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Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Rustic Dinner and the Duality of An Ego-Driven Life

What is the Ego?  Does it even exist?  How big should you allow a lettuce leaf to remain in a salad before it becomes cumbersome and obnoxious to eat?  Do we actually exist, or are we simply projections of an idea of Who we think we Are, dancing upon a wall, flickering in the half-light, waiting for the fire to burn out?

When roasting a quarter chicken, how long is long enough?  Should you coat the chicken in oil, or in butter?  If I do good deeds for the people I love, is it still an act of selfishness, serving my Ego to feel validated, allowing myself to know that I am a good person, or am I merely fulfilling a sense of familial duty?  Does dried garlic take away, or enhance, the flavour of green beans?

Do I exist outside of myself, to others, or are they simply manifestations of my Ego?  Is this world real, in a sense that, with no Ego to experience it, would it continue to exist, or does it require observation to Be?  How cold should a rosé be when served?

Menu: Roasted Quarter Chicken, Green Beans, and Rustic Salad with Dill?  Apple Galettes with Almond Whipped Cream?

Was the poultry actually succulent, or did we simply project our belief system onto what we think of as “poultry”?  Was mixing apple cider vinegar with basil-infused olive oil just a basic emulsion, or was it more of an expression of the constant duality of our notions of self – forever merging and separating as our understanding of the world around us changes, alters, and adapts to an ever-expanding landscape?

And what of the Apple Galettes?  Were they propping up the paradigm established by the salad dressing or tearing it down?  Was it an example of deconstructionism, or a rebuttal thereof?  Did the whipped cream and roasted almond infusion truly blow our minds, or were our minds already blown, and the dessert topping simply arrived late to a party that ended decades ago?

Wine: Palo Alto, Shiraz Rosé, Reservado, Chile, 2010, $118 MXN
Rating: One Bottle

Did the wine let us down with its lack of sweetness and overly acidic nature, or were we let down by our own oedipal expectations of a life less ordinary?  Would we have been more forgiving of the sharp and upfront character of this wine had we been more prepared to deal with our private existentialist dilemmas and our nihilist leanings?  Would we buy this wine again if someone wanted us to bring them a Rosé, or would we find a more suitable alternative?  What is “suitable”?

Wine: Garnacha, Viña Tamprana, Old Vines Selection, Campo de Borja, Denominación de Origen, Spain, 2011
Rating: Two Bottles

Should this wine be referred to as “musky,” or was our friend Lena correct in her assessment that it smelled like “feet”?  How did the taste of cherries play into all of this?  Were we truly tasting the wine, or were we lost in a labyrinth of our own making, roaming endless down corridors of loneliness, seeking truth but tricked into believing the lie that is our inability to see what we really are, accepting the reflection as reality and never the reflected?

Where do the answers lie?  Do we have any answers or can we live with the possibility that there may be no answers?


Happy Father’s Day!!

Happy Father’s Day, to all you dad’s out there.

Being a dad, I think, is the greatest thing I’ve ever been, and I’ve been a lot of things.

Sunday was my ideal Father’s Day – spent the morning with Caia – we walked on Fifth Avenue, got some coffee for daddy, fruta y pan for Caia, did our grocery shopping (she’s a big help in that department – she picks out the bread for Sunday dinner, daddy rewards her with a cookie from the bakery, and she recommends that daddy buys all of the other cookies, too), went home for a nap while daddy got caught up on emails and waited for his dinner guests.

Watching her in public is one of my favourite things.  She is so curious, so observant, so careful and careless at the same time.  Quick to laugh, quick to ire, she is a mix of Cara and I to the letter.

I don’t much go in for receiving gifts, since it makes me feel weird, but Megan made me a t-shirt with a humorous saying on it – “That’s what,” she said.


Our friend Jay joined us from Los Cabos for a couple of drinks.  It was great to catch up.

I haven’t cooked in awhile, so dinner was ridiculously late, but once it was done, it was great.

On the Menu: Roast Beef and Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Red Wine Gravy, Pan-Seared Yellow Bell Peppers

I wish I could take all the credit, but I got help on this week’s dinner.  On the advice of a friend, I put the roast in a tray but on a rack so that the air could get under it.  I will always do it this way again forever and eternity.

The trick is turning the oven up almost full-whack for thirty minutes, then turning it down to 170 celsius for the last hour.

Let the roast sit for ten to fifteen minutes after you take it out of the oven.

Megan and Rene brought over one of my favourite wines – 3V, by Casa Madero.  We started with that one, since we knew we were going to enjoy it.

The second bottle got a sampling as well.

Wine: Atteca, Old Vines, Red Blend, Spain, 2010
Rating: Two Bottles

I liked this wine.  The tart of a sour, red apple, and the sweet of blackberries.  I finished this bottle last night, and I liked it as much on a second sitting.  It didn’t sing to me poetry or whisper soft somethings in my ear, but it did it’s job and I would definitely buy it again.

That’s pretty much it for this week.

No nudity.

You’re welcome.


Anchors Away!

Last week, we went on a cruise.

I like the idea of a cruise.  The open ocean, several days at sea, a new port every morning.  What adventures lie ahead?

If you follow me on Twitter then you know a little bit about how our cruise started.  I won’t go into details here, as this is (ostensibly) a blog about wine and food.  I will say, however, that I do not like to see my fiancée cry, and she cried far too often on this trip for my liking.  Which is none.  I just mentioned that.  Why aren’t you listening?

