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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Sunday Salon: what we drank

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(The morning after: many, many empty glasses and bottles.)

Our first Sunday Salon was a success. Fifteen of us gathered in Her living room (aka the patio) for an evening of smelling, swirling, slurping, and lively conversation (mostly about wine).

A big cheers to our guests for sharing our Sunday ritual with Us and for generously bringing along a bottle. As luck would have it, several of you brought the same wine, allowing for generous pours. Here’s the line-up:

  • Touraine, Dom. La Renaudie, 2007
  • Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine, Dom. des Trois Toits (Hubert Rousseau), 2007
  • Sancerre, Les Monts Damnés, Carl Roger & Christophe Moreux, 2007
  • Vouvray, Barton & Guestier, 2007
  • Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine, Les Dabinières, Jean-Jacques et Remi Bonnet, 2008
  • Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine, Cuveé Vielles Vignes, Clos des Brierds, 2008

(Sense a theme here? Kudos if you do.)

We’ll post a detailed recap of this delightful evening on Sunday. In the meantime, We’ve got some dishes to do.

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Wines of Note: A Marvelous Muscadet

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I wouldn’t say that I’m the more serious wine taster; more often than not He says, “Should we take our Tasting Notebooks?” when we head out. And this is even if we’re just going to the grocery store or someplace like that–you never know when a wine tasting opportunity will pop up. I like this kind of thinking.

But…last night He was a little less serious about the tasting part. Or rather, he was less serious about the taking notes and concentrating part; there was plenty of tasting.

As He said in his post: “Sometimes you get a little tipsy and decide to go to Cha Cha, and then forget to review the wine or the shop.”

Yes, all of these things did happen (the chicks totally kicked ass at foos ball at Cha Cha, by the way) but, I still took notes on the terrific Muscadet we tasted from the equally terrific wine shop domaineLA.

Hands down this is the best wine that I’ve tasted that’s been reviewed here. Seek it out.

Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine, Domaine de la Pepiere, 2007 ($15.99)

She said: The wine is very pale with very little color, just a hint of yellow. On the nose it is fresh and clean with strong notes of grapefruit, lime, and lots of mineral. One sip fills the entire palate. The flavors again are citrusy, especially grapefruit. Also detected oyster shells, wet stones, and a chalkiness. It has a bright, almost abrasive acidity. A bit taut here, but I like that quality in a Muscadet and in whites in general. The long, floral finish reminds me of a flowering almond tree. Truly delicious and quenching. I can imagine all kinds of foods to pair it with: shellfish, of course, but also spicy stuff like bbq or Thai, and wouldn’t sushi be perfect. It’s also a great value for the price.

Facts: The winemaker, Marc Ollivier, is highly regarded by both wine drinkers and fellow wine makers. The wines come from about 40 year old vineyards which overlook the river Sèvre. Ollivier is the only grower in the Muscadet who does not have a single clonal selection in his vineyards; they are all from original stock. What also sets Ollivier and his wines apart is his insistence on hand harvesting, a rarity in the region, and using only natural yeasts. He doesn’t inoculate the wine with additives or yeasts to speed up fermentation, rather he waits for the wine to finish naturally.

Postscript: And if you still aren’t convinced that you should seek out and try wines by this wonderful maker, just look at this face. How can you not smile and resist a wine made by this man?

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(Photo from Wine Anorak.)

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So, here’s the thing…

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Sometimes you have a wine blog. Sometimes you take that blog very seriously. Sometimes you visit a great new wineshop, and buy a great bottle of Muscadet. Sometimes you have every intention of reviewing the shop and the wine. Sometimes you get a little tipsy and decide to go to Cha Cha, and then forget to review the wine or the shop.

He Said: The wine shop is awesome, you should all go. The bottle of Muscadet that we bought was also awesome, we will buy another bottle and review it. But sometimes it is better to just be social, enjoy the wine, but not take it too seriously.

Sometimes life is just good that way.

(and, duh, the image of the bottle isn’t Muscadet. We just liked the editorial comments on the chalkboard. The wine we drank was Muscadet, Sévre et Maine sur Lie, Domaine de la Pepiére 2007)

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Field Trip Fridays: Culver City Crawl

We typically enjoy wine at our homes, at friends’, or at a handful of our favorite dining spots. It’s a routine we love, but we decided we should branch out–there’s a whole lot of wine to drink out there and a whole bunch of places to slurp it. And it’s a perfect excuse for Field Trip Fridays.

