31 October 2006

Sam's mention in Skirt! magazine.

So, we're leaving Gervais & Vine last night (after a delicious dinner eaten while sitting on their couch, might I add.) and I notice the new issue of Skirt! outside.
I stifle the urge to scramble over to it, hooting like an early Daffy Duck. I instead simply, and with much dignity, go "Ooh!" and run over to it, grab a copy and find my page.
I'll tell you, it's nicely exciting to be in the latest issue of Skirt! (Skirt! has an exclamation point in its name, by the way)

In retrospect, pity about the socks. Otherwise, I think the look works.

The profile is well written, too. Pick up a copy to read it or go to the
  • Skirt! magazine

  • Though as of this morning it hasn't been updated.

    11 October 2006

    Notes on the Yalumba & NegociantsUSA wine tasting at the Charleston Grill
    This weekend Alex and I, his girlfriend Raiessa and my friend, Christine, went down to Charleston for a tasting, arranged by Carolina Wine Source, of Australian and New Zealand wines. One may notice a distinct lack of my sweetheart, Leigh. While she was my first choice of companion she, sadly, had obligations out of which she couldn't wriggle.

    Among the twenty-something wines there, two to three stood out as being quite to my taste. Many of the available wines were attention-getting to varying degrees, however. The average prices of these wines exceed that of anything on our by-the-glass list but I may add one or two to the by-the-bottle list. I don’t think all of us agreed on any one wine that captured our cumulative fancy, but the ones notable enough to withstand the memory-dulling properties of several “tastes” of wine are as follows:
    - Mesh Riesling, Eden Valley, 2006. This was a dry, fruity Riesling that reminded me a bit of some German Rieslings I’ve had. Biggish nose and lots of lime and citrus to the mouth feel. This was vibrant with a nice zing of acidity.
    - Yalumba Viognier, “The Virgilus” 2004 Eden Valley This is the closest to a wine that raised all of our eyebrows. It was a clean, crisp and dry viognier that didn’t have that sweet banana quality so many New World viogniers tend to have. It had a nice, full body and I got some honeysuckle notes to it.
    Sparkling Rose
    - Jansz Brut Rose (NV) Tasmania.
    Clean and crisp with a nice fizziness to it. I haven’t had a lot of sparkling roses but the ones I’ve had I’ve enjoyed (and are supposed to have been quite good) and this one was just as delicious as any of them.
    - Yalumba Hand-picked Grenache “Tricentenary” 2004 Barossa. Neither Christine nor I particularly cared for this one (we’d meant to dispose of what was left in our glasses, actually, but we started talking about something and accidentally finished it in an instinctive, at-a-party tipping of the glasses) but Alex spoke highly of it. It was an intense, bright and fruity nose and a soft mouth feel.
    -Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon “The Menzies” 2002 Coonawarra. It was rich yet had a wonderfully clean finish. That’s about all I remember about this one but its finish was so different it was difficult to forget.
    -Yalumba “Hand Picked” Shiraz-Viognier 2004 Barossa. I like Cote-Rotie-style blends and this one was quite good. It filled the mouth very well and was nicely complex. Interestingly, this is the only blend that made an impression on me. Usually I prefer blends to straight varietals.
    - Yalumba Shiraz “The Octavius” 2002 Barossa. The first of the two wines Christine and I walked away having really enjoyed. It was well-layered and rich without being the jammy Aussie Shiraz to which I’ve grown so accustomed. As interesting as this wine was I would‘ve assumed it was a blend. Naturally, this was the most expensive wine shown, weighing in at $70 - wholesale.
    - Jim Barry Shiraz “The McCrae Wood” 2002 Clare Valley. The was the favorite of the afternoon for Christine and me, mostly on account of its bouquet. There was a touch of eucalyptus to it and, this was the best part, it had a distinctly fatty, sausage-like quality. The body itself was quite nice, weighing in at about medium-bodied and it was well-balanced with a subtle, but effective, acidity and a smidge of pepper. I bought a couple of bottles of it and, if I still like it on second tasting, I’ll add it to the by -the-bottle list.

    The major quality many of these wines shared was restraint. So frequently the New World wines are eager to show their grapes as very fruit\-forward and ripe, which can often yield a nice wine but it’s a quality that tires my palette very quickly. Many of these wines ran counter to my expectations, with Shirazes being the most interesting when it’s usually, for me, one of the least.

    If you’ve read this far you might be wondering why I bothered writing all of this if I’m not going to carry any in any real sense. First, I did genuinely enjoy a number of these wines and, if you happen to be out and about and see them in a store or on a listing, I’d support their purchase. Second, I suppose I’m assuaging some guilt I may feel for going and not having the room or the funds to carry many. I guess if I at least spread the word I’ll be doing something positive for the company. Third, it gives me an excuse to post photographs.

