29 December 2008

29Dec- Open Tues(closed 31/01) open for the weekend

That's the deal. It might be a little confusing, but there it is. With any luck, we'll get some business.

I hope everyone has a safe and pleasant New Year's Eve and a quiet and not too brightly lit New Year's day.

28 December 2008

28Dec- NYTimes article on Prosecco
Italian Makers of Prosecco seek Recognition

I've long been a fan of Prosecco (largely because of a server of ours who, when she visited Italy, noticed that young women sitting on their own at restaurants would be given a glass of Prosecco. This so charmed me that I would do the same, mostly for women waiting for their companions. Then that got a little pricy, so I had to stop.) and it would pain me to see this relatively up and coming grape misinterpreted through other people's misinterpretations.

27 December 2008

27Dec- I love the Art Shack
And I'll tell you why. Because I was hungry and wanted something delicious and nearby and breakfasty and, boy, did I get what I wanted.
I got the breakfast bowl (to go) which consists of eggs (i got scrambled), Adluh grits, sausage, and cheddar cheese sprinkled all over it. Not only was it fantastic (great texture on the grits, flavorful and spicy-ish sausage, eggs not overcooked) , but it was a very generous portion for a low price. I also got a "Shack Attack", which is their own blend of espresso in a cup of locally roasted coffee. Rich and strong and flavorful.

The store itself offers a wide variety of buyables made by local artists. Jewelry, sculpture, paintings, photographs, et al. There are several chairs, making for a welcoming atmosphere, and a bookcase of books. This I find terribly charming. Evidently, if you bring in a book you can exchange it for a book.

And there's something about art classes. The point is, I'm charmed by the whole thing and I fully recommend you visit it. It's right across the street from Pizza Man in Rosewood.

Here's a link to their menu.

Art Shack Menu

and this song happened to be playing when I was there.

26 December 2008

26Dec- Ridley Scott's "a good year"
I don't really remember how well this did in the movie houses but I watched it last night and particularly enjoyed it. It seems to touch on all the things in which I have or have had deep to passing interests: wine and wine making, of course. French country life. Pleasantly cluttered, warmly lit rooms. Attractive, elusive, charming, brunette, French women. English and French accents. Being callous.
And all of the wine nerdy stuff struck me, to my still learning ears, as accurate.

It made me want to be in France, drinking wine and making wine and making movies. I miss making movies.
It's marketed as a romantic comedy, which I think is a bit of a broad term for what this is. Though it does follow the formula of mean, rich man learns a valuable lesson about love and priorities with the help of a beautiful woman and spunky supporting characters.
Still. I enjoyed it.
Very pretty.

And I suppose I should seek out the book on which this is based. I began reading Mayle's "Hotel Pastis" but I lent it our recently and I don't remember to whom.

24 December 2008

24Dec- I love Moscato d'Asti
And I'll tell you why. It's entirely refreshing. A cold flute of Moscato d'Asti after a long day's work revitalizes my senses without sharpening them enough to make sleep difficult. Its nose is pleasantly aromatic of peaches sometimes. Sometimes some pineapple. It's slightly sweet, but not cloyingly so. It seems to touch the tongue with suggestions of pears, apples, or whisps of honey. Its slight sparkle dances in the mouth. It's like a delicate kiss, this wine. Sweet and soft and slightly intoxicating, as they're generally quite low in alcohol. I've not seen one over 9%, with the bulk of them around 6%. This means I can knock back a bottle myself and not feel lushy.
And, generally, they quite affordable; perhaps the best part. Green's has got one, the Rocca Cerrina, for about $11. Total has a couple in that same price range that are delicious. So far I've been lucky enough to have enjoyed every one I've tried. Cat at Green's on Assembly deftly moved me past a few of their selections, knowing what I was looking for was not what those items would offer. Blessed Cat.

They can be found in the sweet wine section of your locale wine shop. Or possibly the Italian section. If you're lucky enough to have a particularly specialized shop, it can be found in the Piedmont region. And I believe that this wine, though well-suited for desserts, can be enjoyed with a wide variety of food. I had a bottle last night with angel hair pasta tossed with olive oil, and sauteed shallots, mushrooms, and eggplant. Dusted with rough ground pecorino and black pepper. In my opinion, I thought the Moscato worked quite well with it.

Problematically, given the delicacy of this wine's sparkle, it will go flat if opened and not consumed within a couple of days. It's best finished that day, which should not be any problem, but it does mean that I can't offer this by the glass at the restaurant. (not that people ordering sparkling is an everyday thing, which it should be, but that's for a different post.) I've got one now, a lovely 375ml of Fontanna Fredda's Moncucco, and I plan to have a few bottles sitting around but I mostly mention this to send everybody out in search of a bottle.

Delicate, refreshing, affordable stuff.

23 December 2008

23Dec- This sounds highly unlikely
How to Make Cheap Wine Taste like a Fine Vintage

Electric fields?
The thing is, I've tasted this Chinese wine on which they did the testing. I imagine they wouldn't have exported the wine they judged to taste horrible, which implies what's on our market is...the good stuff? The successfully electrified final product?

21 December 2008

21Dec- First day off
I feel like things will move far too quickly in the coming week and I won't return to work feeling rested.

but that's no concern of yours.

Here's an image I ran across that I think is useful.

20 December 2008

20Dec-We'll be closed Dec 23-27
Yup. the whole week. Which will be a gratifying but expensive break. During this time I hope to finish the beer menu. I'm excited that the Muscadet will be back on the wine menu. It's a different vintage and it does show a little different, but I think it's every bit as delicious.

As for our status in the week of the New Year, there's still some argument over when we'll be open. I'll be sure to keep everyone updated on that.

I don't know who took this photo but I wish it were cold here.

19 December 2008

19Dec- just a general thank you
The year's tumbling to a close much faster than I'd like and, with this recession they got on, things have been tough all over. I was at Devine Foods yesterday and, at what should've been a busy hour, not much was going on. Over Miller High Lifes with one of the owners of Bar None last night a general sigh was shared. I wager there aren't many businesses in town who could give you a cheery thumbs up in these times.
There was a sad story NPR this morning about a family-owned housewares chain and the rough times they're going through.

So I just wanted to send out a general thanks to those of you who have continued to come to us and those of you who are seeking us out to investigate. We really appreciate it and we're glad to have had some busy nights the last few months to offset the silly slow ones. We promise to try our best to deserve your patronage.

And while they're frequently forgotten, I'm sure our many purveyors and those in that industry would like to thank you, as well. There are a lot of little, family-owned or just dream-driven purveyors in town who have always worked hard to bring us they best they can so that we can offer it to all of you. I feel like they get forgotten and we can't do anything without them.

Things are going to get worse before they get better so let's all remember that we're in it together.
...Maybe another Steinbeck will emerge from these troubled times....

you know I loves me some Hopper. Early Sunday Morning, 1930

And two songs named Sunday Morning:

I don't know what's up with the Tai Chi guy

18 December 2008

18Dec-Stardust Memories
The Woody Allen movie. I am a Woody Allen fan which, if you've ever met me, might not come as a huge surprise.
Of all his movies, Stardust Memories is my favorite.
And of that movie the two something minutes shown here are my favorite moments. Thinking about Francoise Hardy and her cheekbones made me think about Charlotte Rampling, which made me think about this scene. This quiet, peaceful, isolated scene that, if you know the movie, illustrates the wonder of a moment juxtaposed with the reality of the rest.

