Wine, Food & Nutrition

A Shift from Local to Locale

1As we celebrated Independence Day last Saturday with hot dogs and fireworks, Unesco, the cultural arm of the United Nations, announced for the first time that agricultural regions and production would receive World Heritage status. The vineyards and production of Champagne and Burgundy were recognized for their “very specialized artisan activity” that has come to distinguish the two regions.

As consumers demonstrate an increasing awareness of where their food comes from and how it is produced, a return to traditional techniques and craft production has followed. Thanks to people like Anthony Bourdain, we are much more interested in the stories behind our food; the chef, the restaurant, the place. It is this sense of place that sometimes is lost in our desire to celebrate local. Certainly there are foods that benefit from local production and sourcing, however, there is also the matter of “locale” or terroir that goes into some of our most celebrated foods.

2Europe has been at the forefront of protecting some of their most prized and historic foods through their PDO/PGI systems for wine and food. Geographical indicators help to protect these time-honored…

The Booze Bin

What Are We Drinking? Another Peek into the PadillaCRT Booze Cabinet

FullSizeRenderOne of our biggest drinking holidays, the 4th of July, has come and gone, but here at PadillaCRT we like to maintain our rotation of booze, whether it’s brews, bourbon, or fantastic bottles of wine.

These days, with summer in full swing and the humidity to show for it, I stick to refreshing, light beverages that pair perfectly with sunny days and warm nights. Besides the usual dry rosés or Sauvignon Blancs, I keep it interesting with a variety of beers from different breweries around the country. At a recent happy hour, I tried The Plunge from Coney Island Brewing Company and was instantly smitten with its hazy golden color and lively taste. Other beers in my recent rotation have been Whale’s Tale Pale Ale and the Alphabet City Easy Blonde Ale (promiscuous name notwithstanding).

My colleagues at PadillaCRT have a wide breadth of knowledge when it comes to alcohol, so I asked around to see what their boozy rosters looked like in part two of “What Are We Drinking?” (Still thirsty after reading this post? Check out part one.)

Melissa Martinez, Account Executive

My usual favorite wine for summer is Long Island…

Digital Marketing

Hard Cider in Hudson Valley – An Empire State of Mind

I don’t know about other New Yorkers City dwellers but I often like to escape this urban jungle. An easy escape is New York’s Hudson Valley, where I was lucky enough to be raised for the better part of my childhood. The region consists of 10 counties and extends into an area of 150 miles. It begins just minutes after leaving the tip of Manhattan by car or train, over and alongside the river, named after Henry Hudson, who explored the famous Valley over 400 years ago. The area has a myriad of natural beauty, history and tradition, hence why it is designated as a National Heritage Area. Aside from quaint towns, breathtaking hiking trails and shopping malls, there’s also plenty for food lovers to cheer about, like renowned farm-to-table restaurants  and bakeries, The Culinary Institute of America, bountiful farms, wineries and distilleries. Fact: Hudson Valley is actually the oldest wine producing region in the United States, and  in addition to all this enticement and charm, it was also devotedly named as the nation’s “apple belt”. The Empire State is the second largest producer of apples in the USA, producing nearly 30 million bushels of this pomaceous fruit annually…

PR Industry Trends

Surf, Turf and BLURF: Three Creatures Responsible People Should Be … Eating??

Foodies, be advised: the entrées of tomorrow might have a few more legs and spines than you were expecting.

In a Buzz Bin post last summer, I included insects on a list of “formerly vilified” foods, noting how they were slowly starting to crawl their way toward acceptability – at least for early adopters – in Western food culture. Well, in the past 12 months, some of those critters have picked up the pace and are now downright hopping and flying onto ingredient lists of experimental products at natural food stores. In particular, crickets.bb1

Freeze-dried and ground into indistinguishable “flour,” crickets are adding protein to energy bars marketed by Exo, Chapul and Bitty Foods, among others. (When you Google “cricket flour,” currently more than 672,000 results pop up!) The thought is that the homogenized particles will hide well amongst other familiar, palatable ingredients and lend sustenance without adding any unusual flavor or texture, thereby increasing acceptance and adoption. For these very new kinds of snacks, however, there remains an age-old culinary challenge: are they actually yummy?

A recent NPR story observed that:

“Policymakers and the media have…

Branding

The Achilles Heel of U.S. Wine Marketing

I started my career in wine & spirits PR after leaving Europe to chase an American I fell for in my senior year of college. Luckily, both worked out fine – I love my job in the U.S., and I am happily married to the man I left Austria for.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t been back in three years, but as I am visiting home this week, I can’t help but notice an undeniable advantage that European wines have over wines from the U.S.:  they are made in a cultural context of “easy living” that seeps into every bottle and lies at the core of European wine marketing campaigns worldwide. That’s the Achilles heel of U.S. wines and their respective marketing. The American way of life doesn’t have the same appeal as Europeans’ philosophy of living, and living well.

