July 24, 2008
Report from Taste3
Last week Robert Mondavi Winery hosted the third annual TED-inspired TASTE3 at COPIA in Napa’s Oxbow District. For us, this super-charged brain spa is an annual ritual around which we will juggle work, vacations and pretty much anything else. In other words, it’s a must. In fact, we suggest you register now for next year’s TASTE3 , scheduled to run for three days beginning May 31, 2009.
To give you a taste of what to expect, here are a few things I learned at TASTE3 2008:
FREE RANGE FOIE, PATERIA DE SOUSA
Dan Barber, Executive Chef and Co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barn, reports that he’s been to visit Eduardo Sousa, a farmer who lives in Badajoz province on the Spanish-Portuguese border. Mr. Sousa is making foie gras without the controversial gavage (force feeding geese). He also naturally seasons and colors his foie by providing fields planted with wild yellow lupine and pepper. In October 2006, Sousa’s Pateria de Sousa, created quite a stir in France when it was awarded the Coup de Coeur.
Having discovered Sousa, Barber says it’s entirely possible that he will never again serve conventional foie at his iconic Blue Hill restaurants.
ROOFTOP GARDENS AND RECLAIMING WATER
There are 13 acres of rooftop gardens in New York City. This according to Dickson Despommier, Professor of Public Health and Microbiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, NYC. Despommier advocates, “vertical farming” in urban structures and has hypothesized how this might work in some detail.
He also lets us know 70 percent of all water is used for agriculture and that EuroFresh, a 40-acre tomato farm outside Tucson; Az. reclaims all its grey water.
CALIFORNIA AQUAFIRS GOING DRY
It’s true; now it’s more that an occasional worry expressed by farmers and gardeners throughout Northern California. Many rural residents are experiencing water shortages. Small farms in Sonoma County are being threatened with metering water use which, in the estimation of one sustainable farmer, could drive him out of businesses after more than 30 years. Roger Boulton, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California, proposes farmers employ nanofilters facilitating cleaning and reclamation of their water. He forecasts the installation of underground water tanks covered with farmland.
90 PERCENT OF ALL PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS WANT TO LIVE IN HARMONY
So opines Darra Goldstein, Founding Editor of Gastronomica, The Journal of Food and Culture and Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Russian at Williams College.
The author of four books, Goldstein decided to pursue activism by moving beyond writing to explore ways in which food can be used to promote tolerance and diversity
INVISIBLE NUMBERS OF CONSUMPTION REVEALED
Photographic artist and social activist Chris Jordan has committed himself to a project called, “Running the Numbers,” which depicts the staggering statistics that define our mass consumption in huge, intricately detailed panels as large as 30 feet wide. His TASTE3 audience learned that:
- 1 million plastic cups are used on American airlines every six hour;
- America has more people incarcerated than any other country on earth;
- 29,605 people were killed by handguns in the U.S. in 2005;
- 3,000 people were killed on 9/11. 1,100 Americans die daily as a result of cigarette smoking;
- 384,000 women a year have elective breast augmentation surgery;
- 270,000 sharks are killed daily for their fins which have one of the highest concentrations of mercury of any food we eat, leading to brain damage and sterility.
MENTALLY DISABLED ADULTS CRAFT AWARD-WINNING WINES IN JAPAN
Bruce Gutlove is managing director of the Coco Farm and Winery in Ashikaga, 90 km north of Tokyo, Japan. There, he works with mentally disabled adults who own and operate a 15,000-case winery with a tasting room, education center and full-service restaurant. Wines from Coco Farm and Winery have been served at the Hokkaido Tokyo (G-8) Summit for two years consecutively and received high praise from Japan’s leading sommeliers. At Coco Farm, teachers and students work and live together in common enterprise to produce products they describe as coming from “sun, soil and sincerity.”
MAP THE GRAPE GENOME TO BUILD A BETTER WINE
Serial entrepreneur Barry Schuler serves on the board of Synthetic Genomics, Inc. where he works with longtime friend Craig Venter who was instrumental in mapping the human genome. As Schuler farms is 22-acre cabernet vineyard in east Napa, he has begun hypothesizing that by mapping the genome or code of life in wine grapes, we can replicate the characteristics of our most prized wines.
He believes we can potentially expand the climate window, produce better flavors and aromas, build better wine. Is it “Frankenoir,” he mused? Schuler contends that there is little in viticulture that has not been managed or manipulated in some way.
By understanding the grape genome, he believes we are exploring the tool box from which the architecture of life is created.
ENEMY KITCHEN FOSTERS UNDERSTANDING
Michael Rakowitz, artist and associate professor in art theory and practice at Northwestern University, delivers art and understanding to American school children through his, “Enemy Kitchen,” a cooking experience borne of the food traditions of his family’s native Baghdad. In the context of Enemy Kitchen, children explore their own understanding and misunderstandings of mid-eastern cultures as they prepare the dishes Michael’s Iraqi Jewish family prepares for holiday feasting.
Rakowitz also initiated paraSITE, an ongoing project in which the artist custom builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to exterior outtake vents of a building’s heating, ventilation or air conditioning system.
His work has been seen in venues worldwide, including P.S.1, MOMA and the National Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt.