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Wine expert Billy Weiss
May 9, 2007
By Jennifer Chandler

Wine expert Weiss is this year's good taste celebrity

By Jennifer Chandler
Special to The Commercial Appeal

May 9, 2007

Memphis is not known for its wines, but this year The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is honoring one of our own as the featured wine celebrity at The Art of Good Taste 2007 fund-raiser.

Memphian Billy Weiss owns the internationally known North Berkeley Imports, a full-service retailer and importer specializing in hand-selected bottles from boutique wineries in the historic wine regions of France and Italy.

"We are known for doing our own barrel selections," explains Weiss. "We go into a winery and taste straight from the barrels from which our wines are bottled."

With prices ranging from $8 to $200 bottles, many of North Berkeley's 400-plus wines are available locally at restaurants and fine wine stores.

The Art of Good Taste's events include The Patrons Dinner on Friday and The Grand Auction on Saturday. See A la Carte on page M4 for ticket information.

Viva Espana!

Hope you're hungry! Thanks to Memphis in May, there's plenty of opportunities coming up to enjoy a taste of Spain.

Grill 83 at The Madison Hotel, 83 Madison Ave., is hosting two events:

On Thursday, noted winemaker Maria Martinez-Sierra, one of a few female winemakers in the world, presents an exclusive tasting of the Spanish wines of Bodegas Montecillo. The tasting is $30 per person and begins at 6 p.m. Tapas prepared by visiting Spanish chef Maria Jose San Roman, owner of Restaurant Monstrell in Alicante, accompany the tasting. On Saturday at 7 p.m., Roman cooks a multi-course meal. $85 per person; for reservations for either event, call 333-1224.

Chef Cesar Ruiz Madrono joins Chez Philippe's chef Reinaldo Alfonso for two evenings of Spanish cuisine on Friday and Saturday. Chef Cesar is owner of Jose Luis restaurants, a cookbook author and host of Spanish TV's "Un Domingo Cualquiera." $65 per person, plus tax and gratuity, for five courses. A wine pairing is available for an additional $42 per person. Call 529-4188 for reservations.


The 49th annual Our Big Fat Greek Festival is Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 573 Highland Ave. Advance tickets are $12, includes admission and a meal with a Greek salad. For more information, visit memphisgreekfestival.com.

Mother's Day treats

There is no better way to spoil your mother on Mother's Day than by taking her out to eat. (You now have your advance warning -- Mother's Day is Sunday.)

Many area restaurants, including Lulu Grille, Jim's Place East, The Grove Grill, Cafe Society, Equestria and Frank Grisanti's are hosting Mother's Day brunches. Now the hard part is choosing where to go!

Also in honor of this special day, Memphis Botanic Garden is hosting its annual Mother's Day Jazz Brunch on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Japanese Garden of Tranquility. The price is $25 for members; $35 for non-members and $8 for kids 3-12. Call 576-4131 for reservations.

Openings and closings

Sadly, Washington Street Bistro in Collierville is closing Saturday. Owners Walt and Carrie Norwood are going to Oxford to open a new place on the square later this summer.

Pearl's Oyster House opened last week at 299 South Main, 522-9070. Chefs Kelly Miller and Steve Hornecker are dishing up a variety of seafood specialties at this new Downtown spot -- and they've got a patio.

Please share your fabulous food finds and restaurant news with me at jennifer@cookwithjennifer.com.

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