Above: Potatoes that had been simmered for eight hours and then fried at Genoa in Portland where I spoke at a wine dinner on Tuesday night. They were delicate and creamy in the middle, gently crunch on the outside and the caviar gave just the right amount of saltiness.
By the time I got to Oregon on Tuesday, I had been in eight cities in nine days: New York, Philadelphia, Houston, Austin, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. The lines from the Simon & Garfunkel song never rang more true: everyday’s an endless stream/of cigarettes and magazines/and each town looks the same to me/the movies and the factories…
Back in the “day,” when my band Nous Non Plus and the band that came before it used to tour aggressively, I was accustomed to the intense travel and a different hotel room every night, often waking up without remembering what town we were in.
But back then I was in my mid-thirties. Now I’m in my mid-forties.
Back then it was cheap beer and crappy food. Today, it’s fine wine and haute cuisine.
Back then I didn’t have anyone to go home to. Now I have a loving family more beautiful than I could ever have dreamed of.
Above: I loved the way the chefs at Genoa used color in their dishes. I had been invited by the restaurant’s wine director, Michael Garofola, to co-present his second annual Orange Wine dinner. It turned out I had to be in Seattle the day before so it worked out nicely.
On each night of the trip (except the last), my friend and client Paolo Cantele and I ate in a fabulous restaurant and met with local media to talk up his family’s wines and his new cooking school iSensi.
We called it the “Rolling Thunder Cantele USA 2013 Tour” and although the food was a lot better, it reminded me of my rock ‘n’ roll days, especially for the camaraderie between the two of us in the face of prolonged fatigue, weight-gain, and the disorientation that comes with such a heavy travel schedule.
Above: The pappardelle at Genoa were light in body but firm to the bite. I was so impressed by their food and it was wonderful to see what a vibrant food scene they have in Portland. It was also a thrilled to meet wine writers Allison Jones of Portland Monthly and Katherine Cole (whose newest book is called Complete Wine Selector), both such gracious ambassadors of Oregon wine and Portland’s gastronomy.
The last night I was on my own in Portland with a great group of wine and food lovers, who were so welcoming and so hospitable.
As much as a missed home and my girls, as much as my digestion took a beating (for the fatigue and over-indulgence, not the high caliber of the food), as much as I missed my own bed and my good-night kisses and good-morning hugs, I know that I am very fortunate to have the work that I do and to be living in the U.S.A. during this unrivaled renaissance of enogastronomy.
In eight cities, I saw, tasted, conversed, traded notes, and learned, learned, learned so much about what’s going on in our country culinarily speaking.
And in eight cities, I connected with people whom I know through our food and wine blogging community. This was a trip of hugs and “so great to finally meet you,” not handshakes and “thanks for your time.”
Above: I’d never met Genoa’s wine director Michael before. But thanks to social media, he and I knew that our palates align nearly seamlessly. Case in point was the Keber Collio that we drank at the end of the night after the dinner guests went home.
Still in a daze as I catch my breath and catch up on hugs, kisses, burps, diapers, and meals with my beautiful girls and my beautiful Tracie P, I find myself thinking about another song from the 60s, not as well known but one of my favorites.
Without going out of my door
I can know all things on Earth
Without looking out of my window
I could know the ways of Heaven
The farther one travels
The less one knows
The less one really knows
The meals were nearly all excellent and some truly superb. And I love the excitement of travel and meeting new people.
But I know that all these experiences are all the richer because of the virtual community that we’ve created over the last five years or so.
The experiences would mean so much but they mean even more because we’ve all connected through our computer screens and smart devices long before we ever met in person. And we’ll stay connected after our goodbyes.
Thanks for reading and keeping up with it all. I’ll begin posting more trip highlights next week.
Now it’s time to catch up on some spit up, a burp, a poopy diaper… and many, many, many overdue I-love-yous…