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Siduri Goes High Fashion

Plus, chef Madhur Jaffrey stars in the newest foodie film, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello cellar has been restored (and restocked), and a new type of solar power system in Sonoma

Posted: November 18, 2010

• Is Siduri the new Cristal? First we found Siduri and Novy winemaker Adam Lee co-hosting a wine tasting with Brand Nubian rap star Sadat X, and now his animal-friendly wines are getting attention from Def Jam records founder Russell Simmons. Simmons is a well-known vegan, as is his longtime assistant Simone Reyes, star of the reality show Running Russell Simmons. Simmons and Reyes, along with another famous vegan, musician and DJ Moby, were attending the OlsenHaus/Pratt Institute party for the Next Generation of Designers Vegan Design Challenge at New York’s Atelier Building. Along with the Siduri, which uses no egg whites or isinglass during the fining process, vegan-friendly wines from Frey and Fetzer were served as well. The party was held to announce the winner of the Vegan Design Challenge: a towering pair of black pumps designed by Pratt student William Cherwin. The shoes will be produced by OlsenHaus and available in spring 2011, with 10 percent of sales donated to Farm Sanctuary, which fights farm animal cruelty and runs two sanctuary farms in New York and California. New York vegan-friendly restaurants and purveyors catered the event, including Candle 79, Blossom restaurant, Lagusta’s Luscious, Dr. Cow’s (vegan) Cheese, Vegan Treats and the Regal Vegan. Now we finally know what to pair with Faux Gras and Tofurkey.

• Last Thursday at a theater in downtown Manhattan, food world luminaries including Lee Schrager gathered for a screening of Daily Show regular Aasif Mandvi's new lighthearted comedy Today's Special, which tells the story of a classically-trained chef returning to his Indian roots when his restaurateur father (Harish Patel) falls ill. Mandvi, an actor and comedian, cowrote the script based off of a one-man play he performed in New York 10 years ago. In a real coup, he scored renowned cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey for the role of his marriage-obssesed mother. Jaffrey, who got her start on the silver screen, stayed clear of the set kitchen during filming and had a few questions of her own during the brief Q&A after the screening about cinematic liberties taken with the food. (Was that bright green spice green tea powder or dried cilantro?) Jaffrey, however, had positive things to say about the nouveau Indian dishes at the after-party held in a private residence in SoHo, lavishing high praise on chefs Akhtar Nawab (La Esquina), Kevin Patricio (Choptank) and Michael Hebb (One Pot) for a saag paneer reimagined with ricotta dumplings. The evening was capped off by a special performance of music from the movie by Siddhartha Khosla, the singer songwriter behind indie band Goldspot.

Thomas Jefferson's passion for wine is no secret to most Unfiltered readers. The founding father eagerly traveled to Burgundy, Hermitage and Bordeaux to visit great producers, ordered wine for George Washington's presidential dinners and planted vines on his estate at Monticello (sadly, before anyone knew how to combat phylloxera). But for many years, his old cellar at Monticello has been bare, filled with a few empty old bottles. Not anymore, thanks to some of Burgundy's top names. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which manages the estate and is the leading source of Jefferson scholarship, recently restored the old brick cellar, and even repaired the dumbwaiter Jefferson used to bring bottles up to his dining room. To celebrate the restoration, Aubert de Villaine, co-owner and co-director of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the Marquis Guillaume d'Angerville of the famed Volnay domaine and Robert Willmers, American owner of Bordeaux's Château Haut-Bailly attended a ceremony on Nov. 6 in the restored cellar. De Villaine brought several bottles of DRC to place in the racks, joined by bottles sent by François Parent of Château des Guettes and by Domaine des Comtes Lafon. New York financiers Edward and Howard Milstein, who enjoy Burgundy so much they bought Remoissenet Père et Fils, also attended. Howard's donations helped restore the cellar. What would T.J. have thought of the hoopla? Well, he liked to drink his wines young, so he probably would have asked for a corkscrew.

• The Sonoma Wine Co., a full-service crush-to-bottle contract winery, based in Graton, Calif., processes over 5 million bottles of wine a year. And like most wineries, they’re looking for new ways to conserve both energy and cash. Earlier this month, the company got a big PR push from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was in the U.S. on tour promoting his recently published memoirs. As a committed advocate for environmental reform, Blair showed up for the unveiling of a new “cogeneration” solar/thermal installation at Sonoma Wine Co. The installation produces electricity and heats water, increasing the efficiency of a more typical solar panel installation by as much as 500 percent. The system was built by Mountain View-based Cogenra, a company backed by Khosla Ventures, a venture capitalist for whom Blair serves as an advisor on environmental issues. Natasha Granoff, director of business development for the Sonoma Wine Co., said that Blair spoke emphatically of the need for lawmakers everywhere, despite the depressed world economy, to maintain a strong focus on environmental issues. Granoff said that although Sonoma Wine Co. has been approached by numerous solar energy producers over the years, Cogenra made an offer they couldn’t refuse—a system that cost Sonoma Wine Co. nothing up front. Cogenra owns the solar power system and sells the energy back to Sonoma Wine Co. at a lower price than what they were paying Pacific Gas and Electric.

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