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Response to Todd Kliman


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#1 Meshe at Eve

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 10:49 AM

Dear Todd Kliman,

Your recent article, The Locavore Wine Hypocrisy, was sent to me with a wagging finger by a Virginia wine salesperson and distributor. As we were not contacted in reference to this article, we feel we should illustrate our position.

Coincidentally, last week Cathal and I were in Virginia Wine Country visiting our friend, Claude Thibaut, whose gorgeous Sparking Brut rivals any in the country. An interesting conversation about Virginia Wines developed while sipping bubbles from his upcoming release. The question: Who are Virginia’s leading vintners and where is the wine headed?

This called to mind one of Virginia’s trailblazing wineries - Barboursville. I happen to keep a 1992 Monticillo, Malvasia. Nothing fantastic, some could say, but to me - a young restaurant manager who ordered it for a wine dinner at Cities Restaurant - it was special because it was handcrafted and local. I kept it not because it would age or be worth more; I kept it as a result of pure admiration - a respect of what Virginia visionaries were creating and what those little gems would one day be - outstanding.

The term "Old World Wine” is called that for good reasons: the time span of several millennia and the combination of climate, geology, patience and human skill - these are key, contributing factors. There’s Old World, There’s New World, and then there’s Virginia - unarguably "young," yet patriotically on the rise due to American ingenuity -- that’s just what we Americans do: invent, produce, and reinvent better than any other country in the world. And one day many Virginia wines will prove it on the world stage.

But know this about "Restaurant Eve’s idealism" - We don’t and won’t showcase items JUST because they are local. We showcase and promote products that are exceptional. Purchasing Local is our preference because it sustains our economy. Purchasing Local is superior because the product is FRESH -- off the vine to the plate -- not off the vine, to the bottle, then to the distributor, then to the glass.

Generally, hand-crafted products from regions establishing themselves are more expensive - when the demand increases, so will our supply. It’s a matter of restaurant economics - An inventory that does not move quickly and ties up valuable space costs money.

For the sake of accuracy and for those who feel "left out of the feel good foodie fad" -- between Restaurant Eve and The Majestic we carry eleven, gorgeous, Virginia Wines. The Cabernet and Merlot from Gadino Cellars happen to be personal favorites. Todd Thrasher our sommelier was born and bred in Virginia - which explains why the bounties of the Shenandoah Valley don’t stop at our food and wine choices - we also carry eleven Spirits (whisky, bourbon and vodka) harvested and distilled in Virginia.

Just as you have your personal favorites, those who create beverage and wine lists, do too. Experienced oenophiles often pride themselves in deciphering the author’s assemblage. I know my husband and Todd Thrasher do. It’s a game we play - unravel the story. A pattern may appear (or not) but the author is surely influenced by a magical mixture of possibilities: maybe he met his first love in a particular wine region, maybe his 'ah-ha' moment took place in a bodega, maybe the price point suits his owners budget, or maybe there’s a special relationship with a vintner. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that...and, if a wine is not on the list, quite possibly it could be - we just don’t like it.

And who knows, Restaurant Eve and company just may be toying with the idea of purchasing a local, vineyard plot. The real question (and had you called us to research your article, you would have known this) is: "If we were to produce our own wine, would we add it to our list even if we believed it wasn’t good enough?" -- Chances are “no" but then again ("idealistic mission statement," notwithstanding) - it’s our restaurant, and we have standards to live up to.

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#2 mdt

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 11:26 AM

For those that want to read Kliman's article, click here.

#3 Lydia R

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 12:43 PM

Dave McIntyre's post on the WaPo blog references Todd Kliman's essay in the Daily Beast. I read Dave's post because it was mentioned as a "News Pick" on Nation's Restaurant News.

Maybe once local wines gain a little more cachet, the sommeliers will wake up. What's interesting to me, however, is that momentum for local wine is coming from writers -- bloggers, especially -- and consumers, rather than retailers or sommeliers. When I eat out, I want my sommelier to be taking chances and to seek out unusual wines. Even if they come from just up the road.

 

So, even the big chain restaurants got this in their inbox last week.


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#4 Meshe at Eve

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 12:59 PM


Dave McIntyre's post on the WaPo blog references Todd Kliman's essay in the Daily Beast. I read Dave's post because it was mentioned as a "News Pick" on Nation's Restaurant News.

So, even the big chain restaurants got this in their inbox last week.

 

One reason most of the cheerleading comes from bloggers and writers is Restaurants cannot afford the costs involved: (Again, restaurant economics.) If a guest does not like the wine, who pays for it? If we leave it on the check, then cost number two happens -- it's blogged about, or a letter is written to critics, AND we've lost a guest, (which also means loosing future revenue.) We live this daily.

"Would you like to take a chance on Interesting, unusual and potentially good wine " does fare well from a sommelier's description. Our responsibility AND enjoyment is to turn you onto some we've well researched and found - exceptional.

The public can do the same, the wineries are so close! Visit them, tell us what you think, that you'd like a Virginia wine, but more importantly- the way to DIRECTLY support them - is to purchase cases when there.


Meshelle Armstrong

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Restaurant Eve

110 S. Pitt St.
Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 706-0450

#5 Joe H

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 05:39 PM

One reason most of the cheerleading comes from bloggers and writers is Restaurants cannot afford the costs involved: (Again, restaurant economics.) If a guest does not like the wine, who pays for it? If we leave it on the check, then cost number two happens -- it's blogged about, or a letter is written to critics, AND we've lost a guest, (which also means loosing future revenue.) We live this daily.

