Field Trip Fridays: Shirking My Civic Duty

Los Angeles Superior Courthouse
For the past two days I have been spending the 8:30-5:00 time slot waiting to see if I would be picked to sit on a jury. I’m admonished from saying anything specific about the case, so please pardon my vagueness. Today was better and more efficient than yesterday, but it still took the entire day (and, really, why so many recesses?). During one of our “it’ll just be 2 more minutes” waits in the hallway I made friends with Juror #30, a cute girl who used to be a computer forensic scientist who now teaches yoga, is writing a book, and something about linux and routing and her new Android phone that I didn’t understand. It was now at least 15 minutes into our “2 more minutes” and the discussion turned to food & wine. I was excited and impressed that she had been to Canelé and then she started talking about her friend Jeff who used to work for Thomas Keller, which brought up a story about Her last jury pool that consisted of both TK & Jeff. It really is a small world, and even more amazing how much you can discover in just “2 more minutes.”

Given Juror #30′s previous career, I knew she was screwed, she was gonna be on that jury for sure. I knew I was getting out, I knew it. And the reason is because of this exact thing that you are reading. When it was my turn to answer the 9 questions on the sheet, I stated where I lived and then for my occupation said, “Architect & Wine Critic.” As soon as it was my turn to sit in the jury box, the prosecutor said,”The prosecution would like to thank and excuse Juror #35.” See you later, bitches.

So, I can’t speak in specifics about the case. But. Hypothetically, if you are ever in a jury pool for a case involving alcohol, start a wine blog. Trust me.

Las Perla
I thought I hadn’t heard about this place yet. But then I remembered Her story about Raul, Her favorite bartender from 20 years ago was opening this place. She seems to know everyone in the restaurant/bar industry and tells me stories of their lineage and which ones She worked with and where and who then opened what restaurant and who was sleeping with who… So, if I remember correctly, Raul was the bartender at Small’s K.O. where She used to go with Corina of Canelé everyday after work which was at a restaurant owned by Nancy Silverton, where Suzanne Goin was the head chef and Manfred Krankl was Her boss and George (the owner of Silverlake Wine) was a waiter. And maybe Thomas Keller was a busboy or something.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. So, we met our double-date partners D&M at this new Mezcal place for a cocktail before dinner. D asked his iPhone what made Mezcal different from Tequila and it told us that Mezcal is made from blue agave and is smokier. The menu is written in Sharpie on pieces of cardboard which we all had different feelings about. Also, each of our menus had different items listed which confused me a little bit. We all ordered the Smokey Margarita. The waitress brought our drinks nervously to the table and spilled a little bit on the denim covering my now wet privates, which I easily forgive of a new place working out all of the opening jitters. The drinks were great, as was the crowd at this place. We weren’t here for long, but I would like to go back. We will.

Lazy Ox Canteen
This is our second time here. We love it. The menu is dynamic and the chef seems to really love to experiment with food. We brought a bottle of wine but decided to start with a bottle of Torrontes Grazioso, Argentina 2008 for our first course (which also waives the $20 corkage fee). We ordered Yellowtail, Pickles, Octopus and Pig Ears. All really good and paired well with Torrontes. The Pig Ears here are amazing, comparable (and much less spicy) then the ones we had at Animal. We ordered our entrees and all D could talk about was ordering dessert. I had Pork Frites (which came out way, way earlier than everyone else’s food. We were warned that they might come out at different times, but I was done before anyone else got their food). D got Braised Beef (amazing), She and M split a Pork Porterhouse with the best whipped potatoes I have ever tasted. And my Pork Frites was great. We opened the wine we bought, Miner Family Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (received as a sample, retails around $60) that was so (pardon my French) fucking good. Creamy and spicy and perfectly balanced and went so well with my Frites. In recent weeks, Miner and Penns Woods are the best wines  I have tasted. There hasn’t been a weak (or even average) bottle of the 8 we have consumed from these two producers.

For dessert we shared the Rice Pudding that D had been talking about since the 1st course. I loved it and She hated it. The one thing that we don’t agree on is sweets. I love them, She hates them. When I am alone, I eat a Snickers bar. Or, once when she was out of town I ordered both the cheesecake and the chocolate cake at Canelé. Anyhow, I recommend the rice pudding.

Dinner ended with great conversation and a bottle of Spatburgunder Trocken Weinhof Scheu 2007 and talked about our next double-date. We might spend a weekend in Buellton and drink wine from our friend Morgan’s incredibly winery, Cold Heaven. And possibly spend a couple of days at a winery that D&M are members of that has a house they can rent for like $90/night. We’re in.

