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Monday, June 27, 2011

6/28 - A Sampling of Scottish Wares and Whiskies in San Francisco

Wm. Glen & Son –
bringing you the best of Scotland, right here in the United States.
Paul Mc Ginlay

Wm. Glen & Son was established in 1869 as a quality Ladies and Gents Clothier in Callander, Scotland and grew into one of Scotland's leading Highland Outfitters. Our store in San Francisco specializes in Kilt Outfitting, and includes a large variety of imports from Scotland, such as Woolen and Cashmere Sweaters, Tweed Sports Coats, Jewelry, Pewterware, Tartan and Clan Goods. We also carry many Souvenirs from Scotland, as well as perhaps the largest Single Malt Whisky Collection in the United

Wm Glen & Son - Imports From Scotland
360 Sutter Street
San Francisco
CA, 94108
Tel: 415 989-5458

John Campbell
Master Distiller
Laphroaig Scottish Whisky

It is said of us islanders, that we take our time to make friends, but when we do it’s for life…..
Well, if you love Laphroaig you’ll understand.

"There are 3 main ingredients for making Laphroaig - Barley, Water, and Yeast, but the secret ingredient is the People."
Laphroaig (La-froyg) is the story of a community. An uncompromising, tough and determined group of people who work to ensure that this defining whisky has always remained true to its origins.
These origins can be found in Islay itself - its harsh climate and tough landscape have created a hardy people whose single-mindedness and honesty is as distinctive as Laphroaig.

It's clear that the Irish had been distilling here for many years and that the locals picked up the skills when they left, but because it was illegal the small stills on the farms were rarely discussed - just a nod and a wink in the right direction!
What we do know though, is that the Johnstons started farming here around 1800, and that soon after messers Charles and Willie Doig were asked to do some 'work on a distillery' at Laphroaig. By 1815 Laphroaig's reputation had spread and the tax man was getting suspicious so they 'officially' established 'Johnston & Johnston' - the legend of Laphroaig had begun.
They say history is all in the telling and who better to tell it than one of our former distillery managers? Our Islay Epiphany is taken from the notes of a visitor who took the time to chat with the now retired Iain Henderson in 1999. You can also read the complete history of all the major events of our last 200 years in the Chronology Of Laphroaig.
Before you start though, we recommend you pour yourself a good measure of our 10 year old and get a real feel for the unique history of Laphroaig.


Take it neat or with a splash of soft water. Roll it around on your tongue. Release the pungent, earthy aroma of the blue peat smoke, the sweet nuttiness of the barley and the delicate, heathery perfume of Islay's streams. Like the islanders it may seem a little aloof at first, but make the effort, broach acquaintance and we can guarantee you'll have a warm and genuine friend for life.
The award winning family of Laphroaig Whiskies ranges from the rich, pungent 10 Year Old to the smooth and exceptionally rare 40 Year Old. But whatever Laphroaig you choose, you can sense 200 years of loving care distilled into every bottle.
We have always considered Laphroaig the best single malt in the World. In 2005 we were proud to be voted 'the best of the best' in the Champions of Whisky Competition - so now it's official!

John Campbell leading the visual distillery tour.

Every year thousands of Laphroaig devotees come to visit us, drink in the atmosphere, learn a few of our secrets and share a dram or two with us afterwards.
However whilst our isolation in Islay has enabled us to maintain the ancient traditions of Whisky making, we also recognise that for many of you the journey may be impossible - at least for now.
To overcome this and to encourage you to make the journey, we have created 'the virtual distillery tour'. To do this we have filmed every aspect of the making of Laphroaig, including areas that the 'standard' tour never goes to (for instance our peat beds). Click through the sections on the left for videos, images and further details. To skip straight to our exclusive videos, choose 'Video Tour'. We hope through this tour you will be able to begin to appreciate how timeless and unique Laphroaig is in our modern world.

Your tour will last approximately 200 years! Well, at least that’s the length of time this ancient distillery has been used for distilling legally and illegally!
It starts here with a view over the Laphroaig Bay from where comes the Atlantic weather that has such a profound effect on our whisky.
As this is a virtual tour I don't have to bore you with the fire regulations! Let's start off in The Courtyard.

SlĂ inthe (which means good health)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

6/14- The Il Fornaio Story with Maurizio Mazzon


 Maurizio Mazzon

 Vice President and Executive Chef

Maurizio Mazzon, Il Fornaio’s multi-talented Venetian-born executive chef brings his 25 years of culinary experience to every kitchen, every recipe and every menu served at Il Fornaio, breakfast, lunch and dinner. He also leads the company’s wine program and, coming from a family of bakers, is always coming up with new bread ideas inspired by the traditions of Italy’s twenty regions.

Born in Marcon, Veneto, Mazzon knew he would be a chef from the age of eight when he would cook shellfish caught with his brother off Punta Sabbaioni near Venice.  Mazzon, pursued his dream of becoming a chef by enrolling at Italy’s prestigious Northern Italy Hotel Institute outside of Venice and, upon graduation, his first job was cooking in the Italian Marines. Though he began as a cook for the enlisted men, the officers began sneaking into their tent for Mazzon’s food and it wasn’t long before he was promoted to the officer’s kitchen.