"Would you like to take a chance on Interesting, unusual and potentially good wine " does fare well from a sommelier's description. Our responsibility AND enjoyment is to turn you onto some we've well researched and found - exceptional.

The public can do the same, the wineries are so close! Visit them, tell us what you think, that you'd like a Virginia wine, but more importantly- the way to DIRECTLY support them - is to purchase cases when there.

 

Here is a timely (!) post of mine on the "beer and wine" thread from July 9th. My wife and I had a great experience there; I'd really like to share this "find" with others, especially under a topic like this.



#6 Meshe at Eve

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 09:24 AM


Here is a timely (!) post of mine on the "beer and wine" thread from July 9th. My wife and I had a great experience there; I'd really like to share this "find" with others, especially under a topic like this.

 

Now that's how to promote Virginia wine!

Tell your friends. Drive there. Buy.
This cuts out the costs of distributor, and the restaurant mark up.
Purchase from the vineyard directly.

(And btw, we've never been there-a Sunday trip will be planned- the place looks lovely.)


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Restaurant Eve

110 S. Pitt St.
Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 706-0450

#7 DanCole42

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 10:45 AM


Now that's how to promote Virginia wine!

Tell your friends. Drive there. Buy.
This cuts out the costs of distributor, and the restaurant mark up.
Purchase from the vineyard directly.

(And btw, we've never been there-a Sunday trip will be planned- the place looks lovely.)

 

The 2010 Loudoun Wine Passport (not available online) is as good or better a guide to a wine area than anything I saw in Napa.


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#8 mtpleasanteater

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 02:28 PM

Kliman's piece hits most of the same notes as a piece that ran in the NYT food section in the last year.

Just as Meshe notes that Eve does carry local wine he is also wrong about Blue Hill, their Stone Barns location has a selection of NY state wine.

He also doesn't mention that there are many, many french wines that meet the rest of the locavore criteria in other ways, like being organic, biodynamic, sustainable etc.

#9 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 02:30 PM

From Washingtonian chats:

Todd:

I saw Armstrong's response, which I didn't entirely understand. But from what I gather, she seems to be saying that local wines just aren't that good. I disagree.

 

followed by:

Clifton, VA:

Armstrong is wrong -- VA wines can compete with anything from CA. Not everyone goes out and orders the cult cab that garnered a 100pts from Parker or some other wine scribe.

When you have dinner or lunch at the little bisto or trattoria in some small town in Italy and France the wine is local not a Tuscan super red or a top Chablis. its a no name everyday wine.

Problem is the wine distributors/wholesalers who give most restaurants preselected wine lists and cut them deals.

And Armstrongs: over the last 24mos I have dropped over $12k in your restaurant Eve. Either entertaining clients, with my girlfriend or family. I will never enter one of your establishments again. We used to hit Eve a couple of times a month. No more, and I will encourage my business associates and friends to boycott your establishments too.

I have no idea what in Armstrong's response would elicit these quotes. The latter is particularly egregious.

#10 Meshe at Eve

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 02:40 PM


Kliman's piece hits most of the same notes as a piece that ran in the NYT food section in the last year.

Just as Meshe notes that Eve does carry local wine he is also wrong about Blue Hill, their Stone Barns location has a selection of NY state wine.

He also doesn't mention that there are many, many french wines that meet the rest of the locavore criteria in other ways, like being organic, biodynamic, sustainable etc.

 

That is my issue. And no, he does not have to confer with us prior to writing an 'essay'? but, if he includes our names and quotes taken from another article we SHOULD have the right to give our opinions based on the current one.


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Restaurant Eve

110 S. Pitt St.
Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 706-0450

#11 B.A.R.

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 03:08 PM

The latter is particularly egregious.


Agreed, totally asinine.

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#12 ktmoomau

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 03:08 PM

That response to the chat today really annoyed me.

I see more and more Virginia wine on wine lists. But having been to many of the wineries and buying lots of product there, the price does not make it an inexpensive just try bottle, when you factor in what the price would be at a restaurant. Most whites are at least $17 list price at the winery and good reds are more. Not that there aren't some good ones, but there are many people still not ordering them even when put on a menu at a decent price, not marked up much.

Another thought to put out there is that a lot of the wine being produced in Virginia right now is not being held by the producer to age appropriately. There are a lot of young wines that will benefit a lot by holding them in your own personal cellar. I just bought some flying fox that I think will be awesome in a year, but isn't quite a s good right now. Restaurants can't hold bottles and wait for them to be at just the right age. And a lot of the producers are not huge and just can't hold the bottles, so you get the benefit of a lower priced bottle if you can hold it. 2006 the year of the drought produced some wines that are fantastic right now because the flavor of the berries was so concentrated, but they definitely needed some age.

I love Virginia wine, I happen to be married into a family of Virginia wine addicts. I special ordered all Jefferson Vineyards wine for my wedding at the Greenbrier. I talk with people all the time about Virginia wine and my favorites, but restaurants are businesses they need to carry things people order. When more people start requesting them they will carry more, so if you want to see more, order more and request more. Restaurants generally want to give you what you want if they can make money off it too.

I don't think that the Armstrong's are saying it isn't good. I think their response clearly stated that price, demand and other considerations drove their decisions, as well as, taste of wine. And that they in fact carry some Virginia wine and think much of it is good. (Sigh)

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#13 Meshe at Eve

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 03:26 PM

That response to the chat today really annoyed me.

