Randall Grahm Envisions The Future of Wine (Including 10,000 New Grape Varieties) — And Launches An Indiegogo Crowd-Funding Campaign to Create It


Winemaker Randall Grahm, with some of his wines poured during last night’s  dinner

Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm says a biodynamic approach to winemaking affects not only the wine, but also winemakers themselves, giving them ‘the ability to see the natural world with more sensitive eyes and the gradual cultivation of powerful intuition.'”
–Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, The Washington Post (July 18, 2007)

We love wine, which won’t come as a surprise to readers of our books WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT (who made it one of the top 10 bestselling wine books on Amazon.com) or THE FOOD LOVER’S GUIDE TO WINE.

We also love San Juan Bautista, which was long one of Andrew’s parents’ favorite places on earth — and where we co-hosted a surprise 50th wedding anniversary party for them in 1999, just a year before losing Andrew’s mother (and, a few years later, his father).


“…Henceforth, let it be known to all citizens of [San Juan Bautista] that by vote of the council, we do hereby proclaim Sunday, August 22, 1999, as ‘Bob and Pat Dornenburg Day’ and wish them many more decades of happiness together.”  Signed by the Mayor and Deputy City Clerk of San Juan Bautista

And we’ve long loved the “soulful, distinctive, and original” spirit behind Bonny Doon Vineyard and its wines — from its Vin Gris de Cigare rosé to its Le Cigare Volant Reserve, a Rhone red blend crafted in California that in the winemaker’s own words “suggests a Burgundian take on Châteauneuf.”


So when we learned that celebrated winemaker Randall Grahm, who founded Bonny Doon more than three decades ago in 1983, had announced an ambitious crowd-funding campaign last week for The Popelouchum Project — which translates as “village” or “paradise,” fittingly, as it seeks to create the first-ever New World Grand Cru wine —  and saw on its Indiegogo page that it combined all three of these loves, we were in.

Last night, we had the opportunity to join a private dining roomful of fellow wine lovers (who included filmmaker Amy Atkins — who made the video on The Popelouchum Project that appears below — and her husband journalist Forrest Sawyer, City Winery founder Michael Dorf, author Adam Gopnik and his wife Martha Parker, Tasting Table‘s Kat Kinsman, NYU’s Marion Nestle, and wine importer / distributor Michael Skurnik) to learn even more from Grahm himself over dinner at Blue Hill in Manhattan, before thanking Chef Dan Barber personally for our wonderful feast.


Bonny Doon’s founder winemaker Randall Grahm

“Music is the space between the notes.”
–Claude Debussy

“‘Rossese is a wine made by empty spaces,’ says the thoughtful Filippo Rondelli of Terre Bianche.”
–Andrew Jefford, in Decanter (April 27, 2015)

Grahm is most excited about wine grapes’ potential to serve as conduits for terroir, which he suggests — like music — can “fill the space” between the notes of the grapes themselves.  He’s long fantasized about making a Burgundian-style wine right in California, and automatically assumed at first that he’d have to fashion it from Pinot Noir.  But he’s also fascinated with underappreciated grapes like Italy’s Rossese and France’s Tiburon (which he was tickled to learn are genetically the same grape), both of which produce intensely aromatic light-bodied wines with pronounced notes of herbs (or garrigue, as it is known in Provence) and minerality.

Such grapes — and/or 10,000 others — could allow the terroir of the land he prizes in “cool” (it was the site of Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” after all) San Juan Bautista to shine through.  And he wants to dedicate the rest of his life (which, with his mother Ruthie Grahm still very active in her 90s, could well be decades) to creating those grapes, and identifying ones perfectly suited for this place, in order to create a new American “Grahm Cru” wine.

Hundreds of wine lovers (including us) have already chipped in to help make Grahm’s audacious vision for the future of wine a reality.  You can be an important part of creating it, too — and have one of those 10,000 new grape varieties named after you, or receive another of several fun rewards in store for donors.  Check out Amy Atkins’ video (featuring lovely music courtesy of Will Ackerman‘s Windham Hill) below, then head to Indiegogo to “join the party”!