I just bought a copy on DVD. I need to start showing movies at the restaurant on Sunday nights. BYOB. Somebody buys a pizza. That kind of thing to get around licensing issues. If I'm not making any money off of showing it I think that's legal. It'd just be great to sit with some people and watch movies like Stardust Memories, Blade Runner, L.A. Story, Until the End of the World, and Brazil. Maybe in the new year.
18Dec- napkins and such
You know what I love? I love it when I see men (and it's always men) who tuck their napkins into their shirts at the neck before they start eating. It's so wonderfully un-self-conscious and it says to me that they're about to start eating so enthusiastically that they don't know where food is going to end up but they want to protect, at least, themselves.
I feel like it's a bit like bowties and corny puns: there's probably a loved one somewhere advising against the behavior but, I tell you, I think it speaks to a gusto and joie de vivre that more people should possess.

and for no reason I present a video of Françoise Hardy singing "Comment te dire adieu."

I may love her. No one could make a whispery aside like Françoise. Except maybe (maybe) Jane Birkin.

15 December 2008

15Dec- Gift idea?
So it's hitting that point where I'm beginning to panic about what to get people.
Since I've seen some interest in the photographs I put on the menus, I've decided to start offering them for sale. I have a number of them up on ArtBreak.com/old_yout, which are all unframed 8x10 prints.
If anyone is interested, I can frame a print and/or offer one at a smaller size.
And I'm also considering starting some more portrait work. So, if anyone is interested in that, we can talk about that, too.
(I won't ask you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. But...gosh, it's kind of hot in here, don't you think?)

15Dec - lengthy entry on some good local eating
Pleasure is an interesting thing.
We seek it. Sometimes we demand it.
Sometimes the promise of it drives us to make poor decisions.

And of the myriad pleasures available to us, last Sunday offered me one of the more complete forms: gustatory. This satisfies not only a desire for lovely tastes but it pleases through textures, aromas, physiological intoxication, as well as the all important satiety that only a full stomach can give you.

First, we had lunch at Ela’s on Forest Dr. (beware: the website has some music playing) across the street from that big church where the automatic doors didn’t open for me when I went there for a service because a girl on whom I had a crush invited me and I thought it might help (it didn’t.) Now, I’d been there once when it first opened and, while there were some interesting things there, I kind of forgot about it. Maybe a year’s passed and they’ve taken some emphasis away from the European Deli and put it on James Cooper’s (one of the owners) cooking skills. He’s Central American and the menu reflects it. Our brunch was Nicaraguan steak and eggs, which was a strip of steak (actually cooked to my preferred temperature of medium rare) drizzled over with what tasted like a chili, onion, and garlic mincing. This was also over something of a deconstructed guacamole, which was a big slice of avocado over a slice of tomato and some chives. Fantastic. He gave us several options of how our eggs could come out but we went with soft scrambled with three cheeses. This dish also came with a serving of refried beans that reminded me of my grandmother’s, who is Guatemalan and used to cook refried beans, tortillas, and tamales in her village’s market. In addition to this bounty there were two big pieces of garlic bread that had a great crispy and soft texture. So that happened, along with a couple of mimosas and water with fresh fruit floating in it. We had such a great time. The food was wonderful. The flavors were exuberant and honest and I felt very comfortable with the whole thing. I have every intention of stealing as much of it as I can for recreation at home.

That night we dined at Motor Supply. The executive chef is something of a regular at our restaurant and I’ve always loved his work. He seems to have a genuine, easy understanding of food and wine. While he wasn’t cooking that night, he was nice enough to help us pair (via text messaging) some items with some beverages. We began with creamy mussels, an olive plate and a cheese plate. While we were waiting for the wine I brought to open up we got a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rose Brut, whose cork popping was enough to get the attention of a couple at the bar. They seemed pleased at the idea of someone having a good time with champagne, which is a nice thing about which to be pleased. Delicious as everything was, the one thing that seemed to make us bubble with ecstasy was a soft, Burgundian cheese called Delice. It was soft, creamy, with a bright character to it that seemed, to me, to require a bright, full, soft white wine. Leigh isn’t much of a white wine drinker but I wanted desperately to experience this so, against my sober judgment, I ordered a full bottle of a wonderful wine that Tim, the chef, had let me taste a few weeks prior: the Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon. Fullish bodied, crisp, slightly tart and wholly refreshing, this paired wonderfully with the cheese and I was glad to see that Leigh seemed genuinely to enjoy it. Enough to refill her glass several times during the course of our enjoyment of the cheese. When I texted Tim about this he suggested the Duck Liver Mousse to go along with it. This mousse. Oh my god this mousse. I talked to him later and I seem to recall he mentioned something like 11 pounds of duck liver and fat going into this. It was rich and light and bright and kind of salty in that way and, my god, I’ve been telling people I would happily give myself gout by eating this mousse every day. I’ve been thinking about that mousse for a week now.
And there was more food. Leigh got the duck and I got NY Strip with a Beurre Rouge that went quite well with the 04 HautBrion. Leigh loved, in particular, the skin on the duck.

About the 04 Haut Brion.
Expensive wines are curious thing. I’ve been lucky enough to experience some top-notch wines and some have been emotionally charged experiences. This was the only first growth that didn’t take me somewhere different. And I’m counting the 98Angelus as first growth status. The Haut Brion was amazing and rich and warm and aromatic and balanced. It was, in all ways, a fantastic wine but I think what struck me was how similar it was to the 02Pape Clement, which was considerably cheaper. The only explanation I can give that satisfies me is that it was either entering a dormancy period or that it was simply too young to drink. Quite likely the latter.

So, the day was a fantastic day for lovers of food, which we certainly are.
This town does have some wonderful dining experiences to offer.
You know…besides us.
So go to both and eat heartily and sit back and smile at your dining companions, if any, and nod at a job well done.

08 December 2008

08Dec - surreal video
very odd...

The Eye and the Fly from combustion on Vimeo.

07 December 2008

07Dec- time lapse video of the restaurant

on Friday and Saturday night. As you can see by the tendency to congregate on Saturday night, we were quite slow.

05 December 2008

05Dec- bored near an umbrella with a crook handle?Add Image.

because I found this website:

Self-defence with a Walking-stick: The Different Methods of Defending Oneself with a Walking-Stick or Umbrella when Attacked under Unequal Conditions

From the Greek: oinos = wine onios =for sale mania =insanity

While this disorder has not yet been recognized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft Zwangserkrankungen (German organization for obsessive-compulsive disorders) or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, largely because I've just made up the term, I feel like, perhaps, I may suffer from it.

Spending beyond my budget. Buying wine to make myself feel better. Sometimes, maybe, being less than honest about what I've paid for a bottle.

As an oinosoniomanic -that is, one who suffers from oinosoniomaniacal urges- I feel entitled to some grant money to explore this new and tragic disorder.

