No Old Wine For You!

Posted by | Posted in Wine History | Posted on 02-01-2011

dusty old wine

Uploaded to flickr by Guttorm Flatabø

Why is it that some of the very best restaurants simply don’t have older bottles of wine? Terroirist Andrew Feldsen recently went to the famous French bistro Bouchon in Beverly Hills only to find that oldest bottle on the menu was from 2003! Feldsen complained, “They will often have fancy bottles from recent vintages, but who wants to drink 2005 Bordeaux or 2003 Northern Rhones or 2007 Napa Cabs?”

He’s right. Why is this so common? I wondered if it as simple as a matter of available controlled storage space in the restaurants and the need to turn over inventory regularly, or that customers are likely to request the wines they’ve read about recently, or even that sommeliers feel compelled to continually seek out new wines? Could something nefarious be afoot? With those questions in mind, I began asking around and got these responses. Read the rest of this entry »

Meat: It’s What’s for Dinner (With Wine)

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-28-2011

Serious cooks in the DC area are blessed with many great specialty shops for wine and food, but sometimes too many choices lead to the comfort level default. Although Let’s Meat on the Avenue is close by in Alexandria, I didn’t begin patronizing it until friends in Maryland and DC commented that they envied my proximity. One night I attended a dinner party where I was served veal loin chops unlike any I’ve ever had before. Not only were they at least 3 inches thick, but the texture of the meat was somewhat denser and more flavorful than you tend to expect from veal. I asked my host where these amazing chops were from and that led me to interview Steve Gatward, butcher and proprietor of Let’s Meat on the Avenue.

Gatward is English and came to the U.S. via Australia and South America. While he apprenticed for a butcher in his youth, his career has taken him from writing food and travel guides to newspaper advertising. He opened Let’s Meat on the Avenue in 2007 and has become a neighborhood fixture for the meat obsessed. His shop is small, but the range of cuts is comprehensive and he also offers a rotating menu of house-made sausages.

Earlier this week, we got together to chat about Gatward’s life, meat, and wine.

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Cheese and Wine, In That Order

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-17-2011

Jill Erber, at Cheesetique in Alexandria, VA.

No matter how much you think you know about cheese, entering Cheesetique in Alexandria, Virginia, is a humbling experience. Proprietor Jill Erber stocks, on any given day, 300 or more cheeses and cured meats, ranging from a silky and buttery Daffinois to a “3 noses” ripe and complex Cashiel Blue. There is a wall of carefully chosen wines reflecting a broad range of vineyards, methods, and price points; a wide selection of cheese accouterments; and gourmet items ranging from locally made chocolates to artisan vinegars.

Making a decision at the display case is difficult, but if you enter the cheese and wine bar, it becomes easier. You can choose several different complimentary cheeses or charcuterie from the rotating special list to sample, there is also a menu of cheese-centric dishes and an extensive wine list. If you attend one of Ms. Erber’s cheese tasting classes, you see immediately that this woman is the Robert Parker of cheeses, and is also passionate about her wine. Last week, I decided to ask her how Cheesetique’s perfect pairing of cheese and wine came about. Read the rest of this entry »