On Food & Wine
How Will the Rising Dollar Affect the U.S. Wine Market? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Veseth, The Wine Economist   
Thursday, 15 January 2015 22:15

Read full story: http://wineeconomist.com/2015/01/13/wine-and-fx/

How will the rising dollar affect the U.S. wine market? The answer, predictably, is that it’s complicated. Read on for analysis organized around three questions. Why has the dollar appreciated? What are the textbook effects of a rising dollar? How and why is the impact on U.S. wine likely to be different? 

Why has the dollar appreciated?

The U.S. dollar has appreciated dramatically on foreign exchange markets, powered by several factors. Expectations of higher interest rates in the U.S. is a big part of the story as the reality of the end of the Federal Reserve’s asset purchase program sinks in. Add to this the fact that the Europoean Central Bank is finally close to beginning its own quantitative easing program, which will keep rates down on that side of the pond. This combination is a recipe for the sort of change you see in the graph above.

The relative strength of the U.S. economy, weakness of the E.U.with its potential “triple dip” recession and uncertainty regarding China and oil prices all contribute to the economic environment that has helped fuel the dollar’s recent rise. Where is money going to go in a risky world? Can you say USA? A lot of us have been impatiently waiting for the dollar to move higher for a couple of years. Now that it has happened, what should we expect?

What are the textbook effects of a rising dollar?

The classic textbook effect of a rising currency is that imports increase because they are relatively cheaper and exports decline because they are costlier to those holding foreign currencies. Imports up, exports down. That’s where the Econ 101 story often stops, but the situation is a little more complicated.

Prices adjust faster than quantities in most cases. Price effects (rising export costs, falling import prices) tend to happen quickly, but quantities take longer to change because of inventory lags, recognition lags, and contract lags. Basically, it takes time before the new exchange rate translates into real actions because existing inventories must be depleted before new orders are made, because it takes some time before economic actors feel certain that the change is sustained and not just a market blip, and because existing contracts often preclude immediate adjustments. 

These lags create what economists call the “J curve” effect, with opposite short-term and long-term payments impacts. The Econ 101 results take longer to show up in significant amounts than you might think and even then will only appear if other intervening economic factors don’t offset them. So predicting the short term impact of an exchange rate change isn’t as simple as you might think even if you earned an “A” in Econ 101.

But price is a powerful force, and the fact that a rising dollar makes our exports more expensive to foreign purchasers (and imports cheaper for U.S. buyers) should not be ignored even if immediate run impacts are not obvious. Don’t expect everything to change at once.

One more complication is that although we like to talk about the dollar rising or falling, the overall trend conceals the fact that the dollar might be higher relative to one currency and still falling compared to another. During one recent period when the dollar was quite weak by some standards, for example, it still rose compared to some other currencies that were even weaker.

How and why is the impact on the U.S. wine markets likely to be different?

Given all this, it is instructive to read a 2012 report by Kym Anderson and Glyn Wittwer titled “Studying the impact of exchange rate movements on the world’s wine markets, 2007-2011” (a University of Adelaide Wine Economics Research Centre working paper — the link takes you to a pdf of the paper). The Anderson-Wittwer study examined the impact of exchange rates on wine trade during a period when the dollar was falling instead of rising and finds that the impact of exchange rates was different in different import markets and in different wine market segments. (I told you it was complicated!)

In the U.K. market, for example, the exchange rate impacts were pretty much what theory suggested both in terms of import effects and distribution among different wine exporting countries. A good textbook case.

But the U.S. was a different story, as you might expect given that we have a substantial domestic wine production base and that we both export and import wine with the two trade flows connected to a certain degree by the “wine drawback program”  (Click here to read a 2012 UC/Davis report on the drawback program.) 

The wine drawback program allows a refund of 99% of import duties and excise taxes on wine for which the importer has matching exports of commercially “interchangeable” wine. Because per-unit import duty and excise tax rates are substantial compared to the price of bulk wine, use of the program is high for bulk wine imports, which compete with wine from low-price Central Valley grapes. Bulk wine exports dominated imports until 2009 and the program stimulated import growth. Now, with imports and exports roughly in balance, the program stimulates both exports and imports—leaving net trade in bulk wine roughly in balance.

