Nancy is out of town this week—letting off some steam down in Miami with her girlfriends. She’s left me to wrestle with the kids in the morning and at night. The fridge has a few containers of microwavable dinners to sustain me until she gets back.
So in protest, my buddy Greg (his wife has left him to join Nancy until Sunday) and I decided to hit the town ourselves last night. Some might call it a "man date." We called it a "protest dinner."
We had dinner at Fr.og, where Didier Virot has moved after his long run at Aix. Virot is as knowledgeable about wine as he is on food—a rarity I think among chefs. At Fr.og, Virot is fashioning contemporary cuisine with strong Moroccan and Vietnamese influences: A starter of shrimp with harissa and pistachio worked perfectly with a bottle of the Domaine de Bellivière Jasnières Les Rosiers 2004, a superb Chenin Blanc that features lots of ginger and cardamom notes on a chiseled frame.
“You’re the only one who ever orders this wine,” quipped Virot when he stopped by our table. Hey, I’ve been touting the Loire in my coverage for years. Can’t blame me if no one’s listening.
For the main course, Greg was worried his cod with a shallot crust and chanterelle bouillon wouldn’t be red-wine friendly (I got the beef marinated with mixed peppercorn and spices, so no problem there), but that’s what I like about Virot’s cooking so much: All his dishes are made to go with wine. The flesh of the cod absorbed the shallots while the mushrooms worked just fine with a bottle of Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas Les Ruchets 1997.
When we were finished, it was still a bit early, and with our wives calling on the cell phone just to say hello from some dance club in Miami, we weren’t about to be the first ones to turn in. So we stopped in at Cru on the way back up town. The wine list there seems to be growing exponentially, with mind-bogglingly comprehensive listings of Burgundy forming the centerpiece of the list.
We wanted something with age on it, and we decided to keep the Rhône theme going, and a bottle of E. Guigal Hermitage 1983 looked like a bargain. 1983 is a tannic, rugged year, and while the wine had lovely mature aromas, it still packed a chewy wallop on the palate, a worthy nightcap in my book. Greg was grooving on it too. He’s a self-professed Burgundy freak, but I’m winning him over to the Rhône bottle by bottle.
Alas, by then we had to let our respective nannies go home, so we called it a night. But we do it secure in the knowledge that our protest was a successful one, at least to us.