“Join me on a journey of discovery to change the way we grow grapes, to change the way we think about vineyards, to perhaps discover an entirely new vinous expression, and to maybe even get a unique grape variety named after yourself! … I’m looking to change the wine industry in a big way. It is part of my life’s work to continue to push the boundaries of this very conservative business. I want to create 10,000 new grape varieties over the next 10 years, and to plant a uniquely heterodox vineyard – each vine genetically distinctive from the other — in the hopes of revealing a new Grand Cru in the New World. I am seeking funds to help start breeding these new grapes at ‘Popelouchum,’ and to potentially leave a rich legacy for the next generation of grape growers and wine drinkers.”
Winemaker Randall Grahm

“Check out what is planning on doing. A visionary!! And, you can get involved….”
–Sommelier Rajat Parr, via Twitter (July 25, 2015)

“Ambitious Winemaker Aims to Create First New World Grand Cru.”
–Food writer Carolyn Jung, via Twitter (July 22, 2015)

“Help make it happen for POPELOUCHUM VINEYARD: 10,000 GRAPES FOR A NEW WIN.”
–Wine writer W.R. Tish, via Twitter (July 21, 2015)

“ICYMI is raising $$ to breed 10,000 varieties.”
–Wine writer Jon Bonne, via Twitter (July 21, 2015)

“The madcap launching a mad ambitious project to find CA terroir’s ? Made for crowdfunding!”
–Food writer and restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit, via Twitter (July 21, 2015)


Randall Grahm‘s website for his book Been Doon So Long is at beendoonsolong.com.

Bonny Doon Vineyard is at bonnydoonvineyard.com.

The Popelouchum Vineyard Project‘s crowdfunding page is at indiegogo.com.

July Joy: Union Square Greenmarket


The produce at the Union Square Greeenmarket in Manhattan is so beautiful this week that we urge you not to waste the opportunity by sitting inside reading our blog or anything else.

Instead, get out there and enjoy the sights and smells — and get cooking!


Union Square Greenmarket is located just southeast of 17th Street and Broadway, and at grownyc.org.

“Be Here Now”: It’s Happening Today

“Life is too fragile.”  —Chef Eli Kulp in a May 5th Tweet

Seize the day:

MeatlessMondayLogoHorizontalMonday, July 20th, at 12 noon ETMeatless Monday and the Natural Gourmet Institute are co-hosting a lunchtime Twitter chat today.  The focus is on “Recipe Conversion 101:  Embracing Plant-Based Foods.”  Follow MM and NGI, and search #AskMeatlessMonday.

EliKulpChefsJacketMonday, July 20th, at 7:30 pm ETDel Posto is hosting a benefit for Eli Kulp, the Philadelphia chef (Fork, High Street on Market) named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 2014 “Best New Chefs” in the midst of opening a new restaurant in Greenwich Village who was paralyzed in a May 12th Amtrak train crash, to assist with his medical bills.

Participating restaurants include Ai Fiori, Anfora, Casa Lever, David Burke Group, DBGB, Del Posto, The Gander, High Street on Hudson, Josh DeChellis, L’Artusi, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Nobu 57, Osteria Philadelphia, Santina, and Tarallucci e Vino.

The event is being supported by Friends of Eli Kulp including Mark Ladner, Jeff Katz, Elizabeth Meltz, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, Joe Campanale, Katherine & Gabe Thompson, David Rabin, Matthew Rudofker, PJ Calapa, Josh DeChellis, Ellen Yin, Adil Avunduk, Chiara Sassoli, Zac Young, Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone, Jeff Zalaznick, Brad Daniels, Alison Seibert, Diane Briskin, Ariel Moses, Mark Briskin, Taryn Briskin, Damian Irizarry, Jamie Greenhouse, and Jesse Schenker.

To purchase tickets, click here.

EatUpRestaurantWeekLogoMonday, July 20th, is also the kick-off of New York City Restaurant Week, which is currently scheduled to run through August 14th.  You can enjoy a $25 lunch and $38 dinner at dozens of participating restaurants — including Ai Fiori, Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, Cafe Boulud, Casa Mono, db bistro moderne, DBGB, Empellon Taqueria, Felidia, Michael’s, Morimoto, Narcissa, The Peacock, Perry Street, Riverpark, Root & Bone, Telepan, and more — which you can reserve here.