Summary of the U.C. Davis Report

The Anderson-Wittwer study found that the falling dollar had different effects on U.S. consumption of  Old World and New World wine imports during 2007-2011. Old World imports increased despite the dollar’s fall and New World imports fell.  Obviously the price effects were more strongly felt for New World wines than for Old World products (see Table 6 of the report) and although Australia accounted for much of the import decline and may be a special case in some ways, Argentina, Chile and South Africa were also negatively affected.

The study found differences by price category, too. Non-premium and commercial premium New World wines were the most affected by the exchange rate changes while super-premium wines showed less impact. This makes sense because the lower priced products are often part of the bulk wine trade, which has become highly efficient, facilitating ease of substitution from one country’s products to another. A small change in cost can have a big impact on the size and direction of trade. Textbook effects rule here.

More expensive products benefit from greater product differentiation. The power of an established brand acts as a shock absorber when costs increase, although there are obvious limits to this.

So if Old World imports increased and New World imports fell during the period when the dollar was slumping, can we expect just the reverse now that the dollar is soaring? It would be great if we could just take the Anderson-Wittwer numbers and change the signs from plus to minus and so forth, but life is more complicated than that. Anyone who has tried to sell wine can tell you that it is easier to lower a price than to increase it! It’s a kind of hysteresis in the sense that where you can go now depends on where you have been. You can’t just back out to where you started.

That said I think there are important insights to take away here, key among them is the idea that the impacts are likely to be different for bulk wine and packaged good trade and for Old and New World products.

Textbooks and research give us good guides to understanding the impacts, but there aren’t any simple answers. And the exchange rate isn’t the only thing that’s changing this time around. I know a number of New World producers who made big bets on the Russian market, for example. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but my how things have changed! They’ll be desperately  looking for markets for the wine they can’t sell to Moscow. And imports from Argentina may be more affected by that country’s domestic policies (and the upcoming elections) than exchange rates.

9th Annual International Chocolate Festival at Fairchild, Jan 23 - 25 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Thursday, 15 January 2015 02:11

fairchild chocolate“Cacao” is the word on the tip of everyone’s tongue at the 9th Annual International Chocolate Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, during three days of delicious activities complete with sampling, cooking demos, an interactive cacao display, seminars and kids’ events from Friday, January 23 – Sunday, January 25, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

During the festival and through May 31, 2015, large-scale glass sculptures by world-renowned American artist Dale Chihuly will be exhibited throughout all 83 acres as part of the annual Art at Fairchild.

The International Chocolate Festival is sponsored by Whole Foods Market, the Mexico Tourism Board, Nestlé Nesquik Miami, and New York Life Insurance Co.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 33156. Admission to the festival is $25 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 and up, $12 for children 6-17, and free for Fairchild members and children 5 and under. Eco-discounts and military discounts are available.

For more information and a complete schedule call 305-667-1651 or visit the International Chocolate Festival webpage.

2015: The Best of the Best: San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Sweepstake Winners PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 23:34
​Fifty nine professional judges, ranging from all areas of the wine industry including experts in the media, restaurant and hospitality, education, winemaking and retail outlets, tasted over 6,417 entries from more than 28 states, last week at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, recognized as the largest competition of American wines in the world.
Utilizing an extensive process that divided the varietals into several categories and subcategories, the event gave the panels the chance to rate entries as Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Double Gold (equivalent to a unanimous rating by all panel members).
Only eight entries were honored with the prestigious Sweepstake Award and, in its fifth year, a special category included a label contest that is independent of the wine competition.
The judges picked the Sweepstake Award​ winners, which signify the best of the best in the competition,​ for the following categories:  Sparkling, White, Blush, Red, Dessert / Specialty and Label. The winners hail from California, Ohio and New York, as follows:
Sparkling Sweepstake
Gloria Ferrer - 2010 Blanc De Blancs, Carneros, $42.00
White Sweepstake (tie)
ZD Wines - 2013 Chardonnay, California $38.00
Dr. Konstantin Frank- 2013 Riesling, Semi Dry,  Finger Lakes, New York $14.99
Pink Sweepstake
Robert Hall Winery - 2014 Rose de Robles, Paso Robles, $14.00
Red Sweepstake (tie)
Sonoma -Cutrer - 2012 Pinot Noir, Founders Reserve, Russian River Valley $65.00
Pezzi King - 2102 Estate Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Row 14 Reserve, $50.00
Dessert Sweepstake
Debonne Vineyards - 2013 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Grand River Valley, Ohio $29.99
Label Sweepstake
Inizi - 2012 Charbono, Calistoga, $32.00
Many of the award winning wines will be available to taste at the Public Tasting, held on February 14, 2015 at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2015 23:37
Eat Tomatoes for a chance to win cash, till February 1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Friday, 09 January 2015 20:38

