February update

I just wrote 38 bar reviews in 24 hours, it was crazy (and believe it or not, I’ve actually been to *most* of them) . . .

But what I really wanted to say is that I had some fiction published recently, which is great, because it’s nice to write about something besides food and drinking, check it out here! thanks for reading.

Also, I went to Amsterdam (!!!) to write a feature about Heineken.

And lastly, I updated the “about” section of this website, revealing never before told truths about myself! OK not so much but there is a bit more info there.

My feature on Heineken will be out in Tasting Panel magazine later this spring.

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Looking back on a good year in food and writing

Octopus tempura at Rebelot del Pont, Milan
Octopus tempura at Rebelot del Pont, Milan

So, there’s a lot of year-in-review going on. Maybe you’re getting sick of it all, but I think it’s really nice to see how people reflect on the past twelve months, and it’s also a way to let it all slip into the past with appreciation, as we gear up for the year to come.

Food Republic asked me to share a few of my favorite travel experiences from the year. Below are a few of those highlights. But also, I’ve been doing some personal writing, something I hope to make more of a focus in the next year. On Medium, I wrote about cleaning out my high school bedroom, and the memories I’ll hold onto as well as the things I let go.

Along with these travel highlights, I have to mention my week-long trip in Hungary, where I luxuriated at Budapest’s bath houses, ate way too much foie gras, and learned about how Communism impacted one of the world’s oldest wine appellations, Tokaj

From my Food Republic round-up:

Berlin
Berlin’s craft food and drink scene is exploding, and the best way to explore it is the weekly Thursday night artisanal food market called Markthalle Neun, which started up in 2013 in the central neighborhood of Kreuzberg. Read more

Communism In A Bottle

Communist Wine_Rachel SignerThere was a pivotal moment when I realized that wine was more than just a beverage. Being an agricultural product, wine represents a confluence of politics, history, language, and economics; it was this multidimensional nature of wine that pulled me in, along with its ability to knock you out with a particularly ethereal bottle.

On a recent trip to Hungary, I had a moving experience tasting a bottle of wine made during the Communist era. Hungary’s wine industry has moved on since the fall of that regime, but it’s still worthwhile, I think, to revisit the period of State production and consider its legacy.

Read my piece on MUNCHIES.

A Little Article About A Big Subject: Terroir

IMG_5383When Food Republic asked me to do a “terroir explainer,” my first response was, that’s insane. But then I just started writing, and I realized that instead of “explaining” what terroir is, I could do a better job talking about some of the interesting questions, debates, and mystical aspects that accompany the idea of terroir. Really, I think that terroir’s ultimate unknowability is actually the reason why wine is so interesting to people like me, who are insatiably curious and love the unique intersection of agriculture, politics, and history that we find in every outstanding bottle. Read my article at Food Republic here, and let me know what you think! 

Riesling And Riesling

Last month, I traveled to the Rheingau and Rhinehessen, and learned about the shift in Germany toward terroir-driven winemaking, particularly with dry Riesling, as well as the organic and biodynamic movement there.

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Back in New York, I’ve been spreading the Riesling gospel. But of course, I would have been remiss if I limited it only to what’s going on in the Old World. The Finger Lakes is producing wonderful Riesling, and I wanted to not only mention that region in general, but highlight the strides taken by innovative winemakers like Kris Matthewson, of Bellwether Wine Cellars, toward natural winemaking – which is not really a trend, in that area. For other natural Finger Lakes wines, look for Bloomer Creek and Eminence Road.

Check out my article on the new generation making German Riesling for Vine Pair here . . .

&

my more domestic-focused Riesling piece for Eater, here.

And . . . go drink some Riesling.

Homage To My Ancestors, And To Nerello Mascalese

old-vine Nerello Mascalese on Mount Etna
old-vine Nerello Mascalese on Mount Etna

A great source of pride for me is that I am one-quarter Italian (the rest vaguely “Transylvanian”), and at least part of my Italian heritage is from Sicily. That said, even without my personal bias, I could not give a stronger recommendation to begin trying the stunning wines produced on that island. In recent decades, Sicilian wine has experienced a real revolution in quality, and there are several really exciting producers making tasty juice that is affordable, versatile, and age-worthy. I personally cannot get enough of Nerello Mascalese. Maybe I have a thing for wine made on an active volcano. Maybe it’s in my blood. Read my story on Sicilian wine, for Food Republic, here.