On wine [and other] tourism, drama, shedding weight, and dreams to come

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009 is finally over.  I don't know about you, but there were a lot of hurdles that presented themselves; some of which were overcome, and some of which got moved to this year.  However, it was the last two weeks of the year that were the most interesting of all, and so far, the first three days of this year that have also shed some new light and some new directions.

"Tourism," that concept of which I talked before in which people are merely consumers on the most shallow levels, just scratching the surface of what the experiences are.

The first instance of tourism was when I and an old friend got together to catch up over the holidays.  We had been like brother and sister for years, and then there was something that divided us.  However, like all good friends, we reconnected years later [actually through Facebook].  Anyway, we got together for lunch with her twelve year-old niece, and wind up stopping in the Philadelphia Reading Terminal for some food.  This would not have been my first choice, but her niece [also being from New Jersey] wanted an authentic Philadelphia cheesesteak.

As we perused through the shops to find a suitable place, I was amazed by all of the tourists that were in the place.  It doesn't seem to be a place where most Philadelphians would actually come for the food, but maybe something else in regards to the myriad other shops scattered throughout.  As we waited for their order to be ready, I was amazed at what people market as authentic Philly cheesesteaks versus what they really are.  Also, I was amazed by the prices of food there, which was highway robbery in most cases, or just right for tourists.  I actually was charged $2.75 plus tax for a twenty ounce soda at one sushi stand!  

The tourism concept actually came down two more times when another friend talked about the crappy steak sandwich that she either got down at Pat's or Jim's steaks down in South Philly.  She talked about how much of it was fat and not meat.  I remarked that real Philadelphians know where to find a good steak sandwich, and eschew those places that have a rep, but really have no product.

Shifting into more substantive restaurant conversations, Al (Chef Al Paris) stopped by yesterday and we chatted about future initiatives in our wine and food television endeavors and also about one conversation that I had with an associate on the state of certain demographics in Philadelphia and the lack of commensurate businesses at a certain level within certain environs (the reality is that there aren't any African American owned restaurants within Center City Philadelphia where one can get a decent glass of wine).  As this one person argued with me regarding one restaurant which fell outside of the boundaries I expressed, they also stated that the restaurant experience for them was about the food, and not the wine.  Well, I nearly laughed out of my seat, as there is both a reason for BYOBs as well as the fact that wine and food has been the de facto pairing for fine dining for well over one-hundred years.  

As it reinforced the concept that in this year I should spend less time talking to people on subjects of which they are grossly ignorant, it also showed the level at which some people will actually rationalize bad service, limited selections and a number of less than acceptable areas in order to justify their defense and patronage of certain places.  I call a spade a spade, and will not call a goose a duck.

Their statement of defense for said establishment was that maybe the proprietor should be commended for establishing a restaurant and maintaining it.  Now, if I give them the benefit of the doubt for having poor wine selection for the first year, then what is their excuse for every other year that they have been open?  Their next response was that when the go to entertain clients, they take them other places within the city.  But the reality is that there still aren't any African American owned restaurants where I can get a decent glass of wine.  

But let's move on.

This is a new year, and as I have realized that certain connections from last year won't get carried into this new year, I am actively anticipating the new opportunities and initiatives that I am working on.  For those that attended the last taping, we might do one similar event every three months.  However, we are also looking at shooting a number of smaller events, and as we have laid certain groundwork individually over the years, as well as together during the last year, we are eagerly looking forward to embarking on this endeavor which will branch out along many lines.

Each endeavor will truly be engaging, captivating, and in a nutshell, blow the mind of the participants and the viewers, and that's what we're all about.  Some will be focused on groups as small as two to up to ten, and if you've had Al's cooking before, you know what to expect.  On the wine side, I seek to expose folks to great wines that are making their ways into the Greater Philadelphia region, if not the country.  And in some cases, we might be doing our thing anywhere stretching from Virginia all of the way up to Vermont (hey, we're crazy like Crazy Eddy this year).

I am looking forward to this year, and hope that you all are too.  And I can't wait to share part of the experiences with some if not all of you.

P.S.  Yes, I will be dropped around 15lbs in the next three months and bringing the old 'beast' back!

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Our Mission: The Black Winer strives to expose African Americans [and others] to wines, without the flair, stuffiness, and airs of elitism and snobbery that you get from sommeliers and high level wine enthusiasts. We believe in finding something that you like the taste of, outside of the basic brands that you have been force-fed over the years through a combination of ethnically targeted advertising, and what people in your family have historically been drinking.

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