sandy beaches and even water skiing.

Gastehaus at Prum

Gastehaus at Prum / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

There are many hotels along the Mosel River, we chose to stay in a suite at the Gastehaus at Prum and we would definitely return. Beautiful accommodations, locally sourced breakfast, and of course wine! 

 Find on Instagram: @VisitMosel @EifelPfieffer @ImmichBatterieberg @VillaHuesgen1735 @Weingut_PaulyBergweiler @S.A.Pruem

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in the first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Proof Awards, Cellarmasters, LA Wine Competition, Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.

 

LA’s Tracie May Shines Global Spotlight on Asian Flavor as Vietnamese Publicist and Foodie

LA’s Tracie May Vietnamese Publicist and Foodie Shines Global Spotlight on Asian Flavor

Tracie May made a name for herself in Los Angeles for 25 years as a luxury publicist and event planner leading hundreds of Opening Night parties, events and red carpets.

Then in an “Eat, Pray, Love” – inspired move, she decided to take a leap and move across the world.  

In 2020, she relocated to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and became the Senior Editor of Epicure Vietnam Magazine, the most prestigious culinary and hospitality publication in Asia.

Today we catch up with Tracie to talk about life in Vietnam.  The people, the culture, and of course the food.

Publicist Tracie May Indulges in Delicious at her role with Epicure Vietnam Magazine

Joe Winger: 

What’s the most important thing that you want to share during this conversation?

Tracie May: 

Don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith. Honestly, I took a massive leap of faith, uprooting my entire life.  

I had a big life in LA.  I was there for 25 years, and to take that leap of faith to relocate to Vietnam.  It was never even on my radar.

People thought that I was insane when I said I was doing this. It was not supposed to be for the long term. But the whole point is, you never know where opportunity is going to come. You don’t know what your future looks like, until you write your own story.

I am proof positive that anything is possible if you just take a risk for yourself and your happiness, because the energy or the universe will provide for you if you’re truthful, connected and really get specific about what you want.

Tracie May with Chef Eden Daus of Lesung, holding Epicure Vietnam Magazine

Tracie May with Chef Eden Daus of Lesung, holding Epicure Vietnam Magazine

Joe Winger:   

You are now the senior editor of Epicure Vietnam Magazine.  Tell me a bit about the magazine and your role.

Tracie May: 

It’s a really beautiful, glossy print publication. They also have online and social [media presence].

It’s available in every VIP lounge, every business lounge at every major hotel, airline and club lounge. It has a lot of subscribers. 

Focuses on culinary, luxury travel, hospitality, wine, chef profiles. [Food and beverage] business profiles as well as features on certain resort properties.

I was really lucky to [connect with] the publisher.  I sent her a bunch of my writing samples. I joined the magazine about 17 months ago. 

My main focuses are editing content, making sure the English is perfect, and dealing with editorial and the marketing teams.

But my favorite part is running the news section.  [It’s] basically my curation of what’s hot in [food & beverage] in Saigon and all over the world. 

I get to eat the best food all the time. 

The majority of the restaurants that we cover are very high-end, gorgeous, [food and beverage] in town. So I get to eat a lot of amazing food which is awesome. 

The food in Vietnam is extraordinary.

Joe Winger:

As a USA foodie, what’s a lesson you’ve learned about Vietnamese cuisine that you want the world to know about?

Tracie May: 

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned, and it is evident in my extreme weight loss of 75 pounds in 2 ½  years, is it’s whole real food.

They are not jacking up their cows and their pigs with hormones. Organic is actually a thing here. The quality of the food, it’s not processed crap in a box that is run by Monsanto.

Because of the climate here, Dalat, which is the region in Vietnam where most of the produce is grown, some of the most unbelievable tasting produce is grown there. 

The fruit is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. 

A watermelon is the sweetest, juiciest, delicious thing you’ve ever put in your mouth; and it’s available from every little fruit stand that is on Quốc Hương.

I walk to my local [stores] because I like to support locals here and have my little bag and pull my produce and all of it is grown on their farm, 

It’s just that’s how people eat here. There is no Kraft macaroni and cheese. There is no processed, boxed chemicals here. 

Because of that, the quality of the flavor profiles is so superior. 

So that is the biggest difference.

The reason why there’s such an obesity problem in the U.S. is the abundance of processed food.

[Here in Vietnam], even fast food.  We’ve got McDonald’s and Popeye’s and KFC. But the taste of a Big Mac or a Whopper with cheese is far different than anything you can get in the States because of the quality of the meat that they use.

That is the biggest difference of why Vietnam is so globally recognized as such a foodie hub.

Joe Winger: 

You’re doing a lot to bring attention to Vietnam as a foodie hub.

Tracie May: 

I was the guest judge on Top Chef Vietnam, and I was the guest judge on the finale of this show called Super Cake, Banh Xeo, which was basically, Build a beautiful cake. And these Vietnamese national TV, reality shows which showcase culinary.

So that was fun.

Joe Winger: 

If somebody from the United States comes to Vietnam for a few days, from a food point of view, what must we try? 

Tracie May: 

Saigon is incredibly vibrant and there’s too much to do.  For the best Vietnamese food hands down It is in district one, which is basically the city. 

Mạ Quán 

Mạ Quán

Mạ Quán 

It’s gorgeous. A restaurant with Vietnamese cuisine that focuses on historical dishes from the imperial city of Huế to the north and in Hanoi to the Mekong Delta and is visually stunning.

The flavors are unbelievable. For sure if you want to eat an extraordinary Vietnamese meal, that’s a place, hands down, highly recommended. 

Lesung

Lesung

Lesung SGN 

In the last 3 months I was introduced to Malaysian cuisine.  Spicy,  sambal based, chili based. The chef / owner is a fine dining chef, who’s a celebrity chef here. He wanted to get back to his roots and he opened this restaurant that’s very reasonably priced.  Fine dining, but in a casual setting, not expensive and truly authentic Malaysian cuisine.   All of his grandmother’s recipes and it’s home cooking at its best. That is a must go. 

Noriboi Omakase

Noriboi Omakase

If you love sushi, Noriboi is an extraordinary omakase restaurant in Thảo Điền, in the town where I live. 12 to 18 tastings of caviar, and the best uni flown in from Japan, and extraordinary toro, and you can’t imagine how good, it’s insane.

Joe Winger: 

You took a very dramatic pivot a few years ago and it turned out so well. 

Tracie May: 

I knew that I had to make a change. I knew that I was unhappy.  Even though I had great friends and a great life and did really cool stuff in LA, I felt like I was just trapped in a hamster wheel.

I was bit by the “Eat Pray Love” bug. 

Decided that, life’s too short to be unhappy.

There is a big, wide, beautiful world out there. Why not explore it while I have the chance?

I happen to have family who live in Saigon, and we conspired together.

I sold my car, put everything in storage, all the paperwork, packed my two dogs and three suitcases and got on a plane.

The original plan was to hang out in Southeast Asia for three months.

Leave my stuff with my family, get a backpack and travel throughout Southeast Asia and go pray with some Buddhist monks.  Have my Tomb Raider moment in Angkor Wat in Cambodia and go do a lot of scuba diving.  Then three months later, go home [to the United States] and face the music. 

But COVID happened, my life shifted. So I stayed. 

I couldn’t have imagined a more incredible life that I’ve been able to curate for myself than I have been able to in Saigon.

Tracie May at Tet Lunar New Year 2024 party

Tracie May at Tet Lunar New Year 2024 party

Joe Winger: 

Your background is a world class publicist in North America.  Because of the pandemic, you went from a publicist to a “stay at home mom” figure.

Tracie May: 

I did, but I still had to pay my bills, right?

So I had a free place to stay because my family was paying the rent. When [my family] got stuck in the US during COVID, when Vietnam closed their borders, they got locked out for 10 months. 

Suddenly I’m a mother to 2 kids in an international school. I’ve got to take care of their three dogs, my two dogs, their villa, all their stuff, in a country that I didn’t know and a language that I didn’t speak.

It was all about pivoting.

At the time I had hot pink hair.  All the expat moms, they’ve got kids and they live in a compound because their husbands run Nike or Adidas or…[some huge company]

There’s me, this newbie from LA with my fuchsia hair riding my family’s electric bike with the kids on the back taking them to school.

The [expat Moms are] like, who and what is this? 

Originally I became the talk of the town. 

I live in a bubble, a little enclave within the city, it’s expat land. 

I really think in the beginning I made friends out of total pity.  Suddenly they were like, “Let’s take you to lunch.”  So there were several luncheons introducing me to society and I created my clan. 

The one thing that’s hard about here is that the expat life is very rotational because a lot of the families are on contract.

If you work at the consulate, you’ve got a 2-3 year contract. 

Once the contract is done, you’re back home. I don’t want to leave. 

So one of the hardest things about making really close friends here is that they leave. So it’s a lot of continual rotation.

I have friends who’ve been here for 14 years up to 35 years who felt the bug like me and decided no, this is where you want to be right now. This is a good place to be, but yeah, that’s basically how it happened.

Joe Winger: 

A minute ago, you used the phrase “talk of the town.”  Let’s dive deeper.

You’re getting huge growth on social media. Food and dining, lifestyle, travel in this genre. Your face is everywhere. Your voice is everywhere. Your name is everywhere. 

What’s it like living your life, when someone sees your face, name and recognizes you? 

Tracie May: 

It is bizarre. 

I have no idea how it happened, especially in Vietnam.  Local Vietnamese don’t speak a word of English. 

There’ve been so many times that I’m walking my dogs up my street or [I’m] on the back of a “Grab” bike, which is our version of Uber and they see me, look at my picture before and say:

 “Sorry, Madame. Are you Madam Tracy?”

And show me a picture of myself. 

