WINE BRATS: Do you drink wine with your pizza? With your omelettes? Your Cheetos and Twinkies? The Wine Brats--a national group devoted to demystifying, descarifying, and otherwise democratizing the wine experience--wish you would. They've published a book, The Wine Brats' Guide to Living, With Wine, in which they cover all the wine basics and undertake amusing digressions on such topics as what to drink with Jack in the Box hamburgers (yes, they're West Coast-oriented--the organization was founded by three sons of prominent Napa wine families); which varietal goes best with Pepperidge FarmSausalito cookies (zinfandel); and what to drink with delivery pizza. The local chapter--Twin Cities Wine Brats--has met only sporadically over the past few years, but a change in leadership has brought new energy: Chapter head Jamie Miller says a recent event at St. Paul's Zander Café went swimmingly. "We had 50 people or so--we thought it was really good since it was basically the first one in a really long time. We're calling it the rebirth of the Wine Brats. The marketing goal of the group is to attract the Gen X crowd, but it's more of a young-at-heart kind of group. We're looking for anyone who doesn't have a wine-snob 'I know everything' attitude."
The Brats would have liked to invite you to an event at the Local tomorrow; unfortunately it sold out by press time--Wine Bastards! But there is another promising local gathering in the offing: The "All-Spice Fusion Tour 2000" is scheduled for Tuesday, June 13, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Warehouse District Caribbean favorite Chez Bananas. National sponsors Korbel Champagne Cellars, Heck Estates, and others will provide wine, Chez Bananas will offer appetizers, and you'll learn how to match wines with boldly flavored foods--all for $17.95. Register online (www.acteva.com/go/tcwinebrats) or, if you can't make this event but would
like to attend others, e-mail Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further general info can be found at www.winebrats.org, but don't try to sign up for the local chapter at that site--Miller notes that there have been communication troubles between the national site and the local mailing list. (Very Gen X: Where are the Data Management Brats?) So dust off your cocktail-party chit-chat--the time's never been riper to change yourself from oenophobe to oenophile.
VEGAN JELL-O: Cruising through the aisles of Fishman's Kosher Market & Deli the other day--the very best pickle store in town, thank you very much--I was reminded how many kosher products are also vegan. Why? Kosher rules prohibit eating foods containing dairy at the same time as foods containing meat, so a special effort is made to create foods with neither dairy nor meat that may be eaten with either dairy or meat--and as we all know, foods with neither dairy nor meat are frequently vegan! I was particularly impressed with the selection of vegan gelatins and puddings. If you're a vegan with a hankering for deluxe Jell-O molds, beat a path to Fishman's door--4000 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka, (612) 926-5611--posthaste. And if you want to amaze a vegan with a deluxe Jell-O recipe, I suggest you seek ideas at the brilliant Chef Andy's Jell-O Pages
(cascade.mit.edu/cookbook/jello/)--where all of us carnivores are also reminded of what's in those jewel-toned desserts made with genuine Jell-O: Hides, bones, and inedible connecting tissue! Expect to pay from 59 cents to $1.25 for your box of vegan Jell-O, depending on the brand.