22 December 2009

22Dec- Holiday hours
well. it's that time of year again. we'll be closed on the 24th, 25th, 26th and then we'll open again tuesday and wednesday and then close 31, 1, and 2.

so i hope everyone has a good time and is very careful on those roads.

06 December 2009

02 December 2009

02Dec - my lecture on Ansel Adams and Pacific NW wines
So last night's lecture went quite well and for those of you who didn't get a chance to go, here's the text and photos, at least. The Pinot Noir I carry as well as, sporadically, the Riesling. Everything else is available, perhaps exclusively, at Total Wine.

There were so many wines I'd like to have used last night to illustrate my points. I'm having a glass right now of a wine i'd love to have used, the eyrie vineyards 2006 pinot noir reserve from their original vines. unfortunately, i was restricted by price and availability and sponsorship. Total Wine was generous enough to offer several wines. I only used three wines that weren't theirs because i wanted specific flavor profiles that i couldn't find at a reasonable price point at total.
and several of the photos i used are in the exhibit at the columbia museum of art until January 17. I encourage you to view the exhibit, if you haven't already. there's a depth and a character that just can't be captured on a computer screen.
I went off book several times last night but this is what i had written down.

I recently moved into a new house. And outside of it, where I park, there’s a large maple tree. When the leaves started to turn they became a gorgeous yellow and green and every morning, as the sun streamed through them and mottled the car and me, I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I’d seen. It felt almost contrived in the colors and the lighting, as though I were in a sofia coppola movie. Every sunny morning I’d see this and feel this joy of being a part of this natural occurrence and every morning I’d think that I should take a picture of it to remember the moment and the colors and the feeling of being a part of it. And every moment I’d find a reason not to. Running late or I’d put my bag in the back seat and I couldn’t reach the camera comfortably. And one morning, after a heavy rain, most of the leaves had fallen and taking a picture wasn’t even an option.
Timing. That’s the point of that story. The idea of timing is crucial in life in general but one finds it exemplified in so many microcosms. In comedy. In business. In love. And look at how important it is in wine and photography. Pick grapes too soon and the wine is taut and green. Pick them too late and the wine is flabby and hot. Take a photograph at anything but the ideal time, or lighting, or angle and the wrong moment, a less powerful moment, is captured forever. But when things happen just right, you’ve got poetry in a glass. You’ve got poetry in an image.

We’ve all got different ideas of what a good wine is or what a good photograph is. But we’re all here, at least, because we share the idea that, on some level, we enjoy the works of ansel adams and or pacific northwestern wines.

So, as a general tying in of themes, I wanted to look at some of the similarities just in philosophy, as I see them. One of the things I love about the northwest wines is their relative freshness in the global industry. They’ve generally shunned the ideas of the homogenizing of product in that they are producing wines that speak to the land. Wines that aren’t aimed or targeted but wines that express and emote the vagaries of the soil and the weather and the region itself. The terroir, if you will. And that idea of a true expression of the land is key to the works of Ansel Adams. So let’s begin tasting and, hopefully, I can show you the connections that I see.

(OFV estate grown pinot gris)

Let’s go ahead and begin with the OFV estate grown Pinot Gris while taking a look at Adams’ Frozen Lakes and Cliffs from the Sierra Nevada in Sequoia National Park. Tasting this you should be struck by how clean and crisp this is. Both the wine and the image evoke a solidity and a crispness that is at the same time both serious and bright. No wood. No malolactic fermentation. That is to say, no oak treatment which can lend any number of flavor and aromatic notes to a wine and it’s not been allowed to go through the process of malolactic fermentation which, as some of you know, is the conversion of malic acid to lactic acid. Malic acid being somewhat hard-edged and lends crispness and lactic acid being softer and more round.

So, without wood and without malo, this wine remains a purer expression of the pinot gris grape. Just as this image of stone and ice is only that: stone and ice. Compositionally speaking we have this parallel but also philosophically in Adams’ participation in the group known as group f.64, whose ideas can be summed up in their manifesto :
“Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form” This group philosophy was a reaction to the photographic technique known as pictorialism. The movement of pictorialism advocated intense dark-room manipulation and other post-production work in order to be reminiscent of paintings but also to assure a personal artistic expression.
So, here we have a major divide in philosophy that one can find in both photography and wine making: that of personal expression and that of subject expression. Do we see/taste the subject as it truly wants to exist or do we see/taste the subject through the eyes of someone else?

(Washington Hills Gewurz)

Moving on to the Washington Hills Gewurztraminer and this image of Tenaya Creek. I encourage everyone to take a moment with both the image and the wine and, by raising your hand, given the approach I’ve set up here, I’d like to hear some parallels between the two.
We’ve got a fairly classic gewurztraminer style here that’s very floral on the nose but shows more depth than just the nose would suggest. Just as in the photograph we’ve got an idyllic mountain creek setting with the delicate quality of the trees and flowers in the forefront juxtaposed with the solidity of the mountains behind.

(2 mountain winery off-dry Riesling)

I was lucky enough to talk with Matt and Patrick Rawn, the owners and operators of Two Mountain Winery, several times on their visits to Columbia and I was very pleased to hear their enthusiasm and the honesty of their approach to the process. This is something I experienced sometimes in Oregon, as well, and what attracts me to the region. Their approach is very minimal. Again, there’s the desire to let the fruit speak, and the land to speak. In keeping with this there is the idea of respect for the land. The idea of environmentalism that is shared by many of the winemakers in the Pacific NW and Ansel Adams. Over the years Adams received much recognition, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for "his efforts to preserve this country's wild and scenic areas, both on film and on earth.” Both Adams and the NW share a desire to maintain and prolong the beauty and possibility of the region, Adams through his photography and expressions of vistas that should be preserved and winemakers through their wines that speak of a land that is distinctly, wonderfully pacific northwest. Without the distinction of the land and the soil there wouldn’t be the distinction that can be tasted in the wines.
So, again, out of Washington we have this off-dry Riesling. Rieslings in general, if I can digress for one moment, are an often maligned wine. The grape is capable of an extraordinary amount of versatility. From thick and warming and sweet to bone-dry, crisp, and bracingly acidic and everything in between. What we have here is a wonderful example of not too sweet, not too dry. There’s a leanness to it but, at the same time, a firm muscularity to its body. A sinewy quality that I felt was reflected in this photograph of roots in the Foster Gardens in Honolulu. Again, the emphasis is on the lines and the shadows. We see the roots and we get a sensation of solidity yet motion at the same time. A connection to the earth in addition to a sense of motion and fluidity.