I’m sure it’s due to doing TV appearances on Top Chef Vietnam and other major, national primetime TV shows here with millions of Vietnamese watching.

It’s bizarre, especially coming from Hollywood where all my focus has always been the promotion of others and the promotion of brands.

Suddenly I’m the [one being] promoted and I just find it really funny. But I’m grateful. 

Joe Winger: 

How has publicity changed from LA to Vietnam?

Tracie May: 

I wear a lot of hats here [in Vietnam].   I’ve become the “go to” event producer.

I was a pretty major event producer in the States and produced [around] 250 fashion shows in three continents around the world, a bunch of parties in LA, and red carpets.

There’s tons of talent in Vietnam.  So now I’m doing it for major Western companies who want a sprinkle of American or they want a real Western perspective for [their event], I’m the girl they call.

One of the events I produced was the 25th anniversary of the Sofitel Saigon Plaza Hotel

That was a huge event inviting every government official, major CEO, all of their massive VIPs. 

Tracie May with Artist Jerome Pichard

Tracie May with Artist Jerome Peschard

I’m actually about to produce another event with Sofitel for one of my clients. One of the most talented people I’ve ever met in my entire life, Jerome Peschard

He’s a French artist with the same story as me, except he got here, fell in love with Saigon and just never left .  He met his wife and has a bunch of kids.  He has become the most collected artist in Asia globally, for specifically pop art related to historic, historic Vietnamese French and machine and pop art and he does it all.  Composite art. 

I brokered a deal with Sofitel on June 21 in celebration of the 60 year anniversary of the Sofitel Hotels and Resorts global brand, their Diamond Jubilee.

We are doing a two month installation, exclusive installation of his works being some are 2.6 meters x 1. 5 meters  – large scale, which are going to be in the lobby as an installation in collaboration with the hotel.

It’s a massive thing, and they called me, so I’m really honored. 

I get to work with him every day and he’s a total rock star.

Tracie May living her best life in Vietnam

Joe Winger: 

What’s the theme at this point in your life?

Tracie May: 

The moral of the story is “Don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith.”

Joe Winger: 

It sounds like you crossed your fingers, closed your eyes and took the jump. 

Was there a big concern before taking that jump? How did that big concern work out for you?

Tracie May: 

It’s very personal.

The concern wasn’t about work. I knew that I could work internationally. I knew I could do PR online and still service clients abroad. No matter where you are in the world, the cream rises to the top and you will figure it out.

On a personal level in the sense that I have always been a serial monogamist. I had a really petrified, paralyzing fear of being alone.

The idea of being 50 and alone again, scared me. Having to start over again, scared me. 

What I’ve learned from that is, I have no problems dating. I have no issue being alone. I actually revel in it because my life is so public now. When I get to be in my underpants, watching Netflix with my two dogs, eating a ham and cheese on freshly baked sourdough baguette with some tomatoes and lettuce; and some truffle aioli from my friend’s company. That’s my happy place. 

That has been the biggest lesson that being alone is okay. Being alone is actually a good thing. 

I don’t need to have a partner or a marriage to justify and qualify who I am. I’m just fine on my own. 

Joe Winger: 

What are the ways to find you and follow you online? How do you want people to find you?

Tracie May: 

It’s all about the gram, right? My Instagram is @_TracieMay_  

Or you can find me as Tracie May on LinkedIn.

My blog is here, but I rarely update it because I never have time.

Ordering Chinese food in Los Angeles? HungryPanda want to Help

Ordering Chinese food in Los Angeles? HungryPanda want to Help

Leveraging their industry-leading delivery services, the HungryPanda app seamlessly connects food, people and culture.

HungryPanda goes further with Asian food culture

The ‘Golden Panda Award’ is a symbol of excellence in the global overseas Chinese food industry, setting the highest standard for culinary achievement.

It stands as the world’s exclusive international honor specifically dedicated to recognizing restaurant businesses in the food delivery sector. This prestigious award embodies commitment to promoting and celebrating outstanding achievements in the realm of international Chinese cuisine.

Kitty Liu from HungryPanda

Kitty Lu from HungryPanda

Joe Winger: 

We are here today with Kitty Lu from HungryPanda. 

Help me get to know HungryPanda.co 

Kitty Lu: 

HungryPanda serves a niche market for Asian communities.  We were established in 2017, founded in the UK when our CEO and the founding team were studying in Nottingham University.

The platform was born from a very simple, but compelling need experienced first hand, by the founders as international students, struggling to find authentic Chinese food in the UK. 

From that outset, HungryPanda started to really focus sharply on that particular niche market, tailoring our user experience with Chinese interfaces to overcome culture and language barriers.

That’s how our app got started.  We are very lucky enough to be growing really fast within the past six years. 

Now we expanded into 10 different countries, including: US, Canada, UK, France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, and Singapore.

Hungry Panda

Joe Winger: 

Different cultures, maybe different ways people use their phones, different apps.

What challenges has HungryPanda faced as you enter the very competitive North America market?

Kitty Lu:

Local regulatory requirements that we need to meet.  Every country, every region has different regulations, and especially with food delivery.  

The U.S. is actually coming out with all the new regulations lately, therefore that’s one of the challenges as well.

Also intense competition from established local and global brands. 

When we entered the North American market, Door Dash, Uber, the giants, had already occupied the mass market.  In the Asian food delivery market, we also have competitors like, Chow Bus and others.

Obviously we were the new brand going to the market. 

Therefore, that’s the main challenge that we faced. But, we were actually quite confident and, lucky enough because we have a very good team structure. All of our team members have experience opening markets in different countries.

So unlike Uber or DoorDash, when they are opening a new market, for example, North American market and Australian market is very different. People have different consumer behavior. But for us the good thing is, although we are in different countries, we are serving the same type of people, which is the  overseas Asian customers, therefore the consumer behavior is rather similar.

Although we have the challenge, it’s easier for us to actually dive in and then adapt in a rapid rhythm.

HungryPanda

HungryPanda

Joe Winger:

Is North America the toughest audience when it comes to regulations?

Kitty Lu: 

With regulations, we’re talking more towards the drivers, how do we protect them?

Obviously there are minimum standards. Because what we call the “gig economy” is still considered a new industry, no matter what part of the world.  

North America, Australia, the UK, all the countries are coming out with new regulations to actually protect this particular industry.

We are all at the same stage, growing from a new industry to a more mature industry.

Joe Winger: 

Your company released a food trends report from 2023.  What’s the biggest takeaway? 

Kitty Lu: 

Consumer interest in the authenticity and quality in food.  

When you talk about Chinese food in North America or  the UK, the first thing you think of is actually Cantonese food because [it] arrived first.

Now we can see all the hot Sichuan hot pots and malatang, all these are more modern and, trendy or more northern cuisine start to really get in the picture. popularity. 

This is something that’s blowing our mind as well.

It’s a strong signal to the food industry to really focus on the authenticity, offering high quality ingredients. This is something I think is actually quite interesting.

Joe Winger: 

Talking about trends, anything was surprising?

Kitty Lu: 

The most popular category is definitely Boba tea.  Now, as.

As we can see the hot pot, stuff actually, coming on top of, all this fried chicken, bubble tea and stuff. That suggests our local consumers start to really adapt into a more authentic flavor Chinese food instead of people always ordering honey chicken, spring side pork. 

They learn to really understand, oh, that’s you know, Chinese people eat in China, they really start to learn and understand and admire about the spice actually in the food.

This is something actually I find quite interesting.

Joe Winger: 

That’s really a big change. 

Based on your 2023 report, any predictions for 2024?

Kitty Lu: 

The rise in the family demands, so AOV ( average order value) keeps growing. Food delivery is not growing accommodating only for one person, two person, but it’s starting to expand, for more towards a family’s demands. 

We can anticipate the age group that actually accepting or keep using the food delivery services actually start to grow and expand as well. 

Also predicting new services for delivery companies. We can actually see the trend that many people start to order.

Pick up orders from the app and you can go straight to the restaurant to pick it up without waiting.  It’s helps you jump the queue.

When you order a pickup it’s actually cheaper than ordering at the shop itself.

Therefore, this is actually one of the trends that we can see. It’s actually start to grow.

Joe Winger: 

How do your users want the experience to go for them?

Kitty Lu:

During the pandemic, everything had to be contactless. Therefore the pickup feature was actually created during that period and blossomed afterwards.

Joe Winger: 

Now you just mentioned the pandemic. Your company learned a lot from that experience, like how much packaging matters. 

Can you talk a little bit more about what you learned about packaging?

Kitty Lu: 

First thing we need to discuss is the difference between Asian food and Western food. 

When it comes to Chinese food, generally it’s very heavy on sauces. Therefore, restaurants have to elevate the packaging standards to ensure the food quality can remain consistent.

When you order Chinese food, you expect it to still be hot, to have the best of flavor. Iit often [comes] with soup and if the packaging is not good, it actually leaks. 

That has always been a challenge that Asian food delivery faces.

China created a new trend with laminate packaging to make sure all the packaging is sealed and kept warm. That helped the whole industry globally to maintain higher standards.

Joe Winger: 

There’s nothing worse than when you get the package to your house and it’s broken,  ripped, it’s spilled.

The superior packaging isn’t about looking pretty necessarily. It’s about keeping your food secure.

Kitty Lu: 

That’s right.  Another thing we have to consider is [being] environmental friendly.

The Chinese food industry has been blamed for using too much plastic to begin with. Therefore, the new packaging uses aluminum.

Joe Winger: 

So your HungryPanda app itself has a lot of features. Can you let’s talk through some of the most popular features?

Kitty Lu: 

Comparing with other apps, one thing we find quite convenient is that on the front page we have a very full restaurant list with tabs: by distance, by popularity, by discounts, by reviews, by delivery times. So it’s very easy for you to access. 

Other apps  have the categories but limited restaurants. 

