Articles from October 2011

Toasting the new home sweet home

The first slurps on the new patio were delightful, plentiful, and the prettiest shades of pink.

Our pal S came by and we watched the sunset, drank rosé (it’s L.A. in October, totally appropriate), sipped bubbles, and later made a mess of the kitchen preparing potatoes, haricots verts, slow cooked greens, and a roasted chicken. (Which turned out to be more challenging than it should be as we adjust to the new oven. Hmm. The chicken initially looked a little anemic, but we broiled it for a few minutes and got it close to brown.)

Having a housemate who loves to cook and is damn good at it is a (tasty) treat. Between the two of us, He is going to eat very well. Combining our tools of the trade and larder has our kitchen packed to the gills including an amazing, fragrant collection of spices, oils, vinegars, and oh yeah, wine. Loving it.

The first toast was a perfect: 2004 Nicholas Feuillatte Blanc de Blanc. Sweet flowers on the nose, racy citrus on the palate, with some green apple. A terrific aperitif. When the bottle was empty, we tried another French sparkling, this one a blend of Pineau d’Anuis and Chenin Blanc: NV Domaine Brazilier. After tasting the elegant Feuillatte, the Brazilier stuck me as flabby in structure. But it is also lovely in its own way: ripe pears, yeasty, hints of allspice, long finish.

The hot housemate had a bottle of rosé open from the night before: 2010 Prieuré Saint-Hippolyte from Languedoc. It was a beautiful orange pink, fresh, fruity, and simple. And it matched the sunset. You’ve got to love a town that has weather so moderate and wonderful that rosé season is practically year-round.
As we feasted on the chicken and veggies, we sampled three reds (as I said: there is a lot of wine at the new digs): a spicy, dense Rijoa (2005 Vina Santurnia Reserva), an absolutely wonderful and elegant Marc d’Grazia selection from Sicily, and a rather vegetal Chinon (2009 Le Paradis). If I could buy a case of the 2010 Etna Rosso, Tenuta Delle Terre Nere I would, but sadly George at Silver Lake Wine sold me his last bottle. I’ll be seeking it out elsewhere.

The conversation around the dinner table centered around what we would be cooking, eating, and drinking at our first dinner party. I loved the old Hollywood house, but this was a damn good move. Hello, Silver Lake: I love you.


Grains vs. Grapes

(Note: “drinks with friends” is an occasional guest column written by folks we like to booze with. This time around it is Robyn Wescott, a stellar designer, art director, copywriter and all around cool chick. Recently we got talking about His new found fondness of beer and Robyn revealed she too had been skipping wine and belling up for a brew instead.)

How is it possible to go from wine as a god for your heart, to a wine atheist? What chemical etched a new groove inside my brain and took a side? Looks like my recent bout with severe food poisoning flipped a switch and turned off the wine gene. That very same switch also illuminated my path to vegetarianism. I have been reprogrammed!

Blogs show that in some cases extreme diet change, such as those following Atkins, have lost their desire for wine. Have the toxins escaped, leaving less room for tolerance? Turns out a bacterial infection was the game changer for me.

Swinging from grapes to grains (suddenly beer, which always seemed like a cheap substitute), sounds so refreshing and appealing.

Luckily there is a growing trend towards beer. U.S. breweries have expanded in volume over the last five years, confirming that the craft brew has changed the face of American beer. Perhaps wine has had her day, and beer, which was once considered inferior by some, can be ordered at dinner without hesitation. More than once when I was out and about recently, our table was encouraged to try the impressive selection of microbrews as well as the wine.

Sausage and burger joints are appearing all over L.A., and restaurants now offer a beer flight happy hour, with dessert beers that round off the night.

But I still love the idea of wine. Cooking, tasting, the time it takes to explore the taste and all its complexities.

And yet, the opposite is what I like about beer. It’s easier. Having a beer can be a more relaxing experience because you’re not under any pressure to know its provenance. You just pop the top and enjoy. And with the way people are pulling back on finances these days, easier on your wallet as well.

I’m open. Beer just sounds like fun again. Here’s to the house parties that host tastings, and the new simplicities of this experience. The perfect parings of beer, with fun casual food, like chili, chips, Mexican, and Thai.

Step aside wine snobs. Make room for a tall cold one.

– Robyn Westcott, beer advocate newbie