Food Network’s daliance with Seattle

The Best Thing I Ever Ate photo courtesy of Hulu

-This post originally appeared on Seattlest

In case you missed it, last Monday featured the Food Network crushing on Fremont’s Revel for the ‘Messy‘ episode of their series, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The premise of this show is the Food Network featuring various culinary dignitaries waxing poetic on what they think is the best thing they’ve ever ate. And this past Monday was Revel’s turn to be celebrated. But this restaurant gem isn’t the only place in Seattle that they’ve considered for the best thing ever eaten; there are a solid group of restaurants famously noted by people talking about their food, famously talking about our city’s food.

  • Revel’s Asparagus Pistachio Olive Chutney Radicchio Rice Bowl – This Fremont hotspot has packed the house since their opening last winter. That likely won’t change with the New York Times‘ Frank Bruni expressing his love for Revel’s Rice Bowl. If you recall, last summer, Bruni shared his recap of his time in the area and one of those loves was for Revel’s Rice Bowl, so much so, he thinks it’s one of the best things he ever ate.
  • Toulouse Petit’s Cured Pork Cheek Confit Hash – This episode featured Toulouse Petit’s breakfast happy hour by Melissa d’Arabian; Season Five winner of The Next Food Network Star. She particularly likes the ‘Bang for the Buck‘ that one gets from Toulouse Petit’s Pork Cheek Hash.
  • Dahlia Lounge’s Lemon Scallion Dungeness Crab Cakes – Once again, the Food Network gives some love to Tom Douglas for his crab cakes at Dahlia Lounge on the ‘Obsessions‘ episode. Giada De Laurentiis was smitten with these glorious hockey pucks of crab meat created by the TDR group. This Seattlest agrees; these crab cakes are delicious.
  • Cafe Juanita’s Fruit Sorbet – Another Eastside  entrant, this time they give kudos to Chef Holly Smith’s Poco Caretto Fruit Sorbet at Cafe Juanita. In this ‘With Fruit‘ episode, Melissa d’Arabian sings the praises of the Beard award-winning chef’s sorbetto.

Eight different dishes from Seattle-area restaurants that the folks at the Food Network consider some of the best food they’ve ever eaten. Always good for the area to get culinary street cred. Now I’m hungry.

*Note – Give the restaurant a call if you want any of these dishes specifically. Menus are subject to change and just because it was on television doesn’t mean it will be there when you go. 

Food Network enters the wine game

photo from Eater

On the scale of interesting news this fits somewhere between ‘huh’ and ‘that’s cool, I guess’. As shared by the folks at Eater, the lifestyle behemoth that we know as Food Network is releasing their first series of wine.

Making and releasing wine can definitely be a vanity project. It’s filled with hard work, massive overhead, low margins and more, but when you’re playing at the level that Food Network is, it’s pretty much an opportunity to brand something that already existed. It’s not like they’re having Michael Chiarrello or Tyler Florence lend a hand in the wine-making. For that, the Food Network has relied on the folks at Wente Vineyards in California. They are calling their new wine ‘entwine‘, with a goal to create a wine that pairs well with food. Well, no crap. Most wines match well with food.

Here is what I find interesting. The pricepoint is $13 a bottle. Not bad, some decent stuff can be had at that level. (Though, it is awfully hard for small producers to meet that pricepoint.) But their bottles state ‘California’ as the region designate. What this says to me is that the grapes, and grape juice, used to produce their wine are sourced throughout the entire state and each vintage going forward could likely have different vineyard designates each year. I’m not a geography major, but I recall California being huge. Such vineyard designates can be anywhere from Napa Valley, Central Valley, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, or the dozens of other California AVAs. Or a combination of said areas.

While it’s possible one could get a good wine with no vineyard designate, it does raise an eyebrow as the yield of jug wines coming from California is staggering.  I personally want to drink and buy wine that celebrates its origin, not a chemical process that creates a consistent product. Buying grapes and grape juice on a spot market is a way to make winemaking more accessible, but purposely creating a brand that does not highlight the origins and producers that help to make the brand successful gives me pause. No matter how big of a presence you have, producing a wine like this will always be a community effort.

That’s not to say that entwine doesn’t have potential. I just happen to be skeptical of it. They’re making Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon a part of their suite of varietals. If you want to try these, they’ll be available nationwide soon enough. As for me, I think I’ll keep trying wineries closer to home with more character that aren’t conceived by marketing execs, rather produced by former marketing execs that are following a new passion and appreciating those who have helped educate them along the way to success.