Bravo’s Shear Genius is dear to me — in high school, my first job was at the local popular hair salon, Vanasons of Marietta, GA, to which I received “cutting-edge” dye jobs and updos for the requisite Homecoming, prom and graduation events. I lived in the salon — and loved it.
I’ve been rooting for Janine Jarman since the first episode. I like her spunk, her smile (yes, she’s looking all tough below) — and her hirsute talents are undeniable. Today, I met Janine.
She was eating a BLT at The Mercantile, and just when she paid my dark mane a compliment, I confessed that I was a huge fan of hers. She’s a sweet thing! Totally invited me to her salon, Hairroin, though I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’m loyal to Mike Bonner’s goodhead. However, she did encourage me to vote her for Fan Favorite — and you should, too. Do it by tomorrow, Mar. 31, at 1PM PT. Do it 80 times, if you’d like.
The above thought is that of Italian winemakers anyway.
Along with Chardonnay, we covered Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache and Syrah. Day Two’s course load made more sense to me than Day One’s. But it was way intense as well — and I think it rattled a couple of the cool kids sitting in the back (and you know that’s where I sat this week).
The following are notes of the 10 wines we tasted:
1. 2004 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablis Premier Cru — $26.99
— a Chardonnay to REALLY put your nose in, a lot of minerality (making it excellent food wine), pair it with oysters and mussels
Appearance: clear, pale, yellow lemon (or pale gold), thin legs, watery rim
Nose: clean, medium intensity, lime, green apple, grapefruit, stainless steel, minerality
Palate: dry, medium-plus acidity, medium-minus body, lime, grapefruit, minerality, short length
Conclusion: good — well-balanced, short length, medium-minus intensity, medium complexity, expressive but rather pricey
2. 2007 Arrowood Chardonnay, Sonoma — $23.99
— a new oak wine, which do better at blind tastings because it stays longer with the drinker; difficult to pair with food but clam chowder works
Appearance: clear, medium, gold, slower tears (i.e. more alcohol content)
Nose: clean, medium intensity, oak/vanilla, pineapple, yellow pear, baked apple, biscuit, creme brulee, honey, caramel
Palate: dry, medium-minus acidity, medium body, vanilla (NEW oak), pineapple, baked apple, toastiness, medium-plus length
Conclusion: good — well-balanced, longer length, medium intensity, little complexity (i.e. no minerality), expressive
3. 2005 Dne. Denis, Pernand-Vergelesses Cote D’Or — $29.99
— a Pinot Noir of Burgundy with decent complexity, perhaps better to be drunk sooner
Appearance: clear, medium-minus, ruby
Nose: clean, medium intensity, red cherry, plum, raspberry, strawberry, dried rose, animal leather, wet leaves, black pepper, cinnamon, smoke (French oak)
Palate: dry, medium-plus acidity, medium-minus tannin, medium body, redcurrant, skunk-like, spice, cedar, medium-minus length
Conclusion: good — well-balanced, fine length, good intensity, good complexity for a PN, expressive
4. 2008 Westrey Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills — $21.99
— Oregon is making VERY good PN (with the exception of 2007)
Appearance: clear, medium, deep ruby
Nose: clean, medium intensit, fruity/youthful, ripened reds like plum, black cherry, dried fig, violet, some tobacco and cedar
Palate: dry, medium-plus acidity, medium tannin, medium body, plum, cedar, leather, medium-plus length
Conclusion: very good — well-balanced, longer length, good intensity/complexity, very expressive
5. 2000 Clos Margalaine, Margaux — $36.99
— a lovely, 10-years-old Cabernet Sauvignon of Bordeaux with more austerity
Appearance: clear, deep, ruby and a little garnet (ought to have more after 10 years)
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, black cherry, blackberries, violet, licorice, black pepper, cloves, French oak (smoke, cedar, tobacco), eucalyptus/menthol, rubber, earthy, leather
Palate: dry, medium-plus acidity, medium tannin (which has gone down over the 10 years), medium-plus body, blackberries, blackcurrant, tobacco, dark chocolate, black pepper, cloves, cedar, medium-plus length
Conclusion: very good — amazing balance, length, intensity, complexity and expressiveness
6. 2006 Ch. Franc Grace-Dieu, Saint Emilion Grand Cru — $16.99
— an expressive Merlot of Bordeaux that is sweeter in the nose than mouth
Appearance: clear, medium-plus, ruby
