I have my parents to thank for my longtime interest in food and drink. They introduced me to food and wine and cocktails at a very early age. No, they didn’t give me a Negroni with my baby food, but growing up in the Northern New Jersey suburbs in the 70’s was pretty special. My father worked in Rockefeller Center and we spent many weekends in New York City, where we went to museums and galleries and saw shows on Broadway and at the opera, ballet, and symphony. We went to many games at Yankee Stadium and witnessed the 1976-1980 era of one of the best teams in baseball history. We ate at the 21 Club, Windows on the World at the top of the World Trade Center, Tavern on the Green in Central Park, Maxwell’s Plum, Sardi’s, the Russian Tea Room, Carnegie Deli, and so many others.
Besides all of these wonderful fine dining restaurants, I have many great memories of New York street food. From the quintessential hot dog with onion gravy to dollar slices of perfect pizza to a paper bag of hot roasted chestnuts in winter, we were always eating something delicious as we traversed the city. Life was good for a young boy growing up in New York, but it got better during summer.
My father worked for a French aerospace company and had to take frequent business trips to France, including several summers when we had the good fortune of being able to join him as a family. We typically started in Paris for two weeks, where my father saw to his business obligations during the day while my mother, brother, and I took in the sights. Once finished with the business segment of the trip, we set out from Paris to travel through Provence, the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Normandy, Monaco, the Riviera, and other locales throughout the countryside. Other summers, we explored Austria, England, Scotland, Wales, Morocco, Germany, and Portugal.
There are pictures in our family album of me as a baby sitting along the banks of the Seine having a picnic, at 5 or 6 years old, tasting a beer out of a huge stein in Austria, and a few years later sitting in a private tasting room at Moet Chandon we visited at the invitation of a Paris restaurant owner my father had become friends with after numerous visits. It was a huge privilege to experience all of this from a young age. I know I owe my interest in wine and international food to my parents and am forever grateful to them for showing me so much of the world during my formative years.
On the home front, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom when I was young, serving as her sous chef and learning how to cook. We also enjoyed watching Graham Kerr’s Galloping Gourmet TV show that was popular back then. Our favorite part of the show was at the end when he selected an audience member to join him at his table to enjoy what he had cooked that episode.
My interest in food and wine developed further after the family moved to Los Angeles in the early 80’s during the era of the “fusion” and “nouvelle cuisine” and restaurants such as L’Orangerie, Ma Maison, and Wolfgang Puck’s Spago. I moved one more time with my family to Boston, where I finished high school and experienced the Italian food of the North End, New England seafood, and many other local and ethnic food opportunities in the various neighborhood of Greater Boston.
After graduating from college I moved to Seattle in 1990 and was introduced to an entirely new world of food, wine and craft beer. With Pike Place Market only blocks away from my apartment in Belltown, I learned about the various seasons of different types of food such as crab, salmon, halibut, cherries, stone fruit, Walla Walla sweet onions. The wines of the Northwest were really just starting to gain momentum and I soon found myself enjoying Oregon Pinot Noir, Washington State Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and many other incredible varietals. Due to having access to such incredible local ingredients, Seattle restaurants were doing “Locavore” and “Farm to Table” well before they were a precious marketing commodity. My Northwest experience allowed me the opportunity to come into my own palate in regards to food and wine.
I left Seattle to move to San Francisco in 2001, which ultimately led me here to this blog where I will write about my experiences drinking the wines of California, from the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek, North Coast, Central Coast, Sierra Foothills, Livermore and all points in between. I will continue to seek out unique wines from the rest of the country and all corners of the world. I will explore the world of mixology that is so alive and well in this region, a skill I am learning to master at home. There are so many trends going on in this area that it would be a shame to not attempt to investigate them all. I will endeavor to Bite ‘n’ Sip on many fine victuals, from artisanal to junky, street food to fine dining, and all other stops along the way.
My name is Joel S. Bachar and I love to eat and drink.