i was ironing a shirt this morning (truth be told, several shirts. i was reading an article on christopher ely and it made me want to iron.) when the steam that pffted off the shirt shook me. i hadn't worn the shirt in years and i never wore it that much to begin with so it had plenty of time to steep itself in the ambient scents of my previous life. the hot steam release of a pocket of the past was the last thing i was expecting this morning and it made me wonder about other people who train their noses and memories.
I wonder whether there's a higher tendency towards melancholy in those in the wine and beer industry. anything that demands training the nose to pick out specific aromas and to connect them with past bottles, descriptors, and experiences. really digging your nose into a wine or beer can reveal such a complex fabric; threads of recollection: cherry, garrigue, reductive, or petrol but also comparisons of "like the '02 whatever' or "the '97 thisandthat". and, of course, it's too easy for the bouquet to take you to when you had that '02 whatever and where and with whom and what happened then.
the trick, i suppose, is to have far more pleasant experiences to associate than not.
and always to be adding great wine/beer related experiences like our champagne and mencia and craft beer weekend. leftovers and reruns and '97 beaune greves.
some of you may know the lenny's already. rich, complex, delicious double india pale ale with rye malt. like a nut brown ale mixed with an i.p.a. and a good dollop of barley wine. the dupont avril biere de table. (the temperature would dip suddenly since i got this...) marshall brought this to my attention and we fell in love with it. easy, easy, easy drinking farmhouse ale. floral, grassy, french bready nose. clean and lively. since it's a 750ml it'd be great for splitting as an apertif though this thing is so clean it'll go with everything. the vosne romanee i tried at an awesome burgundy tasting (which, since i didn't check my email before i left for charleston in the morning, surprised me with its blind tasting format. 14 people (one of whom,raj parr, has been referred to as "one of the most celebrated sommeliers in the world" and a "burgundy savant") intelligently positing vintages, producers, and villages and then me: freaking out about the possibility of getting called on and revealing the canyon sized gaps in my burgundy experience. fortunately i wasn't called on and my ignorance remained assumed but not confirmed...but the experience built character) on wednesday (i should probably put the "on wednesday" before my parenthetical aside/digression but i'm sort of amused by how it's just plopped on to the end of that as though i hadn't demolished the rhythm of the original idea. which also means this parenthetical digression i'm in right now amuses me all the more. and here comes the period, after the parenthesis, true to mla format.). (plop) where was i? right. vosne romanee. clean, focused, vibrant. flowers and cherries and allspice. a beautiful, fairly affordable burgundy that reminds me of how much i love pinot noir. and the '97 beaune-greves i haven't tried but am looking forward to drinking. and there's other stuff. the weyerbacher merry monk is back in. a dry chenin blanc i'm playing around with as well as a washington/oregon southern rhone-style white wine blend. so. there's that. and don't forget we're googly eyeing things to put in the bar, if you want to participate. the end.
so after we sold out of the last case of the extraordinary, so unique, and so delicious hitachino xh in a remarkable 4 days (thanks for that) the hole in my heart that it left was too much to bear. i wrote to jp (monsieur chambas from aleph who carries hitachino) and told him of our success and how much we'd like him to order more. he responded that he'd get more soon if available. then i wrote to hitachino proper and spoke of how much we love their products and how i hope their xh will be available again to jp. within a couple of hours i got a letter from their u.s. importer who was appreciative of our support and assured us that it was available and how he was sure jp would order more. he also cc'd this letter to toshiyuki kiuchi (president of kiuchi brewing that brews hitachino nest) as well as jp. so while i can't be sure my campaign to get it back was directly responsible for the case of xh that traveled so far to sit here on my bar, i still say: oh, happy day! and since so many people weren't able to try it the last time it was here i've even decided to sell it! so. it's here. and, apparently, only for baan sawan.
remember when i was jonesing for a beer that nobody else in town had? actually, i think i only mentioned that on the facebook... well. anyway. i got one. 23, more accurately (the 24th is for tasting out.) Baird Beer's Rising Sun Pale Ale out of Numazu, Japan. a gorgeously citrus (not quite tangerine but in that neighborhood)/hoppy nose (actually, a little like jennifer's beer that exhibited prominent willamette hops.) an almost creamy mouthfeel (it's unfiltered), a touch of malt sweet and a great, crisp, lightly hoppy and refreshing finish. beautifully well-balanced. i'm really excited by this, especially since we lost the whale's tale pale in the cans. pity it's a bit more expensive but i do love it. i'm very pleased when i look around and see that i've surrounded myself with wines and beers that all make me proud to be in a position to offer them to columbia.
my precious, delicious flock. hm. might've gone too far with that one...
On sunday we went to the new grand asia market jimmy told us about. i can't remember which detail was the kicker that got our motor running.
it could've been the cantonese-style bakery.
(it had not only sweet but savory buns! i got a bun with hotdogs and chives in it. and those awesome sesame seed encrusted balls with sweet egg yolk inside. i love those.)
or the prospect of interesting produce.
or the live fish tanks. no wait, it was probably the live fish tanks from which you could choose a fish which they would then kill, clean, and cook for you.
that was it.
so we did that.
this guy was funny. i think he probably enjoys his job of bashing fish heads with a mallet. a small group of toddlers cheered and one little girl in a pink jumper clapped at one point. he was bashing our striped bass when he looked over and saw the picture taking. he gave me a big wink and a smile as he brought the mallet down again.
and, after some confusion at the restaurant in the market (eased by their locating an english speaker) they cooked our freshly killed ("bassassinated", as jennifer put it) fish in a ginger, bean sauce, and scallion sauce that was delicious. cost of the bass: $8. cost for cooking it: $5. = awesome.
we also got this taiwanese beef noodle soup. tender, flavorful beef and this lovely crispy pickled business on top.
didn't get a duck this time but maybe next time...
a refreshingly wide array of the alky-hol.
they even had my precious hitachino nest white ale which, in the bigger bottles, tastes more like it does on tap than it does in the little bottles. naturally, it is unavailable in columbia.
also a wide array of sakes, from which jennifer chose a few.
ha! even thailand doesn't want their monsoon valley.
here are their shelves filled to the brim with exotic meats. tuna eye. whale bacon. pickled yeti foot.
this is the picture of their shelves filled with pots and steamers and such.
and an extra picture of fish.
they also had a tank of live tilapia, big crabs, and lobsters. (separate tanks for each. you know how they get.)
good day. good trip. returned with sauces and teas and crispy things that are good to eat. buns for steaming and mochi for hurting your cold sensitive teeth. and complimentary chopsticks and chinese calendars.
i recommend it. you know. if you like that sort of thing.