So it seems today is National Wine Day. I wrote about it for good ol’ Hello Giggles. It’s full o’ fun ways to celebrate in case wine glasses are getting mundane. Click here for 7 ways to celebrate!
The me. The wine. The hair all over the dang place.
Well heck. I’d hang there. And by “there” I mean if I could go to the Haut-Médoc in 2010 and nab some of these appellation contrôlée grapes I might just do so.
PS cellartracker was slightly less unenthusiastic than I but a good deal of those notes were made years ago. 6 years of waiting did well for this bottle.
Yeaaaaa Bordeaux. When it is good (unlike earlier that week at a bar with some overly oaky Bordeaux) it is more than good, it is better. In fact it is Bordeaux-ing on the best.
Mwahaha word jokes.
Region: Bordeaux–the Haut-Médoc
Those grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
That nose: Cherries, gooseberries (as I imagine they may taste) and some realm of “hey that is fresh”!
In the mouth, it is luscious in a “I do not wanna stop”
way. I mean it. The perfect amount of tannins.
Full confession. I didn’t take notes after this. I mean, Jonathon Gold doesn’t take notes while eating at a place he is reviewing so why should I?
Oh right! Because drinking a wine so good you drink a little much and then decide to go to sleep is gonna inhibit your memory. Oops. Lessons learned:
1) Take a break. Do not swig. Normally I don’t but now I reallyreally won’t.
2) Take notes. Also I normally do this but WTF, I got cocky. Ego adjusted.
Looking forward to living the dream. Responsibly. With notes.
All of which to say is life in many ways rocks. It is a volley from the highs of hearing an audience roar to the lows of not getting an audition for a week only to rebound to the epic high of a callback. Life being life-y. Anywho. Tonight (ok the night I wrote this since you’ll be reading it later) my sketch comedy team was in a fantastic show and I am so proud and happy for the work we are doing. Where it is leading I am still figuring out but it is making us better and getting us out in front of audiences. And we meet more and more people working and at some point all these connections are going to pay off. All you can do is do the work.
All this after a week of trying to impress casting directors, rehearsals, writing and yes, auditions. A drink is well-earned.
Oh right this is about wine. What better wine to celebrate a happy actor day with than one that fits a budget-minded person? A treat that is so much more than the price tag would denote.
A gosh-durned bargain, much like all the GENIUS shows I take part in (sometimes the genius is me at other times the other acts, sometimes all or none of us) that are FRIGGIN’ FREE. I tell you in LA you can get top-notch entertainment for nada. Like inexpensive wine it is a bit of a gamble as to how good a show will be. Comedy is a fickle beast. As is wine.
I am trying really hard to draw this comedy/wine parallel. Too much?
Anywho. Again. Both tonight’s free show and (practically) free wine were sensational.
This wine was less than 8 bucks. That there Garagiste gets you some insane deals I tell you. This one surprised me.
Garagiste says that this Grenache from Campo de Borja, a region in Spain southeast of Rioja grows high on Moncayo Massif, a “triple-headed monster of a mountain ridge”, at 600-750 or more meters. He says the promising yet value wines make this area like Park Slope 20 years ago. Pre-Brooklyn being the hipster/expensive-life mecca.
7.98 and these grapes were hand-picked? Aged in steel like the stone-cold motherfuckers those juice bombs are.
The nose makes me think “old church after communion”. Not “old church” in a musty way so much as “old church” like being in a building with a lot of stone and it seems like there should be running water nearby even if there is not.
Medium in body and smooth as hell. But then at the end a tannin or two chucks you on the chin. Well, on the tongue and roof of mouth. Unless you are REALLY drunk and then maybe you would get some spilled on the chin but I held my own.
It’s just cherries and green pepper and perhaps some allspice to the end with this one.
Do it up.
From Savoie. Which is in France. Eastern sorta southern France.
Now I want to go and buy more. Apparently I enjoy Mondeuse. Mondeuse NOIRE! So goth at heart.
The grapes are Mondeuse. Just to clarify.
I know nada about Mondeuse so…I can only speak for this wine
The color is a delectable peachy salmon.
The nose is peachy and perfumed just a tad.
