South Beach: Sumptuous Solar Vortex, spooning wine, cheating hours, Apron’s 11, Nerd Nation

South Beach: Sumptuous Solar Vortex

If you’ve had your fill of polar vortexes and tarry slush, point your GPS in the direction of Miami’s South Beach for the Food Network South Beach Food & Wine Festival, starting tomorrow.  This year’s line-up once again has more color than a Creuset catalog, its glistening gumbo featuring Rachael Ray, José Andrés, Josh Wesson, Masaharu Morimoto, Martha Stewart, Andrew Zimmern, Anthony Bourdain, among many others.

south beach

Decadence is on the menu at my two South Beach seminars.  The first, “Fried & True: A Fried Chicken Seminar,” I’m presenting with legendary festival founder and director Lee Brian Schrager and acclaimed food writer Adeena Sussman.  Its mouthwatering menu is based on recipes from Lee and Adeena’s new book, Fried and True: More than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides.

My other appearance is “Sparkling Sweets: An Ice Cream and Champagne Pairing Seminar” with ice cream maven and author Jeni Britton of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.  If the title doesn’t make you woozy with want, take a gander at Jeni’s tour de force menu for the South Beach fest:
Passion Fruit Sorbet/Lychee Sorbet
Apricot Sorbet/Chamomile Ice Cream
Whole Milk Yogurt/ Estate Vanilla Bean/Cloverton with Buttery Graham Gravel
Salty Caramel/Salty Goat’s Milk Chocolate/Hazelnut
Bitter Askinosie/ Chocolate and Dark Chocolate

Austin: No Longer a Crosswalk Criminal

With last year’s arrest warrant for jaywalking finally dismissed, I am now free to return to this year’s Austin FOOD & WINE Festival with unfettered mind, palate, and ankle.  Despite the warrant’s warning that “over 240 law enforcement agencies across Texas” were searching for me, the festival rocked harder than Belushi on “Jailhouse Rock”.

Kind reviews were issued by Bacchus and Beery, the Austin Eavesdropper, and Wes Marshall of the Austin Chronicle.

This year’s Austin festival promises to be equally engaging.  Learn more here.

The infamous warrant as well as commemorative t-shirts raffled off to attendees.

In Austin I’ll sign (almost) any body part.

Aspen: Gaucho Marks

Well before Carlos Danger lived down to our rock-bottom expectations of the modern politician, there was a similar sounding but better intentioned Latin-flavored figure: Gaucho Marks.  This was my persona at last year’s Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic, my eighth-straight year presenting at this snow-tipped Strativarious of culinary experience.   True to my new identity, I taught “Argentina’s Top Malbecs,” as well as “Superstar Wine Values”   The wines, listed below, were all carefully selected by my Aspen panel:

Argentina’s Top Malbecs
1. Finca Las Nubes Rosé of Malbec
2. Luiga Bosca Malbec
3. Achával-Ferrer Malbec Finca Bella Vista
4. Alta Vista Malbec Luján de Cuyo Serenade
5. Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino
6. Val de Flores

Superstar Wine Values
1. Pierre Sparr Brut Rosé Crémant d’Alsace Réserve
2. Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini
3. Alamos Torrontés Salta
4. Prunotto Barbera d’Asti Fiulot
5. Tormaresca Puglia Nèprica
6. Bodegas Volver Tarima Hill Monastrell Alicante

This June I return to the Aspen Classic with two brand-new seminars: “Wine for IPO Millionaires” and “Sonoma Pinot Noir”.  Learn more about this year’s Classic here.

In the meantime, watch genConnect interview Gaucho Marks:

Mark Oldman At The 31st Food & Wine Classic | genConnect

Watch the Video

Cheating Hours

“Apron’s 11”:  with Boulud, Colicchio, Dhalfors, Dufresne, Galloni, and Greico.
During last year’s Aspen festival, I had the chance to chat with Daniel Boulud, who clued me into a memorable french idiom.  It seems that he had just filmed a cameo for a film called “5 à 7,” a title derived from the French expression for the time of day that one would cheat on a spouse.  It is remarkable, I thought, that the French are so tolerant of infidelity that they have allotted hours for it, even if the expression is somewhat in jest.  Had French President François Hollande simply followed tradition, rather than cavorting at all hours on his scooter, he might not have found himself in such deep merde.

Brave Drinking with Auction Winners

A few months ago I hosted a group of six auction winners who had bid generously for a wine tasting at my place through a Charitybuzz auction benefiting Food & Wine’s Grow for Good campaign and the Wholesome Wave Foundation.  Determined to pull out all of the stops, I enlisted bottles from my personal collection that would maximize our chances of drinking bravely.  The line-up spanned the world (New York, California, France, Italy and Hungary), wine types (bubbly, white, red, and dessert), bottle sizes (half-bottle to two 3-liters), blue chips (Patz & Hall) to cult wine (Scholium Project and Le Pergole Torte), recent releases to the delightfully mature (a 2005 Beaujolais cru Morgan in magnum), and finally a bottle I had acquired from Bernie Madoff’s actual stash (through the 2011 Morrell & Co. auction that benefited the victims of this odious scoundrel).  Along with the wine, we nibbled various fine cheeses, salumi, and bread from nearby Eataly.

