Among the five principal wine producing areas in Tuscany, Montecucco is one of two located in the southernmost realm of Maremma, abutting Brunello di Montalcino to the south and west, and lying directly north of Morellino di Scansano; further west is Bolgheri, and a ways north is the Chianti Classico region – thus, it’s unsurprising that the primary grapes grown there are Sangiovese. As with all things agricultural – particularly in Italy, but truly everywhere, given the demand by an increasingly informed public for assurance of the sourcing of any products they consume – a reliable means of certification is the guarantee that what you’re getting is both authentic and meets the standards of quality established by producers in any region or realm. So, it was that in 1998 the Appellation (DOC) of Montecucco wines was born, with Consortium for the protection of these wines founded two years later, and to mark the “20 Years of Designation of Origin” the Consorzio gathered an international group of wine aficionados to help celebrate the anniversary and provide their guests with an opportunity to discover and appreciate the region and its wines in depth and up close.
In the late 1980’s I served for a couple of tours as a concessionaire with American Indian Dance Theatre. While on a Western tour, we found ourselves in Helena, Montana. Taking a much-needed cigarette break in front of our venue I was approached by a slumped shouldered man. “You’re not from around here?” he quipped. “No, I’m from NYC.” “I’m from Chicago” he replied. “I’ve been out here for 5 years, let me tell you how things work here. The legislature meets every two years for three months, and they spend half of that time repealing laws. If they have any time left, they might pass a law or two.”
Same old, same old. Healthy, healthy, healthy. Blah. Everybody seems to be chasing the same brass ring and releasing product that duplicates something else in the market without any improved bells and whistles (if you don’t count ghost peppers or superfruits). I want to enjoy my food, not have my senses assaulted. Manufacturers have seemed to forget that their mandate is to sell product and have the customer binge eat that entire bag of chips or box of cookies. Having one chip and sealing up the bag or a single sip of that decadent beverage and putting it in the refrigerator doesn’t help the bottom line.
Whenever I walk the aisles of a well-known supermarket chain – which need not be named – it’s not an infrequent occurrence that there will tables set up where eager and (mostly) young people are engaged in demonstrations of new products, from chocolates to granola bars, from beer to coffee, from chips made from all variety of vegetables to dipping sauces to dunk them in. Most such products are launched on their journey to the commercial marketplace by being featured in the Fancy Food Show, which is staged by the Specialty Food Association twice a year and on both coasts – the Summer version taking place in New York at the Javits Center. Running from June 30 to July 2 in 2018, it promises not only to herald upcoming flavorful and imaginative additions to the American palate, but also to provide attendees – most of whom are engaged the food industry, from retailers to manufacturers to consultants, and the like – with opportunities to gain greater knowledge about the business while they network with partners, vendors and colleagues.
While the growth in the marketing and selling of books has undeniably and irreversibly been changed by digital media – chiefly by the presence and influence of a company I need not name – the resiliency of the publishing industry is nonetheless demonstrated by manifold developments. As BookExpo America, North America’s largest gathering of book trade professionals, prepares to descend upon Manhattan once again, it has been re-branded The Reimagined BookExpo (though the url to access detailed information about it remains www.bookexpoamerica.com) to reflect the evolving nature of the business, and while there will indeed be elements and presentations familiar to the global audience of publishers, writers, agents, booksellers and readers who attend the festivities unfolding at the Javits Center from May 30thto June 1st, there will thus, as always, be new wrinkles reflecting the ever-changing climate.
I have given up on trying to catch all the films getting rave reviews coming off the festival circuit. The waste of time and money this year was ridiculous. I spent the week between Christmas and New Years Eve catching up on films that have been littering End of Year Awards lists and have not liked most of them. I can be vicious about certain films but I’ll save that for when I get around to opening a Twitter account which will get me in trouble as my sarcastic wit is appreciated by select well-rounded individuals who don’t live or die on box office tallies.
What’s new for APAP as the 2018 annual conference approaches starts with the name of the organization, which as of September has changed (and meanwhile in a way stayed the same). While the acronym APAP remains, it now stands for Association of Performing Arts Professionals – whereas previously it denoted Association of Performing Arts Presenters – and the switch reflects a desire on the part of membership, consequent to a vote held at the 2017 conference last January, to convey an expansion of the mission of APAP as well as a new initiative to include more arts professionals in its membership. This has been the third name change in the 60-plus year history of APAP – it began as the Association of College and University Concert Managers (ACUCM) in 1957, became the Association of College, University and Community Arts Administrators (ACUCAA) in 1973, and since 1988 has been known as the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.
What interesting times we live in. The retail industry is crashing and burning due to e-commerce (Macy’s, Payless, Sears/KMart, Radio Shack, J.C. Penney, The Limited, American Apparel etc.) Greedy landlords who have been jacking rents through the roof for years and leveraged their portfolios to buy more over-priced real estate are now facing the grim reaper as their major anchor tenants have walked away from long term leases. The vulture capitalists are circling the carrion. The unlikely knight in shining armor turns out to be low profit margin supermarkets who have figured out they don’t need 100,000 square feet when 40,000 will do.
WORLDS APART is a small sort of film from Greece with big scope and ambition. The film tells three distinct narratives dealing with three love stories of sort, each representing a distinct generation, and each story involving a Greek National and a foreigner. These three stories are partially unified with recurring motifs. They also overlap with other devices that will not be reviled in this review so not to give away major plot reveals. This structure recalls another film from 2016 which I much enjoyed CERTAIN WOMEN. The use of a love story with universal appeal with its healing powers echoes the early films by Francois Truffaut, a filmmaker I greatly admire.
Once again New York gourmands can welcome in the new year by attending a competition at which there are no losers – the Annual Cassoulet Cook-off at Jimmy’s No. 43, which will hold its 9th iteration on Sunday, January 15th from 1:00-4:00pm. Co-hosted with the Chefs’ Consortium, which will help source local ingredients for the competing chefs, it will feature both professional and amateur chefs vying for prizes from sponsors Wüsthof and Anolon Cookware for people’s and judge’s choice awards.