Good 'n' Cheap

Every so often, Wine Spectator gives its less-pecunious subscribers a break and showcases the 100 best wines in the market under $15 a bottle. In this year's issue, dated May 15, the editors made it a little harder for themselves by avoiding wines made from the world's two most prestigious varietals, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. As in the past, Washington state wines made a brave showing, with five whites placing in the top 50 and four in the red category, including the top scorer of all, Columbia Crest's 2001 Grand Estates merlot ($11), which earned a mighty 90 quality points out of 100.

Wine Spectator's "Best Value Wines" for 2005

RedsColumbia Crest 2001 Columbia Valley Grand Estates merlot 90 points, $11)

Columbia Crest 2002 Columbia Valley shiraz (88, $8)

Covey Run 2001 Washington merlot (88, $9)

Sagelands 2002 Columbia Valley Four Corners merlot (87, $12)WhitesCovey Run 2003 Washington Dry Riesling (87, $7)

Snoqualmie 2003 Columbia Valley sauvignon blanc (86, $7)

Hogue 2003 Columbia Valley pinot grigio (85, $10)

Avery Lane Washington traminer (84, $7)

Covey Run 2002 Washington Semillon-chardonnay (84, $7)

They're down with downers

The news item from the National Meat Association's weekly mag Lean Trimmings says it all. "Bush Team Could Allow 'Downer Cattle' To Be Used" reads the headline. "Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns suggested that the ban on downer cattle may be eased after the USDA completes an enhanced surveillance program of U.S. cattle later this year. 'There is a compelling argument: If you've got an animal that's clearly under 30 months that broke a leg in transit, there is no threat of BSE whatsoever,' Johanns told reporters after addressing the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. About 195,000 cattle are downers out of more than 30 million slaughtered annually, according to industry estimates." Oh, and just one other thing: "The Food and Drug Administration is still considering whether to ban the use of cattle blood as a protein supplement for calves and the use of chicken litter as cattle feed."

The law of (kosher) Conservation

A character in Waiting for Godot comments that "the tears of the world are a constant quantity," and the same principle seems to apply to kosher restaurants in Seattle. Take Kafe Kinneret, the three-month-old Israeli grocery whose opening quickly followed the mid- December conversion of Roosevelt's Panini Grill, the kosher pizza place that became a nonkosher Italian eatery with an emphasis on seafood. Specializing in typical Israeli fare like falafel and hummus, Kinneret also serves soups, salads, and other types of sandwiches, plus pizza to order (with sufficient notice). One of roughly a dozen restaurants under the supervision of the Va'ad HaRabanim of Greater Seattle, the rabbi-run group that upholds the kosher standard locally, the cafe/grocery operates within both the literal and organizational confines of Mercer Island's Stroum Jewish Community Center (3801 E. Mercer Way; 206-275-2777), even making use of the JCC's kitchen. While Kinneret closes early (4:30 p.m.) on Fridays in observance of the Jewish Sabbath and is closed all day Saturday, it's generally open Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., though it's always good to call in advance to make sure.

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