Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday musings...

It was an odd week communication-wise, but things seemed to calm down as we headed for the weekend. Friday night, good friend Deb B. and JD and I ventured to Palate in Glendale. Ian had raved about Palate on Yelp, as had many others - and there were a lot of negative reviews on Yelp also, so I figured we were in for an adventure of some sort! Deb arrived, we grabbed a 2005 Windward Pinot Noir “Monopole” that we had picked up at the winery in May – floral nose, cherries and strawberries in the mouth, with an earthy finish. Arrived at the restaurant right on time. The valet was extremely polite and even opened the front door for us.

Inside the restaurant are several different rooms - Deb led us on a brief tour all the way to the back, where there is a very cool wine bar and shop. In the middle of everything are rooms for cheese tastings and the kitchen and other semi-private rooms. In the front, is the main dining room with a small bar near the host station, where one would wait for a table. The hostess led us to our table, handed us the menus and we were off on our dining adventure.

We started with cocktails - My aperitif (can't remember the name!) contained Bourbon, Champagne, Angostura bitters, Cointreau, all served in a Manhattan glass. Lovely. JD and Debra had 'James Bond' cocktails - Champagne, Kettle 1 vodka, sugar (cube), Angostura bitters. It was...interesting. Both JD and Deb agreed they like my drink better. Our appetizer consisted of potted lamb in a Mason jar accompanied by cucumbers, dill, garlic, and toasty crostini. Our server, Bret, was funny and knowledgeable and seemed to read my mind, as he turned up whenever I thought that we needed something.

Our dinners: Deb started with the Persimmon salad - persimmon, arugula, Moroccan olives, grilled onion, and pomegranate; JD and I both had the soup: field mushroom, miticrema, licorice root. Three happy people! Entrees: JD chose the day boat scallops with anchovies, butternut squash, hazelnuts, and sherry vinegar. Deb chose the famous pork belly with parsnip, Swiss chard and pear mostarda, and I chose the special duck breast in a red wine reduction with raisins and tiny potatoes and a spinach-related green, the name of which I did not write down. Sigh. The food was so good, we actually stopped talking. And for me, that's really something!

For dessert - a cheese plate: Délice d’Argental Burgundy, France soft ripened, triple cream, unctuous + creamy, delicate flavor; Soureliette de Fedou ‘La Tradition’ Pyrenees, France raw, soft, buttery, nutty, natural rind; Garrotxa Catalonia, Espana semi-firm, chalky, hints of hazelnuts, natural rind. A perfect end to a pretty much perfect meal. Oh, did I mention the roasted grapes? Oh my! I had only just heard about them from a friend a few days before, and they are to die for! I think JD will be roasting grapes - soon!

We sat for a while - no one rushed us, even though they were busy, and finally pulled ourselves away from the table. Back to the house, where we opened a Baron Herzog Late Harvest Chenin Blanc and talked about stuff that put JD to sleep! Well, almost everything puts JD to sleep, especially after a great meal and lots of wine, so it was to be expected. Deb and I work in related fields, so occasionally we drop into shop talk, and believe me, it's really not all that interesting!

Up early Saturday morning - manicure and breakfast with the gang, then home to prep for the evening's wine tasting. Even though my hostess and I had straightened out our differences, I was still concerned about what to expect. We arrived on time. She was ready in her lovely home. Some of her guests arrived right on time, others filtered in as we were underway. Her guests were all educated, interested, and definitely enjoyed the wines and the conversations. And I did not sell even one bottle of wine. Even though several of them said they might, I could not get anyone to commit to anything at all. At all. It was all very pleasant, and I might get a tasting from one of the women, but not until after New Year's, so...I guess it was a good thing that I went with low expectations.

I don't know whether or not my hostess had told her guests not to buy anything, and I'm not a high pressure seller, but it was interesting that one guest objected to paying shipping and wanted to know why I couldn't keep wines in inventory. Before I could respond, one of the other guests told her that it wasn't a good idea for inventory to be kept in individual consultants' homes, as there was no quality control on keeping the wines properly stored. I almost kissed her! I also reminded the guests that most people don't have room for cases of wine in their homes. It just felt like an excuse not to buy.

Anyway, we made our goodbyes. We went home and finished off the 2004 Talmage Napa Valley Merlot and ordered in some bad Italian food. Then we opened the 2006 Fleur Bleu Mendocino Zinfandel. Yum! Good wines often improve mediocre food.

This morning I followed up with last night's guests, thanking them - and reminding them that they could still buy the wines they enjoyed. Nada. In the meantime, I heard from a guest from a tasting I did last month and booked her for November. I'll also be choosing a date in November to hold a tasting in my home. How does 11/15 sound? Anyone up for a pre-Thanksgiving tasting? The holidays are here! Time for parties!

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