The tongue says oh-so balanced. There is a tad bit of sweetness. I get a not-too-sweet peach melba made with a mix of raspberries and strawberries and wet stones. Smooth stones with water running over them. The stones are causing the water to be just the teensy bit frothy. Effervescent.
This wine is not THE most effervescent of the bunch. It is not the social butterfly on the center of the dance floor, but it is that chipper girl’s good friend. You know she will be there. She will not be too much or too little. Not too sweet but very, very polite but just interesting enough you know the two of you will stay up all night and discuss both the boys you like and how many dimensions there are in string theory and her jokes will make you want to to hug her and the next weekend she is the gal you probably will hang with again. Not THE love-of-your-life best friend but the reliable chum you love all the same.
To recap: medium-light body, a hint of sweet berries and peach and stones with bubbles. The finish is this clean, fresh crisp AHHHHHHH. That is the only way I can describe it.
Oh shit! And “Laura”? For all her benign smoothness this lady is biodynamic. So she is the svelte hippie who is somehow about to go to Harvard to get her law degree. That is THE PERFECT metaphor.
And like, she has sediment but that is totes sexy.
I used to say I was not into Italian wine but I guess I didn’t know what I would like until I saw (tasted) it. I like Barberas. I also tend to enjoy the occasional Chianti or Mount Etna booze. But Barbera is the bees jiving knees.
Barberas are lovely demure lasses. They are sexy but wearing midis and cute flats. I enjoy their company.
2013 Principiano Barbera d’Alba DOC “Laura” Piedmont
I do seem to prefer northerly Italian wines. So I choose this guy. Girl.
The nose says May day even though it is April. This gal does not have legs. Which is fine. A Barbara does not need legs because she has breeding.
She has cherry but probably slept with a few other berries in her family’s past.
Next time I swear I am challenging myself to describe a wine in male terms.
But onwards with this lady.
Tannins? Nah. Acid? Fuck yeah a tiny bit but only if you don’t text her by tomorrow. Well there is an essence of lemon? Have I ever sensed lemon in a red wine? Well I have now.
This svelte but not malnourished babe has some refreshing lemon to her. And…just like nice grapes. Like really stellar, almost frozen on a summer’s night red seedless grapes such as I procure at Ralph’s aka a generic supermarket ala Safeway. All of which to say without snobby pedigree but no less enjoyable.
All in all, she is a classy lass.
I opened a Cava. Because I could. I will give tasting notes and mayyyybe I will give some tech notes and neither will really matter because bubbly wine is joy contained in a glass. I mean in terms of technical facts, disgorging is getting rid of sediment and I could go on about that–but do we need to think about the part of the wine we are not taking in?
That is nonsensical, but so is the name of this lovely:
Was there a logical reason to crack this lovely?
Well, a weekend of rehearsing and a fun musical improv show and then the whole Easter thing seemed like a valid excuse for me, by myself, alone in the kitsch cooking purple potatoes, to open some bubbly.
Cheers to life! Why not.
Thoughts: Oh geez this is a selection that gives me reason to say “I might possibly like cava better than even true Champagne”.
Refresher course: Cava is a sparkling wine made in Spain, using the same methods as champagne. Champagne is a sparkling wine coming from the region of France known as Champagne. This particular cava comes from Penedes, which is in Catalonia. In España. Grapes I REALLY don’t know: Xarel-lo, Parellada and Macabeo.
Champagne is where you go for your galaxy of yeast cruising on teeny-tiny bubble cruise ships. It’ll be the most delicate yet hearty foam to cross your lips. Cava is where you go for dainty bubbles with just a bit of the coarse swagger of the stereotypical dames swabbing the state rooms of the bubble cruise ships. They are unique, maybe a bit salty, and ephemeral. That is such a sexist image but I am digging it to explain Cava. Crap I like Cava.
But all this is neither here nor there, let us talk about consuming the lovely.
It touches your tongue like a plush yet effervescent cloud. Storm imminent. And said storm occurs as you let the bubbly glide down your tongue. You get both the (tasty) acid rain and the lush foam of dainty bubbles all at once. So like, medium in body.
One of the things most spellbinding things about a good bubbly is its ability to play so many roles at once.
Flavor? Well we have fresh fall fruit. We have honey. And maybe papaya. The bubbles invoke minerals, flowing down the river of pureed white peach. I am not joking about that last one, please, do feel free to make fun of me for saying it.