Meatless Monday is at meatlessmonday.com.

Natural Gourmet Institute is at naturalgourmetinstitute.com.

Del Posto is at delposto.com.

The Friends of Eli Kulp Benefit is at eventbrite.com.

NYC Restaurant Week is at NYCgo.com.

Are You Cooking with Authentic French Shallots? How You Can Tell


One of the most memorable Tarte Tatins we’ve ever tasted, this Shallot Tarte Tatin was made by Chef David Mawhinney of Haven’s Kitchen from real French shallots — and underscored their tender sweetness

Are you cooking with authentic French shallots?

We didn’t know the answer to that question until we attended a June 30th cooking demonstration and three-course lunch at Haven’s Kitchen in New York City hosted by Pierre Gelebart of  France’s Echalotes Traditionnelles.

Turns out that “shallots” can be grown in the traditional way — from a multiplied shallot bulb, on a single bulbous plant — or from seed, the way onions are grown.  The former results in a hard end on the shallot you hold in your hand, which is where it was separated from the bulbous plant, while the end of the latter has soft “whiskers” like a scallion (note the scallion on the left in the photo below).


The shallot on the left? Grown from seed, it’s not a genuine French shallot, which you can tell by the soft “whiskers” on its end.   The authentic one on the right has a hard bump (or “scar”) on its end, and was grown on a bulbous plant.

Because France produces 80 percent of all the traditional shallots in Europe, it’s obviously interested in getting the word out to consumers who might not be aware of the differences.  Indeed, over the past five years, less expensive, industrially-produced, seed-grown shallots have captured 10-15 percent of the market in France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Traditional French Shallots vs. Seed-Grown “Shallots”

Planted vs. Sowed

Hard “Scar” vs. Soft “Whiskers”

Elongated & Asymmetrical vs. Plumper & Uniform

Melting Texture  vs. Firm Texture (when cooked)

“Traditional shallots are firm, with a uniform color;
they appear both shiny and dry.”


Chef David Mawhinney of Haven’s Kitchen in New York City prepared a three-course lunch for our table of journalists, with each course showcasing authentic shallots — raw (in a salad), sauteed (in the entree), and caramelized (in dessert).  It was so impressive that we had to look up his culinary pedigree, which we were not surprised to learn included stints in the kitchens of Per Se and Lincoln.

In the middle photo above, you can see a cross-section of a sliced authentic shallot, which will have two or three inner sections.  (Seed-grown shallots will have more concentric circles, like an onion.)

Tips for Cooking Authentic French Shallots:

– Cut shallots, then rinse, and dry before cooking for a milder flavor.

– Avoid browning shallots, which can make them taste bitter.

– Cook shallots in their skins by brushing unpeeled shallots with olive oil before wrapping in aluminum foil and cooking for an hour at 350 degrees.


Left: Pierre Gelebart of Echalotes Traditionnelles shows us authentic French shallots; Center: Vegetables — including real French shallots — cooked en papillote; Right: Slices of shallot Tarte Tatin are served

Why should you care?  Echalotes Traditionnelles reports, “Great chefs, when asked to compare the two, came back with a final judgment: the traditional shallot is finer, more subtle, and holds up better.”  While this event did not include a comparative tasting of the two, we found ourselves with renewed enthusiasm for real French shallots’ delicate flavor — whether raw, sauteed or caramelized, with the latter two also evoking extraordinary richness.

And now that we know the difference, we’re planning to look for “Traditional Shallots” on the label when shopping for shallots, which are available at better food stores, including Whole Foods.


Echalotes Traditionnelles of France is online at echalotetraditionnelle.com.

Haven’s Kitchen is a recreational cooking school, café and event space located in a carriage house at 109 West 17th Street (bet. Sixth and Seventh Avenues) in New York City, and at havenskitchen.com.

