“the clever root,” the new publication from the team of Meredith May and Anthony Dias Blue, just arrived in my mailbox, and I can’t tell you how eagerly I tackled it.
It’s a good-looking magazine, full-sized (11-1/2” x 10”), with a clean, modern graphic look, and the charming cover photo of Daniel Patterson, looking like a cross between a movie star and a skateboard kid, added to the visual allure.
What a publishing empire Andy and Meredith have established. They also have The Tasting Panel and SOMM Journal. This duo has shown an uncanny talent for identifying the red-hottest of hot niches in American food and wine culture. I have to say I devour each magazine as soon as it comes in.
Perhaps the most innovative feature of the clever root (they don’t capitalize the letters) is suggested by the fourth word in the sub-head just below the title: “fruit. flower. farm. leaf.” The latter refers, of course, to marijuana, making the clever root, I believe, the first mainstream magazine covering alcoholic beverages and cuisine to also cover “leaf.” And what coverage it is! You expect beautiful photos of meats, herbs and sauces sitting prettily on cutting boards in a food magazine, but the photo of “Grill-roasted bone-in-rib steak finished with cannabis compound butter of thyme, tarragon, sage, rosemary, garlic, black truffles and lightly toasted cannabis flowers” blew me away. That cannabis—leaf—weed—pot has become pretty much a normal part of everyday culture, at least in California, long has been evident to some of us, despite the brouhahas that sometimes bubble up from the opposition, but in my opinion the clever root has absolutely legitimized weed. It’s as normal to find in a home as butter—and lends itself to even more uses.
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Happy anniversary to me! This is the tenth birthday of the publication of my first book, A Wine Journey along the Russian River. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when Blake Edgar, the acquisitions editor at University of California Press, called to invite me to lunch in Berkeley. He said that he wanted me to write a wine book for him. It could be about anything—he didn’t care. “Wine Journey” was the result of that open-ended invitation. I based the structure on “Heart of Darkness,” the Joseph Conrad novel later turned into “Apocolypse Now” by Francis Ford Coppola. My book is a journey from one end of a river to the other; along the way, adventures pile up. It’s a lovely read and you get your share of plate tectonics, weather and climate, wines, wineries and vineyards, history, food and local culture, and—perhaps best of all, from my point of view—the personalities who make the Russian River Valley the place it is. From Cloverdale to Jenner-by-the-Sea, the valley is one of the most exciting, interesting and complex wine regions in the world. If you’ve never been, I’d suggest taking a week, or even two weeks, following the river (and reading my book as you go!). The best time of the year to visit the valley is in September and October. The weather is insanely gorgeous, the summertime tourist crowds are gone, and harvest is everywhere in the air.
Je me souviens Paris.