Joe Winger: 

What’s the best way for an Asian restaurant to make the most of this opportunity of this new food trend?

Kitty Lu:

I think In the age of technology leveraging online platforms for visibility, working with a food delivery platform is definitely one of the ways to help them really engage with consumers.

When we talk about foodies, they are young, they’re always on social media. They’re always online. Therefore, promoting yourself in front of them is very important. 

We use our channels to really promote different restaurants to help them to expand their reach within their comfort zone.

Joe Winger: 

What’s your favorite food? What would you order on your app?

Kitty Lu: 

My favorite food is [the same as] the trend report.  Sichuan malatang.

So that shows the report’s authenticity.  The audience like the food like a real Chinese person.

The reason why I like the malatang is because not only is it delicious, but it’s actually quite healthy as well.

It’s a hot spicy soup, but you put in fresh vegetables, fresh meat, it’s like you’re cooking your own hot pot

And it’s a very balanced and nutritious meal. Flavorful when you put all these different ingredients into one pot of soup. Brings you more flavors and it’s very fast [to make].

Joe Winger: 

What is HungryPanda’s user coverage look like?

Kitty Lu: 

We have about 30 cities covered in the U. S. Obviously, New York, L.A., all major cities itself. I would be more than happy to provide you with the full on city list. We’re in Canada as well and just over 80 cities all around the globe.

Joe Winger: 

For the audience who’s watching and listening right now, what’s the best next step? How can they enjoy this app? 

Kitty Lu: 

If they haven’t downloaded it yet, give it a try.

For new users, we actually have new user vouchers available for them to have a few free deliveries. 

You can order to deliver, you can order to pick up it’s very convenient to use, very simple.  Obviously we have a much wider supply for Asian food.

Therefore, if you are a Asian food lover, you should have HungryPanda on your phone.

 

Weekend Wine Trip to Colorado: Winemaker Ben Parsons from The Ordinary Fellow reveals wine, food and nature in Palisade CO

Weekend Wine Trip to Colorado: Winemaker Ben Parsons from The Ordinary Fellow reveals wine, food and nature

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here

Joe Winger: 

Just to touch on background a little bit, you were the winemaker and founder of a very successful urban winery, the Infinite Monkey Theorem

Then you chose to move on to where you are now at The Ordinary Fellow

What was that transition like for you?

Ben Parsons: 

The Infinite Monkey Theorem was really about disrupting the wine industry and trying to make wine fun and relevant and accessible. 

We were the first ones in the U.S. to put wine in the can. We started kegging in 2008. 

It was really about creating these urban winery spaces, just a tap room for a craft brewery in a city where everyone could come down and enjoy. 

After 11 years of taking that to a 100,000 case production distributed in 42 states, there was a really good opportunity for me to get back to what I wanted to do, which is being in a vineyard.

Even though that might sound like a cliche, there is something quite romantic about farming and being surrounded by nature and really trying to make the very best wine you can from Colorado fruit that you grow and putting it in a bottle versus buying someone else’s wine and putting it in a can, they’re like two very different things.

I had an opportunity to take over a vineyard in southwest Colorado down in the Four Corners just outside of Cortez, where the Four Corners meet. 

It was in disrepair and hadn’t been pruned in four years. So I got back in there and now it’s looking really good.

So that’s taken 4 years.  Yeah it’s relatively small. It’s 13 acres of Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Sits at 6,000 feet elevation. So very high for a commercial vineyard. And it’s beautiful. 

It sits on a national monument called the Yucca House, which is an un-excavated ancestral Pueblan ruin from between the 10th and 12th century.

Starts at Mesa Verde, which most people are familiar with for the ancestral cliff dwellings from the Pueblans down there. It’s just a beautiful location. 

Yeah, two very different things, but kind of coming full circle almost as to what I got me into the industry in the beginning, back in the late 90s.

And now back there, but doing it on my own.

 

Palisade Colorado Winemaker Ben Parsons takes a Vineyard Tour

 

Joe Winger: 

Your famous quote in the wine world: “I miss being in the vineyard”

So for our audience, who’s going to go to wine country this weekend or this summer, when they take a vineyard tour, what should they be looking at?

Ben Parsons: 

As to how wine gets from a vineyard and a grape to a bottle. Most people think it just ends up on a grocery store shelf and that is not the case.

It’s really the idea that you could grow something from rootstock, farm it, suffer the vagaries of agricultural production, deal with all of those challenges,  do it in a sustainable way. 

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Determine when you’re going to pick that fruit. Take it into the winery. Ferment it. Turn it into wine. Age it in a barrel. Bottle it. Decide on the branding. Decide on the naming. Come up with a label design. 

Take it to all of those small awesome restaurants that everyone wants to hang out at because they’re making great food and getting good press.

You see my wine or I see my wine on someone else’s table, drinking it and to think where that came from.

And how many times those grapes got moved from a to b and then back, from b to c and then c to d whether it be like shoveling grapes with a pitchfork for a destemmer. 

Or shoveling fermented grapes into a press with a Home Depot bucket.

Or picking that case up and taking it from here to here, that got handled so many times, so much went into that, that I think there’s a huge disconnect amongst most consumers. 

Palisade Colorado Winemaker Ben Parsons on the Area’s Natural Beauty

Joe Winger: 

You chose to be in Palisade, Colorado making your wine. 

Tell us a little bit about the region and why someone should come visit you in Colorado?

Ben Parsons: 

Palisade is beautiful. It’s on the Western slope of Colorado. It’s about a 4 hour drive West of Denver over the mountains.

About 4 1/2 hours East of Salt Lake City. 

It’s an American Viticultural Area designate called the Grand Valley and it’s pretty stunning. 

You come through this Canyon called the Back Canyon on the North side, you have these book cliff mountains that  rise above you on the South side, you have the Colorado River, and it’s a very niche microclimate. It’s definitely an agricultural community.

What a lot of people don’t realize, because they just drive straight past on I-70 is it’s proximity to all things good, outdoorsy. 

Within 28 minutes I could be at a local ski resort called Powderhorn. It got 32 feet of snow last year 

I’m an hour and a half from Aspen.

I’m an hour and 20 minutes from Moab. 

I’m a 10 minute drive from Fruita, which has the best mountain biking in the world. 

It’s all old Indian territory. There’s wild mustangs up on the book cliffs. 

It’s known for its fruit. It’s actually known for its peaches, believe it or not.  Some of the best peaches grown anywhere in the United States. Arguably the best. 

But it’s a very small microclimate. 

Palisade is around 4,500 feet elevation. There’s about 26 wineries you can tour and visit. Take a few days, spend a weekend. 

There’s some good local restaurants, growing their own produce and making real good farm to table food.

Grand Junction is a city that in the last 5 years has really exploded. 

And Grand Junction is 10 minutes from Palisade. It went through a series of boom and busts during the oil shale boom business back in the day, but now it’s strongly focused on tourism.

Lots of people are leaving the front range of Denver, Colorado Springs and  moving to the Western slope for a kind of quality of life.

Also we have a lot of California transplants because it is cheaper to live. You are outdoors all the time. You can travel long distances very quickly.  I put 42,000 miles on my car this year delivering wine all over the state of Colorado. 

I feel like the state and this particular area has a lot going for it.  Definitely more than enough to fill a long weekend or a week’s trip. 

Exploring vineyards, food, farms, outdoor opportunities. 

Taking a trip to Moab, it’s really pretty. It’s one of the reasons I moved here. 

I’d been in the city for a long time. I grew up just South of London in England, but I lived in London for some time and I loved it when I was young.  I love Denver as well.

When I started the Infinite Monkey Theorem, that was really when a lot of people were moving to Denver and it was becoming something substantial. 

It was one of the fastest growing cities in the country at that time. 

I feel like we were a big part of pushing that growth and in tandem with the other food and beverage scene, like craft breweries and good restaurants.

Joe Winger: 

You’ve mentioned different restaurants and food and dinner.  Our audience primarily are foodies.   We’re in Colorado for a wine weekend, we come to the Ordinary Fellow for a wine tasting.

Can you suggest a few places and different cuisines that are a must visit within 20-30 minutes of you?

Ben Parsons: 

In Palisade there’s a good restaurant called Pesh. One of the former line cooks at a linear in Chicago started it with his wife, maybe 5-6 years ago. It’s excellent. 

In Grand Junction, where most people stay there’s a few good restaurants started by this guy, Josh Nirenberg, who has been nominated for James Beard award several times for best chef and has one called Bin 707,  Then he just opened a third called Jojo’s. He also has a kind of trendy taco spot called Taco Party, which is a fun name. 

If you like craft cocktails, there’s a new place that opened called Melrose Spirit Company. Guy opened it in a hotel that was recently renovated. Really cute, really excellent cocktails.

Joe Winger: 

Let’s get into the wine geek stuff now and talk about your vineyards. You have Colorado Box Bar, Hawks Nest.

So let’s talk through terroir, soil type, elevation. 

Ben Parsons: 

So Box Bar, It’s in Cortez, sits around between 6,000 feet elevation.

It’s on this weatheral loam that has some clay in it, which has these water retention properties. It is essentially a desert. So you do have to drip irrigate, there’s less than 7 inches of precipitation a year. 

So very little rainfall which is good in some ways in that there is very little disease pressure.

You’re not having to spray. There’s no necessity to spray for powdery mildew or anything down at our vineyards. 

It’s essentially farmed very minimalistically. 

Lagging very sustainably, which I know people appreciate. 

Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay. We’re just planting some Chenin Blanc and some Charbonneau, which is an italian red varietal as well. 

Hawk’s Nest is not my own property, but I work with a grower called Guy Drew who planted four different kinds of Pinot Noir and two different kinds of Chardonnay there.

That vineyard is at 6, 800 feet and that is the highest commercial vineyard in North America. 