As we were leaving a “gentleman” in his 60′s with a young Asian woman on his arm told Her (3 times) how beautiful Her dress was. It is a beautiful dress (and She, of course, looks beautiful in [and out of] it), I concur, but this guy seemed creepy. I looked at him coldly and said, “Yes, it is.” We ignored him and he left. Then I remembered the time we were here previously we saw the same dude. Only he had a friend and 4(!) young Asian women on their arms. I think maybe he is a porn producer. I want to sell him a porn title that I think might be fitting for his company: Double PenetrAsian.

The Gorbals
Our last stop was to see our friend Ilan. We were all drunkish at this point, but Ilan sent us out 4 glasses of wine, each different for us to taste. I don’t really remember much about the wine but Ilan said, “Oh, you guys have to try this.” He brought us out ice cream he had made in the same manner as Mexican hot chocolate. It was chocolate ice cream with a lot of heat surrounded by little graham cracker crumbs. It’s interesting that something cold in your mouth can be so hot. She loved it, which due to her hatred of sweets mentioned earlier, is saying a lot. Thanks Ilan, it was delicious.

D&M wanted to go to Karaoke, or dancing, but We were both tired and decided to call it a night. Maybe next time.

This morning we are nursing our hangovers with a nice mimosa with fresh-picked oranges from Her mimosa tree. It’s a beautiful day in LA.

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Miner? I hardly know her.

Not to harp on (or dream about) it too much, but damn my FedEx delivery guy is hot. When I answered the door a few days ago he was standing there in his little shorts, blue eyes glinting, a cute smirk on his face. “You’re going to like this,” he says to me. Oh yes…I do already. “Looks great,” I said. I may have even giggled as I signed. And oh my, what a nice package…he delivered to my door. A box of wine from Miner Family Vineyards.

I was excited and He was too (but not so much about the hunky delivery guy). It had been a long time since I’ve tasted Miner wines and He never had but had heard me raving about the wines and their national sales guy, Jack, for a while.

I met Jack in Los Angeles in the late 90′s. He is an all around great guy, wine expert, and one of my favorite people. I’m not alone in this evaluation: everybody loves Jack. The bonus is that he works for an outstanding winery. Miner Family is a top notch producer in Oakville run by Dave and Emily Miner.

Before I lived in Napa Valley I would stay at Jack’s place in Yountville when I traveled up there for trade tastings. He actually played a huge part in my eventual moving to sweet Y-town. I was relocating up to the Bay Area and couldn’t decide where to live…and the temporary housing time was running out. I was sitting at the bar at Bouchon, sipping wine and munching on salmon rilettes, feeling happy but overwhelmed. A decision needed to be made. Suddenly, Jack appeared. He was eating in the dinning room. Great. A few moments later James Hall and Anne Moses of Patz and Hall came over to say hi. I love this place, I love these people. Yes, I decided right then: I’m moving to Yountville. (Bouchon became my neighborhood corner bar and over the subsequent eight plus years many, many glasses of wine and bloody mary’s were happily shared there with Jack and the other locals–I miss this place.)

The delivery day was a hot one (like the FedEx…well, you get the idea). I put the two Miner whites in the frig and We impatiently waited for them to chill. We ended up spending the gorgeous day toiling in the garden. By the end of the afternoon We were pleasantly exhausted, dirty and super thirsty. Hello Miner Family whites.

We opened a Viognier and Chardonnay. Delicious, just as I remembered. I took my glass of chard (and what was left of the bottle) to the bathroom and drew a hot bath. The perfect end to a lovely (and stimulating) day.

Viognier, Simpson Vineyard, Miner 2008 (sample, retails $20)

She said: Bright, shiny golden yellow. In the nose the wine is distinctly viognier. There is lots of lush tropical fruit and peach blossoms. The palate is rich and full with a kind of saltiness in the finish. Plush, perfumey, soapy, and floral. The wine is very ripe, but the acid and minerality keeps it all in balance. Truly lovely.

He said: Bright yellow. Tropical fruits and flowery on the nose. I think viognier is one of the wines that I can, with some certainty, identify by the nose. There is also a little sting in the nose that I associate with viognier. I should note: I almost always dislike this varietal. In the mouth there is orange, and pineapple, which were also on the nose. There is also a definite mouthfeel that I associate with both of these fruits. I have to admit that I read “honeysuckle” on the label (which in our tasting ritual is kind of cheating) but, yes, there is definitely honeysuckle all over this wine. This is the best viognier I have had yet.

Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Miner 2008 (sample, retails $30)

She said: Okay, my notes got wet in the tub. It was splashy. But my palate remembers a fresh acidity, to compliment the ripe melon, apple, and toasty oak. Some almonds and peach flavors, a hint of spice (from the oak?). A silky mouthfeel that lingers and lingers. Rich, complex, and wonderful. The perfect “relaxing” in the bath-tub wine.

He said: So just maybe We were in the tub together. I actually don’t remember anything except for “whoa, this is good” which describes both the wine and a bubble-bath with the person you love. I think Steve McQueen enjoyed it too. Go somewhere else for specific tasting notes, but I will say simply, this was good.

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