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Monday, March 25, 2013

San Francisco Through the Eyes of the Grande Dame - The Fairmont

Slow Living Radio brings you a taste of the magical city of San Francisco, through stories, experiences and insights from the Fairmont San Francisco.  We'll hear from Tom Klein, General Manager, of its colorful history, including the many famous people and occasions that have graced its variety of distinguished rooms, forming some of the city's most memorable times.  We'll learn of hidden gems around the city and the insider's to do, from their concierge, Tom Wolfe, America's oldest concierge.  And we'll get a "new kid on the block's" perspective from their Executive Chef, Chad Blunston.

"Wish you were here", broadcasting from the gorgeous Penthouse!

But first, some interesting and insightful tips in the following questionnaire to our show guests.  Enjoy the show as they expound on their intriguing stories.

When you have a day off in the city, what do you like to do?

T.K.     I love to just go to the Saturday market, have coffee, see friends and walk the pier area!! Such a great walking city.
Fort Baker, home to Cavallo Point Lodge,
The Lodge at Golden Gate
T.W.    Take my wife and dog on an outing in our vintage MGB with the top down (if it's a nice day!) Explore locally, especially not so well known areas, or head out of town to some nearby destinations such as Fort Baker, or Half Moon Bay, etc.

C.B.     Day off? What is that? All kidding aside, being relatively new to this city I have been primarily searching for the perfect place to settle my beautiful little family. You can rest assured that we will be spending the majority of time in the great outdoors. Ask my son and there will be hockey involved somehow. We could be on the ice in a game, playing street hockey, mini sticks in the house or on the Wii. When the “game” is over, it will be centered on a meal, whether picnic style, trying a new place or stumbling upon a neighborhood classic.

Where do you like to take guests or family for a big night out in the city?

T.K.    Jazz or show in town – Sausalito on a clear day/evening provides spectacular views back to the city…after of course, crossing the GG Bridge…
Hubert Keller at Fleur de Lys
T.W.    For a truly memorable meal, my absolute favorite is Fleur de Lys; Hubert Keller does a fantastic job, and the restaurant is one of the last places where people actually dress up to go out.

C.B.    Depends on who is coming to town… However everyone wants to come to The Fairmont San Francisco. I am not joking. They have heard so much about it and not from me…. My Mother used to watch Hotel and by default, my brothers and I did too…The History, the location & the views are second to none…Have you seen the Fairmont Suite?
Not just because I am The Executive Chef, but I really believe a trip to San Francisco is not complete without an experience in the Tonga & Hurricane bar. I used to come here every time I was I the city before I lived here…it is so much fun. You don’t believe me? Ask Anthony Bourdain or watch his show the Layover when he visits San Francisco with Chef Chris Cosentino. Parental discretion is advised…

And for a relaxed meal?  
Slanted Door
T.K.    Slanted Door is always a good bet! Allegro Romano (if you can get in!) with Lorenzo, the authentic Italian owner!

T.W.     Wayfare Tavern,Tyler Florence's restaurant here in the City.

C.B.     Give me another couple months and I will be able to give you some great suggestions. I have heard about a few and I am anxious to try them myself, not just myself but with my wife of course…

A visitor only has one day in the city. What would you suggest they do?

T.K.    Open bus tour – for sure. Great Museums (DeYoung, etc.) – Japanese Garden.

T.W.    If it is their first time, take a tour to get acquainted. There are many tour options, and we are always able to tailor one that is a good fit for the client. We like to have a consultation with them, so we can make a day that will match their desires.

C.B.     My first suggestion would be that they call their boss and ask for a few more days off. You can’t see this wonderful city in one day!

Chinatown for sure, you won’t find that experience anywhere else. It is authentic and it is incredible. I love it…if the one Day was a Saturday. I would suggest the Ferry Building for the market. It can’t be beat. Although Fisherman’s Wharf is a “little” touristy I would say it is a must to see. Alcatraz as well, but that would eat up the majority of your day. North Beach… Yum!  Do you find it weird that everywhere I suggest they go is food related?

What is your favorite weekend away?

T.K.    Getting on my Harley Davidson with my wife, Barbara, going to Tomales Bay for oysters and then driving up the coast! - going south along the coast to Half Moon Bay and a stop at Alice’s Restaurant is always a good time as well.
T.W.    I love the Mendocino Coast, but exploring the Wine Country is always wonderful too.