Nerd Nation

In October I was invited to teach wine to Stanford University’s senior class, a terrifically bright and generous group.  The senior class presidents presented me with a coveted “Nerd Nation” t-shirt, which I shall treasure.On the subject of Nerd Nation, I did a video this January from the 100th Rose Bowl to discuss the wine equivalent of that name:

Wine for a Nerd Nation – Episode 79 – Drink Bravely w/ Mark Oldman (Stanford & Jura at Rose Bowl)

Watch the Video


Word is getting out about Coravin, the device that allows one to taste wine without pulling the cork.  According to last week’s Wall Street Journal, the Peninsula New York Hotel is going as far as making its entire list available to taste through Coravin.  Here I demonstrate Coravin on the day of its launch:

How to Taste A Wine Without Pulling the Cork (Coravin) – Episode 75 – Drink Bravely with Mark Oldman

Watch the Video

Last Drops

Glass Christmas tree.

Romance on Valentine’s Day: have you spooned your wine?

Aspen Food & Wine Classic: The Fantasy Island of Gastronomy

Aspen Food & Wine Classic: The Fantasy Island of Gastronomy – The small plane swoops over a carpet of verdant hillocks, touches down, and deposits its passengers into a land of sun, magic, and enchantment.  A return to Fantasy Island?  Not unless Mr. Roarke is the debonair Jacques Pépin, the canopy-topped island wagon has been replaced by roving Lexus sedans, and Tattoo’s bell tower has morphed into white event tents.

This year’s Aspen Food & Wine Classic – the closest there is to a Fantasy Island of Gastronomy – lived up to this billing, offering a fantastical array of celebrity chef demonstrations, haute sips, and unexpected indulgences. Where else do you find the country’s newly-named Best New Chefs ladling up their signature treats (Stephanie Izard’s sublime goat stew among them), José Andrés merrily presiding over a spit-roasted pig at his party, or cowboy chef Tim Love serving up steak for a late-morning breakfast?

aspen food


This year marked my fifth Aspen and, appropriately enough, found me doing five appearances.  Two of them were as a contestant in the first-ever Iron Sommelier challenge, a light-hearted food-and-wine pairing competition dreamed up by wine czar and Best Cellars founder Joshua Wesson.  Josh asked us to dress as a superhero, so I packed a loaded ‘stache and reprised my alter-ego, “Mark Diggler,” whose first appearance was in this Drink Bravely video about Valentine’s Day wine.  Along with Josh, my fellow contestants, master sommelier Laura Pasquale of importer Palm Bay International and the Little Nell’s Vilma Mazaite, were formidable competition; Vilma emerged victorious, as detailed in this cover story in the Aspen Times.

Then it was on to teach my other seminars, “Beat the Heat: Wine with Spicy Food” and “How to Drink Wine Like a Pro,” both packed to the rafters with spirited grape nuts.  Always looking to give my audiences a special experience, I ended each seminar with a taste from bottles I won at the auction of Bernie Madoff’s wine collection, which Morrell & Co. had conducted in May, the proceeds going to Madoff’s victims.  Despite news reports that Madoff’s collection was third-rate and overpriced, I had discovered a few enticing and relatively affordable lots: 2005 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc and 1997 Antinori Guado al Tasso, both affixed with nifty seizure tags from the U.S Marshall’s Office.  And, anyway, when else do you get to drink the historical equivalent of Al Capone’s gun – and share it with 150 of your closest drinking buddies?  Knowing that every good experience needs a t-shirt, or some sort keepsake to flaunt, I had special cards made that certified that the card holder “actually tasted Bernie Madoff’s wine” and that they “now, unequivocally and forevermore, drink bravely.”

I also attempted the wine educator’s equivalent of walking a high-wire and sabered a bottle of Champagne at each seminar.  As demonstrated in this video, the art of saberage shouldn’t be attempted at home, or perhaps anywhere, if one is interested in preserving life and limb.  Thankfully, the bottles sheared open as intended, a few unsuccessful attempts notwithstanding, and one of the Classic’s ace volunteers, Grafton Smith, happened be a pro photographer and was there to capture the knifework you see at the top.

For me there’s no better feeling than leaving audiences educated, entertained, and – if the stars align — exhilarated.  I’m grateful for the generous media reviews in the Aspen Business Journal, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, in Kelly Hayes’ column in the Aspen Times, NBC’s The Feast, and the Denver Westward.

The following is a run-down of the wines I presented at Aspen Food & Wine, all chosen for their ability to achieve the kind of fulfillment for which even Mr. Roarke would noddingly approve:


2010 Flora Springs “Soliloquy” Sauvignon Blanc
2008 BenMarco “Espresivio” Malbec Blend


NV Bollinger Champagne Brut Speciale
2010 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes
2010 Hogue Cellars Columbia Valley Riesling
2009 J. Hofstatter Gewürztraminer Kolbenhof
2009 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir Cheviot Hills
2007 Terra Andina Carmenère Central Valley
Bonus: 2005 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc (from Bernie Madoff’s collection)


NV Brut Rosé Nature Champagne Zero
2009 Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko
2010 Scholium Project Rhododactylos
2008 Faiveley Mercurey “Clos des Myglands”
1995 Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino (in magnum)
NV The Chook Sparkling Shiraz
Bonus: 1997 Antinori’s Guado al Tasso (from Bernie Madoff’s collection)

aspen food & wine
Mustachioed at Aspen Food & Wine Classic