Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Here's To Old Friends
“I really miss good wine. I can’t seem to find anything here like the stuff we have at The Wine Country” these words were looping around in my head as I finished my day on Thursday evening. It was my beloved Amy bemoaning the offerings available to her in her new un-chosen city, Dallas. She had been telling me that she was pretty much stuck drinking New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, (and you must know how that made my heart just break) when she was looking for something racy and refreshing. Poor Aims, having one hell of a time finding her much adored Loire wines there in Dallas. I was thinking about all of this and right before closing the store before my trip to go see her, I grabbed a six pack shipper, called the hubby and warned him that we would have to check an extra bag and did a little shopping.
Now I knew she was longing for some grower Champagne, this she didn’t even have to tell me…I just knew. Amy and I have wrecked more bottles of Champagne than we will ever admit to. We fell in love over bottles of bubbles, got to know each other, laughed, taught classes, behaved wickedly, forgave each other, cemented our devotion to each other over bottles and bottles of grower Champagne…I was bringing some. Grabbed some Menetou-Salon, Sancerre, the afore mentioned bottles of bubbles and left two spots open for something from my little wine fridge. Got home and spent less than five minutes trying to figure out which two bottles to take, they damn near screamed at me the second I opened the door; Dagueneau Silex and a 1996 Herve Azo 1er Cru Chablis. Two old friends that these two old friends had a very intimate knowledge of…well, not the 1996 but Azo is one of Amy’s favorite producers in Chablis, so this was a no-brainer.
Sexy Bitch picked us up at the airport and he was elated to see two other people in flip flops, guess they aren’t big there in Dallas, stepped outside and figured out why….Holy Mother of All Frozen Digits, it’s fucking cold! I stood outside smoking my, “just off a flight” cigarette watching my toes turn as purple as my toenail polish.
(So a quirky little Amy and Sam story here. I have had red toes for like twenty something years, always red, kind of a signature thing really. As long as I have known Amy, and been noticing her toes, she has worn purple polish on her toes, kinda her thing I guess. So one time she talked me into getting purple polish after having my toes, “did”….hated it, it was like I was wearing someone else’s feet, went right back to red. After she moved away I stumbled upon a bottle of dark purple polish and gave it another try, kind of liked it and have been wearing ever since. So imagine how heartwarming it was when my little buddy ripped off her socks this weekend to expose….red toenails, it’s like we are wearing each other’s feet while we are apart. I might be reaching a bit but cut me some slack, I’m all post-visit-with-my-girl gushy.)
When we pulled onto the street where Amy and Sexy Bitch now live I was a bit taken aback by the, “sameness” of all the houses….everything looked alike. Brick, dormant trees, no cars on the street or driveway, it just felt vacant, cold and not at all like those two, felt myself getting a little blue, “They don’t belong here” spinning around my head, my lips slightly downturned and pouty. That pout was smacked off my face the second we pulled into the driveway, there was My Amy, brilliant smile, big blue eyes, jumping…jumping up and down and waving. Big hugs and kisses all around and we got our first look at where our people will be living for awhile….it’s perfect. The house is so them, hardwood floors, tons of windows, beautiful kitchen….perfect. We walked through the rooms and I felt my eyes well up as I passed little bits of the home I used to know, the home that we had some of our most amazing nights in. The couch where we would all end up, take naps, watch football and movies. The pictures that I had passed a million times before, the Sponge Bob alarm clock….all reminders of happy times, but a little sad as all those things are so far away now. But mostly it was just so nice to see them all again, Amy and Sexy Bitch, the puppies, the cat and all those little bits of a life that is much loved and very much missed.
Once the grand tour was complete we settled down on the couch and did a little catching up. Amy had made dinner reservations at an Italian joint she had been wanting to check out and these two friends popped a bottle of one of our old friends, NV Jean Milan Carte Blanche Blanc de Blancs, ($48.99). We skipped the Champagne flutes, something I do often with truly fantastic, (and I am talking grower here) Champagne. The bubbles being less important than the smelling and tasting of what is in fact truly great wine…fuck, it was glorious. Heavier than last time I had tasted it, it had filled out in that sexy, weighty way. The fruit was all citrus but there was so much more going on than fruit; minerals, seashells, salty raw dough…um, RAWR. The wine not only exploded on the palate, it shook its new curvy body and hung around for awhile. Neither one of us put our glasses down, not once.
Milan was tossed back in the fridge, (was not quite cold enough anyway, not that a wine of that magnitude should be served too cold…that drives me insane! Serve Moet icy cold, it needs it but let these wines shine dammit) and we headed out to nonna, (no capitalization…I checked) for dinner. We were seated in the front of the house, something that I tend to love, and often work my wild curls and funkiest outfits to ensure we get…but um, this table was right at the freaking front door of this rather hip spot. That means the door was being opened and closed all the damn time, sending icy blasts of air down my side and further freezing my already cold digits.