I see more and more Virginia wine on wine lists. But having been to many of the wineries and buying lots of product there, the price does not make it an inexpensive just try bottle, when you factor in what the price would be at a restaurant. Most whites are at least $17 list price at the winery and good reds are more. Not that there aren't some good ones, but there are many people still not ordering them even when put on a menu at a decent price, not marked up much.

Another thought to put out there is that a lot of the wine being produced in Virginia right now is not being held by the producer to age appropriately. There are a lot of young wines that will benefit a lot by holding them in your own personal cellar. I just bought some flying fox that I think will be awesome in a year, but isn't quite a s good right now. Restaurants can't hold bottles and wait for them to be at just the right age. And a lot of the producers are not huge and just can't hold the bottles, so you get the benefit of a lower priced bottle if you can hold it. 2006 the year of the drought produced some wines that are fantastic right now because the flavor of the berries was so concentrated, but they definitely needed some age.

I love Virginia wine, I happen to be married into a family of Virginia wine addicts. I special ordered all Jefferson Vineyards wine for my wedding at the Greenbrier. I talk with people all the time about Virginia wine and my favorites, but restaurants are businesses they need to carry things people order. When more people start requesting them they will carry more, so if you want to see more, order more and request more. Restaurants generally want to give you what you want if they can make money off it too.

I don't think that the Armstrong's are saying it isn't good. I think their response clearly stated that price, demand and other considerations drove their decisions, as well as, taste of wine. And that they in fact carry some Virginia wine and think much of it is good. (Sigh)

 

NAIL ON THE HEAD!


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Restaurant Eve

110 S. Pitt St.
Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 706-0450

#14 synaesthesia

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 04:00 PM


Agreed, totally asinine.

 

I'd really like to hear the conversation and see the blank stares this guy is going to get when he discourages his friends from patronizing Restaurant Eve. I think he will recognize the inherent crazy in his comments pretty quickly.


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#15 monavano

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 05:02 PM


I'd really like to hear the conversation and see the blank stares this guy is going to get when he discourages his friends from patronizing Restaurant Eve. I think he will recognize the inherent crazy in his comments pretty quickly.

 

This chatter was "Clifton"?

 

If memory serves, this chatter proffers his polemic sentiments weekly. Mostly, I think he eggs TK on about not venturing outside of DC enough, especially towards his/her little area of the region.

 

Personally, I think it crosses a boundary of decency to publicly set out to harm a business (over what? pride?), and I'm not sure that were I TK, I would have posted the last paragraph.

 

I don't know...you just don't go there. I hope the threat is idle or a non-issue in the big scheme of things.



#16 leleboo

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 05:05 PM

This chatter was "Clifton"?

 

If memory serves, this chatter proffers his polemic sentiments weekly. Mostly, I think he eggs TK on about not venturing outside of DC enough, especially towards his/her little area of the region.

 

Personally, I think it crosses a boundary of decency to publicly set out to harm a business (over what? pride?), and I'm not sure that were I TK, I would have posted the last paragraph.

 

I don't know...you just don't go there. I hope the threat is idle or a non-issue in the big scheme of things.

 

FWIW, Kliman did note that the boycott threatened in the last paragraph was completely uncalled for.

(It's funny -- I never read the chat, but this week I went just because I wanted to see the context of that utterly abrasive quotation. They got extra hits off it ... I feel sort of dirty about that.)


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#17 Meshe at Eve

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 05:17 PM

FWIW, Kliman did note that the boycott threatened in the last paragraph was completely uncalled for.

(It's funny -- I never read the chat, but this week I went just because I wanted to see the context of that utterly abrasive quotation. They got extra hits off it ... I feel sort of dirty about that.)

 

If anyone knows "Clifton" - please send 'the open letter' - I honestly don't think they read it; but were replying to his - "She does not seem to like Va wine." (Again... Huh???)

And for the record, last night at PX we hosted a party for Virginia Sparkling FIZZ.


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110 S. Pitt St.
Alexandria, VA 22314

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#18 Waitman

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 07:48 PM

He also doesn't mention that there are many, many french wines that meet the rest of the locavore criteria in other ways, like being organic, biodynamic, sustainable etc.

 

And there are many, many cuts of pork that meet the rest of the Kosher criteria...kosher killed....salted...etc...

Not to be cynical but I think both Kliman's piece and Meshe's response underscore the same point: that the word "locavorism," especially when used by a restaurant, is basically a crock. Restaurants buy local because it tastes better and they brag about it because it sounds good in a press release. Local buying benefits us all and anyone whose eyes don't glaze over at the phrase "local and seasonal" doesn't spend much wading through the food media, so it's mostly to the good.

At some point, though, there's a legitimate question about whether the sommeliere is "walking the walk.'

Sez Meshe: "We don’t and won’t showcase items JUST because they are local."

Sez the website: Eve is "highlighting the freshest of seasonal ingredients and local Virginia produce," because "[Chef] Armstrong has a strong commitment to sourcing the best ingredients that local farmers can provide in the pursuit of excellence"

Whether that constitutes "locavorism" I am unsure. I am sure that blurring Kliman's assertion that "Yet only two locally produced bottles make the cut [at Restaurant Eve]" with the response that "between Restaurant Eve and The Majestic we carry eleven, gorgeous, Virginia Wines," is very Washington -- locavore PR.

I'm also sure that if we stop pretending that our restuarant dining habits are going to save the world, we'll have a better chance of actually saving the world. I look forward to sitting down at Restaurant Eve in the near future to a dinner that features produce from my own back yard, and wine from places I have never been.