(Daedalus Cellars Jezebel Pinot Noir)

Now, in reference to an articulation of the earth, there is the idea with which I’m sure everyone is familiar, the idea of terroir. Terroir is, of course, the expression through wine of a sense of place. Certainly, in France, there are some wines which one can taste and begin to pick out notes of garrigue (that is, lavender and thyme and herbs) and earth and sun and think “Ooh. That’s southern French.” Similarly, there are wines that, through their cherry and cocoa dust and tar and anise, one thinks “ooh. Italy.” There’s an earthiness, and smoke, and freshness of fruit that I think expresses Oregon and that I think this Pinot Noir conveys. There’s a touch of strawberry and a touch of cherry, and a touch of forest to this wine. To me, there’s an expression of origin. To my palate, and I emphasize, to MY palate, this wine speaks of the Oregon that I like. Pinot Noir is such a sensitive and fickle grape that not only does it react dramatically to terroir (look at Burgundy and how Volnay and Pommard aren’t terribly far apart geographically but worlds apart stylistically) but the grape bows easily to the winemaker. It is a careful and exacting winemaker who can coax a pure expression of pinot noir grape and place. And, as we look at this photograph of a barn in Cape Cod, there are few, few other places where this picture could’ve been taken. The Cape Cod style shown here is distinct. The steeply pitched roofs, the paucity of exterior decoration. The symmetry and cleanliness of line. The balance. Again, there’s a simplicity that speaks to a subject that still exemplifies a distinct thought, in this case, Cape Cod.
And, like the wine, while the effect is immediately light there is surprising depth to this. The way the long grass plays off the vertical lines of the fence pickets. The rich texture of the mown grass that leads to the barn and what lies behind the barn itself.

(Whitman Cellars Narcissa Red)

In mild contrast to the idea leaving as much of the artist out of the oeuvre, let’s consider a still-life, like this: Rose and Driftwood. Such an image is composed artificially but discreetly. We aren’t preoccupied with where the rose is vis-à-vis the driftwood. We’re not concerned with how much of the rose we can see and how much of the driftwood we can see. We find ourselves more enjoying the patterns and the textures of the image. The undulations of the line. The shadows and the suggestions of depth. In this way an artist can manipulate without being overbearing about their influence. While still allowing for the subject to speak and for that subject to play off of other subjects. Here we have different, organic subjects, each possessed of a crispness line and a depth and a cleanliness that melds easily with the other while still maintaining their individual personalities. There is a visual balance.
Just as in winemaking a talented and discreet winemaker can manipulate with the intentions of allowing a grape or blend of grapes to speak as clearly as possible. An even-handed oak treatment can lend a touch of sweetness and/or spice to a wine, as in this Whitman Cellars Narcissa Red, not to overwhelm or challenge the inherent fruit but as a method of unification. Aside from any chemical influence on the wine, the structural nature of oak (that is to say, its slightly porous nature) allows for the intake of oxygen. Not enough to oxidize the wine but enough to soften the tannins. Also, the porous nature allows for some degree of evaporation. In a given 59gallon barrel, between 5 ½ to 6 ½ gallons of wine may evaporate which has the effect of basically reducing the wine. Concentrating aroma and flavor compounds. So, of course there’s been noticeable manipulation but driven not by a desire to express one’s own vinous agenda but rather an urging designed to allow the wine to speak more successfully.

(Whitman cellars syrah)

The concept of old world versus new world is, I’m sure, something that’s come up many times and I must admit that, generally speaking, I’m in the category of people who prefer the style of the old world. The Pacific NW, as well as, to a certain degree, South Africa and sometimes South America, frequently reflects qualities of both old and new worlds in a way that I find appealing. This syrah, for instance. Like a new world syrah it is definitely on the full-bodied side. The fruit is ripe and it’s dark and rich however it’s still balanced and relatively clean. One doesn’t leave it feeling coated or overwhelmed by a saturation of purply jam as can be the case with some California syrah, or shiraz as they’d quite likely call it, and one can certainly find this easily in the Australian shirazes. While it has the strength of character to drink on its own, its balance and acid allow for easy pairing with food, which is a concern key to old world wines that seems to be getting lost in the new world desire for boldness and alcohol.
Now, let’s look at this photograph of a freeway interchange in Los Angeles. It almost recalls the roots in Honolulu in its strong, fluid lines. Here, from a distance, the cold, utilitarian man-made structure of a freeway is given an organic warmth. Adams steps back and shows us something unmistakably artificial imbued with the qualities of something natural and ancient. He meshes the two disparate ideas into a one, clear thought. Something contrived with the qualities of being untamed. Something new with the qualities of something old.

So. What I’d like for us to have learned here today is, primarily, the ability to see and drink things differently. Pairing doesn’t necessarily mean wines and food. Wines and music. Food and music. An atmosphere is given more texture when we draw connections between more of the things we enjoy. And, of course, it’s always fun to find connections between things you love. These works of Ansel Adams and the work of all these winemakers and vineyard managers and pickers have all come together today and have shown us the similarities of their philosophies. So, I encourage all of you to seek out, not only these wines and other wines of the region, for I think that while they’re becoming more popular they are still relatively under-appreciated, but also different methods of pairing.
That is all. Thank you.

25 November 2009

25Nov- Oh right! sorry! we're closed thurs, fri, and sat
you know. for the thing. so, we're closed thursday, friday, and sat. and opening back up on tuesday, as per normal.

so... everyone just push out the jive and bring in the love.

20 November 2009

20Nov - beginning of my ansel adams/pacific nw wines lecture
so december 1st i'll be giving a lecture on the above topic at the columbia museum of art, which should be fun. wines have been chosen, photographs have been chosen. now i've just got to write the damn thing. it occurred to me to get up there unprepared and just see how long i can go and still make sense but people are paying money for this thing so i should treat it right.
here's what i've got so far:

I recently moved into a new house. And outside of it, where I park, there’s a large maple tree. When the leaves started to turn they became a gorgeous yellow and green and every morning, as the sun streamed through them and mottled the car and me, I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I’d seen. It felt almost contrived in the colors and the lighting, as though I were in a sofia coppola movie. Every sunny morning I’d see this and feel this joy of being a part of this natural occurrence and every morning I’d think that I should take a picture of it to remember the moment and the colors and the feeling of being a part of it. And every moment I’d find a reason not to. Running late or I’d put my bag in the back seat and I couldn’t reach the camera comfortably. And every night i'd worry that it might rain in the night and by morning all the leaves will have fallen and taking a picture wouldn’t even be an option.
Timing. That’s the point of that story. The idea of timing is crucial in life in general but one finds it exemplified in so many microcosms . In comedy. In business. In love. And look at how important it is in wine and photography. Pick grapes too soon and the wine is taut and green. Pick them too late and the wine is flabby and hot. Take a photograph at anything but the ideal time and the wrong moment, a less powerful moment, is captured forever. But when things happen just right, you’ve got poetry in a glass. You’ve got poetry in an image.

We’ve all got different ideas of what a good wine is or what a good photograph is. But we’re all here, at least, because we share the idea that, on some level, we enjoy the works of ansel adams and or pacific northwestern wines.

So, as a general tying in of themes, I wanted to look at some of the similarities just in philosophy, as I see them. One of the things I love about the northwest wines is their relative freshness in the wine industry. They’ve generally shunned the ideas of globalization and the homogenizing of product by producing wines that speak to the land. Wines that aren’t aimed or targeted but wines that express and emote the vagaries of the soil and the weather and the region itself. The terroir, if you will.


that's all i've got so far. maybe i'll do a little soft shoe, pull a quarter out from behind someone's ear, hold for applause, and that'll be that. begin pouring the wine.

08 November 2009

08Nov- to possible applicants as well as applicants in general
Here's something i don't understand.
the facebook and the myspace aren't exactly elite or secret groups. or like that high pitched sound that allegedly only the youngsters hear.
why do so many applicants sabotage themselves by having embarrassing, telling photos online?

