23 December 2010

23Dec- quick comment on just one of our shortcomings
we know what this is. this is a funnel:

i'm sure everyone's quite familiar with the concept as well as its limitations. if we pour in, for example, peppercorns we might dump in a big handful and wait for the peppercorns to settle and arrange themselves and move through the tip of the funnel into, say, your grinder (pepper grinder, not a sub sandwich in new england.)

my reasonable expectation in this action is that the peppercorns that went in first will come out first but also that, given the friction of so many particles vying for one exit point i might have to give the funnel a shake to get the stream going.

or, if i'm not paying attention, i might even add another handful of peppercorns and find that not only is the pressure of the existing peppercorns severely limiting how well they exit but i've overfilled my funnel and i've regrettably lost some over the rim and now i've got several peppercorns bouncing around my kitchen floor, exactly where they shouldn't be, and several still that have rolled underneath the stove and, let's face it, i'm afraid those peppercorns are gone. (i'm aware how much that sentence ran on)

what's best is a thin but steady stream that uses the structure of the funnel as a path and not as a vessel in and of itself.

while this is the most efficient use of the funnel it is, regrettably, not always going to work so well.

our funnel didn't work that well last night.
but we were careful to warn and inform all of our customers last night about what might happen since everyone came in at the same time. no shortage of warnings; i don't want any illusions where that sort of thing is concerned.
so we thank everybody for their enthusiasm and interest in us and, especially, those of you who patiently stuck with us through a rough sort of night. also thanks to the twenty something potential customers whom we didn't precisely turn away but presented with the grim vision of things to come and who knew when to fold 'em. it's so much better for them to return on a different night and have a good time than to add to the chaos and i thank them for understanding that.

and we try as much as possible to take nights like last night and autopsy them. see what happened and try to talk it out to see what can be done to improve the situation. so rest assured we don't shake a night like that off and hope for the best the next night; we do try to learn from our mistakes.

so... that happened.

21 December 2010

21dec- holiday hours
right. this stuff.
we'll be closed on the 24 and the 25 of december. regular hours the following week until we close the 31st of december and the 1st of january.

19 December 2010

19Dec- wine hang-out
i like the fact that on night's like friday there were 3 wine reps from 3 different companies here not to sell their wares but to enjoy ours. which, of course, does include theirs. in addition to which, there were several people here who really enjoy the wine experience. not just the buzz, which can be fun, but the flavors, the intellectual challenge of the blind taste, the discovery of a new style, and the fun of pairing food with wine and beer.
nights like that are so gratifying to me and, not to put a fine point on it, make the rest of the life (the stress, the conflicts, the confrontations, but especially the sudden swings between mind numbing tedium and full-house panic.) worthwhile.

some of the stuff we all played with was a wonderfully dry sparkling vouvray. a few syrah, grenache, carignan blends (a st antonin faugeres, a delas cote-de-ventoux, and andrieux & fils gigondas). a lovely dry muscat from spain (botani). my eyrie pinot gris (which is now on our by the glass list). the ruinart champagne (which just went to the top of my favorite champagne list. that didn't get shared as much as the other stuff since it was the shop tart who ordered it for her table but the rest of us enjoyed talking about how much we liked ruinart, for various reasons.) a sort of sad little petite sirah that didn't offer much in the way of complexity (green truck) and a more interesting one (lost angel). an unexpected white bordeaux of semillon and colombard (chateau de la grave). that was cool. still trying to land on how much i liked it but i enjoyed it. and babcock's white syrah, identity crisis, which i still keep around but, for some reason, never makes the menu. i guess since it was a hard sell when it was on the menu but a relatively easy one by hand.

some of us ended up back at my place where the eyrie estate pinot was opened and thoroughly enjoyed as well as some absinthe and a bourbon tasting that pitted buffalo trace, blanton's, and basil hayden's against each other (blanton's came out on top.)

and, as morning's blue crept through the venetian blinds, a bottle of trig point alexander valley cabernet sauvignon was optimistically opened.

we're enjoying the remainder of that bottle now -and it's opened up beautifully, might i add.

not sure where i'm going with this.

maybe it's just that columbia has this to offer. there are plenty of people in this town to make a night like this happen and every night, no less. (hopefully not here, every night. that was fun but exhausting.)
what's gratifying is that columbia is still growing and there are places, in addition to us, where an evening of fun wine and great food are par for the course. we've got our motor supply and our terra's and the momo's down the street from us, all with solid wine lists. plus the friendly's and the cellar on greens. the vibe here is different, of course. plus i try to make the wine experience educational, often whether you like it or not.
but go out there and enjoy a night of wine and food. or beer and food. enjoy it for the wineness and foodness of it all. explore the by the glass lists and don't forget the beer lists, many of which are improving considerably with the influx of new beers being distributed.

and, of course, come here, too. but a rising tide raises all ships and everyone who puts genuine energy into their beverage program and their food needs to be rewarded by your attention.

17 December 2010

17Dec- this is fun.

16 December 2010

16Dec- on the fancy movin' pitcher box
our local wltx tv station did a little segment on us tonight. we featured the tom kha soup, the tom yum soup, the pulled pork panang, the tuna and prawns green curry, and the eyrie chardonnay.