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#19 Pat

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 07:49 PM

This chatter was "Clifton"?

 

If memory serves, this chatter proffers his polemic sentiments weekly. Mostly, I think he eggs TK on about not venturing outside of DC enough, especially towards his/her little area of the region.

 

Personally, I think it crosses a boundary of decency to publicly set out to harm a business (over what? pride?), and I'm not sure that were I TK, I would have posted the last paragraph.

 

I don't know...you just don't go there. I hope the threat is idle or a non-issue in the big scheme of things.

 

Clifton used to ride Kliman pretty hard but has been much nicer recently and they've been having pleasant exchanges. IIRC, Clifton's tone changed around the time Todd's father died. It's been kind of interesting to watch. I'm not sure if their detente accounts for Todd being so gentle with him here and disagreeing only with the boycott idea, but their exchanges have definitely changed over the past several months to a year.



#20 Meshe at Eve

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 08:24 PM

And there are many, many cuts of pork that meet the rest of the Kosher criteria...kosher killed....salted...etc...

Not to be cynical but I think both Kliman's piece and Meshe's response underscore the same point: that the word "locavorism," especially when used by a restaurant, is basically a crock. Restaurants buy local because it tastes better and they brag about it because it sounds good in a press release. Local buying benefits us all and anyone whose eyes don't glaze over at the phrase "local and seasonal" doesn't spend much wading through the food media, so it's mostly to the good.

At some point, though, there's a legitimate question about whether the sommeliere is "walking the walk.'

Sez Meshe: "We don’t and won’t showcase items JUST because they are local."

Sez the website: Eve is "highlighting the freshest of seasonal ingredients and local Virginia produce," because "[Chef] Armstrong has a strong commitment to sourcing the best ingredients that local farmers can provide in the pursuit of excellence"

Whether that constitutes "locavorism" I am unsure. I am sure that blurring Kliman's assertion that "Yet only two locally produced bottles make the cut [at Restaurant Eve]" with the response that "between Restaurant Eve and The Majestic we carry eleven, gorgeous, Virginia Wines," is very Washington -- locavore PR.

I'm also sure that if we stop pretending that our restuarant dining habits are going to save the world, we'll have a better chance of actually saving the world. I look forward to sitting down at Restaurant Eve in the near future to a dinner that features produce from my own back yard, and wine from places I have never been.

 

Spend one day with us. One day, you choose. See for yourself there is nothing to hide and so much to see.


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Restaurant Eve

110 S. Pitt St.
Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 706-0450

#21 DonRocks

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 09:35 PM

Tell me we don't live in a world where some "status update" on a social-media website such as Facebook is held in the same esteem or given the same weight as a thought-out, crafted piece of writing rebuking a dubious essay which casually tosses off defamatory terms such as "hypocrisy."

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#22 Waitman

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 06:10 AM

Tell me we don't live in a world where some "status update" on a social-media website such as Facebook is held in the same esteem or given the same weight as a thought-out, crafted piece of writing rebuking a dubious essay which casually tosses off defamatory terms such as "hypocrisy."

 

Not that I'm totally in the tank for Todd but, since the word never appears in the body of the essay, that the word "hypocrisy" (as well as the phrase "ridiculous double standard") was grafted on the essay by hit-hungry blog editors.

And, while I continue to find the premise that there's something innately ennobling (as opposed to merely tasty and, arguably, economically preferable) about local foodstuffs a bit pretentious, I have yet to see Kliman's essay refuted on the facts -- that is, by seeing wine list from any of the restaurants mentioned demonstrating a commitment to local wines that is remotely in the same league as the commitment to local food.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to put some Toigo Orchard peaches, Reid Orchard blueberries and Clear Springs Creamery milk on my Cheerios. And -- what the hell, it's Hump Day -- wash it all back with the last of that Argentinian Malbec sitting in the fridge. Breakfast of champions.


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#23 Meshe at Eve

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 09:40 AM


Not that I'm totally in the tank for Todd but, since the word never appears in the body of the essay, that the word "hypocrisy" (as well as the phrase "ridiculous double standard") was grafted on the essay by hit-hungry blog editors.

And, while I continue to find the premise that there's something innately ennobling (as opposed to merely tasty and, arguably, economically preferable) about local foodstuffs a bit pretentious, I have yet to see Kliman's essay refuted on the facts -- that is, by seeing wine list from any of the restaurants mentioned demonstrating a commitment to local wines that is remotely in the same league as the commitment to local food.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to put some Toigo Orchard peaches, Reid Orchard blueberries and Clear Springs Creamery milk on my Cheerios. And -- what the hell, it's Hump Day -- wash it all back with the last of that Argentinian Malbec sitting in the fridge. Breakfast of champions.

 

Again, I have NO problem with the topic. This is where I take issue:

Calling us hypocrites, for the nation to read is grossly offensive. -- It is the TITLE of the piece.

Names and quotes were taken from another article then included to suit the context of a current article.
If this be the case, we should be permitted to give our opinions based on the recent one. (How would you feel?)

Why put a negative spin on the piece and discount the good work of restaurants that took so long to establish? 150 purveyors. Correct.
Do you not know how difficult that is to have relationships with THAT many people?
It would certainly be easier to pick up the phone to one purveyor (mass market) and place one order - done.

Fact checking is a responsibility!!
We would even share the invoices. Last Summer we hosted (that means paid for) a dinner in the Rappahannock (Mount Vernon Farm) to promote and support the food and wine of the region. We spent a Saturday from our restaurant, donated all the food and our time, and gave ALL the proceeds to the cause.