Nose: clean, medium-plus intensity, youthful/fruity — plum, red cherry, dried rose, smoke, cedar, cinnamon, vanilla, candied fruits
Palate: dry, medium acidity, medium-plus ripe tannin, medium-plus body, red cherries, plum, tobacco, smoke, earthy, black tea leaves, leather, medium length
Conclusion: very good — overall, balance, length, intensity, complexity and expressiveness; would be more complex in a few years
7. 2008 Les Pentes, Pouilly-Fume, Loire Valley — $23.99
— a Sauvignon Blanc with a lovely elegance; just missing some Fume smoke
Appearance: clear, medium-minus, lemon-green, thin legs (low in alcohol)
Nose: clean, medium-plus intensity, youthful/fruity — grapefruit, apple, lime, grass, lemongrass, a lot of minerality
Palate: dry, medium-plus acidity, medium-minus body, lime, grass, lemongrass, salty minerality, gooseberry, lettuce, leaves
Conclusion: very good — well-balanced, good length, intensity, complexity, just missing the smokiness expressive of Fume
8. 2008 Whitehaven, Marlborough, New Zealand — $15.99
— a very fruit-forward modern Sauvignon Blanc
Appearance: clear, pale, lemon-green, slow legs
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, gooseberry, kiwi, grass, green peppers, French mint for tea, NO minerality
Palate: dry, high acidity, medium body, kiwi, unripe pineapple, grass, nettles, medium length
Conclusion: good — fine balance, length, intensity, not very complex, but expressive
9. 2007 Mas de Boislauzon, Cotes du Rhone Villages — $15.99
— a Grenache blend (70% is Grenache) that is sweeter in the nose than palate; pair well with sausages or Monica’s Grandma’s Bacon & Lentils
Appearance: clear, medium-plus, purple/ruby, long legs
Nose: clean, medium-plus intensity, youthful/ripe fruits — fig, black cherry, raspberry jam, white pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, oak: cedar, vanilla, creme brulee
Palate: dry, medium acidity, medium ripe tannin, medium-plus body, plum (typical of Grenache), raspberry, licorice, black cherry, cedar, tobacco, medium length
Conclusion: good — missing length and complexity
10. 2007 Two Hands Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia — $21.99
— Shiraz should smell more of bacon but not much here; strong alcohol scent — at 15%, “give this to everyone and they’ll get drunk”
Appearance: clear, deep intensity, purple core with light ruby rim, slooow legs (high in alcohol)
Nose: clean, medium-plus intensity, black cherry, blackberry, blackcurrant, jam-like, black pepper, violet, cinnamon, vanilla
Palate: dry, medium acidity, medium-plus ripe tannin, full body, black cherry, jam-like, prune, pepper, vanilla, cinnamon, leather, medium-plus length (maybe longer)
Conclusion: good — a little too much alcohol content, and too fruit-forward/jams
My least favorite of the day was the Merlot of Bordeaux (#6) — which was a little too rough on my palate. I enjoyed the Grenache Blend (#9), the Margaux Cabernet Sauvignon (#5) and the Pouilly-Fume Sauvignon Blanc (#7) most.
Photo: Colin Purrington
During the four-and-a-half-hour class, we briefly discussed Pinotage, which is a blend of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Generally, Cinsault gives PN more personality. Try one from South Africa — and also, I later remembered (in a dream, actually) that I had tried a Pinotage from J Vineyards in Sonoma, a wonderful winery of sparkling wines, creating this very fun bottle of red.
… has stopped. Don’t be dumb (like me for so long), and doubt the onions.
Endless reasons why Helen W. is such a fine force — this is just one: After she carved out space on an organic farm in Montana, Helen recently worked some Napa vineyards and knows wine. At the Otheroom in Venice, she suggested I try two wines:
1. 2005 Chateau Belles Graves Pomerol — $16/glass
2. Lambrusco Lini 910 Emilia-Romagna — $13/glass
How I would classify the first would be a “gentle Merlot.” Pomerol is one of two important appellations on the Right Bank of Bordeaux (the other is Saint-Emilion). It’s a softer variety of red with medium tannin and acidity levels and with age, notes of cedar and tobacco surface. It is not at all uncomfortable to drink.
According to my wine professor/goddess, poor Merlot has yet to recover from its undeserved slamming in the movie Sideways. (Pinot Noir, on the other hand, has increased in price by 25 percent! “A silly movie,” she called it.) This particular glass of Pomerol was the smoothest, most elegant Merlot I’ve ever sipped.
