Monday, October 28, 2013

st. john

light effect

there is so much hype about this restaurant that i didn't think i could enjoy it, but i did. very simple, very satisfying. and—a bonus—much attention paid to what is usually an unconsidered trifle: for instance, the  texture of a buttermilk pudding or an actual trifle. an establishment with a distinct and gentle sense of individual identity.
Here is a cure for any overindulgence, taught to me by my wise father: 2 parts Fernet Branca, 1 part Crème de Menthe, ice. Mix together and drink. Do not be put off by the colour. Be careful, this is so effective you can find yourself turning to its miraculous powers with increasing regularity. Do not let the cure become the cause.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


from anjou and the ardèche. the same, but very much not the same.
1) "ça faye douze" from philippe delmée in anjou, 2012 vintage. a VDF from cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, grolleau noir, pineau d'aunis. on opening, it was frothy from a tiny bit of bottle fermentation; there might have been volatile acidity too. it reminded me of what envol de la fille is like when first opened: light in texture, high-toned bright acidity, juicy berries, a crisp and lightly crunchy tannic profile. but with the leafiness and pepperiness of young cabernet franc (bell pepper) and pineau d'aunis (peppercorns). i could not tell what the cépage was from drinking it, but then i never can tell these things. it was the most perplexingly lively, joyous wine imaginable; a wine to make you smile and take another gulp. i saved much of it to see what would happen after a cold, slow airing. turns out, this wine is toast by day 2. the day after, it was not undrinkable but i wouldn't have gone back for a second glass.

2) "l'epicurien" from gregory guillaume in alba-la-romaine in the ardèche meridionale, 2012 vintage. 100% grenache from what i usually think of, apparently inaccurately, as syrah country. on opening, it was undelicious, with a pronounced funk and a bit of effervescence. i closed it up after a glass and left it in the fridge to air out slowly. on the second day, it was a different wine. slightly ashy with a fuzzy raspiness, it had all the good bits of the earlier cornelissen contadinos. the fruit was intensely present with a lazy sort of freshness just sufficient to stay interesting and not to tire. on the fourth day, it became bizarrely delicious: fresh strawberries, very soft tannins, and—at the very end of every sip, just after the swallow—the delicate puff of intense cherryskin aromatics that drift up through the sinuses and prolong the experience.
ça faye douze l'epicurien

Sunday, October 13, 2013

the apple report

yesterday was national apple day, which means we are now well into british apple season. there were many varieties at the marylebone farmers market, all glistening in the persistent and irritatingly chilly rain. and later, when i ducked into la fromagerie, i discovered box upon box of antique apples from brogdale, home of the national fruit collection. i may have bought too many apples.

the bramleys that no one here buys as an eating apple are firm and crunchy, very very tart—i like the slightly floral aroma of the rose-flushed ones that have been exposed to a lot of sun. very fresh, they are infinitely superior to granny smith. there was also a single box of blenheim orange, an old variety with a spectacularly rich, spicy, winey, high-acid flavour and crunchy-crisp bright white flesh. there is also more flavour variation through each individual fruit than i've noticed in any other apple. the crown gold is a type of jonagold (itself a cross of golden delicious and jonathan) on which the internet is mostly silent—the flavour is mild with moderate acidity but with a refreshing tinge of tannin not often found in the sweeter table apples and the texture is brilliant, lightly crisp and snappy. the grower claims that this is an apple with a long harvest period and which keeps well. one can hope but only time will tell. and i can report favourably about the flavour and texture of the new hybrid crimson crisp apple developed at purdue. not only is it a lurid and saturated crimson as advertised, its crispness is robust (unlike the friable crispness of a fuji or the noncommittal crispness of a red delicious) and the flavour intense and deep.

often what is called progress turns out to be merely a movement in some odd and ultimately fruitless direction; sometimes, it is an apple.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

le coffee report parisien

when coffee comes to paris it comes not single spies but in battalions.

last time i was here, more than five years ago, good coffee could not be found and no one knew what a micro-roaster was. today, it is a new coffee landscape. last week's was a short work visit focusing on the unusual innovation landscape of parisian fine dining (closest city sibling: tokyo), permitting only a limited coffee reconnoitre guided by emperor norton and their unnervingly pubescent dog, fergus. so: two coffee shops that serve good—in fact, excellent—coffee in carefully considered spaces.
in the 1st, télescope has many of the mechanical trappings of the very serious coffeeshop, including the fancy new mahlkönig ek43 grinder (which no one seems to really have figured out yet) and a marco über boiler. they make a finely balanced café creme (= capp; espresso from has bean in london) and their small but light, high-ceilinged space is a good place in which to drink it.

in the 3rd, the broken arm is a select shop with the predictable selection (limited edition nike frees, raf simons, expensive and laboriously designed periodicals). it is attached to a plywood-paneled coffee shop that could be in stockholm and, in fact, the coffee is from solberg & hansen in oslo.
the beans come from Far, Far Away because paris roasting infrastructure is still emerging. i was to visit two roaster-cafés the day i left town—belleville and lomi—but was unavoidably delayed by the extensive calvados collection at caves augé, including a green calvados on which the internet is mute. stay tuned for next time.

Monday, October 7, 2013

drinking high and low

krover letterlay

the beck's you already know about for its quenching quality and sweet malty lageriness. the 2004 vintage of martin müllen's krover letterlay spätlese riesling is what's currently available on the UK* retail market and is considerably less expensive than numerous rieslings that are significantly less delightful. it is thoroughly mosel in the nose—delicately ripe peaches—round and substantial, yet light in the mouth and with apparent (but i think almost no actual) sweetness. when unpacking, it is critical to remain thoroughly hydrated in order to not become disoriented among the mountains of newsprint.

* i've moved to london, fyi. and the müllen wines are only available in london through david motion's quite fine wine store, the winery, located conveniently close by.