When I first began writing about wine 30 years ago, there may have been five or six great restaurants in Washington, DC and virtually none in my hometown of Baltimore. Today, there are 30 or 40 top restaurants in DC, and even Baltimore now has at least a dozen top restaurants.
The September Food & Wine, which arrived in my mailbox yesterday, is one of the better issues I've received. It's the 30th anniversary issue, with a number of articles dedicated to summing up the past 30 years (it also includes the best "fast" recipes of the past 30 years, many of which I remember and most of which I'm sure I'll make someday).
Legendary wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. was tapped to write an article about the changes in the wine world over the past 30 years. As it happens, Parker founded Wine Advocate in 1978. It's an interesting and informative article, and made me so glad to have started drinking wine during what Parker calls a "golden age."
One of the elements that has influenced the dramatic improvement and growth of the wine industry is, according to Parker, the growth of the restaurant culture. His offhand reference to Baltimore comes under this heading. It caught my eye partly, of course, because I live here, too, and because I was just writing yesterday about the growth of food in this region.
But also, I noticed it because I don't remember ever reading in Parker's F&W writing such an explicit mention of his "hometown." Funnily enough, it came on the heels of a conversation Cooper and I had with Chuck, our neighbor who's also a landscaper and has just saved us (and by that, I mean "saved Cooper") from having to do a lot of yard beautifying. We were talking generally about property and Chuck mentioned a piece of land he'd seen while doing some work at Parker's house which is, apparently, amazing. Cooper's mom's been to the house, too, for a garden club lunch with Parker's wife (about five years ago).
Neither Chuck nor Patsy are super into wine, so I think maybe they weren't as starstruck as I was just by hearing about their visits. Really, I'm pretty sure I'm famous now, at least in the wine world. After all, two people I know have met Parker. Isn't that how it works?