Highly mobile Dallas chef Avner Samuel has a new restaurant scheduled to open this week. Called Bistro A, his new venture in Snider Plaza will feature a broad range of Mediterranean fare. He says the menu will be unlike anything he has ever done in Dallas and is similar to the food he created years ago while rising up in the business in Israel. "It's food that goes back to the roots," he says. "We have Spanish and French and Italian and a little Middle Eastern and North African spices incorporated into the menu." Samuel's wife, Celeste, owns Bistro A, a small, rustic venue with crisp, modern touches.
Fish Executive Chef Chris Svalesen says he's collaborating with former Dallas Public Library official Erv Eatenson on a seafood cookbook. Trolling for a publishing deal with Bantam or Simon & Schuster, Svalesen says the book is a fish manual of sorts that should hit stores by midsummer. "I want something that people will be able to use every day...that will be covered with fish scales and seafood," says Svalesen. "This is not a coffee-table book."
Chilean wines have a tendency to be clean yet boring. Casa Lapostolle's creations, however, show a richness, depth, and drinkability virtually unparalleled in their price range. The 1997 Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc shows rich, ripe fruit with a subtle mineral layer and cleanly rounded acids. The 1996 Cuvee Alexandre Chardonnay is a crisp, silky wine with understated hints of nut and vanilla framing bright, elegant fruit flavors. But the 1996 Cuvee Alexandre Merlot is perhaps the most exciting drink of the batch, especially considering the plethora of horrendously priced wimpy wines crafted from this varietal of late. Showing an intense, minty essence coupled with deep, concentrated fruit, this wine has softness with soul that will add dimension to most meals.
March saw the passing of two California wine legends: David Ficklin, 80, of Ficklin Vineyards, and Jack Davies, 74, of Schramsberg Vineyards. A pioneer of port winemaking, Ficklin brought California ports to national and international attention and demonstrated that traditional Portuguese grape varieties--Tinta, Madeira, Touriga, Tinta Cao and Souzao--were ideally suited to California's Central Valley. Davies was the first to bring California sparkling wines to world-class status and was instrumental in transforming the Napa Valley into one of the world's most important wine-growing regions.