Over his 30-year career, actor Kyle MacLachlan has played many prominent roles, both on film (Dune, Blue Velvet) and television (Sex And The City, Desperate Housewives). But, perhaps no role is more memorable than his quirky FBI agent, Dale Cooper, on the 1990s cult TV series Twin Peaks — a character with a particular affinity for food and drink, especially cherry pie and a “damn fine cup of coffee.” In his real life, MacLachlan is passionate about wine. He even has his own label, Pursued by Bear Cabernet. So, naturally, when the producers of The Getaway came calling, the oenophile actor promptly punched his ticket for wine country. On this week’s episode, airing Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 9 p.m. EST, on Esquire Network, MacLachlan takes us to Napa Valley, where he finds plenty to sip on and even a few non-alcoholic things to do, too.
In this episode, you stop at Gott’s Roadside Burgers. And, when you place your order, you give them the name, “Dale Cooper.” Do you always use that name at restaurants?
MACLACHLAN: No. [Laughs.] That was a little bit of tomfoolery.
There are several Twin Peaks references 0n this show. What’s it like being so closely associated with a food-and-drink-obsessed character like that. Can you even order a cup of coffee without that famous line [“damn good coffee and hot!”] coming to mind?
It’s funny. People really remember that. They have a great fondness for the way that character approached, as you said, food and drink, particularly coffee. It’s a fun thing to see if people catch it or not. To be honest, I think the show was such a long time ago, it’s sort of less and less in the world a little bit, but it still has resonance for some people. [Editor’s note: A few days after this interview, Showtime announced plans to resurrect the long-dormant TV drama for an all-new third season in 2016, and MacLachlan hinted at reprising his old role on his Twitter feed.]
You also played the mayor on Portlandia. That show has some interesting things to say about food culture, as well.
Yeah, that city is really alive with that, I agree.
What is it about today’s food culture that makes it such great material?
I just think the quality and the level of food and the chefs that are coming out now makes for a really exciting time. I mean, New York City, I would wager, is the mecca now of food from around the world. You can get everything here and it’s extraordinarily good.
When you travel, how important is food and drink?
It’s becoming more important the past of the couple of years because I’m now making a wine with my partner, Eric Dunham of Dunham Cellars, up in Walla Walla. So, when I travel to a new city, or even a city I’ve been to many times, I’ll do a little research and suss out the restaurant scene. Whether I’m visiting or working or whatever I’m doing, I always bring some wine out with me and see if I can expand the brand.
Any interesting places on the sales agenda?
There’s a new restaurant that Bobby Flay has done in New York named Gato. It’s sort of Spanish Mediterranean, so it relies heavily on, obviously, Spanish stuff. But, he has a couple of Washington labels on there. We’re going to have dinner this Saturday night, actually. I don’t think I’ll take a bottle in, but I’ll try to meet the general manager, or the somm, and just set up an appointment for another time. So, yeah, definitely, it’s always on my mind. It’s nice to go into a restaurant, try the food, look at the wine list, and then sort of go, “Yeah, I think my wine would work here.” Or, sometimes, it’s not quite the right fit. The quality of what I make stands up, so I feel confident going in. It’s definitely something worth tasting.
So, what was it like to film The Getaway?
I didn’t know what to expect going in. You know, we covered a lot of territory. It was much, much, much larger in scope than I anticipated. I thought we were going to, you know, hit a couple of wineries, maybe do a restaurant or two. But, they really had me working. There were some unusual things that I didn’t know about. The Audi race experience was really fun and something that I didn’t even know existed. So, that was pretty cool, as was the zipline experience. That’s something I would probably not have done on my own. I tend to stay sort of fairly focused on wine when I’m there. But, both things were really worthwhile and really fun to do.
Yeah, the zipline, wow! How high up were you?
We were pretty high in some places. Fortunately, I’m OK with heights. If you are not, it would be a challenge, because the platforms you’re on, I mean, they’re solid but they’re not very substantial. But, it was really fun. There’s a sensation that’s thrilling, but there’s also just the visual of passing through these trees.
I bet it smells great up there, too.
Tell me why Napa Valley is a good getaway for you.
A couple of reasons: one, of course, it’s a beautiful part of the world. I know it a bit, so there’s a comfort factor. But, it’s the wine-making process, that’s where it’s really interesting to me. I have friends whom I’ve obviously called on for the show: Ann Colgin and Doug Shafer and Carissa Mondavi. I just like going in and seeing what they do. And watching their process and asking a couple of questions without being too prying, how they make wine, what their philosophy is, kind of feeling the passion they have, and getting excited about it. The last time I was in Napa, it was about a year ago, and I went there with the winemakers that I work with. We visited these different wineries and different spots and just got inspired by what they do in Napa. It was kind of a fact-finding mission for what we could possibly bring to Washington State. That’s sort of unusual for your average tourist. But, for me, it was really important. And then, there’s the food culture, and there’s always something new happening down there. There’s such great tourism in Napa. Dining out is part of why you go there. I want to see if that can happen in eastern Washington. It’s going to be a little more difficult because it’s not quite as much of a destination.
What do you think is holding it back?
I think it’s just the number of people. Walla Walla is four hours by car from Seattle. As far as a destination, it doesn’t have the consistency. Starting June through harvest and into November, there’s lots of tourism. Come winter, things get pretty quiet.
Any advice for folks who may be planning their own Napa Valley getaway?
The whole idea of a designated driver, or a car service, is really a good one. And, instead of hopping around, kind of concentrate on one area, based on the wineries you want to visit. Like, if you want to go to Yountville, book into Bouchon, if you can. Or, if you’re very, very lucky, obviously, you can book way in advance for French Laundry. But, Bouchon is very good. And, you’ve got Maisonry, which is a really nice little place where you can sort of hang out and have a glass of wine. You’ve got some wineries there. Just stay in that area for the majority part of the day. Do your stuff there. Then, if you want to go to Calistoga or St. Helena, set that for a different day.
Food Republic is the media sponsor of The Getaway , with new episodes every Wednesday on the Esquire Network.
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