1217 Washington Street, Calistoga, CA 94515 • (707) 942-1180
First there was Folgers, then there was Peet’s, and now there are artisanal roasters offering “third wave coffee.” Calistoga’s Yo El Rey Roasting is part of this American phenomenon, and proprietor J Kirk Feiereisen discusses coffee like Napa Valley folks talk about wine. He mentions the nuances of bean varietal and growing region, techniques of flavors extraction, and strategies in food pairing. The beans he buys are organic and predominantly fair-trade — characteristics also promoted by Slow Food International.
Please join Slow Food Napa Valley on Thursday, March 21st at 7pm for a talk on organic free-trade coffee, a demonstration roasting, and cupping by Feiereisen. Tickets for this limited event are available for $20 at Brown Paper Tickets and include the demonstration, coffee tasting, a bag of coffee to take home, as well as chocolate by TCHO and snacks courtesy of Rip van Wafels.
Good Times: The 6th Annual Bale Grist Mill Harvest Dinner.
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The Napa Valley State Parks Association and Slow Food Napa Valley hosted the 6th Annual Bale Grist Mill Harvest Dinner on Saturday at Bale Mill State Historic Park. The event featured a silent auction, live bluegrass, whiskey, wine and beer, and of course, plenty of locally-produced food. About 160 guests enjoyed dinner and wine under clear Calistoga skies. Here are a few snapshots from the evening. Click any image for the full-screen view.
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At the trail head.
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Mingling around the silent auction, and enjoying whiskey, wine and beer.
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The Pickle Creek String Band.
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Wine dominated, but honey was also a hot item at the silent auction.
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Oh, don’t ask why.
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The dining room before dinner. At the left, SFNV board members Michael Fradelizio (far left) and Patrick Clark discuss logistics.
The Slow Food Napa Valley Chapter will be hosting a BBQ Luncheon potluck on Sunday, June 24th, 2012 at Rutherford Grove Winery from 11:30am to 2pm. This event will give you a chance to reconnect with fellow Slow Food Members, meet the current board members, talk about future events you would like to see our chapter hold, and best of all give you a chance to get more involved in your Napa Valley Chapter by joining the working board or becoming a committee member.
There is a $15 fee which will cover our delicious entree of “Cedar Plank Wild Salmon” fresh from Bodega Bay as well as delicious sustainably produced wines from Rutherford Grove Winery and cold beer from Silverado Brewing Company.
The event begins at 11:30am with check in and socializing. At noon there will be a short meeting. The meal will be served at 12:30pm.
Please bring a potluck dish to share and your own plate, silverware and wine glass. In order to ensure variety, guests whose last names begin with A-E should bring a dessert, guests F-L should bring a salad, and guests M-Z should provide a side dish.
For those moviegoers who are hopelessly food-obsessed, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” will no doubt leave some viewers yearning for a bit more, but maybe that’s to be expected. After all, with more than 75 years of experience in the kitchen, 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono has developed a wealth of culinary knowledge that probably exceeds that of anyone before him, and arguably exceeds that of anyone in the present day. With so much culinary expertise at the core of the film, those who cook for a living, or even those who qualify as serious home gourmets, will almost certainly become fixated by the ingredients and techniques in “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” (these are the same viewers, no doubt, who will instantly recognize Joël Robuchon during the film’s opening sequence).
If you’re at all like me, you’ll spend much of the movie wishing that there was more explanation from the kitchen at Sukiyabashi Jiro, Ono’s famed 10-seat Tokyo sushi bar. I craved more theory, and more insight. At other times during the film, you might even daydream about a quick trip to Japan for the 20-minute, 30,000-yen lunch, as I did. And during the more inspiring segments, you may even briefly consider the cost-benefit ratio of a 10-year apprenticeship under a sushi master, the ultimate plunge. However, for most normal people, for those with just a casual interest in cooking or eating, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” will simply offer its viewers a sufficient and engaging glimpse into the mysterious subculture of the shokunin.
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For better or worse, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” portrays its subject in rather broad strokes, focusing exclusively on the relationship between fathers and sons, chefs and vendors. Granted, these relationships are the heart and soul of the movie, but with barely even a nod to the role of the women in Ono’s life, the “human” aspect of the documentary does feel slightly incomplete and under-researched at certain times. As the film addresses Ono’s childhood, for instance, the great shokunin implies that his father had succumbed to alcoholism early on, but Ono never offers any information about his mother. The audience is left to wonder.
Perhaps we can assume that, living in Japan more than 80 years ago, Ono’s mother was powerless to do much about her own situation, but if Ono was essentially orphaned at age nine, where was she? And where did he go? These types of questions can become somewhat distracting when left unanswered (or unasked). Perhaps Ono didn’t care to address his mother — at least tell us that much. An even more glaring omission is the fact that the film mentions almost nothing about Ono’s wife, except that she seems to have raised his two sons — and stretched a meager income — while Ono spent countless hours perfecting his craft.
Of course, I’m not claiming that Ono’s wife should be the hero of the story, but “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” fails to even mention if she’s still alive or not, and she could’ve certainly added a unique perspective to the documentary, even if their marriage was indifferent (again, I’m merely assuming). On the other hand, one could ultimately argue that the film’s limited perspective is the simple reflection of Ono’s male-dominated universe: Not only does traditional Japanese culture skew towards the chauvinistic, but the culinary world does as well. One might also argue that Ono was “married” to his profession. Either way, considering that the documentary was directed by a Westerner, 28-year old David Gelb, I still say that “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” needed a bit more backstory.
Despite these general criticisms, however, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” does succeed in several other areas, and it features several transcendent moments of culinary bliss. In terms of its general cinematography, the film’s heavy color saturation can be borderline pornographic at times, especially during the akami close-ups. I’m all for it, however. Without the benefit of smell and taste, the sushi has to appear extra-appetizing in order to convey its real-life deliciousness.
Aside from the film’s amazing culinary footage, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” also provides the audience with far more laughs than one might expect from this type of documentary. As a devout perfectionist, Ono remains steadfastly serious and passionate about his profession, yet he often reveals an impish charm that compliments his sage wisdom. Many people, even Japan’s top food critics, seem intimidated to dine at his restaurant, yet on camera and behind the scenes, Ono seems engaging, approachable, and eminently hospitable.
On a more serious note, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” also scores points for addressing the issue of over-fishing, a subject which is actually becoming tantamount to Ono himself. As the quality of fish declines, the quality of sushi will continue to suffer. Indeed, the startling black-and-white footage of yesteryear’s massively-sized bluefin tuna should be equally as alarming as the enormous mountain of styrofoam outside of today’s Tsukiji fish market.
Tuesday, December 13th 5:30 — 7:30 pm Silverado Brewing Company
SFNV invites its members to share their favorite holiday cookies while meeting other members, sipping Domaine Chandon bubbles and Silverado Brewing Company beer.
We will have a contest for the “group favorite” cookie and the “most local” cookie (those entering their cookie in the “most local” category must list all local ingredients on the recipe). Prizes will be awarded in both categories!
To join the festivities, simply bring 2-3 dozen of your favorite cookie, plus 20 copies of the recipe (please do not put your name on the recipe — the cookies will be tasted anonymously). In the event that any cookies are left over, please bring a container to take home some extras.
After deciding on your favorite cookie, stay for dinner at the Silverado Brewing Company! 20% off your dinner if you are a member of Slow Food Napa Valley.