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August Edition of Chester County Cuisine & Nightlife Hits the Stands

A very quick blurb to let you know that the latest edition of Chester County Cuisine & Nightlife has hit the stands.  This month’s issue (August 2009) includes a piece that I wrote in late 2008 on Penns Woods winemaker Gino Razzi.

CCC, masterminded by WCDish.com co-founder and irrepressible Philly-area foodie Mary Bingham, continues to improve with every issue and seems like it’s really starting to hit its stride.  And best of all, it’s FREE.

So if you happen to find yourself in visiting, living in, or mysteriously waking up somewhere in Chester County, PA, be sure to grab yourself a copy or two, or hit the PDF after the jump for a tree-friendly version!

Cheers!
(images: dailylocal.com)

How to Solve PA’s $3.2B Budget Deficit – with Wine

Vinted on July 6, 2009 under pennsylvania, PLCB, wine shipping

There is, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a time-honored and long-standing tradition that takes place every year.

I’m not talking about the February 2nd ritual of watching expectantly to see if Punxsutawney Phil will glimpse his own shadow, heralding six additional weeks of Winter.

I’m not talking about the amazing July 4th event that takes place in downtown Philadelphia, drawing nearly one million people together to celebrate PA’s unique place and status in the history of the United States’ liberty-based government.

No, I’m talking about the annual Harrisburg tradition that comes around every Summer, in which the PA state senate and governor fail to pass a budget in time for the next fiscal year. PA governor Ed Rendell has the dubious distinction of being seemingly incapable of herding PA’s senate into signing any budget into law before the state teeters on the verge of government program funding meltdown.

To put it kindly, the PA state budget is in a state of total crisis.  The Commonwealth now faces a budget shortfall of $3.2 billion, or roughly the GDP of Mauritania. That kind of deficit is basically a guarantee of missing end of fiscal year targets, since it’s unlikely that any Senate would be happy with the level of cuts needed to reign in such a monstrous shortfall.  This situation has the ability to self-perpetuate: When the state budget is not positioned well to weather a poor economy, the budget deficit grows; it becomes harder and harder to pass a budget due to the pressures of cutting programs that will piss of the state Senate’s constituents; the next year’s budget is then passed late due to the in-fighting, and thus faces more pressures and a potentially greater deficit, which means the budget is poorly positioned for the next economic storm… and the cycle starts all over again.  Which is more-or-less what’s been happening in Harrisburg.

And yet, the PA state government is sitting on a goldmine that could – relatively quickly – halve that deficit.  It simply lacks the courage and will to act on it.

The goldmine?  Wine…

Read the rest of this stuff »

Pennsylvania Repeals Prohibition!

Vinted on April 1, 2009 under best of, Inebriated Press, pennsylvania, PLCB

Associated Grape Press (ha-ha… get it?)

In a stunning and bizarre turn of events today, Pennsylvania has repealed Prohibition, thus ending years of tyrannical and strict governance over the sale and distribution of alcohol within the Commonwealth.

Upon reports of the repeal, elated Pennsylvanians stormed the Harrisburg, PA offices of the state-run monopoly Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), dismantling the building and retaining small pieces of its edifice to keep as mementos of the historic occasion.  A confused and inebriated State Governor Ed Rendell, believing the events to be related to an Eagles football pep rally, attempted to lead the crowd in a rendition of Eagles fight song “Fly Eagles Fly” before vomiting on himself, and then passing out.

At the state borders, heart-rending and tearful reunions between state residents and their beloved bottles of previously unavailable wine took place, as both were finally free to legally cross state lines without fear of incarceration or retribution.

The repeal was the result of a strange cascade of events in which the increasingly complicated rules and laws protecting the PLCB imploded in on themselves.

As former PLCB CEO Joe Conti explained, “Well, we thought that we’d try to continue our balladromic move towards making the PLCB and the state of Pennsylvania a Communist institution.  To that end, we realized that the PLCB actually belonged to the People of the Commonwealth, so naturally we turned control of the PLCB over to the People, in order to completely fulfill the Communist manifesto.  Quite simle, really.”

Once the Commonwealth’s citizens were informed that they now controlled the PLCB, they promptly disbanded the institution, thus ending nearly 90 years of monopolized alcohol control in the state.

When asked what he would do now that the PLCB had been disbanded, former CEO Conti replied, “Well, I guess I’ll have a drink.  There’s a sweet Oregon Pinot I’ve been dying to try, but until now the PLCB laws had made it too expensive for them to sell here…”

Govenor Ed Rendell was understandably unavailable for comment…

Wining Combinations: Lessons in Wine & Food Pairing at Wayne’s Flavor Restaurant

Vinted on March 25, 2009 under pennsylvania, wine tasting

I have a (potentially unhealthy) love affair with Teikoku, the Chester County, PA restaurant that birthed the increasingly excellent and expanded series of Win Signature Restaurants, whose cuisine is headed by Executive Chef and Iron Chef Japan alum Takao Iinuma.

Anyone who doubts the potential success of pairing wine with the complexity and uber-spiciness that is the hallmark of pan-Asian cuisine need only attend one of the Win restaurant’s several wine & food pairing events, as I did on a recent trip to Win’s Flavor in Wayne to attend their first-ever Wine Appreciation event.

Chef Iinuma takes wine pairing seriously – so seriously that instead of offering selections and helping wine reps chose wines to compliment them, he first tastes the potential wines for each event and then masterfully constructs small plates to highlight the pairing of the chosen wines.  It feels the wrong way around, but if the results are wrong, then I don’t want to be right…

There’s no mistaking the Asian vibe at Flavor, and the general atmosphere – dimly lit but also inviting – is a cross between a Buddhist temple and a cozy living room.  While Flavor’s wine list offers a similarly varied and approachable mixture of selections, Win’s wine & food pairing events usually focus on a mixture of in-house and special selections, as was the case during my visit.

The standout pairing of the night: the vibrant juxtaposition of flavors, heat, and texture of Dionysus Vineyard’s Washington State Riesling with Iinuma’s Fresh Wild Albacore jalapeno Ceviche.  The apple, honey & flower aromas and searing acidity of the Riesling might be a bit much on its own, but it cut right through the fat of the Ceviche.  Here’s how my tasting notes described the experience:

“Like spicy fish meat-butter served by winged Valkyries while Wagner’s “Der Ring” blasts triumphantly in the background.”

Sure, I was probably buzzed, but there’s no doubting a pairing like that!  Lucky for me – and you – that they’re planning more Wine Appreciation events at both Flavor and Teikoku.

If you go: Flavor Restaurant – 372 W Lancaster Ave. Wayne, PA 19087 – 610.688.5853

Cheers!

(images: 1WineDude.com, Sugendran.net)

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