Similar soil properties as the Box Bar. Making some really good Pinot Noir. 

I think what’s interesting about Colorado is we have a very short growing season, 155 – 165 days.  Napa has 240 days. That’s frost free days. 

So the thing is that we have such high sunlight exposure because of the elevation and the ultraviolet light that we have the same number of degree days as Napa Valley. So we can ripen like Cabernet Sauvignon, but we’re ripening it in a shorter period of time.  That’s fairly unique. 

The Ordinary Fellow is really focusing on traditional French varietals from Chenin Blanc Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah.

Most recently we took over a vineyard in Utah so I’m actually farming a vineyard about 1 ½ hour drive from Moab called Montezuma Canyon Ranch. 

That’s this ancient sandstone with a little bit of clay in there that was planted in 2007. 12 acres of Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Riesling Chardonnay.  We made an awesome Utah Rosé vineyard last harvest 2023, which we just released. 

You don’t see that many wines from Utah so that’s why I’m excited about it. 

I think there’s only 6 wineries in Utah and I’m not sure that many of them get their fruit from Utah.

Joe Winger: 

You mentioned that you have one of the highest peak elevation commercial vineyards in North America.

What are the benefits and the disadvantages to such a high elevation?

Ben Parsons: 

If you think about spending any time on a mountain, it can be really warm, but as soon as the sun goes down, it gets very cold. 

So having high elevation vineyards, even though you might be in a quite a hot growing region as soon as the sun goes down, the temperature does drop.

You have a large diurnal temperature shift. 

So in Cortez, in the growth, during the growing season or during ripening, say late September, mid September, late September. We could be 85 to 90 in the day, but 45 to 50 at night, which is a really big temperature swing. 

It basically means that the vine has a kind of chance to just shut down and rest.

From an enology perspective, you can retain more natural acidity in the fruit because it’s not being metabolized by having a lot of sunlight constantly and higher temperature. So we don’t have to make any artificial acid additions or anything like that you may have to do in more established wine regions in the United States. 

Our wines all have really great balance to them and really good acidity. None of them are overdone. They’re not big, jammy, overly alcoholic. 

They’re all well balanced between acids, tannin, alcohol, sugar, but they’re all bone dry. 

There is no fermentable sugar in any of them, which leads to palate weight and mouthfeel, but but they’re not sweet per se. 

Even my Riesling is bone dry.

Joe Winger: 

During the Infinite Monkey Theorem days you led the canned wines movement.  

How does it feel seeing it become so incredibly popular and any big lessons you learned from that experience?

Ben Parsons: 

I genuinely believe that [we led with canned wines].  In 2009 we entered into a R and D project with Ball Corporation, the largest supply of aluminum cans in the world. 

To figure out how to can wine and everyone thought it was stupid and everyone just turned their noses up at it and thought that RTD wine and RTD drinks were stupid.

It’s a tough question because I think that canned wine is good because of its use application, primarily.  Where you can take it and where you can drink it. 

Now, very rarely do I see people putting the best wine they’ve ever made in a can. So I think it’s all about where you want to drink it, who you want to drink it with.  There’s definitely this kind of utility aspect to it. 

Also price point wise, you don’t see that many canned wine, four packs above $16,

I would say so. Yeah, price wise, it’s fairly economical from a sustainability perspective. It makes a lot of sense.

But from an absolute quality perspective, you’re probably still going to be buying bottled wine over canned wine. 

It’s all about where you’re going to consume it. 

Sometimes when I see it I think about when you start any category, there’s always those people that are out there doing it way before anyone else is doing it.  It’s those people that usually don’t reap the benefits of it because they put all of the effort into it. 

I look at LinkedIn occasionally and I’m just baffled by people that think that it’s a new thing.  It just blows my mind. 

Joe Winger: 

You have an excellent sparkling wine and you’ve mentioned England’s excitement about the sparkling. 

Why is England falling in love with sparkling wine? And why should all of us be falling in love with sparkling wine?

Ben Parsons: 

Historically, England has consumed a lot of sparkling wine. 

But in terms of actually growing grapes and making their own sparkling wine, that’s happened in the last 20 years. 

That’s one of those unfortunate advantages of global warming in a kind of isolated geographical area that previously, you wouldn’t have been able to ripen Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier.

It would have been a challenge making really good sparkling wine in Kent and Sussex and Southeast England where a lot of it is made. 

But with a few degrees temperature rise, that’s now possible. And it’s the same chalk escarpment as champagne. They’re very close to each other.

They’re just separated by 24 miles of the English Channel, right? 

So they’re actually geographically very close to each other a little further than 24 miles, but climatically very similar. 

So actually, a lot of French champagne houses have bought up land in Kent and Sussex over the last 20 years and have been planting that, and now some of the bubbles are coming out.

Joe Winger: 

When I have an opportunity to speak with an Oregon winemaker, we often talk about the challenges based on their region. Do you feel like you are also in a region [Colorado] that’s more problematic?

Can you share a lesson you’ve learned from solving some of those problems?

Ben Parsons: 

The whole industry because of the shortness of the growing season, it’s always on a knife edge because you can have late spring frosts that can come through a bud break and just wipe you out.

But you can also have these freak-like early winter freezes in October where there’s there’s still fruit hanging or maybe it’s just come off and it goes from 70 degrees in the day to 8 degrees suddenly, and the sap still flowing in the vines and then all of the vines, the trunks split, the cordon split.

That’s what happened in Palisade maybe 3 or 4 years ago now. 

Then in Cortez where Box Bar is, last year we had a hailstorm come through just after the bud break. So our Chardonnay was out and got wiped out. Then the secondary buds pushed and we went from a crop of 36 tons to 10 tons overnight.

That’s just agriculture anywhere. Unfortunately that’s just one of the risks.

Joe Winger: 

Let’s talk about wine. Their flavor profiles. The different bottles you offer.

When we come visit your tasting room in Palisade, Colorado any hints about what they should be excited to taste?

Ben Parsons: 

 

Blanc de Noir

Yeah the sparkling wine, that’s Blanc de Noir, so that’s 100% Pinot Noir. That’s about as geeky as it gets, because that’s single vineyard, single grower, single clone of Pinot Noir. only 8 months in barrel.  The base wine was barrel aged for about 6 months, and then it was entourage, lying on its utilise in a bottle for six months.

Then it’s put on a riddling rack and hand riddled one bottle at a time. Then disgorged by hand, just take the top off, put your thumb over the top of it so nothing comes out and then no dosage.

So again, just super geeky, like really bone dry, like really crisp, great acid. So that is that wine is super hands on.

It’s delicious. It still gets those more developed, brioche-y notes. Texturally it’s very pleasing on the palate. I think we make really good method champignons, bottle fermented sparkling wine. 

 

Chardonnay

A lot of people these days think it’s trendy to not like chardonnay, because they heard somewhere about that, but there are actually some really good Chardonnays out there, which aren’t all aged in new French oak and haven’t all gone through like a creamy buttery secondary fermentation. And I think mine is one of them. It was aged in 8 year old barrels.  So there’s really no influence on it at all. 

It’s all hand harvested or whole cluster pressed. I think that wine has a really pretty texture, like this palette coating texture but it has really good acidity and it smells like a ripe peach or a dried apricot. It’s really pretty.

Pinot Noir

Our red pinot noir.  Again that spent just 9 months in neutral barrels so I think there was a trend like 20 years ago to put everything in a brand new barrel and every winemakers thought it was cool, but you know in the last 5 – 6 years, I think that has changed 

Winemakers are really trying to let the soil and let their vineyards speak for themselves.

Minimal kind of intervention to a certain extent. It is the trend.

Our Pinot Noir has done really well. It’s on the much lighter side. I would say it’s more like a German style Pinot Noir, like lighter with really good acidity, firm tannin. Beautiful aroma.

I think all of our wines are just very well balanced. Very food friendly, very clean. They’re not funky. I’m very proud of that.

Joe Winger: 

I’m assuming balance and the clean is a style choice by you? 

Ben Parsons: 

Balance is easy because it’s done in the vineyard because of the elevation and the retention of acidity.  It’s just about when you pick it. So you’re tasting [the grapes] for flavor and like phenolic ripeness and the seeds being brown, et cetera, but you’re also testing a few for your pH, your titratable acidity and your sugar levels. Then you make an informed decision as to when you’re picking it. 

The cleanliness part of it really just comes down to the fact that I feel like winemakers, even though this doesn’t sound very romantic, you’re almost just like an insurance manager in that you don’t want to mess it up.

So you make informed decisions, preemptively.  You top your barrels, like every 2-3 weeks, you do things to make sure the wine, does not end up flawed  through a secondary characteristic developing.   

Sometimes that’s a flavor enhancer and sometimes that’s good, but when it’s overdone…  I believe there are a lot of wines that they get away with it these days.  To me it’s just bad winemaking.

I’m definitely kind of a minimal interventionist 

Joe Winger: 

I always feel like white wine doesn’t get enough love and respect. People love talking about the complexities of reds.  You make a phenomenal Riesling

Ben Parsons: 

Interestingly I really don’t drink red wine anymore. Occasionally I’ll drink some Pinot Noir, but I much prefer drinking white wines. I think a lot of people in the industry crave acidity, and yeah, my reasoning is a good example.

The general consumer in the U. S. still thinks that all raisins are sweet. I think that’s just a common misconception, that’s purely a stylistic choice from the winemaker, and my choice is to allow the yeast to ferment all of the sugar until there is no residual sugar.

To have a wine with high natural acidity that pairs well with food. That’s my choice as a winemaker. Those are the wines that I enjoy most that kind of just leave your palate just like this rasping acidity. Take the enamel off your teeth, and but have beautiful aroma.

