Monday, November 15, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thomas Perez Mirabel Hotel & Restaurant Group Wine Director Sent from my iPhone
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Did you know that October is the first official Non-GMO Month? This month, retail stores nationwide will celebrate the consumer's right to be informed of foods and products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
What exactly are GMOs again?
GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are products of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE), which creates new combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes by combining DNA from one species with DNA from another. The result: new organisms that do not occur in nature.
GMOs are often not labeled as such. In many developed nations, GMO products are heavily restricted or banned altogether because they have yet to be proven safe for people's health and the health of the environment. However, in the U.S. there is a dearth of public awareness of the potentially harmful repercussions of GMO products.
Here are four more reasons why you should celebrate Non-GMO Month this October and empower yourself to make the right decisions for you and your family.
1. Human Health
Currently, seed companies prohibit independent research with their products, leaving very little empirical data available.
2. Environmental and Animal Health
Genetically engineered crops can cause a variety of destructive problems on the surrounding environment. Farmers who use GMO crops can spray their fields to kill everything growing in the area except the specific GMO food crop. The increased use of pesticides and herbicides often leads to superweeds, which then become resistant to the same pesticides, creating the need for stronger, more toxic pesticides (that can leach into our food and water sources!).
3. Moral and Ethical Concerns
Some people question whether genetically altered crops and species threaten and violate the natural order of an environment. Also, genetic modification may involve the creation of foods that are prohibited by certain groups (e.g., the use of animal genes may conflict with some religions, as well as the diets of vegetarians and vegans).
4. Labeling Concerns
Whether you decide to limit or restrict your consumption of GMO products, the right to know what is in our food is important. Research has shown that many Americans would choose not to have GMO products if aware and given the choice.
When shopping for food, it's a valuable practice to stop and ask yourself the basic question: Where does it all come from? It's time for us to be food detectives.
Here are a few ways you may be able to consume fewer GMO products:
- Buy produce and other food items from farmers' markets.
- Start conversations with the people selling your food to get more information.
- Grow your own food in a garden at home or join a community garden.
- Join a corporate garden or co-op to know where items are coming from.
How will you celebrate Non-GMO month?
To read the full article by Integrative Nutrition Founder Joshua Rosenthal go to The Huffington Post.
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Monday, October 25, 2010
In two weeks Washington State voters will decide the fate of the state's three tier system. This vote is the most consequential initiative concerning alcohol regulations any state in America has put to the voters many years.
The money in opposition to what is called Initiative 1100 comes from beer and wine wholesalers...across the country, not merely in Washington State.
Why do America's alcohol wholesalers oppose Initiative 1100? Very simply because it is an example of leveling the playing field and withdrawing the wholesalers many state-mandated protections folded into the three tier system that allow them to control the alcohol distribution system and guarantee themselves income earned by virtue of their place in the three tier system, not their performance or value.
What does Initiative 1100 do?
1. Takes the state out of the business of being the retailer of spirits through state stores
2. Gives private wine and beer retailers the right to sell spirits
3. Allow retailers and restaurants to buy spirits, beer and wine directly from producers, going around wholesalers
4. Allow volume discounts from producers to retailers/restaurants
5. Eliminate price controls
6. Allow retailers to warehouse their inventory and distribute it themselves to their various stores
7. Allow retailers to buy on credit
Alcohol wholesalers don't want any of this because it removes laws and restrictions that help wholesalers unnecessarily dominate the sale and distribution of alcohol. But their real fear is that these kind of sensible, consumer friendly, market-friendly reforms might spread to other states.
Recently at the Beer Wholesalers of America's National Convention in Illinios, the Wholesalers Chairman, Mitch Watkins called the move in Washington "a real and immediate threat". He's right. It is a threat to the kind of hacker's high handicap the wholesalers have been granted by the states.
Wholesalers make a lot of noise about just wanting to "protect" a system that "protects consumers" and "has for more than 75 years". Don't believe it for a second. That kind of rhetoric, if true, would represent the first time that an commercial industry supported something not because it benefits them but supposedly benefits others. The argument is similar to what the wholesalers have said about H.R. 5034, a bill in Congress that would prevent challenges to unconstitutionally discriminatory alcohol laws. Wholesalers argue that they've spent millions of dollars to pass this law because states need to be protect from lawsuits challenging their alcohol laws. In what imaginary universe have private companies decided that their primary mission is to protect the state from lawsuits? The wholesalers use doublespeak. Plain and simple.
