Sunday, October 28, 2007

    The New New

    Taking my last bites of The Big Apple, one Ruben's empanada at a time.

    After lugging my 25 lb. laundry bag down four flights of stairs, around the corner, and three blocks more to the cleaners (there's one right across the street, but my clothes came back smelling like the inside of a perfume bottle), I waited in line and listened to the woman ahead of me talk. She said she was moving from New York and needed her shirt altered that same day. How very New York of her, n'est pas?

    When I returned that evening to pick up my laundry, she was again in front of me in line. We recognized each other, and I asked where she was moving.


    "I'm moving too, I think. In January. To New Orleans," I said.

    We talked about how hard living in New York can be, how tired we are of schlepping our laundry, packages and selves around, our small noisy apartments, salaries that never get us ahead, and how the City has aged us. Then we talked about how we are going to miss those very things as well as the conveniences, sounds, rhythms, and pleasures both simple and indulgent.

    Having known for many months that Jon and I might move, I began to say goodbye to the City slowly, carefully. In fact, the list of restaurants I mentioned in my Slices one-year anniversary post was made with moving in mind. Once we were more certain, I started fine-tuning it and also made a list of things to do, which honestly isn't very long (walk the Brooklyn Bridge, go to The Cloisters and ice skate in Central Park once more, museums, Essex Market, etc.) -- a sure sign that it's time to go.

    When I moved to New York straight out of college to pursue a journalism job, it was a dream come true, and I took the city head on, discovering it, my adult self, and love in the process. I also took many tumbles, including my Dad's illness, September 11 and a slew of bad jobs. My seven-and-a-half-year romance with New York, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, has not yet come to an end, but my desire to live a softer, slower, slightly Southern-accented life has grown overwhelming.

    It's funny that my Jersey-born beau's job is what's leading me back to the South. I hope the opportunity allows us both to be a part of New Orleans' post-Katrina growth, and I expect it to changes our lives in ways unimaginable. I'm excited to sink my teeth into the city too...crawfish étouffée, red beans and rice, gumbo, jambalaya, grits, collards, King Cakes, po'boys, muffalettas, beignets... With so many fried and heavy foods and an automatic assumption of cream in your coffee waiting for me, I know that the kitchen gear we receive for our wedding will be used to cook healthier fare. I'll enjoy writing about my kitchen exploits as much as my dinner reservations.

    Until we move, I'm trying to balance pre-wedding fitness goals with a hankering to eat my way through my list. I have to keep reminding myself that the restaurants (well, most of them) will still be here when I come to visit, so I don't have to cross them all off...I just want to!

    Tantalizing details about meals at The Tasting Room, Sfoglia, Kyotofu, Franny's, Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar, and more, to come.

    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    Case Taste Part Two

    One thing I like about the wine selection at Trader Joe's is that many of the bottles they sell have descriptions. Instead of choosing a wine because I like its name (Goats du Rhone is an especially clever bottle, though all the punniness in the world can't turn it into great wine) or the pretty colors in its logo (if the logo's pink, you know I'll buy it!), I can make my decision based on something more sensical.

    Also, many of their bottles are screw caps. As a master of cork disasters (would you like a little wine with your cork?), I'm never disappointed with a screw cap. A recent Times article by Eric Asimov details the latest on the cork vs. cap question. Asimov explains that winemakers use caps to prevent cork taint, which is a result of fungi that occurs naturally in the cork tree. Apparently caps have their own problem, which is breathing-related, but whereas when a wine is "corked" it's undrinkable, when is wine is "capped," it often can be restored by decanting.

    Lastly, it's hard to spend a lot of money on one bottle of wine at Trader's. While the 12 bottles I recently tasted had only a few winners and many losers, I am still most likely to keep spending around $10-$15 per bottle and hoping for the best.

    And now, the second half of my great case taste:

    7. Trader Joe's Moscato Paso Robles, 2005. A dessert wine. Light but gummy, a little like cough medicine, but with notes of apricot and honeysuckle. Sweetness makes it go down real easy despite the bitter aftertaste. Would like to start drinking more dessert wines, but not this one again. $5.99.

    8. Josefina Syrah Rosé, Pasa Robles, CA 2006. Mostly flavorless. It didn't roll notes of strawberry and summer over my tongue like the rosé I recently had at Bar Veloce. $4.99.

    9. Fetzer Vineyards Valley Oaks Chardonnay, California, 2006. Crisp, citrusy, with a mild mineral after taste, which I like. Drinkable on its own and with the salmon I ate with it one night. $6.99.

    10. Echelon Pinor Noir, 2006. The bottle says "black cherries, plums, prunes, cinnamon spice, and reccomends it with wild mushroom risotto." I forgot to write down anything for this one, and the week I drank it is a wedding planning fueled blur. I think it was good not great. $11.99.

    11. Dynamite Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills-Lake County, 2004. Hands down the best of the dozen. A luxurious palate pleaser. Berry, wood, and pepper. Worth the price. $17.99.

    12. Gasparetto Prosecco "Vino Frizzante." I love prosecco, for the bubbles, and the celebratory and debaucherous mood that drinking something sparkling often implies. This one goes down really (sometimes too) easy. Medium bubbles. Tart, floral, soft. $6.99.