The Crush, August 2020

Vermouth making has become an annual tradition for my friend Sam and me. Once we had harvested the grapes that he and his team spent all year growing, it was my responsibility to turn them into wine, vermouth’s base ingredient. The first step in making wine is wresting the juice from the grapes. Last year,…

Grape Harvest, August 2020

The vines ripened in the final days of August this year, and when the grapes call, I must go. Sam, my friend who grows wine grapes, graciously let me harvest over 100 pounds of chardonnay on the evening before his last night of harvest. I drove to his family’s farm in the delta near Sacramento…

Willful Ignorance

Last week, I wrote about the clear plastic domes ensconcing diners at the upscale restaurant Hashiri in San Francisco. The restaurant’s manager Kenichiro Matsuura described the domes as protective: within the bubbles, diners were sheltered from the weather, from COVID-19 exposure (the Department of Public Health disagreed), and from “disturbances” in the public plaza, he…

Hygiene Theater at Hashiri

“That’s so smart! You are totally protected!”  So said someone walking past the three clear plastic geodesic domes in Mint Plaza, imagining what it would be like to sit inside. These domes were perched out front of Hashiri, a fine dining restaurant that for about 10 days in August 2020 ensconced their outdoor dining tables…

Z Line Vermouth: The Botanicals

Vermouth: Aromatized and Fortified Wine Vermouth can be aromatized with any botanical product, which makes for a vast and rich field of possible flavors. When I set out to collaborate on a vermouth with family friend and farmer Sam Merwin, I knew the botanicals would tell a story: a story of his family’s farm and…