What's weird is at their conventions and meetings the wholesalers themselves sit and listen to their own representatives tell them that the emperor is sporting some amazing new duds while they know full well he's completely naked. And they sit there and nod their heads approvingly. There's a name for sitting and listening approvingly to lies.
To-date, the anti-Initiative 1100 campaign has raised over $8 million, most of it from alcohol wholesalers around the country and with more than $2.4 million form the Beer Wholesalers of America an the Beer Institute alone. Recently the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America have thrown over $250,000 in the effort to kill reform in Washington State though an organization ridiculously named, "People for Responsible Liquor Law".
If Initiative 1100 passes a variety of things will come to pass:
1. Consumers will have greater choice in their alcoholic beverages
2. Consumers will see lower prices for alcoholic beverages
3. Retailers will be freer to source product from a wider array of suppliers, allowing them to better serve their customers
4. The alcohol distribution system will become a fairer and more just system
With any luck, Initiative 1100 will pass in Washington State and will be followed up with similar initiatives in other states where the emperor is declared to have no clothes.
Sent from my iPhone
Friday, October 22, 2010
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
monk fish liver, yellow tail was the best ever
. Mundaka for a beer out of cidra vaso, made
me want to be on one of the greatest streets = GASCONA.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
The wine list is a dazzling array of Italian bottles (and 25 offerings by the glass). Thomas Perez is also responsible for this cellar. And there he was by my table – as always, the friendliest and most affable of fellows – to sort out for me a glass of vanilla-laden Tuscan chardonnay (Cabreo, La Pietra, 2007 - $16) and a bottle of big, muscular barbera d’asti from Piedmont (La Spinetta, Ca di Pian, 2006 - $67). It was a joy to see Thomas again and to benefit from his expertise.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Swiss Wine: The Best Wine You've Never Tasted
by Victoria Daskal
“It’s difficult to export wine because we drink a lot” is the response I got when asking why Swiss wine does not exist on the international market.
Switzerland, a tiny independent country in the heart of Europe with a population of 7.5 million, is divided further by languages; French, Italian, German, and Romanche. While each region is actively involved in wine production, the most action occurs in the French part, specifically in the cantons Neuchatel, Geneva, Vaud and Valais. Lakes and rivers play a large role in regulating the effects of the Alps. Most of these vineyards grow on steep south facing slopes with increased sun exposure; Neuchatel vines sit by a small lake of the same name, Geneva and Vaud stretch over the northern part of Lake Geneva (or locally known Lac Leman), and Valais vineyards follow the banks of the famed Rhone River through a narrow valley. With such extreme topographies at once including mountainous terrain, large bodies of water, and every type of soil in between, these vineyards can sustain over a hundred grape varieties.
In Valais alone (which is the most productive canton, accounting for over 40% of Swiss wines) there are 49 varieties under the AOC Valais label. Still the most prevalent varieties are Pinot Noir, Chasselas, and Gamay. There is also a rising interest in local grapes (Cornalin, Petit Arvine and Humagne Rouge) and to varieties that are well suited for the Valais conditions such as Syrah and Pinot Gris.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
"It is said that energy of Gratitude/Appreciation/Thankfulness can clear your aura and raise your vibration. You can change dense energy to finer vibrational energy. Your heart will lighten and open up, which can lead to healing of the physical body. Even for people who do not believe in energy or metaphysical things, you feel good when people appreciate you. You can look at situations in more positive ways even when things are not going the way you would like to be.
Let's find something you are grateful for. Even small things. Being able to drink a cup of tea before bed, your friend listened to you complain, amazing cells in your body working their function nonstop, your pet brings you joy, your nice clothes to wear, etc...anything is fine. If that happens to be a person, express to the person how grateful you are. And it is not out of the obligation, but something from your heart."
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Last year executive pastry chef Ron Mendoza of Mirabel H&R, took first place in the annual "Golden Scoop Award" competition in New York City. Following is a simple dessert that is sure to make a memorable impression at your next dinner party.
Herb infused Panna Cotta
by Ron Mendoza
3 fresh bay leaves or herbs of your choice
4 gelatin sheets, rehydrated in ice water***can be found at Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table
Bring milk, cream, sugar, and herbs to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and steep 20 minutes.
Return to a simmer and add gelatin (which has been strained from water), remove from heat and strain.
Pour panna cotta into cups or glasses. Chill 4 hours until set.
Top panna cotta with fruit of your choice, diced into bite size pieces. Garnish with herbs and shaved white chocolate or crushed graham crackers.