Your online activities can be extraordinarily public. if you want to cut up and act the fool, do so but don't use the same name or email address that you send to a potential employer.
It's great for us because it can speed up the interview process by clarifying how poorly you might fit in. But that's not exactly fair. Photos of you flipping the camera off or crossing your arms over your chest while puffing angrily at the camera may not mean that you wouldn't be a kind and attentive server but it does certainly suggest how you want the internet (read: the world) to perceive you.

if, among your interests, you count indulging in something until you die, that's a bit of a red flag. overindulgence in this business is far too common and i hate having to field the phone call of "yeah, i -whatever- too much last night and i need the day off."

one argues that your business is your business and that's absolutely right. but same here. and if your business is as easily discovered as putting your address into a social networking site which then yields a plethora of choices and mistakes that remind me of why i don't want children then that might very well eventually reflect on my business. maybe it won't but maybe it will.

moral of the story: be careful what you put online. even if you're not applying for a job, just be aware.

06 November 2009

06Nov - plans on changing wines around.

I plan on moving things around on the wine menu. I've kept several wines for several years, sometimes because i feel they're great and staid items but, i suppose, to some degree because i've been too lazy to change them. And sometimes we need come to the realization that we need to change things up even when they appear to be fine. I love the Trimbach Pinot Blanc but i have to ask the question of whether the wine is giving me all that i can expect from a wine or even all that the customer deserves. And sometimes it's difficult to say because i've grown so used to the wine that, while it's new and wonderful to someone else, it's not everything i want it to be anymore.
So things will change, as things do. And there will be a period during which there might not be a specific varietal fully decided upon and i'll be playing with various wines in an effort to find the right one. That's sometimes the fun part (and many people assume so lightly that getting to try thirty is fun. it can be, sure, but it's tiring work when the percentages of what you find palatable, okay, good, and great work against you.) but often the search is the most fatiguing part.

Anyway, i'm sorry if i've ended up taking away a wine that you like or have gotten accustomed to but there will be equally fun and interesting wines coming in.

I'm adding a great, light, easy going Cote du Rhone-style blend from Morgan in Monterey. I've changed pinot noirs to a wonderful Oregon pinot which i think expresses the land very well. I'm working with two Bordeaux, a white and red both from Chateau Suau ("suau" also being the first four letters of our last name.) And I'm thinking about changing up several items that have simply been around for long enough that it's just time for this shake up.

so there we have it.

28 October 2009

28Oct - for no reason, really

22 October 2009

22Oct- Random Thoughts

Being alone does different things to different people. Some people crave it and only find the revitalization they sometimes seek during moments of solitude. There are others who must be around other people for their energy, as though they feed off the life of others. And, as it is with those who want children and those who don’t, it can be difficult for one party to understand the needs of the other.
I see these dynamics work at the restaurant. We have several regulars who come in, primarily, by themselves. They’re content to sit at a table with a book or a newspaper, sometimes nothing at all, and enjoy their meal. As a person who relishes their alone time I understand their decision and am gratified that they’ve chosen our restaurant as one where they can be alone.
And we’ve got customers who are always here with friends and groups of people. They’re often possessed of bigger personalities and, as with the loners, I appreciate that these more social people have found us worthy of sharing with friends, family, and colleagues.
Now, of course, I realize that sometimes the nature of going out is that it’s something one doesn’t always do so how they choose to go out isn’t always indicative of that person’s personality in their day to day. Maybe our loners are always around other people, always entertaining at home, and surrounded by people so much that, when they find an evening to themselves, they seek out the solitude of the table for one. And perhaps the social animals I see are, in fact, much more sedate in their “real” lives and only when they feel it do they invite friends out.
One never knows. One of our servers was surprised to learn that I’m not a social character. I’m outgoing here at the restaurant, of course, but once on my own I rarely seek out the company of others. I’m comfortable with people seeking out mine and will often head out if asked but there are perhaps three or four people in my life whose company I actively request.
I don’t know where I’m going with this. Looks can be deceiving, maybe? From the public social butterfly who’s actually a wallflower to the person who’s normally as sweet as can be but just once has a terrible day and snaps at their server. From the bottle of wine from the great producer that happens to be a dud to the gas station in the middle of nowhere that’s got the best damn fried chicken you’ve ever tried.
You never know. Don’t take anything for granted. Never underestimate. I suppose there’s a lot that can be read into it.
Take what you will.

07 October 2009

07Oct- ran across this the other day

I vaguely remember writing it.


C: Good evening.
B: Good evening, sir. How may we help you.
C: I’d like to try something a bit different.
B: Excellent, sir, we specialize in different. Do you have anything in mind?
C: No, not in particular. Is there anything you’d suggest?
B: So glad you asked. (reaches underneath bar and brings up a bottle, which he presents to CUSTOMER) Here we have Dingo's Cuss, a shiraz from the outskirts of Pemberton, Australia. Fascinating thing about this is that its 12 hectares of vineyards are planted above an ancient Aborigine burial ground.
C: Ancient Aborigine burial ground?
B: Yes, its roots dig deep into the mysticism of their culture. Touch of bramble on the nose, lovely, plump mouth feel and a long, pervasive finish that, if you're in the right state of mind, will wake you up suddenly in the middle of the night experiencing what the Aboriginal grape-pickers call "Terroir sweats". They say it’s some sort of outback, mystical revenge, I call it character.
C: Sounds dreadful.
B: Quite right, sir. Delightfully so. I don’t think you’d be disappointed.
C: Well, I hardly think I’d ever be in the mood for the juice of fruits fed by a bed of dead-man casserole, whether they be mystical or not. I don't think I'm ready for that.
B: Few are. Few are. For the less sacrilegious palette might I suggest this Pouilly-Fume from Domaine Silence. (puts away the bottle and brings up another one) Each grape is hand-picked in total silence by mimes.
C: Hmm? Yes? And what does this noiseless harvest impart to the wine?
B: I’m glad you asked, sir. This wine is so expertly, so carefully made that not a single taste, nary a flavor remains in it. Not even the hint of a bouquet.
C: (indignant) What’s the point, then?
B: Sir, it’s not at all easy to achieve this effect. Much like the pianist who has such control that he can play an entire sonata, pressing each key to its fullest, and not a sound can be heard, this wine is a shining example of talent and restraint. And a bargain at $25 dollars a glass.
C: $25! For a glass of water made by mutes?
B: Ah, ah. Mimes. World of difference.
C: Not- to me. Next, please. It may take a quiet person to make it but it would certainly take a dumb one buy it.
B: How very droll, sir. I shall have to remember that one. (puts away bottle and brings up another one) Perhaps something a little more like this? It's called Indulgence. It's a California wine made in so pure a French, old-world style that the vignerons have gone so far as to import actual French soil from the Languedoc region to their property.
C: Goodness.
B: It doesn't end there. Each vine comes from a pre-phylloxera, original, non-cloned plant. The vineyard is carefully situated on hills landscaped to mimic the soil's native topography and a monstrous geodesic dome has been erected over the entire vineyard in which carefully designed weather machines help to re-create a very specific terroir.
C: Why didn't they just stay in France?
B: The owners are local to California. And are afraid to fly.
C: Oh.
B: The story continues, for the family that owns Indulgence can never leave their dome, for if they do, they are sure to be assassinated by one of the many snipers the Mondavis have hidden in the hills.
C: Fascinating. And the wine itself?
B: Not that great.
C: (frustrated) Not that great! Then why even offer it?
B: It's got a hell of a back story.
C: Well, what do you have that is great, not grown in the final resting place of an indigenous peoples or so carefully produced that it tastes of nothing?!
B: My, you do have a discriminating palette. Why don't you tell me what you'd like me to present you with and we'll see what we can do?
C: Very well. How about something from Bordeaux?
B: What region?
C: Paulliac, if possible.
B: Absolutely possible. And have I got something you should appreciate. Deep within the bowels of the special cellar, tucked safely away under the '61 Bordeaux, there lives a '45 Chateau Latour.
C: (instantly interested) Yes?
B: Truly amazing.
C: Yes?
B: Layered more densely and complexly than the strata of the earth.
C: (more interested) Yes?
B: So warm and rich with a pleasant vegetal touch to it.
C: Sold! I don't care how much it is; I'll take it.
B: (with a flourish) J'reviens! (leaves through the door, returns a moment later, empty-handed) I'm afraid we're out.
C: Oh, for crying out loud! (throws up hands and leaves.)

