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

The Noble Rot (event): Fine Wine and a Home Cooked Meal with Cathy Erway

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, and it shocked the wine-world. The reverberations of our event will be felt for the next century, lingering like a wine with an infinite finish, in clandestine circles where handsomely dressed men whisper ideas of wine to beautiful, elegant women, in high heels sipping Sancerre.

Author of the recently published “The Art of Eating In,” Cathy Erway, joined us for an event we dubbed, “Fine Wine and A Home Cooked Meal.” (I really wanted to call it “The Day Your Dachshund Spoke To Me in French,” but this might have caused confusion). Erway’s book is based on her blog “Not Eating Out In New York,” and is an absolute delight, and must-read.

Cathy prepared an array of tasty bites while Damian from Cabrini, along with Ted Wilson, of Noble House Wines, helped us rock a killer set of wines:

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

Some background on why we chose the pairings: The Cava was bone-dry, like my humor. The hearts of palm are close in taste to asparagus and you need a wine that can match those vegetal notes–Sancere, with its green grassy notes does the trick. The Rosenere was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (which supplied more grassy notes, helping combat the 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 the Australian Pinot Noir, which had the acidic backbone to cut through the pork fat but the fruitiness and snootiness of cherry, plum, and truffle to pair well with the soy, honey, and shiitake. Hot damn! The Moscato, was simply magnificent and the right way to end this pairing extravaganza.

Hey, switching gears: just before writing this blog post, I returned from Sherry-Lehman with three bottles of Grgich Hills 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, from Napa Valley and three French wines—can’t wait to uncork ’em.

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, because he’s a smart as a five-dollar jig.

Below, please enjoy photos from event. A special thanks to Nick Gray and to Elizabeth Stark for hosting our noble affair at their fantastically spacious apartment in Brooklyn. And if you don’t know Cathy Erway, get to know her buy seeking out “The Art of Eating In.”

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)