I did sample some nice wines, however, so all was not lost.

Wine: Clos de los Siete by Michel Rolland, Red Blend, Mendoza, Argentina, 2009, $19 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

We got this wine at a shop on Devonshire Street, in Boston.  It’s right next to the Elephant & Castle restaurant in the Club Quarters Hotel, if you are nearby and want to find it.  I suggest that you do.  They’re lovely folks.

Caramel and toffee overtones are met with soft tannins that give this wine a buttery impression.  Deep, black cherry colours backup the dark red fruit flavours that come singing through from the first sip.

Wine: Underwood Cellars, Pinot Noir, Oregon, USA, 2010, $17 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

We also grabbed a bottle from Oregon, since U.S. wines are hard to find in Mexico, unless they are from California, and then, usually only if they are from Napa.

Very fruity, mostly berries, especially gooseberries, apples.  Very light.  Perfect for a hot summer night or an afternoon at sea.  Hey!  Look at that!  That’s what we were doingwhile we were drinking it!

Wine: Murphy Goode, Merlot, California, 2010, $29 USD
Rating: One Bottle

Dry tannins gave a very dry finish.  Coppery.  A little flat.  Fruity bouquet and a deep ruby colour, but a bit disappointing.

I ordered this wine at our first evening dining on the ship.  We had an amazing waiter.  His name is Charlie.  He is from the Philippines.  He made Caia a mouse out of a cloth napkin.  This made her giggle to the delight of all within earshot.

Wine: Peter Lehman, Shiraz, Australia, 2008, $29 USD
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Charlie also joined some of the other waiters to dance for our pleasure.  Not just our pleasure.  Other people watched, too.  My mom got up and danced with him.

Soft and plump (the wine), russet colouring, really nice up-front, but a little sharp on the back-end.  One of those wines that you think is going to be great when you first sip it, but it never really fulfills it’s promise.

Wine: Sledgehammer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, California, USA, 2008, $17 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

Another bottle from our friends at the wine store on Devonshire which we didn’t think to write down it’s name or snap a picture of the storefront.  Honestly, we had two cameras, and Caia was with my mom.  We could have at least grabbed a business card.  I’ll try Googling it.*

Bought mostly for the label (and because it’s called Sledgehammer), this wine was a great find.  Ripe figs and dates, fragrant bouquet, and very easy to drink, we were very happy with this purchase.

I have to say, there is something so freaking amazing about sitting on the balcony of your stateroom, watching the setting sun over the hills of Portland, Maine, with a glass of wine in your hand.

At one point, I may or may not have been standing on the balcony, watching the setting sun, with a glass of red wine in my hand, a cigarette in the other, and no clothes on.  That may or may not have happened.

Can’t be sure.

There is no proof.

Wine: Chianti, Bella Sera, Tuscany, Italy, 2010, $29 USD
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Light and delicate on the nose.  Pleasant, but a little weak for my liking.  One of those wines that you enjoy drinking, but cannot pick out of a line-up.  You know, one of those wine line-ups like they have on all the gritty cop shows.

Victim: “Number three.”

Detective: “Are you sure?”

Victim: “Not really, no.  It was a little flat and didn’t have a lot of mouthfeel, so I can’t really be sure.”

Detective: “Okay.  Can you think of anything else?”

Victim: “It was red?”

Wine: Louis Martini, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, USA, 2009, $40 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

Charlie also made sure to get me any info I needed for each wine.  If it wasn’t listed on the menu, he would go and ask what year it was, that kind of thing, and this is during a full dinner rush.  He really was tops.

Round and fruity, the Louis Martini was one my favourites on the ship.  Soft tannins left a velvety mouthfeel.  I had Chateaubriand that night.  They were wonderful playmates.

Wine: Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, USA, 2009, $35 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

And then I followed it up with another California red.  The Hess, unlike the Louis Martini, was dry.  Dry, but without being a dick about it.  Cherry flavours gave you the sweetness you enjoyed, while hints of dark chocolate and roasted coffee gave you the bitterness you desired for balance.

Wine: Côtes du Rhone, Michel Picard, Rhone, France, 2010, $33 USD
Rating: One Bottle

Our last night on the ship and it started off poorly.  Super dry and sharp.  Biting like grapefruit juice after you brush your teeth.  Not at all awesome, but if you like really dry reds, this might be the wine for you.

Wine: Mirassou, Pinot Noir, California, USA, 2010, $28 USD
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Soft berry flavours were a welcome relief from Bittertown as the realisation that the cruise was coming to an end was sinking in.  The last dance number the wait-staff performed was awesome, and Caia squealed with glee watching them dance on tables and seeing the lights flicker and flash in sync with the music.

That was nice.

The pinot was like an old friend, patting your hand as you wistfully wipe a tear from you eye, hoping that no one noticed.  Time with family is so precious, and as we get older, so fleeting.  We spend so much time planning for the memories we want to make someday, instead of getting around to making them.

As Paulo Coelho once wrote, ““Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

In other words, follow your heart if you don’t want to be surrounded by trash.


*The store is called Boston Wine Exchange.  Check out their web site.  Don’t drop our name, though, since we didn’t tell them who we are and they might think that we were covert operatives buying reasonably priced wine to poison wino diplomats.

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