“Kroger has proven unreliable. Roast beef sandwich is leveling though”
The text message from Suburban Wino Joe. The one that woke the husband and I up, and after rubbing my still makeup encrusted eyelids I could just make out the time on the clock, “Merde!”
The three of us had rumpled a perfectly civilized evening into a night of dudes named Cyntrell with Lee Press On foil wrapped teeth, (who did give me the once over and asked me if I was married….still got “it” thank you very much) Jameson shots, Irish pubs, adorable new friends in the form of Adam with the big sweet grin and fish hook on his hat, (still have not gotten to the bottom of that there tradition. Will get back to you when I do) a kid around my sons age swearing that I couldn’t be forty, (again with the thank you very much…and Joe, shut up with the spouting a woman’s age, jackhole) and my insistence on buying Joe a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, aka Boo Pecoche upon hearing that he had never tried it before. I’m told I got a bartender’s invite to 11:00 AM oysters out of the deal but we had plans to see Benito who was wise enough to bolt directly after our two martini dinner at The Beauty Shop, (he was rushing home to cook for us…so he says) and missed the gloriousness of way more booze, fist pumping-barstool dancing to the classics like Erotic City and the oh-so deep conversation that nights like this inspire. He chose braising beef over pickled liver, go figure.
Slammed my cell on the desk and bolted to the shower giving the two water glasses of half consumed red wine sitting beside my untouched laptop a, “Huh?” face on the way. So you know those mornings when you are in such a panic you don’t quite notice the raging “I think I’m still drunk” voice that screams in your ears and thumps against your scull the second you tilt your head back to wash your hair? Yeah, it was one of those. I don’t say this with a proud pounding of my keys, it was an unfortunate night of Damn Old Chicks Gone Wild, the DVD is available through, “Don’t Be Mad, It’s Yo Momma” productions or as a gift with purchase of Zantac & bunion removers at your local Walgreens pharmacy. I’m not at all bragging and I half suspect that Joe will think twice about driving any distance to hang with this end-of-the-night-red-wine-pushing, shot-ordering, yellow-label-buying doofus anytime soon. Poor bastard.
Sent a, “We might be a little late” text to Ben as I fruitlessly tried to squish my bits back into place, (ever seen a sausage being made? Sigh…) in order to not look like Quasimodo which was a complete and total fail. Managed to wriggle into my jeans just as Joe knocked on our hotel room door, grabbed my upper coverings and headed to the bathroom to change, being sure to give Joe my biggest….full of shit, “I’m not in pain and I would so hate you right now if I didn’t know this was all MY fault” grin. Grabbed a big ass liter bottle of water on our way out the door and through lemon-faced squinched eyes assured both Joe and my husband that I did in fact have the address where we were going. Um. You know that fail thing, did it again. Through a series of phone calls and some very annoying husband huffing we turned onto a tree lined street to see Ben, glass in hand and apron fastened, waving.
“Feel free to run through those bitters and make yourself a martini” there were harps and I’m pretty sure it was God himself reaching down, touching my shoulder…which gave me that same kind of pee shiver you get, erm, used to get, when you “went” in the ocean. The husband’s huffing squelched in the face of dealing with anyone beside his, “I thought that was the address” wife, the smell of bacon and gin in the air, a fistful of bottles and an opener in my front pocket. No matter how far I was from my comfortable little couch spot, this was home.
I slipped into the comfortable action of opening bottles between sips of the martini that I didn’t need, and couldn’t finish like I was dipping each leg into the snuggly softness of my most worn and life drenched pajamas. Joe’s nearly astonishingly beautiful eyes, the ones I had seen over and over again in the form of pictures he posted on Facebook of his beautiful baby girl, Ben’s instruction and introduction of the people that were meeting for the first time, the gracious woman, (Grace, we are now in love) who offered her home for this rather geeky event, and what we were to eat and how he thought it was best to start. Voices I had heard, in the virtual, now slipping through the wisps of hair that cover my ears and landing deep in the pit of my stomach, nuzzling into that space they have secured in my heart. Their voices, like actual voices, almost foreign…at first but the power and people behind them? The way Ben can ark my eyebrow and switch my tone, the way Joe can make me laugh so hard I fear I might shoot something out my nose, nearly felt something like settling down at Thanksgiving dinner. Through opening my heart, yelling at times, oozing my me-ness through something as impersonal as a computer these people knew me, choose to welcome and embrace me and here I was, face to sweet, (theirs not mine, need I remind you I was in full Quasimodo) face with them.
Joe and I started popping corks and Carl chatted up the lovely ladies at the table while Ben bounced around the kitchen stirring, chopping, taking sips of his own martini. We opted, as most do, to start with bubbles, I placed the now slippery with sweat bottles on the table and grabbed the 2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Les Argiles that I brought for the “We don’t do bubbles” ladies. It was if the bottles merely being open started a form of intoxication, the conversations got just a little louder, the comfort level rising right up to our chins as we jumped into our shared passion, and geekdom with both feet. Hangover nearly forgotten as I put on my “Ohhhh what’s that?” hat and poured myself a taste of a sparkling wine from Georgia.
