If you’re lucky in your life, you’ll encounter a person who is so passionate about a particular subject, they become a constant resource, a trusted guide through a murky world you might not otherwise enter. Sometimes this happens socially–you meet a classical music maven at a cocktail party who gently nudges you towards Schubert–other times it happens commercially, as in: you stumble into a store whose proprietor reveals themselves to be something of an oracle. The latter scenario played out for me recently when I entered the store that popped up next to SQRL down on Virgil Avenue here in Los Angeles: Lou Provisions and Wines.
My literary muscles have been flexed thoroughly on the subject of food, but not so beverages. And yet I drink beverages every day. I am drinking beverages right now! (An overly sweet Chai tea and a glass of water, for the record.) Last week I decided to throw my hat into the wine/beer writing ring by taking notes upon sipping from various bottles. What follows are my tasting notes for the various beverages I tried. I hope you will find them as useful and insightful as my regular work here. I hope to make this a regular feature.
Elizabeth David has a famous book called An Omelette and a Glass of Wine that, I’m embarassed to say, I’ve never read. Still: I’m aware of it.
So aware, in fact, that last week when I came home from the gym, exhausted, I decided to put that title into action. I had eggs from the farmer’s market in the refrigerator. I had half a bottle of red wine leftover from the previous night’s dinner. I also had some celery and walnuts. Ok, Elzabeth David, let’s do this thing.
See the way the light is hitting the white wine in my glass?
That’s a summer moment, a California moment; it’s a moment that transcends anything critical I might say about the restaurant where this moment took place. Not that I have anything critical to say. Blue Plate Oysterette is situated on Ocean Blvd. in Santa Monica and if you took this same restaurant and relocated it to a shopping mall in Minnesota, you would think it had no reason to exist. And you would be right. But sitting there in Santa Monica, as it is, facing the Pacific ocean, the sun hitting it on its way down in the sky, it’s a perfect summer seafood restaurant.
If we hadn’t gone to The French Laundry and we’d just gone to Napa we still would’ve had a most memorable trip.
The place is just obnoxiously beautiful. If you could bottle beauty and sell it, you could do a lot worse than to bottle Napa: with its lush hills and crisp, clear blue skies and perfectly temperate weather. To experience it more fully, we all agreed, at the car rental, that it’d make sense to pay a little more for a convertible.
If this post were a text message being sent to a modern-day teenager, the teenager’s response might be: “Obv.”
That’s because this post basically says something that you already know: “Instead of cooking something good for dinner, you can buy something good and bring it home.” So why am I writing it? Because even though it’s something that you may already know, it’s not something that you necessarily do. I don’t do it much myself–if I’m going to cook, I buy ingredients and cook; if I want food from a restaurant, I’d rather go to a restaurant–but that changed when I discovered Mozza-To-Go.
An Imaginative Feast By Food Prodigy Andy Windak (Mac ‘n’ Cheese Stuffed Ravioli! Coq au Vin Chilaquiles!) & A Roasted Feast By Cookbook Hero Molly Stevens
I don’t follow sports, but I know that there are these people called scouts who go around to minor league events and look for future stars to recruit to the majors. Well, I never considered myself much of a chef scout, but that all changed on Sunday when food blogger Andy Windak–of the food blog The Wind Attack–invited us over for dinner. I was wary of this 25 year-old who talked a big game the first few times that I met him (he said something about marinated yucca blossoms) but what I didn’t realize was that he was the real deal: a self-taught, self-motivated prodigy who works wonders in the kitchen.
I think I may have a house wine. I never intended to have a house wine, but then I bought a bottle of the A-Mano Primitivo you see above and really fell for it. For the price ($10.99), it has a complexity that reminds me of the nicer wines I’ve had at fancy meals out at restaurants but it isn’t so complex that you can’t pair it with robustly flavored food, like my favorite roast chicken. (I know chicken’s supposed to go with white; but this chicken is so heavily seasoned, with fennel seeds and cayenne pepper, it’s totally a match for a powerful red like this.)