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Friday, January 17, 2020

LOCAL BLOG DEDICATED TO UPPING YOUR WINE SAVVY.




Here’s something new to do this new year: up your wine savvy.  The place to do this is online at San Diego Wine Guru, a San Diego-based super blog that is professional, informative and written in plain English for the pro or newbie wine buff.  It’s the brainchild of Tom Gable, a native Californian, who has been writing about wine for more than 40 years. He gained an early interest during his tenure as business editor of the San Diego Evening Tribune in the 1970s when he began covering the evolution of the California wine industry as new investments poured in and wine quality improved.

Soon, his weekly wine column was syndicated through Copley News Service to more than 400 newspapers. He also contributed frequently to travel, wine (Wine Spectator) and inflight publications (United, Delta) before moving into a full-time career in public relations (www.nstpr.com). He continues to cover wine as contributing wine writer for San Diego Magazine and writes about wine, food and travel for magazines, newspapers and various blogs.

Tom has judged at major wine competitions in the U.S. and traveled extensively in the winemaking areas of the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Africa, South America, Mexico and New Zealand. He is a member of the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Society of Wine Educators and other wine organizations.

Recently, Tom attended the annual SommCon conference in San Diego, which provided sommelier-level education and training of wine professionals and serious enthusiasts.  There were 50 sessions led by experts.  A key theme: the pursuit of creating and enjoying wines that have a sense of place, with personalities and distinctive characteristics, versus high-alcohol, one-dimensional fruit bombs that could be from anywhere.

Here are two recent San Diego Wine Guru posts offering wine insights from the SommCom experience:







Thursday, January 16, 2020

THE FOODIST / SEATTLE’S COZY, HARD TO FIND, FRENCH BISTRO




"The Pigalle?  Yes, it's over there.  Go stand under the M in Market sign and to the left of the barber pole are the stairs.  Go there."
Place Pigalle is an intimate French restaurant located in the eye of a commercial hurricane called Pike Place Market, one of Seattle’s busiest tourist hubs.       

Finding Place Pigalle amid Pike Place’s honeycomb of produce nooks and retail crannies is no easy task given the huge marketplace is spread over several levels.
        
But given the friendly nature of Seattle residents and its Pike Place shopkeepers directions to the restaurant come easy.
        
“It’s over there behind the fish monger and down a narrow flight of stairs.  You can’t miss it,” said flower vendor.
        
“Wanna bet?” was our initial reaction.
        
But, we did locate the side-of-the-hill-eatery and luckily for us we were seated at a window table offering a magnificent view of Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, commuter ferries and the Olympic mountain range in the distance.

Here’s what we found on the restaurant’s webpage:
Place Pigalle specializes in seasonal menus combining local ingredients with a variety of French themed culinary traditions. The resulting dishes give locals and visitors a tasty alternative from the countless seafood, Italian and Asian cuisines found in the neighborhood.

Located in the heart of Pike Place Market on top of what was once the Cliff House Hotel (built c. 1901), Place Pigalle has a storied past that begins as Seattle’s population was exploding in the wake of the Klondike Gold Rush. Back then it was called the Lotus Inn, a popular speakeasy during Prohibition and a tavern thereafter.


After Pearl Harbor was attacked and when the sad internment of Japanese-Americans emptied 80% of the stalls at the Market, the Outlook Hotel also became available and the locally infamous Nellie Curtis purchased it. She remodeled it extensively and renamed it the LaSalle Hotel. Under the red glow of the Market’s neon sign, Nellie made it her flagship and the biggest brothel in town. Conveniently located next door to the lobby of the hotel, the Lotus Inn stayed busy during WWII.

After the end of the war and the Great Earthquake of 1949, Nellie sold the LaSalle in 1951 to new owners who made it a legitimate hotel once again. The Lotus Inn was purchased by Dorothy Horne, who renamed it Place Pigalle Tavern. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Seattle grew and people left downtown for the surrounding suburbs.

Mussels Pigalle
The small tavern in the corner of the Market languished as the fate of the Market was threatened by proposed projects like Pike Plaza, which would include apartments, a hotel, office space and a hockey arena. 1971 was an important year for Place Pigalle: the Market is saved and Gary Ward purchases Place Pigalle. Although Ward made PP a popular venue on the Seattle blues/jazz scene throughout the 70s, when the Market Renovation closes PP in 1977, he does an extensive remodel and reopens as a restaurant, offering real food using ingredients from the Market.
The view from the corner table
In 1982, Gary Ward sold Place Pigalle to bartender Bill Frank. Frank gave the little room with the sweeping views an even more dramatic makeover, remodeling the tiny kitchen with commercial-grade equipment and bringing in white linens and flowers. Most importantly though, he upgraded the menu, offering unique seasonal creations using the freshest ingredients he could find at the Market. For twenty-five years his vision helped to shape Northwest cuisine and elevated Place Pigalle to fine-dining status. He attracted a loyal following for his food, wine, service, and ambiance.

In 2007 Bill Frank retired, leaving his beloved restaurant in the very able care of Lluvia Walker. Today, Lluvia continues to honor Bill Frank’s vision while also being true to her own, keeping classics like Mussels Pigalle and Calamari Dijonaise on the menu alongside rotating seasonal selections made from the freshest seafood, meat and produce available. With her commitment to excellence and attention to detail, she ensures that Place Pigalle continues earning national and international acclaim for years to come.

This visit, we enjoyed lunch on a sunny indian summer day in November.  Here’s the lunch menu for that day: Click here.