Not Eating Out In New York

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August 31, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Radio Silence: Broken

Two vines diverged in a yellow wood... and I... I took the one less trav....

Feels like August, but could be September. I’ve lost track. Hard to tell, what with the oddities in temperature. The grapes are still trying to ripen – the longest Veraison in a long time, is what they say. Time falls away from me out here; the remnants lie in heaps of torn vegetation like tiny monuments in between blocks of grape vines. You look up and the sky is blue again. You like down and the earth is red, or brown, or white. I’m never too hot, I’m never too cold.

The simple truth is that in a twenty-four hour period there are not enough hours to keep up with the demands of this world. And it’s fun, I think, to be realistic and place blame. A lot of people like to say that you can’t blame others, that you’ve got to blame yourself! We’re a culture of responsibility-takers. “I take responsibility,” we all [like to] say. What a bunch of idiotic rhetoric. So I’m placing blame… but I’m gonna be vague about it and say simply that I’ve been distracted – here in the golden state of California, amidst the vineyards of the valley, because of a programed mentality and not a human mentality. I’ve been backed into corners, my creativity depleted, my existence stifled.

I was supposed to write about wine, write about my everyday experiences out here in the vast western landscape, amidst the grapes and the receding mountain-scapes. I’ve let it go. Am I sorry for it? Only if readers grew bored and skidded elsewhere among the internet-O-rama-sphere. If this was 1861, and I was chronicling my experiences, you’d have to wait a damn long time for me to come back and tell you about everything. Well, look, I’ve made it back into town, my horse is near-death and I’ve been livin on wastewater. That’s life, ya know? So let’s get on with it.


Wine, I used to think was something you bought in a wine store, to be enjoyed with dinner, or on its own, glass after glass. Living in the Napa Valley for three months now, I’ve drunk more wine than ever before and paid for less of it than I ever imagined. There’s a barter system here. There’s also a “thank you” system and thanks comes in the form of many bottles O vino. Then, of course, there is the lucky luxury of happening upon the right situation. I think this bottle of wine fits that category:

"Is this the gold I came diggin' for?" - Jonny Cigar, September 31, 2011

I said I came out here to dig for gold, but no one told me I could find it in a bottle of Vin Gris. And with the price of gold at the moment ($1800 an ounce), I was a fool to drink this. Well, it wasn’t mine to begin with. It was a Sunday afternoon and down a dead-end drive in the town of St. Helena, CA, I met with new-found friends Josh Phelps and Ross Bentley. Ross makes wine with Jayson Woodbridge of Hundred Acre. Josh makes wine with his good friend Carlo Trinchero – they call their operation TAKEN Wine Company. We were playing a bocce-like game, but with bean-bags and wooden planks with a singular hole in the center. Rather than set the ball near the polina, the object of this game was to sink the bean-bags in the hole. First team to 21 points wins. We had a hell of time and drank a good deal of wine. Josh brought out a bottle of cider – 50 cases produced – for personal consumption, and why? Because it was fucking tasty and a friend had the apples and another friend had room to ferment. There may have even been a dosage involved, but who is keeping track?

But let me tell you what happened next:

Cathy Erway called to say that she’s in San Francisco and living on a boat, and we should put something together. Dinner on a boat. Okay. And we did. And I called Josh and told him we need his wine for this and I secured a case of his white wine, called AVAILABLE. A tasty blend of Sauv Blanc and Muscat. 10 of us drank the entire case. Cathy wrote about it here. And these are photos to prove it:

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And sounds to support: boatOrama

So then, my friend(s) it was the end of August. And that means the anniversary of the day when I promised to live with a lady until forever. We celebrated by lunching it at the due-michelin starred Cyrus in Healdsburg. That looked like this:

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Now moving forward — The podcast series will launch near the end of September. I have some great interviews to share – and the show Noble Rot Talks, will be quite fun, I assure yee. Also, my “Harvest” activities will include work at Swanson Vineyards and Alpha Omega. More on that later this week. Tomorrow is #CabernetDay and I’m hosting an event with James Stolich of Cook With James.

