Monday, November 30, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Thoughts...

It has been a few days since my last blog, and quite a bit has happened. We traveled to Kansas to spend some time with my family, and see my folk's beautiful new home. During this trip, I realized how quickly things change, and how other things stay exactly the same. For example, the last time I saw my nephew, he was barely crawling. Now, he's stumbling around like a little guy should. My nieces, that were just little rug rats in March when we went to Mexico have turned into little....people. Weird. In the "things stay the same" department, my grandmother still proclaims between entrees and dessert at Thanksgiving, "my goodness, it takes us so long to cook all this food, and we eat it so fast!" I'm not kidding, you could literally set the international atomic clock by it!

Changes- my brother, who doesn't drink, now reads my blog that focuses on wine.

Things stay the same- my father still refuses to watch KU Basketball, because it makes him "nervous and irritable."

Changes- we finally have enough ornaments to cover our entire tree (our first year of marriage, our angel was made from a Miller Lite can, and we filled the tree in with candy canes).

Things stay the same- one of my favorite moments of the year is, after I have hauled all of our decorations up from the basement and unpacked all of them, sitting back with a glass of champagne and watching my beautiful bride put ornaments on the tree.

This was also a weekend of ups and downs emotion wise- I got two completely unsolicited but needed compliments from friends, but I also found out that another dear friend is getting a divorce. One friend is launching out into an exciting new career, and another is spending a lonely holiday contemplating his mistakes.

I will reiterate what I said that I'm thankful for- I have a wonderful wife that supports me, and I'm really happy with the life that we have set up here in Saint Louis.
I must add that I am so happy to have found a great circle of friends that we can share the holidays with, and probably drink some good wine!

Enjoy the weather, folks. Winter is here.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quick French Lesson- the Right Bank

A couple of weeks ago, I covered the left bank wines of Bordeaux. Today, we will be looking at the "right bank"- the area to the north and east of the Gironde river, more specifically the regions of St. Emilion, Pomerol, and Fronsac. These areas are sort of like the Sonoma to California's Napa- it is more of the "workingman's wine" in Bordeaux. The soil is one of the important aspects in this area. Whereas in the left bank, the soil is mainly gravel, this area contains mainly clay. In other areas of the world, clay-based soil gives the vines "wet feet" by not allowing drainage. However, here the slope of the vineyards allows fantastic drainage, and is perfect for the area's main two grapes- Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
St. Emilion is one of the areas that is home to some of the most wonderful Cabernet Franc-based wines in the world. The most famous of these is Cheval Blanc, a chateau that is comprised almost entirely of cab franc and merlot. In fact, if you have seen Sideways, you remember Miles ranting about not drinking merlot. The wine that he drinks at the end of the movie- 1961 Cheval Blanc, is comprised of cab franc with a very heavy dose of merlot! The other famous wine from this area is Chateau Ausone. These wines are almost haunting in how good they are, and have price tags to match. Right down the road is a smaller appellation called Lussac-St. Emilion, which is a great place to get well made, bargain Bordeaux.
Pomerol is the other brother of St. Emilion, and is most famous for its top chateau- Petrus. Made mostly of merlot, this is regularly one of the most sought after, and expensive wines in the world. Only about 2000 cases are made, and only a few hundred make their way into the U.S. When I worked for a distributor in Boston, we had a bottle of 2000 Petrus, and sold it for $2000 wholesale. If you want similar-ish wines, but don't have the money, look for those from Lalande de Pomerol.
A third, lesser know area to get wonderful red Bordeaux is Fronsac. It is located to the west of it's big brothers mentioned previously, has the same sort of blend, and sometimes has some Cabernet Sauvignon in the mix. This results in a powerfully rustic wine that is fair priced.

That's enough for now- have a fantastic Thanksgiving, drink something good!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What this city needs...

You probably think that I'm going to give a solution to the poverty, racism, abuse of imminent domaine, and provel cheese that run rampant in this city. I'm not. Instead, I'm going to give someone the chance to make a million dollars. That's right, if you are an investor with a bunch of cash, just looking for the right idea, here it is.

