I spent close to twenty years doing daily journalism at NPR News where I worked on the programs Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, Weekend Edition Saturday, and the flagship evening broadcast All Things Considered, which I produced for many years. The writing tasks would be varied: In addition to long-form reporting, there were headlines, promos, breaking news, and small quirky feature items to fill time. (Those were the most fun.)

 

I come from a tradition that believes that radio is (neurologically speaking, at least) a visual medium and writing about art has been a concrete way to drive that point home. I have written audio tours for a number of the country’s finest museums and historic sites, including the Field Museum, Monticello, the Heard, the Detroit Institute of Art, the Guggenheim, the Getty, and the Clinton Presidential Library.

 

And I’ve recently begun to do some food writing.

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Check out recent items in Feast, including profiles of Brewer Cory King, Chef Simone Faure, and Chef Kevin Nashan.

Great story. Punch in the gut at the end — very moving.

 

Jeffrey Rogers

Beautifully written. And photographed.

 

Teresa Phelan

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photos: Gregg Goldman

If you can cross the delicate vines of Europe with one of the many hardy native vines that can withstand Midwest weather, you might just be on to something.

For scientists interested in creating Midwest-hardy varieties, the task is to find wild grapes that like it in our region.

 

 

 

Bill Shoemaker can find them growing in the alley behind his house in DeKalb, Illinois. It’s a weed, he says, growing everywhere in the state, as well as most other states in the Midwest. He’s talking about Vitis riparia, literally “riverbank grape.”

According to Shoemaker: “Wild grapes can have weird, vegetative flavors. Some are bitter. They are almost always sour until fully ripened. But some wild grapes have flavors that aren’t all that offensive. I’ve had a couple of wines made from wild riparia that were made by good winemakers.”

On the day we met, he found wild riparia climbing a volunteer tree next to a dumpster. (You can probably find it growing near you, too.) It’s a woody vine with those telltale curly tendrils that support it as it climbs trees, heads to the canopy where it leafs out, steals a little sunshine and produces small fruit the birds seem to adore. Riparia is ubiquitous in our region, thanks to red-winged blackbirds and the like that find the wild grapes at the tops of the trees, eat a few or a lot, then later disperse the seeds on terrain and windshields.

Shoemaker, a fruit and vegetable horticulturist, is retired from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he spent his career studying vegetables and fruit, with an eventual emphasis on grapes. He founded the St. Charles Horticultural Research Center, 100 acres in the far-western suburbs of Chicago, in that zone where subdivision meets silo at the intersection of two American eras.

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Portrait of Paul Hahn by Gregg Goldman

Nice to read some well written and informative StL beer news.

 

@AmuseDouche11

Whimsy and a chemistry lesson rolled into one.

Barbara Prosser

Just read this, I think I understand Pulling Nails now.

 

Tom Leb

Another reason to visit STL.

 

Zamir Gotta

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photos: Jonathan Gayman

There’s something wistful about Cory King. It’s as if he’s longing to return to a very specific place in history and settle in.

The room is dark and shadowy. Light leaks around the barrels that are stacked on their sides from floor to ceiling. The air between the barrels is perfumed – like an empty cathedral an hour after service has ended. But here the ritual was about wine and whiskey, and malt, and funk, and a sweet grapy heaviness that hangs around your nose to remind you that something magical is happening inside the oak.
King has the kind of mind that allows you to ask him about the geometry of oak barrels and the convective movement of fluids inside them. He has the kind of mind that doesn’t blink when you ask if he imagines the life cycles of the microorganisms that are doing the heavy lifting for his brewery. He has the kind of mind that gets a kick out of traveling to his grandparents’ farm in Puxico, Missouri, to catch wild yeast.
(Aren’t you glad he’s not a pharmacist?)
Side Project’s beers are often sour: cloudy, bright and crisp. And they are alive – the yeasts and the bacteria responsible for fermentation and aging are present in the barrel and in the glass.

Animation by Paul J. Fister and Seán Collins.

Great article! Love the Wallace Stevens riffs.

Chris Cook

Your writing is amazing. I wish [you could] bottle your talent so I could take a sip.

Candis Stiebel

That article has heart, depth, and creativity rarely seen. Thank you.

Patrick Devine

simone-faure

13 Ways of Looking at a Pastry Chef

1. Among the stormy streets,
the only moving thing
was the eye of the pastry chef.
There is a storm coming. The streets of St. Louis are glistening under the streetlights, and the National Weather Service says there is more weather coming before dawn. But here in the middle of the night, in a converted garage on McCree Avenue in the city’s Botanical Heights neighborhood, the concern is the humidity.
Chef Simone Faure is making macarons, and she instinctively adds cream of tartar to the batter to counter the moisture in the air. If she has any hope of getting the jewel-toned almond cakes into the oven before her colleagues arrive for work, she needs to get the macarons to dry out before they’re baked.
“That’s how I usually start my day. If not, it’s a constant struggle to get to the ovens.”
So under the glare of overhead fluorescents, a box fan blows onto racks of perfect discs that will become the quintessentially French pastry. It’s not yet 4 o’clock in the morning.
Really fun to read.

Brandon Chuang

Loved it.

Chris Reimer

I had a hard time putting it down. Made me miss the Northeast Coast.

Candis Stiebel

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photos: Jonathan Gayman
Kevin Nashan stands in the pass at Peacemaker, expediting orders to a packed house. He never raises his voice. He touches each dish. The team of chefs around him hums like a machine.
Nelson, a young man with a red beard and eyebrows, pulls oysters from their perch on a large bed of ice. One by one, he wraps them in a bar towel in his left hand and pries them open with a stubby shucking knife held in his right.
It takes some muscle. He leans into it, and with a twist of the grey steel, the oysters are transformed from things resembling nothing so much as a pile of rocks to pearlescent little platforms for the perfect, briny bite.
Malpeque. New Brunswick. Wellfleet.
These are cold water haunts where the sea and sunburns have coexisted for centuries and provided people of all classes and circumstances the opportunity to realize the words of e. e. cummings:
  For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
  it’s always ourselves we find in the sea
Then something magical happens in Kevin Nashan’s restaurant: The first oyster on the tongue at Peacemaker – landlocked, as it is, on Sidney Street – immediately transports you, body and soul, to the sea and the salt and the spray.
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Working with Acoustiguide and Brad Klein, I produced the audio tour of the Clinton Presidential Library narrated by the former president. I also drank a Diet Coke on his couch and watched an NCAA basketball game.

 

Here’s an excerpt from the tour: Mr. Clinton talks about his relationship with South African President Nelson Mandela and the lessons he learned from him about the nature of hate and freedom.

 

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In 2011, more than sixty cultural institutions in Southern California undertook the ambitious task of documenting the art of post-war Los Angeles. Pacific Standard Time was breathtaking in its scope.

 

I worked on the audio tours for the exhibitions at the Getty Center. Here’s an excerpt — a discussion of David Hockney’s painting of a young man taking a shower.

 

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Duffy’s Cut — An essay for NPR’s Latino USA on the discovery of a mass grave containing the bodies of Irish immigrants.

Ella Fitzgerald Obit — An essay remembering the great American singer broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered.

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Christopher Roos— From the final act in This American Life #112 —Ladies & Germs: Germs, and how they make us leave the world of rational thinking. I tell the story of the final weeks in the life of Christopher Roos.

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This Nice Gentleman’s Care: A Patient’s Dialogue With His Medical Record is a short journal article I wrote for the Western Journal of Medicine. I was trying to impress upon clinicians that the “family history” they write about in our medical records represents real people to their patients.