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Ahhh ... The Simple Things in Life

Posted: Sep 26, 2007 5:10pm ET

You might think that I only drink great wines. That it has to be the rarest or finest or I turn my nose up at it. Wrong.

I just got back from lunch at El Aljibe in Havana with my buddies Jay and Jose Antonio, and the 2006 Miguel Torres Curicó Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc hit the spot with my pan-fried red snapper with black beans, rice, tomato salad, and a few French fries. Sure, it wasn't Dagueneau or Cloudy Bay, but it's Cuba. And I'm not sure that a bottle of Domaine Leflaive premier cru white Burgundy would have blown me away at lunch anyway.

Some of the most memorable meals I have had have been simple ones, like today. I remember back in the late 1980s, going to a restaurant in Fleurie with executive editor Tom Matthews, and we had a great lunch of decadent coq au vin and plain pasta with a cool pitcher full of Beaujolais. The juicy Gamay cut straight through the chicken cooked in red wine, and the pasta was just as satisfying. I remember the owner kept on calling the pasta the "vegetable." There was nothing green on our plates!

Simple meals with good friends can be some of the best things in life. It¹s easy to forget. Though maybe that Leflaive would have been a better match with my pargo today. I'll have to ask the sommelier next time ...

Geronimo Dotel
dominicanrepublic —  September 26, 2007 5:46pm ET
Hi James, I live in the Dominican Republic. Have you ever thought of coming by? You need to come here and visit Punta Cana. We also have a couple of Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence restaurants. By the way,nothing better than a simple fried red snapper and a glass of a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc to wash it down like the Concha y Toro´s Casillero del Diablo. For less than 10.00 dollars it is a steal!
Anacleto Ludovic
paris france  —  September 27, 2007 10:43am ET
James , i was with john grey last saturday at the new 14 grill. He told me that you would be around here in CUN around oct? I look forward to see you around.........saludosludovic
Enoteca Fasano
Sao Paulo, Brazil —  September 27, 2007 3:07pm ET
Dear James...When will you come to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to have food & wine experiences over here!? You must taste our national dish Feijoada...Think about it...Gianni.
Aidan Campbell
Calgary, AB, Canada —  September 27, 2007 8:23pm ET
James, have you found any "hidden gems" in the restaurants in Havana? I've been to Cuba but not the capital and look forward to visiting sometime soon. I hear that as the country slowly opens up to allow some private business that some good "mom & pop" type places are opening. Too bad that in general Americans can't visit, it's a beautiful country filled with wonderful people.
James Suckling
 —  September 28, 2007 11:57am ET
Aidan. Check out my reviews of Havana restaurants on Cigar Aficionado's web site -- www.cigaraficionado.com. Ludovic. I hope to come around November 11 for a night in Cancun on the way to Havana. Does that work?
Anacleto Ludovic
paris france  —  September 28, 2007 7:59pm ET
sounds perfect! see you around

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