The Lambrusco is a frizzante — which I lovelove. Served in a very chilled flute, the Lini 910 was sparkling pink fizz. I think it was off-dry with great hints of both black and red berry fruits. Somehow (well, with the help of Taking Notes), I remembered that the pork dish I ate at NYC’s Del Posto was an “ode to Emila-Romagna” and cooked with Lambrusco!
I miss guzzling Allagash White at the Otheroom, of course, but getting my mouth right for wine is worth it.
With love, I’m debuting a small service called FAQ-LA — a site where you can ask me questions on what to eat, see or do in Los Angeles.
For years, I’ve enjoyed answering such questions for friends, family and strangers, and I figured — why not share and publish the answers to these frequently-asked questions? Internet, meet FAQ-LA.
Forever, I’ve had this secret desire to become a tour guide for L.A. — those double-decker tour buses parked outside of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater bum me out something awful. I want very much to share the side of L.A. that I love — and a lot of it has to do with the wonderful and bizarre foods in our city.
I would love to share an even better L.A. with you. Use FAQ-LA — and please enjoy it. Ask your question now.
Chompin’ on a ceviche tostada at La Isla Bonita Taco Truck on Rose Avenue in Venice Beach
Like right now. I want Santouka Ramen in my mouth right now.
Photo: LA Weekly
While, yes, I am a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to try the ramen at New York’s Ippudo, I am many-moons grateful that I live just one mile west of the Mitsuwa Marketplace on Centinela — and in its food court, of course, lies the ever-popular Santouka. Really, they’re the only ones calling out the order numbers. Bella Pasta — please.
More controversial is what I’m about to type now: I think I like Santouka more than Little Tokyo’s Daikokuya. It’s true! I do! At Daikokuya there’s only one type of ramen you can order — and it’s wonderful, truly. The broth is wow. Tender pork all over. Good egg. But … something’s wrong with the actual ramen noodle. They taste rather boring after awhile, and I never finish ‘em off. (My side bowl of fried rice, however, is always a goner.)
At Santouka, I order the salt ramen (and a side of hard-boiled egg), and I eat every last nood. The one-slice-of-pork thing is infuriating, but you know, I appreciate that the entire bowl of it gets in my belly. Except for that odd berry-red sphere — what the fuck is that?
“Don’t get addicted to alcohol” was my mother’s morsel of warning — and only comment — when I told her I’d enrolled in wine school.
Photo: Sleeping Bear Dunes
It’s a WSET course (Wine & Spirit Education Trust), Level 2 Intermediate, at Wine House in West L.A. I’m committed to it for the next few Saturdays, and if I pass the final exam, I will likely move onto the Level 3 Advanced course. With these certifications, I could be a sommelier if I wanted to. But that is if I can figure out how to smell wine first.
What I do know is: I will NOT be making funky slurpin’ sounds in my mouth with wine. So don’t even worry about it.
Monica, our instructor, is fantastic. She’s a sassy Spanish woman who’s had a lot of Rioja in her life. For most of four hours, she stood at the front of the class with one hand on her hip and the other tipping a glass of 2002 Barolo into her sarcasm-spewing mouth.
We, a class of about a dozen, tasted and analyzed eight wines on our first day — Monica was hoping we’d get to 12. I’ve got to get my own spit bowl for next class — because I was drunk by 10AM.
How to Take Wine Notes:
Appearance — clarity, intensity, color
Nose — condition, intensity, aroma characteristics
Palate — sweetness, acidity, tannin, body, flavor characteristics, length
Conclusion — balance, length, intensity, complexity, expressive of its kind
The following are notes of the eight wines we tasted:
1. 2008 Orvieto Barberani, Umbria Italy — $13.99
— a lovely enough white to pair with a summer salad
Appearance: clear, pale, lemon, thin watery rim, little legs, some tears
Nose: clean, medium/medium-minus intensity, youthful, lemon/lime, grass
Palate: dry, crisp acidity — medium/medium-plus, light body, lemon, green apples, medium/short length
Conclusion: acceptable — good balance, short length, medium/medium-light intensity, simple complexity, yes, expressive/typical of Umbria wines
2. 2006 Trimbach Alsace Gewurztraminer, Germany — $17.99
— an aromatic grape, like a Reisling, works well with foods with some spice (light Indian), pork/turkey (when meats meet fruit flavors) and Vietnamese
Appearance: clear, pale, gold
Nose: clean, medium-plus intensity, orange-blossom, apricot, lychee, floral (white jasmine), spice (ginger, vanilla)
Palate: dry, medium acidity, light/medium body, medium length, apricot/peach, lychee, jasmine, ginger, vanilla
Conclusion: good — well-balanced, longer length, medium intensity and complexity, pretty expressive of Alsace
3. 2002 Chateau De Launay Bordeaux BL, France — $21.99
— this wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc, was past its prime. Generally speaking, Bordeaux is known for its reds, not its whites. The color of this wine was cloudy and, franky, frightening. Sauvignon Blancs don’t age well — drink it immediately!