I deserve it. And I will still stand behind it.
Crap I love Cava.
World history has never been my forte. Art history? Sure. Food history? Heck yah. Political movements? Not so much. It is not that I don’t get concepts-it is just that I am terrible with names and dates and I have a sneaking suspicion that what I am taught has been passed through a misogynist and Anglicized filter.
Oddly, I can recite recipes for chocolate chip cookies and umpteen cocktails, complete with amounts. And yet I cannot for the life of me remember years that things happened and then I get historical events out of order. Save remembering that WWI was before WWII. Got that one down.
So I’ve been gravitating towards cookbooks that teach me a bit of history too because where there is food involved I am more likely to remember. The CCCP Cook Book: True Stories of Soviet Cuisine deals with Soviet cuisine which is fascinating. The regime in power tried to promote an official cookbook and way of cooking for the all of the Soviet Union’s restaurant and catering businesses in order to get everyone serving exactly the same food everywhere, I suppose. That “official” cuisine seemed to veer towards Russian dishes, but the Soviet Union (aka USSR or CCCP) was pretty vast. The recipes that represent Soviet cuisine found in people’s homes ranges from Russian to Georgian to Tatar.
It is also interesting how much the the economics of the time drove the dishes. There is a reason for all those breadcrumb coated dishes. Meat at the time was scarce and the quality of what was available was poor. Crumbs disguised mystery meat. The lack of meat is the same reason there were so many canned fish, and varying patties of chopped meat.
Scarcity can also lead to remarkably good dishes. Eggplant “caviar” for instance. I’m not making it to replace real caviar. I’m making it because it is pretty dang delicious. Which I found shocking because rarely do I care for eggplant dishes.
The book is full of stories of dictators being jerks (to put it mildly) and the government being corrupt. The stories are alternately funny and sad. For instance the regime would champion eggs as not being so good for you when eggs were not readily available. When eggs finally were available in some abundance the government “realized” that eggs were in fact delicious and nutritious. Mmm, the tasty tales of executive power. By the time I finished reading and cooking through this book, I will be nourished both in body and mind.
As I mentioned, there are quite a few chopped meat recipes. There are some classics like sauerkraut, chicken Kiev, borscht and stroganoff. The recipe I am sharing is a sweet and spicy beet broth eaten with a toasted cheesy bread. Think of it as a variant of the classic pairing of grilled cheese with tomato soup. The topping on the toast is positively addictive. If you don’t like spice, you may wish to cut down the cayenne but being a nut for heat, I went all in.
The story behind this dish is about a chatty lil’ supper meeting between Stalin and Mao. Stalin steered Mao towards the soup because Mao grew up in southeast China, where the Hunan cuisine was full of the spicy flavors. Apparently at this dinner there was some wine drinking too, and Mao asked why Stalin liked to mix red and white wine. Stalin’s answer was that he liked creating his own bouquet of wine flavors. Now, I don’t recommend being like Stalin in general, and I REALLY don’t recommend mixing your red and white wine. But should you be into historical reenaction feel free to pop a couple of bottles open to wash down this meal. Just don’t reenact anything else the dictators might have been up to.
Borschtok with Spicy Toast adapted from The CCCP Cook Book by Olga and Pavel Syutkin
2-2 1/2 liters meat stock (being veg, I substituted vegetable stock)
400 g (around a pound) beets
3 Tbsp. vinegar
1 egg white
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sugar
For the toast:
2-3 slices white bread
25 g (almost 1 oz.) butter, plus some extra for frying
200 g (around 1/2 pound) semi-mature cheese (I used cheddar)
50 g (almost 2 oz) tomato puree or ketchup (I used tomato paste)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
For the broth:
Add the beet, finely chopped, and the vinegar and egg white to the stock. Place over low heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. Add the cayenne and sugar and simmer another 5-7 minutes. Skim off any fat (if using meat stock) then run through a sieve (I lined mine with cheesecloth).
For the toast:
Heat the oven to 180 celsius or 360 Fahrenheit. Cut the bread into rectangular slices and fry in some butter. Grate the cheese and mix it with the tomato concoction of choice, eggs, butter and cayenne. Spread on the fried bread and bake in oven 10-12 minutes. Serve with the broth. Dip it. Dip it good.