Quick site update: I'm trying yet another advertising system, though at least this time I get to hand-pick the items, customize everything, and it's all handled seamlessly through Amazon.com. Click on the link at the left to check out my Amazon Store. Everything on that store is something I've either read, used, or consumed. When Amazon begins selling wine, I plan to include links for those bottles that I review. Obviously I want you to support your local wine shops and bookstores first, but half of the e-mails I get are people from all over the country asking me where to get a certain wine, book, or cooking utensil that I've mentioned, and if I can make a little scratch from the links, then life is good.
Monday night I attended a BYOB wine and cheese function at the Hunt Phelan Inn hosted by Slow Food Memphis. I was invited by my friends in the Squirrel Family. I didn't know until the last minute that it was Papa Squirrel's birthday, and the man actually gave me a gift: an autographed copy of Imbibe!, a history of the golden years of cocktails. I'll have more details in a future post, and look forward to making a huge punch that will serve two dozen people.
I felt the gathering of folks who were committed to preserving dying culinary traditions would be interested in trying a wine made from dandelion blossoms harvested by Amish children. I picked up the bottle during my trip to the Ohio Amish country this summer, but my desire to try it had been simmering since I read Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine at the age of 12. It's a beautifully written book that captures the pure experience of summer in its pages. And the wine also accomplishes that feat: while it's sweeter than I like, and certainly not as subtle as a fine grape-based wine, the aroma of dandelions will take you back to your childhood. When you're a kid, you're not allowed to touch pretty flowers like roses or tulips, but nobody stops you if you pick all the dandelions out of the yard. Maybe it has to do with the innocence of youth in distinguishing a weed from a prizeworthy iris, or maybe kids are just lower to the ground and better able to appreciate such things.
These were three of my favorites from the tasting, a Hawaiian pineapple wine (drier than you'd think and with a glorious nose), a big jammy Zinfandel, and a Super-Tuscan that had aged well and was a refined example of its type.
Additionally, cheeses from Mississippi State University were provided. I had the Cheddar, the Edam, and the Vallagret. All were savory and delicious, and the cheeses are available for order online or at the shop in Starkville, MS.
Future Slow Food events are planned locally--check the schedule for more details. If you're interested in eating local products, supporting local farmers, and saving heritage cuisine, look for a Slow Food group in your area.