This week I was invited to a wine tasting and dinner at a trendy restaurant, one that has received rave reviews in those self-important “lifestyle” journals with pictures of gold-lined swimming pools and advertisements for vulgar German cars. It was disappointingly plain. In fact the décor reminded me of a school cafeteria.
It also had the disadvantage of being packed with pretentious people sampling wine with loud slurping noises.
“It has a nose reminiscent of Paris on a warm Sunday in September,” said a man with a floppy hat which he apparently needed to wear indoors. “A lingering afterthought of ripe chestnuts,” he added.
Really? Where do they come up with this crap?
“Tastes like grapes,” I said and was rewarded with a very hard stare.
I was hungry, but we had to endure a talk by a wine-maker before the grub was served. He talked about things like “terroir” (I think he meant soil) and “maceration” which I was always told would make your palms hairy. I didn’t understand him at all. Don’t you just crush the grapes and ferment them? Isn’t that it?
I busied myself watching the cooks, sorry, Chef and His Team, scurrying about in the kitchen which was separated from the restaurant by a panel of glass. I’m not sure why they do this. Watching cooks prepare your meal is like watching mechanics mend your car. I don’t need to see how it’s done, I just want to enjoy the result.
I perused the menu instead. It was bizarre, featuring forty dollar cheeseburgers and the sort of stuff you might have been served at home. On a Tuesday night. In the 1960s. Come to think of it, suburban housewife cooking appears to be all the rage again, doesn’t it? Meatloaf anyone? And please, not another cupcake shop. Betty Crocker must be rolling in her grave.
Eventually we were allowed to eat. As in school we had to share enormous tables with complete strangers. My luck being what it is, I was seated next to Mr. Floppy-hat, who turned out to be a food snob as well as a wine snob.
“I hear Chef hand-selects his fresh herbs from an urban garden just up the street,” he said, as if picking weeds off a vacant lot was some sort of culinary achievement.
I’m not sure what I was served for my dinner; it was too small to identify without my reading glasses. The largest thing on my plate was a flower.
“That’s a Rosa Arcicularis,” said Floppy. I decided to join in.
“Yes,” I said, “and they have to be picked at precisely midnight, don’t they? By virgins. Otherwise they’re deadly poisonous.”
He blinked at me then looked at his rose with some confusion. Teasing the nerd was the most fun I’d had all evening, just like being back at school in fact. After that things could only go downhill, so I left and went to Carls Jr’s for a cheeseburger. A real one.
— The Grumpy Old Git knows more about whine than anyone he knows.