My idea actually spurred from two different conversations. The first one was with a buddy of mine whose wife just graduated cosmetology school (that's where you cut hair, right?). We were talking about how it would be great for there to be a place in Clayton kind of like the Hair Saloon for Men, but kicked up even a notch. A place where a guy could go, get a haircut, a straight razor shave, and also where there would be big leather chairs, martinis, brandy, a library, tv's quietly showing sports or the news, etc. They would even be able to run tabs, and pay up once a month. I really think guys would pay for the chance to get a shave and have their shoes shined in a clubby atmosphere over their lunch hour.

The second conversation came when I went to go play pool with a neighbor of mine. Because we live in South County, our options were limited. The bar we ended up at was dark, dirty, loud, smoky, had crappy equipment, didn't take debit cards, and served Busch Beer. It's just not the scene I'm into anymore. I want a place where you can actually converse with the person you are playing pool against, don't leave smelling like American Spirits, and can buy a decent beverage.

So, here's the opportunity- Someone needs to open a place where you can do both. I'm talking all out- dark wood, leather, paintings of hounds chasing foxes, poker tables, cigar rooms, the whole deal. You could get that hair trimmed, or play a couple games of billiards. You could also get a glass of real beer. The place wouldn't need to serve dinner, but candied walnuts would be nice. I know this sounds like a country club, or like the Racquet Club on Kingshiway. The trouble is, most guys my age want this type of thing, we just can't foot the tens of thousands of dollars to join the aforementioned establishments. I would say that it should be an affordable place to go, without taking on the vibe of a sports bar.

Who's in?

Monday, November 23, 2009

What wine to bring?

It's that time of year. You have been invited to your sister's, Boss's, friend's, neighbor's, Church's, or some other relation's holiday party. Because you are a wine fan, and because you are polite in the Era of Mad Men sense of the world, you decide to bring a bottle of wine as a Host/Hostess gift. Aw man, now what? What do I bring? How much do I spend? What if I want to drink it? My friend, here are your answers.

First, determine if you want to drink the wine that night or not. If it is just a regular holiday party, and you want to make sure there's something good to drink, that's fine. Just hand the bottle to the host, and say something like "I figured we could pop this tonight, to see what you think of it." This should save you the frustration of bringing something you really want to try, and have it end up in the rack on top of their fridge. If you are going to a dinner party, one method is to call a few days before, and ask what the courses will be. Then mention that you would like to bring a wine to match one of the courses. This insures that they know that you want to open the bottle.

If you don't really care about opening the bottle or not, then there are still several things to take into consideration- How well do you know the people? Are they knowledgeable about wine? Are you really trying to impress them, or just be polite? Here are some scenarios:

-Your Nieghborhood Christmas Party- This is an easy one, especially if they don't know, or care much about wine. Bring somthing that is user-friendly, and doesn't cost you much more than $15 retail. Suggestion- Crios Malbec or Yalumba Shiraz/Viognier

-A holiday cocktail party where you know the host, but not many other people there- This one is tricky, since you want to bring something nice, but don't want to seem cheap. I advise that you go "off the beaten path", and bring something that even the wine geeks at the party will appreciate, but most people haven't heard of. You can still get there for less than $20. Suggestion: Altos de la Hoya Monastrell, or maybe Cantina Tollo Montepulciano.

-A party where there will be some reasonably knowledgeable wine people that know you. This is getting a little tougher. My suggestion is to bring Grower's Champagne. It will cost you around $40, and is delicious. Suggestions are A Margaine, Pierre Peters, or Rene Geoffroy.

-Your Boss's house for a dinner party. Two thoughts here- get something that has scored 90 points somewhere, just in case they are paying attention. My suggestion would be Snowden "Ranch" cabernet (It tastes better than Caymus, and is cheaper). Also, get something that isn't too well known, but is still nice. If they are just getting into wine, then something like Rombauer or Cakebread is a nice gesture, but the wines are bad for the price. If they are a little more knowledgeable then those types of wines might actually offend them. Another safe route is to go Grower's Champagne, as listed above.

I hope this helps a little. Whatever you bring, it will probably be appreciated. If they start laughing, saying things like "Oh my gosh, that is classic!" then just play along, and act like you meant it as a joke.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Craziness and Thanksgiving

For my throngs of loyal fans, I appologize for the spotty blogging this week. It has just been one of those periods where everything in life is going nuts. What do they call that? Oh yeah, life during the holidays! Speaking of, I wanted to address a major problem that many people have this time of year- What wine to drink at the Thanksgiving table.