29 September 2009

29Sept- ugh. i was kind of "that guy" today
So i was at a local, sort of new restaurant today and looking over their wine list, which was small but well thought out. Which is why i was surprised to see a Sancerre Rouge listed as a Loire blend. Always in the mood to learn, and always accepting of my breadth of ignorance, i asked about it. I was told that it was a cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and maybe merlot blend. This seemed like a Languedoc blend but, always willing to believe that i'm wrong, I called up the distributor and confirmed that it was a 100% pinot noir. That was my understanding, that Loire is known for its cabernet franc (chinon) and its pinot noir (sancerre) with ocassional plantings of gamay and cab sauv and other teeny grapes, which usually added in small amounts to Touraine wines.
A part of me felt like this was none of my business, to bring up this oversight. But it seemed so counter to the spirit of the region and, outside of that, it's terribly misleading. Sancerre Rouges (aged, at least) can be wonderfully delicate things. Young ones are more forward but, still, are old-world pinot noirs which are worlds apart from hearty blends of cab sauv, syrah, and maybe merlot. When pairing wines with food, their respective natures are so important.
So. I gently voiced my doubt, always verbally allowing for my being wrong, and then wrote down my findings on the receipt.
I guess i'm writing this to articulate, at least to myself, that i don't like doing that kind of thing but i'm passionate about several fields and misinformation can compromise the enjoyment of these fields for myself and other people.

and it serves as a reminder of how important research is. Of how, as sure as we can be, there are times we can still be proven wrong. And of how being ignorant of the truth isn't something to be ashamed of.
and as bad as i feel about saying something, at least i didn't mention a few mis-spellings on the menu.

15 September 2009

15Sept- i'm of a mind that this is awesome

if i understand correctly, this is a performance of "stand by me" by, simultaneously, many people around the world.

"Stand by Me" performed by musicians around the world from SKAT on Vimeo.

09 September 2009

09Sept- thoughts on progress/awkwardness
This post is borne of a lot but, i must admit, a lot of it is the awkwardness i feel for growing this silly moustache. Now, I told myself I'd grow it because my girlfriend is going out of town and that's the case but now I feel like i have to because I told myself I would. What i didn't count on was this terribly awkward phase during which i feel like i need to explain to people that i don't actually think i look good this way but that this is only a step as part of a larger idea.
Which made me think about progress in general and how, sometimes, it's an idea that frightens a lot of people. Sometimes the idea of taking on a new challenge is daunting to people (me, often) and i broke this down to feeling odd about the shaky fawn legs of learning. I have a friend who took up the violin when most men are finally settling into their careers.
I think taking on a new challenge is brave as well as realistic. And i think it separates those of us who are willing to look foolish as we grow into something from those who are hesitant to look foolish in front of others. They are those who may be turning their backs on all that they can be. But, for crying out loud, we're all growing. We're none of us fully evolved creatures.
I'm constantly learning. I'm constantly accepting that I have limits. I'm frequently in talks with people who are much better learned in the fields in which i wish to excel. I'll probably always have issues with correct pitch in my singing lessons. I'm slowly learning that growing a moustache may be a mistake. But i'm also quite willing to accept that looking foolish is a part of life.
I encourage everyone to embrace the things that may make you a better person but, in the meantime, may make you look silly. Because who cares? And you never know if don't try.
but then again, as w.c. fields said, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it."

07 September 2009

07Sept- nice

01 September 2009

01Sept- so this is kind of interesting
according to the wiki-thing:

The Seven Blunders of the World is a list that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi gave to his grandson Arun Gandhi, written on a piece of paper, on their final day together, not too long before his assassination.[1] The seven blunders are:

  • Wealth without work
  • Pleasure without conscience
  • Knowledge without character
  • Commerce without morality
  • Science without humanity
  • Worship without sacrifice
  • Politics without principle

This list grew from Gandhi's search for the roots of violence. He called these acts of passive violence. Preventing these is the best way to prevent oneself or one's society from reaching a point of violence.

To this list, Arun Gandhi added an eighth blunder, rights without responsibilities.[2]

According to Arun Gandhi, the idea behind the first blunder originates from the feudal practice of Zamindari. He also suggests that the first and the second blunders are interrelated.

Not to trivialize them, but why aren't these included? :

-Never get involved in a land war in Asia

-Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line

26 August 2009

26Aug- something of a blog explanation
I poked a bit through some recent posts and, though I knew it tends towards the self-indulgent, I suppose I'd lost track of just how self-indulgent it's become.
I'm deciding that this is not necessarily a bad thing.

I rationalize the bulk of my posts by making them at least peripherally restaurant, food, or wine related. Fortunately, the restaurant life exists as a broad spectrum of experiences many of which have little to do with food.
Truly, within the last nearly fifteen years of being in this business and every day that i continue to be in it, I learn something about the nature of people and myself. If one is observant and analytical, this business is a rather in depth sociological, anthropological, and psychological study.
By observing interactions among guests, between guest and staff, and even just between guest and restaurant (as in the first few seconds of entering: expression, where their eyes go, body language- such as those people who walk in, cross their arms, and twist at the waist to look around) one can get a thumbnail sketch of personalities.
Coming to a conclusion about driving forces in other people is all fine and well as an exercise but it's in the more personal applications that those conclusions become important. If I learn more about myself and my own interactions with strangers and loved ones alike, then I think I'm coming out ahead.

What does this have to do with posting these ruminations? Well.
Partially to give the potential customer some insight into the personality of the restaurant. While the store isn't suffused solely with my personality I think there lingers about the place some of my undertones. Before a customer walks in, reading an explanation of why it might take a while for the food to come out on a busy night might prepare them. Or why, if they have something to sell me, they should probably give it a second thought.
Partially to flesh out early Baan Sawan experiences. Many of these thoughts and concerns are brought up around the bar only and I feel like these musings, and the musical interludes I add here, echo the overarching, more personal atmosphere that is experienced by a few, long standing regulars. The blog becomes, therefore, something of a suggestion of what it's like to be an inner-door client. Just reading it won't get you free wine, though.
And partially as a learning tool for personalities. As some of you know, I've been taking Tai Chi for almost 2years now and have begun assistant teaching and teaching a few classes on my own, here and there. Frequently, because of my own inexperience, I will be able to see what needs to be corrected in a student because I'm at fault for the same flaws. If I can observe, comment upon, and see what needs to be corrected then I'm closer to correcting myself. Often we are unaware of what could use improvement. This blog addresses, from time to time, the improvements many of us could use. And if I had to tie it in to the restaurant, I try to groom all of us to be better customers to the hard-working restaurant staffs out there in the world.
And partially as a marketing tool. I've got to rationalize the bucks spent on my advertising degree somehow. Not advertising the restaurant just isn't doing it.

