Dreaming of Venice in Black and White

I took my husband to Venice this past summer. It was his first time. He ventured out into the alleyways early on our first morning. I still have the text he sent me. All it said was "Wow."

The next day we went to the Piazza San Marcos. It was filled with tens of thousands of tourists. He looked at me, put his arm around me and said: "We are alone." And for that moment, we were.

This book brings back those memories, the memories of what Venice was and is between blinking at the crowds and cruise ships. The pages are filled with photos evoking what Venice was and could be if tourism is toned down. Even as arguments flare bout the future of this city built on a lagoon, history is alive at every turn, looking down on the living from statues and gargoyles.

In his preface Tiziano Scarpa wonders how we, non-Venetians, can help save the city from creeping consumerism, illegal B&Bs, cruise ships and overwhelming numbers of tourists in shorts and sneakers. "Perhaps a paradoxical way of helping this city would be not to come at all. Instead, stay home and leaf through books of photos like this one, which inhabits the city delicately, making it bloom with a light caress made up of splendid images."

For everyone who will never arrive on the Grand Canal, I highly recommend this evocative book. But how do we deny anyone the "Wow!" of one's first moments lost in the maze of Venice?


Posted 9/2018


Rose on a Summer's Day

Domaine de Cala Classic Rose 2017, $15.95

Domaine de Cala Prestige Rose 2017, $25.95

From the Provence region of southern France, this is the real thing, the original dry, crisp wine from France made from red grapes that is currently enjoying a renaissance in the United States.  Definitely not to be confused with the sweet-ish White Zinfandel, an American invention, also very popular. 

These two wines are in the classic French style, light and delicate in color, aromas of flowers and stone fruit, deeper tastes of fruits, and subtle spice at the end.   The Prestige rose is a bit darker in color and correspondingly deeper in flavor.

Perfect with spring/summer dishes and simple picnics. 

Available throughout the U.S., including all Whole Foods markets in Southern California.


Book Recommendation: Hippie Food: How the Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs and Revolutionaries Changed the Way we Eat. 

A fun book for foodies, hippies, healthys,  and anyone interested in eating well.

The “hippie food” trends of the 1960s and 1970s were not passing fads, but the foundation of an important food movement that is going strong today, says author Jonathan Kauffman in his new book, Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs and Revolutionaries Changed the Way we Eat.

Kauffman tells us that vegetarianism in the United States reaches as far back as the 1830s and was mostly practiced by religious groups. Over time, it evolved from a fringe element to big business. 

The San Francisco Bay Area was the “intellectual center of the hippie food movement,” Kauffman, a restaurant reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, says. But he traveled to Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts, Washington and Vermont to track hippie food’s journey from niche oddity to a cuisine eaten throughout the country.

Food co-ops were formed with the motto “Food for People, Not for Profit.”  What the 60s and 70s food movements were about, Kauffman reminds us, was consumers attempting to take back control of the food supply. 

Published by William Morrow.

Book: Passion for Wine: The French Ideal and the American Dream

 When is a wine book a vanity project?

When the authors appear throughout the book in velvet dinner jackets, animal print tuxedos and long silky gowns, always hoisting an elegant glass of wine?

This is the look and feel of Passion for Wine, by vintner Jean-Charles Boisset and wine educator Marnie Old. Boisset's family owns a number of high quality wine properties in France, Napa Valley and Sonoma, California. Old is his "ambassador" for the Boisset collection.

But even for those averse to glaring self-promotion, this hardback book is worth a look.  It exudes dynamism, stuffed as it is with colorful drawings, simple charts and graphs, lovely photos and very digestible tidbits about wine history in France and the United States, how wine is grown and evaluated for taste and quality, and much more. All well-presented, both for content and design.

Favorite Recipes Press, $28.95   Books sold at all Boisset family wineries, such as Raymond Vineyards in the Napa Valley. E-book available for Kindle through Amazon;  e-book for Nook through Barnes & Noble. 

Ways of Wine

"The Ways of Wine" is a film by Argentine filmmaker Nicholas Carerras about Miami-based sommelier Charlie Arturaola, who travels to the Mendoza wine country in Argentina to participate in a typical international wine event, the kind of tasting event that many wine professionals take part in every year. Except nothing about this journey is typical. Charlie, the tasting master, loses his way. After realizing that he's "lost his palate," and cannot taste anything, he seeks help from a variety of well-known wine professionals such as French consulting winemaker Michel Rolland and winemaker Susana Balbo (playing themselves), but nothing works.

 Charlie finally undertakes a new kind of journey to connect with his family in Uruguay that results in an extended, poignant last scene that restores not only Charlie but also a belief in family, wine and the joys of life.

 Blending fact and fiction, the film uses innovative camera work and the lovely backdrop of the Mendoza wine country. One of the most arresting things about it is the way director Carreras coaxes natural performances from the cast --- none of them professional actors.

 "The Ways of Wine" is one of the best of the recent crop of "wine movies" from the last few years. I saw it at the inaugural Napa Valley Film Festival last weekend. It will be distributed in the U.S. by Shoreline Entertainment, but so far there are no dates for theatrical showings. Look out for it.

(Posted 11.15.11)