The Executive Pastry Chef at Harvest, (and nominee for Food & Wine's 2013 "The People's Best New Pastry Chef" award) fills us in on his favorite places to relax with a hot beverage and something sweet.
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"I need to hear everyone singing," Peter Weiss said. "Because if I don't I'm going to think you're eating the grapes." I was on the west side of Keuka Lake hand-harvesting riesling at Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery. Weiss, who is from Germany's famous Mosel region, is the winemaker responsible for riesling there.
Harvest in wine country, says Hardy Wallace of Dirty and Rowdy Family Winery, is a bit like juggling squirrels. There are vineyards to check on and grapes to pick as soon as they're ripe—and most of those vineyards aren't anywhere close by. There's weather to worry about and fermentations getting started in the cellar. I asked the Dirty and Rowdy team to share some snapshots from the growing season and harvest so far, as well as a little preview of the wines to come.
The wine industry in Chile is far from new—Spanish explorers brought grapevines to the country as early as 1523, and wine has been made there for centuries. Here are my snapshots of harvest season in Chile, from 135-year old cellars to new coastal plantings.
The grape harvest has begun in the Finger Lakes! Thanks to Upstate Wine Company, which distributes many Finger Lakes wines to restaurants and wine shops in the NYC area, I had the chance to visit a handful of vineyards this week (and taste more than a handful of wines.) Highlights of the trip included sampling grapes on the vine, learning about harvest-time decision making from local winemakers, and discovering quite a few excellent bottles from this often underestimated region.
Back in April, Michael Honig reminded us that at the heart, winemakers are farmers. "We don't grow bottles," he said, "we grow grapes." So today I wanted to take a look at how those grapes have been growing around the country. The weather has been somewhat erratic, hotter than usual in New York's wine regions, and cooler in California (with a few scorching days), but winemakers are hopeful about what they're seeing. Will 2010 be a great vintage or a catastrophic one?
When we last saw our coffee, it'd been picked and sorted, pitted and dried, rested and roasted. Now? It's time to make a cup of coffee. For that, we'll take you back down to Brazil. For maximum enjoyment, we'd leave you to the eminently capable hands pictured above: those of award-winning barista Silvia Magalhães at Octavio's São Paulo cafe. But first? We're doing a cupping.
We last saw our coffee beans—picked, sifted, cleaned, seperated, shelled, dried, and sorted—back in the processing plant. But in order to turn those green beans into the black, crunchy coffee beans you think of, there's one more step: roasting. That's where Dallis Coffee comes in.
Step out of a car at Octavio's processing plant and you're instantly hit with the smell: toasty, warm, nutty, like a peach pit drying in the Georgia sun. It's the smell of drying coffee beans—also, of course, the seeds of a fruit. But how they go from soft cherries to green, dry beans is quite an involved process.
If this online media thing doesn't work out, I'm moving to Brazil as a coffee harvester. At least, that's what went through my head after a morning stripping cherries from the coffee trees of the Nossa Senhora Aparecida farm outside Pedregulho, Brazil. It's hard labor, if not back-breaking; an hour in the fields certainly left this reasonably fit author in a sweat. But the elegance with which expert pickers fill sacks of Skittle-rainbowed coffee beans makes their work seem at least as much art as chore. (The verdant postcard views and piercing 70-degree winter sun certainly wouldn't hurt, either.)
I'm willing to bet that, unless you're from a tropical area or have taken some effort to educate yourself, you have trouble envisioning just where coffee comes from. (And I include myself, as of a few years ago, in that group.) So I jumped at the chance to spend a few days in the heart of the coffee harvest, with Octavio Café and Dallis Coffee, down in the endless coffee fields of Pedregulho, Brazil—picking coffee fruit, pulling out the beans, seeing how they're sorted and dried and milled and roasted and, ultimately, brewed up into the black stuff that wakes you up in the morning.