Articles from December 2009
The only bad thing about our stay in Santa Fe (the second night of our road trip) was the Cherry Vodka Lemonade She had at a sports bar.
After our disappointing experience at Gruet, we decided to drive north to Santa Fe for the night. Looking through the guide book we came across an inexpensive but recommended motel on a “seedy stretch” three minutes from downtown that was conveniently located across from the town’s only strip club: Cheeks. Gotta love that name.
We were immediately charmed by Silver Saddle Motel’s Western kitsch and super friendly manager. No need to be put off by the supposedly “seedy” stretch. This place is close to downtown, comfortable, and, umm, $40 a night. Seriously. We were given #8, the Billy the Kid room, as commemorated by a plaque and a picture of Emilo Estevez above the bed.
We ventured into the quaint downtown that looked just how the Holidays should: all sparkles and snow and full of good cheer. It was super cold and the air was thin. We huffed and puffed and shivered and then stopped at the Catamount Bar before dinner (cherry vodka is terrible, Maker’s Mark is not).
The restaurant we had Yelp’d opened at 5:30 and we got there as soon as the doors opened–along with forty other people. We knew nothing about the place other than the 95 positive reviews and the James Beard Award hanging in the window. Café Pasqual’s was awesome. We got the last two seats available at the communal table next to a blowhard and his hippy wife from Georgia and a large (aka big boned) blue blood family from Houston.
At some point He and the blowhard struck up a conversation and it was revealed that the blowhard is an architect. I said “me too”, and then the big boned wife from Houston said “me too”. And then the blowhards wife says that she too has a degree in architecture. Weird. 4 of the 6 adults from different places in the US at a communal table in Santa Fe, NM have degrees in architecture. But, like most architects, they were all kind of annoying–especially the blowhard (the downside of the communal table).
We scooted our chairs closer to each other and ordered and ate a fantastic meal. All produce and meats are organic and with a Southwestern flavor. Deciding we had maybe been a bit harsh on the Gruet people we decided to try a bottle of Chardonnay. It was both creamy and crisp and matched well with Her spicy Chicken Mole Enchiladas and His Plato Supremo (Chile Relleno and Chicken Mole Enchilada, and a Taco Barbacoa, and Fresh Corn Torte with Cilantro Rice).
We skipped dessert and had a glass of Côte de Perrin “Nature” Côte de Rhône 2007 instead.
It was still early, but we were tuckered out. We decided to head back to the Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid room and rest for a bit and then hit the town’s one punk bar and Cheeks, of course. It was very cold by now, so we cuddled up in the bed with the heat on and the next thing we knew it was 9AM.
We really want to go back to Santa Fe, so much so that we are re-thinking our route home. Maybe another stop in Santa Fe after Marfa. See you at the Silver Saddle.
Aside from a slew of guidebooks and The Omnivore’s Dilemma on CD, I brought 2 books to read on the trip: Bacchus and Me and Wine and War. Initially I was reading Wine and War and really it is just OK. I’m gonna give it more of a chance, but I’m 50 pages in and I haven’t been hooked yet.
Opposite for Bacchus & Me. It’s a rather quick read (I’m more than halfway done in 2 short pre-sleep sessions). I love McInerney’s writing. I always have. I like it even more when he is writing about wine. My favorite quote thus far:
When writing Grüner Veltliner as the perfect vegetarian wine:
“Like girls and boys locked away in same-sex prep schools, most wines yearn for a bit of flesh.”
I really enjoy the laid-back (though intelligent) way the book is written; the wine comparisons to Lennon & McCartney, admitting he gets too drunk to sometimes remember the details, and of course I always appreciate a reference to Prada shoes or suits.
And I learned something. McInerney posits that German and Austrian labels are notoriously confusing. Yesterday when wine tasting I saw the term Kabinett on a bottle of Austrian Gewürtztraminer, I knew what it meant.
But who is this Helen Turley person that McInerney seems to be so gaga about?
The Joule. (Image courtesy of Luxury Insider.)
Yesterday, we had a great day touring around Downtown Dallas checking out art, walking around, and even rode a trolley named Matilda. And of course there were cocktails and wine involved. After a few rounds we decided it might be best not to drive, but stay Downtown for the night.
There are lots of hotels in the area, but The Joule was our immediate choice, a sleek and luxurious new hotel that we had been hearing about. “Hi…we don’t have any reservations, but do you have a room for the night?” And lucky for us, they did.
It’s kind of nice to check into a hotel with no bags. And funny. The bellman asked if we needed any help with our luggage. And where was our luggage? She had a small purse and He had a camera, no need for the friendly bellman tonight.
We walked across the street to a CVS to get a few overnight essentials and then went up 10 stories to our room. So great. A circular bed! Neither of us had ever slept on a round bed, much less one with a red leather headboard. The room was small, but perfect. Dark wood, frosted glass, and zebra print carpet (which matched the collars and cuffs of the robes that we promptly slipped into). Amenities included martini glasses and a cocktail shaker. Put us in the mood for drinks, so we put our clothes back on and headed downstairs.
Charlie Palmer has a restaurant at The Joule called…Charlie Palmer at The Joule. Unimaginative name, beautiful place. We sat at the bar, as is our usual protocol. The bartender was very nice and polite, almost to a fault: “sir” and “ma’am” began and ended every sentence. While we were looking over the extensive wine list (notebook style with tabs for each category) we overheard him mention his “manscaping” to a server. Hilarious.
She ordered a Manhattan and He ordered a bottle of 2005 Muga. The bartender continued to loosen up throughout the evening and gave us excellent, entertaining service (our large bar tab probably helped).
Although we had had a late lunch, the menu looked too good to pass up.