If You Can’t Get to France This Summer, Then Let France Come to You: Exploring the Personalities of Beaujolais in NYC


Sommelier Patrick Cappiello with Discover Beaujolais’ Charles Rambaud at Huertas in New York City


We don’t have any trips to France planned for this summer (yet, our internal eternal optimists force us to add), but we were happy to have the occasion to “Think French” during a couple of recent lunches in New York City.

Last week, we joined Discover BeaujolaisCharles Rambaud at Huertas on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to taste how Beaujolais paired with its Basque-influenced Spanish cuisine — on the heels of his visits to San Francisco and Seattle to showcase its pairing prowess with Asian and Pacific Northwest cuisines.

Sommelier Patrick Cappiello (a partner of Branden McRill in Pearl & Ash and Rebelle) led us through a tasting of more than a half-dozen examples of Beaujolais, underscoring that — despite the fact that 98% of Beaujolais is red wine made from the Gamay grape — all Beaujolais is not alike.  Indeed, we kicked off lunch by enjoying a rare Beaujolais rose (which represents just 1% of all Beaujolais produced, as does white):  a 2014 Gerard Gelin Domaine des Nugues Beaujolais Villages Rosé ($16).

Other wines included a 2012 Christophe Pacalet Moulin-a-Vent ($21), 2013 Barbet Domaines des Billards Saint-Amour ($20), 2012 Coudert Clos de la Roilette Fleurie ($17, and Andrew’s favorite after impressing him with how well it paired with asparagus), 2012 Stephane Aviron “Cote du Py” Vielles Vignes Morgon ($20), 2012 Chateau Fusse “Domaine de la Conseillere” Julienas ($30), and 2013 Cominique Piron Beaujolais Villages ($15).


Upper left: Tapas; Upper right: Beaujolais can take a nice chill, especially during the summer months; Center: Charles Renaud; Lower left: Asparagus with Marcona almonds; Lower right: Potato strands sub for pasta, while a smoky-noted Beaujolais subs for bacon

Exploring the Personalities of Beaujolais


The tote bag we were given after lunch makes distinguishing one Beaujolais from another fun

“The Easy-Going”
Body:  light
Aging potential:  1-2 years

Beaujolais Villages
[brew-yee vee-lahj]
“The Charmer”
Body:  light/medium
Aging potential:  1-5 years

The 10 Crus of Beaujolais:


“The Young”
Body:  medium
Aging potential:  3-5 years

“The Full-Bodied”
Body:  FULL
Aging potential:  6-10 years

“The Real”
Body:  light/medium
Aging potential:  2-5 years

Cote de Brouilly
[coat de brew-yee]
“The Elegant”
Body:  medium/medium-plus
Aging potential:  4-6 years

“The Queen”
Body:  medium-minus/medium
Aging potential:  5-10 years

“The Earthy”
Body:  medium-plus/FULL
Aging potential:  5-10 years

“The Powerful”
Body:  FULL
Aging potential:  5-20 years

“The Great”
Body:  FULL
Aging potential:  10 years

“The Creative”
Body:  FULL
Aging potential:  3-5 years

“The Romantic”
Body:  medium
Aging potential:  2-10 years

Indeed, each of the 10 crus of Beaujolais has its own style, personality, and food pairing implications. Lighter-bodied Beaujolais pair more readily with lighter dishes (e.g., hummus, salads, summer rolls, strawberry shortcake) while fuller-bodied styles pair more easily with heartier dishes (e.g., burdock root, casseroles, eggplant, Jerusalem artichokes, lentil soup, mushrooms).  Medium-bodied Beaujolais has the flexibility to pair with either lighter or heavier dishes (e.g., macaroni and cheese, onion rings, garlic roast potatoes, potato salad, Vichyssoise).

We’re not letting our plans to be in Manhattan over the next few weeks stop us from enjoying some of France’s most idyllic summer pleasures.  Neither should you.


Discover Beaujolais is at discoverbeaujolais.com and on Twitter at twitter.com/discoverbojo.