And, sure, if I really wanted to I could come up with many more, more self-serving reasons but I'm sure all of you can fill in the blanks. Besides, I've got some linen to pick up at the factory since somebody didn't deliver yesterday.

26Aug- a scene from "The Three Amigos"
because it amuses me.

25 August 2009

25Aug- some thoughts on generosity.

That's what I was going to write about. I was going to comment on various motivations behind generosity. I see many different kinds of generosity manifest at the restaurant: Altruistic and self-serving. Obligatory and faute de mieux. Pity and sympathy.
And it seemed the more I thought about it and the more I delved into potential motivations the fewer I found and the more self-serving those few appeared. I had, perhaps, been influenced by something that Sartre said: "Generosity is nothing else than a craze to possess. All which I abandon, all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives."

So I sought out other people's thoughts on the subject, hoping that I'd come across at least some academic paper that proposed a similarly dismal construct as I'd formed but I couldn't find that much. There's plenty on motivation and influence. There's a little on generosity and forgiveness broken down to the behavioral level (which was close.)

What I did find was a lot of articles written by very happy people. People who either didn't consider driving forces or who dismissed primal gratification as a reason. There were plenty of articles that perceived generosity as a beautiful thing. Suggestions that generosity is, in and of itself, an act of generosity.

And I started thinking about why I was so intent on breaking down something so positive in an effort to find something negative or coldly behavioral. Why would I read someone's presentation of a tree offering its fruit as an act of generosity and see only that the tree is trying to spread its seeds as widely as possible by sheathing them in something edible so that they'd be consumed and deposited elsewhere?

And it occurs to me that, while I may see the cold side of the situation that's no reason I have to dwell on it. I think too much.
Why not embrace the warm side?

16 August 2009

16Aug- restaurant/customer chemistries then a digression

We had a particularly busy night tonight. And we all noticed a peculiar trend.
I've mentioned the necessity for a positive chemistry in this business, whether it be with restaurant-staff or staff-customer or even restaurant-customer. We have a personality as a whole and, within that personality, there exists personality cells that comprise our staff. Generally speaking there's a personality type that syncs well with our own and it seemed, oddly, that tonight sort of felt like a first date that was lacking. There was awkwardness and some pregnant pauses. Even among specific tables there appeared to be poor fits: couples who weren't talkative with each other. Body languages that suggested that their minds were elsewhere (each person leaned away from each other while they eyes flitted over everything but their companion.)
Things just seemed a little off tonight and the energy permeated everything. The result, of course, was stress. Which is the perfect time for latent stress and anger to come out. I've been a bit prickly lately, I think. Less able, or less willing, to be patient or show patience behind our office or kitchen doors.

How strange, how organic a being a restaurant can be. How independent of our control can a general mood be.

It occurred to me tonight, in the thick of things when there was much to be done and too little time and too few hands to accomplish them gracefully, the pointlessness of it. And I don't mean that in a depressive, dreary sense but only in the sense that outside of our walls, on the still rain-slicked roads of 5points, and Shandon, and Columbia, and South Carolina, there were probably very, very few people out there in the world who would be affected, right then, by the seeming chaos that reigned within. And that in no more than an hour (certainly no more than two), the running and the tension and the noise would all give way to a quiet, nearly empty restaurant. And shortly after that, just me as I finish paper work and straighten things and hear my footsteps and turn all the lights off to reveal a patchwork of shadows and blue/grey light that few have seen. And then the restaurant will be empty until it all happens again.

But sometimes a night will stick with you. Sometimes a night can change you. It can manifest itself in countless ways but sometimes, through the murky and dense forest of experiences that covers our memories, a phrase or a look; someone's smile or a heartfelt gesture will rise above that forest canopy, a tower of profundity and purpose, and become a part of your soul's vocabulary. An experiential phrase or thought you want to reference again and again.

Maybe, hopefully, this happened for someone in our restaurant tonight. Maybe someone left with their hearts a little fuller, their souls assuaged. Maybe somebody drove home feeling like more of a complete person.
That would be nice.

14 August 2009

14Aug - Agua Fresca recipe
I love beverages. Drinkables in general bring me much pleasure.
(I could go for a bright, fresh, cold, and slightly sweet drinkable right now.)

NYTimes - Summer Freshness, sipped from a glass

11 August 2009

11Aug - forgot to post this ages ago.
Anne P. wrote this up several month ago and I'm just putting it up. I love her term "oeno-analyst." If I can help someone find a wine they like, whether it's at my bar or elsewhere, I'm happy. What's important is that people are drinking.

05 August 2009

05Aug- Brilliant recipe for lollie-pies

05Aug- Miles Davis, Bye Bye Blackbird

04 August 2009

04Aug- rambling account of a kangaroo lunch
One of our severs is leaving. Jennifer. So because of her interest in consuming exotic/interesting/beautiful animals I acquired some kangaroo tenderloin. My intention had been to grill the kangaroo and serve it on a layer of champagne/mushroom risotto. The tenderloin would’ve been surrounded by slow-roasted mushrooms topped with quartered sesame-marinated hard-boiled quail eggs with a quail egg sunny-side up centrally placed atop the kangaroo steak proper.
Naturally, I waited until the last minute to buy the quail eggs and the only place in town which seems to have them is the Hyundai Korean Grocery on Decker Blvd, which was closed on Monday. Drat, said I. So I thought I might head out to the Asian grocery near Broad River Road, but that suddenly seemed terribly far away so I headed up the street to the European Corner Store on Two Notch Rd where I’d bought some wonderfully thick, cut to order Gypsy Bacon. I don’t know what, specifically, made it gypsy but I do know that it was rich, flavorful, and totally worth the price. I thought if I couldn’t have quail eggs I could at least have something interesting and saltily flavorful on top. Upsettingly, as I pulled into the parking lot next to a moving van and entered the store, I discovered that the European Corner Store was no more and was replaced, instead, by an empty room save for three people with dollies carrying boxes and looking at me quizzically. Mildly-plussed I turned around and headed to the German Meat Market, also on Two Notch, thinking that they might have something interesting. They may very well could’ve but I wouldn’t find out that day as it was also closed on Mondays. So, I went ahead to the Asian market off of Broad River where I did not find quail eggs but did find jellyfish head, an interesting animal that Jennifer hadn’t tried.

So. Lunch consisted of a jellyfish head appetizer, which turned out to be oddly crisp. Sort of a pliant, rubbery consistency with a peculiar crunchiness to it. It came with some seasoning packets which gave it, I suspect, the bulk of its flavor. The kangaroo tenderloin was purchased from Fossil Farms. Lightly seasoned with sesame oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper and grilled to medium-rare, it tasted like lean beef tenderloin. I went with Boar’s Head bacon crumbles on top, which Jennifer took care of. I took the bacon fat and added some of it to the sparkling wine, mushroom risotto. A layer of risotto covered the plates (with a light layer of grated pecorino romano), the kangaroo, and then sprinkled with bacon crumbles. Naturally, a glass of the remainder of the Mumm Brut Prestige used in the cooking was consumed during the cooking process and, to pair with the lunch, we went with the 1999 Guigal Lieu-Dit St. Joseph Rouge, an all Syrah Rhone that time had smoothed out to a fine tannin with some strawberry, light cherry, and leather notes.