The highlight of this dish is that the panna cotta is very soft and creamy. "I enjoy the way it is set in a glass because I can build up from it in a parfait style which leaves a wonderful presentation," shares Ron.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Choose 2-5 of the vegetables listed below.
Chop the hardest ones, like carrots and other root vegetables into smaller pieces.
Softer vegetable, like onions, can be cut into larger chunks.
Add vegetables into a pot in layers. Place the thickest on the bottom. It will cook more than the ones on top.
Add about 1 inch of water to the pot and cook until vegetables are soft.
Empty vegetables into a large bowl and use leftover cooking water as a delicious sweet sauce.
Notes: Any vegetables such as: corn, carrots, onions, beets, winter squash and sweet potato have a deep, sweet flavor when cooked. Other less known sweet vegetables like turnips, parsnips and rutabaga, also taste sweet when cooked
check out more simple and super healthy recipes on http://www.integrativenutrition.com/connect/recipes/205
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
What is your favorite Pairing?
Personal favorite food-wine pairing: "Scottish wild grouse terrine with Pink Moscato. It might seem silly, but the terrine being thick and rich, needs something light, fresh and vibrant to cleanse your palette. It's delicious."
Thomas Perez is wine director for Aubergine and Cantinetta Luca
At night the war always crept back into his head, and he would awake in sweat-soaked sheets, trying to shake those familiar images of death.
Yet suddenly, not long ago, the nightmares stopped, with his own wine aging in the bottle and a child on the way. Only then did Thomas Perez sleep through the night. The man, now content and successful in his adopted country, finally outran his childhood.
To truly understand Perez, wine director for Aubergine and Cantinetta Luca in Carmel, and winemaker for his own Kristi-Lynn label, one needs to look beyond the Italian suits, the Latin locks and the Carmel charm. Go back to 1984, when two humble farmers in El Salvador sent their 13-year-old son Tom s to America to escape the civil war that was tearing apart their country.
Since the age of 9, Perez had lived in fear as the military-led government fought a bloody, 12-year battle against the left-wing guerrillas, a brutality that would ultimately claim 75,000 lives.
"The war started so fast and intensely that there was no time for training," said Perez, now 39, recalling his formative years growing up in La Union, in southern El Salvador. "They gave you a gun to shoot and you were ready. The most recurrent dreams were of either myself or my parents being kidnapped — or my family being murdered or disappearing."
In those days, people often disappeared. If they ever returned, they came home in pieces, a grisly reminder of war and intimidation. Human heads adorned fence
posts, and death became routine. In the countryside, security forces tortured and killed campesinos, shooting up their houses and burning their crops.
Simple, honest people like the Perezes, unsure of which side to live for, or die for, found themselves attending rallies for both. Confusion and fear paralyzed the populace.
So they sent their son away, with a 14-day visa and a scrap of paper scribbled with an address in Mexicali, Mexico, where he met a woman, a coyote, who drove the boy all the way to Pacific Grove to live with his much-older brother, who had already fled the war.
Tomas was now Thomas, and his new life had begun.
A privileged world
"What do you think, Tommy?" asked a dapper man in a dark suit, who had carefully poured 10 reds from Bordeaux before asking his young charge to taste and deliver his assessment.
It was 1989, and Thomas Perez, a young busser at the prestigious Pacific's Edge restaurant at Highland's Inn in Carmel, had stepped into a whole new world.
"I was captivated," he said. "But I didn't know much about wine, and I didn't know how to describe it. I was overwhelmed."
He froze, but pointed to his four favorites (four grand cru labels, and the four most expensive and noteworthy).
He was 18, brown-skinned, and spoke little English — and he dared to step out from the back of the kitchen into a world of rich, white folk who sipped and swirled and spoke in an eloquent, poetic manner about wine.
But he had developed a thirst, and on that day it became his life's quest to quench it.
Altogether, Perez worked 10 years at Highlands Inn, as a busser, a breakfast waiter and finally, unbelievably, as sommelier. He worked at 10 of the annual Masters of Food & Wine events, an extravaganza featuring the world's top chefs and vintners. "The influence and opportunity to learn was unbelievable," he said.
The dapper man in the suit was Mark Jensen, then the wine director at Highlands Inn.
"Tommy always had big infectious smile, and I loved his work ethic," said Jensen, now the wine director at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley. "He learned to trust himself and let the wine speak to him. He has a tremendous palate."
Encouraged by Jensen and David Fink, then the general manager at Highlands, in 1998 Perez abruptly decided to empty his meager savings account and leave for Europe to complete his wine education.
