Old-Fashioned TomatoesWritten by Janette Blackwell
Raw vegetables are dangerous and must be thoroughly fried, steamed, and boiled into submission. So thought our ancestors. The original sin of a recalcitrant vegetable was of course lessened by heat, but conscientious nineteenth-century cook continued to boil it long after it had sogged into a jelly-like mass, just in case some evil remained.
In nineteenth century an hour’s cooking barely sufficed for cabbage and for corn on cob. They did not fix broccoli at all, and I can understand why. I have tried to imagine broccoli after an hour of cooking, but mind rares back and refuses even to approach sheer horror.
Which reminds me of an event in summer of 1956, when my classmate Patsy Sutherland and I lived with Grandpa Hess while we went to business college in Missoula, Montana. Grandpa was a crusty old widower, set in his own way of housekeeping, but he tried to be gracious. In midsummer he bought a whole crate of tomatoes. Luscious, red, ripe tomatoes. They sat in cellarway for two days, and each time Patsy and I passed them our mouths watered. Each evening we thought he’d invite us to have a tomato or two, but he didn’t. When we arrived home on third evening, he said, “Girls! I fixed tomatoes today. Help yourselves!”
He had stewed every last one of them.
Some of those old tomato recipes are good, though. The originator of Tomatoes Maryland probably had an old-fashioned wood stove that could gently simmer something all afternoon on a back burner or in oven. Which means this was most likely a fall or winter dish rather than a summer one, as people let cookstove fire go out on summer afternoons.
The Best of the BoutiquesWritten by Marcy Roth
Here at gateway to California wine country, choices abound in wine. Many of best never make it out of Golden state (unless we ship them there.) And, many of finest are small-scale, low-production wineries – often called boutique or “garagistes”, referring to vintners who make their wines in small quarters such as garages, rather than lavish châteaus.
Norman Kiken, winemaker at Reverie, high atop Napa’s Diamond Mountain, puts it this way, “It’s about controlling your own destiny – good, permanent people who know every vine in our vineyard – they almost treat each one as an individual. I think that leads to higher quality fruit, which of course, leads to higher quality wine.” http://www.bacchusandvenus.com/cgi-bin/shop/shop.cgi?action=specs&&item=1106264732&choice=Cabernet%20Sauvignons%20&%20Bordeaux%20Varietals/Bordeaux%20Blend
“The downside is an incredible inefficiency in use of equipment. For example, we use same expensive equipment as Mondavi, but we’re only using them 100 hours per year, whereas they are using them 7 hours per day.”
A tiny new label may have major start-up costs, while a big player sees cost-per-bottle go down as production goes up. There are tremendous economies of scale for a brand that sells millions of cases of wine versus brand of same quality from same region.
Grapes, including labor involved in growing and harvesting them, are usually a winery's biggest single cost—up to 60 percent of production expenses. Winemaker David Ramey adds, "With our Chardonnay, we do all whole-cluster pressing, as opposed to using a destemmer-crusher. You get half as much material in press, and it takes twice as long, so labor is twice as high. But we think it adds to quality." Ramey and his wife Carla founded Ramey Wine Cellars in 1996 after nearly two decades of creating benchmark wines for such California wineries as Matanzas Creek, Chalk Hill, Dominus and Rudd. “Owning one’s own winery is dream of every winemaker.” http://www.bacchusandvenus.com/cgi-bin/shop/shop.cgi?choice=Cabernet%20Sauvignons%20%26%20Bordeaux%20Varietals/Claret