Tomato lovers have a chance to win some extra cash this month and try out some healthy recipes for great game day snacks.

From now to February 1, NatureSweet® Tomatoes is offering customers a chance to win daily prizes and will give away one daily $200 prize and one weekly $1,000 prize from January 5th to February 1st for a total of $6,800, in addition to MVP Party Playbook, which includes recipes, healthy game day snack ideas and money saving coupons.

For a chance to win, customers can text in the code on their SunBursts package to see instantly if they have won.

For additional information on NatureSweet, log on to www.NatureSweet.com.


Whole Foods Market to open Jan. 14 in Downtown Miami and four more South Florida stores over six weeks PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 22:38

 As the new year approaches, so does the opening of four South Florida Whole Foods Market stores, beginning with the long-awaited Whole Foods Market downtown Miami on Wednesday, Jan. 14. The 41,000-square-foot store, located at 299 SE Third St., will be the company’s 22nd location in Florida.

The new Miami store will feature local vendors and flavors, new venues, and is being built to reflect the community it will serve. Details of the grand opening festivities will be released in early January. Miami, however, is just the beginning. Three additional stores will open every two weeks through the end of February. They are:

·         Whole Foods Market Pompano Beach – Jan. 28

·         Whole Foods Market Davie – Feb. 11

·         Whole Foods Market West Palm Beach – Feb. 25

Pompano will be located at 2411 N. Federal Highway; Davie, a relocation from the current store in Plantation, will be located at 1903 University Drive; and West Palm Beach will be located at 1845 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., Building C. The three stores will range between 40,000 and 44,000-square-feet.

“We are thrilled to be expanding our presence in South Florida,” says Juan Nunez, President of the Florida Region for Whole Foods Market. “With these four new stores, we’ll be able to offer our customers more local, natural and organic food options, introduce new and exciting products, and give back to the local communities that have embraced us.

UNCORKED! The Key Largo & Islamorada Food & Wine Festival, Jan 8 - 17, 2015l PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Monday, 08 December 2014 20:48

Once again, Uncorked! the Key Largo & Islamorada Food & Wine Festival is offering ten glorious days of wine tasting events, cooking demonstrations, wine dinners, live music, food and wine pairing classes, progressive wine dinners, art and wine shows, and of course,  fund and sun, fabulous sunsets, scuba diving, fishing, many tourist attractions, shopping, and more.

The Grand Tasting, the Festival Finale, is scheduled for Saturday January 17. Dozens of area restaurants and wine experts come together under a giant tent to present samples of their finest cuisine and world-class wines. Live music, celebrity chef appearances and cooking demos combine to serve up the recipe for a spectacular afternoon of tasting in the fabulous Florida Keys.

For information on event schedule, where to stay, things to do and more, log on to: http://www.floridakeysuncorked.com/  


Last Updated on Monday, 08 December 2014 20:56
Record-setting 4.16-pound white truffle sells for $61,250 at New York City auction. PDF Print E-mail
Written by NEW YORK (AP) —   
Monday, 08 December 2014 20:38

truffleA record-setting 4.16-pound white truffle has sold for $61,250 at a New York City auction.

Sotheby's says the fungus was sold Saturday to a food and wine lover from Taiwan bidding by phone.

The truffle was found last week in Umbria, Italy, by Sabatino Truffles.

The firm had said it turned down million-dollar offers from buyers in China. Instead, it chose to auction the truffle in New York to benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels and the Children's Glaucoma Foundation.