The call to his parents didn't go well.
"'You're going to quit working?' my mom asked (which I did)," said Perez. "'You're going to spend your life savings?' (which I did), 'and drink wine for a month?' (which I did).
"She didn't understand that I was following my dream."
Fink understood. "I always saw this passion and drive in him," he said. "He's got this beautiful heart that is meant to be around people. It's the heart of a servant."
Of course, a servant means something else entirely to his mother. Señora Perez does not understand the tailored suits, the $100 bottles of wine, that insatiable American desire to claim the best of everything.
"It is extremely difficult for them to grasp the life I lead today," Perez said of his parents, who still make their home in La Union. "These are two completely different worlds we are living in. The hard part is, that world will always be a part of me, but they have no piece of the world I live in and have created."
Determined to succeed
It was never easy, creating this world. He lived with his brother, 15 years his senior, but really he raised himself. Somehow he got himself up every morning, attended school and learned English.
"Life gives you choices," he said. "I could have gotten into trouble, but I was determined to succeed."
After his tour through Europe, he joined Jensen at Bernardus, then a new, upscale resort determined to make a culinary impact with its restaurant, Marinus, and local winery. Perez started as head waiter before quickly becoming a sommelier.
And, finally, after 16 years working in this country, he became an American citizen.
But again he grew impatient, and in 2001 abruptly quit his job, sold his growing wine collection and left for Spain to attend the Escuela Superior de Enologia del Pais Vasco, where he received his masters in oenology and viticulture. "I wanted to go to school in a European country because of the history of winemaking there," he said. "I wanted to learn it all."
While attending school, he made time to work the harvest in 2002 with Jean Francois at Domaine Coche-Dury in Meursault, France, and in 2003 with Fidel Fernandez at Bodegas Luis Cañas Villanueva de Alava, Spain.
In 2004 he returned to the Peninsula, where Fink was waiting with a job offer to run the wine program at his newly opened L'Auberge Carmel.
Fink knew he had something special in Perez, now a worldly wine scholar with an impeccable palate.
Two dreams remained — starting a family and making his own wine. He fell in love with Kristi Markwalker, a server at Fink's third Carmel restaurant, Cantinetta Luca, and they married in 2007. Two sons followed.
Fink's brother Jeff makes wine in Santa Barbara County under the Tantara label, and David Fink directed Perez there. Perez took the science of winemaking to heart, tasting berries from single vineyards throughout the Central Coast, finding just the right blend for his signature Pinot Noir, the most elegant and temperamental of Burgundian grapes.
His first vintage was 2006. Today, Pacific's Edge, among other restaurants, carries Kristi-Lynn's two labels — Sebastian and Phoenix, named after his two sons.
"It's so rare in our world that you have a sommelier who completes the circle of wine," said Fink. "There are hardly any sommeliers in the world who are also winemakers, enologists."
A contented life
The nightmares have stopped, and now Perez can almost look upon his violently shattered youth as a blessing.
"At that time I had no future. Not knowing if I would make it on my own as a 13-year-old traveling through a civil war and across a border, my parents gathered their strength and courage and said goodbye."
He's now content. "I love serving people, and I love teaching people. I'm satisfied where I am in life."
He owes his parents everything, yet longs for them to share his contentment.
"I would love for them to see and understand where the road they faithfully allowed me take has led me," he said. "I hope they know it was all worth it."
Thomas Perez ·Age: 39 ·Born: La Union, El Salvador ·Married to: Kristi Perez; two sons, Sebastian and Phoenix ·Occupation: Wine director for Mirabel Hotel and Restaurant Group, responsible for all wine and spirits service at each property, including Aubergine and Cantinetta Luca in Carmel and Cantinetta Piero in Yountville; winemaker under the Kristi-Lynn label. ·Winemaking philosophy: Classic winemaking techniques and aging in finest French oak barrels concentrate the fruit's flavors and intensity, producing a wine of elegance and power. ·Wine-drinking philosophy: "I think wine is a gift from Mother Nature made naturally by the actions of yeast and bacterias. Yes, it is an alcholic bevearge, but in my mind wine is more like food, and is also good for your health if consumed in moderation (and don't forget to share with friends!)" ·Personal favorite food-wine pairing: "Scottish wild grouse terrine with Pink Moscato. It might seem silly, but the terrine being thick and rich, needs something light, fresh and vibrant to cleanse your palette. It's delicious." ·Contact: www.kristilynnwine.com.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010