C.B.    Looking forward to wine country…

So many great places to eat. The views are spectacular and the wine is pretty darn good as well.

International destination?
T.K.   Thailand is a definite ‘must’!

T.W.    Places I lived before, such as Tokyo (5 years), Paris (2 years) or London (3 years). I like to go back to the "old neighborhoods" and see the places I used to frequent.

C.B.    For me, it is a toss up. London or the Caribbean…London is a world class city just like San Francisco.  The Caribbean as well -  we lived there for almost four years in St. Thomas and Grand Cayman. There are so many fun things and great places to see and explore while you are there. The local foods are rustic but so good! From one island to the next you can feel like you are in another world..

Most memorable food and wine experience?

T.K.   Would have to be Santéat the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa - - does not get better!

Horcher Restaurant Madrid
T.W.    Restaurant Horcher in Madrid

C.B.   Wow, narrowing this down will be very difficult. Charlie Trotters in Chicago was amazing. His tasting menu was amazing. I still have the wine label at home somewhere…Blue by Eric Ripert in Grand Cayman was right up there. Another tasting menu with a few extra "Cheffie" courses put in there as well.
We have been known to have a few great meals at our house as well. You will have to ask my family and friends. That is another great thing about the business, a lot of my friends are Chefs and Wine guys… There is no doubt that when we are together that there will be more than a few memories created. Heck, we may have forgotten some of those memories with all that wine…

What is your favorite feature of the Fairmont San Francisco?

A concert in the Venetian room
T.K.    It would have to be the history of the Venetian Room and then of course the Penthouse Suite, where, if walls could talk, we might be in trouble!!

T.W.   The fact that although it is a classic place, we still are innovators (first hotel in the USA with Concierge service, first to have the internet at the Concierge desk, etc.)
C.B.   Mmmm, Not fair! You are sitting in one of them right now. The Penthouse is spectacular, The Lobby so grand, the only time it is better is at Christmas when we have our two storey Gingerbread house. The Cirque Room is treasured. The Roof top garden is beautiful and unique. The Venetian Room still takes my breath away when I walk inside. You really have to stop and think who was walked through those doors. Whether they were on stage or simply here as a guest to enjoy the show…Our Grand ballroom is the best in town. Did I mention The Tonga Room?

The Iconic Tonga Room
 Tom Klein
Regional Vice President - California & General Manager of The Fairmont San Francisco

“Select, lead, train and recognize,” is Klein’s mantra and personal mission statement toward providing exceptional guest service. Klein focuses on the customer and finds creative ways to satisfy guests’ needs while prioritizing colleague training to ensure that staff continues to provide uncompromising levels of service. Two years ago, Mayor Newsom presented a “Certificate of Honor” for his tireless public service and philanthropic contributions. During daily interaction with staffers at all levels, he constantly inspires colleagues to provide exceptional guest service. Klein brings the same intense level of engagement to his charitable endeavors. In 2012, Klein led an unprecedented city-wide crusade that united San Francisco hoteliers in a “Million Dollar Mission” (MDM) benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Enlisting colleagues’ specialized skills and corporate support, this groundbreaking campaign raised funds for financial, education and social services for those affected by blood cancer. Tom’s hard work on this campaign positively affected not only the Hospitality Industry, but the community as a whole. In 2012, Klein was honored with CH&LA’s GM of the Year Award and in 2013 he received the Hotel Council of San Francisco’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tom Klein and Tom Wolfe on the Penthouse Deck
Tom Wolfe
America’s First Concierge

When Tom Wolfe first arrived at The Fairmont San Francisco in 1973, the Concierge did not
yet exist in the United States. Wolfe, who trained as a Concierge in Europe, was fortunate to have worked with legendary Concierges in London and Paris, whose lineage went right back to Caesar Ritz. Upon his arrival, Wolfe saw a great opportunity to take this revered European tradition, inject it with an American 'can do' spirit, and implemented the concept to The Fairmont San Francisco. And so The Fairmont became the first hotel in the United States to offer this unique service to its guests. In 1978, Wolfe founded the US chapter of the international organization of hotel lobby concierges,Les Clefs d’Or (the Golden Keys Society), which at the time was recognized as the 19th member section of this international guild of professionals. Now, as Concierge service proliferates - at department stores, health spas, and even pet shops - the meaning still resonates – personalized, caring service provided by a local contact with the guests' interests at heart. The Fairmont San Francisco continues this noble tradition, and looks forward to assisting guests with any and all requests. The hotel’s Concierge Desk is staffed with skilled professionals who are eager and delighted to attend to every request and ensure a memorable stay.
Chad Blunston
Executive Chef-The Fairmont San Francisco