There are a lot of articles about this very topic flying around right now, and I want to quell information from some of them, and offer some advice. First of all, know that a "typical" Thanksgiving dinner is very difficult to pair wines with. You have white meat poultry, sometimes ham, high acid dishes (cranberry sauce), sweet dishes (yams), buttery dishes (mashed potatoes), peppery dishes (stuffing), etc, etc, etc. My main bit of advice is to consider who you are bringing the wine for. Are you just wanting a wine or two that everyone will enjoy, knowing that you are the only "wine person" at the table? In that case, bring an off-dry riesling, and and some relatively inexpensive california pinot noir. These are normally user-friendly and can be found for less than $20/bottle. This will also help you cover Aunt Betty that only drinks white zin. Remember, when you are in a room full of non-wine people, they really don't care if the wine scored 97 points, was #27 on some "Top 100" list, or comes from a 1/2 acre vineyard from Chassagne Montrachet. Drink accordingly.

Are there going to be some wine fans at the table that know what they are talking about, but are still pretty relaxed about it? Once again, defer to some riesling (try Monchhof or Richter), and maybe some Cali Chard or Burgundy if you can swing it- there are good prices all around right now, especially for '04 and '05s. You can then throw a bottle of syrah in there for those that like the bigger stuff.

Are you friends with wine geeks that really care? Then go nuts- pair Gruner with the veggies (Try Huber "Hugo), a dry rose with some of the cranberries (I like Crios, or Gruet if you want bubbly), riesling with the yams, White Burgundy with the mashed potatoes (check out some of the lesser releases from Domaine LeFlaive), a Red burgundy or Oregon Pinot with the turkey, and some Rhone (Les Aphillanthes, or Guigal) with everything else.

Finish off the meal with egg nog with a good dose of bourbon or spiced rum, and you are guaranteed to sleep right through the Dallas and Detroit games.

Most importantly, remember that this really is a time to give thanks for all the blessings in your life- whether that be your family, friends, God, job, or just pretty leaves on the trees.

Cheers y'all, have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

French Class Cancelled

Due to unforeseen circumstances, French Class has been cancelled for today. Check in next Wednesday, as I will be going over Right Bank Bordeaux.

Sorry for the inconvenience.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's the next big thing?

I was having coffee with a friend of mine in the wine industry this morning, and we started talking about what the next "big thing" will be. Part of our job is to identify what will be popular in the next year or so, and make those items available to our customers, so they can make money off of them. I'm not really talking about what the uber-wine geeks want, but rather what the future trend will be for the typical person buying a bottle retail or a glass at a restaurant. In the early 90's, the trend was big, huge, buttery, high alcohol chardonnays. Then, merlot was the big thing. After that, Yeller Tail, and their bubble gummy shiraz hit the American conscience- everyone had to have it. That was followed by Pinot Noir. Some people say that this was because of "Sideways" hitting the movie theatres. I disagree. I think that pinot was on the upswing, and the movie just hit at the right time. Most recently, the hip things to order have been Malbec, which I still love and adore followed by wines from the 2007 vintage in the Rhone.

What will the next thing be? I don't know. The funny thing about each of these wines is that people started jumping on the bandwagon, resulting in a lot of really sub-par wines in the marketplace. For example, two years ago, it was really hard to find Pinot in the $15-$18 range at a retailer. Now, they are at 7-11. The same thing will happen with Malbec.

I would love to see people grab on to California syrah, there are some great examples out there. The same thing goes with zinfandel- they aren't all the fruit bombs of rocket fuel that were in the market a few years ago. Some people are saying wine from China. I think that's on the horizon, but not for 2010.

I just hope I learn what it's going to be before the next guy.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Thoughts from the weekend...

This was a crazy busy weekend. Friday night, I worked as a sommelier for the Entre Upstairs portion of the underground restaurant scene. The theme this time was "A Fowl Affair", and everything had to do with chickens and ducks. I'm still amazed at what these guys can do with very little formal training, and small spaces to work with. Thoughts:

-I love the Clandestine Chef's take on White Castle burgers- I want a big bag of them for my birthday!

