The week that was (31 March 2016)

The New Yorker’s annual food issue is out (and online). The articles vary from the history of Mezcal to a chat with Claus Meyer, who co-founded Noma, on Gusto, his restaurant in Bolivia and its impact on the culinary scene there. Ag is covered too, with a look at the “food and booze fest” that is the annual French agriculture exhibition and scouting for “the quinoa of the future”. All very well-written and very much worth the time.

- As per the above, this month’s GT is also out. You know who’s reviewed, but you could also pick it up for Fergus talking game (“I have often said that nature writes its menu for you …”), Max Allen chatting to Bruce Pascoe and as ever my favourite Paulette Whitney writing about nose to tail (root to leaf?) eating in the vegetable world (“The whole thing will be topped with a snow of basil flowers and we will feast, admirably, on things that might otherwise become compost.” Yes … a snow of basil flowers.

- Also in GT news, they have the Noma exit interview here
- Finally, Mike Bennie has left the country to take part judging a new natural wine award at VinItaly. This is important news for a few reasons.

(1) The award puts natural wine on the big stage (VinItaly is a mass scale wine award, the generally natural-wine-snubbing kind). It is inclusive.

(2) By virtue of Mike being a part of the judging panel, it also puts Australia and Australian wines on that map.

(3) Finally, and perhaps most importantly in my eyes, it heralds a new beginning for wine judging. The wines will not be scored. Instead the judges will look for a wine that demonstrates at least six of eight qualities, these include liveliness, evolution in the glass, balance, drinkability and a sense of place. In addition, there are parameters to ensure that the wines are practically natural from the ground up. (From VinItaly - Wines Without Walls).

I am not a fan of those who think there is a right or wrong when it comes to judging food or wine. I don't like the idea of searching for faults and prefer seeking the good. Like beauty, like art, like music, there are many nuances, many valid opinions and I think any judging or rating system should allow for that magic.
If you want more, read what Alice Fiering had to say about the award and her thoughts while choosing the judges and then read Walter Speller via Jancis Robinson for a wider view of the award (do also read on, the article on counterfeit Moet & Chandon made me chuckle).