Charlie Rose Interviews Chef David Chang

I had the amazing experience of eating at Momofuku Ssam Bar a few weeks ago while I was in New York. My friends Dan and Kathryn took me and I let them order whatever they thought was good. I have to say that it was one of the most sublime eating experiences I’ve had in my entire life. Best of all, because they were early advocates of the restaurant, they know chef David Chang pretty well, and throughout the evening, a number of courses arrived at our table “on the house.” David even stopped by our table before he left for the evening to say hello. All in all, an amazing experience and one I can’t wait to repeat.

Now, my local (jealous) friend Neil has pointed me to this Charlie Rose interview with David. I suppose it might just be that much harder to get a table now, which is too bad. But I wish Momofuku every success.

Wine-ing on the Web

I posted the following entry last June on my company’s blog:

Early last year, I pointed to the excellent Cellar Tracker web site, where the hardcore wine geek (or aficionado, if you please) could keep track of everything in her cellar and even connect with a community to share tasting notes. Despite the overall thoroughness and wealth of features, though, the design is a bit spare, and the site is clearly aimed at people with large cellars.

Now, along come not one but two new sites offering to bring the benefits of online cellar management to the masses. Both WineLog and Cork’d have launched recently, and are in a desperate battle to sign up new users who will share their wine tasting notes and recommendations. I’m happy to see that these sites make use of some newer web technology like tagging to make classifying (and more importantly, finding) wines easier and more intuitive.

Though both sites are evolving rapidly, I’d have to give the edge at the moment to Cork’d, whose playful graphic design really invites users to jump right in. I also like the community features (though calling it “Drinking Buddies” might strike the wrong note with some people) and look forward to using this as a resource in the months to come.

But I won’t be abandoning Cellar Tracker, whose powerful features are just too useful. If we could just get them talking to the folks at Cork’d…

I have to admit that since then, the underdog WineLog seems to have closed the gap considerably, and maybe even pushed ahead. While Cork’d attracted a lot of the web design/blog crowd who enjoyed the work of designers/programmers Dan Cederholm and Dan Benjamin, there seem to be fewer, well, wine people there, and I find the site harder to actually use, especially when searching for wines. I still think the biggest challenge involved in making sites like these useful is formatting the information consistently and weeding out redundancies. Which is why I still generally use Cellar Tracker over the upstarts. But it’s fun to keep track of how these projects are developing.

Free Wine for Bloggers!

If you’re one of those lucky bloggers who lives in the U.S., the Mankas Hills winery will send you a free bottle of wine. The winery is fairly new and is trying to get the word out on their wines.

It’s all in the pursuit of good “word of mouth” marketing and to be fair, you should blog if the wine is crappy as well as if it’s good.

Let me know if you take advantage of this. I’m curious.

Mother Jones on Organic Farming

Over the past few years, I’ve become a lot more conscious of what I eat. It may have started when Brooke and I took up running a few years ago. Or maybe it was after reading Fast Food Nation, or seeing Super Size Me and Mondovino and Jamie’s School Dinners. Or maybe it’s because I work in the “food industry” now (sure, wine is a food!), and I see the different ways producers approach their work. Nevertheless, I try to pay more attention now, and when I can, I choose local and organic over the alternatives. I’ve been intrigued by the Slow Food movement for some time now as well.

All that as prelude to this: here’s a really good article in the latest issue of Mother Jones magazine, about an organic farmer in Virginia who refused to FedEx the writer one of his chickens. The article is actually an excerpt from author Michael Pollan’s new book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which looks fascinating.

Wine Geek Insecurity

Slate’s wine columnist Mike Steinberger weighs in on Sideways, perhaps my favourite film of 2004. Though he generally likes it, he can’t help but display some typical wine geek insecurity. He worries that Paul Giamatti’s portrayal of Miles Raymond, a character who is, in his words, “a bit of a wine asshole” will reflect badly on all wine lovers. He implicitly worries that people might think the character’s arrogance and selfishness somehow flow out of his being a wine connoisseur. Mike, relax! Miles is a character in a movie. He’s not representing everyone who loves wine. He’s not representing all middle-aged men. And no, Mike, he’s not representing you.

Although I do consider myself a wine lover, I’m not obsessive, and the thing I liked most about the film is that it’s not particularly about wine at all. It’s about life, with all its disappointments and its pleasures. And it’s about the crazy broken people who live it.

UPDATE: About an equal number of people get it and don’t get it on the eGullet Forums. When someone says the movie isn’t believable because a “true wine geek wouldn’t…”, I just had to roll my eyes.