So that’s her good-bye dinner, served for lunch, on the Monday before the Saturday that she leaves.

27 July 2009

27July- blah blah blah wine blah blah sigh

I usually enjoy my memories. The more time passes the more that's all anyone of us will have so it's good to learn how best to spend time with them now, I suppose. I will sometimes languish and swim in my memories when I'm not keen on the present and sometimes the memories will insist themselves upon me, at times when I neither expect nor appreciate them.
Just to keep this mildly restaurant related, some of my most frustrating, yet wonderful memories are about wine. I want deeply, at times. I like to want. Wanting makes me feel alive and illustrates that there is something that I want, which sometimes leads to a filling of that void, which can sometimes be satisfying. Wanting is natural. Emptiness is natural and is eternally bound in spirit to the filling of that void. It is that balance that I seek and that balance that can be so frustratingly beyond my reach, at times.
There are bottles of wine that have sent me on voyages of the palate the memories of which have made me get quiet and contemplative suddenly when I've been having a good time. A note, a suggestion within the structure of what I might be drinking may send me back to a time when another wine pleased me on a higher level. The experience of an extraordinary bottle of wine can be like a close moment with a lover. When the world goes away and you're left with all that's important at that moment. When you want to laugh and smile wistfully and bask and consume and possess and be possessed and understand and be understood all at the same time. When an aroma and a flavor suddenly integrates itself into your memory like the sweetness of that first kiss or the smell of that special, close layer that hovers just above the skin, close enough that only someone with their nose against the nape of a neck can experience it. A sudden meshing of being, a connection between what a wine has to offer and what a wine drinker needs that can only be described as chemistry and that, upon experiencing it, makes your throat hitch because you feel like you've seen a beacon of light on a pitch black night on rough seas.
I don't think I'm over-selling this. To paraphrase Nabokov, you can always count on a wine-lover/romantic for a fancy prose style.
Where was I? Right. Memories. Frustration. Wine. There's a wine right now that lives at the restaurant. I took it there once when I went out of town so that, god forbid, the house got broken into I wouldn't lose all of the good stuff. It's that one bottle that isn't for sale. Not that it's rare or particularly nostalgia-ridden. It's mostly that it's so expensive that I haven't drunk it yet and it's expensive enough that it's not likely to sell. It's not a big name. It's not from a region that, in and of itself, demands high prices. It's an IGT, but it's a super-Tuscan and it's a glorious example of the winemaking art and every so often I become aware that it's there and that I'm not drinking it. A thinness of glass separates it from me. And I want to hold it and look at it and open it and then experience it with all the raw ends of my craving. But I don't.
And in a larger sense, I don't know why. I have it.
It's mine.
One of the things that's considerably different from my "lover" analogy. This is an experience I can choose to have as easily as simply opening the wine cave door, removing a cork, and pouring a silky ribbon of wine into a glass. I don't have to wait until we're alone. My consumption of it isn't dependent on the whimsy of synchronous desire. And, sure, it's expensive but the money's spent already.
I've decided to open it. I know why, for whom, and roughly when. And maybe it will be everything I remember and maybe it'll disappoint, but the experience will add another layer to my memories of it and another reason to stop, on whatever night during which I might be having a good time sometime years in the future, and remember the time that I had that bottle.

24 July 2009

24July- deciding on a vignette for Miller High Life
if anybody wants to vote for one in particular...

Miller High Life:

“Things could be worse,” he told himself. “things could always be worse.” He sighed heavily as the old man played the same song on the jukebox for the 5th consecutive time. He lifted his Miller High Life, enjoyed a sip of its light, easy-going manner, watched in the mirror behind the bar as two hooded men entered with guns, and then, as Otis sang “Try a Little Tenderness,” things got worse.

I danced all night, or so I’d been told. I enjoyed light, easy-going Miller High Lifes all night, or so I’d been told. I made out with a classmate, or so I’d been told. I wish someone had told me this was a party seminary.

"She was quiet with concerned eyes and silky hair and skin my lucky senses enjoyed for a short while. I'd daydream sometimes I was a miniature man living in a tiny cabin on her suprasternal notch. I'd stand on the porch in the mornings and early evenings, rest my hands on the railing, close my eyes, and breathe in her light perfume that mixed seamlessly with her skin's own delicate scent. Or a recent shower might've left a droplet of water there and I'd backstroke lazily in it, looking up at her chin - the chin I'd kissed and held between my teeth whenever I could. I saw someone the other day with fingers that looked like hers: long and delicate like a willowy ballet dancer's legs and my own fingers ached at the memory of her fingers sliding along my palm to hold my hand. Inner elbows I'd stroked. Hair I'd brushed from her forehead. Her hand on my thigh ... I guess it's those little things that stick with you. How she pronounced certain words. That look...in her eyes that night....What's that? Oh. I suppose that didn't answer your question, did it? I'll take a Miller High Life, please."

22 July 2009

22july - ken nordine spoken jazz

21 July 2009

21july- 1 link to 100 easy, fast recipes

The 100 easiest, fastest recipes. ever.

There are some fun ideas in here, both as complete thoughts and as good jumping off points for a more elaborate meal. and I don't know why the font size varies so dramatically.

19. Basquian lemon shrimp

In a bowl, mix together zest from half a lemon, its juice, a finely minced garlic clove, a small spoonful of finely chopped red onion, a small handful of pitted and coarsely chopped oil-cured black olives, a few coarsely chopped smoked anchovies, a dash of aged sherry vinegar, a glug of extra-virgin olive oil, and a pinch of pimentón de la Vera. Toss in six to eight cooked and shelled prawns and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Serve over a few thick slices of grilled peasant bread. (Pimentón de la Vera is available at brindisa.co.uk.)

89. Fresh strawberries with almond crème anglaise

Put 100g chopped almonds in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until beginning to toast, about three minutes. Add 200ml each of milk and cream, 120g sugar and four egg yolks, and whisk well to combine. Cook, whisking almost constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil. While the sauce is still hot, strain it through a sieve and let cool a bit. To serve, put a handful of washed, hulled and quartered strawberries in each dish, drizzle with the warm sauce and garnish with 50g slivered almonds.

60. Chef Ichiro Kubota, Umu
Avocado wasabi salad dip

Mix avocado purée with the same amount of wasabi. Season with sea salt and sesame oil to taste. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with seasonal vegetables or crackers.

