Don’t Put Up With Mediocrity
In the past, right after my divorce in 2008, I rented a room from a referral that was given to me by a mutual friend. Carolina was divorced and wanted to rent a room and I really needed a room and a friend. Little did I know she was as much of a foodie and wine person like me and as a graveyard shift nurse and me in retail, we both worked odd hours and odd days. No TGIF for us. Her birthday is January 29th and mine is December 21st. Neither of us ever did nothing but work on holiday times or our birthdays and we were foodies and wine lovers. It became a annual tradition that we would buy each other a culinary experience at some amazing restaurant each year, after the new year. Basically we were splitting the bill. It started to get a little bit extravagant. The last one we had was at NOBU and we had a 19 course chef tasting menu and sake shooters and foie gras and toro and kobe beef and uni and everything and we went for $750 but to both of us we would do it again. Carolina and her friend who became my friend also, Amanda and the pets we kind of shared as a pseudo family, got jobs in Atlanta and I was on my own and the tradition ended. We still stay in contact. Well this year just this past Sunday, Carolina came to South Florida to catch up with old friends. I could hear Fiddler on the Roof Singing in my ears…”TRADITION!!!!!” The birthday culinary and vino extravaganza was being REUNITED. What Carolina knows about from being around me, but what many people still till this day don’t know is… You don’t have to put up with generic wine lists with commercial boring brand name wines. YOU CAN BYOB. Some restaurants charge little to no Corkage Fee to bring your own and some high end ones charge $25-$50 to bring your own. Not to gloat but when you are a SOMM no one ever charges me the fee. I give that money to my server. In the picture above we went to the the 120 year old infamous, oldest restaurant on South Beach, Joe’s Stone Crabs. PARTY!!!!!!!!!!
How to BYOB To The Restaurant
I have many of these wine bags but you can find them online pretty reasonable. They come with Gel Packs that are reusable that you keep in the freezer. I decided on Vintage Champagne so above is me putting the freezer packs in my pouches to keep the bottle red, white or rose at serving temperature all the way to the Restaurant.
Let The Foodies Order The Feast
You could go champagne with oysters but we let the bottle I chose to bring get nice and chilled while we started off with a cocktail. On the Left are 6 West Coast Oysters and on the Right, 6 East Coast Oysters from Cape Cod. We both decided (We had a 15 minute discussion about this) the East Coast Oysters won out. They had the right amount of fresh brine taste of the sea with creamy texture and a sweet finish. NO, cocktail sauce is for amateurs…We go straight Lemon..that’s it. We were making lots of groaning sounds and moaning sounds but get your minds out of the gutter. This is what foodies do with stuff like this. It’s our TRADITION!!!.
The Main Event
They had 4 different Market Prices for different sizes of Stone Crab Claws. We went with two full orders a total of 14 claws of the LARGE SIZE. Of course Joe’s famous Mustard Sauce and perfectly cracked shells make the experience the best. Small portion of Crispy Potato and Onion Goodness, Lyonnaise Potatoes were the perfect side item… Not Really…I am thirsty for Bubbles!!!
2009 Moutard Pere Et Fils
Cuvee Des 6 Cepages Brut Nature
The Moutard family has been producing world class champagnes since the 18th Century. This is a RARE BOTTLE. Most every champagne uses 2-3 grapes. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and some Pinot Meunier. They are permitted to use 6 Grapes but no one does because Moutard is the only one with the old traditional grapes. This bottling uses about 17% Of all 6 Permitted Grapes and 4 out of the 6 are white grapes. Arbanne, Petite Meslier, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier. All the grapes are Manually harvested and then blended at the very end, Since 4 out of the 6 grapes are white grapes this has amazing acidity and freshness. 2009 Vintage was not the greatest vintage in Champagne but for Moutard it was a beauty!. With Stone Crabs or Lobster or Oysters …what pairs better than VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE??
The wine has a beautiful mousse and string of pearl bubbles and a pale yellow, straw color. On the nose, brioche but not as yeasty as some can be. The Palate matches the nose with flavors of Green Apple, Peach, Hazelnuts and Almonds (Nutty like me) And all throughout a blood orange meets lemon citrus brightness streaking throughout the finish with a clean, mineral finish with Zero Sugar it is a Brut Nature. Lip Smacking ending with a touch of almost candied ginger on the end to make you want to crab, sip and repeat. Very inviting and good to the last drop complexity to this rare blend of cepages. I will score this champagne 93 points out of 100.
It even went well with Joe’s INFAMOUS I WANT THE FREAKING RECIPE KEY LIME PIE. Carolina was full but she said and I quote “I don’t care if I puke it up at least I won’t leave Florida without having tasted the best key lime pie in the world” She didn’t puke thank goodness!!
The night before we went to dinner Carolina texted me for a great steakhouse dinner. I recommended Quality Meats near her hotel. She raved to me the next night about how amazing the USDA Prime Dry Aged Ribeye for Two was. She also mentioned she was so disappointed to see such amazing fine dining with a Huge Wine List (SIZE DOESN’T MATTER) And yet she opened, browsed and ordered no wine because the list was GENERIC, BORING, BRAND NAMES!!. That my friends in the finest of fine dining for the most part is what you are going to find in 2 star Michelin Restaurants or Chains if they 1- don’t have a somm or 2- they have a somm but restrict them from developing a unique wine program. MEDIOCRITY!!. Above is the picture from Joe’s Stone Crab’s Champagne Selections… SEE ALL THOSE NV NV NV.. except for the 2009 Dom Perignon ($350 on the list) NV doesn’t mean Nevada. This means NON-VINTAGE… A Mixture of Grapes from 10-15 different years and all the brands you can find in a supermarket ….and the lowest price one was $80 a bottle of Non Vintage Mediocrity at best. BYOB!!!. This rare blend of vintage champagne of all 6 grapes is available retail in the state of Florida only at ABC Fine Wine and Spirits as their exclusive Sourced and Certified Champagne. The retail Cost is $59.99… Let’s say you haven no clout like me and they charge you $35 Corkage fee. You paid less than $100 out of pocket for a Vintage Champagne like non other that if it was on a list like Joe’s it would be about $375- per bottle. So you still come out way ahead. Don’t put up with the same wines in every restaurant. It’s not being snobby.. it makes a statement to the venue…Hire a Somm as your list is the same as every other restaurant so I had to bring my own. BYOB!!!!! It makes for a great wine and food experience.
Grape-fully yours, Larry
Two Smiling Foodies…TRADITION!