So maybe Dr Ellen Stover, director of the Division of Mental Disorders, Behavioral Research, and AIDS at the National Institute of Health can get me involved in a Program 93.242 Mental Health Research Grant to see how I'd respond to buying and enjoying a vertical of Chateau Latour.

Or maybe I can take advantage of the Deep Sequencing and Haplotype Profiling of Mental Disorders Grant to forward our understanding of genomic function vis-a-vis mental disorders by disaggregrating my oinosoniomania into components of finite risks through giving me the money to complete my 1855 Bordeaux Classification tasting project.

You know; for science.

this is from some website on clay drilling. I just thought it'd be a funny representation of science. I imagine Dr Stover is a little older

03 December 2008

03Dec-Boy. here's a good way to waste time
Performance Today's Piano Puzzler

In their words: "Test your ears as Bruce Adolphe takes a popular tune and transforms it into something that sounds like it was composed by one of the greats. Guess the great and the song. Then listen to a piece by the composer in question."

I keep telling myself, "Okay. Just one more." God, it's addictive.

...if you like that kind of thing...

...05November '08 is killing me...

02 December 2008

02Dec-(...don't wanna go back to work...)

...wanna stay in bed. wanna read my book and stretch sometimes and feel the covers nestle under my chin other times.
Wanna reheat leftover risotto and pork tenderloin for lunch and open another bottle of Gevrey-Chambertin.

01 December 2008

01Dec- Two books on Pinot Noir

We'd made lofty plans to do work at the restaurant over the break but, instead -and wisely, perhaps- we all avoided each other as much as we could. Family-restauranting can take its toll.

Anyway, the extra time afforded me the opportunity to get some reading done.
The Grail: A year ambling & shambling through an Oregon vineyard in pursuit of the best Pinot Noir wine in the whole wide world by Brian Doyle

I ran across this slim, little book while looking on Amazon for the next book I'll mention. It seemed right up my alley, based on the title alone, and it wasn't terribly expensive. It turns out that the winery Doyle visits is Lange Winery, Pinot Noir from which I've enjoyed but that I can no longer find in town. Naturally. Beautiful, clean, restrained Pinot that I held on to as long as I could, particularly after Green's sold out, but the last 1/2 bottle of which I opened up after a long, difficult night when I needed something beautiful and pure to dilute the bad vibes.

I liked the book a lot, partially for its educational aspect (as it delves deeply and casually into the doings at a winery as well as pinot noir history and the nature of Oregon wines in general) but also for Doyle's style. It took me a chapter or so to get the hang of his breathless, run-on sentence way of writing but when I realized I liked it I also realized I liked it because I could occassionaly hear my voice in his. There's my ego for you: I like you because you remind me of me.
Anyway, I liked the book a great deal. Here's a touch with some pleasing imagery:
"October. I drive to Dundee through a dense fog but then as I drive up the hill to the winery I drive right up out of the fog into a glorious glittering gleaming day, the fog and mist swirling and whirling and tendrilling below like a cottony sea, and something about the way the day above the valley is a secret gift to anyone up on the hills makes for a sort of unspoken giddiness in the air, a willingness to lay aside the things you were supposed to do and just eat the incredible gift of light with your thirsty eager skin, which giddiness I feel my own solipsistic self, and I put aside the careful accounting of shipping and distributing patterns and records I had planned for the afternoon and get a glass of pinot noir from Gabe and go sit on the warm grass in the glorious light and let the sun soak into me like crisp golden water, and I find myself thinking, not for the first time, that a brilliant day in October in Oregon is maybe the best day anytime anywhere anyhow..."
That sentence actually goes on for a little while, but the picture he paints there is enough to wonder how much my family would resent me if I ran away to Oregon.

North American Pinot Noir by John Winthrop Haeger
Ooh boy, was this a difference in style. It was minutes between finishing The Grail and picking this book up and the contrast was marked enough that it could have rained in my brain. I heard about this book from a Carolina Wine Source rep (I want to say Richard, but I'm not a hundred percent on that) while I was at the Oregon tasting a little while ago. We were chatting clones when he recommended this book as being very informative. It is, for all intents and purposes, a text book. It's dry and dense but also incredibly interesting and engaging - if you're into that kind of thing. I happen to be in the mood for it so I'm really enjoying it. I've just gotten to chapter 5, the one about clones, and my head feels heavier for the breadth of Pinot Noir ground covered. Wine Spectator mentions his follow up book, Pacific Pinot Noir, as having the same faults as his first: interesting things lost among acres of grey text. Or something like that. Admittedly, the book has a very academic tone and, aside from maps, there are no illustrations or photographs, but if you know that going in I think it's a great book that I'm sure I'll be referencing for years to come.
So that's been fun. I've built a fire every night and cooked a good deal. I think I might have caught up on my sleep.

Now it's December. And Monday. And I haven't worked on the schedule yet. And I don't know what I'm going to get anybody for Christmas. And I'm kind of hungry.
Back to work.

reading Haeger's book with a glass of '99 La Poussie. Pinot Noir done Loire-style. And, yes, I'm aware of how that name sounds.

30 November 2008

30Nov- on the other hand, here's something happy

29 November 2008

29Nov-Walmart worker trampled to death
Outside of what this says about us a consumer society, I can imagine fewer worse ways to die. Not only being trampled by Walmart customers -Long Island quite likely not being that different, body-type wise, as down here - but the very fact that he was at work when he died. Swarmed by strangers, so many of whom ignored his pain and cries in their mad rush for Just Things. Completely surrounded but completely alone. And wearing a Wal-Mart uniform.
I wonder if Walmart looks at the revenue and considers him an acceptable loss.
I shudder to think.

26 November 2008

26Nov-We'll be closed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
I thought I should mention that. Just in case.
I hope everyone has a pleasant weekend, whether that involves being thankful for anything or not.

25 November 2008

25Nov- poking through the NYT

Thailand in the news, once again. It appears as though, while nothing has improved, people are at least beginning to grow weary about the whole thing.

Shots Fired as Thai Factions Clash

I'm not surprised in the slightest that "Young Frankenstein" the musical is closing. It seemed like such a big mistake in the first place. Or was it? "Cats" did astonishingly well. How about a musical version of "The Waste Land"? To be composed by John Adams . Now that I write those two names outloud, it seems almost possible. If it happens, I'm buying myself a drink.

Broadway is Dry-Eyed as Monster Falls Hard

Now this one is just a damn shame. It's about what might very well be the beginning of the end of the French cafe. It seems that business is dropping off considerably for more reasons than the global financial crisis. People just don't want to sit and talk and eat and drink now, it seems. For this to happen in France, of all places, is so dreary a suggestion of what we're coming to. The idea of sitting, talking, eating, and drinking has always struck me as something wonderfully French. Of course, I've imagined myself in a sun-suffused Parisian cafe with croissant crumbs on my jacket, warming my left hand over my cafe latte and holding my glass of Muscadet in my right while discussing French politics (which, to me, would be along the lines of, "I wonder what the sex is like between Bruni and Sarkozy" "I'm sure we'll find out in the next album" and so on.)