-People (me included) should realize when they are talking too much about a certain subject, and nobody else in the room gives a damn.

-Advil and Cava is a great combination to help sore joints.

-Sometimes, people in the restaurant service industry really hate their customers, and it makes me laugh.

Saturday night was the annual "In the Vineyard" event at Plaza Frontenac, to benefit the Edgewood Children's Home. A bunch of restaurants show up, and give out small bites, and local wine folks pour their wares. There are auctions to raise money for the home, and the ticket price goes to the charity as well. Thoughts:

-A HUGE thank you to my wife, and my friends Matt and Erin for helping me out. Even though there are other volunteers, you all were a great blessing!

-There are a lot of self-important, rich jerks in this town.

-I never thought I would try something like 2003 Harlan Maiden, and think "Wow, my palate must be getting tired, because this tastes like a lot of the other cabs I had tonight".
(Disclaimer- this is one of my favorite wines in the world. When you go to a wine tasting, you can only really taste about the first 8 or 10 wines you try. After that, palate fatigue sets in and it takes something with a lot of alcohol or acidity to stand out)

-The folks from Monarch, Niche, Acero, Herbies, etc can still cook in small portions- the food was amazing!)

-Canton liqueur is good.

That's it, folks- Have a fantastic week, don't let this bum weather get ya down. Tonight, I'm off to teach my class, and hit Dorm Room dinner at 33.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Get ready to be jealous

I have a great life- I married the girl of my dreams, My family is wonderful, I have a great circle of friends, I go to a great church, I own a beautiful home, dogs, and cars. I even have an I-phone. One of the things that my wife and I share a passion for is great food (duh, just look at me!). This week has been one for the record books. I have already waxed poetic about the meal I had on Monday night, but now I have another one to dangle in front of you and boast about.

Yesterday, I was walking through the Central West End, and ran into Gerard Craft. For those of you who don't know who he is, Gerard owns Niche restaurant (one of my favorite places in the world), as well as Taste in Saint Louis. He was one of Food and Wine magazine's "Top Ten Best New Chefs in America" a couple of years ago, and has been nominated for James Beard awards on a couple of occasions. The boy can cook. Anyways, Gerard asked me if we wanted to come to the friends-and-family night at his new project called Brasserie- it's a French inspired bistro. I, of course, accepted and immediately texted the bride of our new-found dinner plans.

The space is really cool. Where Niche is modern, Brasserie has more of a casual feel to it. They are still working out some of the kinks, but the vibe is cool- the type of place you can wear a tie, or a t-shirt and jeans, and be comfortable either way.

Let it suffice to say the food rocked as well. We had gougeres (cheese puffs), a country pate that was spot on, a frisee salad with some of the best damn croutons I have ever eaten, scallops that were cooked perfectly, roasted chicken that was also just right (not an easy task), short ribs that melted in your mouth, a delightful lemon tart, and a plum dessert with cognac ice cream that was to die for! Oh yeah, did I mention that the meal was FREE? We just had to give Gerard our criticisms (which I promised I would not post anywhere online) and honest feedback. We also tipped the server heavily.
I love that my career has led me to the point where I have friends that can get us into experiences like this- even if it does put us into a food coma, and make us buy bigger clothes.

This will be my second-to-last plea to have you sign up for my wine class on Monday. I'm teaching on Old World vs. New World wines at Ernesto's wine bar in Benton Park. The class starts at 6:00, should last less than 2 hours, and costs $20. Please come!

This weekend, check out the Nicholson Jones unoaked chardonnay. We drank some last night with the scallops, and it was killer. This wine should cost less than $20 retail.

Cheers- see you Monday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

French Wine Primer- Left Bank Bordeaux

As promised, today we will take a look at the area of Bordeaux, in France, known as the "Left Bank." This is essentially the western bank of the Gironde river, which flows into the Atlantic ocean, and is fed by the Garonne (of which the western bank is also part of today's focus), and the Dardogne rivers. The left bank is broken into a couple of major regions- Medoc (composed confusingly of the Medoc and the Haut Medoc), Graves, Barsac, and Sauternes.

