And We Stormed The Bastille Alright…
Ladies and Gentlemen of the vine:
On this, the day after Bastille Day, the year of the wine bottle 2010, I bring to you descriptions of an evening reminiscent of that fine day in French histoire whence the Revolutionaries stormed the Bastille in 1789 (only three years ago!).
The Noble Rot first uncorked in July 2009 when Brian Quinn and I decided to become wine experts. For our one-year anniversary extravaganza we wanted to return to our roots and present delicious wines that retail for just $20 bangers and under. And the best way to do that, we assumed, was to try out what we dubbed “French Vacation Wines.”
It’s July and so all of France is vacationing in Saint Tropez, Le Mont Saint Michel, La Rochelle, Montpellier, Biarritz, and Villefranche sur Mer, and Cap Ferret – to name a few of the most beautiful beach towns in the south of yee old France. These French people are consuming billions of gallons of crude oil rosé and are baking basking in the sun. We wanted our Noble Rotten crowd to enjoy the same benefits. And so we offered them an evening of utter wine and cocktails and food implosion (while Dr. Strangelove played silently on a projector with French Subtitles).
Before I list the wines, I want to divulge to you good wino, the entertainers for the evening: annihilating the Noble Revolutionaries with words, words, words in French, French, French, like “Lingerie!” and “Baguette!” was the famed TRAV SD. Trav is an actor, author, journalist, impresario, I-mean-you-name-it, wildly hilarious, avant-gaurded genius. He has a blog, which I am very impressed by, as it is maintained pretty much every day. It is here. And if you are a person interested in theater and the history of vaudeville, don’t be a fool, get his book: No Applause: Just Throw Money.
As for the musical aspect of the eve, Les Chauds Lapins, presented French songs of the ’20s – ’40s, “an epoch when American jazz and swing was being absorbed into the witty, passionate, highly melodic tradition of French popular music” – quote from their site. They were: Kurt & Meg on the banjo-uke, Ian on Bass, and Karen on Viola. As one Francophile to the next, I can assure you that they were hands down, the best damn music act I’ve heard since I first heard Django Rheinhardt. I mean – wow! Banjo-ukes!! A phenomenal frenchy-sound, got the crowd feeling damn good and damn French, had a terrific sense of humor and I couldn’t recommend their CD enough. Or don’t take my word but listen for yourself as they’ll be at Barbes in Brooklyn on August 13.
Now for the wines!
But before the wines, cocktails!!
Mayur Subbarao, of EVOE! (and Mayhuel and Dram), a brilliant mixologist begat our evening with a cocktail and ended the evening with a cocktail. He used bourbons and gins and Armagnac and Lillet – Mayur whipped up Twentieth Century’s for people as well as what he dubbed a “brandy crusta variant” with the Armagnac and Lillet aka the “Paris-Midi.” WOW. Perfectly executed, I ended up the evening myself with a Lillet bottle full of left over batch and thrilled taste-buds. Assisting Mayur was the ever-brilliant food-photographer Nora Leah Sherman. And we have to thank Nicole Cloutier for our Lillet and for the Armagnac, May Matta-Aliah.
So, ahem, the wine:
- La Source de Vignelaure rosé – ($13 per bottle)
- Patrick Lesec Costierre de Nimes Vieilles Vignes – ($17 per bottle)
- Jaillance Cuvee Imperiale Sparkling – ($12 per bottle)
- Domaine de Felines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet ($12 per bottle)
Twentieth Century Cocktail
1 1/4 oz gin
3/4 oz Lillet Blonde
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz creme de cacao
Shake, strain, serve up with lemon twist
1 oz Laubade VSOP armagnac
1 oz Lillet Rouge
1 barspoon each lemon juice, orange curacao, maraschino
Stir, strain, serve up with one ice cube
Damian Gutierrez of Cabriniwines.com and Matt Franco of Rare Wines Limited (new store opening in the West Village soon!) were on-hand to lend validity to my and Brian Quinn’s nonsense. There you have it. My favorite was the Vignelaure. It smelled of first dates and the excitement of exchanging phone numbers with the woman you will eventually marry. Second in line was the Picpoul – this is a wine I have discovered recently and consider my staple French summer drink. The taste is easy on the palate, crisp like a Lays potato chip, dazzling like sea-shine reflecting off a remarkable sunset. The Lesec was a brit, if you catch my drift. And the Jaillance was exactly that: Imperiale!
The event would not have been possible without the gracious staff at Orsay, and their food, which was exceptional! Passed foods for the evening included: Gougères (choux pastry with cheese specialty from the Burgundy region), Tuna Tartare on toast, Chicken pretzel (chicken breast), Croque monsieur (grilled ham and Swiss cheese mini sandwich), Vegetable roll, Pork Rillettes (preparation of pork similar to pâte spread on white bread from the Tours region). Many thanks to Jean-Pierre and Melanie at Orsay – they were the best of hosts, and I encourage you to visit Orsay for an enchanted evening of delectable French-cuisine that will honestly knock your french socks off. Orsay Restaurant is at 75th & Lexington Ave in Manhattan.
Finally, our good friends, Nick Gray, Sean O’Hagan, Jeremy Welch, and Zach “the shark” Bernstein made the evening possible by pouring wine, passing food, and being knowledgeable in the place of my ignorance (I was busy tasting!). Please enjoy these delicious photos in no particular order, and hopefully dear wine-stewards, we will see you at a Noble Rot event soon.