Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blowing Off Some Steam

With the excitement over the election, the coming down after the election and a busy couple of days at work I thought it might be about time to, “blow off some steam”…now why is it that every time I utter that phrase I end up feeling like poo the next day, maybe I’m doing it wrong.

Saturday night a good friend from up north was in town, now this friend and I don’t talk very often….maybe once or twice a year, usually around New Years Eve when he and his wife come to visit her Mother in Long Beach. We get together each time and in the beginning it is a touch awkward, “we should get together more often” “It’s so nice to see you guys” and a few silent gaps while we all try and think of something to chat about….not that we have nothing in common but trying to squeeze a years worth of, “so what have you been up to” into a few hours is a bit of a task. In the end, (and admittedly after a few bottles of wine) we are back in our, “We love you guys” mode.

A couple of years ago we discovered that we had a friend in common, friendly customer and “sent straight from the devil to destroy my liver” bartender Wade, who works at The Prospector here in Long Beach…..a place where all my restraint and good intentions are washed away with a few of Wade’s Gin & Tonics, (a lethal mix of 4 parts Gin and a splash of tonic) and whatever shots Wade challenges me to taking. I don’t go often and after the last time, (Reggae Night, Wade’s drinks over flowing and me making all kinds of new friends….new friends that scattered like roaches the second my husband came in…so naïve, I just always assume guys are just being nice. This “late bloomer” to the bar scene has lots to learn!) I have steered clear of the joint, but our plans for meeting Saturday night…..Prospector….Dag-Nab-It!

I talked Amy, her husband, my husband and Merritt into coming along….you know, to remind me that I had to work Sunday morning….with a brand new employee no less, to keep myself in check and have fun but not to “blow off too much steam”. I chilled down a bunch of wine to take with me, both to share with my friends and to keep the abv down…more wine, less cocktails is a good plan. We decided to meet at Ruby Palace, a yummy Chinese place we frequent, (good food and two kinds of Kim Chee brought to the table for regulars) in Huntington Beach. Rather than the usual plum wine we brought along a bottle of NV Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Rose, ($18.99) to drink with our fried rice and crispy Dragon Beef. The bubbles were lovely, nice delicate red fruit, little bubbles and a very clean, refreshing finish that just seemed to frame the food nicely…although with the spicy Kim Chee the little bubbles burned a bit, not to worry, I’ll eat Kim Chee next time! Once the bubbles were gone, (too quickly might I add, should have brought 2) we ordered a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio to get us through to the end of the meal…and bonus, a flight of plum wine…on the house of course with the dessert.

Done with dinner and feeling a little warm and fuzzy from the bubbles we headed back to my place to share another bottle of bubbles while we waited for Merritt to join us, besides we still had an hour before we were to meet everyone at Prospector. I had just brought in a new little sparkler that I was dying for Amy to try, with the prices of real Champagne these days I have been seeking out bubbles from other regions….just can’t plunk down $60.00 as often as we seem to crave bubbles. The NV Andre et Mireille Tissot Cremant du Jura, ($25.99) was awesome…toasty and a touch yeasty it reminded us of real Champagne, the bubbles were really fine and the toasty flavors lived on long after the wine had been drained from our glasses, a really great find and a wine we will be drinking lots of in between our bottles of Champagne!

Before we knew it we had almost finished the bottle, (between Merritt, Amy and myself…the boys were driving so none for them) and were now an hour late for our 9:30 meeting time at the bar. We left the remains of the bottle, piled into our cars and headed south. The scene at The Prospector at 10:45 on a Saturday night….kind of young hipster arty types mixed with the crusty old guys that have been going for years. These cats must get there at 4:00 in the afternoon, there aren’t many of them but they make their presence known….note to the guy who kept insisting on buying me drinks, (even though my husband was standing next to me all night long) rethink the Freddie Krueger shirt next time…might freak the girls out a bit there pal….

Wade was working fast and furious behind the bar, but he had that twinkle in his eye…scared the hell out of me, “Oh no you don’t buddy, I brought these!” and I pulled the 3 bottles of chilled white wine we had brought. Wade smiled, stuck the bottles on ice and poured me a drink…dude, why are you evil?! I took the drink, thanked him and urged him to open the Sancerre we brought then went looking for my visiting friend….found him, you know that 45 minutes had taken its toll, he had been Wade’s victim and his buzzy musings killed that, “awkward” fumbling we normally encounter…in short he was toasted! We tried to get caught up but a busy bar on a weekend night may not have been the wisest choice and he kept losing his drinks…well, he thought he was losing them, he was finishing them and getting harder to follow with each replacement.

I made my way back to the bar and got Wade to pour me a glass of Sancerre, this is where I met Freddy Krueger guy and where he insisted on buying me a drink….uggg, I rejoined my group with a glass of wine and a cocktail making a joke that I needed to catch up with our inebriated friend. Thankfully my way too full drink, (yeah thanks for that Wade!) kept splooshing over the sides so I ended up spilling more than I drank, good thing because there was almost no tonic in it…dude, it is not a Martini….don’t just wave the bottle of tonic over the glass…sheesh, I would order a tall, (in a normal spot, same amount of gin, just more tonic) but I’m sure I would just get a bigger glass of this drink, shudder.

I focused instead on the 2007 Vincent Pinard Sancerre Nuance, ($28.99), didn’t get much off the nose because the wine was in one of those really thick narrow bowled glasses but on the palate it was so freaking tasty! Pretty rich style for Sancerre, there seems to be a fair amount of wood involved…more cocktail in style than the other ones we have, explosive almost tropical fruit, rich toasty, heavy in the mouth with a long powerful finish…tasted perfect and fitting considering there was no food involved. I was lucky enough to get a few sips down before my buzzy buddy took it from me….even in his, “state” he knew it was delicious, he had his way with it and I never got it back…bummer.

Amy’s husband left and we played a bit longer, rolled out of there around 1:30am, leaving my buddy leaning against the wall, knowing Wade would make sure he got back okay. It was nice, “seeing” him as always. We hopped in the car, the three girls and my hubby and headed in the direction of Amy’s house to drop her off….that was when my tiny friend said, “I’m hungry…lets go to Denny’s”….sigh. My husband is now a master of dealing with the “too many drinks” Wine Country girls, said, “okay” but kept on the path to Amy’s….halfway there she fell asleep in the backseat, we drove right past Denny’s and deposited Amy safely on her porch. Dropped Merritt off at her car, washed my face and was in bed by 2:45…woke up to the alarm and made it to work Sunday morning feeling less than fresh but not Gawd awful…..while not as mellow as I hoped I’d be, it could have been, and has on more occasions than I care to admit, been worse….guess I can get it right once in a while!

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