Fact checking is a responsibility!!
We now have a person out there boycotting us because they think we don't support Virginia wine.

Bullying restaurants publicly to suit his 'idealism' is not the answer - If he only realized we actually are on the same side.

Oh, hows this for "Walk the Walk":
http://www.theslowco...hool-cafeteria/


Meshelle Armstrong

Co-owner

Restaurant Eve

110 S. Pitt St.
Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 706-0450

#24 washingtony

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 11:09 AM


Clifton used to ride Kliman pretty hard but has been much nicer recently and they've been having pleasant exchanges. IIRC, Clifton's tone changed around the time Todd's father died. It's been kind of interesting to watch. I'm not sure if their detente accounts for Todd being so gentle with him here and disagreeing only with the boycott idea, but their exchanges have definitely changed over the past several months to a year.

 

If it's the same Clifton from multiple WaPo chats, he is nobody to take seriously--a hyperbolic blowhard who invents facts and speaks with the conviction and the zeal of a person more often wrong than right. It's either that or he's a fascinating online performance artist who skewers the notions of anonymity, trust, and information in a web 2.0 world. Or just a crazy guy into sheepdogs. No matter, when I see any online comment coming from a "Clifton", I immediately question every word written.

So with that said, of course I don't believe for a minute that this person spends $6k a year at Restaurant Eve--so there shouldn't be any worry of anyone losing any business beyond imaginary, web-trolling business.



#25 UStifosi

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 12:49 PM

"Locavore" by definition has nothing to do with wine so Todd is taking a leap on that one.

The bottom line is chefs can pump the locavore theme because it can actually work in there favor...local ingredients, support the local economy, potential cost savings while not sacrificing the quality of the end product and sometimes making it better. That's not always going to be the case on the wine front depending on locality.

A good example of the locavore/wine mismatch would be the most prominent a self professed forerunner to the locavore movement...Chez Panisse in Berekely. Yes, they offer CA wines but most are from around the world and there house red for many years was from Bandol.

If Virginia wine were an equal or better value (taste/complexity vs $$$) compared to California, for instance, it might stand a chance. The majority of VA wineries bottle too soon to cover mounting startup costs which negatively effects first experiences by winery visitors. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule such as Octogon, Boxwood's Topiary, or Horton's sparkling Viognier. Give it a few more years and the overall picture may fall more in line and you'll see more VA wines offered. Ironically, Washington state's commercial wine industry didn't start in earnest until the 80's (roughly the same as VA) and it is significantly better in quality and value.

#26 DonRocks

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 03:33 PM


Not that I'm totally in the tank for Todd but, since the word never appears in the body of the essay, that the word "hypocrisy" (as well as the phrase "ridiculous double standard") was grafted on the essay by hit-hungry blog editors.

 

You're the third person to tell me this (two wrote me privately), and you know what? You're right.

Here's a thought for the post-print world of online journalism: I've been severely critical of websites that don't control their comments about essays, articles, posts, etc. I believe that the owner of a website has a public duty to monitor and moderate comments (unless it's a given that the website is a wild-west free-for-all, and these types of websites nearly always become worthless given enough time). Oh yeah, it's hard work - in fact, it's so hard that it's probably not viable as any sort of normal business model. And a ham-fisted dictatorial approach serves no more purpose than blind-eye, let-it-fly anarchy.

But I also believe that in this rapidly changing journalistic world, a website needs to exercise a similar responsibility in issuing their titles and bylines, because like it or not, these are forever linked to the author of the piece (this is not specific to online journalism, but why not make this an omnibus bill?)

So is it Todd's fault that terms such as "hypocrisy" and "ridiculous double standard" were the gift wrapping on his package? No, not directly (although these words weren't chosen at random).

This reminds me of a joke that was told to me by the incomparable Chad Lorenz, who was my primary editor at Washingtonian up until my final couple of months there (his departure hastened mine):

An editor and a writer were lost in a desert. The daytime temperatures were reaching 110 degrees, with nothing to be seen for miles except sand, rock, and the blazing sun. After several days, the men were reduced to crawling around, disoriented, and were rapidly approaching death.

They crawled around a rock, and came upon what could only be termed a miracle: a tiny pool of water, just enough so each man could have a few gulps, and live to see another day.

All of a sudden, the editor stood up, pulled down his pants, and began urinating into the pool of water.

The writer screamed, "My GOD man! What in the name of Hell are you doing?!"

"I'm making it better," the editor said.

Your media futurist (sort of),
Rocks.


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#27 sheldman

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 04:30 PM

If I am correct in assuming that this is Mr. Kliman's own twitter feed, he adopts the word "hypocrisy" without questioning it on a July 9 tweet, and then has a tweet yesterday that (if I am reading it correctly) is a rather obnoxious dismissal of "feedback" on his writing. Pretty lame, in my opinion.

(Maybe this is what Don Rocks was alluding to, in a post a few above this one? If so, I am not holding any tweets in esteem or giving them much weight, but they do seem to me to be evidence that the combative tone wasn't just his editors' fault.)

#28 Eric Ziebold

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 04:42 PM

Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia, is so devoted to the local movement that chef/owner Cathal Armstrong calls farmer David Lankford his "biggest inspiration" and likens him to "Santa Claus." Some 150 area purveyors have a relationship with the restaurant. You might expect that a menu long on the bounties of the Shenandoah Valley would feature prominently the wines of Virginia, too. Yet only two locally produced bottles make the cut.