But now people are grabbing food to go, not having a glass of wine in the afternoon, and just ordering water with dinner? If France becomes America, where will my imagination go? Prague, maybe. I have no idea what's going on over there; that'd be an easy place about which to fantasize. London. Madrid. Maybe Madrid.
Yeah. If you need me, I'll be in Madrid.

No. I'll still be in that Parisian cafe, writing in a little notebook I bought at the stationery shop next door, letting my mussels steep a little longer in garlic and wine broth, and enjoying a simple but delicious red wine I'll never find in the States. French cafes need the business of my imagination. Maybe I'll send over a few dollars.

Across France, Cafe Owners are Suffering

24 November 2008

24N0v-saw this at The Daily Digress


and i thought it was hilarious.

And even though I tend bar, and even though I do love to drink (but I don't love getting drunk), I don't want people to think that I advocate casually getting drunk. However, the stick up my butt isn't up there so much that I don't think this is funny.

and apparently, it's an ecard.
24Nov-I should teach a class on how to mismanage finances while finding great deals on wine
The trick to the latter is equal parts exploration and knowledge. I've managed to come across some astonishing deals because my Mondays tend to include visits to at least one Greens, the Total Wine, World Market, and sometimes Morganelli's. I do this to get an idea of what is selling, what isn't selling, and to see what people are charging for what. Now, in order to mismanage your finances where this is concerned isn't terribly difficult. Sales will pop up here and there and, for instance, if you should find 2003 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon on sale for $29 you should only be concerned with the money saved than the money spent.
Similarly, if you're out of town, you should always look for wines not available in your home town. In this way you can spend more money because the deal then becomes its relative scarcity.

The most recent place I've visited out of town was The Wine Shop at Rivergate in Charlotte, NC.
They had a very broad selection at plenty of price points. A lot of interesting white wines I don't see that often. Their Bordeaux selection was oddly slender, but choice, avoiding the big names upon which so many shops rely. Their Oregon Pinot selection was satisfyingly bigger than I'm used to and their lockbox had several very interesting, hard-to-get selections that I feel compelled to purchase on my next visit.

They had a strange combination of very good prices and some rather marked-up prices, according to the prices available to me. It's possible they get the Mulderbosch Faithful Hound at a more expensive price than I do, but if they don't, they're making a chunk of change on it. On the other hand, their Santa Duc Old Vine Cotes du Rhone is making them pennies if they get it at the same price as I do. Both great wines, by the way, still worth what they're charging.

I bent the ear of one David Thomas there, who was very knowledgeable of a breadth information. We had a series of pleasant chats over the course of my browsing. Or, at least, I had a series of pleasant chats while he patiently worked hard for his money while appearing, convincingly, as though he were having pleasant chats.

In addition to a broad list, they also had that system that allows you to purchase tastes of wine through that neat spigot thing. We need something like that in Columbia.
And they also served food, with a selection of some very pleasant cheeses. I enjoyed their fries and their mussels in blue cheese sauce, i thought were quite nice. Their proscuitto was cut a tad thick for my tastes, but that's the way of the world, I suppose.
Over dinner Leigh fell in love with the Orchis Grenache while I enjoyed every wine I tried but fell in love with nothing. I did really like the Flora Springs Trilogy, which had a nicely restrained, Bordeaux-like quality. Naturally, when I was told it was on sale in their store for twenty bucks off their normal price and, supposedly, it's not terribly easy to get anyway, I had to buy what they had left. Fortunately for me, that consisted of only one bottle.

All in all, a very enjoyable place to spend more money than I should have.

and you can, too.

21 November 2008

21Nov-a fleeting thought on vices and camaraderie
I wonder what it is about sharing vices that can bring people together.
Camaraderie can be fostered over drinks or a smoke, et al. Seems odd. Maybe it's because vices, by they're very nature, are mildly -to rather- illicit, and you're automatically separating yourself from everyone else by being part of coterie that indulges. This shared interest would imply other shared interests and, bingo, you're past being strangers and on your way to something else.

I used to think that people want you to smoke or drink with them as a way of validating they're decisions. If I'm drinking while they're drinking then what they're doing is all right. Maybe it doesn't have to be as self-serving as that. Or over-simplified. Maybe wanting to share that experience is a handshake, of sorts. Just sharing the experience puts people in similar states of mind and you can be closer for it. Or maybe there's a touch of altruism. This glass of wine is making me feel very good; I would like you to feel good as well.
Maybe it creates a little bubble around you. If you're having a drink with someone, that's something you're doing together which shuts other people out. You feel like you're a part of something that is special that you two, or three, or five, or ten understand. This is especially true where limited resources are concerned. I've had extraordinary bottles of wine that, if I had my druthers, I'd make compulsory drinking for every man, woman, and child so that they can get how fantastic wine can be but if there's just one bottle I want some for myself and I become particular about with whom I'm willing to share it.

There was bit of hanging out at the bar tonight with some of the staff. We smoked a hookah (chocolate/mint tobacco) and drank absinthe (which, oddly, seemed to clear my head more than muddy it after over-indulging last night) and I think we all felt a little special for it. It was out of the ordinary, a new experience for some, and, not to put too fine a point on it, fun.

I'd like to think that we can give that experience (not specifically hookahs, absinthe, and the music of Paris Combo and the Ikettes) but something new, different, and fun to our customers.

Speaking of which, I can't believe Southern Wine is discontinuing their Chateau La Noe Muscadet. That was a fantastic wine at a great price.

17 November 2008

17Nov- in which I describe my disappointment with Absinthe
Honestly, I don't know what I was expecting. And, perhaps, I haven't had enough of it so that its unique properties make an impression on me but, still.
And I certainly hope the person who told me never to try it because she said she would be sad at my disappointment isn't reading this.

So Christine brought me some absinthe from Prague in mini-bottle form and Leigh and I finally broke into it the other night. I'm a big fan of accessories, so naturally as soon as I got the bottle I bought an interesting looking absinthe spoon on eBay and some nice, rough-hewn Bosnian sugar cubes (lumps would be more accurate) from the European Corner store on Two Notch (way out.)
It was interesting and fun in that way that entirely new experiences can be and, since it didn't louche, I decided I wanted to see absinthe louche.

Columbia has recently seen a boom in absinthe offerings. This boom consists of about four brands. Thanks to Christine, again, for some over-the-phone research while i was in the store. she helped me avoid Grande Absente, despite the cool, free spoon that comes attached to the box (at Total Wine). Evidently, it doesn't contain the original wormwood that made absinthe so crazy, but rather a relative of it. And many reviewers at the Wormwood Society took dumps all over it.

Kubler, also, seemed to get lukewarm reviews.

The people behind Mythe Absinthe (which caught my eye because it's also available in 375ml) evidently spent years figuring out how to remove the thujone molecule (a compound found in wormwood that has been blamed for some of the more interesting effects of absinthe but, as of late, has been identified as having not much to do with anything at all.) Of the many less than stellar reviews I found, one said "I wonder how many years of research it would take to remove the *suck* from it." Good enough for me, and it stays on the shelf.

So, it would seem that, locally, the best choice is Lucid.