The Medoc is the furthest region to the Northwest, and contains most of the famous communes of Bordeaux. It is divided into Medoc (the top 35% of the area) and the Haut Medoc (the southern 65%). The wine coming from here is so historically important that we still use the classification of 1855. This was where the government classified the chateaux into four "first growths", fourteen "second growths", fourteen "third growths", ten "fourth growths" and eighteen "fifth growths". This classification was based on quality, and furthermore by price. The only change to this system was that in 1973, through a great deal of political influence and pandering to the market, Mouton Rothschild was moved from a Second Growth into the First Growth realm. Today, the First Growths (Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild, Haut Brion- the only commune from the Graves, Latour, and Margaux) are some of the most sought after, and most expensive, wines in the world. The communes of the Medoc, moving from Northwest to Southeast, are: St-Estephe, Pauillac, St. Julien, Listrac, Moulis, and Margaux. These are the appellations that you will see on the label if you are fortunate enough to buy them. The grapes planted in the Medoc is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, and most of the wines coming from here have a large dallop of the grape.
As we move Southeast, we get into Graves, named for the gravel-based soil. The main region here is Pessac-Leognan, also composed mainly of Cabernet.

Confused? I was too at first. Just think of concentric circles- a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild is:
1. a Bordeaux
2. more specifically, from the Medoc
3. Even more specifically, from Haut-Medoc
4. Even more specifically, a Pauillac (The commune and the appellation which will be on the label)
5. Most specifically, from the Chateau Lafite Rothschild property.

At the southeastern end of the left bank are the areas of Barsac and Sauternes. The grapes grown here are more toward the whites, usually Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Most of the wines produced here are sweet, dessert wines that have been affected by botrytis. The most famous of these is Chateau d'Yquem, which is wicked expensive, but tastes like something we will be drinking in Heaven!

I hope this was informative. Go find a bottle of Haut-Medoc, and enjoy!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One single best bite

On Monday night, I had what was quite possibly the best single-bite dish that I have ever had in my life. An "amuse" is simply a one or two bite item, served by a chef at the beginning of a meal. The intent is to get your palate "primed" and ready to enjoy the meal you are about to consume. Most of you know that Monday night was Carnivorale, a One-Night-Only restaurant put on by some friends of mine that are amazing chefs. The 7 course meal was out of this world, but I want to focus on one bite- the first one.

It was a quail egg, cooked to perfection, topped with duck egg hollandaise, caviar, and shaved black truffles. One of the guys putting this on called it their "$20 spoonful", and he wasn't kidding. The cost of the ingredients alone was around that mark I'm sure. It was rich, succulent, a touch salty, and flat out delicious.

If I would have paired wine with it, I would have gone with Champagne. However, a spatlese level riesling was what was in my glass, and it did just fine!

Tomorrow, we study Left Bank Bordeaux.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Thoughts from the weekend...

This last weekend, I worked at the underground restaurant ( as a sommelier on both Friday and Saturday nights. For those that thing being a sommelier is all fancy wines and great food, I would disagree. It involves lugging cases of wine up and down several flights of stairs, digging around in dirty basements to see what sort of inventory is really there, and getting pretty sweaty. Oh, and it comes with the added bonus of twisting your knee, and barely being able to walk the next day.
However, there is quite a bit of fancy wine and food involved, too- it ain't all bad! If you haven't been to one of the underground restaurants, you should check it out. This weekend was the first attempt at a more "fine dining" atmosphere, and I think they did really, really well. It wasn't cheap (ended up being roughly $150/person plus tip), but the food was amazing- it's crazy what those guys can do with lamb. The wine pairings were, ahem, pretty good too! I really like seeing people try something they have never tried before (this weekend, I rolled with Rivaner, a rose Cava, and even a white port), and really enjoying it!
Sunday, I watched Josh Freeman (former KC boy, and K State player) lead Tampa to a victory, and called my dad about the Wildcats beating the Jayhawks. No comment for you Mizzou fans out there. Oh, and I drank Bud Select after helping a friend move some furniture into my basement. (By the way, the friend also left a large portion of his gun supply and ammo. If you were thinking about breaking into my house and stealing my wife, my dog, or my wine, I would advise against it. We're even more heavily armed than before.)

Tonight, Carnivorale!
I really hope to see you there, it's going to be a great time! Undoubtedly my posts tomorrow will be a bit late, as I don't think this thing will get over until 2 or 3 a.m. This big boy will be sleeping in.

