One of the greatest moments of my year took place in a banquet room at the St. Regis hotel in Aspen, empty except for 400 chairs, a few food stylists and production people...and chef Mario Batali. We were there making the first video for F&W's debut iPad issue, inspired by the magazine in your hands. As I watched Mario demo-ing his superb butcher's ragù, I felt like I was seeing the future of food journalism, observing a recipe from the printed page coming to life. This Italian-American wine issue is full of more recipes I can't wait to cook myself.
A few of those terrific dishes are from chef Michael Chiarello, who cohosted a Sonoma vineyard lunch with up-and-coming winemaker Jamey Whetstone. Jamey tempted guests with tastes of his recent releases and plates of Michael's spice-rubbed chicken and roasted artichokes. Artichokes are tricky to pair with wine, but Michael created an irresistible match. For a video in our iPad issue, he also demonstrated how to trim the ornery vegetable, eliminating any concerns I might have had about cooking artichokes as well as pairing them with wine.
For more wine advice, turn to Ray Isle's "100 Bottles to Drink Right Now," which makes a compelling case for opening a bottle or two every night for the foreseeable future. My favorite is No. 34: the 2006 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre, a wonderful, affordable Italian red with a label that literally talks to you.