Our Riesling is starting to show some characteristics from being in the bottle for 18 months. Where it gets those kind of, it’s tough to say about making it sound bad, but those more kerosene-y , kind of petroleum, kind of eraser like notes, which are very typical of Riesling, intertwined with really nice citrus and green apple.

Yeah, and like really just good structure. That benefits from growing at elevation here for sure.

Joe Winger: 

Petit Verdot is probably lesser known, less popular, but it deserves all the love anyway. 

Ben Parsons: 

Petit Verdot, interesting, like one of the six red Bordeaux grape varieties. Bordeaux is maritime climate. It’s much cooler than Colorado.

It doesn’t really get the chance to ripen as well as it does here. So when it can ripen, it doesn’t just need to get blended into Cabernet Sauvignon or something to just give it more tannin and more structure. 

Here it can stand alone as a single varietal. 

The greenness is gone. The tannin is not like just rip your face off tannin.  It’s well developed. Like silky, velvety, firm, but not like really dry and like Petit Verdot can be.  Aromatics are very lifted on it, and it’s not a massive red wine by any means.

That’s grown at a vineyard about half an hour from Box Bar called Canyon of the Ancients and that vineyard was planted in 2006.

Unfortunately we only made about 99 cases of that wine. It’s fun to introduce people to wines that they probably haven’t heard of, but wines that that can stand up to any good red wines that you may have heard of.

Palisade Colorado Winemaker Ben Parsons reveals his Favorite Food

Joe Winger: 

Do you identify yourself as a foodie?   Can you pick 1-2 of your bottles and your favorite dish for dinner tonight?

Ben Parsons: 

Yeah I would definitely pair my Riesling with a Thai curry or even a panang curry. I think it does really well with oriental food that has some level of heat to it. But also I think it does really well with a charcuterie plate, some almonds and some cheese. I think you can’t go wrong with that. 

Then my Petit Verdot, for example I think there is more tannin in there.  For those of us that like the light grilling you couldn’t go wrong with serving that with a ribeye. It’s delicious.  Or if you’re cooking a little heartier food in the winter, maybe a lasagna.  Something that can really work with that tannin.

I think my wines do well with a lot of different food just because of the balance that they have, they’re not going to overpower the food and vice versa, which is what it’s all about. 

But I also enjoy them, just having a glass on its own, to be honest.  When I get home from work, sometimes I love that.

Joe Winger: 

I’m watching your Instagram videos quite a bit, and it seems like you’re having a lot of fun sharing knowledge, showing your vineyard, showing what it’s like day to day.

Ben Parsons: 

The one time that I do enjoy social media is when you’re in the vineyard or you’re doing something that seems that other people might never have seen before.

I’m in awe of where I am because I feel like it comes across in those videos. It’s pretty down here today, and those are beautiful vineyard sites.

Or if you’re filtering a wine or racking a wine or, trying or shoveling grapes.

Just the imagery comes across and really shows how much work is involved in it. I always struggle when it’s like go take a photo of a bottle of wine in front of a restaurant.  I don’t know how you make that look cool.

Find more about Ben Parson’s The Ordinary Fellow website, instagram

More about Palisade, CO

 

East LA ‘ Birrieria Chalio ‘ Serves Big Flavor Birria from Raul Luis Family Secret

East LA ‘ Birrieria Chalio ‘ Serves Big Flavor Birria from Raul Luis Family Secret

One of East LA’s most popular restaurant serves Kings, Queens and Food Royalty.  You can get a taste if it too.

Raul Luis brings Flavor with East LA’s birria

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here

Joe Winger: 

We have a really special treat today. We’re talking with Raul Luis from Birria the restaurant here in East LA. We’re going to talk about family. We’re going to talk about flavor. We’re going to talk about how he creates these amazing dishes. And then we’re going to talk more about how you can have a bite and taste his the food from his restaurants.

Raul Luis, thank you for joining us today.

Raul Luis: 

Thank you for having me here. I’m very honored to be here speaking to you.

Joe Winger: 

What’s the most important message you want the audience to hear today?

Raul Luis: 

I think we can start talking about how Birria came to LA. How do we get it here? What caused that trigger to start selling the food here in LA? 

My dad was given a certain skill set, handed down to him to make birria.

Birria is chivo goat meat. He used that skill set back in Mexico. He came to the U. S. when he came over during the Bracero program. He was talking to his buddies and he told them he’s a Barriario. He doesn’t know how to cook birria. So they would ask him if he would cook that dish from because that dish was only traditionally eaten during those special once in a lifetime events, baptisms, quinceañeras, weddings.

So the common denominator in all those events was the birria. 

You went [to an important life event], you knew you were going to have birria. I tell people the story because I remember being small myself when I was young, that we wouldn’t eat meat too often because we were vegetarians, not by choice, but because of circumstance.

When someone was having a party, we said, “Wow, we’re going to eat birria today.” We knew we look forward to, we’re going to eat meat. It’s time. Let’s get ready to go eat some meat. Get ready, put on your Sunday clothes and go. When my father came to the U S People knew about him. They asked him to cook their dish for him.

When he cooked the meal for someone’s wedding, quinceanera, baptism, for their special occasion, he would cook extra. 

So his friends would come over. When his friends would come over, he would serve whatever portion it was, usually like a whole carcass of lamb, 50 pounds. And then there was some leftover, so he would feed his friends.

And he would tell the stories when he would feed his friends. His friends wouldn’t leave. They would stay there for hours and they would be talking and my dad was, “I gotta go do my Sunday [errands], my day off. We gotta go to our family.  They were there for hours and all their memories, all memories, special occasions.

Remember this? Remember that? And my dad said, “Man, what? Why are you talking? Why are you staying here so long? 

It was the food. 

He didn’t realize the time. It was the food that was triggering those special [memories], triggering their mind. 

They’re time travelers, they’re going back to other special events.

I tell people,  it’s those once in a lifetime events that are much more exponential, much more magnified because it was somebody’s wedding.  It was somebody’s baptism. 

That’s how it began, by cooking.

 

Joe Winger: 

Your father was an amazing person. Back in the early 1960s, back in Mexico, he’s working in a tiny little five chair restaurant in the Mercado before migrating here to the US.

What have you learned from him taking this huge life journey?

Raul Luis: 

I look back, how do the immigrants do this? How do they leave their country, leave everything behind? 

He had a small spot, maybe five people to sit there.  He would sell on the weekends. Business wasn’t that brisk. 

They were opening up a new spot, but they required a down payment to secure it. So he had to come to the U.S. so he could save up some money. 

They asked, does anyone know how to cook? Dad raises his hand. I’m a birriero. 

So he began cooking birria for the farm workers. He was limited because now he was out of his comfort zone.

He was no longer in Mexico. He didn’t have access to all the spices that he used back home. 

In the preparation of the different birrias, before they put the red adobe sauce, it’s white.

All the farm workers ate it up, but the people who were in charge wouldn’t eat it because it wasn’t easy on the eyes. People eat with their eyes. 

[So he changed his process]

Why don’t you add the red before? 

So, we marinated before we cook it, 

[The second change]

There wasn’t all the spices we needed, so the chef that was there helped them get new spices or tweak the recipe a bit.

That’s what happened.

You have aspirations, and dreams, as many immigrants.  They come to the U. S., make some money, go back.

He never went back. 

Once you plant roots, then it’s hard to go back to your country of origin. 

Joe Winger: 

Fast forwarding to the present day.  Your Birria in East LA is very popular.

What’s the most common dish at the restaurant?

Raul Luis: 

We’re known for Birria.   9 out of 10 plates will be the Birria. 

Sometimes we have new customers who want to try it but are hesitant.  I explain our 10-hour cooking process [to get them excited.]  Underground pits, cooking it with the mesquite wood to add that flavor.

The gaminess, the taste, our process, all that fun stuff, secrets.

Raul Luis ‘s East LA Birrieria Chalio most popular dish

Joe Winger: 

Can you walk us through the flavor and process? 

Raul Luis: 

It’s a 2-day process. You get the [goat] carcass, cut it up into pieces. 

The ribs, the neck bone, the French rack. There’s all these different cuts. Every single cut has a different taste profile and texture. So when you walk in, it depends on you. How dirty do you wanna get? 

Do you wanna get down and dirty?  You get the bones. 

I tell people the neck is the best because it’s so tender, so soft, not too much fat on it. 

If you’d like the nerve, then you get the ribs.

The flavor is amazing. In the bones, it’s amazing. 

There’s people who don’t like to deal with the struggling or getting dirty. So they go with the all leg meat. That’s the drier part.  It’s good, but it’s not. Not my first choice.

We cook it, we steam it, we marinate it, let it sit for about 24 hours and we put it into a our pressure cooker.

Part of the science is the way you stack it up, like a pyramid, and then they put firewood under it.  If you don’t stack it correctly, part of it won’t cook. 

You have to put it up a certain way to make sure that all the meat gets cooked properly. 

We take it out.  We’ve got to separate it so we can have all the different parts. Distinguish the leg from the neck bone from the ribs, put that aside. Then we put it in the oven so we can get like a slow roast, nice little crispy.  Tender on the outside, real soft on the inside.

The most important thing is the consommé. 

That’s the broth, we call it the “honey”. You can’t have it without the consomme. The birria isn’t birria without the consommé. That’s what gives it the flavor. That’s what takes it to the next level.

Some people say, “Oh, I had birria.”  No you didn’t.  That was a taco.

No, you’ve got to have it with the consommé.

The new movement with the birria, they dip the sauce. It’s the same concept, but I would like to think that our consommé is a little more intense, more flavorful, because we use the broth from the goat and from the mince that it distills.

So it’s really flavorful. You got to try it. 

East LA Birrieria Chalio from Raul Luis – A Family Secret

Joe Winger: 

You have a deep family history, you have a cultural history. Obviously food is part of that history. Can you talk a little bit about the cultural value and the meaning behind Birria and why it’s important to you?