People generally said that it was a good introductory absinthe that gives one the general idea of how a good abisinthe might taste. Basically, it didn't blow anybody's socks off but it also didn't warrant that much criticism. This is available at both Greens stores as well as Total Wine. I didn't check Morganelli's, but if they don't carry it I'm sure they could get it for you. Plus, the Total Wine and the Green's on Piney Grove have the gift box that includes two glasses and a spoon, which I would've gotten if i hadn't waited until I hit the Green's on Assembly, which doesn't offer that.

Anyway, the price is readily discovered with a modicum of research if anyone is interested, so I won't state it here.

And, to be honest, I find myself coming to the decision that there's not much this absinthe offers me from a taste perspective that I couldn't get from a bottle of NyQuil. Though it does have a slight waxy quality to it and, on the nose, in addition to all the anise and herbs you'd expect there's a slight touch of human sweat to it. cumin, perhaps? And it does louche, which is pretty cool to watch. And I get to use my spoon, interesting French glasses I found at T.J.Max, and neat sugar cubes but the experience to price ratio just doesn't cut it for me. Fortunately, I've always enjoyed the black jelly beans.

Supposedly, a lot of things happen. realistically, one is supposed to experience an unusually clear-minded buzz. I have a mild buzz, and I do feel rather clear-minded, but I also drink for a living so that result is questionable.

I don't know.
Leigh has a friend who lives in Switzerland who's coming for a visit. I think I'll ask her to ask him to bring me a bottle of something universally regarded as good and we'll see how that works.
Until then, I'll poke at the bottle of Lucid for a while. And i'll have it at the bar, just in case.

I mean, I bought kind of cool glasses and everything.

Viktor Olivia's "Absinthe Drinker"

15 November 2008

15Nov-Wow. extraordinary restaurant review
Not of us, though we've had our share of enchanted and dis-enchanted reviews online. This is by A.A.Gill from the London Times on a London restaurant called Bel Canto.

This review fills me with a variety of emotions. It has its moments where it amuses me, delights me, infuriates me, and confounds me.
I must admit to being, at times, as catty as this reviewer, though never in print. And if I ever held court about someone's efforts to the amusement of myself and others at the expense of the first party's feelings in the way that this reviewer does, I would not blame the first party of the first part for punching me very firmly in the mouth.
But I play the game, evidently, and I read the article and am amused by it. And then there's the twist at the end that could almost, but not quite, smooth over any rancor incited by the rest of the article.
And the best part is the readers' comment section: "less bile and spiteful invective than normal..."

AA Gill at Bel Canto
from the London Times
15Nov- What was that?
So Columbia decided to descend upon us en masse tonight. Which is fine; we definitely need the attention. It just caught us a bit by surprise.
I wonder what tomorrow will be like.

update: not so bad

13 November 2008

13Nov- happy little song
sometimes it's nice to have a happy little song with you as the day goes by. Sometimes it's the most irritating thing ever.

I haven't tired of this one yet. And the actual video is charming, too, in a Wes Anderson kind of way but none would let me embed them.

09 November 2008

09Nov-vague notes on the Carolina Wine Source Oregon Pinot tasting
okay. I keep forgetting to have my notes with me (I call them notes. really it's just a bunch of stars, and single words like "smooth", "plump", or "too sweet") so I'll just do this by memory since I feel like i should complete this idea.
Jennifer and I seem to have some differing opinions on our Pinots while our white wine preferences seem roughly the same. In re pinot noirs, while we both dig high aromatics she tends towards fuller bodies that match the intensity of the bouquet and I'm still in a delicate, focused place. Just preferences.
Of all the vineyards available we seemed to agree on two, in particular: St Innocent and Belle Pente.
Belle Pente was completey new to me and it was a very pleasant surprise. Wines these days seem to be getting bigger and bigger, even in the cool climate varietals that used to treasure delicacy and nuance. Even in my favored Oregon there are vineyards that over-extract and push the boundaries of what I consider to be an expression of Pinot Noir, though admittedly it then becomes a genuine and largely valid expression of the winemaker. Unless this new trend of thick, syrah-laden pinots that california is disgorging begins to influence how Oregon produces. then, for shame.
Anyway, my point is that we found Belle Pente to be wonderfully restrained in their style. their gewurztraminer and rieslings were done in very nice, refreshing, dry Alsatian styles and their Murto Vineyard Pinot Noir was really the only Pinot Jennifer and I agreed on. A good balance of aromatics, body, and structure.
The star of the tasting for us was the St. Innocent Pinot Gris. Great body, dryness, acidity, spice, and a glorious minerality. This we decided to make our last tasting that turned into finishing off the bottle, as it was going into a box and i thought we could give it a better home.

So that's going to be on the list, as a by-the-bottle offering. A runner up for our enjoyment would be the Et Fille Pinot Noirs and some Patricia Green Pinots.

Good times had by all. Except for when I returned to the restaurant a little after 6 to find it unexpectedly busy stressed out, even though we hadn't had a busy pre-7 crowd for months. Stupid fate.

06 November 2008

6Nov-picture portion of Charleston Oregon wine tasting.
thoughts on the wines and other things to follow.

here we are pretending to be serious. great wine, though. St Innocent Pinot gris. very dry and minerally. thanks to blonde, green pants girl for taking the picture.

the smoked salmon treat from Gaulart et Maliclet Cafe on Broad St. they were nice enough to make it for us even though it was early and it's supposed to be an evening appetizer. very enjoyable.

here i am pretending to talk while eubanks pretends to listen to my pretend talk. she's a good sport

and this picture i just like. i'm entering a fashion photography contest and i think this is going in

02 November 2008

02-E Lecevan le Stelle
just because

02Nov- Jeez
It's a buck forty-eight (pre-time change) in the morning and I can't get to sleep, for a variety of reasons. Some restaurant related, some not.
So here's some more Tom Waits.
Late night, eyes-kind-of-burning, tongue-kind-of-speechless, kind of music that doesn't make you smile so much as it makes you nod and think.
there's something in here that I just don't feel Tony and Maria can communicate.

01 November 2008

01Nov- Halloween pics
I always dread going in to work the day after Halloween. I never know what foolishness college kids have gotten into on or around our property. But I didn't get an ADT call last night, so it can't be all that bad. It's only a little after 8 this morning so I'll just not worry about it until I have to, I suppose.
Anyway, here are some pictures of the crew, all gussied up in their Halloween finery.

rus' impressively elaborate pirate costume

how i imagine a pirate would look just at the moment of explosion, before he realizes what's going on

jennifer as a terribly comfortable egyptian

dayna as a reluctant pharmacist. much to her disappointment, unforeseeable events prevented her from finishing her teenage mutant ninja turtle costume.
this lack of focus is illustrative of how i saw the entire night, through the gauziness of my costume's mask

alex's costume. as he puts it "alex always wanted to be a cowboy - as he understood it."

i'm not sure what i'm supposed to be. but people seemed unnerved by it, so it went over pretty well

i think the ring ties the whole thing together

27 October 2008

27Oct-NYTimes article on a wine-oriented comic book

I'm torn a bit. I like the idea of making wine more accessible but I'm getting this trendy vibe off of the article. And what if it encourages people to drink certain wines before they, the drinker, are ready for them? Especially considering how much they seem to push French wine. I keep thinking of the gallons of irreplaceable wines being drunk without layered, nuanced enjoyment. I've guided customers, palates tired from enthusiastic drinking, away from some of the better wines we offer because it would just be a damn shame to watch something delicate and precious slurped down to keep a buzz going.
But it's a new culture and a new generation introduced to wine. And the more people who drink it and start to understand it, the less people might perceive it as a haughty beverage. And the article would suggest that much of it is about gaining wine knowledge and enjoying it on a visceral as well as intellectual level with the use of a non-traditional, more approachable (and perhaps more honest?) vocabulary.

