Tuesday, January 17, 2006

In Vino Veritas

One of the problems of maintaining a blog is the time commitment involved. This is something I wanted to post about when it was fresher in my mind, and more timely; life, specifically work got in the way. We are in the midst of a fairly typical January work blitz, when architects and developers realize that, Oh, Christ we’ve got that presentation in January that we blew off preparing for during the holidays and now we’re completely boned unless we get that renderer on board, pronto. Eleven active projects right now and another ten or so under negotiation.

It was over a week ago that my brother was in town for the weekend. On Saturday, Kathy and I took him and Wells out to our favorite haunt – Rosewater, which is a convenient short walk from our house. Typically Kathy and I order the tasting menu, and that night was no exception. Essentially let the cook decide what to order, six courses of it, and then let the owner pair each course with a different wine. It’s Kathy’s and my favorite way to order at a restaurant.

One of my biggest complaints about modern dining is the outrageous portion size, enough to choke an elephant. Presumably restaurant owners have to pile on the food to make every meal seem like a sumptuous feast, but the end result for me is massive pain and bloating which obviously ruins the experience. That’s why I prefer the tasting menus, if done correctly. Many small courses, so you get a wide variety of tasting experiences without the need for mobility assistance at the end of the meal.

We have several times had the overfed problem even at Rosewater, but Saturday’s hit the bill perfectly:

Course 1: Duck Prosciutto paired with a New York State Cremant d’Alsace

Course 2: Chilean Sea Bass paired with a Gini 2003 Soave Classico

Course 3: Foie Gras Torchon paired with a Bonny Doon Muscat, Vin De Glacier, also from New York

Course 4: Homemade Pork Sausage paired with a 2003 Cotes du Vantuax from Chateau Valcombe

Course 5: Lamb paired with a 2002 Quintadi Vallado

Course 6: 4 desserts including a sticky date bun, Cheri Spiced apple fritters and a flourless chocolate cake. The desserts were paired with a La Spinetta 2005 Moscato d’Asti.

In the future I will try to post more detail on the foods, but the delay in posting this has hampered my memory.

As often happens we had John, the proprietor of Rosewater, write down the paired wines for us. Usually we hold onto the list for a while thinking that we will do something with it, and eventually throw it away. This time, however, we were so impressed by the dessert wine that we got John to give us the distributor’s name, Michael Skurnik. Armed with this information I took it to our favorite wine store, Slope Cellars and was able to order a case of it. As a plus, they actually had the Gini Soave as well, although a 2004 which they claim is even better than the outstanding 2003 that we had.

This all sounds rather odd – if you like a wine at a restaurant, get the name and just go get it at the store. Unfortunately life is never that easy. Typically wines in a restaurant are from different distributors than in stores, so if you find a great wine at your favorite place, then you are pretty much stuck getting it only at that restaurant. Fortunately, several of the better restaurants in Park Slope are starting to work with local wine merchants, allowing people to sample at their favorite place and then go buy bottles of what they like.

On a somewhat related note, the Supreme Court last year disallowed most state laws governing the interstate sales of wine as unconstitutional. New York was one of those states, but they are becoming in danger of missing the deadline of revising the state laws to make it possible for people like me to order wine over the internet. Granted, the legislature has more pressing agenda on its plate, but they can’t get any of that accomplished either. Plato, in the Laws, argued that the best way to discuss philosophy is while drunk; In Vino Veritas and all that. Perhaps the critters up in Albany would do well to put that item of business on the top of their to-do lists.