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mystical metolius

The Drake Magazine, Winter ‘19

Whether or not there are 400 fish per mile along Oregon’s Metolius River isn’t really the point. Nor is access, which is so candy-sweet that you’re bound to stumble into the ethical waters of proper distance when leap-frogging a fellow angler. And there is surely no questioning the majesty of the place.

The point is that I’ve had days on the Met where I’ve caught more bats than trout, yet it remains a contender for my favorite watershed on the planet. A temple of beguiling blues, the Metolius flows nearly 30 miles from its spring-fed source—a geological sleight of hand just north of Black Butte—through the sleepy outpost of Camp Sherman en route to Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon’s high desert. 

Along the way it’s a slideshow of postcard images. The river’s many pronounced ledges and channels produce a broad range of depths, currents, and riffs on water color—from brooding midnight blue to coral so bright it seems plugged in. Standing watch are countless brick-red Ponderosa Pines, with their puzzle-piece-shaped bark and enough rings to prove they were here long before the fishing became tricky.

Since they stopped stocking the river in 1995, the conversations have changed. Talk of 30-fish days transitioned to neurotic recollections of what nearly cracked the code: A size 18 Rusty Spinner tied to a 12-foot leader, caught in a little whirlpool on an overcast Tuesday; a BWO fished wet just after a rain; a Little Yellow Sally trimmed to look like it’s injured, preferably on the first 80-degree day of the year.


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why american winemakers are embracing melon

SevenFifty Daily, May '19

Melon de Bourgogne has flown under the radar for years. Though it’s native to Burgundy, it struggled and failed to compete with Chardonnay in the region. Eventually adopted by winemakers along the western edge of the Loire Valley, Melon, even in their vineyards, is better known by the name of its signature wine—Muscadet. Though more and more Muscadet producers are striving to make quality wines that transcend retail bargain bins and oyster-pairing specials, a group of American vintners think that they might be the ones to bring Melon de Bourgogne into the spotlight.

The U.S. is home to a small but noteworthy Melon de Bourgogne movement. A number of winemakers in the Willamette Valley are creating Melon wines that are sophisticated and worthy of reflection. And there are others producing it up and down the West Coast, from Marrowstone Vineyards in Nordland, Washington to Lieu Dit in Santa Barbara, California. From new plantings to 50-year-old vines previously mistaken for other varieties, Melon de Bourgogne in the U.S. is being heralded for its neon-bright acidity and textured mouthfeel.

Michael Wheeler, the cofounder of PDX Wine, an importer and distributor based in Portland, Oregon, welcomes the prospect of more Melon de Bourgogne. He has championed Muscadet for decades, touting its value and aging potential, and he has worked closely with a handful of growers since 2011. “Twenty-five years ago you could count the great old-vine Muscadet growers on one hand,” says Wheeler. “Today you need your toes.”

 

 

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the bourdain effect

The Manual, June '19

Anthony Bourdain died just over a year ago and it still stings. The chef, author, personality, former addict, and philosopher of sorts left a gaping hole not only in the culinary world but in the world in general.

The guy preached truly exploratory travel. He wanted you to open your mouths and minds anytime you packed a bag or reached for your passport. He wanted you to question stereotypes, whether they involved authentic dishes or geographic destinations.

Bourdain’s highlight reel for Parts Unknown alone is a lengthy one. There was the time he visited Iran despite America’s troubled relationship with the country, only to be treated like royalty. Or the time he clanked beers with President Obama, sporting a noticeable twinkle in his eye. He went on any number of Heart of Darkness-like treks into some jungle backcountry to become a lovable local for a few blurry, stomach-filling days.

The great food minds convince you to not just step out of your comfort zone but blow the whole thing up. The late great Jonathan Gold (of LA Times fame) did this, persuading an entire generation of city dwellers not to overlook what’s being cooked in, well, the overlooked places. Strip malls, food carts, corner stores, and flea markets can house some of the most memorable flavors on the planet. Ratings and narrow-minded press be damned, Gold and Bourdain often thought, there’s real quality beyond what gets the buzz.