The restaurant could have been right out of LA, the look, the vibe, the house cured meats and the menu that changes daily according to what they were able to find locally, the servers…kinda laid back but super knowledgeable and more than willing to not only be playful, (I dig that) but offered suggestions and coaching on the best way to order. We jumped right in and ordered the starters; house made Porketta, olives and a plate of Salumi. Amy and I both had the wine list and knew right away what to get, Pra Soave, a wine we had shared numerous times back home, another old friend. I know a few people might raise an eyebrow to white wine with these sort of dishes, meat and all, I don’t know any personally but if you happen to be….let me assure you, there is something so magical about cold sliced meats, either cured or raw, with a crisp white wine like that Pra Soave. You know the way those things are served with a squeeze of lemon, (like with thinly sliced raw beef) or baby greens dressed with something tangy, well it’s the same idea…bringing some bright and lively to the plate, or in this case table by way of the glass. The Soave was sublime, lemony, fresh, bright, laser sharp focus and acidity…drank it throughout the meal as a matter of fact.
Let me just say, if you are ever in Dallas…give nonna a try. Everything from the bread, big puffy pillows right from the wood burning oven…little bits of char, lovely drizzle of olive oil, nicely salted. To the lobster ravioli sitting in a little puddle of broth, no thick rich sauces, broth…balanced food, beautifully done, perfectly portioned….I would go back in a heartbeat. The rest of the evening…well.
Once the Pra was drained we opted to go for a Martini, this is never a wise plan this late in the evening but we were all having such a great time just being with one another, just could not let the night end just yet. Drinks up, we asked if it would be possible to get a cheese plate, our menus were gone so we had no idea if what we were asking was kinda…douchbaggy. Turns out the chef came out to chat with the table that asked and whipped a plate together for us, complete with thinly sliced, very ripe pears…delicious.
We walked out of the restaurant full but not stuffed to find that it was snowing…did I mention I was wearing flip flops…dammit! So what do smart people do after a half bottle of Champagne, a bottle of Soave and Martinis…in the snow? Have no idea, but we went to a gay bar that Amy and Sexy Bitch had been to on one of their visits prior to the move. Not all gay but very gay friendly and a hell-of-a-lot of fun. Far too many shots, I seem to remember Jamison and something pink…pink is always bad. Pepto is pink and that should be a big old reminder of what pink drinks can lead to. In the interest of protecting the innocent, and the not…I will not go into all the nights events but I will say this, I can check meeting a very tall black man named Kim and being asked “if we wouldn’t mind leaving” a gay friendly bar in Dallas, off my list. Awesome.
The next two days were much more civil, lots of talking, watching television…recovering? Saturday we cracked into the other bottle of bubbles, one that I just wrote about so I will not wax rhapsodic, the NV Camille Saves Carte Blanche….holy crap, I just noticed that both the bubbles I brought were Carte Blanche, rather telling no? Anyway, the Saves was flashy, brilliantly crafted and had a finish that went on forever. I so adore the way wines like this seem so much bigger in texture, the way the envelope the whole tongue and make themselves at home there…damn, that is just out and out sexy.
The day I was preparing to leave Amy was feeling under the weather, we had not yet hit the Dagueneau and that 1996 Azo was staring me in the face each time I opened the fridge. I was willing to leave Dagueneau, had way more than my fair share of that Silex and I knew I could get more but, that 1996 Chablis was just taunting me. I simply had to taste it, was not going to be able to sleep if I did not. “Aims, do you mind if I open that Azo?” I asked in my sweetest, “Please can I have some. Please can I have some?!” tone. “Sure, go for it, it’s yours” she responded, well…I heard the first sure and I was up and in the kitchen, that last little bit landed upon my ears as I was drilling the corkscrew into the cork.
Now Amy has a very real passion for white Burgundy, I am sure it is even bigger than mine and like I said Azo is her favorite producer in Chablis. The one thing I forgot, she doesn’t love older white Burgundy…she misses the fruit and if there is any touch of oxidation, well she is kind of, “out” as it were. When I poured us each a glass and that deep golden color met my eye…well this old friend was thinking, “Woo hoo! More for me!” The wine was clearly advanced, deep, super rich and dense, oily in texture and brimming with nutty, salty flavors. Minerals, dough and bitter almonds were the primary flavors, a bit of honey and salt were on the finish. The thing that struck me, that always strikes me in older white Burgundy…length. Now if you don’t dig the flavors, (as I believe Amy did not) than you don’t really want them clinging on your palate…but when you DO in fact love them….well nothing delivers like a great aged White Burgundy.
I sat there on the couch I had planted my ass on a thousand times, (face planted once as well) my best friend at my side, wearing my feet and me wearing hers….feeling full of love, happy, complete, a little sad but mostly…at home, spinning this fucking unreal glass of 14 year old Chablis in my glass. Here’s to old friends indeed.