Crockery crowned with a blistered dome of cheese and bread arrives straight from the broiler. The best French onion soup is never ladled from a pot; it’s crafted into a layered experience. Excavating through the Gruyère, the first spoonful of still-too-hot onion slivers are unveiled. The steam’s herbal notes emerge, along with a hint of the wine that is sweetening the slurp-worthy bone broth.
Shepherd’s Way Farm, a farmstead sheep dairy and creamery, conjures images of the ancient pastoral seasonal rhythm that has guided our collective agrarian history. Flocks of animals are grazing, moving from pasture to pasture, gathering sustenance and producing milk that would nourish the community in coming seasons.
Cheese Connoisseur: You have written about wines and spirits from around the world. I live in upstate New York and am proud of our wines. What can you tell me about production in New York so that I can claim bragging rights and spread the word?
Ron Kapon: There are wineries in all 50 states. Yes, dear readers, Alaska and Hawaii do make wine. Clearly, California is the juggernaut with 89 percent of all U.S. wines coming from the Golden State. Eureka! On a global scale, the United States is the fourth-largest wine producing country after France, Italy and Spain. New York is the third state in the production of wine and fourth in total number of wineries with 320. The state of Washington is number two in the production of wine. As for wineries, California leads the count with 3,782, Washington boasts 681 and Oregon has 599.
To get to Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver’s Gastown neighborhood, one must venture down a cobblestoned backstreet nicknamed Blood Alley. Located in the oldest part of the city, the alleyway’s name may conjure up frightening images of nefarious pirates or gun-wielding gangsters from Gastown’s past, but the moniker’s real origin is not that scary at all. Neither is the short walk to Salt.
Appenzellerland, set between the Alps and Lake Constance in the northeast region of Switzerland, is a place where traditions are closely guarded and time is a relative term. In fact, as I walk through the car-free village of Appenzell, with its candy colored, chalet-style houses, quaint restaurants and whimsical displays of garden elves lining the sidewalks, it’s the anachronism of brightly clad tourists taking selfies on their iPhones that reminds me I’m actually in the 21st century.