I can believe that David Lankford is Cathal’s “biggest inspiration.” I can also imagine David walking through the back door of Restaurant Eve with boxes full of amazing produce and how it might feel like on Christmas morning as you sort through all of the boxes to see what he brought. It could make David seem like Santa Claus. I completely understand how a chef can have relationships with his purveyors that would give him “a menu long on the bounties of the Shenandoah Valley.” I think that saying “only two locally produced bottles [of wine] make the cut” confuses two very different issues.

It’s about relationships. Cathal introduced me to David Lankford years ago. A few years later, I was at a Chef’s Club meeting when Cathal made the pitch to try and raise money to help David build his farm up. I’ve seen some of the vegetables that David brings to Cathal, and I’ve been so impressed by some of what I’ve seen that I might even use the word “jealous.” And yes, I have a relationship with Cathal, so maybe I can trumpet his good virtues in the same way that he trumpets the good virtues of the people that supply Restaurant Eve. Why do you do this? Because you want to support the people you’ve worked hard to develop relationships with – because over time, these people have become your friends.

I have too many issues with the self-serving manner the article was written in to go into it point by point, so I choose to focus on the relationship aspect of running a restaurant, choosing purveyors, and choosing wines. We’ve tried to reach out unsuccessfully to the Virginia wine community. The very first time was when we started doing Sundays at CityZen. I asked our sommelier to contact all of the local wineries to see if anyone would be willing to work with us on pricing. The events were $125/person inclusive of food, wine, tax, and gratuity. We weren’t looking for free giveaways, but we were looking for someone that wanted to partner with us - we wanted them to be there as well. We didn’t find ANY local wineries that were interested. Most recently we began working on a Sou’Wester Cuvée, thinking that would be a great way to bring in the local wine community. We found a great winery to partner with, but we had to commit to purchasing 300 cases of that particular wine.

If I have the choice of buying corn from two different farmers, I’ll buy from the one that I know is going to support me. If there is a company that requires a minimum for delivery that is more than I can spend, then I don’t order from them.

For a number of reasons, I think it’s easier for chefs to develop relationships with farmers than with winemakers. It hasn’t been easy for us to cultivate local wine relationships, but we are still working on it - we’re actually getting close to having a new deal with a local winery - we just need to figure out how to support each other because it takes two to have a relationship.

Some people are going to read my post and retort by asking if I really have a relationship with all of the wineries on our list. The answer is no, which brings us to a completely new issue. But with the farms we feature, I do, and that’s why they’re listed prominently on our menu. It’s not because it’s the popular thing to do, and its not to get in an article that’s being published. Peter Jacobsen is a huge inspiration for me, and now I don’t even get to use his products because I’m not in California anymore. I simply dont believe its right that you can be inspired by a local farmer, and then be publicly chastised for not featuring “enough” wines from the same region that farmer lives in.

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#29 mtpleasanteater

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 04:58 PM

And, while I continue to find the premise that there's something innately ennobling (as opposed to merely tasty and, arguably, economically preferable) about local foodstuffs a bit pretentious, I have yet to see Kliman's essay refuted on the facts -- that is, by seeing wine list from any of the restaurants mentioned demonstrating a commitment to local wines that is remotely in the same league as the commitment to local food.

 

The wine list at Blue Hill Stone Barns has an amount of NY state wine on it that cannot be explained by a desire to offer the best wine possible. They also focus on local beer, again to their detriment.

---

This is a less polemical view of the same issues from the NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.c...al wines&st=cse

It is interesting to note that these restaurants are in California.



#30 Jarad Slipp

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 05:49 PM

I’m surprised no one has mentioned the fact that Mr. Kliman just published a book about the Norton grape and Virginian viticulture.

 

I’m disheartened to see some of Washington's biggest standard bearers reduced to cannon fodder for a book that will be bought by tens of people. My spidey senses and corporate censors tell me I should stop here.

Food for Thought,

Jarad Slipp



#31 Todd Kliman

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 08:14 AM

I don't think my piece needs to be defended or explained, and I'm not a big believer in continuing to write about a piece after you've published it, but some things need to be said.

I'm not wrong about Blue Hill. Blue Hill's selection of local and regional wines is scant. The Stone Barns location has a small selection of NY state wine. The selection at Eve is also scant. I'm saying that local-conscious restaurants generally ignore local and regional wines, that the intensity of the philosophy stops short when it comes to wine.

I can't account for "clifton." As was pointed out by leleboo, I did say that his proposed "boycott" is going to a ridiculous extreme. But then, he's an extremist in a lot of things.

The notion of giving the restaurant a chance to respond: I don't understand this. What, exactly, is there to respond to? I have eaten at the restaurant, I have read the promotional literature, I have read all the may emails over the years that letter writers have sent me, possibly at the restaurant's urging, about their meals there. There is a serious and admirable commitment to local farms and sustainability, and it often shows in the dishes. If Virginia is a producer of quality products, if the commitment to support the land is there -- all points the restaurant itself makes -- then it is not being reflected in the wines on the menu.

Lost in all this is that this is not a piece about Eve. It's a piece about the local movement. The cry of protest is not really about giving a chance to respond. It's incredulousness at my perspective. My perspective is not that of an insider, or a true believer; it's not reverent; it's outside and skeptical. It's not uninformed, and I have thought long and hard about the things I write about. What it is, is different. Not different for the sake of being different, or for trying to garner attention -- I don't need to do that. Anyone who has read my food writing over the last few years will notice that these arguments, these beliefs, are consistent with things I have written and talked about.

