(A new series coming soon featuring chats with our favorite local food/wine people.)
Upcoming events/cool stuff in this lovely town We live in. See you there.
Wednesday nights (that’s tonight, folks), going on throughout the summer: Mass Happy Hour on the Sunset Strip (via Caroline on Crack)
Thursday night, continuing for a week: GO LAKERS.
Friday nights, going on throughout the summer: Barnsdall Park Wine Tasting with selections by Silverlake Wine. And in a few weeks when Bar Covell opens, We’ll be strolling over there post-party.
Saturday and Sunday afternoon: LA Wine Fest at Raleigh Studios. Get fifteen bucks off the ticket price, by entering the promo code SACHA at checkout.
Tuesday evening, June 22: Bordeaux wine dinner at Canelé Hosted by Los Angeles Wine Tasting.
Saturday evening, June 26: City Listening II: A cocktail party and Stories About LA, featuring “Barchitecture,” a bar designed by Him.
Not wine related, but a few other Los Angeles related links We’re digging this week:
One of the coolest t-shirts We’ve seen (and the title of a favorite song) from the clever folks at Poketo. (via @Sheigh)
Free entertainment for those stuck on the 405: Superclogger. (via C-Monster.net)
Crazy, gorgeous shots taken from the Goodyear Blimp. (via C-Monster.net)
On Monday night we met our pal Corina Weibel, chef of Canelé in Atwater Village, for Silverlake Wine‘s Blue Monday tasting. (When your favorite chef has the night off and invites you to join her at a wine tasting, well, of course you say yes.)
Silverlake Wine is our neighborhood wine shop so we’re frequent patrons, but it had been quiet a while since we participated in a tasting. In fact, the last time had been at the invitation of Valerie and Stanley of Valerie Confections (geez, we have some talented friends). SLW put together a terrific lineup to compliment VC’s sweets on a Sunday. It was a fun and tasty afternoon with some antics thrown in. Between sips we got a few of the tasters (including Val and Stan) to play a little game: Just an Eyeful. (Read what it’s all about and see the whole series of pictures here.)
Unlike the vendor specific food pairings on Sunday afternoons, on Monday nights SLW offers three wines, a selection of farmhouse cheeses, olives, and La Brea Bakery bread in an atmosphere SLW’s website describes as “blatant low-key relaxation.” The shop’s Tweets and Facebook updates about this particular Monday night’s line-up, however, were anything but mellow:
Really, a $20 bottle of wine. Although this may not sound too expensive, Blue Monday’s tastings cost only $12 for three generous pours of three different wines and lots of delicious snacks, so having a $20 bottle poured makes for a great deal.
We were also super intrigued about the “perfectly perfect” label art of their new proprietary wine. Could it be by the “Awesome Bears” artist Phil Lumbang? The happy bears have popped up all over the Silverlake, waving hello, smiling, giving a wink. They feel like as much a part of the neighborhood as SLW is. The wine shop is a huge fan of the bears…so much so they got Lumbang to paint their bathrooms. What could be more “perfectly perfect?”
Living up to the hype, when we arrived at 7 p.m. the place was packed and lively, full of happy people nibbling on cheese and lucques olives and sipping wine. We made our way through the crowd to the bar for the first pour. It was a delightful, perfumey Torrontes with a hint of sweetness in the finish that complimented the rich blue on the cheese board. Corina joined us and quickly caught up. We all agreed the wine was a bargain for just $10. Next up was a quenchable Tempranillo, also reasonably priced at $15.75. So what was this $20 bottle going to be?
Well, it turns out there was no $20 wine (it really was just hype), but the third wine was a treat: Para Silverlake Red from Monterey Country, featuring on the label…an Awesome Bear. The jubilant wine pourer explained it was a Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet and Merlot. It was a soft, friendly wine (just like those lovable bears). As we finished our last sips of Para Silverlake, the shop continued to buzz. We all remarked on how great it was to have SLW in the neighborhood and to see so many happy faces at the tasting. It was a truly delightful way to spend a Monday evening. On the way out grabbed a bottle of the bears and Tempranillo, thirsty for more. We headed up the hill to Corina’s to continue our tasting ways, vowing to be more serious and take some notes this time.
First up was a bottle of L. Preston Red which Canelé has just started to pour it by the glass. Corina explained she had been looking for a replacement for the popular Donkey and a Goat Rhône style red they had been pouring. “I wanted a Rhône style wine, but not something that was 100% syrah or French…I like the jamminess that the California wines offer.” She recommends it with the lamb with roasted eggplant, capers, olives, and garlic they serve at dinner. Sounded good to us.
