'Tasted: Rioja'

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.

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List w/o commentary: Wednesday’s eats and drinks

Summary of the standouts from our long day:

  • Sauvignon Blanc, Cono Sur Organic 2009
  • Cava Rosé, Cristalino Brut NV
  • Tempranillo, Mirto, Ramon Bilbao 2005
  • Txakolina rosé
  • Lou on Vine meats and cheese including Hook’s 10 year cheddar and Batali salumi
  • Campanile/ Tar Pit sliders (or were they from AOC?)
  • Vinoteque chocolates (or were they from The Avalon Hotel?)

Now, here is specifically what We ate and drank on this International wine-ing day. We were joined by our couples-double-date friends D and M in the evening.

Breakfast (Her house):

  • Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus cereal with Trader Joe’s Anti-oxidant nuts and berry mix, 2%milk (Him)
  • Luna bar (Her)

Wines of Chile blogger tasting (Her kitchen table):

  • Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Veramonte 2009
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Ventisqueo Queulat 2009
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Unduraga T.H. 2009
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Wild Fermented, Valdivieso Single Vineyard 2009
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Rita Medalla Real 2009
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Cono Sur Organic 2009
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Haras de Pirque 2009
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Vasa Silva 2009

Wines From Spain presents: The Great Match (SLS Hotel)

Wines tasted:

  • Tempranillo, Crianza, Ramon Bilbao 2005
  • Tempranillo, Mirto, Ramon Bilbao 2005
  • Albariño, de Fefinanes 2008
  • Albariño, Mar de Frades 2009
  • Albariño, Martin Codax 2008
  • Tio Pepe Fino Sherry, Gonzalez Byass
  • Cava Rosé, Cristalino Brut NV
  • Rioja, Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2004
  • Blanco La Mancha, Finca Antigua 2008
  • Rioja, Siera Cantabria 2006
  • Rioja, Palacious Remondo, La Montesa 2006
  • Rijoa Reserva, Marqués de Riscal 2004
  • Rijoa Gran Reserva, Marqués de Riscal 2001

Restaurants sampled:

  • AOC (forget what)
  • Bazaar (olives and a tomato thing: all of us)
  • Campanile/ Tar Pit (sliders–or was that AOC?: Him, D, and M)
  • Grace (salmon: all of us)
  • Oliverio (The Avalon Hotel) (burrata: Her)
  • Vinoteque (a beef thing?: all of us and chocolate?: Him, D, and M–or was that from The Avalon?)
  • DISCLAIMER: cannot exactly remember who served what–a lot of wine had been sampled at this point

Late night snack at Lou on Vine, wine and food tasted:

  • Txakolina rosé
  • meats and cheese including Hook’s 10 year cheddar and Batali salumi (all of us)
  • market salad and burrata (Her)
  • chocolate cake/tart thing (Him)
  • apple pie with Hook’s 10 year cheddar (M)
  • strawberry shortcake (D)
  • glass of red wine, don’t remember what (She and M, but the boys took sips)

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The Joule: Cool


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.

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Red-y to go

We’ve been hooked on bright, crisp whites for months. It’s easy to do this in L.A.; three days ago it was 75 degrees. We were sipping rosé poolside in December, I kid you not. But with the change in the weather (Storm Watch Winter 2009) it seems like the perfect time to move on to some reds.

As if He was reading my mind, yesterday He came over with a bottle of 100% Tempranillo Rioja by Viña Santurnia from Silverlake Wine. Truly delicious and a great buy for under $15.00.

Looking forward to trying a whole bunch more while We wait out the storm. Big Mac’s Mondays is going to be fun.

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