Sabatino Truffles spokeswoman Jane Walsh had said the truffle was slightly smaller than an American football. She says the average white truffle that's unearthed is about the size of a walnut.  Sotheby's says the previous largest white truffle ever found was 2.5 pounds.

                                  click here for story

U.S. designated “Country of Honor” for Bordeaux’s Vinexpo 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Monday, 17 November 2014 21:20

The world’s leading show for wine and spirits professionals, Vinexpo 2015 has designated the U.S. as its first-ever Country of Honor – a distinction that will give the American wine industry maximum exposure throughout the show. Themed “Taste the Unexpected,” Vinexpo 2015 will be held June 14-18, 2015. Vinexpo drew 48,000 professional visitors in 2013, of which Americans represented the second largest segment of international attendees. Founded in 1981.

Vinexpo is held in Bordeaux in odd-numbered years at Bordeaux’s Parc des Expositions, just minutes from the historic town center and some of the world’s most storied wine regions including Canon Fronsac, Saint Emilion, Médoc, Graves and Sauternes..

Special events throughout Vinexpo 2015 will shine a spotlight on the U.S. wine industry. American wineries will be showcased in the center of the exhibition area, which will feature as many as 2,400 exhibitors from 44 wine- and spirits-producing countries around the world.

The Country of Honor designation acknowledges the U.S.’s ascendancy as the world’s top wine-consuming nation. A 2014 Vinexpo-commissioned study by International Wine and Spirit Research revealed that in 2011 the U.S. surpassed France and Italy to lead the world in wine consumption in both volume and value. The study, which analyzed results from 2007-2012 to forecast market trends through 2017, also reported the following:

·        The U.S is the third largest wine importer worldwide, including still, light and sparkling wines.

·        The U.S. is the fourth largest wine producer in the world and the sixth largest exporter.

·        Between 2012 and 2016, American annual wine consumption is projected to grow by more than 12 percent, or 40.5 million cases.

·        Consumption of spirits in the U.S. reached 190.87 million cases in 2011 (up 7.6% from 2007), and should increase by another 8.7% by 2016. Vodka, rum and bourbon are the top-selling spirits in the U.S. market.

·        The U.S. is the world’s largest market for tequila, well ahead of Mexico.

Rapper Jay-Z acquires luxury Champagne brand Armand de Brignac PDF Print E-mail
Written by Syndney Ember, The NYT   
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 21:05

In his song Young Forever, Jay-Z envisions a life where “you never get old and the Champagne’s always cold.” He may not be able to do much about aging, but he may be able to help with the chilled bubbly.

Just days after the British beverage giant Diageo swapped whiskey for tequila, taking control of the Don Julio brand from Jose Cuervo, a new company led by Jay-Z has acquired Armand de Brignac Champagne from Sovereign Brands.

“We are proud to announce that Sovereign Brands, a New York-based wine and spirits company owned by the Berish family, has sold its interest in the Armand de Brignac (Ace of Spades’) Champagne brand to a new company led by the globally renowned Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter,” Sovereign Brands said in a statement. Yvonne Lardner, global director of brand communications for Sovereign, added: Jay Z “became interested in owning the brand and made us an offer we simply couldn’t refuse.” Jay-Z’s interest in the Champagne, nicknamed “Ace of Spades” for the logo on its label, is not new. A gold bottle appeared in his 2006 music video for Show Me What You Got. In September 2012, Jay-Z held a fundraiser with his wife, Beyoncé Knowles, at the 40/40 Club in Manhattan for President Barack Obama that included a tower of 350 bottles of Armand de Brignac Champagne.

A bottle of Armand de Brignac Brut Gold retails for $300.


Beaujolais Nouveau 2014 to be released on Nov 20 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 20:39




The fourth Thursday of November belongs to Thanksgiving, but the third Thursday belongs exclusively to Beaujolais Nouveau, the first wine of the harvest. This year, Beaujolais Nouveau Day falls on Thursday, November 20 and more than 35 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are expected to be consumed in the months following the wine’s release.