Returning to Venice after his stint in the Marines, Mazzon worked under Executive Chef Claudio de Zotto at all’Angelo, the largest restaurant in the city, seating 750.  He also perfected his catering skills moonlighting at the legendary Harry Cipriani, preparing banquets for notables such as Henry Kissinger, Italian President Sandro Pertini, and Pope John Paul II. 

In November 1985, Mazzon moved to the United States to serve as chef at Donatello in Tampa, Florida.  Four years later, Mazzon joined Il Fornaio to open a new restaurant and bakery in Palo Alto, California, just three days after the Loma Prieta earthquake.  Under Mazzon’s leadership, Il Fornaio in Palo Alto won several awards including “Best Restaurant in Santa Clara County” by San Francisco Focus Magazine

After three years at Il Fornaio Palo Alto, he led the opening of Il Fornaio in San Jose, the company’s most ambitious project at that time. He was promoted to “Gypsy Chef” two years later where his responsibilities included traveling to each of Il Fornaio’s 22 kitchens to work with each chef. 

Today, as Vice President and Executive Chef of Il Fornaio, Mazzon leads regular Giro di Cuochi or “Chef Tours” of Italy; directs Festa Regionale, Il Fornaio’s ongoing menu exploration of the distinct cuisines of Italy’s 20 different regions; and oversees new menu development, new concept development. His presence can be felt in each of the company’s 22 kitchens. He is also responsible for purchasing for the entire company, which is no small task. Few restaurant groups in the US import as much for Italy as Il Fornaio.

Mazzon was also the culinary leader in the opening in 1999 of Canaletto Ristorante Veneto at the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and in Fashion Island in Newport Beach. These authentic Venetian restaurants were the realization of a lifelong dream of Mazzon’s: create a world-class dining destination here in the U.S. that would honor the places where he honed his craft. Mazzon’s menu presents traditional foods of the “Tre Venezie” area of northeastern Italy, complemented by the wines of this less heralded part of the world. Canaletto in Las Vegas is situated at the Venetian’s recreation of Saint Mark’s square, and has become one of Il Fornaio’s most successful restaurants and among the highest volume restaurants in the country. Opened in 2008, Canaletto in Newport Beach occupies a prime location at Fashion Island, one of the premier shopping destinations in the United States.

In 2002, Mazzon poured a lifetime of studying various regional differences in Italy onto the pages of his best-selling cookbook, The Il Fornaio Pasta Book: Authentic Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Regional Pasta Dishes from Chronicle Books in San Francisco.

Here you can find the essential food of Italy, pasta, explained in a manner that can be re-created in most any kitchen. It also contains s few of Maurizio’s favorite proverbs that both capture the spirit and mind of this Italian chef.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Tim & Donna Egan at  
Vintage Inn's opening in 1985
In this two-part special Slow Living Radio, we visit with Tim and Donna Egan (truly two of the most inspirational people we know!) at their home in Napa Valley. Their story is one of deep cultural heritage, of unbreakable family bonds, of marriage and partnership, of personal integrity, and one of a passionate commitment to excellence in hospitality and service in Yountville spanning more than 35 years and three award-winning properties - Villagio Inn & Spa, Vintage Inn and V Marketplace. As the developers of the acclaimed Vintage Estate in Yountville-Napa Valley, they succeeded in creating one of the valley's first luxury lifestyle destinations in a once little known wine country hamlet. But beyond the public awards and accolades they have received as premier hoteliers, stewards of the community and stalwart vanguards for charitable causes, their almost 50 years of marriage have been filled with both great challenges and successes. We spoke candidly about their dreams and passions, their commitment to family, staff and community, their personal battles and triumphs over cancer, and their philosophies on the rich gift that life offers us in each day. In the words of Tim Egan, "Create something that you can finish. Be yourself, true to who your are... and be the very best you can be."  A perfect introduction to one of the many great stories we share in this two-hour program.

Kerry Egan, Tim & Donna Egan with Slow Living's Sally James

It was their great love of wine country and a vision of the future for the little hamlet of Yountville that brought brothers Timothy and Michael Egan to the Napa Valley in 1976.  In that year, they joined with long-time friends and associates Michael Sandbach, Dino and Mario Ghilotti, and other now former partners to become the Vintage 1870 Associates partnership and purchase the landmark Vintage 1870 (now V Marketplace) specialty shop complex in the heart of Yountville. 

Under their guidance, this historic property was carefully and methodically improved, maintaining the 19th century charm of its buildings while blending a mix of upscale retail shops, galleries and restaurants that would hold a universal appeal for local residents and out-of-town visitors alike.
The Vintage Estate's Historic V Marketplace Retail Complex

In historical terms, it is the V Marketplace project that has been credited with the first renaissance phase of this local community. The highest compliment was paid during
V Marketplace’s 25th Anniversary celebration as town officials lauded the Vintage 1870 Associates for developing what they termed, “the project that defined the Town of Yountville."  