    01 October 2006

    One new beer, two new bubblies

    Last year we featured a pumpkin ale which did pretty well. It's a light to medum-bodied ale with a distinct flavor of pumpkin spice bread. This is, admittedly, an odd thing for a beer to taste like but some people rather enjoy it. Since it's a seasonal brew, it'll only be around until about Christmas.

    I've also added a couple of splits (187ml bottles designed to fill about two flutes.)
    One is a dry, clean and crisp French sparkling blanc de blancs made from Ugni Blanc, Colombard and Chardonnay. It's got a nice touch of toast to its finish and a pleasantly floral nose. I find it very refreshing.
    And the other is more dessert oriented. It's called Rosa Regale (with which you may be familiar.) It's fairly sweet, though still pretty light with a touch of acidity to it for balance. It has notes of rose petal and raspberry. That it's a sparkling wine makes it a fun little aperitif or dessert.

    I'll probably keep the dry sparkling on the menu and we'll see about the Regale.

    (As a quick aside, I've noticed a startling and upsetting trend lately. I've seen sparkling wines offered in little cans (which I don't find objectionable in and of itself) with little straws on the side like a Capri-sun. The thing is, while some of these bubblies aren't terribly interesting and, therefore, don't suffer from being drunk through a straw, let's never forget that champagne and other sparkling wines are still wine with all the points of interest of any other wine. Many deserve the opportunity to display their bouquets. So if you're sending your child to school with these little cans of sparkling wine to go along with their single-serve pate and toast points, send along a glass, too. )
    A comment on sleep

    originally posted on myspace.com/baansawan

    We had a couple of busy nights this week. Even after all these years there's little that can fill me with anxiety like the sight of a car's lights as it enters the driveway while the doors are clogged with people waiting for tables and the bar and tables themselves filled with customers, most of whom arrived at the same time and therefore ordered at the same time (which further means they'll all leave at roughly the same time allowing for a fairly even rinse and repeat.) These basics of restaurant logistics ("the bottleneck" is the most polite term that comes to mind) are a fact of this life but, like the South Carolina heat, seemingly impossible to become used to. Perhaps a better oiled machine could better roll with the punches but I'm busy enough as it is mixing metaphors.
    Everyone may have left the restaurant and I may be finishing a glass of wine in the dark emptiness save for the soft illumination of the bar's interior lights but the mind still knows I'm at work. There's a finality to turning on the alarm and trotting down the stairs but it's the feel of my car as I accelerate, firmly yet cautiously, from the driveway and out on to Lee street that begins to soothe me. It's like that last block in a road race.
    Usually, if it was a particularly busy night, that means I'm not getting out of there until almost 12 so Leigh is most likely asleep when I walk into the bedroom. The light is probably on and her book is open in front of her and that spot next to her that I can't wait to occupy usually has at least one cat in it. I get ready for bed and, as I don't have the energy to snap the covers taut to send whichever cats happens to be there straight up into the air where I can catch and relocate them, I generally push gently until they decide to leave.
    It's the soft give of the mattress combined with the whisper of the covers as I draw them up that is very satisfying. The lights are off and my eyes don't have to work anymore so they close and a tension recedes from that area. I experiment with a variety of positions to see which would best foster a comfortable drifting off and, when I decide on one, I stretch mightily before settling fully into it. At least one pop from a random joint will sound from this action which also yields the first of at least two deep sighs -- my body's bell ringing announcing the "All's well." The second sigh is usually after I'm settled into my spot and I've rubbed my tired eyes against the softness of my pillow. My mind drifts along high and low points of the day and I try to banish these thoughts in favor of getting a dream started right. I imagine tableaux and sounds and smells and tastes. I try to remember the flavor profiles of different grape varieties. I imagine where I could take the characters of whatever I might be writing. Banter. Images of mountain tops surfacing from a thick fog. An interesting camera angle. Ceiling fan blades slowly rotating over a wicker chair filled porch. Ferns dripping from hanging baskets. I start noticing, from time to time, that I'm waking up a little bit. A sushi chef turning a piece of salmon by a matter of degrees before slicing. The smell of the sea. The smell of Fino Sherry. Sea spray and sherry glasses and little stir-fried baby eels and Hemingway putting a heavy, meaty hand on my shoulder, telling me he'll get this round if I drive him to Segovia for dinner. And, eventually, I'm asleep.
    Then, more often than not, I'm immediately back at work. My dreams almost never favoring me with a remarkable, fantasy work scenario with special celebrity guest stars but, rather, I'm given another six or seven hours of trying to move tables together for a large party or explaining to somebody why we can't do something.
    And my mother wonders why I rarely look rested.