Auf Wiedersehen to Chef Joel Viehland at Community Table

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I’m a very fortunate guy. I fully realize that. I have been lucky enough to enjoy many a fine meal around the world. Good food is a priority to me and I try to engage in experiencing great food as much as I can, given relative restraints of time and finances. I  try to get to visit as many of the chefs, restaurants and locations that most intrigue me, but still, I wind up missing many experiences that I would prefer not to, just because, for whatever reasons, I could not make it to those places in time. I know, boohoo for me. That is not meant to be a whine, just a statement of fact. There are simply to many places and people of interest given my resources. I recently came very close to missing an experience, relatively in my back yard, that I had had my eye on for some time. Community Table in Washington Connecticut, with chef Joel Viehland, is one I had been jonesing about, but due to it’s off the beaten track (for me) location in Northwest Connecticut, I had never been able to find the right time to visit. It was too far from home and would require an overnight stay. My attitude changed once I discovered that Chef Viehland would be leaving the restaurant by the middle of this month. I had some time off and friends to go with. There would never be a better time, so I made it happen. I’m glad that I did. Continue reading

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Barcelona’s Boqueria with Jorge Mas

Jorge Mas at Mas Embutidos in La Boqueria

Jorge Mas at Mas Embutidos in La Boqueria

The fabled Boqueria de San Josep, as it is officially known, or just La Boqueria, as it is more commonly known, is not the only food market in Barcelona and it isn’t the only excellent market either. It is, however, by far, the most well known, and one of the finest and most recognized food markets in the world. This is because it has the magic combination of outstanding fresh product, superb artisanal product, delicious prepared product at a slew of super, small restaurants and unparalleled atmosphere as well as a strong sense of history and place in an ideal location off Las Ramblas de Catalunya. I have been a number of times in my life and wouldn’t think of visiting Barcelona without stopping in, but on this last trip, I enjoyed a particularly special visit, as I was given a personal tour by Jorge Mas, who along with his brother, Joan, is the CEO of Mas Gourmets, the largest purveyor of embutidos in Barcelona, and the Vice President of the Boqueria Market. Continue reading

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BarBas – A Barcelona Surprise



It was a Monday night when I was arriving back in Barcelona and I was meeting a couple of friends for dinner. When they told me that the restaurant they chose was located on the Rambla de Catalunya just off the Plaza de Catalunya, the most tourist-heavy plaza in the entire city, I must admit, even though my friendsare very food savvy people and would not have suggested a total dud, I harbored doubts. I had just come off an amazing lunch and wasn’t all that hungry, so I wasn’t really expecting too much. I just really wanted to spend some time with my friends.  Continue reading

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The Second Annual MENT’OR BKB Foundation Young Chef Competition Series

With Commis Skylar Stover carrying the flag, Team USA enters the stadium for the awards ceremony.

With Commis Skylar Stover carrying the flag, Team USA enters the stadium for the awards ceremony.

If you are a regular reader of this site, you know that I am an avid fan and supporter of the Bocuse d’Or and now, Ment’Or BKB, the organization behind Bocuse d’Or Team USA. In addition to their role with the Bocuse d’Or, Ment’Or BKB is charged with helping talented and motivated young chefs advance their craft, art and careers. One way they are doing this is their Young Chef Competition Series. Applications are now available for potential competitors. I have attached the Press Release for more information: Continue reading

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El Crucero – Vegetables, Vino & More in Navarra

Red cardoon

Red cardoon

When most people think of food in Spain, vegetables are not usually the first items to come to mind, More typically, most people would think of the justifiably famous jamón Ibérico de bellota, a variety of other pork products including cochinillo or roast suckling pig, or perhaps their incredible bounty from the seas around the Iberian peninsula. Given the sensational nature of each, it is not difficult to understand why those items might be the ones most closely associated with Spanish gastronomy. I have heard it said that Spain would be a very difficult country to be vegetarian or especially vegan. In a certain sense that is true as meat and fish ARE very much essential components of the cuisine, and most Spaniards don’t really understand what veganism is. The mistake, however, would be to think that because meat and fish are so important, that the Spanish don’t understand or appreciate vegetables. That couldn’t be further from the truth as the Spanish grown and cook some of the very best and most delicious vegetables in the entire world. Nowhere is that more true than in the Autonomous Community of Navarra in the northeast of the country. Continue reading

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Breaking News – Valrhona C³ Coming to the Tenth Annual StarChefs ICC in Brooklyn!