The Fairmont San Francisco’s Executive Chef Chad Blunston leads the hotel’s culinary

Chad Blunston with his rooftop aviary
team, creating authentically local, seasonal cuisine with a contemporary spin. Chef Blunston brings more than 20 years of progressive culinary experience to his role, beginning his career training on the East Coast of Canada in 1991. Before joining The Fairmont San Francisco, Chef Blunston celebrated the culinary richness of Southern California as Executive Chef at The Fairmont Newport Beach. Having introduced six rooftop honey beehives to that property in 2010, he now continues his work with the “liquid gold” from The Fairmont San Francisco’s own rooftop apiary atop its 1,000-square-foot Culinary Garden.
Chef Blunston places great emphasis on the consideration of guests’ individual palettes, and enjoys providing a uniquely memorable culinary journey through his dishes. He credits his innovative spirit and expertise to his mentors and now thrives on educating and inspiring young, aspiring chefs and the community. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, coaching his son’s hockey team, gardening, and outdoor activities.

Enjoying a fine San Francisco Day on the Penthouse deck
Tom Klein, Chad Blunston and Slow Living's Steve Andrews

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mod-Asian Food & Beverage Fest with the Morimoto Napa Heroes

Slow Living welcomes back the delightful Chef Kang Kuan to the airwaves, with Beverage Director, Eduardo Dingler.  Hear their joys and challenges selecting wine and other beverages for the eclectic food of Morimoto, and bringing Morimoto to the very wine-centric Napa Valley's tastes.  We'll also hear from one of their featured winemakers, Keith Emerson of Vineyard 29.

Wine, Food and "Life" Q and A:

We posed each of our guests with some personal questions.  Enjoy their entertaining responses!

1. What is your most memorable food and wine pairing occasion?

Kang: It was a meal at the French Laundry, and drinking a 73 magnum of Krug Champagne left from a lunch buy out.

Eduardo: While working on a dinner for the UN Secretary General, Chef Kang and I had the task of matching a dish with Staglin chardonnay. Thanks to Chef's creative abilities, he made a traditional Japanese fish, Akamatsu, small buttery and meaty, which he baked in salt and finished it with a shelfish and butter sauce. That moment when the dish and wine hit the palate was like fireworks going off. It is not easy to work with a California, robust chardonnay, but in this occasion, was very successful.
2. What is your favorite relaxed night at home food and beverage pairing?

Kang: Chicken Parmesan, and nice bottle of pinot...something like a bottle of Flowers

Eduardo: Grilled Carne Asada (thin flank steak), house made salsa, corn, eggplant and artichokes with a glass of Massican 'Annia' white blend, Napa Valley, a glass of Poe 'Angel Camp' Pinot Noir and a glass of Chateau Mont Redon Chateauneuf du Pape, all side by side, back and forth. The time of the year or weather doesn't matter.
3. What beverages and foods are always in your fridge and cupboard ie staples?

Kang: PBR, Siracha sauce, and some weird Chinese ingredients that I seem to never be able to get rid of like fermented tofu and bean paste.

Eduardo: A bottle of Sake, Gruner Veltliner, sparkling water, grapefruit, arugula, carrots, apples, almond milk - the main food groups. The rest just fills in.
4. What is your favorite weekend getaway?

Kang:  My backyard on the sofa or sitting in my home built green house.

Eduardo: A day in San Francisco or the beach with the kids is as good as it gets - never a dull moment.
5. What is your favorite International destination?

Mazatlan Beach, Mexico
Kang:Oludanez, Turkey.
Eduardo: I like Mazatlan, Mexico. It’s a familiar place where I grew up, and have been going with about 50 of my family members every summer.

6. What do you do to switch off, relax, take time out?

Kang:  Cycling, gardening and tearing my house apart.  I leave a project open for a few months until my wife goes crazy. Ask me about my awning in my backyard!