4. 2004 Tokaji Leonis, Hungary — $16.99
— in a bucket, mix dry white wine and mashed grapes, and you’ll get this sweet wine. Tokaji for $16.99 is a STEAL. Youthful and approachable.
Appearance: clear, medium intensity, dark gold, slow long legs, thin rim
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, peach jam, white chocolate, some oak, like toffee, creme brulee, caramel
Palate: sweet, medium-plus intensity, medium body, oak, vanilla, medium/long length
Conclusion: very good — well-balanced, medium/long length, great intensity, light complexity, very expressive of Hungary
5. 2008 Valpolicella Allegrini, Italy — $17.99
— Allegrini is composed of Italy’s classic three grapes; generally, a lovely light red — but this was an off bottle.
Appearance: clear, medium intensity, ruby, long legs, thin rim
Nose: clean, light-medium intensity, youthful, red cherry, pepper, cloves, bit of oak, bit of rose
Palate: dry, medium-plus/high acidity, medium body, medium tannin, black pepper, sour berry, earthy, short length
Conclusion: acceptable — not balanced, short length, medium intensity, not complex, not expressive
6. 2002 Barolo Clerico, Piemonte, Italy — $36.99
— a wonderfully-priced Barolo; lots of terroir!
Appearance: clear, medium-plus intensity, garnet
Nose: clean, pronounced, medium-plus intensity, less youthful, plum, black cherry, dried roses, licorice, pepper, cloves, tobacco, leather, truffles
Palate: dry, medium acidity, high tannin, medium body, all the aromatic characteristics above, medium-plus length
Conclusion: very good — well-balanced, medium-plus length, good intensity, good complexity, very expressive of a Barolo
7. 2008 Tavel Dne. La Rocaliere France — $16.99
— this rose grenache goes well with all foods; to be enjoyed ASAP while young and fruity
Appearance: clear, medium intensity, pink
Nose: clean, medium intensity, strawberry, dried flower, wet stone minerality
Palate: dry, medium acidity, medium body, not fruity, fresh minerality, medium finish
Conclusion: good — good balance, medium length, not terribly intense or complex, very expressive
8. 2009 Beaujolais Villages Dne. De la Madone, France — $14.99
— this one, a semi-carbonic maceration, tasted like Red Vines! Drink it within 1-2 years.
Appearance: clear, medium intensity, purple, with a pink/ruby rim (young!)
Nose: clean, medium intensity, fresh red fruits, like candies
Palate: dry, medium acidity, low tannin, light-medium body, rose, raspberry, plum, no oak, medium length
Conclusion: good — well-balanced, medium length and intensity, simple complexity, very expressive
Before now, Los Feliz meant a neighborhood east of Hollywood with one particular studio apartment I remember fondly. Now, it’s that bombass bar in NYC’s Lower East Side with the secret enclaves and the stellar list of tequila. I fucking adore this place.
And the secret second basement:
The website’s got great shots of even more secret enclaves — with marble slab bar tops reclaimed from the Independence Hall in Philadelphia!
It’s a big, fat New York secret: An ample three-course lunch at Del Posto is just $29. It’s prestigious two-Michelin-star dining. It’s Mario Batali. It’s a bread basket served with lard.
@rturr and I owe it to @jasminemoy for revealing this clandestine phenom. Jasmine is a beloved regular, and she’s rewarded with the utmost respect and service — this, of course, translates into a free pitcher of the best bellinis you’ve never had. Then, let’s welcome the parade of amuses:
1. Stracciatella — Roman egg drop soup
2. Saffron suppli — hillock of saffron risotto with edible gold leaf
3. Mortadella in Pastella — mini-bologna panini
Then, four MORE amuses (all because we’re FOJ — Friends of Jasmine). I can’t remember them all, not because they weren’t memorable — one little tart thing was covered in shaved black truffle ( … I know) — but because it was all so overwhelming. The bread basket, alone, stuffed with mini baguettes, focaccia pillows, salted grissini and some decadent olive bread — again, it was served with whipped LARD (pictured right; that’s expensive Italian butter to the left).