Chef Brad Farmerie Introduces A Loveable Five-Course “Dirt to Fork” Vegan Tasting Menu At PUBLIC


Brad Farmerie‘s hands move like a lover’s over the object of his affection: his ingredients.  The chef of PUBLIC has long impressed us with his ability to take lists of ingredients that don’t always make our mouths water and turn them into dishes we’re ready to return for the very next night.  Through interviewing him for our book THE FLAVOR BIBLE, we caught a glimpse into the unique way Brad thinks about composing dishes and working with flavors — which, fueled by the passion he has for them in his heart, he manages to coax further through the magic of touch.


PUBLIC’s Executive Chef Brad Farmerie

“Our first thought was to do a vegetarian menu, and after a week we’re thinking, ‘We need to go further….’  I challenged [my kitchen team, including chef de cuisine Alan Wise] to vegetarian, and they came back with vegan — and I was like, ‘I love you guys!'”
Brad Farmerie, on the origin of PUBLIC‘s vegan “Dirt to Fork” menu

The other night, we headed downtown to PUBLIC to experience Brad’s five-course “Dirt to Fork” menu (subtitled “An exploration into earthly edibles”), which is a meat-free, egg-free, and dairy-free effort by Brad and his talented kitchen team.

Yes, it’s a vegan tasting menu — something we’ve been happy to see more and more of offered by fellow distinguished chefs such as Terrance Brennan of Picholine and Mark Ladner of Del Posto in Manhattan and Todd Gray of Equinox in Washington, DC.  This month, Aaron Adams — formerly of Portobello in Portland, Oregon (which was once named by VegNews as one of the three best vegan restaurants in America, and featured in THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE) — just opened Farm Spirit, Portland’s first all-vegan tasting menu restaurant, which is already completely booked for weeks.


“[Brad Farmerie] seems to have the je ne sais quois (not to mention the culinary literacy, given his…ahem…excellent taste in books) to make the unlikeliest of flavor combinations meld harmoniously on the plate. We were truly amazed that with so many flavors being juggled in each dish, we never once tasted a discordant note.”
–from our August 2005 blog post on our first visit to PUBLIC

We first visited PUBLIC 10 years ago this summer, curious about the restaurant’s unique global (with an “Australiasian” emphasis) approach to cuisine fueled by Farmerie’s extensive travels, including through Europe and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, Asia, and New Zealand.   You’ll find ingredients rarely, if ever, seen on other American menus.


Astute beverage pairings have always added to the enjoyment of Farmerie’s dishes.  The five-course “Dirt to Fork” menu is offered for $65, with beverage pairings  (recommended) an additional $55.  The beverages span cocktails and wine, and are worth springing for.


Our first was a cocktail that consisted of components representing all of the elements featured in the vegan tasting menu — including flowers, fruit, pollen, roots, sap, and seeds.  It was a bright start to our evening.


The spread for our bread?  Whipped avocado was accented by salt, cilantro powder and tomato powder.


Course 1:  FRUIT, NUTS, SEEDS:  Charred papaya with pine nuts, pecans, coconut, sesame and pumpkin seeds.  This dish was brilliant in its creativity — being unlike any other papaya dish we’d ever tasted — and its “familiarity,” with the fruit + nuts combo combined with spheres of cool coconut being reminiscent of a savory ice cream sundae.


Course 2:  NIGHTSHADES, OIL, FERMENTATION:  Chilled eggplant soup with black garlic, sago, and mint.  Texture-wise, our vote was split:  Karen thinks she’d have preferred the soup a bit thinner, to enhance its contrast from the sago (large tapioca-like pearls).  Andrew suggests simply calling it and/or thinking of it as a savory “pudding” instead of soup.  Strictly flavor-wise, we both agreed this dish was unusual, exciting, and delicious.


Mid-dinner, we had an opportunity to visit the kitchen, where we were able to watch Farmerie plate our next dish.


Course 3:  ROOTS, WEEDS, ALLIUMS: Confit burdock root with sunchoke, onion, claytonia and upland cress.  Perhaps the most gorgeous dish of the night, we loved its clean, “unadorned” flavors, including that of the burdock itself, which tasted like the intersection of artichokes, nuts, and potatoes.  We did find ourselves wishing for even more of the delicious onion “jam” upon which the sliced root sat!