Hypocrisy is not my word. The writer of a piece has no control over the headline or title appended to it. In my mind, it's not a piece about hypocrisy. I was writing about how the local movement is not as much about honoring the land and saving our bodies as it purports to be. Restaurants are businesses, and at the high end they're in the business of giving their customers what they believe is exceptional and exclusive. This is not new; this is what high-end restaurants have always done. But it is pushed as new. Once local wine gets more cache, it will begin showing up on restaurant menus. It doesn't lack for quality anymore. It lacks for cache.

I salute waitman for reading my piece, and responding to it directly and thoughtfully, and not in the abstract.

I see two things in Meshe's response, and they're contradictory. We buy local because it's the best, but we won't showcase items JUST because they're local. Local produce and meats are quality simply because they're local; wines have to prove their quality.

The "Response to Todd Kliman" was posted on here without my first seeing it. In light of the argument that I ought to have contacted the restaurant before writing an essay that mentions the restaurant, I think this is curious at best.

My status update. A general musing. Done to avoid entering this crazy fray and losing time that I could be using to play with my son or talk to my wife or write or read.

My tweet. Another general musing. And my father's right: feedback is often distortion. This thread is a case in point, in many different ways. The final line of Ziebold's piece is a huge distortion.

Chad Lorenz was not your primary editor, Don. I was your primary editor. I was the one who pushed for second and third drafts, I was the one who stayed up late at night polishing the writing, adding transitions, turning often rough ideas into a publishable column, I was the one who advocated for your work when challenges came from above.

sheldman: Re: "combative tone." You call them combative, I call them musing. But still and all, why would you expect someone who is challenged to not respond in kind? I also think it's telling that you go and dig up a tweet of mine, but you don't appear to have taken the time to read the piece I wrote and respond to its points.

I choose not to reply, in full, to that final bit of nastiness from Jarad Slipp, except to say that it's clear to me he hasn't read the book, and it's telling to me that his argument comes down to money.

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#32 Meshe at Eve

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 11:13 AM


I don't think my piece needs to be defended or explained, and I'm not a big believer in continuing to write about a piece after you've published it, but some things need to be said.

I'm not wrong about Blue Hill. Blue Hill's selection of local and regional wines is scant. The Stone Barns location has a small selection of NY state wine. The selection at Eve is also scant. I'm saying that local-conscious restaurants generally ignore local and regional wines, that the intensity of the philosophy stops short when it comes to wine.

I can't account for "clifton." As was pointed out by leleboo, I did say that his proposed "boycott" is going to a ridiculous extreme. But then, he's an extremist in a lot of things.

The notion of giving the restaurant a chance to respond: I don't understand this. What, exactly, is there to respond to? I have eaten at the restaurant, I have read the promotional literature, I have read all the may emails over the years that letter writers have sent me, possibly at the restaurant's urging, about their meals there. There is a serious and admirable commitment to local farms and sustainability, and it often shows in the dishes. If Virginia is a producer of quality products, if the commitment to support the land is there -- all points the restaurant itself makes -- then it is not being reflected in the wines on the menu.

Lost in all this is that this is not a piece about Eve. It's a piece about the local movement. The cry of protest is not really about giving a chance to respond. It's incredulousness at my perspective. My perspective is not that of an insider, or a true believer; it's not reverent; it's outside and skeptical. It's not uninformed, and I have thought long and hard about the things I write about. What it is, is different. Not different for the sake of being different, or for trying to garner attention -- I don't need to do that. Anyone who has read my food writing over the last few years will notice that these arguments, these beliefs, are consistent with things I have written and talked about.

Hypocrisy is not my word. The writer of a piece has no control over the headline or title appended to it. In my mind, it's not a piece about hypocrisy. I was writing about how the local movement is not as much about honoring the land and saving our bodies as it purports to be. Restaurants are businesses, and at the high end they're in the business of giving their customers what they believe is exceptional and exclusive. This is not new; this is what high-end restaurants have always done. But it is pushed as new. Once local wine gets more cache, it will begin showing up on restaurant menus. It doesn't lack for quality anymore. It lacks for cache.

I salute waitman for reading my piece, and responding to it directly and thoughtfully, and not in the abstract.

I see two things in Meshe's response, and they're contradictory. We buy local because it's the best, but we won't showcase items JUST because they're local. Local produce and meats are quality simply because they're local; wines have to prove their quality.

The "Response to Todd Kliman" was posted on here without my first seeing it. In light of the argument that I ought to have contacted the restaurant before writing an essay that mentions the restaurant, I think this is curious at best.

My status update. A general musing. Done to avoid entering this crazy fray and losing time that I could be using to play with my son or talk to my wife or write or read.

My tweet. Another general musing. And my father's right: feedback is often distortion. This thread is a case in point, in many different ways. The final line of Ziebold's piece is a huge distortion.

Chad Lorenz was not your primary editor, Don. I was your primary editor. I was the one who pushed for second and third drafts, I was the one who stayed up late at night polishing the writing, adding transitions, turning often rough ideas into a publishable column, I was the one who advocated for your work when challenges came from above.

sheldman: Re: "combative tone." You call them combative, I call them musing. But still and all, why would you expect someone who is challenged to not respond in kind? I also think it's telling that you go and dig up a tweet of mine, but you don't appear to have taken the time to read the piece I wrote and respond to its points.