Raul Luis: 

I tell people it’s made to feed kings and queens.  How? 

Because in our region, Central Mexico, the birria is eaten by most of the population in Mexico.  About 85-90% are Catholic. 

So one of the first steps when a child is born, they take them to the church and that’s where he becomes a king.

They baptize them. They have a festivity. There’s a party going on.

Then the second phase is they feed the Quinceaneras. 

That’s a rite of passage where you go from childhood to adulthood for the girls. So now you feed the princesses. 

The next step is when the lady gets married, she’s the queen.

All three of those things, traditionally, was birria. 

That’s the only thing that was in common.  That helped people look back to those special occasions. When people eat the birria, they go back to that once in a lifetime event. 

It’s time traveling for them. 

It’s the memories. 

Fast forward to when we came to LA, the parents would bring their kids, [and now their kids say] ”I used to come here 20 years ago. My dad used to bring me when I was a kid.”

So that’s what it does. It brings the family together. 

Raul Luis Battles Fast Food Giants …and Wins (kinda)

Joe Winger: 

You mentioned some fast food places now working within the same cuisine.  Rubbing you the wrong way.  

Raul Luis: 

Yeah, it’s fascinating how many people called me [about it].

Del Taco and a few other places that were selling birria, but they’re not selling it the way it’s supposed to be. That’s wrong. At first I was a little worked up explaining that they’re missing the point here.  What it means to the people from back in Mexico. 

But there’s always a silver lining. Now the dish is mainstream. 

I would have never been able to do that. These guys with these big budgets are able to cross over and speak to different generations, different ethnic groups.

Before, when we first opened up our restaurant. [Everyone would ask]  “What’s it called? What is that?  I don’t know what that is.”

Now people know when before they didn’t. 

So I give them credit for being able to make people aware and bringing attention to this dish. 

I see myself as the missing link. I’m the one that’s going to fill in the gaps to tell what the dish really means, what significance it has, what historical cultural value it has.  That’s what I’m doing with our YouTube channel at Birria World.

East LA Birrieria Chalio leads the Birria Movement

Joe Winger: 

Let’s talk about the Birria movement. Everyone says you are the leader.  What does the future of Birria look like in East LA and in the country itself?

Raul Luis: 

In a perfect world, everybody would switch over from beef to goat, which is actually one of the most eaten meats across the world.

If you go to the Middle East or China, they eat that dish.  Here in the U. S., it’s not as popular. 

Introducing them to the dish so they can try out the different textures, different profiles. They can see that there’s another option. 

I source from a vendor in Texas.

The meat we use is paleo certified. It’s halal, all this special stuff. Probably a little more nutritional than beef.

There’s more taste, more flavors in the meat. 

My job is to go out there and have people be aware that [this] exists. 

There’s potential growth across the US to be provided for different ethnic groups and different generations of people.

Joe Winger: 

You’ve had world-famous food stars visit you.

Raul Luis: 

Anthony Bourdain came to our LA location.  I guess he saw something before everybody else did and realized it was a special dish. 

The second person was Jonathan Gold.  He was a writer for the LA times. He wrote beautiful articles on us.  He also saw what the dish meant to our community. 

They gave it a little approval. Come on, try it. Take your turn. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I’m sure you’ll be back

 

Joe Winger: 

Raul Luis with his Birria restaurant in East LA. Tell us all the ways that our audience can find you and learn more about you.

Raul Luis: 

They did a documentary, “Mexi Papa: Chronicles of Birria” on YouTube.  That’s just the basic history of how Birria got to LA and the US.

Then you can go to Birria World on YouTube.  We do a birria tour, going to different restaurants, we showcase how they cook it, why it tastes different, how it’s served differently in certain regions. 

On Instagram, you can go to Chalios Birria for my Texas location and East LA Chalios Birria Instagram.

Then on Facebook, it’s a Chalios Seminary.

 

 

LA’s best kept Sushi Secret: Yama Sushi Marketplace celebrates 40 years

Yama Sushi Marketplace, LA’s best kept secret, celebrates 40 years

This June 2024, Yama Sushi Marketplace, a rare gem in Los Angeles will celebrate 40 years of the freshest Sashimi and Sushi Angelenos have come to crave and if possible, keep a secret.

“Please don’t tell anyone about this store” whispers one customer while another admits that “It is just not right to gatekeep this any longer!”

https://www.facebook.com/yamaseafoodla

In June 1984, Kenzo Yamada and his wife Nobuko opened Yama Seafood on Las Tunas Drive in San Gabriel.

After many years working as a fish power broker in Los Angeles, Kenzo Yamada or “Yama San” decided to open up his own shop where because of his contacts, was always assured the freshest and best cuts of fish when he visited the fish market every morning.

Today, these same fish companies provide Yama Sushi Marketplace with the freshest fish from all over the world, delivered daily.

https://www.facebook.com/yamaseafoodla

The network of Japanese sushi specialists is quite impressive and Yama san knew them all, from Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu Restaurants), Katsuya Uechi (Katsuya Sushi) and  Kazunori Nozawa (Sugarfish and Kazunori).

No doubt that Los Angeles was ground zero for Sushi in the USA

There is no doubt that Los Angeles was ground zero for Sushi in the USA, especially with the guidance of Noritoshi Kanai of Mutual Foods (Japanese Food Distributor who introduced Sushi to the American palette).

Although through the years, many larger Japanese Super Markets began to grow in Los Angeles, Yama Seafood stayed true to form, giving customers personal service to choose the freshest cuts of Salmon, Yellowtail, Blue Fin Tuna as Yama San would personally slice each serving of sashimi for the customers.

https://www.facebook.com/yamaseafoodla

Nobuko San, his wife, would run the front and cook the most delicious side dishes for customers, and customers were always given a bag of ice to keep the fish nice and cold.

One of Yama’s first employees, Enrique Moreno (“Kike San”) became Yama’s right hand man, and helped create the now famous Yama California Roll.  “We wanted something special with the correct balance of filling, texture and rice”.

https://www.facebook.com/yamaseafoodla

Last year, in 2023, the Los Angeles Times recognized Yama as having LA’s Best California Roll, and still today, customers line up at Yama for this special sushi.  It is true that customers would literally fight over the last California Rolls in the fridge as two customers famously played a tug of war with the last California Roll Sushi as it went flying into the air and spilled on to the floor.

Yama Seafood was San Gabriel’s “Best Kept Secret”

Although Yama Seafood was San Gabriel’s “Best Kept Secret,” many customers through the years heard about Yama and still to this day travel across state lines to grab the Yama Sashimi and Sushi.

Yama San was a fixture in San Gabriel as many customers had a very close and personal relationship with him as he was always very generous with his support of the community.

In May 2021, Yama San decided it was time to pass the torch, and the Kohno Family of San Marino, stepped in to take over this precious gem.

“The actual interview took 6 months”

Scott Kohno

the CEO of EJL Entertainment

Yama San wanted to make sure that he could trust the next generation to maintain the quality and vision that he firmly established in San Gabriel.

With Scott’s extensive background in retail and food throughout the USA and Asia and his family’s experience in finance, marketing and operations, the store was gradually upgraded, and an expansion plan of the new Yama in West LA (opened 2022) and a brand new Yama in K-town (September 2024) commemorates an exciting time for the Yama Sushi Marketplace brand.

Today, Yama Sushi Marketplace has been named the “Adult Disneyland” by one of Yama’s customers as it transcends just a typical market or restaurant.

From the freshest sushi prepared by sushi chefs on the hour every hour,  to the largest selection of Sake, curated by Scott’s wife, Wendy a Kikisakeshi (Sake Sommelier) Yama has something for everyone.  Unique Shoyu (soy sauce) with Matsutake mushrooms, fresh wasabi, party platters including the new Temaki Time Hand Roll Party Platter and unique gifts and kitchen goods from Japan make the shopping experience second to none.

Whether it is the monthly sushi making or sake tasting classes or the cute Japanese stationery products, Yama is a store that is truly a feast for the eyes (a customer literally walked into to the store with her eyes shielded so she would not be tempted by Yama’s Specialty Gift Table.  “I just want sushi today and cannot get distracted by these tempting Japanese gifts!” she insisted.   A West LA Father holding the hand of his 4 year old daughter commented “thank you so much for bringing this store to West LA.  My daughter and I love Yama and it is now our Friday Night Date Night!”

To commemorate Yama’s 40th milestone, Yama will feature special events during the entire month of June, including retro nostalgic dishes from 40 years ago, mystery grab bags, special 40th anniversary merchandise and the festivities will conclude with the June 29th 40th Anniversary Celebration featuring a Blue Fin Sashimi Cutting Demonstration and Japanese Taiko Drummers.

Yama Seafood LA is a Japanese sushi marketplace

Yama Seafood is a Japanese sushi marketplace with 39 years of history in the San Gabriel Valley. They specialize in offering authentic Japanese meals that customers can enjoy at home, including a variety of party platters.

Both of their stores (San Gabriel and West LA) feature a unique selection of imported Japanese products, snacks, sake and beer, carefully curated and seasonally refreshed by their dedicated team. Additionally, they cater to diverse dietary preferences with grab-and-go items like Chicken Katsu, Somen Salad, and an assortment of Vegan Sushi options under our special brands, Sushi With Attitude and Vegan Sushi With Attitude.

This combination of tradition, quality, and variety makes Yama Seafood (Sushi Marketplace) an ideal destination for anyone seeking an authentic Japanese culinary experience.

For more information, to order online or for grand opening & anniversary celebration activities please visit: https://www.yamaseafoodla.com

Premiere Dining Destination Just an Hour from LA! Conejo Valley’s Selvin Restaurant and Lounge, Grand Opening June 2024

Ventura County ‘s Selvin Restaurant and Lounge, the Conejo Valley premiere dining destination Grand Opening June 2024

Selvin’s Restaurant and Lounge opens in June 2024, becoming Conejo Valley’s premiere dining destination for all occasions.