This fruity, very young red wine is made from handpicked Gamay grapes, from the Beaujolais region and bottled just a few weeks after harvest.  Thanks to a process called carbonic maceration, or whole berry fermentation, which allows the juice to be extracted from the grapes with a minimum of tannins, this young wine is best enjoyed immediately

Each year, people across the world celebrate the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday in November anywhere in the world. Because this is a wine that’s easy to drink and easy to pair, it has become associated with the eclectic Thanksgiving dishes that grace the tables of people of all cultures and ethnicities.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 20:51
Italy Revisited, a fantastic website by Mary Melfi PDF Print E-mail
Written by SFG Staff   
Friday, 07 November 2014 19:35


www.italyrevisited.org documents Italians' cultural heritage by creating an extensive photo archive of the day to day life of farmers and townspeople living at the turn of the 20th century. With family photos taken before 1969 which capture the Italian way of life in Italy or abroad, Dessert recipes handed down over generations , folk sayings and current photos of linen trousseaus, country antiques and Little Italys world wide.

Check out the lists of Traditional Italian dishes and desserts by region, in Alphabetical Order and with recipes! A fantastic document. http://www.italyrevisited.org/recipe/X_X_Lists_of_Italian_Dishes_and_Desserts_by_Region/672

The Four Seasons: scultptures by Philip Haas inspired by Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo at Pinecrest Gardens Nov. 16 – April 6 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Thursday, 06 November 2014 22:53

arcimboldoPinecrest Gardens is to host Internationally-renowned contemporary artist and filmmaker Philip Haas’sarcimboldopinecrestFOUR SEASONS – a towering installation of fantastical sculptures inspired by Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo   – November 16th to April 6, 2015 in its lush botanical sanctuary.

Consisting of four 15-foot-tall busts, Haas’s FOUR SEASONS bring 16th-century Renaissance portraiture by Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo into modern times through a transformation of scale, material and dimensionality.

While Arcimboldo’s paintings present each subject in profile, Haas’s unconventional twist on the classical form allows visitors the opportunity to walk around the sculptures, to see the subjects from all sides, and from many different and surprising vantage points.

Each work represents an individual season and is distinctly unusual and extravagant. AUTUMN is comprised of fall vegetables, ripe grapes and leaves turning color. Weathered bark and verdant moss make up WINTER’s stoic bust, which sits on top of a cloak of straw. SPRING evokes rebirth and vibrancy with a face consisting of rose-colored petals and hair brimming with elaborate flowers. SUMMER’s hue is a variety of sun-kissed yellows; its face and headdress sprout onions, garlic, corn, peas, a multiplicity of fruit, and a cucumber nose. The sculptures are made of pigmented and painted fiberglass, supported by interior steel frames.

“I started the FOUR SEASONS project wanting to bring Arcimboldo’s Renaissance painted nature imagery into the 21st-century physical world. I can’t think of a better venue than Pinecrest Gardens to inaugurate the Florida tour of this work, where the sculptures will arrive in the one of the oldest outposts of the New World, having fled their earlier homes as paintings in European museums, to now rest, and blend in, for an extended period amid the lush tropical flora, rock formations and historic water features,” said Haas.

In marrying sculpture, painting, film, and architecture, Philip Haas has created a contemporary visual vocabulary all his own. He describes his process as “sculpting by thinking”. His groundbreaking artwork has been featured by museums, including the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC), the Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), Dulwich Picture Gallery (United Kingdom), and Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris). In the public realm, his work has been exhibited in the Piazza del Duomo (Milan) and the Gardens of Versailles (France). His feature films include ANGELS & INSECTS, THE MUSIC OF CHANCE and UP AT THE VILLA. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as other awards. He has taught in the visual arts and creative writing programs at Princeton University. He lives and works in New York and London.

FOUR SEASONS by Philip Haas is the latest commission of Pinecrest Garden’s art program.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 November 2014 22:58
Food Network Star Miami Open Casting Call, Nov. 15 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Thursday, 06 November 2014 20:47

Food Network Star, the successful culinary reality series, is casting for season 11 and is holding an open casting call in Miami on Saturday, November 15th. They are looking for those with a captivating personality who believe they’re at the top of the culinary game. You can apply online  at www.JSCasting.com , or go to the Miami Open Casting Call on Saturday, November 15th, from 10am - 1pm, at the Epic Hotel, 270 Biscayne Blvd Way, Miami, FL 33131

Chefs: register to win $10,000 at Annual Grand Chef Throwdown Competition PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Thursday, 06 November 2014 19:34

 One of the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival’s most highly anticipated events, the 5th Annual Grand Chef Throwdown,returns as the culmination to the four-day culinary affair.

