Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hitting My Sweet Spot




Okay so those of you that have been reading this silly blog for any length of time are fully aware of my somewhat odd aversion to almost everything sweet. I drown my fruit in lemon juice and salt, I avoid dessert and dessert wines like I owe them money and I am one of those freaks that has absolutely zero love for chocolate. I was once kind of challenged by a friend’s wife when I mentioned that I hated chocolate. She seemed perplexed and even more so when I mentioned that maybe once or twice a year I would get a craving for peanut butter and chocolate ice cream….something I threw out in order to keep from looking like a total freak. “But chocolate tastes its best at palate temperature. When it melts in your mouth” she explained and as I sat there trying not to look like an ass I thought, “Exactly. It gets more intense, creamier and in my opinion more flaccid when it’s warm which is why the only way I can and do crave it is in its chilled and rigid form” it’s not that I don’t get it, I just don’t like it…flaccid and palate coating sweetness just doesn’t do for me.

I prefer Madeira to port and cream sherry, finding that bit of savory almost beef broth like and citrus thing in a Bual Madeira far more enticing and craveable than berries, cassis and caramel. I will happily trade you my dessert for your cheese plate, I find many new world wines a little too sweet upfront (Charlie, I said many and that in no way implies all) and the only cookie I really dug as a kid was Gingersnaps…but with a little pile of sharp cheddar cheese to wash down each bite. Just a freaky quirk I’ve had for I don’t know….the past thirty something years. That being said I am a wine buyer and wine specialist so there are times when I do have to suck up my preferences, like when I was taken to Spain with a group to learn about and taste (like a million) Sherries and where each estate fed us not one but two desserts at each meal….dude, you would think I was working the New York Stock Exchange with the amount of trading I did there. But like I said, I have to forget for a moment what I like personally to taste things I’m either presented to bring in the shop or to educate myself on the things we already have. Part of the job and it’s not like I have to drink them.




This past Saturday night found the husband and I invited to a dinner party at the home of a couple that we have hung out with, casually, a couple times and enjoyed so much that we didn't think twice about accepting the invitation from. I somehow knew their home would be one of those magazine ones in all its perfectness. I'm cool with that and I rather like feeling the extra heavy clunk of my uncivilized heels as I walk, invited, though a home like that. I was looking forward to it the entire afternoon at work but there was one itchy bit that made me slightly uncomfortable....I had offered to pick the wines for dinner.

Normally this would be a non issue. I'm not so much with the cocky but I am pretty confident when it comes to food and wine pairings, thing was, I only had a rough draft of the menu, which in of itself can be unnerving but there was to be not one, but two guys at this dinner party that have been deeply immersed in the studying for and taking of sommelier exams. Fuck. Me. This is not the same as just picking wines for dinner, even my own dinner. Picking wines, to pair with food, for these guys that have had their noses, brain and palates so twisted around the studying of wine, as a supposed wine specialist?! Yeah, unnerving doesn't even begin to cover it. Saturday morning I walked the aisles of the shop for thirty minutes before we opened. Just quietly walked through the rows, my eyes falling upon this bottle and that, stopping when I wanted to consider or hover over a wine just a little longer. I ran flavor profiles through my aging mental Rolodex and quicker than I thought, I had wines chilling in the back fridge. 



I was all set and feeling mildly smug until I thought of the one course I had offered to bring, the cheese course. Dammit. Again this would be, in any other situation, an easy one for me. Cheese is my longest passion and wine and cheese is easy when I get to pick and don't have to try and beat the fuck out of a round peg and try to cram it into a preconceived square hole. There were no rules or boundaries to my course and selections and that kind of freedom, for the well learned and recently saturated palate...too much freedom and too many thrilling options as it turns out. Grabbed a luxuriously gooey round of La Tur, (Italian cow, sheep and goat milk blend), Fiscalini Cheddar, (rocking domestic cow's milk cheddar that makes me swoon) Pilota, (with all its sexy, salty, creamy sheep's milk salinity) and St Agur, (quite frankly the best blue cheese, ever) shoved them into the fridge with the preselected dinner wines but now, what wine...of all the hundreds we have to offer, to serve with cheese? Or, did we need wine at all?



It was while running cheeses to my son to prepare for the store's Saturday tasting that I stopped in the liquor department and remembered a wicked cool, sweet but hauntingly seductive liqueur...