Over the nine-year period that followed the 1976 purchase, V Marketplace became the success that the partnership had envisioned, establishing the complex and this locus of Washington Street as Yountville's commercial center. Like their projects to follow, the successful revitalization of the V Marketplace was linked to the unique nature of the partners' relationship with local government. The forging of a cooperative bond between commercial development and a small community allied to reach a goal of mutual and lasting benefit.  What the travel media has called "Napa Valley's specialty shopping mecca" had contributed not only to a new strength in the town's tax revenue base, but also stimulated consumer travel to Yountville, and ultimately, further commercial investment and revitalization of the town.

Driven by the romantic lure of the wine industry, visitor travel to the Napa Valley in the early 1980's grew rapidly. It became clear that the addition of an upscale country inn was the linchpin to connect the overnight visitor with the Yountville experience. The Egan and Sandbach families were joined by friends Mario and Dino Ghilotti and other investor-partners for this new venture. Along with town officials, the group shared this vision of  Yountville as a visitor "destination."

(Left to Right)
Tim Egan, Mark Power & young Kerry Egan review
construction plans for Vintage Inn in Yountville, circa 1984 
By 1983, the design and development plans for the multimillion-dollar hotel were underway. In June of 1985, the 80-room Vintage Inn opened to rave reviews. On the basis of quality standards and daily room revenues, the property was ranked by the Lodging & Hospitality Association in the top 100 most profitable hotels in the United States and Travel+Leisure Magazine’s Top 500 Hotels in the World. Even its landscape architecture reflects a totally unique aesthetic style. The inn's landscape designer, Thomas McCormick, was honored by the National Association of Landscape Contractors of America for his design work at the Vintage Inn.

Says partner Timothy Egan, "The development of Vintage Inn furthered the partnership's commitment to the local community through the advancement of the ‘overnight destination' concept. Our goal was to create a project that would produce the lowest impact on local services yet deliver the highest return in transient occupancy tax revenues to the Town of Yountville." It was a promise fulfilled. The Vintage Inn and  V Marketplace venues, collectively known as The Vintage Estate, would comprise not only the largest joint visitor destination in Yountville, but also the most profitable. The combined local taxes generated by the sister properties contributed more than a third of the Town of Yountville's general operating fund.

Vintage Inn
"Yountville is a small town, and in a place like this, 'success' is a measurement of the long-term commitment that you make and you uphold," notes Egan. "We own businesses here and we own homes here. Our commitment is one that we've made to our families, our partnership and the community," he adds.

The opportunity to demonstrate this commitment has presented itself more than once. In 1986, when the hundred-unit Vintage Subdivision project started by another developer in 1981 fell into bankruptcy, the partnership took action. Sensing the immediate community need, the partnership, which included the Egan and Sandbach families, negotiated with the bank to purchase and complete the final twenty-nine units of the project. The original plan for the final phase of development called for construction of duet-style attached dwellings; a design that the partnership felt would create an imbalance in the residential profile of the community. So the decision was made. The partnership would redesign the plan and seek town approval to build detached single-family homes.

Tim Egan recalls, "As developers, we took the more costly route by opting not to build the final twenty-nine units as duet-style townhomes in favor of the single-family detached houses. However, the original design plan didn't offer Yountville what it needed in residential improvements. Experience just told us that the design change would give the community greater residential diversity, and in the end, a better balance." 
On October 16, 1998, the partnership opened the doors of the third Vintage Estate sister property, the 112-room Villagio Inn & Spa. Addressing guests at Villagio’s opening event, then California Senator Mike Thompson called the project "an exciting new asset to the Yountville community and the Napa Valley." Thompson lauded the Vintage Partners, and Timothy Egan personally, for demonstrating a continuing commitment to the improvement and enrichment of the community with the quality of their projects.

Villagio Inn & Spa

Even before earning its AAA Four Diamond Award rating in February 2000, Villagio Inn & Spa was acclaimed by such publications as Town & Country, San Francisco Examiner Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine and Travel+Leisure Magazine, with awards that have since included Travel+Leisure’s Top 500 Hotels in the World and Top 50 Resorts in the United States & Canada.

Spa Villagio's Outdoor Fireside Lounge
The Vintage Associates take great pride in the fruits of their 35-year partnership with the community. It was a collective vision that became a reality. A vision to establish Yountville, the gateway to the Napa Valley wine country, as a premier overnight destination to attract the mid-to-upper-end traveler with exceptional accommodations and amenities. One that would foster the "walking town" concept by offering visitors the finest restaurants, specialty shops and galleries along the main thoroughfare of Washington Street.   

“Together, we’ve crafted a shared vision… a community where visitors delight in staying, and one that residents are proud to call home,” says Egan.  

Slow Living's Steve Andrews & Tim Egan at
Yountville's 2011 Kentucky Derby Event
Tim & Donna Egan at the 2011 Sense Yountville

PostScript: Tim & Donna Egan are deeply committed to medical research in the battle and treatment of Cancer. We encourage you to visit these organizations and find out what you can do to become involved:

International Myeloma Foundation

Jimmy V Foundation

Selected Photos by Andy Berry -