We bid spring adieu on June 20 which can only signal one thing. Summer of Riesling is back!
From June 20 through September 21, hundreds of the finest dining establishments across the nation will participate in the fourth annual Summer of Riesling by serving patrons Riesling wines by the glass, as well as more by the bottle. Michael Schwartz’s The Genuine Hospitality Group (TGHG) is bringing the festivities to South Florida for the second consecutive year with an acidic splash — Riesling Pizzeria, a pop-up dinner and gallery on July 17 at his new Design District joint, Harry’s Pizzeria, featuring the energy and smarts of newly-minted James Beard Award-winner and Summer of Riesling overlord Paul Grieco, wines by TGHG wine director and Summer of Riesling Florida Chairman Eric Larkee, food by Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (MGFD) chef de cuisine Bradley Herron, and artwork in Polaroid pictures by conceptual artist Zack Balber.
“We’re really exciting to get our Riesling on again with Paul,” says Larkee. “Our menu at MGFD, especially during the summer, is Riesling’s dream come true. We had a lot of fun pouring the entire gamut from sweet to dry at MGFD last summer as we do throughout the year, and can’t wait to let Harry’s play, too.”
Summer of Riesling is back and bigger than ever thanks to Larkee’s efforts to convene Florida’s largest industry assembly to date through a statewide roadshow in May educating local sommeliers, wine distributors, and producers and encouraging restaurants to sign onto the program in advance. The requirements are simple: Pour three Rieslings by the glass for the whole 94 days of the summer, isolating two of those to Germany during the 31 days of July, and if possible some special activities for customers like Schwartz’s Riesling Pizzeria, featuring passed snacks and three courses by chef de cuisine Herron and dessert by executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith, all served family-style and each complemented by one New World, one Old World Riesling for a total of 10 wines for $129.
“We live for this stuff, and taking the party to Harry’s as part of its pop-up dinner series just makes good sense,” Schwartz explains. “I’m really excited to see what Brad does with the menu and what Rieslings Eric brings to the table with Paul. No matter what, with these two in charge, guests are going to get out of their comfort zone to experience Riesling in a whole new light.”
Complementing this enlightenment of a liquid nature at Riesling Pizzeria will be a pop-up gallery by Miami- based artist Zack Balber commissioned by Locust Projects, Miami’s premier not-for-profit art space in the Design District a few storefronts down from Harry’s. Here, Balber, whose recent work has dealt with highly acclaimed intimate portraits and earlier work was inspired street photography, offers an unexpected twist on Riesling — the consumption, harvest, ingredients, and enjoying Miami. Through unique perspectives, eccentric props, Polaroid images masquerading as digital prints, digital prints mocking Polaroids, and more than a few glasses of crushed grapes, the work transcends the wine experience into an edible visual experience using a 1957 Polaroid Land Camera. In combining traditional and modern wine customs and the printed Polaroid versus the digital image, Zack creates a visual platform for Summer of Riesling, its intersection with Miami, and a fully immersive experience for guests of Riesling Pizzeria.
Riesling Pizzeria can be booked exclusively online in advance through Brownpapertickets.com and offers two ticketed options as follows:
Sipping & Showing: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m./$40 (portion of proceeds go to Locust Projects) Guests meet at Harry’s Pizzeria to preview the pop-up gallery and enjoy flowing Rieslings of all kinds and passed snacks from chef de cuisine Bradley Herron. A Q&A with Zack Balber and Paul Grieco will follow at Locust Projects at 7:00 p.m.
Riesling Pizzeria Dinner: 7:30 -10:00 p.m./$129 Guests enjoy passed snacks, three courses by chef de cuisine Herron, and dessert by executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith, all served family-style and each complemented by one New World, one Old World Riesling for a total of 10 wines. Dinner guests can take home and schwag themselves in paraphernalia of all kinds including temporary tattoos, stickers, and the pièce de résistance — a signed, original Balber photograph from the pop-up gallery of their choosing.
Newly-minted James Beard Award Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional Paul Grieco, Wine Director of Hearth and Terroir Wine Bar in NYC, along with chef/partner Marco Canora, founded Summer of Riesling in 2008, a not-always-sweet and sometimes-dry-and-minerally crusade, rallying the restaurant industry to pour and therefore educate customers on one of the world’s most versatile and misunderstood grapes. In June 2011, Schwartz and Larkee first welcomed Paul and his Summer of Riesling co- conspirator, chef/owner of Hearth Marco Canora, to Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink for a pairings dinner that kicked off the crusade in Miami. Thirty guests experienced first-hand that the grape so often characterized as only sweet actually produces wines that vary in dryness, sweetness, minerality, and acidity, cementing Riesling as the perfect complement to an infinite variety of dishes. Last year’s original goal was to get the participation of 75 restaurants. The final tally: 222, or triple the goal. For 2012, the goal is 500.
Connect with the full array of national activities online at www.summerofriesling.com and locally at the following Twitter handles: @summerriesling, @ericlarkee (Florida Chairman), @spitpaul (Founder & Overlord Paul Grieco), @chefmschwartz, @harryspizzeria, @mgfd_mia, @locustprojects, and #rieslingpizzeria. For more information, visit http://www.thegenuinekitchen.com and http://www.harryspizzeria.com.