Eduardo:  Whenever time allows, I play music. My childhood friend Luis, who is a talented musician, and me have a small ongoing project. I also enjoy running by the river on a daily basis, there is something very peaceful about seeing the water while listening to jazz.

Nai Kang Kuan
Executive Chef, Morimoto Napa
Chef Kang was born on July 1, 1973 in the city of Taipei amongst the hustle and bustle of 2.6 million people living in apartments and high rise condos.  He lived a happy but unremarkable childhood except for immigration to United States when he was twelve years old.  He moved into a house located next to the home Marilyn Monroe died in, in the upscale town of Brentwood, Los Angeles with his mom and an Italian heritage stepfather. To say the he had a bad case of culture shock is an understatement.
Initially graduating with a Masters Degree in Environmental Toxicology at the school of Medicine in University of Cincinnati, Chef Kang decided to turn to his long time hobby, cooking.  After working in many restaurants in Cincinnati and Ontario Canada, he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America, where he met his future wife on day one, and went on to a restaurant fellowship after graduation.  He has worked for CMC Rudy Speckemp in Baltimore Maryland, and Fabio Trabocchi of the famed Maestro at Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner, and Fiamma in New York City, then The French Laundry in Yountville California where he worked for Thomas Keller, Cory Lee, and Tim Hollingsworth, staying for five years, rising from the ranks of commis to sous chef. 
Kang was offered the opportunity to join the Morimoto team in October, 2010, which he accepted in March 2011 after giving French Laundry a five months notice out of respect and gratitude.  He has since then moved on from the Executive sous chef position to assuming the full responsibility of the Culinary operation.
Kang’s insight in East Asian cuisine, his formal training in French techniques, and his diverse and talented staff continue in executing Chef Morimoto’s signature style.

Green Tea Truffle on Grape Vine

Eduardo Dingler
Beverage Director, Morimoto International
Assistant General Manager, Morimoto Napa
Eduardo Dingler was born in Mexico.  He began his career working in some of Napa Valley's most successful restaurants where his passion for wine and food ignited. Guided  by one of his mentors, he was hired as Beverage Director/ Manager at Morimoto Napa, where he gained his certification as a Sommelier with the Guild of Master Sommeliers as well as a Sake Specialist with the World Sake Council. Recently Eduardo assumed the position of Beverage Director for Morimoto Restaurants at an International level, as well as being the restaurant’s Assistant General Manager.


Offerings from the Morimoto crew - sushi, and edible "rocks, sand and moss" on a grapevine!

Keith Emerson - Director of Winemaking 

Keith Emerson joined Vineyard 29 as Director of Winemaking in 2005 charged with managing and directing the production of Vineyard 29’s portfolio, including sister labels Aida and Cru. As director of winemaking, Emerson oversees all wine programs for Vineyard 29’s ultra-premium custom crush clientele as well. The opportunity to interact with Napa Valley’s esteemed growers and winemakers has been an integral part of his professional development.  

Emerson obtained his Enology and Viticulture degree from the University of California at Davis in 1999. After a year at Cakebread Cellars, he accepted an enologist position with Sonoma’s historical Gundlach Bundschu Winery. Emerson quickly excelled to assistant winemaker, soon after was named associate winemaker and became solely responsible for Gundlach Bundschu’s second label, Block 13. The Block 13 program enabled Emerson to cultivate his own personal style of wine and gave him valuable experience in developing a wine brand from the ground up. 
In March 2004, Emerson traveled to Martinborough, New Zealand to work for Palliser Estate Wines. For him, the experience of working a vintage in the southern hemisphere was remarkable. In 2005 Emerson continued to raise the bar when he and his colleague, Brian Brown, began work on their very own artisan label, Emerson Brown.
Today, Emerson also makes wine for Robert Craig Winery on Howell Mountain, Knighton Family Vineyards in Calistoga, Leaf + Twig in St. Helena and is now back at the helm at both Gundlach Bundschu and Bartholomew Park Winery in Sonoma. In 2009, Emerson and his wife, Stacey, launched their Shea Vineyard Oregon Pinot Noir brand, Sonrίa, which he hand crafts at Vineyard 29’s state of the art facility.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

03/12 - Encore Show, Celebrating the Oenotri Restaurant Team.