The Grand Chef Throwdown is a cook off with three local chefs battling it out for $10,000 ($5,000 cash and $5,000 to the winning chef’s charity of choice).

Two-time reigning champion Eric Grutka of Ian’s Tropical Grill in Stuart returns to defend his title. he remaining two chefs are selected by the public through a Facebook competition.

Moments before the Grand Chef Throwdown competition begins, presenting sponsor Creekstone Farms will reveal the mystery ingredient—a special cut of beef that must be used by the competing chefs. Since inception, the Grand Chef Throwdown has raised more than $20,000 for various charities.

Chefs interested in participating in the Grand Chef Throwdown have until to November 30th at 5 p.m. to act on the following steps for entry into the competition:

1. “Like” the designated FB page at www.facebook.com/grandchefthrowdown

2. In 150 words or less post a comment on the page about themselves

3. Get as many friends and family to like their post.

The two chefs with the most ‘likes’ will compete in the competition.

The Grand Chef Throwdown, presented by Creekstone Farms, takes place on Sunday, December 14, from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. during the 8th Annual Grand Tasting at 150 WORTH, 150 Worth Ave., Palm Beach, FL 33480. . For tickets to The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, call (561) 561-389-1222 or log on to  www.pbfoodwinefest.com .

Saffron farming is back in Saffron Walden, Essex, UK PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Telegraph   
Thursday, 06 November 2014 19:08


\With the help of a medieval text, David Smale, an Essex farmer has revived a tradition in the heartland of production in Tudor times. He is cultivating his crop in a secret location.  (photo: saffron flower). The Telegraph

Saffron has returned to the fields of England for the first time in 200 years — and only a stone’s throw from the town of Saffron Walden, the heart of British production in Tudor times.

Saffron-growing died out in Britain as the painstaking harvesting methods became too expensive to compete with cheap imports from Iran and Kashmir.

However, Mr Smale is determined to revive the centuries-old tradition and grow his business into a full-scale commercial enterprise.

With a gram (0.035oz) of spice selling for up to £75, saffron is more expensive than gold because the harvesting is so laborious. Each crocus flower yields just three stigma, which are picked by hand then dried to create the saffron strands.

As Britain’s only saffron grower, Mr Smale has attracted the attention of food shops such as Fortnum & Mason and Partridges in London.

David Smale, 50,  began his business by growing the Crocus sativus — commonly known as saffron crocus — flowers in his back garden but it was not until he found a Tudor manuscript on growing saffron while browsing in a library that things really took off.  “I’ve always wanted to grow something and one day I had a mad idea that I would grow saffron. I live in Essex and my family has a connection to Cornwall, two places that were big on saffron production centuries ago. I looked into who was growing saffron and to my surprise I found there was no one doing it. I was told the practice had died out a few hundred years ago which I thought was ridiculous, so I decided to give it a go,” said Mr. Smale.

He added: “For the first few years I had some successes and some disasters but there was no one to turn to for advice – I was learning as I went along. The turning point came when I found a medieval text for growing saffron in the archives of the library at Saffron Walden. It dated back to the 1600s and confirmed everything I had learnt so I knew I was doing it right.”

It was then that he decided to turn his hobby into a business, English Saffron. “Each year we get bigger and bigger and by next season we are hoping to be able to employ people. “To have that industry back in Essex after all these years is amazing.”  As well as tending to his crop of crocuses, David runs a geophysics consultancy.

The crocuses are planted in summer then harvested in late autumn. Tens of thousands of flowers have to be hand picked at just the right moment then dissected to remove the three red stigmas from each one. The strands are dried on racks for 24 hours then put into storage containers, ready for packing.  