Selvin Restaurant and Lounge

Selvin’s Restaurant and Lounge

Ventura County’s dining destination

Ventura County’s dining destination provides a lush interior oasis serving a signature California coastal cuisine menu and mixologist-crafted cocktails. It is located next to the Palm Garden Hotel, TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s number-one Choice since 2019, fostering a welcoming neighborhood vibe and inviting you to relax, celebrate, and savor the moment with us.

Chef John Vega’s stellar culinary background

At Selvin’s, guests can expect a culinary journey curated by, Chef John Vega. With a stellar culinary background from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Napa, he’s celebrated for his exquisite palate, creative flair, and extensive experience working at the Three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago. Having honed his skills in prestigious kitchens, Chef Vega brings a wealth of experience and a passion for culinary excellence to Selvin’s.

Special Grand Opening Menu

To celebrate the grand opening and to thank guests for joining, Selvin’s is offering a limited-time tasting menu and complimentary signature cocktails to the first 97 guests.

Conejo Valley’s  Selvin Restaurant and Lounge

Featuring timeless dishes that exemplify the restaurant’s commitment to freshness, innovation, and American cuisine with a Coastal California twist, the restaurant will showcase the breadth of its culinary ambitions.

Sweet Corn Agnolotti

Sweet Corn Agnolotti, Selvin’s Restaurant and Lounge

Featuring tantalizing starters, a variety of shared plates, elegant main courses, and divine desserts, from all of the finest locally sourced ingredients. This is the perfect place for quick meetings, family and friends gatherings, and corporate and social private events.

“Our hospitality team isn’t just a group of individuals;

we’re a family united by a love for creating memorable experiences.

With boundless energy and fresh perspectives,

we infuse each dish and every interaction with our passion for hospitality,

ensuring that every visit is not just a meal but a memorable experience.”

Steven Ortmann

Chief Operating Officer

Selvin’s Restaurant and Lounge is the brainchild of a team that’s passionate about bringing an extraordinary dining experience to Ventura County.

Bruzu, Selvin Restaurant and Lounge

Bruzu, Selvin’s Restaurant and Lounge

Inspired by the rich culinary landscape of coastal California and the contemporary American dining ethos, Selvin’s aims to be an establishment where every visit celebrates the vibrant, diverse flavors that define the community.

Conejo Valley Selvin Restaurant and Lounge Owner Harry Selvin

Harry Selvin, Owner and Founder has been a community icon for decades. Traveling the world for years, Harry’s always had an itch for hospitality. Acquiring the Palm Garden Hotel in 2012, warranted Harry the opportunity to transform hospitality in the Greater Conejo Valley.

Vegas Vesper, Selvin Restaurant and Lounge

Vegas Vesper, Selvin’s Restaurant and Lounge

In the years ahead, Steven Ortmann and his team decided to create something special to celebrate the legacy of Mr. Selvin, introducing Selvin’s Restaurant + Lounge.

“Building a restaurant with a passionate management team

is like crafting a symphony;

each member brings their unique instrument,

but it’s the harmony of our passion

that creates the perfect dining experience.”

Harry Selvin, Owner

Their mission is to create a space that feels like home but inspires a sense of adventure, allowing visitors and locals alike to create memorable moments over exceptional hospitality. Welcome to Selvin’s — where good food, great drinks, and even greater company await.

Selvin’s is the premier restaurant and lounge

Selvin’s is the premier restaurant and lounge found next to the renovated Palm Garden Hotel. Modern yet classic, the food is described as California coastal cuisine. Indoor dining, outdoor patio, champagne room, and banquet event space make Selvin’s the perfect place for any celebratory occasion.

Executive Chef John Vega

John’s culinary journey began as a young prodigy at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Napa, where he quickly distinguished himself as one of the institution’s brightest talents. His exceptional skills earned him a coveted position at Alinea, a world-renowned Three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago, making him one of the youngest chefs to grace its kitchen. Fueled by fond memories of bonding with his father in the kitchen, set against the backdrop of classical music, John understands the intimate nature of food—the power it holds to create lasting memories and forge meaningful connections.

Driven by an unwavering commitment to perfection and a relentless desire to explore culinary boundaries, John embarked on a quest to craft unparalleled dining experiences.

For reservations, contact at reservations@selvins.com

Selvin’s Website

Selvin’s Instagram

Selvin’s TikTok

Selvin’s Facebook

Eve Bushman’s Wine Spectator Grand Tour 2024 Las Vegas

Eve Bushman‘s Wine Spectator Grand Tour 2024 Las Vegas

Last Saturday night, at Resorts World Las Vegas, Eddie and I covered our very first Wine Spectator Grand Tour tasting!

Eyeballing this one for a while, as all the wines scored 90 points or greater – any 90-point and up wine awarded blind by Wine Spectator means a lot in my opinion – and there were 235 wineries represented!

I had some California favorites I wanted to try, and of course dozens from around the world.

But, knowing me, covering the event was going to take most of my time and I would be lucky to hit up just so many tables, with that in mind these were my favorite wines and their numerical scores:

Vina Almaviva Puento Alto 2021, 96.  

Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Benchland Select 2019, 91.

Bodega Catena Zapata Nicolas Catena Zapata Mendoza 2009 (Cab and Malbec), 94.

Cesare Amarone Valpolicella Classico, 2018, 91.

Louis Roederer Brut Champagne Collection 244 NV, 93.

Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Signature 2019, 93.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne, NV, 93.

Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Family Reserve 2019, 94.

Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2021, 94.

Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2021, 94.

Croft Vintage Port 2017, 97.

Cuvaison Pinot Noir Napa Valley Los Carneros Small Lot Spire 2021, 92.

Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Signature 2018, 92.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2021, 92.

Frank Family Chardonnay Carneros 2021, 92.

Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Kathryn Hall 2016, 96.

Laurent-Perrier Brut Rose Champagne Cuvee NV, 92.

Marques de Caceres Rioja Gaudium Reserva 2018, 91.

Mollydooker Shiraz McLaren Vale Velvet Glove 2019, 94.

Pasqua Amarone Della Valpolicella Mai Dire Mai 2013, 91.

Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2019, 93.

Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2019, 91.

Roederer Estate Brut Rose Anderson Valley L’Ermitage 2015, 93.

Sandeman Tawny Port 20 Year Old NV, 92.

Schramsberg Vineyard Brut Rose North Coast 2020, 93.

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District S.L.V. 2018, 94.

Taub Family Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Beckstoffer Vyds Georges III 2019, 93.

Tensley Syrah Santa Barbara County OGT 2021, 94.

Torbreck Grenache Barossa Valley Hillside Vineyard 2021, 93.

Trimbach Riesling Alsace Frederic Emile 2016, 94.

Vina Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Vineyard 2021, 96.

Vina Montes Purple Angel Colchagua Valley 2020, 93.

Yalumba Cabernet-Shiraz South Australia The Caley 2018, 95.

Zenato Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2018, 92.

Event Notes

You can get there 30 minutes or so in advance to check in, get your wrist band and wine glass voucher.

Lots of people lined up to get in, but once the clocked chimed the appointed hour, we were in the large tasting room within minutes.

The dining room had plenty of seating, with different food options – Italian and Mexican – and a dessert table. We went for the pasta, carbo-loading for our stamina, which we enjoyed after the first hour.

Bathrooms were close by, plenty of water stations, pour out buckets and if there was a line at a table you could just go to the next one.

IMHO there is no reason to wait at a particular table at this event as you know everything they are offering is a top-scoring wine. The winery representatives were extremely knowledgeable about their wines.

View the wineries that participated here.

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in the first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Proof Awards, Cellarmasters, LA Wine Competition, Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards.

You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.

A night of Incredible Flavor for a Worthy Cause: 35th Annual “A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters!” at Burbank’s Warner Bros Studios Saturday, May 18th

Celebrate The 35th Annual “A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters!” on Saturday, May 18th

A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters

Courtesy of California Winemasters

The countdown to the 35th Annual “A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters” has officially begun!

Courtesy of California Winemasters

This year’s celebration coming up on Saturday, May 18th, 2024, from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm at the iconic Midwest Street Backlot at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, promises to be a culinary extravaganza like no other and is set to attract approximately 1,200 wine and food enthusiasts, all coming together to support Cystic Fibrosis research and care.

A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters

Honorary Co-Chairmen Glenn Salva, Estate Director for Antinori Napa Valley, and Sam Marvin, Chef & CEO of Echo & Rig Steakhouse / Courtesy of California Winemasters // Courtesy of California Winemasters

The event proudly announces Glenn Salva, Estate Director for Antinori Napa Valley, and Sam Marvin, Chef & CEO of Echo & Rig Steakhouse in Sacramento, and Las Vegas, as this year’s Honorary Co-Chairmen. Their commitment to this cause adds a distinctive touch to an already illustrious event.

“A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters!” on Saturday, May 18th

A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters has earned its place as a WINE SPECTATOR “Top 10 Charity Wine Auction” and a BizBash Top 100 Event.

The evening will showcase the talents of over 50 Celebrated Chefs and Restaurateurs alongside 75 Award-Winning Wineries and Winemakers.

With local Angeleno’s and guests from  across the county in attendance, this year’s event promises an unforgettable experience for all.

