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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Weekly Hangover

At the end of (almost) every week He summarizes what He has learned. Or just rambles on about things he wants to write about that may or may not be directly related to His wine education or even wine.

First and foremost this week I learned that Pennsylvania makes some damn good wine.

Accolades make us feel good. Gosh darnit, people like us.

Architecture for Worms. I have designed a restaurant, a few houses, and currently working on a 10-acre park. But the prospective project that has me the most excited is designing a custom worm-composting bin. My worm guy told me that he has clients that would just love to have a custom worm bin–and would definitely pay for it. File under: Only in LA.

This part is only for super-rich people, those with an annual income less than $2 Million can skip to the next paragraph. She and I are also designing a super hi-tech wine-cellar-pod. It is awesome. It is digital. It does everything. We need investors. Our super-rich readers should send along qualifications and at least 16 references with last names I recognize.

United Slurps of America is underway. These fine bloggers from these fine states are (we hope) on board:

That leaves 39 states unaccounted for. If you want to join us, by all means contact us.

Some Laws are Meant to be Broken. The other sentence that I could potentially put in bold is “Welcome to our naiveté.” We thought of United Slurps of America the same way We think of most of Our ideas; over a glass of wine with one of us saying to the other, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…..?” These conversations hardly ever include anything as boring (or practical) as wine shipping laws. So far, so good. But supposedly Georgia is a bitch. She looked up the laws yesterday and tried to read them to me, and I got bored quickly as I do whenever I hear any legalese. What I’m saying is this: We need a mule to transport winedrugs from certain states to a certain state. If interested, We will supply (but not apply) the proper lubrication.

Moving up the Google ladder. Probably due to the previously mentioned accolades we have shot up to the top (almost) of search results for “wine blog” and “wine blogs.” Please don’t take this as self-horn-tooting, until last week we were buried deep on page 13 of the results somewhere between a parenting “whine blog” and something called a “Marvin Shanken.” Not that I even check things like this (hourly). Anyhow, toot toot.

I’m just sayin’. The 2010 Wine Blog Awards will be accepting nominations on April 1st. They have, ahem, added a new category: Best New Wine Blog.

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Field Trip Fridays: X to the Z

Some days everything just goes right. This is one of them. It all started at…

The Berrics
We had to swing by The Berrics (the most popular private skatepark in the world, and the most viewed website in skateboarding) to pick up Steve Berra for the LACC Luncheon. I have known Steve for 20 years and I worked with him at The Berrics for a couple of years. The growth of The Berrics has been outstanding and impressive. We are currently working on a few things together, and that’s why we are “honored guests” at the luncheon. Even if you have never skated, The Berrics website is quite entertaining and I would recommend that you check it out. I have to mention that Steve and I had a 3-hour meeting this week with a billionaire philanthropist with the last name Annenberg. It’s nice to meet billionaires.

LA Conservation Corps 2010 Luncheon Celebration (Los Angeles Historical Park, the old Cornfields)

Xzibit with some of the kids who were not exactly the under-priviledged ones.

As I mentioned above, I am working with Steve and the LACC on a couple of architectural projects. The LACC is a fantastic organization with truly ambitious and genuinely good goals. Today they were presenting scholarships to over 250 kids from tough backgrounds. 2 of the kids spoke, it was very moving, She cried.

We had been seated at a table right in front of the stage, and at the table was a well-dressed handsome man who introduced himself to us as Alvin “and this is my lady Crystal.” She, Steve & I all picked up the catalog in front of us that listed the speakers and the schedule. At separate moments, both She and Steve leaned over to me and pointed at the name “Xzibit.” My only thought was, “Cool, Xzibit is here.” I can almost guarantee that I am a bigger fan of Xzibit’s music than either She or Steve, but it took me another five minutes to realize that Alvin was Xzibit. Then there was a funny exchange:

Steve: So you have to get up on stage, huh?

Alvin (Xzibit): Yeah but I ain’t gonna rhyme.

Me: Not even a little What You See is What You Get?

Xzibit (Alvin): Nah, and no Bitch, Please either.

Then he got on stage and the first thing he said was, “I’m not gonna fix your cars.” The kids loved him. He was excellent and funny and charming and sincere. He wasn’t there trying to push or sell anything. It seemed that he was doing it strictly because he believes in what the LACC is doing for these kids. And it was his third year presenting the scholarships. Xzibit is very nice and I really like him.

Lunch was served in an LACC nylon lunch bag and We had turkey sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit salad and water as City Council President (and rising political star) Eric Garcetti spoke. Wow, he’s awesome. I really like him too.

The Gorbals
After our inspiring lunch We were in the mood for a glass of wine. Since We were downtown We decided to pop in and see our friend Ilan at The Gorbals. I designed the space and like to check in every now and then to see how it is holding up, and I really love seeing people seated on the stools I built with my hands. Ilan wasn’t there, so I called him and he said (in that very frazzled Ilan way), “I’m not there. I don’t have time. I am working on something time-sensitive. OK, I’ll come by for 2 minutes and say hello and give you a kiss.” That is actually how a lot of my conversations with Ilan go. We each had a glass of a Pine Ridge Viognier / Chenin Blanc blend. Ilan came by and said hello, and I learned that the time-sensitive “thing” was that he had to move a giant TV before his girlfriend got home from the airport and got mad at him. I love Ilan, but I am happy to report that he did not, in fact, kiss me (though he did kiss Her). The wine was light, lovely and refreshing.

K&L Wine Merchants
I haven’t been to K&L in a long time, which was long before I knew anything about wine. Today, it felt like I was at Disneyland (that is, if I actually liked Disneyland). Maybe I should restate that last sentence: Today it felt like I was at, umm, a Lakers game. Aisles and aisles of bottles. Oh, look, some Txakoli. We have to get a bottle of that. We were there to pick up wine for our United Slurps of America: Washington post that will go up this coming Monday, but left with those 5 bottles, a Txakoli, a Madeira, a bottle of Karlsson’s Gold Vodka, and 4 bottles each of Fever-Tree Bitter Lemon and Tonic Water. And I almost bought a hat because my hair is getting kinda long. Any wine shop that has shopping carts is OK by me.

Later She checked her history online and informed me over the past dozen years she has spent something like $50,000 at K&L. Whoa, darling.

Lou Winebar
We’ve already written about Lou in a previous Field Trip Friday. What can We say, We like the place. The service, food and wine are always top-notch. When We sit at the bar Lou almost always pours us a taste of some interesting wine that he is drinking from a region you wouldn’t expect to make good wine. I think last time it was Croatia. Tonight We sat at a table, She had duck, I had the Niman Ranch Ribeye. We shared Mac & Cheese (with Hook’s 10 year Cheddar, oh my), the charcuterie plate and olives and almonds. We drank 2008 Ribeira Sacra Vina do Burato; the medium bodied wine with flavors of pomegranate / cranberry and tart was a nice compliment to both of our meals.

When We got home, She Tweeted:

To which Lou replied:

I’m very surprised Lou knows of my Txakoli obsession. As much as I do love Txakoli, I hope Lou knows that in the He/She/Lou triumvirate, I am the one with the least wine knowledge. Either way, see you at Lou next week. And how does he know that She tweeted that and not me. Hmm…

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List w/out Commentary, last night in chronological order

The Gorbals
The Must
Bottle Rock
The Lazy Ox

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