These days saffron is more associated with exotic locations like Iran, Morocco and Spain, but in the past English saffron has been by reputation the best in the world.  “Ours certainly comes out top in taste tests. It’s sweeter and more honey-like than other varieties and I think that’s down to the nutrients in the soil.  We’re lucky that there’s a food revolution at the moment and people are prepared to pay a little bit more for quality produce made locally."

A 0.2g packet of Mr Smale’s saffron sells in Fortnum & Mason for £15. He is hoping to increase his output by 20 times next season.  “We moved into a new field this year which will become our centre for processing and we’re looking to take on another field next season" he said. 

He added: “Saffron Walden was one of the world’s major producers of saffron a few centuries ago and we’re happy to be doing our bit to keep the tradition alive.”


SOMM Journal and The Tasting Panel open essay competition for wine writers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 20:25

 Trade publications The SOMM Journal and The Tasting Panel recently announced an essay contest for a full scholarship to the 2015 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley, February 17-20.

"The Tasting Panel and The Somm Journal are publications that speak to the gatekeepers of the hospitality industry,” said Publisher and Editorial Director Meridith May, who serves on the Symposium’s faculty. “We are always on the lookout for that writer whose voice is eloquent, entertaining and educational when it comes to imparting information to the prestigious and sophisticated reader."

The winner of The SOMM Journal and The Tasting Panel competition will receive a full scholarship to the 2015 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, including registration and lodging at Meadowood Napa Valley resort (does not include transportation to and from the conference), a value of $1,940. Additionally, the winning essay will be published in the February issue of The SOMM Journal and the January/February issue of The Tasting Panel.

Essays should be 750 words or less, focused on a topic of the author’s choice within the broader subject of wine, due December 20, 2014. The SOMM Journal and Tasting Panel editors will review submissions and select a winner by January 5, 2015. Applicants must also meet the Symposium’s eligibility requirement of being a working journalist or author with at least two paid, published editorial works on relevant subject matter in the prior 12 months. Winery employees and others working to produce or promote wine brands are not eligible.

Registration is now open and can be accessed at www.WineWritersSymposium.org .

To learn more about the 2015 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, log on to www.WineWritersSymposium.org . For inquiries about the SOMM Journal / Tasting Panel scholarship, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Giant Cannolo, made in Florida, will break Guinness World Record PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Friday, 24 October 2014 23:12

cannologiantJUPITER, FL   – An official attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest cannolo (the singular form of “Cannoli”) ever made will take place on Sunday, November 9 at 2 p.m. at the annual Feast of Little Italy at the Abacoa Town Center in Jupiter, FL.

The current official Guinness database reflects a cannolo made in 2010 in Newburgh, NY that weighed in at 123 pounds.  However, in July of this year, a bakery in Ontario, Canada prepared a cannolo that weighed in at 211 pounds and is currently under consideration by the Guinness organization.

For this attempt, to surpass both, the team (60 prep members and 20 assembly team)  will assemble a cannolo that weighs 300 pounds and will be 12 feet in length. 

In addition to the team for Feast of Little Italy in Jupiter, Florida, Galbani Cheese, headquartered in Buffalo, NY, will supply 500 pounds of ricotta cheese.  The Golden Cannoli Shells Company of Boston, MA  will supply 200 pounds of dough for the cannolo shell.  During the assembly, team members will be armed with over 100 bags of cannoli filling.   Prior to final assembly, the cannolo shell dough will be mixed and fried in and shipped from Boston.

A Guinness representative will be onsite to certify the record.


Last Updated on Friday, 24 October 2014 23:17
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Food & Wine Talk Radio

Achile Sassoli, Director of Gelato World Tour
and Gelato Artisans:
James Coleridge, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Abdelrahman Al Teneji, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Matthew Lee, Austin, Texas
Ahmed Abdullatif, Kingdom of Bahrain
Stefano Versace, Miami, Florida
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Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect, The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor

David Downie, author of A Passion for Paris, Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light

Elizabeth Minchilli, author of  Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City.  

James Beard Award-winning wine journalist Lyn Farmer on: Garnacha from Carinena; the next great wine

Cindy Hutson,chef/owner, Ortanique and Zest, author of From the Tip of My Tongue

Lidia Batianich, celebrity chef, TV host, author and restaurateur 



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