21July-self-indulgent post or "opportunity is not a lengthy visitor"
This doesn't even count as advice, really, just as an observation. and it's from the musical "into the woods." Do with it as you will, i suppose. the implication is, of course, not to let opportunity go by but what does that mean? At what cost is it all right to miss an opportunity?
Have I mentioned this before? I don't know.
We're surrounded by opportunities every day. We miss opportunities every day. And every time we make a decision to pursue something we turn our back on countless other chances.
An endless ocean of choices that can become a burden if you let it.
What can make it worse is when we don't think in terms of right or wrong. Right and wrong narrows a person's choices, with good reason, perhaps, but then we need to consider what's right and what's wrong.
Conversation is a great example of this. What we choose to say. how we choose intone. Once things are said they're out there and we have to live with the results.
Let's say we're talking about wine, since i do a lot. There's no right or wrong. There's what I like and what i don't like. Sure, there's good/bad in the sense that a wine can have turned or be corked but there's no telling until after the bottle's been opened. After the choice has been made. But fate determines that occurrence; that's out of our hands. But in the store there's only the bottle. And there's the choice you have to make. And the ramifications for having made it.
There's a bottle of Laurel Hood Pinot Noir that I'd like to enjoy right now. I honestly don't remember that much about it other than I liked it a lot. Some earth and strawberry, i seem to recall. just how i like my pinots. But now's not the time to open it. The wine is probably ready, though a few years in bottle will benefit it. I'm not ready for it, quite frankly. I want it. I'm in the mood for it but right now it would be self-indulgent and selfish to open a bottle.
I have absolutely no idea where this is going.
So how do I sum this up? I suppose there's the idea of taking care. Where do we land on decisions? Is there a right or wrong decision or is there only how we choose to live with the decisions made? I don't have a clue.

choose your words carefully.

don't try to enjoy a bottle of wine unless you're both ready.

I'm deciding to try to go to sleep.

a ukulele/guitar version of Waits' "just another sucker on the vine"

17 July 2009

17July- oof. and oeuf
What an odd week it's been. Tuesday was pleasantly busy. Nice and steady. Wednesday was dismally slow. Then Thursday came and threw us all for a loop by being quite busy. The business equivalent of expecting there to be one more step on a flight of stairs but you know what? There wasn't. We tried to keep everyone informed on how, when their order is placed after 6 other tables (two of which are tables of 6), things will take a while.

So. what will tonight bring? At least we'll be going into it expecting high volume.

Of the many lessons this restaurant has tried to teach me unpredictability ranks rather high.

anyway. what will happen will happen.
here's a cool looking recipe for scotch eggs:


and a list of blogs for the home cook:


peggy lee, just for fun

15 July 2009

15July- this seems like a neat book
"What we eat when we eat alone"

I find myself eating alone a lot, as frequently when i return home Leigh is asleep. I enjoy the cooking process and often cook myself a protein, a starch, and a vegetable. last night, however, i enjoyed the 311 pizza from Bar None. I really like that pizza.

anyway, this seems like a book i'd enjoy reading.

14 July 2009

14July- well. back to work.

I wonder, sometimes, how to gauge the worth of time spent. I can see how this might be a good or a bad exercise but I think it's important to take stock, from time to time.
So, after a week off, I try to see what kind of work I got done. What kind of fun was had. what kind of progress was made in any theater of my life, whether it have any kind of intrinsic or social value.
The troughs and peaks of this last week have given me plenty to think about.

High on the list of food for thought is the importance of situational awareness. This is relevant to any arena life but we tend to forget it so quickly. The more comfortable we get the more likely we are to feel safe and, therefore, the more likely we are to begin ignoring the things going on around us that might have some impact on us.

So often, I believe, the things that bring us stress and calamity we, ourselves, could've prevented. Whether it be underplanning or underestimation or some other example of hubris, we often find ourselves in situations observation, common sense, consideration of the ramifications, or research could've righted before it got wrong.

Of course, I don't discount the value of luck, whether good or bad, in having a role in the outcomes in our lives.

So what's it going to be tonight? tomorrow? this week? Masters of our own fate? Prey to the whimsy of chaos?
Or is life, in fact, like a pinball machine? It shoots out a situation that arbitrarily caroms hither and yon and, depending on if we're paying enough attention and quick enough, we either see it coming or we allow it to pass us by.

I don't know. But it never hurts to keep your guard up and be light on your feet.

kind of a depressing way to illustrate a point, but I think she does a great job of this song.

10 July 2009

10July-just a reminder: closed tonight and Saturday

That's all, really. We return on Tuesday.

08 July 2009

08July- a random account/recipe of my fried chicken

I fried chicken just now.
In these lean times, financially speaking (not lean everywhere. a bit of an extra presence has begun to suggest itself around my waist. we all pretend it's not there, but it is. this fried chicken won't help.) I enjoy exploring the possibilities of the more affordable meats. Chicken, by far, being the most versatile. Having enjoyed its more healthy aspects I've leapt upon its hedonistic, unhealthy side.

So some music goes on: http://8tracks.com/joemiller/groove-plane?play=1 and I put some oil to heat. I season my drumsticks. some might argue that seasoning before dredging is foolish but I do it anyway. I season with sesame oil, garlic salt, sea salt, chili powder. chili flakes. Some dried dill and paprika.Maybe some dried oregano and rosemary. ooh. some dried thyme is also nice. I then shake some vodka and Goya jamaican style ginger beer with some ice and pour into a martini glass. This is very important.
Here's where i begin to work on the macaroni and cheese. I salt some water and boil the mac.

The chicken's marinated for a bit so I add a little bit of milk to it and roll the drumsticks. I use corn meal instead of flour, so i season the corn meal with the same seasoning as I did the chicken and then I double dredge each piece before putting them in the oil.

As they bubble and pop and generally try to make a mess of your stove top you should shred some cheese. drain the macaroni and return to the eye. melt butter and mix. I add a bit of salt here, too, and mix in an egg or two. I let it think about that for a minute while I check on the chicken and wonder whether i should invest in a meat thermometer. Then I add a good bit of cheese to the macaroni with a dollop or two of, ideally, half and half and mix while I listen to James Brown singing "Popcorn." When that's smooth (the mac and cheese, for Brown is always smooth) I transfer it to a lightly greased casserole dish and top with more cheese, because I don't think ahead in terms of my health. I toss that into the oven (more accurately, my toaster oven) at some randomly decided upon heat level and let that go until it bubbles a bit (usually 15 or so minutes.)

At this point you should be on your second ginger beertini and the chicken should be done. Let those rest on some paper towels for a few minutes (or more, if your significant other hasn't come home yet even though she said she was probably going to have been home twenty minutes ago.)

When you're ready, serve and let nature take its course.

I don't know why I brought all of this up, other than to suggest that frying chicken can be fun. if you like that sort of thing.
And since we're closed for this week, this is something you could do.

02 July 2009

02July - closed saturday 4th as well as the entirety of next week
I know, i know; I've been terrible about updating. I still have one last update from my glorious Oregon trip, including a comment on walking through the hallowed vineyards of Eyrie with Diana Lett, an emotional experience not, I'm sure, unlike being given a tour of the white house by jackie kennedy.

So I owe everybody that. and I'm sure tushes are at the edges of their seats at the prospect.

Anyway, we'll be closed on the fourth all the way through the following week and then resuming our regular schedule on the 14th.

during that time I shall endeavor to update more regularly.

here's a video of ray charles and stevie wonder singing "living for the city", just because.

27 May 2009

27May - 3rd and 4th days

raptor over the Renegade Ridge vineyards of Archery Summit

sun rising, casting Mt Hood in sharp relief.

standing in a vast field of hay.
thanks to jennifer, snakes were on my mind the whole time

a cement, egg-shaped fermentor from burgundy that archer summit uses to make their extremely limited production of pinot gris.

the barrel room of st innocent

bottle of Remy Wines Sangiovese from the Rogue Valley that Jack from Noah's Wines opened for us. nice cherry and dusty, dry darker fruit notes.