And it's refreshing that they love French wine as much as they do. I like what Yuko Kibayashi (one half of the brother/sister team that writes the comic) has to say on the subject of American versus French wines:

“They’re too simple. Wines are like human beings. The first time you meet, instead of being all smiles and wanting to become friends right away, there has to be some formality, some conversation, before gradually becoming close. When you open an American bottle, it’s all big smiles.”

Maybe it's a Asian thing; I don't know. But that's how I like my people and my wine. I find I'm suspicious of someone who's too friendly and open when I first meet them. More often than not I end up part of a sales pitch.

Anyway, here's the article:

Next Week, Our Hero Chooses a Médoc

This is not the hero.

24 October 2008

24Oct - New Yorker cartoon
it's funny because it's true

22 October 2008

22Oct- NYTimes article "restaurants feel the pinch"
Well. It's some some consolation that it's not just us. On the other hand, what a bleak future this spells out.

Across the Country, Restaurants feel the Pinch

Look at them...Brave little soldiers. still smiling in these hard times...
...reading the paper instead of straightening those curtains...

21 October 2008

21Oct- Finally ordered some Eyrie
I'm quite excited about this. This afternoon my Eyrie Vineyards 2002 reserve Pinot Noir arrived. After hearing the news of David Lett's passing I felt it would be an honorable (if somewhat indulgent) thing to toast him with the first of his wines I ever tasted and, after some shopping around, I managed to find some at winerz.com for more than I wanted to spend (particularly with 3-day shipping since I'd hate for there to be a heat spell on its way here) but, I suppose, that's why I have a credit card. And they had a good price on it. Besides, I'm glad that my desired vintage was at least still available for an affordable price. So I'm at work now, waiting for when I return home to open a bottle. I went out and bought some Pinot Noir specific wine glasses from World Market (the Connossieur line, not the more expensive line since the latter actually had a thicker lip than the former). Normally I wouldn't spend money on a varietal specific glass but I wanted a bit of ceremony. And they weren't terribly expensive.

So they're washed and polished and my wine is still in its styrofoam package. And I'm excited about uncorking it and watching its lovely, rust cascade tumble into my new glasses and filling my lungs with wonderful notes of strawberry and earth. And, in particular, I want Leigh to experience this, as well. That 2000 Montille Volnay is going to be a tough one to beat, for her especially, but I think this bottle will do it.
7.30. Only a few more hours before it's Eyrie time.

I'm so happy.
Leigh and I opened the bottle not too long ago, sat on the kitchen floor, and enjoyed the hell out of the wine.
It was not as rusty a color as I remember it but it had a wonderful, light red color that gradually disappeared to clear at the edges. Strawberry on the nose with a touch of earth, but not as much as i remember. And a wonderful, clean, smooth, strawberry entry with a touch of raspberry on the finish. A beautiful finish that lingered on and almost seemed to undulate. Oh, I love this wine. I wish I could afford more of it, but such is the life of the poor restaurateur.
Leigh was duly impressed. We couldn't help but compare it to Montille's Volnay, as that was the last truly impressive pinot either of us has had in a while. We agreed that they came from similar places. What Montille had that Eyrie did not was some brown sugar, dirt, and pipe smoke to the nose, plus a slightly older feel. Eyrie's finish still seemed a tad young, which is wonderful because given how much fruit and acid this has got, I have high hopes for its cellaring potential.
And, as something of an aside, the Pinot specific glasses I got turned out to be much more enjoyable than I thought they'd be. Its wide mouth allowed us to get our noses deep in the glass to enjoy the bouquet while the taper towards the lip concentrated its aroma. And its big bowl, of course, allowed the wine to move and breathe.

So good times, this Eyrie. I miss Oregon.

18 October 2008

18Oct- weekend in the country
I figured it'd be slow enough not to worry, so naturally we had a pretty busy night last night.
but I'm not going to worry about it. They'll be fine.
I work kind of hard. I sleep kind of poorly on account of the working kind of hard. I kind of deserve a weekend off.
So tonight until Monday Leigh and I will be at an undisclosed location with a wood burning fireplace, a capacious bathtub, books, and the following wines.

14 October 2008

14Oct- Oregon Wine god dies

David Lett, Oregon Wine Pioneer, Dies at 69

69 is so young!
His Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir has haunted my dreams since I first had it at Pinot Camp. Where would west coast wines be without this man? Without his bold, daring convictions would Oregon and Washington be producing the focused, clean, and balanced wines of which it's capable?

I wish, wish, wish I had a bottle of Eyrie to open in his honor.
Instead, the closest thing I have is a bottle of 2000 Domaine de Montille Volnay. It's Pinot, focused, perfumed and made by a house that seems to care truly about maintaining a terroir-based identity, ratings be damned.

David Lett deserves a moment of silence over an honest glass of wine.

a young David Lett. photo from www.eyrievineyards.com

update: Today, just after this initial post, I went on winezap and located some bottle of Eyrie Vineyards 2002 Reserve. I could only afford three bottles but I wanted to taste again the wine that moved me that one day in Oregon over a year ago.

here's how we toasted David Lett tonight. Leigh and I opened a wonderful bottle of Hubert Montille's Volnay 1er Crus 2000. A choice which, I hope, Mr Lett would've respected. It was perfumed, light, and translucent with notes of strawberry, earth, brown sugar, and pipe smoke. It reminded me, at least, of Eyrie pinot noirs. We sat back, raised our glasses to him, and just enjoyed all that which the wine had to offer. We discussed its aromas, its flavors, Burgundy in general, and Volnay in particular. We discussed terroir. We enjoyed the wine and each other's company.
I never had the honor of meeting the man but I've had the pleasure of drinking his wine, which I believe is indicative of him in some way. And knowing that, I'd like to think that our toast, our wine choice (in the unavoidable absence of his own wines) and our mindsets were respectful to his beliefs.

13 October 2008

13Oct- self-indulgent post on naps, families, & baan sawan
I think I need to take more naps. I had a relatively busy but benign day but still found myself exhausted by late afternoon. Over a book, a beer, and a cappucino at Cloud Nine I actually fell asleep. That's what i get, i suppose, for drinking a stimulant and a depressant to see which will win.
Working with family is difficult. I think being with family is difficult anyway, but this day after day business I think is weighing heavily on all of us in the family. I described it the other night as having an awkward, tense Thanksgiving dinner 5 nights a week. In addition to this unpleasantness, imagine you've brought an employee who's still coming to a decision about you and your family has no level of discretion. Then toss in the stress of being a business in the throes of economic doldrums and you've just about gotten the idea of one facet of this Baan Sawan craziness.