Have a great evening, and Cheers!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fort Hood, Redneck Moments, carnivorale

First and foremost, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those hurt and killed at Fort Hood yesterday. It was a senseless disaster.

On a lighter note, I had two simultaneous "Redneck Moments" this week, and I have been anxiously waiting for Friday to come, so I can tell about them. First of all, I was looking out the back window of my house on Monday evening. I saw that one neighbor who lives behind us was raking and blowing leaves in his back yard. He then proceeded to jump the fence, steal 4 or 5 pieces of firewood from the house next to him, put the leaves on top of them, dump gas all over it, and light the whole pile on fire. Now, I don't know if you remember, but there was about a 30 MPH wind that day. Not good.
While this was going on, my brother called me. He and his family live right across the street from our parents, and he is a veteranarian in the KC area. On sunday, our folks called him, and said that they were down the street where a deer had just been hit by a car, and he should go look at it. He jumped in his SUV, drove down there, and pulled up to see the police shooting the deer. He asked the officer "So, what are you going to do with that thing?" The officer told him that animal control was on the way, and it was their problem. My brother then talked to the animal control folks, and was allowed to take the deer home. He dressed, cleaned, and processed the deer while it was hanging from the rafters in the garage, resulting in 42 lbs of meat in their fridge. They even ate some of it that night.
Yes, my neighbor burns stolen wood with gas on a windy day, and my brother eats road kill. I definitely live in Missouri.

In honor of this, I'm recommending PBR as your drink of choice for the weekend.

Finally, check out
These are some friends of mine that are putting on a "one night only" restaurant this coming Monday. I know it's a bit steep, but the menu is awesome, and the wine pairings (done by yours truly) will be amazing as well. I really encourage you to go ahead and spend the money- it's going to be an epic evening.

See you there.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

French wine primer- Bordeaux part one

This is going to be a daunting task- breaking French wine into bite-sized pieces that are easily read on a blog. However, I will try.
When looking at France, it is tough to determine which area is the most important. Therefore, I will start with the largest fine wine region in the world- Bordeaux. Located in the southwestern corner of France, not far off the Atlantic coast, Bordeaux has roughly 15,000 growers that sell to wineries producing between 500 and 800 million bottles of wine annually. The are covered by Bordeaux is bigger than all of the wine growing regions of Germany combined, and nearly 10 times as large as the area covered by vineyards in New Zealand! The area definitely is affected by the maritime influence of the Atlantic Ocean (so much so that the name Bordeaux is roughly translated "along the waters"), as well as that of the Gironde river- which splits into the Dordogne and Garonne rivers in the middle of the area. These rivers basically split Bordeaux into three different areas- the "Left Bank", which is the area to the west of the Gironde; "Entre-Deux-Mers", which is the area between the Dordogne and the Garonne; and the "Right Bank", to the east of the Girone and Garonne. We will deal with each of these areas separately over the next couple of weeks.
Since about 80% of the wine coming from the region is red, that is what we will be focusing on in the near future. Bordeaux is essentially planted with 5 red grapes- Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petite Verdot, and Cabernet Franc. The most widely grown grape is Merlot, which is followed by Cabernet Sauvignon. Virtually all of the wines coming from Bordeaux are a blend of these grapes, very few being singular varietal. There are some white grapes grown there as well, most commonly Muscadelle, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Ugni Blanc. The bulk of the soil in the area consists of gravel, with the exception of the Right Bank, which is mostly clay.
Because of the detail involved, we will look at the Left Bank next week, and discuss the Classification of 1855.

In the meantime, go find a bottle of Bordeaux- your local retailer can help, and drink it. Specifically, get something from the Haut Medoc, or the Medoc. Then you will have a better understanding of our lesson for next Thursday.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Smoking Ban

This is less about wine, and more about a topic that has definitely chapped some hides in the STL area. Yesterday, a ban on smoking in most public places in Saint Louis City and County passed. The law will take effect on Jan 2, 2011.

My quick thoughts:
-Since I'm not a smoker, I'm glad this passed. I visit a lot of restaurants and bars for my job, and I don't like coming home smelling like an ashtray.