There was really just enough for a serious sip left in the L. Preston, which had been opened the night before, so Corina decided to pop open a bottle a friend had left at her house. We did not protest. The Murtas, San Michelea Torri was an older vintage: 2001. The generous friend who left the bottle was on a “peak frequency” diet, which has something to do with old wine and enzymes. Our bewilderment was erased by the delicious wine.
Not quiet ready to call it quits, and because we did want some notes about at least one of the wines we tasted at SLW, we popped open the Tempranillo, Ardales we had picked up on the way out.
In between discussions about Awesome Bears (She had seen one during our trip to New York), movies (“the story was insulting…they should have been more responsible…”), and music (“Maps is a way better song than Sweet Child O’ Mine, but Modern Romance is still the best…”) we jotted down some notes.
L. Preston, 2007 (Healdsburg)
She said: The nose is raspberries, candy, and some earthiness. For being open a day it still has a lot of heat. Flavors of cola, pepper, and mixed berry jam. It has a really lovely mouthfeel; not too rich but intense with refined tannin and a kind of freshness. Does that make sense? It is both richly flavored and austere. Completely agree with Corina that it would go great with lamb.
He said: First things first, love this label design. Cherry and raspberries on the nose and very earthy. Taste is strongest in the finish. Medium bodied, I agree it has a great “mouthfeel” but that term still gives me weird brainfeel. Front of tongue feels it right away and it’s dirty with some spice. Some heat in the finish. A little tart, but I really like it.
Murtas, San Michelea Torri, 2001 (Tuscany)
She said: Very little fruit on the nose, rather it is minerals, salt, and a bit of earth. Drinks like a large, refined Chianti. Lots of bright cherry fruit, high tannin, and very dry finish. Very elegant and quenching. Could stand up to all kinds of food, including strong flavors like bbq–are those foods allowed in the “peak frequency” diet? Whatevs…it’s delicious.
He said: My notes are bad, wait, I mean they don’t exist. I was busy making my point that Maps is to the 2000′s what Sweet Child O’ Mine was to the 1980′s. And then Corina told me that Karen O is a regular at Canelé and I was like “whoa.” Because as I have said before, if She were to die in a tragic wigwam accident, I would want Karen O to be my girlfriend. Back to the wine, I wrote “some heat.”
Tempranillo, Ardales, 2007 (Spain, $15.75)
She said: Soft tannin, cherries, youthful acidity…similar flavors to the Murtas we tasted earlier, but not quiet as refined. Enjoy Tempranillo and this is an example, truly lovely and at fifteen bucks, a bargain. I’m buying more. (the price on the bottle includes the tax…this is how SLW does their pricing).
He said: I got nothing. Was I even there anymore?
We decided to save the Para Silverlake for another time…enough bottles had been popped for the night. Before we left Corina’s house we vowed to come to Canelé soon for dinner. Must try the L.Preston with the lamb.
(The Awesome Bear spied near Cooper Union in New York last week.)
Stop #1: Heath Ceramics
We have uber-talented friends who make delicious things… Libations and general festiveness began at Heath Ceramics for “Artisans United,” a collaboration between the exquisite ceramics studio, Valerie Confections and Patz and Hall. Wine, chocolate, cheese, preserves, meats…all presented on the most beautiful pottery you’ve ever seen. The event was food blogger/Yelper/Twitterer heavy. (So we fit right in.)
We sipped three wines from Patz and Hall:
Dutton Ranch Chardonnay
Chenoweth Ranch Pinot Noir
Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
No notes were taken on our slurps. All were delicious and were thoughtfully paired with exquisite chocolate and amuse-bouche prepared by VC.
(She takes full credit for this event coming to fruition, by the way. Both VC and PH are old friends and She introduced Chocolatiers Valerie Gordon and Stan Weightman to the winemakers Anne Moses and James Hall at Her birthday party. Free samples is all the payment She asks for. You know our address.)
Stop #2: LACMA
We try to be good citizens and support our local art institutions, so we are LACMA members at the avant garde level. Aside from feeling pleased with ourselves for being good people, we get invited to really, really cool private things. This time it was a special screening of Tom Ford’s film A Single Man.
We arrived early and went to the museum’s courtyard restaurant Pentimento for a pre-film drink. She had a Tanqueray & Tonic and He ordered a Rioja red. They were out of the Rioja so the bartender recommended a 2004 Celler de Capcanes “Mas Donis” Barrica from Montsant, Spain. Thank you, Bartender: it was excellent.
