If ever there was a place for recharging ones batteries and reconnecting with earth, wine, and food, Napa is the place. Over the past weekend I had the chance to eat my way through the valley from Yountville up to St. Helena with a side trip down to Stag’s Leap. There’s something wonderful about being in Napa even when it’s off-season. The pristine old vines in symmetrical rows running mile after mile never cease to amaze and inspire me. It’s a model aesthetic and way of life that runs with the seasons, in calendar cycles; an existence marked in vintages that connect the earth, weather, and wine-makers skill. While there I had the chance to learn more about American Express’ parings project. Last fall they teamed Chef John Besh with Mondavi winemaker Genevieve Janssens and musician Dave Matthews for a wonderful evening of food, wine, and music. It’s nice to see a company investing in an aesthetic at a
time when economic conditions have forced many to cut these sorts of programs to the bone. After all, what would life be without food, wine and music? I commend American Express for choosing such luminaries as Besh, Janssens and Matthews (they also paired up John Legend and Tom Colicchio in New York, but that’s another story).
More than a decade ago I had the pleasure of cooking for and eating with Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds. Dave and Tim were in my city during one of their early acoustic tours and we prepared a large family style dinner for the whole crew. Prior to going on stage, we had a wonderful meal and spoke at length about the virtues of good food and wine. Dave and I had nearly half an hour alone discussing his background and most precious food memories. In between, Dave completed his vocal warm-ups in preparation for the show. Even back then
Dave was committed to eating well and to responsible agriculture. This was long before Dave launched Blenheim winery or became a national spokesperson for sustainable agriculture. His commitment to good food, wine and sustainability is decades old and truly authentic! It makes complete sense that he would join American Express, John Besh and an icon like Genevieve Janssens for the Pairings event in Napa. Makes me wish I was there.