Photo credit: Werner Schandor

Take France, Austria and Spain for example. Each a major wine-producing region, the concept of “easy living” is deeply ingrained in their culture to the point where each language has a special term for it. The French call is “laissez-faire,” which can be translated as “let it be.” In Austria,…

Branding

Sweet Surprise Dinner

aOne of the biggest challenges in public relations is to continue to capture and increase interest among our audiences – one of the hardest audiences being media. So how do you host a media dinner in the center of a major global media hub filled with influential writers who are constantly invited to multiple dinners a night?

With this challenge in mind, the NC Sweet Potato Team decided to add an element of surprise. On behalf of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission (NCSP), we partnered with Dinner Lab, a social dining experiment uniting undiscovered chefs with adventurous diners. Our team reached out to local media with a lone promise: enjoy a delicious, one-of-a-kind dining experience. What was our selling point? The air of mystery – mystery chef, mystery pop-up venue, mystery menu (with sweet potatoes of course).

Turns out, suspense wins! Held in a vacant factory penthouse lit up by skylight windows, the dinner was attended by more food editors and bloggers than we expected (fortunately no one had to sacrifice a seat).  Dinner Lab sold out tickets to consumers who exclaimed the dinner was “one of the best…

Branding

In Defense of Origin and Geographic Branding – It’s the Where that Counts

the-real-deal3This week in Geneva, Switzerland, over 75 nations are debating why the ‘where’ is as powerful as the ‘what’ in branding premium products, from Champagne to Prosciutto di Parma.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Diplomatic Conference is laboring to update the existing 1958 agreement protecting appellations of origin on a global level, hoping this updated language will encourage additional countries to join. Let’s say, the Unites States, for example.

Having formed a career around defending the value of origin in wine and food, I can sincerely appreciate the importance of courting the U.S. and other countries to help protect the geographic identity of products made with passion and integrity for hundreds of years in a specific location.

After all, would you pay a premium for a jug of “Hearty Burgundy,” a chunk of domestic parmesan cheese, or a generic balsamic vinegar? All of these products have capitalized on the name of real deal products by using their geographic brand to label and sell less expensive products. In many cases, they are displayed side by side at retail, leaving it up to consumers to make the distinction.

But wait, there’s more!

Wine, Food & Nutrition

What’s the deal with the Dietary Guidelines?

supermarket-confusionThe Dietary Guidelines for Americans are a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Guidelines are reviewed and revised every five years by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is comprised of scientists and experts in nutrition from all over the country.  A lot of the controversy surrounding the guidelines stems from these committee members allegedly basing their decisions not on scientific evidence, but on their financial ties to the food industry.

Based on my experience, consumers don’t think their daily eating is swayed by the dietary guidelines.  But they are extremely important because they influence food policy across several sectors that affect millions. This includes food assistance programs such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and WIC, and the massive National School Lunch Program.

While the new guidelines are not expected to be published until closer to the end of the year, the scientific summary was recently released and provides a glimpse of what we might see. Below is a very brief glimpse of the recommendations that were included in the summary:

The Booze Bin

Dear Blogger…#ILoveYou

pay-it-forwardIt was one of those weeks where you wake up staring at strange, fancy furniture and forget what city you’re in. Where you take the elevator downstairs and unconsciously sit at the same corner table each morning for good people watching and some sense of familiarity. One where you sleep just enough to maintain the ability to form full sentences, but not enough to completely shed that bleary, red-eyed look that will be forever captured in recap reports. And stay there for long enough to start calling this odd, yet cushy place “home” when you describe where you are headed in the evening.

Full disclosure, these weeks are decidedly harder when there are sweet munchkins waiting for you with hugs and cheers at your real home.

I spent the week with my incredible Wines from Rioja team organizing a series of events that make up Rioja Week in Chicago – from a ~2,000-person wine and tapas festival with endless opportunities to pair tasty wines with cured pork and beyond, to an intimate winemaker luncheon with the sweetest bodegas principals in the world, to endless media interviews in a speed dating…

Wine, Food & Nutrition

Vegetables Take Center Stage/Plate

corn“The next culinary macro-trend will be ‘veg-centric’ dining,” stated Chef Gerry Ludwig, while speaking at the annual Research Chefs Association’s annual conference. I participated in the concept Wednesday night at Root & Bone, a New York City restaurant revered for its fried chicken, but also serving up some delicious veg-centric dishes. On this particular night, we were focused on sweet corn (a client), which is just coming into peak season in the chef’s home state of Florida. I witnessed this trend taken to an entirely different level at Dirt Candy, where acclaimed chef Amanda Cohen is delivering amazingly flavorful and filling fare to vegetarian crowds, and that rising group of flexitarians embracing going meatless for a meal or day.

Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise in the U.S. with 1 million of the latter as part of an overall group that totals 8.3 million. This wasn’t exactly what Chef Ludwig was addressing, however. Certainly the number of people abstaining from any animal products has increased, but he was really talking about how vegetables are moving from an interchangeable role player to the protein to a starring role.

Meat isn’t…