Course 4:  BARLEY, OCEAN, YEAST:  Soy barley croquettes with toasted yeast broth, seaweed salad, and samphire.  Hands down, this was our favorite dish of the night, the perfect crescendo to our tasting menu.  Tofu + barley were blended and seasoned, and deep fried into savory and very crunchy croquettes.  Seaweed in yeast broth added lots of umami to the dish.  No need to crave crabcakes if these are an available option!


Course 5:  SAP, POLLEN, FLOWERS:  Maple sherbet with rice milk panna cotta, lavender foam, and fennel pollen.  We loved both the lightness, and the range of textures in this dessert:  creaminess, crispiness, crunchiness.  Maple is one of our favorite flavors, and this maple sherbet was a perfect summer expression.

PUBLIC executive pastry chef Brian Yurko describes the dessert course in the video below:

Ten years after our first visit, we were thrilled to see Farmerie’s vision and execution continuing to evolve by leaps and bounds — healthfully, sustainably, and deliciously.  Indeed, we found ourselves falling in love with PUBLIC all over again.



PUBLIC is at 210 Elizabeth Street in Manhattan, and at public-nyc.com.

Catch Us on Victoria Moran’s “Main Street Vegan” Radio Show This Afternoon at 3 pm ET (or Check Out the Podcast!)

Listen To Our Conversation with Bestselling Author Victoria Moran
on “Main Street Vegan”
Wednesday, June 24th
3 pm ET

You can’t research vegetarianism and veganism (as we did when creating THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE) without running across the name Victoria Moran.  She’s everywhere!  In addition to hosting her weekly radio show “Main Street Vegan,” Victoria also runs the Main Street Vegan Academy which trains and certifies Vegan Lifestyle Coaches and Educators.  She is also the author of a dozen books including The Love-Powered Diet, Creating a Charmed Life, and Main Street Vegan.

When Karen first sat down to lunch with Victoria at Candle Cafe West, their ensuing conversation was such a lovefest that they felt as if they’d known each other for years.  (Being fellow Midwesterners and Beatlemaniacs helped!)

Last time we got together as a foursome with Victoria’s husband, musician (and accordian champion) and writer (including authoring The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing the Harmonica) William Melton, at the Kickstarter-fueled restaurant The Seasoned Vegan (at 55 St. Nicholas Avenue near 113th Street) near their LEED-certified “green” condo in Harlem.


“…Ninety-eight percent of the animals raised for food suffer horrifically on factory farms before being slaughtered.  Every time you eat a vegan meal, you’re voting for something different….The yogis knew three thousand years ago that eating as a vegetarian was conducive to spiritual growth and inner peace.”
Victoria Moran, in The Good Karma Diet

Since then, we’ve been making our way through Victoria’s new book The Good Karma Diet: Eat Gently, Feel Amazing, Age in Slow Motion, which is part diet book, part nutritional primer, and part guide to all things vegan.  The book is peppered with the stories of turning points in the lives of a diverse range of people that led them to embrace a vegan lifestyle, and addresses the basics of what anyone might want to know about doing so — from smoothie recipes to where to buy fashionable leather-free shoes.

One of the things we love most about Victoria is that she embraces such a compassionate, nonjudgmental attitude.   Even as someone who’s been eating vegan for more than three decades, Victoria understands that it isn’t easy for many Americans who — like us — grew up eating meat, eggs, and dairy at most if not all meals to make the switch.

“If this sounds great but going all the way seems impossible right now, go partway,” she writes in The Good Karma Diet.  “Every step in this direction — doing Meatless Mondays, or eating vegan before six p.m., as food journalist Mark Bittman’s book title VB6 suggests — is important and powerful.  Just keep moving forward.”

We’re looking forward to discussing our forward-moving journey with Victoria this afternoon at 3 pm ET — and hope you’ll join us!


Victoria Moran is the founder and director of the Main Street Vegan Academy, and hosts the weekly “Main Street Vegan” radio show/podcast on Unity Online Radio.  Visit her online at MainStreetVegan.net, on Twitter @Victoria_Moran, and on Instagram @MainStreetVegan.