I fully understand the wonderous, unique and fleeting treasure that is family and that we must cherish all the possible time together that we can. I also understand how important it is to shop early for Christmas.

I think I've taken to dealing with family as i would an upset customer: I try to do my best so that, even if they remain unhappy, I can feel sure that it's not because I didn't try. Which does mean that reduces my pool of people with whom I can be genuine. Which means I'm working that much more. Which might account for my poor sleep, work dreams when I do sleep, and the bags under my eyes on which a server commented when he saw them upon the removal of my evidently stress-concealing eyeglasses.
Work is work, says I. Nobody said this would be easy. That's why they call it "work" and other maxims I use to remind myself that this is life.
Besides. Could be much worse.
Morale of the story? Find the time to take naps. they can be very refreshing.


09 October 2008

09Oct - pointlessly placed Regina Spektor video
I like this. And it appeals to my desire to do rather than to wish I'd done.
And the aesthetic pleases me, though I generally don't care for empire waists. Or French sailor shirts. Or plastic Louis XIV chairs.

07 October 2008

07Oct - Eep.
Thai Protestors trap Legislators

and this is exactly why I didn't want to be a member of Thai Parliament

Anti-government protesters fleeing from tear gas fired by riot police in front of parliament in Bangkok on Tuesday.

04 October 2008

04Oct-pff. and the servers call me cold

03 October 2008

02Oct- Bangkok governor hopeful punches TV Host
Thu Oct 2, 2008 1:28pm BST

BANGKOK (Reuters) - An underdog in Sunday's election for governor of Bangkok punched and kicked a television journalist Thursday, saying he was provoked by tough questions during a live interview.

Chuvit Kamolvisit, dubbed Bangkok's massage parlour king by the Thai press, later apologised for losing his temper and assaulting host Visarn Dilokwanich after the interview.

"I admit I did it. I couldn't stand it when he humiliated me on air," said Chuvit, a stocky former bodybuilder who owned a strip of girly bars before entering politics a few years ago.

"What I did was a petty crime and I am happy to pay the fine for elbowing him and kicking him," Chuvit said at his campaign headquarters next to a park he built and gave to the public.

Visarn filed a complaint with police, saying Chuvit had "behaved like a thug."

"He was very upset when I told him during the show that what he said off-air and on-air was totally different," Visarn said, showing reporters bruises on his neck and head.

(Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Alan Raybould)


So. You know. Think about that.

Chuvit Kamolvisit
02Oct - Slate article on wine & this financial crisis
Will the Financial Crisis affect the price of wine?

29 September 2008

29sept- fantastic way to test temp of meat
The Finger Test to Check the Doneness of Meat
29sept- Franklin's 13 moral virtues
what seems like ages ago (but actually turns out to be no more than 3 months ago) I posted a little thing on Goethe's 9 requisites for contented living.

Tonight, as I make sure this 03Chateau Durfort-Vivens doesn't go to waste, and, as I don't feel myself particularly elevated, I consider opening that 05Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Cab/Merlot blend, I found these 13 moral virtues espoused by Benjamin Franklin.

"The thirteen moral virtues listed by Benjamin Franklin in his Autobiography:

1. Temperance. Eat not to Dulness. Drink not to Elevation.

2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling Conversation.

3. Order. Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.

4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality. Make no Expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.

6. Industry. Lose no Time. Be always employ'd in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions.

7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice. Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.

9. Moderation. Avoid Extreams. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Cloaths or Habitation.

11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity. Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dulness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another's Peace or Reputation.

13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


The Morning Question, What Good shall I do this Day?

The Evening Question, What Good have I done to day? "

It's so easy to recognize and suggest a good way to live, but so difficult actually to live accordingly.

But there they are. some good ideas.
so think about that...

Google images offered this in response to "Benjamin Franklin." It comes from Alexanderscostumes.com, which also, oddly, has a child's John Hancock costume which looks quite a bit like the above only in green.

24 September 2008

24Sept- NYTimes article on inexpensive wines
Modest Luxuries for Lean Times

photo by tony cenicola/new york times

23 September 2008

We're going to need some new servers in a little while and we've been looking for help in the back. I'm constantly reminded of how valuable chemistry is in any relationship. And that's what any interaction is: a relationship. Whether it's the relationship between a server and a customer, a server and the restaurant owner, personality of the restaurant itself and a customer. These are the same ideas that go into an intimate relationship. We all have expectations, compromises, surprises-good and bad, gives, and takes. In order for the relationship to work there needs to be a harmony, a balance between the participants.
It's a kind of understanding, a sympathy, perhaps, that seems to make a difference.

I'm not going anywhere in particular with this line of thought. These are just things that one must consider when hiring or applying somewhere. Does this new person in your life, with whom you're destined to spend a good deal of time, seem selfish? Do they seem understanding? Are they humble but confident? Work ethics. Ethics in general.
Do you get along?

I've heard from plenty of people that you either love or hate Tom Waits. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.
His music speaks to you or it doesn't, I guess.
It's chemistry.

19 September 2008

19sept- autumn winds come blowing in
And push the curtains in the kitchen. They shoosh through the pecan leaves and flutter through the dogwoods and they chill me ever so slightly. The winds smell of decisions and eyes closed tenderly and awkward laughs to distract from awkward but sincere campaigns. The winds whoomp garden torches in unison around a crowd of laughing, tired people who drink warm beer and let fingers linger on loved ones' necks.
An orange moon hangs heavy in the sky, brushing tree tops and reflecting in those eyes.
And it's just cold enough for cuddling to be for warmth, too.

18 September 2008

17sept-ever dream about work?
I think, generally, we all work very hard for a living. Whether how hard we work is perceived as hard by others is a different matter but, largely, irrelevant since the relativity of the experience is what ultimately counts to an individual. I stress "to an individual" because the efforts of a soft, spoiled person who wails about having to take out the trash don't really compare to the stolid, clench-jawed efforts of the laborer who, because he needs the, doesn't complain when he loses a finger in a thresher . If there were an objective way to judge and compare people's toils then we'd have a clear idea of at whom to scoff and with whom to sympathize. But such an objective scratch on the door jamb of life doesn't exist so I feel free to bitch about my own job.

Which I'm not going to do, per se. It just seems like work is weighing heavily on my mind lately.
I don't know whether it's Baan Sawan in particular, and the stresses the servers and their caprice cause me. Or that things have been slow. Or that Fall Break is coming soon and so many of our staff want to go home to see their family (a desire it would take some time for me to understand since I've worked with my family for almost 14 years now.) Or maybe it's the classes I've been taking and recently begun having some difficulty fitting into my week.
Either way, my sleep has been fitful lately. A couple of nights ago I awoke from a work dream. Not restaurant work, but I found myself responsible for the removal of a carpet, then I had to level out the floor underneath, then I had to re-floor. There was a lot to do. As I set to, I awoke from the dream because the knots in my shoulders have been waking me up a lot lately (I can't seem to turn fitfully without some discomfort.) In the space between dream and reality I can remember thinking, "Oh no! I've got to get back to that dream. I have a lot of work to do." So I went back to sleep, though I don't recall going back to finish the job.
While it would be difficult to argue that this is a good dream, I'm just not sure it's strictly speaking a bad dream.
I generally don't make requests for people to chime in regarding these posts, as I usually post with the idea that few people will actually have the patience to read what i write. But if anybody would like to mention their toil dreams, I'd be happy to listen.