2009 Wolf Mountain Blanc de Blancs
We were, (as I almost always insist on, cuzz I’m bossy like that) drinking this bubbly from wine glasses not flutes so I can’t speak to the bead or fineness of bubble outside how it landed on the palate, which was gentle enough and reminded me of the better sparklers from California. Restrained fruit, in fact far more than I expected…being the snoot that I am, I had expected the wine to be fruitier even than California sparklers. In fact I got a nice bit of lemon cream, almost custard like that carried through on the gentle, if a bit one dimensional finish. Have no idea what this wine sells for but it was a nice, simple sipper that I think most would be thrilled with.
I tried to be cool but considering my hunchback status I wasn’t really able to pull that off and seeing as I had been eyeballing one of Joe’s wines since he posted it on Facebook, Extra Brut from a producer I had heard of but hadn’t tasted because of my particular feeling for the importer. I know, I know, jackass move but when there is so much great wine to taste, smell and sell, just can’t see going out of my way to promote wines from someone that had, in the past, been somewhat mean to me and people that I respect. Well now I was able to taste the wine on Joe’s dime, (thanks buddy!) and the second I dipped my nose beneath the rim of my glass….it was over.
NV Ulysse Collin Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs
I was hoping to dash off some notes on my smarter than I am phone but as always, delightfully, seems to happen in these gatherings, well I was just caught up in the geeking back and forth to do so. The aromatics were simply breathtaking, that sultry combination of apple skin, baked citrus, seashells and warm butter, if I was alone I would have spent a good hour with my nose in the glass. Watching the wine evolve, shed some nerve and fatten in the glass, but I was trying to be all social and shit so I went for the sip. Fuck. I thought the aroma was bewitching. There was a severity to the way the wine trounced onto the tongue, not graceful or delicate, a mouth stomping power just rolled in and took over. More toasty, buttery notes on the palate but it was the weight and structure that made me this wine’s bitch. I ended up going back to it after lunch and found that it had in fact gotten bigger but there was a grace that was now emerging, reminded me of those old black and white movies where you would see a stunning woman appear, all sleek and perfectly regal through a cloud of smoke and the closer she got the clearer and more beautiful she became…it was like that. This thick, massive cloud dissipating leaving a sleek and gorgeous thing that you find yourself wanting to devour. I am going to be hunting this down and bringing it into the shop for sure.
The rest of the wines, for me anyway, simply proved as backdrop and lift to the fantastic Beef Bourguignon that Ben had prepared for us…while we were out get snockered, yeah, he’s a better person than I. The Dagueneau Blanc Pouilly-Fume was aromatically lovely and did in fact have the girth to hold up to the deeply braised dish but I found it still a little tightly wound in the mouth which proved to be a bit of a distraction. The Ostertag Pinot Noir, the wine that now wears the not-so-proud distinction of being my, “Bra Stainer” (don’t ask, I have no idea) which was opened post Irish bar and Boo Pecoche, simply lacked the weight and depth to hold up to the rich food. It was the Ronchi di Cialla, (a little wine I fell madly in love with while in Friuli last February) that I chose to hunker down with while eating. The freshness being just the thing I craved after slipping a heaping swath of rich broth between my lips.
The pace at lunch began to slow, the clanking of silverware a little less fierce and once again the voices began to bubble up. The conversation or conversations I should say, as they seemed to be happening around the table simultaneously as varied as the half-drunk bottles of wine. The hangover now replaced with that fuzzy feeling of warm food, succulent wine and delicious friendship. I thought of a very dear friend as I sat there, watching Joe and Ben laugh and Carl coo at the ladies, remembered the many times he shared his almost vitriolic feeling about all things internet based; blogs, Facebook even email at times and while I respect and somewhat understand that I couldn’t help but think, it’s kind of what you make of it...
When I first started blogging I tried to read them all, fuck was that boring as shit, and tried to comment as much as I could, both in an effort to support the author and, to be honest, get my name out there but….after a while it became nothing but a chore and I too began to hate it. Then I started weeding people out, getting rid of the garbage that bored the shit out of me, stopped caring how many people knew my name and instead focused on spending time, even over the internet, with people that truly brought something to my life. Showed me another side of things, taught me something about California wines, amazed me with their knowledge of fonts and scary black chickens, regaled me with Spam pairings and stops to sausage Meccas…made me laugh so hard my eyes would water and stunned me with their amazing gift to loop words together so brilliantly that I could feel their breath on my skin…from hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away….
Ben & Joe, you two have given me something far and beyond chuckles, scary chickens and sparkling wine from Georgia. You’ve become a part of my life and I simply cannot imagine not visiting with you, be it in Memphis, California or over the ether. I adore you both and I quite humbly thank you from the bottom of my heart.
For much better, (and way fucking shorter) recaps of our meeting: