First things first: I know that we have a number of readers in several European countries, including France. I hope that they see this within the next few days, if for no other reason than for them to know that we here, like all our right-thinking countrymen, stand with them in this terrible time. We are resolved to do all necessary to put an end to this senseless brutality, and we support them in their efforts to find and punish whoever is responsible for this cowardly act.
So, having gotten that off my chest, I guess this will be a fairly brief note only because there are more important things going on in the world at the moment (as there always are, but not always as outrageous as this particular incident).
One thing that has kept me entertained for the past few days is that I have just taken delivery of a couple of cases of assorted Martinelli wines that have been sitting at the winery for the past year or so as I shuttled back and forth between home (California) and New Mexico, where I was obsessed by a project involving trying to save a failing golf club (we were not successful, unfortunately). I had almost forgotten about the wines until Martinelli's Denise Robuchaitis, who I suspect is a customer-relations specialist, or should be if she's not, contacted me to inquire as to when I'd be claiming them. Long story made short, she got them off to me in a far more efficient manner than I deserved, and they showed up at my front door in short order. I admit that I always feel a little hypocritical when I indulge my weakness for the wines of a couple of "superhero" producers, Martinelli being one, but I can't help myself: I've been a fan of these wineries (Mayacmas is the other) since the dawn of wine-time, and I've continued to bite the bullet and buy a few bottles each year even as prices continued to climb. I doubt that I'll ever give them up, unless something dramatic and unexpected happens: Bob Travers has finally decided to hand-off Mayacamas to its next caretakers, so we'll see how that goes, but Martinelli seems to be set for continuing family control into the foreseeable future and should be (I hope) a stable ship. At any rate, I continue to brave my wife's flanking maneuvers and appeals to common sense (in truth, who does really need a $90 pinot noir or a $65 cabernet?) and buy them in moderation when my annual opportunities come around. And I still think it's money well spent...
In closing, just a little tickler for those of you who are true and dedicated students of gastronomy: my question is this: how long has it been (if ever) that you sat down with your copy of Larousse's Gastronomique and just opened it at random and started reading? Try it. I guarantee you a full evening of fascination. It is an astounding work that transports food people (not just chefs and restaurateurs) back to a different world, when great cooks were viewed almost the same way as magicians and conjurers, so mysterious and complex was their craft. Reading its entries is almost an adventure, and it's easy to picture the ingredients as they are described, as well as to imagine the dishes coming together as the preparations are playing out. If you don't have a copy, go buy one; used book stores and flea markets are the best sources, because you'll usually find 30 or 40 year-old copies in well-cared-for condition with evident history of former owners at next-to-nothing prices. These old pre-owned books have a nice feel, and they need a home, so invest in one. It's a purchase you'll appreciate for many, many years to come, and you'll get a lot of enjoyment from it. And you'll learn a lot.
Okay, that's it for now.