The part of the three-course meal I actually paid for included an especially varietal selection of Antipasti, Secondi and Dolci. The website lists the entire menu, but look at what I went for:
1. Antipasti — Warm COTECHINO With Umbrian Lentil Vinaigrette & Dried Fruit Mostarda
2. Secondi — Grilled PORK Ode to Emilia-Romagna With Sunchoke Creme & Lambrusco
3. Dolci — Butterscotch SEMIFREDDO Melon Agrumata, Crumbled Sbrisolona & Milk Jam
Before the third course arrived, Del Posto’s George stopped by once more to chat up @jasminemoy, and to our surprise, he gestures to me and tells his minions: “It is her birthday. She didn’t tell us earlier. Bring the girls some sweet wine.” (@rturr was in the bathroom; thus, George calling us “the girls.”) Suddenly, we’re each poured a complimentary glass of Muscat or the like, and my butterscotch semifreddo is presented to me with a friggin’ birthday candle and the words “Happy Birthday” written on my plate in chocolate cursive. My birthday is September 1. This day was, in fact, just another rowdy New York day in March.
Oh, and even more amuses — SIX more. Most notable: the chocolate-olive oil popsicle which tasted like a Nestle Crunch ice-cream bar, the warm bomboloni with vanilla-orange crema pasticierra (translation: mini-doughnut) and a little candy thing wrapped in edible wrapper.
(Photos: Serious Eats NYC)
Amuse Bouche Count = 13. And that’s if we don’t count the little gold box of dessert truffles we received just before walking out the door.
As @jasminemoy would say: “Amaze-balls.”
Big up to this New York Times article on the now-than-ever present coffee culture in NYC — I now know what a Stumptown is.
Coffee-wise, I almost exclusively drink lattes. And good ones. I was looking for a place to sit, sip and kill 90 minutes — and somewhere between Union Square and Chelsea. From the article, I settled on Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ one and only cafe in Manhattan — in the Ace Hotel at 29th and Broadway.
Photo: Serious Eats NYC
Why I knew I’d made a great choice of cafes was, first, the line. A good long line like at Venice’s Intelligentsia. The baristas wear newsboy caps and suspenders as confidently as their tats and Chapstick cap-sized earring holes. Fancy pretzels to eat. The place is masculine-sleek. Taxidermied foxes. There.
Then, I take my latte from a broad-shouldered, obviously tattooed, brunette version of Chloe Sevigny moving ever slightly to one of the sweetest soul songs ever, “Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart” — I would have been afraid of her had I not been oddly attracted to her — and hit the lobby of the Ace Hotel.
Photo: I Can Has Cook?
This lobby. Wow. Dark, sexy library. All kinds of expensive armchairs and chaises to sit in. It’s if L.A.’s Cedd Moses went sober and wanted to reinvent cappuccino culture in an underdeveloped part of the city.
The coffee was right, too.
(Back in Venice, my baristas at Intelli were VERY impressed that I drank Portland-bred Stumptown.)
First Dinner was at Terroir. Pata Negra was where we ate Second Dinner.
Pata Negra is adorable. Serving very traditional Spanish tapas, it’s what Santa Monica’s Bar Pintxo ought to be, but Pintxo just won’t dim the lights.
We wanted sublime ham, or jamon. The Degustacion de Jamon is a tasting of three hams — and the quality improves onward:
1. Jamon Serrano — 15-month-aged Navidul Farm (far right)
2. Jamon Iberico — grass and acorn-fed cured ham (center)
3. Pata Negra — acorn-fed cured ham (left, front)
Iberico ham and its fattier/better counterpart, Pata Negra, was illegal in the United States up until the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture approved of Spanish slaughterhouse, Embutidos y Jamones Fermin, S.L. producing iberico hams for U.S. export. The U.S. welcomed its inaugural iberico in Dec. 2007 — and they say Antonio Banderas had something to do with it.
Really, it’s just little black piggies happily eating grass and acorns or JUST acorns in sunny oak groves until Slaughter Day comes.
It was, indeed, sublime. The bar’s jamon iberico was way nuttier-tasting than any I’ve ever tasted, so it’s possible I’ve eaten pata negra before — at Bar Pintxo, for example. From the evening, it was @rturr that delivered the best line of the night: “Give it to me in a ham time line.” Your love life, that is. Because why wouldn’t a love life be synonymous to the height of ham?