I choose not to reply, in full, to that final bit of nastiness from Jarad Slipp, except to say that it's clear to me he hasn't read the book, and it's telling to me that his argument comes down to money.

 

Todd,

The majority of the public does not know that the writer has no control over the headline. (I didn’t) The title is what people remember. The title of a piece itself is what draws the reader’s attention. A provocative title for the sake of reader ‘hits’ has consequences - to those included and to the person who wrote it. It is especially more important in the internet age. Articles are now permanently available and linked to those they are written about and their writers.

Daily Beast is where I surprisingly found our inclusion in the ‘essay’- Daily beast is where I sent my reply. Daily Beast did not post if for four days, yet it seemed to me those replies that agreed with your piece were posted immediately. So I posted it to the Don Rockwell website as an ‘open letter’ to be as fair to you as you were to us.

I may not be a writer or compose paragraphs as eloquently as you, but my reply is clear. I am sorry you don’t understand it. Again, there are reasons why wine is or is not on the list - it’s to do with price point, distribution, availability, salespeople and, mostly, whether we like the wine or not. We have had as many as twelve Virginia wines on the list and as few as none-depending on all of the above factors.

Someone’s theory about your book... it doesn’t feel so good does it? Neither does your theory about our intentions.

I wish, so very much, you would have used us in your piece to champion the local wine cause. -- We would have been there for you to use positively.


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#33 Josh Radigan

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 12:34 PM

Todd,

The majority of the public does not know that the writer has no control over the headline. (I didn’t) The title is what people remember. The title of a piece itself is what draws the reader’s attention. A provocative title for the sake of reader ‘hits’ has consequences - to those included and to the person who wrote it. It is especially more important in the internet age. Articles are now permanently available and linked to those they are written about and their writers.

Daily Beast is where I surprisingly found our inclusion in the ‘essay’- Daily beast is where I sent my reply. Daily Beast did not post if for four days, yet it seemed to me those replies that agreed with your piece were posted immediately. So I posted it to the Don Rockwell website as an ‘open letter’ to be as fair to you as you were to us.

I may not be a writer or compose paragraphs as eloquently as you, but my reply is clear. I am sorry you don’t understand it. Again, there are reasons why wine is or is not on the list - it’s to do with price point, distribution, availability, salespeople and, mostly, whether we like the wine or not. We have had as many as twelve Virginia wines on the list and as few as none-depending on all of the above factors.

Someone’s theory about your book... it doesn’t feel so good does it? Neither does your theory about our intentions.

I wish, so very much, you would have used us in your piece to champion the local wine cause. -- We would have been there for you to use positively.

 

as well wine lists should in many ways reflect the food that is being served.

 

With the frequency in which Chef Armstrongs menus change in order to reflect the change in seasons, I believe Summer has 4 different growing seasons of vegetation all on its own, his wine list most likely also goes through changes, as it should. So, maybe one week there are 2 wines from virginia, and the next 3, and the next none.

 

Wines should compliment or even bring out flavors of food, not just be a form of consumption in ones hands.


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#34 John Wabeck

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 12:59 PM

Just to keep it moving...doesn't add much if anything to this exact thread but still. Please to note no incendiary intent .

http://www.washingto...-the-wild-vine/

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#35 DonRocks

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 02:18 PM

Ms. Armstrong,

You remind me of a child who starts telling “stories” when she gets caught in a lie. Isn’t it the truth that the hyper-defensive, critical voices most often come from the guilty. It’s obfuscation by indignation!

 

[This crosses the line. It may have already been crossed, several times, in several threads, over the past 24 hours, but this goes way beyond what is allowed here. I do not edit members' posts; I either let them stand in full, or delete them. Please edit this comment. And welcome, btw.]

---

[ETA - I waited 2.5 hours for the post to be edited, and it wasn’t, so it’s gone.]


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#36 Meshe at Eve

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 04:11 PM

Are you really trying to legitimately refute Todd Kliman’s observation that DC’s restaurants don’t support local wineries to any degree commensurate with their support of local food farmers, and that Restaurant Eve, in particular, is a prime example of this practice? Get real. Waitman is right; this is easily determined - just show us your wine list.

Well, let’s see. I counted 288 wines on your website wine list. I carefully went through it four times and found one Virginia wine. One! This represents .347% of your wine list, or roughly 1/3 of 1 percent. Com’on… one wine, or two, or five even... what a joke. Who are you kidding?

So please knock off the contrived, damage-control indignation over being called out for your token support of our local wine industry. It’s preposterous. It’s the wineries who should be indignant, and we are. Of course, you’re free to do as you please, but your arguments are embarrassingly hollow. I’m surprised you even try.

Someone gets beat up by the mutually guilty because he has the guts to point a finger and call a spade a spade. So what else is new?

Jennifer McCloud
Chrysalis Vineyards
Middleburg, VA

 

Our website shows only samples of our menus - all of our menus change daily, including the cocktail and wine lists.

Again, restaurant economics - we can't keep paying our website designer to update our menus because they change DAILY (not even seasonally; daily). Thats the whole point of serving local and fresh. Our food rotates, and our invoices prove it.

It is a very sad day. Find enclosed our current wine list.

Attached File  wine7-22-10.pdf   119.32KB   318 downloads


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#37 DonRocks

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 04:23 PM

I volunteer to host a Beer Summit, to be held at the bar of Restaurant Eve, between Jennifer McCloud and Meshelle Armstrong, to explore the tender things which we all have in common. May I propose a selection from Restaurant Eve's wine list - the 2009 Chrysalis Viognier on page 3?

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