I was strolling through Walmart yesterday and found a bin of wine spliffs ($1.25 each). Of course, that’s not what they’re really called, so please don’t go harassing those poor Walmart pilgrims for “wine spliffs.” Folks, I have real history with these tiny wine bottles. Before my palate got cute, my friends and I used to sip on these bootleg brands like they came from Romanée-Conti. This was before the Yellowtail coup d'etat and just before Concha Y Toro’s Frontera wine spliffs started to become commonplace in local bodegas (By local, I mean downtown Brooklyn). Yes, my starving artists friends and I used to sip White Zin with the best of them. Then that Australian kangaroo jumped into our plastic cups, transforming the occasionally vilified shiraz into the Britney Spears of wine. That’s when I really thought I was a wine sophisticate. How did I come up with the phrase "wine spliff?" Guess lol
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Thursday, January 17, 2013
I belong to a prayer circle of women who I’ve known since Pink Panther popsicles and goomies. About five years ago, we formed the circle because we were grown-ass women who felt like overgrown teenagers. Our gatherings are much like Blanche, Sofia, Dorothy, and Rose who shared their pangs, woes and pleasures over endless cheesecake pies. But our menus are slightly different; Tastee’s Jamaican patties, Syrian lamb skewers and spicy, red rice, vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and Publix Chocolate Trinity Ice Cream are among my favorites. I’m the wine girl, so I’m proud to say that I proselytized the gals out of White Zin. They’re into sparkling rosé, so I usually bring a bottle. But what’s most delicious are the endless bowls of laughter as we reminisce the past, gently or not-so-gently poking at each other’s strange phases (Back in the day, I dated a crazy DJ I named Mufasa). We laugh loud and hard and long, hoping our echoes will cling on until tomorrow. The last time we gathered, my friend, T, made a vegan lamb stew with sautéed dinosaur kale and steamed jasmine rice. None of us are vegan, but since she’s married to one, she’s mastered some delicious recipes. And this is definitely one of them. I adore Indian food and relished the cumin, coriander, fennel, and cinnamon aromas dancing from her pot. I used to think that dinosaur kale could only be enjoyed in a juice with bananas and apples because the leaf’s texture is tough, but when it’s cooked gently, it reminds me of a mix of calaloo and collard greens. It’s hearty and filling much like the time I spend with my sisters.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
|The best meal ever!|
Saturday, November 3, 2012
If you’ve been reading Gourmet Squatter, you know I love my wines, funky. By funky, I mean I like my dry reds Virginia Woolf-deep, wines that provoke the androgynous mind, compelling you to take a second glance at the color, wines that make you stick your nose in the glass over and over again like a child at the beach, digging through the wet sand in search of treasure. You know you have arrived when you smell the earth at her most vulnerable. Some folks use words like wet cellar or wet leaves. But in my experience, these wines can smell like everything from stinky cheese and wet soil to armpit, sweaty socks and lovemaking. These wines possess Sly Stone-swag, your descriptors getting more and more creative as they unravel in the glass. When I think of the essence of grape funk, I think, Pinot Noir, and like all the things worth having, this grape is called the heartbreak grape as it is difficult to grow. It’s also difficult to find a really well-made bottle for under $25. Last year, when my budget took a boost, I bought several bottles between $20 and $35 mainly from Oregon and was really bored. The aromas were flat, vacant and uninspiring. Today I got off work ready for that good P-funk, so I told the wine dondadda at one of my favorite wine stores, that my budget was $30. He recommended the 2009 Soléna Grand Cuvée Oregon Pinot Noir as a supremely aromatic wine, but the bottle I had was aromatically dead. I tried and tried to smell something, but there was nothing there. A couple weeks ago I bought a bottle of 2009 Sonoma Cuvée Russian River Valley Pinot Noir for just over $20. P-funk jumped out of my glass along with aromas of braised short ribs and marionberries. On the palate, there were dark plum, stewed fig, clove and anise flavors that glided through the lush, cashmere body. I bought the ’08 vintage this evening which wasn’t as interesting, but sometimes, you have to hunt the P-funk.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