My first encounter with the thick, luscious and shiver inducing liquid rattled me. Shook my bones, the Louis Roque Liqueur de Chataigne, (Chestnut Liqueur, $25.99) stunned me with it complexity and shook my....well all my bits. There was something so alluring about the aromas.....sure there was clearly a nutty thing but it wasn’t the dominate aroma. The nose was loaded with wild honey, cinnamon, clove and allspice, reminded me of the incense my stoner friends would burn as to not alert their parents they were smoking pot…wicked smart those stoners. I remembered taking the glass to my lips and recalled finding myself a little impatient with the speed at which the thickish stuff moved up the glass and into my mouth but fuck, once it got there all was forgiven. No doubt the stuff is sweet but just for a brief second really as all that clove, sandalwood, cinnamon and allspice, this massive middle of warm cooking spice becomes not only the middle of the liqueur but the center of attention, you can feel it coating the inside of your mouth and creeping up into the nasal passages. Never had a wine or spirit do that, not so intensely anyway and to call the finish haunting is an almost criminal understatement. As unique, alluring and sexy liqueur as I have ever had the pleasure to taste. Sort of sick actually...and just what I needed. 



Left the party with every bottle, including the rare liqueur, emptied. Felt kind of successful and stuff.   

https://thewinecountry.com/shop/louis-roque-liqueur-de-chataigne/ 
 


16 comments:

Thomas said...

Ginger snaps! My God, we have such a similar palate.

Glad the evening went well.

Thomas said...

oops: similar palates.

Samantha Dugan said...

Something I always suspected kid.

ADoC said...

I remember my first sip of that. Standing the 'kitchen' area of The Wine Country, late one night after closing up after a tasting with you. The thick, almost syrupy liqueur coating the sides of the glass like honey; the spice, the depth on my tongue like a warm caress...

I've never forgotten that, and every fall I search hopelessly for it somewhere here locally, but Vegas sucks ass as far as variety goes. I was, in fact this morning, browsing the local aisles and remembered this liqueur. Again, unsuccessful in my search.

Seems as though a trip to TWC is in order very shortly.

webb said...

Plates of cheese on the way. Ship chocolate soonest. Thanks.

Ps.. will look for liquer. Promise.

Samantha Dugan said...

ADoC,
How you been love? I hope all is well with you and the family. Yup, thought of you when I tasted that Chestnut Liqueur, like as soon as I retasted it. I remember that night in the kitchen and how your eyes got wide, shoulders lifted and there was, if I recall, the tiny utterance of a groan I remember because I reacted the same exact way the first time I tasted it. One of the hosts was not a fan that night but the rest of us couldn't keep our hands off the stuff. Loved it with the Pilota cheese especially...damn.

Webb,
I'm guessing it might be a bit of a hunt, it is imported by a tiny little importer based in San Francisco so I'm not sure if anyone is bringing it in in any other markets. It is such a unique and specific liquor that I can't imagine it will turn up too many places but I wish you luck and if the curiosity gets to be too much, I can always ship it to you. Happy hunting!

Romes said...

More importantly, what would you put with La Tur? Been having me a super love affair with that cheese, haunts me when the store is all out. I want to share the liqueur next visit too! Loves u...

Samantha Dugan said...

Jess,
That La Tur is so damn creamy that I like pairing it with wines that have lighter bodies and super-high acidity. I did it once with a wicked cool Italian red from Alto-Adige called Widman Vernatsch. A light, vibrating little red that just cut through the creaminess and richness of the cheese like a frozen wire but delicate in flavor and body as to not distract from the achingly wonderful flavors of that cheese. Fun pairing. That migh be a challenge to find that wine but think light, maybe even chillable and high acid for La Tur. Oh and making a mental note to get me a bottle of the Chestnut stuff for your next sleepover! Love you lady.

The Passionate Palate said...

Ditto on the similar palates...just kept drooling and thinking "two thumbs up" on all your opinions/preferences. I am glad the other folks appreciated your take on things!

Samantha Dugan said...

Jeni,
You are too sweet lady. I think they liked the wines, they said they did and we left no bottle un-tipped but who knows, they could have just been slowing smoke up my rump or patting me on the head like a little special ed kid. (Wink) I hope they liked the wines and this Chestnut stuff is simply unlike anything I have ever had. Thanks as always for reading and posting!

Sara Louise said...

You even have Chataigne! Your stock at the Wine Country is serious!

Samantha Dugan said...

Sara,
We try and only stock the cool stuff.

Nicole Voorhees said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicole Voorhees said...

No Smoke, Sam! We truly loved ALL of your selections (only 1 person who didn't like 1...damn fool ;-)
).

Samantha Dugan said...

Nicole,
Well good, always preferred feathers to smoke when we are talking about things near my ass. It was a wonderful dinner, loved the food, (like I'm so seriously!) the company was lovely and the night just sailed by. Thanks again for having us in your perfectly comfortable home.

gabriel jagle said...

i love me some sweet wine. Some of my favorite wine experiences involved bottles of tokaji