IMG_5812-2After a brief hiatus, the StarChefs International Chefs Congress is back with another competition for pastry chefs and its bigger than ever! If you are an American or Canadian pastry chef, an expert with chocolate and want to test your mettle against the very best, your dream opportunity has arrived! Valrhona, one of the world leaders in the production of top quality chocolate, sponsors what is arguably the world’s premiere Chocolate competition – the Valrhona C³. The name C³ is the cooler, shortened version of “Chocolate Chefs Competition” and has, until this coming October, always taken place in Europe. StarChefs has just announced the details of the event here, which includes a link to an application. It will be held in conjunction with the Tenth Annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress at the Brooklyn Expo Center. See here for news on the most recent competition in 2012 held at Madrid Fusíon.

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Wining and Dining Around Spain with Gerry Dawes: Part 6: A Night in La Rioja

 When people think of Spanish wine regions, the first one that usually comes to mind is La Rioja, and for good reason, with its’ long history and tradition of great wines –  red, rosado and white. To a great extent, in recent decades, it had succumbed to the lure of Parkerization – the global wine fad of big, fruity, wood and alcohol laced red wines that could come from anywhere in the world and did. Fortunately, while that fad had become as entrenched in La Rioja as it had elsewhere in the world, it hadn’t totally taken over production and more traditionally styled Rioja wines continued to be made, even as they had come to be relatively neglected by the market. Like Cinderella, though, their time has returned and their true beauty is shining again. Our destination after a long drive into cold, wind and snow, was one of the very best of the traditional La Rioja wineries – Bodegas Lecea in San Asensio, a small wine making town not too far from the major Riojan center of Logroño, where we would spend the night and the next morning. Continue reading

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Wining and Dining Around Spain with Gerry Dawes: Part 5: Loving and Leaving Galicia

Old vine Godello in fog and frost at O Barreiro

Old vine Godello in fog and frost at O Barreiro

Just when it seemed that our vinous experiences could not be enhanced any further, they were. The morning – cold, foggy and breathvisibly beautiful – proved perfect for a visit to the small, hilly bodega of retired engineer turned vintner extraordinaire, Pepe Rodríguez. His atmospheric vineyards and winery, O Barreiro, in the small village of Seadur in Valdeorras, produces some of the most delicious and special Godellos anywhere, which means some of the most delicious white wines that I’ve ever had, equal or better in their mineral rich complexity to much of the best of what Burgundy and the Loire have to offer. Strong words, I know, but these wines possess everything I want in a wine – delicious, complex, mineral-rich flavor, low alcohol, romance and identity that pairs well with a wide variety of foods, especially shellfish and seafood. These un-wooded wines are not masked by anything, but are instead allow for the full expression of the grape and the land. Continue reading

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Wining and Dining Around Spain with Gerry Dawes: Part 4 – Rapturous Ribeira Sacra

BU4A8967Vineyards are inherently beautiful and I am never less than enthralled with a visit to one, but despite visits to gorgeous vineyards in France, Italy, Germany, the United States, Chile, South Africa and elsewhere in Spain, I was unprepared for the unparalleled gorgeousness of Galicia’s mountainous Ribeira Sacra region. Continue reading

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The Cruelty of April

T.S. Eliot called April “the cruelest month.” I’m sure that he had a number of reasons for that pronouncement. One of them may or may not have been, that the month starts with April 1st, aka “April fools Day.” If that wasn’t one of Eliot’s reasons, it very well should have been, as the twenty-four hour period is filled with pranks and jests on unsuspecting people as well as those more attuned to the rhythms of that particular day. I, yes me, am guilty of perpetuating just such a jest, luring in the unsuspecting with an announcement, that as it turns out, rather sadly for me and my family, really was nothing more than another April Fool’s joke.

For an April Fool’s joke to be good, it has to be fairly preposterous, yet have elements of believability. For anyone who knows me and my family and anyone who reads this blog with any regularity, it should be fairly obvious the esteem that we hold for the beautiful and delicious city of Barcelona. I truly, would love to live there and my son would truly love to play for the best soccer development program in the world. That we would want to do what I had written was certainly believable, but actually getting to do it? I am honored and humbled that anyone, let alone people who I like and respect so much, might have considered yesterday’s announcement to have been the least bit plausible. To me, as much as I would love that it were true, every aspect of it, it was simply preposterous and meant to be self-deprecating. If I offended anyone, I apologize, but I also want to thank all who actually believed it possible and also those who laughed at the joke and understood it as such. Of course, most of the “likes” were probably from people happy to see us go!

For better or worse, I have posted an April Fools post for the past few years. I may or may not do so again in the future, but if I do post on that date in the future, it will likely be another.

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