So I have a confession. I love wine. You know that. But more than I love sipping wine, I love sipping the winemakers. I love reading about the adventures of those who dare trade their nine-to-five gigs for the long shot, the jagged dream of making money as grape juice hustlers. These aren’t descendants of centuries-old wine families. They are everyday people who stumbled into a bottle that inspired them in the same way that music inspired Aretha and poetry inspired Plath. Helen Turley is the winemaker behind labels like Marcassin, Bryant, Colgin and Peter Michael. Wine Spectator Senior Editor—James Laube wrote in a 2010 article that Turley is a native of Augusta, Ga., where she grew up Southern Baptist raised on a diet of fried chicken and meatloaf. Not exactly a foie gras-Sauternes background, is it? In 1968, Turley and her man drove a VW bus cross-country, hippie-style, ending in California. It was a 1980 Sea Ridge Pinot Noir that changed her life. Mac McDonald came from a family of Texas moonshine makers. Laube wrote in a 2004 Wine Spectator article that MacDonald’s mother, Elbessie, along with her brother and sister, made sweet wine from apples and cherries. But that didn't pique Mac's interest. It was a 1952 red Burgundy that changed his life. When he was a teen, a group of doctors hired his father to take them hunting, and one guest left Mac with that '52 Burgundy. About eight years ago I met the Michael Duncan look-alike in downtown Brooklyn where he rose from the Lafayette Avenue subway stop wearing overalls and a straw hat. I got goosebumps when he explained that he aged his Pinot in Hungarian oak. Are your dreams aging? I know sometimes it feels like mine are. Afraid to take that long shot? Maybe it’s not that long. But are we willing to do the work, pick the grapes and see what ends up in the bottle?
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Wow. What a week, right? Yesterday I had a bizarre encounter with two sad women who reminded me that while things aren’t perfect, at least day-old whiskey isn’t oozing from my pores. It’s not that bad, Guys. You’re not waking up to streets ravaged by torn limbs and smoky eyeballs. And if you are, I’m praying for you. Aaaaah. It’s nice to be snuggling up against a breezy, sun-rich Saturday, the week’s events fading into a yummy glass of Malbec. What I love most about South American wine is that many labels offer so much fierce complexity for your dollar. But this post isn’t about the Malbec I’m sipping. It’s about my wine pimp—Michel, who gave me a swig of a single vineyard, Aussie Shiraz that truly widened my perception of the ubiquitous grape. When I think of everyday, Australian shiraz, I think pop music on your palate. But this was Maria Callas or Beyoncé when she’s Aretha’s age. It was an ’05 vintage, grapes picked from one vineyard and the bottle had been decanted five hours before it touched my tongue. The 2005 Elderton Command Single Vineyard Shiraz Cellar Release had aromas and flavors of braised figs, prunes and raisins, and these characteristics were synchronized by seductive tannins. It was amazing to me how firm the tannins were despite the age. So if you think Aussie Shiraz can’t be deep, you’re wrong. On that note, the wine is $80, so I'll be sticking to my humble Malbec lol
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Pink was never my color. It’s not that I’m not a girly-girl. I just never connected to its implications—female conformity, tears and babies. But today I had a pink-moment. I had a student who arrived in my class today in a wheelchair. He was in his mid-20s, and there was a bloody box around his foot. It’s not that I’ve never had wheelchair-bound students in my class before, but this young man moved me for some reason. My classroom set-up isn’t ADA-compliant, yet this man navigated through the tight space like he had wings. He was so determined to learn--raising his hands and answering questions despite the eyes that were crawling up and down his leg. I later learned that he had kidney failure, and each time I looked in his eyes I became soft like the Gruet Brut Rosé. It’s rusty pink color reminds me of how I feel sometimes—weary, hard and longing. Its strawberry, raspberry aromas and Shirley Temple-esque flavors remind me of that girly-girl who wants so desperately to run through tight spaces then fly. P.S. I spent $10 for the half-bottle.