Leigh relaxing at noah's in McMinnville

relaxing over a glass of Broadley 04 Pinot Noir, with beautiful earth and strawberry notes, while catching up on my L'Ecole no.44 spec sheets provided by Jack.

25 May 2009

24May- 2nd Day

The dessert menu from the Dundee Bistro. Very well-informed, albeit sporadically available, server. I hope we're not described as "sporadically available" too much.

This was the Vande Rose bacon with the triple cream and hazelnuts. and a strawberry compote. This was extraordinary. I've never had bacon I've enjoyed more. Deeply flavored, rich. So wonderfully fatty, though structured. just amazing.

the approach to Erath. Much bigger than I thought. And so many people there. So many drunk people.

Slow-cooked mushrooms in a red wine, butter sauce with freshly-picked rosemaries and oregano. Slightly cheaper than eating out and, frankly, i just like to cook. Although I did overcook the steaks a bit. And Brad of Dundee Manor was a dear to let me cook in his kitchen. I hope he finds a use for all the Tillamook butter i bought and had to leave in his fridge.

23 May 2009

23May - 1st day back in Oregon
Through Leigh's loving generosity, we're spending this week in Oregon. Right now, for instance, we're in Oregon.
As we've been on the go since 2.30 this morning (I opted not to sleep last night, as I still had to pack), I'm getting a touch weary but not so much that I can't thoroughly enjoy this wonderful B&B in which Tom C. from Southern Wine was kind enough to put us up for a couple nights. Leigh's enjoying the patio on our room right now while I'm pecking this out along with a bottle of Lange Winery's Kissyfish Rouge, a mysterious blend that is bright and fruity with a touch of spice. Talked a bit with Jesse Lange about finding a distributor in South Carolina, as I fell in love with their Pinots, only to have them disappear.
Flew through Minneapolis, after having missed our morning flight as a result of the airport being choked with people this morning, including not one but two people we happened to know. weird. The woman ahead of us, so annoyed by the prospect of having to wait and possibly miss her flight (which, at that point, was a given) was full of snarkiness and bile. Who thinks that attitude will help at all? I don't know.
We wait now and enjoy the peace that a clement Oregon day has to offer before dinner and much needed sleep.

is my hairline receding? kind of looks like it's receding....

had a beer here in the minneapolis airport. friendly bartender.

13 May 2009

13May- random jazz manouche video

for those of you who want to sing along:
Ménilmontant mais oui madame
C'est là que j'ai laissé mon cœur
C'est là que je viens retrouver mon âme
Toute ma flamme
Tout mon bonheur...
Quand je revois ma petite église
Où les mariages allaient gaiement
Quand je revois ma vieille maison grise
Où même la brise
Parle d'antan
Elles me racontent
Comme autrefois
De jolis contes
Beaux jours passés je vous revois
Un rendez-vous
Une musique
Des yeux rêveurs tout un roman
Tout un roman d'amour poétique et pathétique
Ménilmontant !

Quand midi sonne
La vie s'éveille à nouveau
Tout résonne
De mille échos
La midinette fait sa dînette au bistro
La pipelette
Lit ses journaux
Voici la grille verte
Voici la porte ouverte
Qui grince un peu pour dire 'Bonjour bonjour
Alors te v'là de retour ?'

Ménilmontant mais oui madame
C'est là que j'ai laissé mon cœur
C'est là que je viens retrouver mon âme
Toute ma flamme
Tout mon bonheur...
Quand je revois ma petite gare
Où chaque train passait joyeux
J'entends encor dans le tintamarre
Des mots bizarres
Des mots d'adieux
Je suis pas poète
Mais je suis ému,
Et dans ma tête
Y a des souvenirs jamais perdus
Un soir d'hiver
Une musique
Des yeux très doux les tiens maman
Quel beau roman d'amour poétique
Et pathétique
Ménilmontant !

10 May 2009

10May - an aside

It's interesting. I suppose in many ways it's a matter of perception, but when I find satisfaction in getting through a difficult night, such as Saturday night, it isn't in terms of having succeeded in getting through it but in having succeeded in not having failed at it.
Despite my suspicion that things would be busy, I had allowed myself to be surprised when, in the course of ten minutes, we went from a single table of 7 to a full restaurant (including another table of seven) and a short wait. Things went a bit blurry for a while but I did find some satisfaction in not responding to the situation as I'd be inclined to and as I had in a recent nightmare of mine, which was rather like Saturday night. In my dream I stopped, announced that i was going home to lie down for a minute, and that I'd be back.

Stress is interesting. How we deal it it. How we don't. How we might need it sometimes to feel alive.

Maybe we can start advertising an evening as a server on a busy night as an extreme sport.

05 May 2009

05May - some thoughts on this weekend

well, this weekend will be both graduation and mother's day.
I just wanted to remind everyone that we don't accept reservations. Also, for parties of 6 or more, we don't separate checks.
Should there be a party of more than 6 people, two tables need to be put together, which naturally means that they'd have to be available.

On the plus side, I understand the new Depeche Mode album is pretty good.

29 April 2009

29April - NYTimes article on American Pilsners
Not always my the most interesting style to my palate but there's certainly a place for it in my fridge, particularly in the heat of the South Carolina summer.

Take These Out to the Ballgame

As an aside, speaking of Victory beers, I hear the Cock & Bull will be getting the Victory Stout. I like that beer. And I will drink that beer.

Also, as an aside, is it really already the 29th? That's messed up

26 April 2009

26April - great comic strip

19 April 2009

19April- Morgan Winery's Pinot Gris, Syrah, and Verdelho.

So I received the bottles sent to me by Tom from Morgan Winery. Always an exciting event, opening up a mailed box filled with wine.

Naturally, the one i started with was the Pinot Gris, which was beautiful. Softer than I'd expected it to be but it definitely had that spice that I enjoy and the minerality I look for. The Syrah was a wonderful surprise and an excellent point maker about style differences. Just the night before we'd had the Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre, a deep, rich, oaky thing that was very nice, certainly, but kind of on the hot side. Definitely a style but not one for which I'm always in the mood. But the Morgan was a great, lighter style that was so unexpectedly bright without sacrificing richness of flavor, if that makes any sense. I could certainly see this taking to a touch of viognier (or verdelho, maybe?) for a cote-rotie kind of thing. While I don't think I'd have mistaken this for a northern Rhone, I can see stylistic similarities that really appealed to me.
And the Lee Family Verdelho was also a pleasant surprise. I'd had very few experiences with verdelho, none of them outstanding, so it was interesting that I'd recently been brought the Molly Dooker Verdelho. Molly Dooker, as you well know, loves that aggressive style and they certainly don't pull any punches when it comes to their white wines. 15.5% alcohol? Really? Anyway, it was certainly interesting. Rich, peachy nose with a drier mouthfeel than I'd expected. Full and forceful. By extraordinary contrast, the Lee Family Verdelho was, like with the Syrah, much brighter and floral and light. Firm, medium-ish body and a great acidity. Very refreshing when it was colder and, like the Morgan Pinot Gris, it just got more interesting the warmer it got.
Without question I think there's a place for all three of these wines down at the restaurant. Not only are they all excellent sippers but their brighter, fresher approach makes them great food wines, as well.