To celebrate the Curtis De Fedde and Tyler Rodde's rising successes, including a recent dinner at the James Beard House, we dediced to replay their inspirational story.  The two chefs took Napa by storm when they opened their Italian eatery, Oenotri, over 2 years ago,  and haven't looked back since. They have garnered multiple awards including earning  the Food and Wine's Rising Star Chefs title for the duo in 2011, and a recent tribute where the magazine called the restaurant "unquestionably the most exciting new restaurant in Napa Valley, and arguably the best new Italian restaurant in the United States". 

To read the full story:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

03/05 - The Wine and Food Paradox - A Conversation with Tim Hanni MW

Slow Living Radio is thrilled to welcome back Tim Hanni, MW to discuss his new book, "Why You Like the Wine You Like, Changing the Way the World Thinks About Wine".  You'll be set free by his challenging of commonly held beliefs and rules surrounding wine and food pleasure, pairing and individuality.  He's irreverant, extremely knowledgeable and delightfully entertaining.  We also welcome Sasha Paulsen, food writer for the Napa Register who helped translate some of his thoughts to print, and hear how her life changed in the process.

Why You Like the Wines You Like: Changing the way the world thinks about wine

New insights about your personal wine preferences, how to find and enjoy wines on your terms and how to match wine to the diner, not the dinner.

  • Understanding how our unique combination of perceptive sensitivity combined with the neurological factors of life experiences and learning determine everyone’s personal wine preferences.
  • How consumers can truly become more confident and demand that the wine industry understand and custom tailor wine recommendations.
  • How the industry can apply and benefit from this new way of understanding and catering to consumers.
  • Learn about the increasing movement to “match the wine to the diner, not the dinner.”

About Tim Hanni, MW

Tim Hanni MW is an internationally recognized wine expert and professionally trained chef. He is one of two Americans to first earn the title Master of Wine and is recognized around the globe for his groundbreaking “Vinotyping” – making wine drinkers more confident about their personal wine preferences.  The concepts in his new book will enable wine producers, marketers, restaurateurs and retailers to tailor wine recommendations for their customers.  Well-guided, confidents consumers are the foundation of a healthier and more vibrant wine community.:

And some reviews....

“I have spent many hours with Tim wrestling with some of his ideas while they were still in the formative stage. It was both an exhilarating and an exhaustive experience. With a broad and deep knowledge of wine and food history as well as their complexities, he is not afraid to challenge the way things are done and suggest alternatives. He’s not dogmatic in his beliefs, but he demands that conventional thinkers think again. You may not agree with all his conclusions, but I promise he will make you think.”

George Taber, author of the bestseller The Judgment of Paris and A Guide to Bargain Wines and former correspondent and editor for Time magazine

"I have to say, I was incredibly excited when Tim Hanni announced he was releasing a book on his work related to wine preferences and out-dated “trends” in the wine industry. Ever since I met Tim over a year ago at a seminar held in the Monticello AVA region of Virginia, I was convinced that the traditional wine and food pairing “rules” were not, in reality, appropriate for who we actually taste and how each individual perceives and enjoys particular flavors and characteristics of wines. In fact, I’ve been preaching this message quite frequently in the tasting room when I’m pouring, and I have to say people are very receptive and thrilled with the new ideas."

 "I could go on and on about the different points and topics in Why You Like The Wines You Like by Tim Hanni, but then I’d pretty much be re-writing the book and that’d be silly (and well, kind of illegal). Instead, you should read the book for yourself! Why You Like The Wines You Like should be REQUIRED reading for everyone who loves wine, or who thinks they might love wine if only they didn’t feel pressured or embarrassed to steer clear of their favorites. This book has several fun do-it-yourself exercises that will help further convince you that wine and food pairing shouldn’t be about certain rules per se, but should be all about the individual consumer and what types of wines they actually like and would prefer to drink."

vin-o-type, n =
The combination of sensory sensitivity, values and aspirations that contribute to your unique and personal wine preferences... In short, why you like what you like!
Do Tim Hanni's quick quiz to see what Vinotype you are, and get on your way to the New Wine Fundamentals!

Sasha Paulsen,
Sasha Paulsen grew up in Napa, and after graduating from Napa High School, left to attend UC Berkeley. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Masters in Journalism from the Cal Graduate School of Journalism. Following her studies, Sasha lived in Paris, Munich and Boston before returning to raise her two children in her hometown. She has been features editor, in charge of food, wine and arts coverage for the Napa Valley Register, since 1999.