Courtesy of California Winemasters

This year’s Celebrated Chefs and Restaurants include:

AK’s Mercado

Alexander’s Steakhouse Pasadena

Alisal Ranch

Angustina – Mezcal Y Cocina

Ayara Thai

Bacari Restaurants

Backyard BBQ

Bistro 45

Blossom Catering Company

bon meez

Café Eighteen48

Cavatina

Chameau Catering

Chef Charly

Chef Joseph Manzare

Chef Scott Renney

Cooking with Corralez

Drago Centro

Echo & Rig Butcher/Steakhouse

Eden Hill

Enebla: Recipes from an Ethiopian Kitchen

Epicurus Gourmet

Espelette Beverly Hills

FIVE on the Hill

Georgia’s Restaurant

Heavy Handed

Local LA Catering & Events by Chef David Lefevre

Lil Pig

Lunetta

Maestro Pasadena

NOÉ Restaurant & Bar

Ocean Prime Beverly Hills

Original Tommy’s Hamburgers

Pez Coastal Kitchen

Primal Alchemy

Rikas Peruvian Cuisine

Sea Level @ Shade

The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills with Breads from The Underground Bakery

The Front Yard at The Garland

The Hook and Plow

The Poke Bistro

Trefethen Family Vineyards

Urban Press Winery & Restaurant

Warner Bros. Food Services

Wok Star Catering by Chef Katie Chin

YAKIYA

Desserts will be presented by Magpies Softserve, The Beverly Hilton, Truffles ‘N Coffee and Unique Distributors, Inc. / Florentino Ice Cream.

Award-Winning Wineries and Winemakers

This year’s Award-Winning Wineries and Winemakers will include Ackerman Family Vineyards, ADAMVS, Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery, Anomaly Vineyards, Antinori Napa Valley, Aperture, Arrow&Branch, Baldacci Family Vineyards, Barbieri and Kemp Wines, Barnett Vineyards, Bernardus Winery, Boars’ View, Bremer Family Winery, Cadre Wines, Calafia Wines,Chenoweth Wines, CHEV., Chimney Rock Winery, CIRQ Estate, Convene By Dan Kosta, Cornerstone Cellars, CourAvant,Crocker & Starr, Domaine Carneros, Donald Patz Wine Group, Duhig Wine, DuMOL, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Earthshine Wines, Farella, Glass Slipper Vineyard, Grgich Hills Estate, Guarachi Family Wines, Hitching Post Wines, Hyde de Villaine,Hyde Vineyards Estate, Jaffe Family Wines, JONATA, Kindred, LOCALISM Wines, Lombardi Wines, Mailbu Vineyards,Mending Wall, Merus, Mi Sueño Winery, Monochrome Wines, Monte De Oro Winery, Murder Ridge Winery, Navarro Vineyards, Olivia Brion Wines, Outpost Wines, Paradigm Winery, Parallel Napa Valley, Patz & Hall, Peter Michael Winery,Post Parade, Pott Wine, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Sans Liege Wines, Sciandri Family Vineyards, Scott Harvey Wines, Silverado Vineyards, Skylark Wine Company, Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery, Talisman, Tercero Wines, Terre et Sang, The Hilt Estate, The Setting Wines, Three Wine Company, Tom Eddy Napa Valley, TOP, Trefethen Family, Truchard Vineyards, and VIVIER Wines.

Don Francisco’s Coffee is the official coffee provider and FIJI Water is the official water provider, along with beveragesCelsius and VitaminWater at Winemasters 2024.

Guests will have the opportunity to participate in the legendary auction with over 600 silent and live auction items, featuring rare wines, unique experiences, and exclusive items. The event’s auction is a testament to the generosity and support of the community in making a tangible difference in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis.

Anticipated net proceeds of $1,500,000 will contribute to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s crucial research and care programs. Over the past 34 years, this event has raised an astounding $36 Million, playing a pivotal role in transforming the median age of a CF patient from 12 years old to 56.

“We cannot express enough our gratitude for the unwavering support

we’ve received over the past 34 years

from some of the world’s most prominent Wineries, Winemakers, Chefs, and Restaurants,”

Olivia Younan

Development Director

Cystic Fibrosis Southern California Chapter.

“As we celebrate our 35th Anniversary, we extend an invitation to everyone to join us for this special occasion and make a meaningful impact on the lives of those affected by Cystic Fibrosis.”

Ticket Information: The 35th Annual “A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters” will take place onSaturday, May 18th, 2024, and this is a 21+ event. VIP Guests can enter at 5:00 pm and General Admission will be from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm. Tickets are on sale now until Saturday, May 11th, 2024.

For more information on the 35th Annual “A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters, please visit www.CAWinemasters.org

ABOUT A CULINARY EVENING WITH THE CALIFORNIA WINEMASTERS:

A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters is a WINE SPECTATOR “Top 10 Charity Wine Auction” and BizBash Top 100 event that showcases 55 celebrated chefs and restaurateurs and 75 award-winning wineries and winemakers. 1,200 guests from all over the USA are in attendance.

The event features over 600 extraordinary silent and live auctions.  Anticipated net proceeds of $1,500,000 will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s vital research and care programs. Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.

The event has raised $36 million in 34 years and in that time, the median age of a CF patient has gone from 12-years old to 56.

ABOUT THE CYSTIC FIBROSIS FOUNDATION:

The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide all people with the disease the opportunity to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment, and ensuring access to high-quality, specialized care.

LA Celebrates More Years of Good Food at the Bowl: Hollywood Bowl Extends Agreement with Sodexo Live! and the Lucques Group Through 2034

LA Celebrates More Years of Good Food at the Bowl. Hollywood Bowl Extends Agreement with Sodexo Live! and the Lucques Group Through 2034

Sodexo Live!, the leading hospitality partner to the world’s most iconic venues, announced a long-term, milestone extension with the Hollywood Bowl.

Sodexo Live!, in tandem with the Lucques Group, curates the renowned Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine program that delights music fans with gourmet summer supper menus, extensive wine lists and a best-in-class picnic box program that’s become a quintessential part of the experience.

suzanne goin & caroline styne | photo credit suzanne lanza

Since its opening in 1922, the Hollywood Bowl has been the premier destination for live music in Southern California, serving as the summer home of the LA Philharmonic under the iconic silhouette of its concentric-arched band shell.

“Securing this long-term partnership and commitment will ensure we continue the time-honored tradition of premier picnicking and dining at the Bowl, while also providing concert-goers with enhanced choices and a commitment to quality ingredients and menu choices,” said Laura Connelly, General Manager, Hollywood Bowl.

“We know the future is bright for the Food + Wine program,

and we look forward to continue working alongside Sodexo Live!

and the Lucques Group.”

Laura Connelly

Hollywood Bowl.

General Manager

“We’re honored to be entrusted with such a world-renowned entertainment venue,” said Belinda Oakley, CEO, Sodexo Live!. “Our entire team, working in lockstep with Suzanne and Caroline, looks forward to crafting unique and immersive dining experiences that redefines the standard for hospitality in outdoor entertainment venues.”

Dining at the Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine team is a vital part of the Bowl’s in-person gastronomic experience, which includes:

  • Pre-order box seat dinners or picnic boxes to enjoy in the Bowl’s beautiful picnic areas

  • Mobile ordering available from anywhere at the entirely cash-free venue

  • On-site marketplaces that feature a wide selection of options to build the perfect picnic, including plentiful beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages

  • The South LA Cafe which serves coffee and more in the Plaza Marketplace

  • Street Food stands that serve a range of offerings from LA’s diverse foodscape, including tacos, all-beef hotdogs, vegetarian and vegan friendly fare, Magpie’s softserve, pizza, burgers, BBQ, popcorn, and more

Full-Service Restaurants

The Bowl also features three beautiful restaurants to enjoy a sit-down meal brought to life by Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne.

Ann’s Wine Bar: Inspired by Suzanne and Caroline’s local a.o.c restaurant. Ann’s Wine Bar features a wide selection of Caroline’s favorite new- and old-world wines, all paired with Suzanne’s signature small-plates menu and a.o.c favorites.

the backyard: Two giant wood-burning grills are the focus of this farmers’ market-driven restaurant featuring grilled fish, chop, steaks, and plenty of vegetables.

Lucques at the Circle: This exclusive fine-dining experience is for Pool Circle ticket holders, with a seasonal three course, prix fixe menu and exceptional wine list styled from Suzanne and Caroline’s award-winning first restaurant Lucques.

Green Initiatives

Further, to affirm the Hollywood Bowl as one of the World’s Great Natural Amphitheaters and a leader in sustainable business practices, the Food + Wine program commits to: using 100% biodegradable food-service items, pledging to source a high amount of food from local vendors and farmers, donating excess food to community food banks and diverting food waste from the landfill and into compost instead.

About the Hollywood Bowl

One of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000, the Hollywood Bowl has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since its official opening in 1922 and plays host to the finest artists from all genres of music. For a century, the Bowl has been a Los Angeles County public park, operated in collaboration with the LA Phil to welcome visitors from all over the world. It remains one of the best deals anywhere in Los Angeles; to this day, $1 buys a seat at the top of the Bowl for many classical and jazz performances. This past February, the Hollywood Bowl was also awarded the Outdoor Concert Venue of the Year award at the 35th Annual Pollstar Awards, an honor bestowed 16 previous times, as well as Top Amphitheater prize at the 2017 and 2018 Billboard Touring Awards.

For millions of music lovers across Southern California, the Hollywood Bowl is synonymous with summer. hollywoodbowl.com 

About Sodexo Live!

Sodexo Live! manages prestigious convention, cultural, and sporting venues and major events all over the world. With 40,000 employees and 500 sites, Sodexo Live! offers clients a range of bespoke catering, sales, and event management services, helping to transform the consumer experience into unforgettable memories.

Sodexo Live! commits to unlocking customers’ full potential while favoring local communities. Sodexo Live! contributes to the success of prestigious events such as Royal Ascot, the Tour de France, the Rugby World Cup and soon the Paris 2024 Games, and showcases exceptional venues such as the Eiffel Tower Restaurants, Bateaux Parisiens, Yachts de Paris, the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Hard Rock Stadium, the Scottish National Gallery, and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

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