Food for Thought

As a chef, wine educator, and blogger, I recently experienced a mini-crisis. As we all know, social media empowers, creating a free-for-all playing field: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and numerous other services compelling us to populate cyberspace with our views and opinions.

My mini-crisis hit me while fixing a weeknight meal using whatever ingredients the refrigerator offered—one of my favorite ways to cook.

While prepping, I felt I needed to record the meal and share it with the world because…. well just because. Then I started thinking about my participation in various food and wine Facebook groups. I started thinking about all the numerous posts going up, bang bang bang, rapid fire!

Many posts are simply links to other food blogs, but the majority of posts are meals currently cooking, just finished cooking, or being considered.

Our love of food and wine is generally a celebration, not a source of divisiveness like so much that’s out there.

As I mused, I had a little epiphany. People love to share their passions. They want others to share it with them. They want to impress, inspire, enlighten, and boast… much like I do.

Next I thought, Jeesh, what’s the point in posting? I’m just adding to the noise. There are groups for dog lovers, fashionistas, history buffs, political junkies, and everything in between, and they all do the same thing: create a voice for anyone interested in joining their conversation. A new reality. 

As I continued to muse, I reflected on the fact that eating and drinking connects us to just about everything we do. Apart from the ethical debates of differing diet choices like GF, vegan, raw, and bacon (said tongue in cheek), our love of food and wine is generally a celebration, not a source of divisiveness like so much that's out there.

Food and wine groups mostly inspire, remind us of forgotten dishes, tantalize us to dive into something new. They challenge us to keep our foodie dance-cards full. These groups are about feeling good, enriching senses, educating, and allowing others into our lives via our kitchens. So with this fresh perspective, and the calming of my mini-crisis, here’s the dish that started this current musing...


As with most of my creations, this dish is basic, it reflects my style in the kitchen: flavors harmonizing, playing off each other, coming together in unexpected ways. Hopefully my dishes inspire others to play more, and experiment more, just like so many others do for me. We can save all the negativity for any number of other groups we join, but when it comes to food and wine, there’s only the fun dance to look forward to, and this is why I love these groups.


This is an easy and quick dish. I simply collected what I had in the fridge and let it talk to me. It said... roast some brussels sprouts with citrus-infused olive oil and fig balsamic. I started with a sauté of garlic and minced onions in a little olive oil, then I added some chicken stock. This happened fast. I pulled it from the heat for the grand finish. The prosciutto in the fridge wanted to be included I minced it up and set it aside. There were also some fresh heirloom cherry tomatoes on the counter wondering when I was going to use them, so I sliced them in half and held them for the finish. 

Once the oven-roasted brussels sprouts came out (about 20 mins at 380°F), I set the pasta to cooking. Meanwhile, I reheated the broth with garlic, onions and the roasted sprouts. I added the minced prosciutto and halved cherry tomatoes. When the pasta was al dente, in in went with the sauce. I added a touch of salt and pepper. A scattering of grated Parmigiano Reggiano topped it off. 

Of course no meal in the Bartlett-Stanford home is complete without wine and this wine is a doozy!!! 

Eben Sadie 'T Voetpad

This white wine from South Africa is an astounding field blend from an ancient vineyard long forgotten until world-renowned enfant-terrible winemaker Eben Sadie discovered it languishing on an old Afrikaans tea farm. When he discovered it, and had the various grapes DNA tested, he discovered that one of the grapes was a Bordeaux varietal long considered lost: Semillon Gris. Interesting footnote: Once the French found it existed in South Africa, they asked for cuttings to reestablish it in France. Mr Sadie is currently negotiating some proprietary agreement before allowing it to be reintroduced in France. 

The wine is lush, rich, and layered with stone fruit and spice. Sadie is a hands-off winemaker... he ferments the fruit with wild yeasts, uses no additives, nor oak and creates wines so elegant that he's currently hailed one of the most gifted winemakers in the world.