THE WEEK BEFORE TURKEY DAY: If you observe a traditional Thanksgiving feast, either at your own home or a friend or family member's, what is the week before like for you? For many home cooks that week is about trips to the store, phone calls to confirm trips and times and who is showing with what, and a whole lot of experimentation with various cranberry casseroles. (Because the experienced home cook never, ever practices a new dish on the Wednesday before.) But a number of food lovers have made that run-up week not a harried affair full of calls and burnt dishes but a holiday of sorts, one that definitely focuses on cuisine and wine and the pleasures of the table. It's Flavor! Napa Valley, the foodiest to-do ahead of the foodiest week of the year. And tickets are now on sale for the Wednesday, Nov. 20 through Sunday, Nov. 24 gathering.
CHEFS, WINEMAKERS, MORE: The "Culinary & Wine Expert" page is crammed -- yep, we chose that word to convey the opposite of sparseness -- with photos of well-known chefs, wine judges, and people who speak on food (and make food, too). Mario Carbone of Parm in New York City and Karen MacNeil, author of "The Wine Bible," will be in the house. Downtown Napa, various area wineries, and, of course, the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, a nexus for the five-day to-do.
WE SAID OF COURSE... because Flavor! Napa Valley has become known as a robust fund-raiser for the school. "Net proceeds from the event support programs and scholarships" at the CIA, meaning that even as you eat and sip you're helping future cooks gain a toehold in a vigorous and demanding industry. Surely that's something that everyone can have some nice gratitude about heading into the week of giving thanks.
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PRICE: Events are priced separately and many do sell out well in advance. Want to get a jump on that? You can.