15 December 2010

15Dec- ethics in wine/beer lists?

sometime ago i did away with our bud light and budweiser on the grounds that, partially, i didn't drink them but mostly that i didn't like customers to have that 'out'. i'd heard things like "i don't know any of these beers. i'll just take a bud." or worse "the only normal beer they have is bud." and they sold. pretty well. and, of course, the mark up was pretty good but i started feeling dirty about it and like i was enabling diners to give up. on a busy night once (and i tend to say stupid, frank things when i'm distracted) i did actually tell someone not to give up on me and to order something more interesting.
then i thought, to whom am i obligated to carry these beers of which i don't approve? no one, as it turns out. so i did away with them. and clearly, it's not about the money since we'd rake it in if we just offered cheap beers marked up. it's about encouraging people to try different things. expand those horizons for an hour at 5 or 6 bucks.
but am i encouraging or am i forcing? or both?
i've just decided to do away with our zinfandel. a pleasant lodi number that does what it's supposed to but i've begun to hear people waving a hand and saying "i'll just take the zinfandel." after a cursory glance at the menu. so. is it wrong to take it away just to force people to take the steps to try something new? i chose to try something new; no one forced me.
i think of this place as an extension of our personalities; an extension of our house. baan, after all, means house. and i certainly don't keep beers, wines, or liquors around the house to appeal to the broadest array of potential visitors. i stock things that please me. that fascinate me.
i haven't heard complaints about the decisions i've made on the beer and wine lists. i've heard some occasional pointed remarks on what has been perceived as "snobbiness" but i've heard more remarks about how refreshing it is to have the chance to try new and different things.

we recently had a glorious dinner at holeman and finch in atlanta and the beer/wine list (to say nothing of the astonishing food) was an absolute inspiration. i know. i know. it's a totally different market but they're getting away with awesome things (by the glass!) like a corvina, rondinella, sangiovese blend. by the glass!
and to be fair to columbia, we've done a (variably) brisk by-the-glass trade in my babies like mencia and godello. so i'm going to take the mild success we've had with little grapes like those as confirmation that i'm on the right path. that my gentle (to forced) urgings to try new wines and beers is a good thing.

and that as good as the zinfandel has been to us, i've got to go with something else. a petite sirah, perhaps. not just for me, you understand.
ah, who am i kidding.
i'm being selfish.

10 December 2010

10Dec- tom kha matzo ball? maybe..

Alex is playing arouond with this: tom kha matzo ball. using the pulverized bones from his roasted chicken he made a chicken broth that is the base for this soup (differing from our normal vegetable broth base). he was inspired by the soul-satisfying matzo ball soups he's had in delis in chicago and seeks to recreate those warm, good feelings.

10Dec- fun irrelevance

07 December 2010

06Dec- The Eyrie Vineyards is finally available for me to sell!
seriously, i can't quite tell you how excited i am by this.
i've been following eyrie for a few years now and it is, by far, the wine to which i respond most viscerally. not only for having had the honor of walking its original vineyards with diana lett but it was the first american made pinot that truly opened my eyes to what is possible on these shores. i'd had domestic pinots i'd enjoyed before but the eyrie vineyards' 2002 reserve bottling grabbed my soul like the first gorgeous burgundy i ever had. character, power, elegance, complexity hiding under the smooth guise of simplicity. it was like drinking the sure, fluid movements of a master pianist's fingers as they ripple across the keys to produce a rich and ethereal music. it was like drinking the shoulder blades of a jungle cat as it calmly stalked its prey. it was like drinking the sure, immediate transition of a mulitlinguist as they move from language to language.

it was, in short, an epiphany.

so. i'm jazzed i can offer an echo of that now in the current releases of their pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot blanc, and pinot gris. i am determined to have on hand, at all times, the selections of theirs my distributor has to offer.

03 December 2010

04Dec- new beers
it's important to take stock of oneself, from time to time. sometimes where one comes up lacking is evident and can therefore be changed for the better.
such was the case when i realized i only had 7 beers on the menu the other day. with slow days clutching us most weeks i haven't been able to argue myself into trying new things but, when i saw how stagnant the list was becoming i hung my head in shame.
so i went a bit beer crazy, purchasing cases of 7 new beers, half with restaurant money and half with my own money since i can't be sure if they'll actually sell but i love them all so much i'm happy to drink them if they don't
i'm very excited about everything but two bottles shine in particular: the brew dog paradox macallan. at $20 an 11.2oz bottle it's a lot to ask but what you get is an extraordinary, deep, rich, complex imperial stout at 10%alc/vol. raisins and espresso and a touch of the whiskey barrels in which it's aged. i kind of had to fight a bit just to get these 12 bottles and i'm not liable to see it again for a little while.
the other star is the weyerbacher merry monks' belgian style golden ale. this is such a pure expression of how i recognize belgian ales. great fruit and that awesome yeasty, banana-y nose. little bit of spice. and the best part is that it goes for a song at $5.75. not bad for a 9.3%alc/vol beer that drinks like it costs twice as much.
but we've got 5 more new beers that are all wonderful in their own way. a crisp kolsch. a clean, pear-y amber ale from nantucket. a floral and malty christmas ale from our friends at bell's. an awesome chocolatey scottish ale out of colorado. a fresh tasting strawberry ale from sam smith. i think that's it.
but, man. it'll do.