Before the film Ford took the stage to say a few words, and naturally he was the best dressed man in a very well-dressed room. He demurred at our enthusiastic applause, thanked David Geffen (also in attendance), and the curtain came up. Here is our review:
He Said: Totally beautiful to look at, that’s undeniable. Although the cinematography was beautiful, the music was beautiful, it kind of felt like watching a 90 minute perfume commercial (think dramatic music, soft focus on exquisitely dressed super-hot people in the snow). About 15 minutes before it ended, I was ready for it to be over. The story is nice, but not all that engaging. It’s nice for a film to show a loving relationship between gay men, but I wonder how the story would hold up if this film was “A Straight Single Man”. I imagine it would be a little cliché. The acting was terrific and Colin Firth was top-notch as usual. Also, I was happy to see a more subtle John Lautner house in a movie. Although I didn’t love it, I liked it, and would recommend seeing it, simply because it is really, really nice to look at. (And I assume that critics that recommend films get some kickbacks and I definitely want some Tom Ford Menswear.)
She Said: The film is visually gorgeous. Every single shot, vignette, scene is meticulously constructed. It is as if the pages of W Magazine have come to life. This said…Ford is a complete fetishist. He focuses on small (albeit beautiful) details that do little to progress the story. Close-ups of heavily made-up eyelids, a naked man being tossed around in water (that has the color and look of Mountain Dew), the hairy, tan legs of a young girl. And all those pretty, pretty boys. (Must they have such pink, plump lips? Gives a chick a complex.) All of this is complete eye candy, no doubt about it. But what is it’s purpose? There is nothing ugly (other than some characters attitudes about war, gays, and literature) in the entire film. The cars are pristine, a Pyscho poster looks like a Richard Prince painting that should be hanging in the Guggenheim, the men’s suits and ties are perfect, as are the pruned orange trees inside Julianne Moore’s mansion. And speaking of homes, really Lautner’s Schaffer Residence is the star of the film. I. Want. To. Live. There. A few other thoughts: the film reminded me of Sodenberg’s The Limey, both structurally and all that visual obsession; the final bedroom scene was straight out of Blue Velvet; the swimming scene and shots of the lovers on the cliff are straight out of From Here to Eternity–or maybe Herb Ritts’ Madonna version. My eyes got tired of all that glorious beauty after about 45 minutes, I had no sympathy for any of the characters, and thought the story was overly clichéd–but, damn–is A Single Man a looker.
Stop #3: Lou Winebar
(Image from Bestor Architecture)
Lou occupies a special place for us because it is where we went on our first “official” date. We had, of course, already had sex and all that, but it was are first time really sitting across from one another at a table.
When we arrived, we were seated between a 6-top and a cuddling/groping 2-top. We asked if we could move to the bar because we felt a bit crowded and, frankly, we just prefer to sit at the bar. We’re glad we did. Lou was behind there sniffing and slurping a variety of wines which he would then tell us about. Enamoring him tonight was a Croatian white with a nearly unpronounceable name. Upon sipping it, one of the servers said, “it’s contradictory in the mouth,” an assessment we both appreciated.
We began our drinking (or rather, continued) with a very pink Cava of which we have forgotten all information. This said, Lou: update your wine list on your website. For food we started with the Market Salad and Charcuterie and Cheese plate. Both were excellent, but wow, the charcuterie plate included the best cheddar cheese either of us have ever tasted (Hooks from Wisconsin–not England).
About a month ago we had signed up with Blackboard Eats for a free bottle of wine at Lou, and tonight we cashed that in and ordered a La Cabotte from the Cotes du Rhone. Lou remarked that it was a light-bodied red that would go well with both of our entrees (Her, the clam and chorizo, Him, the pulled pork sandwich), but he did pour us a glass of Pinot Noir that “is perfect with the pulled pork.” This is another reason why we love sitting at the bar.
Our dinner was wonderful. It was the perfect end to a fun, busy evening. You should all go to Lou, don’t be alarmed that it’s in a mini-mall next to a laundromat (where, coincidentally, we both used to do our laundry–before we ate here, or had sex with each other). It’s really fantastic.
2007 Domaine d’Ardhuy Côtes du Rhône La Cabotte (Price: We forgot, because it was free)
He Said: Doing this from memory because I took no notes. I remember it almost bubbling after it was poured. Blackberry and pepper on the nose gave way to a very straightforward, light-bodied wine with hints of cola. Very nice compliment to the pulled pork sandwich. Not knowing the price, I can’t really do an honest valuation, but for free it was fucking excellent.
She Said: Deep ruby color. Pepper, earthy nose with an underlying gaminess. A slight frizzante on the tongue. Not as heavy or overly earthy in the mouth, which I was grateful for. Dark fruit, pepper, spicy wood, a little clunky, but pleasant and silky. Fine and easy drinking. And what a value: FREE!
Chef Corina Weibel, of our favorite restaurant Canelé, interviewed in LA Weekly. My favorite response is when she says “asshole”. [And Pt 2]
Our favorite chocolatiers, Valerie Confections, featured on Cool Hunting. And, umm, who is the full-haired gentleman whose lap Valerie is sitting on? I don’t recognize him and I’m telling Stan.