First up were Lobster Corn Dogs, which are exactly what they sound like and were very good. Next we were expecting grilled baby octopus. The chef came out to personally tell us that the octopus he received from his vendor wasn’t up to his standard and he wasn’t comfortable serving it to us, but he could grill some calamari. It was nice for him to come out, and we said that of course we would like some calamari. So that came out next–and it was the best calamari either of us have ever tasted, so tender and served over luscious, smokey white beans. The next plate that came out was the Salumi, not quite as memorable, but very good. The duck ham and the Dijon mustard (She swears it was her favorite: Edmond Fallot) are what we remember most.
We had seen the Sommelier bustling about the dinning room all night and when we told the bartender we wanted to take a bottle to the room, he finally came over. He was nice and helpful, if a bit awkward (or maybe nervous?).
And what was that he was holding? A digital wine list on a tablet computer. We had fun playing around with it. Really a cool way to search through an extensive list. We took a bottle of 2004 Louis Métaireau Muscadet to go.
Back to the room and back into those comfy robes.
We were on the same floor as the pool, which is outside and cantilevers over the street below. We wanted to check it out and have a smoke, so walked out in our robes. She saw steam coming from the pool, assumed it was heated, and walked down a few steps into the water. Maybe it was the slippery steps, maybe it was the drinking, but She fell straight on her ass into the pool. She clambered out laughing, robe soaking wet. It was hard for Him not to laugh too, but he also realized that to be a good boyfriend He had to give Her His dry robe which therefore ended His robe-wearing part of the evening. Not very funny.
A few sips of wine and then finally…sleep. Did we mention the bed is round?
We awoke to breakfast and coffee in bed before we showered in the fantastic shower with two shower heads. After confiscating all the soaps, shampoos and q-tips, it was time to check-out.
Goodbye sweet luxury hotel. We will miss you.
Gruet Winery in Albuquerque, New Mexico was one of our planned stops on the drive to Texas.
Leaving Holbrook, Arizona we punched Gruet’s address into the GPS. A few hours later we were there and it turns out Gruet is located next door to an RV dealership. The winery has all the curb appeal that a frontage road and an RV dealership suggest. But we had heard good things about the wine and wanted to try it at the source, so we parked the car next to the, uh, vineyard and headed into the tasting room.
When we walked in we were greeted with, well, nothing. When we asked if they had tastings, the woman replied only “Yeah,” and then disappeared into a back room somewhere. We waited for a while and then decided to disappear ourselves. Along with tasting, we were planning on buying a few bottles as gifts, but because the service was so cold and bad, we decided against all of it.
The upside is that we both really had to pee after that long drive and their restroom was cleaner than the gas stations we were becoming accustomed to.
So our review of Gruet Winery is simple: Pretty nice restroom.
We are in Childress, Texas. We will recap our roadtrip when we get to our destination. Now we are going to try to find a good steak made from grassfed, non factory farmed cattle (we are listening to The Omnivores Dilemma on CD). Good luck to us.
Also, many of the towns along Highway 287 are dry and very puritanical. Thank you to Estelline, Texas for the bottle of Jack Daniels. We love your sinful ways.
The weekend before Christmas is not Los Angeles at it’s best. Sure, it’s 80 degrees outside and the sun is shining…but oh, the humanity. Traffic is insane and people are honking and yelling at each other through open car windows. Yeah, “Merry effing x-mas to you too,” jerk that cut us off at the light.
Stay off the roads. And out of shopping malls. And…far, far away from Whole Foods in Glendale.
We went shopping for our road trip (the car leaves at 7 a.m. tomorrow…sure) and it was a nightmare. Ostensibly, the wine we are enjoying right now (reviewed below) was to pop open after the eight plus hour drive to our cozy wigwam in Arizona. Instead, we had to pop it open immediately to take the Holidays-Are-Hell edge off. This crisp, delicious Vermentino is working its magic.
Vermentino, Maremma Toscana, La Selva 2007 ($11.99)
She says: Bright, translucent with a slight golden hue. Acid apparent immediately on the nose. Lemon and lime zest, some minerality, unripe pear, and wafts of a salty ocean breeze. In the mouth there is a zing and frizannte. Refreshing, crisp, and delightful. Citrus, wet stones, flinty. Feel so much better already. Tastes like summer. And with this weather, it practically is.
He says: Shiny golden-green. Lemon and citrus on the nose and I think for the first time I understand the term “minerality”. Very crisp and even prickly in the mouth, but light. Certainly refreshing after a long day of packing on this blisteringly hot December day. It makes me want seafood.
Facts: Finding background information on this particular bottle was a bit tough…and mostly in Italian. Here’s what the back of the bottle says:
“La Selva winery grow its grapes in the Maremma area of Tuscany, vineyards rich in an Etruscan heritage. The organically grown grapes cultivated by Karl Egger are handpicked, then gently pressed to bring this delightful wine to your glass. Ideal with fish and seafood, as well as veal and poultry. Perfect as aperitif wine. Serve chilled.”
In preparation for our trip which involves sitting in a car for 8 hours a day for several days, we decided to take a walk this morning (who am I kidding? late afternoon). I suggested an urban walk, as opposed to our usual walk to and around the reservoir. I may have been a little over-ambitious, the 5.5 mile walk nearly killed me. And we passed, this bar, and this bar, and this bar, and this liquor store, and this restaurant, and this restaurant, and this restaurant, and this great cheese shop. It was very hard not to duck inside any or all of these, indulge and call a cab. But we persevered and are now drinking vodka without being able to move our stiff legs. This is all so uncivilized.
We know where we are staying the first night of our trip.