-There will be outcries about "they're taking away our freedom!" from the smoking population. This isn't true. You can still smoke, just not in certain areas.

-There have already been outcries of "This is the end of democracy". Nope. There was a democratic vote. Only 20% of the County's roughly 705,000 registered voters turned out. If you don't like the results, you should have voted. If you did vote, you should have gotten more people to vote on your side. For the record, I had to work yesterday, and didn't vote. Much like the Presidential vote, I accepted whatever happens (I did vote in that one.) That's the way a democracy works- the people decide. Right or wrong, we must deal with the choice.

-I hope this doesn't turn anyone off to reading my blog. If the ban wouldn't have passed, I would have said "oh well", and moved on with my life. I try not to put very many of my political or religious views on here. This just happens to be a big time vote in the STL restaurant scene, and would have been remiss not to bring it up.

So, tonight either celebrate, or drown your sorrows with a glass of 2007 Lockwood Block 7 Pinot noir. This is a new item put out by Lockwood, and tastes about twice what the price is. It should cost you around $20 retail, and is delicious.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Honey, can we make this for Thanksgiving?

This is the recipe for a "Russian Doll" style dish- basically a Turducken that is way, way over the top. I have no idea what wine to pair with this thing- maybe just Pepto. In fact, I don't know what about half of the things in the dish are. It sounds crazy though. This is taken from Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany, and the recommended cooking time is "Roasting for 18 hours".

Stuff a large olive with Capers and a clove.
Place the olive inside a bec-figue.
Place the bec-figue inside an ortolan.
Place the ortolan inside a Lark.
Wrap the lark in vine leaves and place inside a large thrush.
Place the thrush inside a plump quail.
Wrap the Quail in bacon, and place inside a plover.
Place the Plover inside a lapwing.
Place the lapwing inside a partridge.
Place the partridge inside a woodcock.
Place the woodcock inside a barded teal.
Place the Teal inside a well-hung guinea fowl.
Garnish the guinea fowl, and place inside a duck.
Place the duck inside a plump chicken.
Place the chicken inside a large, high pheasant.
Place the Pheasant inside a goose.
Place the goose inside a large turkey.
Place the Turkey inside an enormous Bustard.

Who's in? You bring the plover, the lapwing, and the barded teal. I'll bring the chicken, the duck, and the turkey.

Cheers everyone, have a great day!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Various Thoughts from the Weekend

From Friday Night (worked as sommelier at the Entre Underground Restaurant):
-It's amazing what the clandestine chef can do with such little resources.
-Sometimes solving a problem is as easy as looking around, seeing who isn't doing anything, and sending them to fix it for you.
-Pork Belly may be the end of me
-Just because you are about 118 years old doesn't give you the right to rudely interrupt a chef's verbal presentation of a dish. 3 times.
-Besides good wine, sometimes PBR is the right choice.

From Saturday:
-SoCo's Gyros are really, really good.
-Evidently, according to my friend, block parties are different in Missouri than they are in California.
-Allowing your 11 year old boy to dress up like a female hooker is disturbing, and just plain wrong.
-I have a neighbor that looks just like Gene Simmons with full makeup on.
-Dear ignorant other neighbor- when you piled burning embers in the middle of the street and caused a pot hole last year, I'm fairly certain that the same action will have the same result this year. That's why I snapped at you. I don't like my tax dollars paying for your drunken stupidity.
-The end of daylight savings time should always fall on a weekend that includes a block party- it makes getting up for church on Sunday much easier (I have to stay up late, and make sure that Dumb and Dumber don't burn my house down.)

From Sunday:
-Rams fans are very fair weathered. Folks, they won- quit complaining.
-Two sermons in one day can be a bit much.
-Dear lady at my tasting- Just because there was red wine in your glass doesn't mean it is tarnished, and can never hold white wine in it. Just rinse it out like everyone else does.
-Dear guy at my tasting wearing black jeans, red burgundy mock turtleneck, and black vest- NO.
-Veritas is a wonderful little business, run by great people. Everyone from Saint Louis that reads this should go there, look around, and buy something.

That's all I got for today. Regarding wine, if you can find it check out the Montes "Folly" Syrah- it is big, dark, jammy, and chewy. Great for a cold autumn night.

Cheers, and enjoy this weather folks!