Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Case Taste Part One

    In July I won a diverse case of wine from Trader Joe's in a raffle at a benefit performance for my Pilates teacher, who seriously injured herself during a performance for Brooklyn troupe STREB. Thankfully she's on the mend now.

    It was fitting that I won the case, because I had just been talking to a food editor friend at Gourmet about why foodies are typically not as knowledgeable about wine (me included), and vice versa. I decided to drink the wines carefully and write down my thoughts on each bottle.

    I knew I'd have no problem drinking the bottles, but I did wonder where I'd keep them. I finally decided on the window sill of our tiny kitchen, which gets no sunlight -- I know that light and temperature can affect wine bottles, but even on the hottest days this summer, the bottles were cool to the touch and shaded by the curtain. I got rid of our wine rack last year due to lack of space, and to the fact that I typically buy wine at the time that I want to drink it. Right before I won the case, I remarked to Jon that I'd like to start keeping a few bottles around, so that the white wine I bought didn't always have to be from the refrigerated section of the wine store. I definitely noticed that already having wine at home made a difference. I saved money by ordering fewer glasses out, and I had one less thing to do before having guests over. But, being that the bottles were all inexpensive and I have no self-control, I often opened the bottles on a whim. As the bottles began to disappear, the extra calories I'd imbibed began to show up!

    Here are my notes, in the order that I drank them. I'll post thoughts on the other half dozen next time.

    1. Espiral Vinho Verde, Portugal, 2007. Tastes like a wine spritzer. Light, with a little bubble. Reminds me of lemon-lime soda. Very drinkable. I've drunk it before and will drink it again. It's only 9% alcohol, which explains the wine spritzer similarity. Later got honey to honeysuckle notes. $3.99.

    2. Rock Rabbit Shiraz, Central Coast, 2004. A lot of berry, with a taste of black cherry. Reminds me of coffee. Kinda makes me want coffee instead. Alcoholy. On a scale of 1-5, I'd give it a 3. $6.99.

    3. Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. 2005. At first struck by how dry and minerally it is -- not in a particularly good way. Also, it's surprisingly watery. It smells like apricot or other stone fruit, but I don't get the sweetness of fruit when I sip it. By chance I was eating salmon the night I opened the bottle, and fish was one of the foods recommended for the wine. I began to taste more of the fruit, but the acidity, wateriness, and dryness of this wine made it a mega-loser. $11.99.

    4. La Chateau Loire Valley Vouvray, 2006. Didn't love this one either. My palate seems to be off or disagreeable when tasting some of these whites. Little too sweet, little too chewy. $6.99.

    5. Honey Moon Viognier California 2005. Pleasant, drinkable. If I'd been served it at a bar with an average wine list, I'd have been satisfied enough. Fruity and sweet, some honey stickiness to it. After the last three white wines, it's starting to sound like I don't like whites, which isn't true. Maybe I'm pickier about my whites, since I typically prefer reds or bubbly? $5.99.

    6. Casillero del Diablo, Chile, Carmenere 2005, by Concha Y Toro. I happened to read the label before taking my first sip, but it wasn't just power of suggestion that that had me tasting chocolate, coffee, and spices. Also, for the first time that I can remember, tasted tobacco (maybe it was the coffee) and some berries. Would definitely drink again. $7.99.

    L'chaim & Salut!

    Sunday, September 02, 2007

    I Heart Roast Beef, and Jon

    I've never been happier to see a pile of roast beef on butcher paper than I was the night of Thursday, August 16th--the night Jon asked me to marry him.

    My path to that roast beef started the day before, when my boss invited me to join him for dinner at Bouley with one of our top investors, who was going to be signing a large chunk of change over to us. A free dinner at a restaurant I can't afford sounded divine, and I was looking forward to blogging about the meal.

    There was something different in the air at the office Thursday, which I attributed to my boss' nerves and my little black dress, heels and pearls. I purposefully ate a small lunch, thinking dinner would be at 6. Around 4, my boss told me our client decided he didn't want to sign the documents at dinner, and that we'd first need to go to The Bowery Hotel to have his vice president, who I'll call Lora, sign them. A little while later, my boss was "running late," so I volunteered to take the documents and meet him at the restaurant.

    The Bowery Hotel is two blocks from our apartment, and over the last year Jon and I watched it being built and talked about how it'd be fun to stay there one day. It's very new Lower East Side chic, the type of hotel you picture models and billionaires living at for months on end.

    It's a testament to my boss' finesse that I didn't suspect anything out of the ordinary as I entered the hotel lobby and asked for Lora's room. When I reached room 416, I was surprised to see the door ajar. I paused, knocked, paused, called out "Lora," opened it a bit, and froze when I saw a wall lined with flowers and tea lights and a boudoir with even more candles.

    "F*%$, Jennifer, you've got the wrong room. Now you have to go back to the front desk," I thought as I seethed with self-annoyance. I was about to back out when Jon stepped into my line of sight, wearing a suit.

    I dropped the documents.

    "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god," were the only words I could muster as he led me into the room to propose. I was so shocked that I didn't take my purse off until after I said yes.

    One perfect proposal and outstanding bottle of Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve champagne later, we were ravenous. On the hotel room floor, we cozily ate the picnic that Jon had put together earlier in the day -- baguettes, Heirloom tomatoes, Brie, Manchego, and that pile of rare roast beef, which I piled into my mouth three or four slices at a time. It wasn't that the roast beef was out of the ordinary, but that my post-proposal culinary needs had been so thoughtfully anticipated.

    Dessert was a selection of chocolates, the kind I only ever buy for other people, many of which I've been eyeing at Whole Foods for years. There was one shaped like a candy apple, another like an ice cream cone, and ones flavored with port (we once did a fabulous port tasting in Manitou Springs, CO), cinnamon (a little like the 5 Boroughs Ice Cream I raved about earlier this summer), caramel (because Jon knew I'd been craving it for weeks), and orange (like the Grom gelato we had the week before).

    I especially love chocolate in the morning, so as Jon knew I would, I finished the chocolates for breakfast. Then, just as we have for the last six and a half years, and now as we always will, we started talking about what to eat for lunch.