Sobe Wine and Food: Doug Frost nipping at my cellar door

Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain

11:30am too early to start drinking wine after a long night.  Hell no, if you are doing it in the name of education.  This is the only tasting I signed up for and was anticipating.  Doug Frost, a Master Sommelier and hired by United Airlines to purchase and write about wines), is a specialist on the wines of Spain.  He gave us a great intro to the wines of this country that have been blowing up the wine making playing field.

Doug is character and puts on a great seminar.  I can often learn more about how to present in one of these seminars than about the topic itself.   I already know a good amount about the wines of Spain as I have studied the region fairly extensively when I was simultaneously learning about its cuisine.  There is no doubt it is great wine country.  Now that wasn’t always the case as Doug pointed out.

When one thinks of Spanish wine the only one that most will know is Rioja, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.  My two favorite regions of Spain are Rias Baixas for white wines made from the Albariño grape and the Priorat for the red wines made from Garnacha and Cariñena (Carignan in France).  If you read my previous post, I was also immediately smitten with a white from Priorat after I tasted one at Sra Martinez.

Just about every selection he offered I enjoyed, with the possible exception of the Bierzo which I found austere and overly acidic.

What I really enjoyed was his presentation.  One hour is hardly enough time to adequately cover the wines of Spain, but I think he did an admirable job  of it.  He talked a little about the history of Spain and its wine, climate, environment, varietals etc.

He talked really fast, changed topics quickly, used lots of humor, went to talking about wines, back to PowerPoint, back to wines, questions to the audience and so forth.  Your brain never had time to slow down and lose focus.  I’ve learned these are valuable public speaking traits through a Neuromarketing specialist.  Read the book by Christophe Morin by clicking this.  Having lectured for many years this is not easy to do.  Of course he is preaching to the choir and all the 100 or so participants were interested in the topic.   Still hats off Doug.

I spent the rest of the day chilling at Ted’s house and we were planning to cook dinner at his friend’s house but that fell through.  What else was on the schedule for the evening at the Wine and Food Event.  Guy Fieri’s Moon over Miami send off party.

I’m no fan of Guy’s, but it seems a lot of you are out there considering how he seems to get mobbed whenever he walks into a room.  I don’t get it, but I don’t really get Rachel or George Bush either.  Somehow these people have the code for popularity and fame results.

I went to the Gansevoort at 6:30pm and the line was already around the building.  The food was sponsored by David’s which is where I have been getting my coffee coladas every morning.  Cuban fare and consequently Miami’s Cuban contingency was in the house.  When I got in, the set up was very narrow and long, running the whole length of the beach.  It was sponsored by a rum company (every event was sponsored by some kind of alcohol).  No sooner did I get in but I ran into the line for food. Super long line.  I bypassed that and ran into a second line for another buffet (maybe the same food).  There were tents with other attractions: wine, cigars, rum drinks, ice cream etc.  I was just not really in the mood to fight all the people and get in line for food.

I left and walked up and down SOBE looking for some excitement.  After I couldn’t take it anymore I headed back home.

The following day was departure day.  One last meal in town at the News on Lincoln road and off to the airport.  I get in line for security and who pulls in beside me but Eric Ripert of the Le Bernadin and his family.  I guess we are all the same when it comes to going though security.

I get to my gate and who else do I see coming up, but Anthony Bourdain.   I am always conflicted when it comes to celebrity. I don’t really want to approach them or I’m not really convinced they deserve celebrity status or I feel they would just prefer to be like everyone else, but clearly that is not the case.  They are a business.  A business that depends on me.  If nobody watches, blogs, writes etc. about them, then they are like everyone else.  Privacy is the first victim of fame.  So I go up and ask if it is OK for me to take their picture.  They agree (Anthony more reluctantly) and now I am shamelessly using it to build readership and plug them as well.  The cycle continues.

Don’t get me wrong both of these men are amazingly talented.  I have never eaten at Eric Ripert’s restaurant but he worked for both Joël Robuchon (he called it his dark years) and Jean Louis Palladin so you are guaranteed of a good pedigree.  And Tony, well he is clearly a talented entertainer and an amazing writer.  I never ate at les Halles so I can’t gauge, but I have a feeling he is a better writer than cook.  He built his reputation on his mouth, probably pissing off a lot of people in the process.  His No Reservations show is inspiring and is very much the way I look at any country I visit.  I want to know how and what they eat.  It is the gateway to their culture.  He’s brought that culture into our living rooms and I applaud him for that.  Hell I wish I could do his job, though I bet it is a lot more challenging and unglamorous than it appears and I bet getting filmed eating over and over has to get old pretty fast.

SOBE Wine and Food is over for 2010.  I had a great time and though the weather was not what I expected, I learned a lot and got to see a lot of chefs in person.   I have to thank my benefactors and sponsors.  Lee Schrager the event planner extraordinaire for letting me tag along with Julie Mautner my friend and talented writer (she is the author of a soon to be released book about the festival featuring recipes from chefs that attend every year).  I also have to thank my good friend Ted Williams who opened up his home and provided the highest level of hospitality anyone might possibly expect.

Milles Merci to all of you.

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