Thursday, January 13, 2011

Off The Rock: Houston Puts The H In Whine

Day 1 - Christmas Eve

Jet-lagged and sporting a gelled coiffure and tucked-in button-front that only make an appearance on grandiose occasions, I stumbled into my parents' best friends' home in some Houston suburb called Jennifer or Emily or Ashley. On the kitchen counter, Brazilian salpicon, one-hundred Euros worth of Norwegian cod smuggled into the country by my wee brother, Shawarma Leg Lover, and probably the luscious-est chocolate mousse I have ever set my tongue on. Also, several bottles of mediocre Argentine Malbec (the 2009 Gascon Malbec was the better of the lot), some Portuguese vinho verde to accompany the cod, and a jug of 2010 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau that swirled down the kitchen sink faster than Speedy Gonzales on an HGH-infused re-fried bean diet. Mr. Flog made a fool of himself with his gimpy jig, lowering his right knee and pretending his fists were maracas, while The Wife, Ph.D., led the Brazilian crowd in a clumsy rendition of syrtaki, the dance immortalized in the 1964 film classic, Zorba The Greek. No wonder after eleven-plus bottles of wine and shots upon shots of cachaca and zivania.

Wine Highlight(s): 2007 Veramonte Primus (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 8% Merlot and 7% Carmenere)

Day 2 - Among Celebrity Chefs in Nawlins

It's time to stop watching the Food Network; damn channel has been clouding my already limited culinary judgment. I never really trusted celebrity chefs until I started seeing them churn out wonders on television. So one night during our two-day visit to New Orleans I made the executive decision of visiting Emeril's after reading a positive review in the New York Times. Let's just say that there was nothing remarkable to the meal; I had a rib-eye steak with blue cheese and an arugula salad, something I could have easily replicated at a half of the cost on The Rock. My brother, though, guns a-blazin' as usual, called his quail crap. To my family, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. At least, I seek comfort in the fact that we weren't being served Rachel Ray's sketchy concoctions and that the Wife, Ph.D., enjoyed her shrimp dish.

Wine Highlight(s): 2007 Alexana Revana Vineyard Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

Day 3 - Mano a Mano at a Mano Restaurant in NOLA

One of the best meals we've had in a long time accompanied by a complex Aglianico del Vulture that left in its trail a seductive caramel, butterscotch finish. My brother wasn't complaining after downing handmade Macherroni alla Chitarra with tomato-braised goat ragu and thyme, a seared duck breast with satsuma, saba and rosemary-pistachio gremolata, and the flour-less chocolate and walnut cake with "cooked wine" sauce. Happiest of times.

Wine Highlight(s): 2005 Elena Fucci Titolo Aglianico del Vulture (Basilicata, Italy)

Day 4 - H-Town

This will be forever known as the night H-Town put the H in whine. All credit goes to my parents' friend, Dos Leches, a six-foot tall redhead Scot who suggested there was room for an H in this blog's title. Who knows why inspiration struck then and there for Dos Leches. Maybe it happened thanks to the three bottles of wine and five hundred ml of rockin' Texan vodka (Tito's Handmade Vodka) we consumed. Or she felt a spark as she harked back to her youth and friendship with creative pop geniuses Robert Smith and Nick Cave. Or perhaps it was Shawarma Leg Lover's girlfriend's made-for-American-Idol angelical soprano singing of old Mexican dirges. In any case, the new title works since fifty-seven-point-eight percent of what I write is awfully whiny.

Wine Highlight(s): 2008 Bethel Heights Estate Grown Pinot Noir (Eola Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon) and 2007 Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California)

Day 5 - Wine on Sale!

I love supermarkets. So when I found out that Central Market was offering its customers a twenty-five percent discount for purchasing thirteen or more bottles of wine, I shrewdly convinced my parents that it would be wise for them to stock up for Two-Oh-Eleven. Of course, they gave me carte blanche to select most of them. Mr. Flog and his friends are obsessed with Malbec so he opted for two bottles of Argentina's sort-of-finest along with a bottle of the 2007 Veramonte Primus we had enjoyed earlier. Like a teenie bopper with too much Christmas money at Forever 21, I ended up cross-eyed trying to figure things out. Somehow, I managed to pick an Australian Shiraz, a California Petit Syrah, a Portuguese Douro, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a Rioja Tempranillo, an Oregon Pinot Noir, a Rueda Verdejo, an Argentine Torrontes, a California Cabernet Sauvignon and a California Zinfandel. Goes without saying that the following night I cracked open two of the more promising bottles to share with friends and family.

Wine Highlight(s): 2008 Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon) and 2004 Leeuwin Estate Siblings Shiraz (Margaret River, Australia)

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