Last Friday we did a Culver City crawl, starting at Bottle Rock. It was about 2p when we got there and the place only had two other tables occupied. The interior is a bit stark and reminded Her of a chain restaurant, like Chili’s or Red Lobster or something like that (not that she has ever been to those places); a bit too clean and generic. But the server was all smiles and sunshine and immediately made us feel welcome and let us know how the place works. It’s really a great idea: Bottle Rock will open any bottle they sell and serve it by the glass, you just have to order two glasses. Cameo (our sunny server) also offered to discount wines which had been opened the night before. We enjoyed two different whites (reviews below), a delicious butter lettuce salad with candied kumquats (misspelled on their menu), a good truffle grilled cheese sandwich (more truffles, please), and a Reuben (Her first ever).

We moved down the street to Ford’s Filling Station. It was the first time either of us had been there. She knows Ben Ford from way back when he was a newbie at Campanile and sees him at the Farmer’s Market. The place is very comfortable, like the hotel lobby of western hotel, complete with upright piano. Were we on the set of Deadwood? The menu looked really delightful, be we were still stuffed from Bottle Rock sandwiches. We decided bubbly would be perfect and enjoyed a glass of Schramsberg. Refreshing. We didn’t take notes, we just sipped and smiled.

Next door is Fraiche, but unfortunately (and why, why?) they close in between lunch and dinner service. So we stopped in at Kay ‘n Dave’s, a Mexican joint down the street. Time to regroup…with a margarita. It was happy hour, after all. And how good did those free, warm chips and a delicious fresh salsa taste. The bartenders were incredibly nice and eager to keep the tequila coming. We indulged in a few and then decided a walk around the neighborhood would do us some good.

On the drive back to the Eastside She said, “Wouldn’t caviar be nice? Let’s go to the Hungry Cat.” So we did. It was early still (how could this be? felt like mindnight) so there were stools available at the bar. Danielle is one of our favorite bartenders in L.A. and lucky for us–she was there. Oh, the greyhounds are gorgeous. We started with this refreshing cocktail and moved on to a carafe of Muscadet to compliment the caviar. We were feeling good. This is a nice ritual we’re starting, Field Trip Fridays.

Saturday morning came too soon. Advil was consumed. Here’s what we tasted:

Maipe Torrontés, Salt, Argentina 2007 $27/9 (Bottle Rock)

She said: The  color is a pale yellow with a hint of green. Very tropical in the nose. If the tasting was blind I would have guessed a viognier, marsanne, roussanne blend. No significant hints of oak, but the fullness and richness of nose and mouthfeel may indicate it. Lovely tropical flavors of mango, guava, and pineapple, some peach. Ultimately light and refreshing on the palate although I initially thought it would be too cloying. Nice long finish–really a lovely wine.

He said: Very apparent pineapple on the nose, but I think I “forgot” to look at the color.  I wonder why?  Light tropical flavors and full-bodied in the mouth. I’m also getting some vanilla and something flowery. To my knowledge, this is my first taste of this grape. Getting a long finish in my mouth (that’s what she said).  I have “nice” written twice in my notes.  You would think I never studied architecture; if you ever said “nice”, “good”, or “I like it” in a presentation it was suicide.  “Nice” means absolutely nothing when you review your notes, I need to know why I thought it was “nice”.  Anyhow, I liked it, it was nice and good. 

Sans Liege, “Cotes du Coast,” 2006 $34/11 (Bottle Rock)

She said: Very golden and rich in color. Tons of peach and heft in front palate. Finish not as long as I would think for such umpf up front. Oak on nose and everywhere. Not very well balanced–a bit too rich in the mouth with a lack of acid, but this is characteristic of the blend. When comparing to the Maipe Torrontés, prefer the Argentinian wine.

He said: I have an inexplicable aversion to Viognier. I don’t mind the taste so much, there is just something about the feeling that reminds me of drinking Boone’s Farm in the late 1980′s. Like maybe I’m going to have a fucking piercing migraine very soon.  But I refuse to give up on it, because I hear people rave about it. I got a lot of peach on the nose.  In the mouth I can definitely make out the Viognier, plus peach and pear.  The other grapes balance it, but still very sweet, bring on the headache.

Muscadet, Domaine de la Pépiére, 2007 $31/16/8 (The Hungry Cat)

She said: Took no notes but ordered it purposefully to go with shrimps and caviar. Which I think I remember it did. Of course it did–it’s a crisp, dry, stony white. That goes down really easy.

He said: Did we go to The Hungry Cat?  This was after many bottles of wine, some bubbly, a margarita or few… I may have to review this wine later because I have no notes or taste recollection.  The trials and tribulations of having a wine blog; sometimes you get really drunk.

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