February 25, 2010 2 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Fine Wine & A Home Cooked Meal with The Noble Rot | February 16th

Fine Wine & A Home Cooked Meal with The Noble Rot | February 16th

In a room full of winos, Jonny Cigar and nobleman Paul Fawell emerge victorius (Photo By: Laura Huben)

It may be February 25th today, but let me tell you: we had an event last week, on February 16th, that essentially shocked the wine-world. The reverberations of our event will be felt for the next century, lingering like a rich California Cabernet, in underground circles where handsomely dressed men whisper ideas of wine to beautiful, elegant women, in high heels sipping on Sancerre.

Let’s be brief because I know you don’t have any time to waste. Author of the recently published “The Art of Eating In,” Cathy Erway, joined us for an event Brian Quinn dubbed “Fine Wine and A Home Cooked Meal.” I would have called it, “The Day Your Dachshund Spoke To Me in French.” Cathy’s book is based on her blog “Not Eating Out In New York.”

Cathy prepared these amazingly tasty foods and we paired the wines with the help of our Spanish Friend Damian G. of Cabrini. We also showed our first ever Noble Rot Vignoble which you can watch here and guess who joined us? Ted Wilson, the distributor (Noble House Wines). Ted rocked. And so did the wines:

  • Noble Rot “Cocktail” Hour served up Cavas Hill Oro Brut Reserva | $10
  • Hearts of palm crostini (Paired with Florian Mollet Sancerre 2008* | $18)
  • French feta, arugula and pomegranate pitzas (Paired with Rosenere (Drei Dona) Blanc di Rosenere 2008 | $14
  • Honey soy-braised pork belly and shiitake cabbage rolls (Paired with Tarrawarra Estate Pinot Noir 2004 | $55)
  • Chocolate-dipped fig pops with ginger (Paired with Noceto Michelotti Moscato d’Asti 2008 | $19)

Wild and crazy choices!! We know! Or, wait, perhaps you are wondering why we chose these pairings. EASY. Let me explain:

The Cavas was for a bubbly good time upon arrival. It’s dry, like my humor. The hearts of palm, according to wikipedia, are close in taste and tone to asparagus and you need a wine that can stand up to it’s unique aromatics. Cathy didn’t agree that the H.O.P. had anything to do with asparagus, other than the grassy, vegetal quality for which we believed a French Sancerre with its bright acidity and lovely minerality would pair quite well, and sure enough it did.  The Rosenere was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (green fighting green Arugula), Chardonnay (some oak to match the cheese) and some Malvasia for shits and giggles. Then there was the pork belly and with that we went with pinot, an Australian Pinot that had the acid to cut through the pork fat but the fruitiness and snootiness and enough cherry, plum, and truffle to pair well with the soy, honey, and shitake. Hot damn! The Moscato, was simply magnificent. Slight effervescence led way to passionately chocolate dipped goodness.

In other news: I just returned from Sherry-Lehman with three bottles of Grgich Hills 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, and three Frenchy French wines, all of which I shall share upon opening. Excitement abounds!

Also, I was recently privy to this article in the SF Gate: I would urge you to read it, good reader, and be sure to let Ron know to read this blog. Also, tell him his friends are…and put this lightly…out of touch (then add): with Jonny’s blog. Then say: but seriously, they don’t get blogging. Then add: the way Jonny blogs. Give it five minutes and shout: I’m sick of all these individuals who think they can write about wine! Idiots! Morons! Fools! Then add: except for Jonny, he’s a smart as a five-dollar Cab from Chile.

Below, photos from the Noblest Noble Rot Event. Special thanks to Nick Gray and to Elizabeth Stark for hosting our Noble Affair at their fantastically spacious apartment in yee old Brooklyn. And if you don’t know Cathy Erway, GET TO, go buy her book at all the major outlets from Barnes&Yobles to the Amazonian Rain Forrest. We read from Cathy’s book a bit and I’ll tell you first hand, it was delicious.

Cathy Erway and a room full of Noble Rotters (Photo By: Laura Huben)

Cathy Erway reading from her book "Not Eating Out In New York" with Jonny Cigar looking on with approval (Photo By: Laura Huben)

Stardweller played a stary couple sets (Photo By: Laura Huben)

Noble House Wines (No pun intended) distributor, Ted Wilson (SVP), sampled the pork belly as Damian from Cabrini watched in shock and awe (Photo By: Laura Huben)

Brian Quinn featured in an ad for his upcoming film "Wine Country, Not God's Country." (Photo By: Laura Huben)

Pomegranate and Feta and Arugula Wow Wow - Thank you Cathy Erway! (Photo By: Laura Huben)