Above: Andres Blanco (center) revels in his new title as the “best sommelier in Texas” after winning the coveted Texsom Best Sommelier competition (photo by my bandmate and food editor for the Houston Press Gwendolyn Knapp).
The wine business has never been more competitive in Texas and the title of “best sommelier” in the state couldn’t have gone to a better man than Andres Blanco, general manager and floor sommelier at one of my favorite Houston restaurants, Caracol. (Today, the event is called the Texsom Best Sommelier competition but until two years ago, it was known as the “Best Sommelier in Texas” competition; it now includes states contiguous to Texas.)
When I interviewed Andres yesterday by phone (for my write-up for the Houston Press today), he mentioned that he is the first Mexican-born candidate to win the competition.
That says a lot about the ever evolving wine and restaurant scene in this rapidly expanding urban landscape, the fastest growing and most diverse city in the U.S. today. (Don’t believe me? Just ask the Los Angeles Times).
Mazel tov, Andres! The award and title couldn’t have gone to a more talented Houstonian.
Please click here for my post and interview with Andres for Houston Press.
Andres’ win — the second year in a row that the title has gone to a Houstonian — and our chat were bright spots in an otherwise on-edge, weepy day for us here at the Parzen household. In the light of the other events that took place over the weekend and Donald Trump’s embrace of the white supremacist and anti-Semitic movements in our country, it’s been pretty tough to get back to “business as usual.”
For all of you who voted for and continue to support Donald Trump: was the “disruption,” as you like to call it, worth it? The stock market is soaring and you foresee lower taxes and fewer government regulations impeding you from doing business. That’s good for you. And to that I say: fair enough (however much I disagree with Trump’s attitudes and policies).
But was it worth these last six months of chaotic, unmoored governance, and the lack of leadership in the face of racism and anti-Semitism? Last week he promised “fire and fury” in Asia and this week he’s saying that Nazi flags and anti-Semitic epithets are okay when people are “defending their heritage.” Even if you promised us all the money in the world, it wouldn’t be okay at our house… It will never be okay at our house… ever… For us to teach our children otherwise would be wholly and absolutely immoral.
I am not a President Trump supporter. Quite the opposite. But you keep looking at the trees and not the forest. The Democrats, liberals, my people, are as much to blame as anyone. President Obama, who I think highly of, was put in a terrible situation in 2008 and the US came out relatively in good shape given the size of this economic recession. However for example, while he and the Democrats saved the auto industry, they failed the autoworker. The industry simply outsourced its manufacturing outside the US. Shareholders came first and if you remember the US became a shareholder in major companies to help bail them out. The Republicans aren’t innocent in this but they don’t make any bones about their loyalties. But look at the reaction.
So, was what happened last week terrible? Of course it was. There’s a white supremacist march coming here to LA and I plan to be at the anti protest. But that’s not the root of our problems. The message is very clear that the politicians, both parties, are off track. The messenger, our President, is showing that he is way over his head and unable to manage the situation. Keep in mind what is at the heart of this movement, take the racist out of it, and the conservatives have a legit message that is being lost with horrible distractions.
As long as the Democrats are failing to get to the root of the government problem, they have to share the blame.
Tony, thanks for the comment and sharing your insights. It’s challenging to see how democrats share the blame for Donald Trump saying it’s okay to be a neo-Nazi or a white supremacist. The Republicans are the ones, since Nixon, who have engaged in overtly racists policies (especially when it comes to voting rights). But all of this is beside the point. Nazis and skin heads are marching in our streets and menacing people like me and my children. And Donald Trump is telling the world that he is okay with that. That’s not okay with me…