I got off an American Airlines flight from New York to London last night just in time for a late supper with my friend Thomas in the West End. We met at a cool high-end grand brasserie called the Wolseley. It reminds me of places like La Coupole in Paris. It’s big, beautiful and airy. But it was sort of surreal having dinner there, because I remember when the place was a bank. I used to walk by it everyday when I went to work at M. Shanken’s offices in St. James, which were closed a long time ago.
Anyway, I felt like having some fancy English food, the stuff my ex-wife’s family used to have around on weekends to polish off with some fizz or Chablis. So I ordered some potted shrimp and smoked Scottish salmon. Do you know what potted shrimps are? It’s a mixture of tiny cleaned and boiled shrimp mixed with a lightly spiced butter, which is served like a pot of firm butter on the table. It’s so yummy with toast and Chablis, which is what we drank. We had a steely, fresh 2004 Petit Chablis from Jean Durup. It was good, but nothing special.
I had to do the Full Monty English-top-up meal, so we had a bit of cheddar and farmhouse cheese with oat biscuits as well as a glass of Vintage Port.
We had long conversations about the high prices of trophy wines, especially at auction. We both shook our heads about the thought of the 50 cases of 1982 Mouton-Rothschild sold last week at auction in New York. Who would buy that much of the stuff? Is it a wine investment fund? Not sure. Moreover, why do people pay so much more for wines at auction compared to what they can buy from merchants on the open market? Ego? Self-esteem? Lifestyle?
Anyway, I slept like a baby after my grown-up-English-school-food-cum-gentlemen’s-club dinner.
My Vino Today
1983 Warre Vintage Port: What a pleasure to drink a satisfying glass of yummy, mature Vintage Port, especially in London. It was fruity, even lightly spicy, with hints of plum and violets. Full, soft and sweet. Long finish. Just right now but a long life ahead of it. Better than I remember. 90 points in a non-blind tasting. (See my notes from the Wine Spectator database here.)