Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook No. 9: Bottles to Spare on Dark Monday

If you have friends who are chefs, you know the best time to do something socially with them is Monday night. Some restaurants close on Sunday, some on Tuesday, but generally the universal day that a restaurant will be dark is on a Monday. "Would you guys like to come over next Monday?" we asked the chef at one of our favorite places. "Would love to," came the reply, "but we ate at your place last time, and, besides, its a school night for the kids. Come over here." And so Ella and I did. It's always fun to eat in a chef's kitchen when he or she is off duty. First, they tend to cook what for them is comfort food, since they have been cooking formally for other people all week. Second, they are probably at their most relaxed and in a mood to talk. The food was relatively simple - at least by his standards. Homemade charcuterie and local cheeses to start, followed by a bouillabaisse with lobster, scallops, flounder, fresh fennel seeds, a touch of lavender and one of the most-delicate tomato sauces I have ever tasted. "I can't remember the last time I fixed one," he said, plus I had an idea he didn't want to get that far away from his French training and the repertoire that came with it. We talked about jobs, writing, working in a classic French kitchen, God, greedy customers and great customers, travel and where to go next. The four of us also drank a fair amount of wine - a sparkling Moscato to start, a Chablis and a Rioja rosato from his wine list and an older Linden Virginia cabernet and a Santenay from my cellar. We didn't talk much about the food or the wine or how they paired, though occasionally observing that something was damned delicious. It was just the people and the experience and what I'm sure for the kids in the next room was the happy drone of adult conversation. When life is good, you don't bother to take a lot of notes.

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