16 September 2008

16Sept-NYTimes article on Aglianico
An Italian Name worth Practicing

I've been a fan of this grape since running across it in the dusty corners of one of my distributor's price lists. Having never heard of it before, and finding it fairly affordable, I felt the need to try it and I'm glad I did. Long known as "the Nebbiolo of the South", I've been buying them since I can't really afford the Nebbioli of the North. There are some that are priced low enough to be on the by glass list but these tend to be overly simple, unremarkable wines. The one i have on the by the bottle list I think is very interesting with cherry, tar, and leather notes. And, like most Italian wines, it works very well with food. I'm gratified to see that it's been selling pretty well, too.

Anyway, this is the third of my quiet interests that I entertain at the restaurant that have recently appeared in the pages of the New York Times. Muscadet, restrained California Cabs, and now Aglianico. At this rate I expect to read an article soon on the delicate delight that is Italy's Moscato d'Asti. Then, perhaps, an article extolling the dry, nutty virtues of Amontillado.

13 September 2008

13sept- self-indulgent nada post
so the 12 o'clock hour is coming around and the night is coming to a close for someone who is in the restaurant business but does not live the restaurant life.
How does one shrug off the week?
As I'm now sitting in a house with no wine that's ready to drink before 2013, I'm having a Fin du Monde after a quickly cooked dinner of whatever was in the fridge.
Good/bad? Makes no difference. (good, by the way.)
Watched a 30 Rock as I ate using this website www.sidereel.com
And now there's that awkward part of the evening when I slide into bed and try not to wake up the significant other.
But instead I'll use this time to dump all over the 2003 Chateau Chantalouette.
I chose this wine at random from the Southern Wine catalogue, figuring a 20something dollar bottle would be palatable but, boy, I'll tell you: this was disappointing.
It's a Pomerol but I was expecting more than broadly offered Merlot. It seemed too bright, fruit-forward and simple for my tastes. I decanted it to try to get more out of it but, alas, it had nothing more to offer.
Thank heavens for the Raymond Henriot Brut Champagne I had gathering dust. Its crisp yet full-bodied refreshing quality with toast, citrus and fruit made up for the Chantalouette's feeble personality.

So take that, whomever this post's vitriole is really about despite my ignorance at whom it's really directed. I can only assume I'm not that angry at a disappointing Bordeaux. But seriously. You pay 20something for a bottle of wine, you should expect it to be palatable, at least.
Feh, says I, to Chantalouette.

09 September 2008

09Sept-wonderful cartoon
I think it's wonderful, at least. It's a quiet conversation between milk and a muffin about why one should do those things one wants to do.

click on the cartoon to read the rest.

08 September 2008

08Sept-absolutely pointless and irrelevant video post
I happened to run across this. I'd always been aware that Sandra Bernhard was a celebrity of sorts but I'd never been sure why.
Turns out something about this amuses me.
We should do something like this at the restaurant on Mondays.

06 September 2008

IceOrb: the first vertical ice tray
06Sept-NYTimes article on Cotes du Rhone
Meticulous, modern, and very French

I thought this was an interesting article, even though I don't generally buy Cotes du Rhone. It further illustrates a French movement to appease an American palate which is, by far, one of the most surprising vinous developments I've seen since Australia began exporting really good wine.
It also shows how expensive wine is getting.
There are some styles of wine for which I don't expect to pay much. For years I felt like I could find a good Cotes du Rhone, Dolcetto d'Alba, Barbera, or Beaujolais for under $20. While one still can, it's becoming more difficult. (And when I say years I'm talking about the last 10 years. I wish I could complain, with first hand knowledge, of how inexpensively i could buy classified Bordeaux back in the 80s. I really hope what I pay now won't seem cheap in twenty years...)
One can still find some great deals when it comes to Rieslings. Proper Rieslings, even, with cellar potential can still be had for under $30.

Anyway, speaking of Cotes du Rhone, I've enjoyed, in vintages past, the Santa Duc "Vielles Vignes" Cotes du Rhone. It's a little big because of its old-vine nature but I remember it being lovely. Dusty, leathery nose and restrained dark fruit flavors with touches of those great Southern French notes of lavender and thyme. Nice, dry finish. And it shouldn't cost you anymore than $15 or so.

03 September 2008

04Sept- stupid, self-indulgent struggle
I'm struggling right now with whether to buy a half-case of a mildly expensive wine because I don't want not to experience it again. Meanwhile, billions of people struggle with their own, very real, problems. Maybe if I donate some money to a generous cause I'd feel better about buying wine, but here's the thing: so many of us spend money on things that make us feel better. Be that thing a nice meal, a new outfit, a massage, and so on. Is it so wrong to spend money on wine? No, I'm going to say because that's the answer I want to hear.
I don't have a great deal of money and, really, I should be saving for the future. But I tell myself now what I told myself in high school when my interest was fountain pens: if the time comes when I can't afford a fountain pen I'll be glad I bought it when I could. I worked my ass off to buy that Mont Blanc Meisterstuck....I think it's around here somewhere...

The point is, to a certain degree, these wines are investments. Theoretically, if I wanted to sell my 98 Chateau Montrose in 5 years I might make a bit of money. More realistically, if I wanted to buy a fifteen year old Chateau Montrose in 5 years I'd be out of a bit of cash.
These bottles are more than an expensive way to get tipsy. They are wonderful, exciting rides along the tastebuds. They may recall a good time, like the wonderful Carneros Pinot of which I bought a half case. It reminds me of that Mother's Day we had my side of the family to the house. Or the 4 bottles of L'Ecole 03 Apogee I have waiting, which reminds me of little more than how great a Washington Bordeaux-style blend can be.
A good friend was buying Bordeaux in the 80s and 90s, before the Russians and Chinese came in and showed an interest, which made the whole damn wine world more expensive for all of us. He'll bring out something wonderful that would be silly expensive now that he paid only kind of expensive then. A testament to foresight and patience. Through his taste and generosity I've learned so much about wine and experienced 1st growths I could never afford on my own. And I take that passion and try to transfer it to others, which spoils their tongues and leaves them with a preference that can only be satisfied by pricey wines. And so we taste on, palates against the wine, borne back ceaselessly into the something something something. I like the idea that I might be to others what he's been to me. I want to instill and nurture a passion through my generosity and therefore enrich the world with people who truly care about the vine. A hundred people in a lifetime and one might truly get it, and that one could be enough.
So I'm going to get that damn half-case.
And who cares if I have to slice hotdogs and zucchini into angel hair and on-sale spaghetti sauce for a while? The wine will be worth it when it's finally opened and enjoyed.
This is what passion is all about. Sacrifice. If yours is something other than wine, don't be afraid to work hard and sacrifice to realize it; I believe that it'll be worth it.
Then again, who knows how long we've got? This bite on my leg that I earned while camping could be a poisonous spider bite and not an over-worried mosquito bite. If that's the case and I'm on my way out, I'm opening the 98Chateau Angelus for which I think I overpaid.