In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of spending a little time with the real human beings behind two of my favorite wine blogs. The first I’ve mentioned in passing already. Brooklynguy and I had a chance to do a little – more than a little, actually – tasting together last week. In between gigs, we hit a neat little Tribeca lunch spot called Columbine. Grabbing a sandwich and having a quick sit down gave us a welcome chance to catch up and for Neil to inspire a little jealousy by dropping news of his impending wine-focused trip to France. It’s been way too long…. By the time we picked and chose our way through a sizable number of the daunting array of wines at the Dressner tasting, neither one of us could imagine sticking with our original plans to grab a glass of wine somewhere. Instead, Neil treated me to a bowl of Phở at Công Lý, one of his favorite Vietnamese storefronts in Chinatown. The comforting nature of Phở – belly warming noodles, a little beef tendon and light but richly flavored broth – put just the right restorative touch on the day before we parted ways, he back to Brooklyn and I to Penn Station.
Just a few days ago, I had the chance to continue the chain when Joe Manekin of Old World Old School passed through town. Joe lives in San Francisco but had come east to spend some time in a DC recording studio with his band and to visit his family in the Charm City (that’s Baltimore, y’all, or Mobtown if you prefer) burbs. I was jazzed when Joe let me know he’d be in the area but my schedule didn’t allow for a trip down to Baltimore or up to New York. Instead, he disembarked at Philly’s 30th Street Station on his way from New York back to Baltimore, allowing us to get together for a bite to eat and to catch up. The funny thing is, even though Joe and I have a ton in common – we both spent our formative years in the DC area, both work in wine shops and both share a passion for some similar schools of music – we’d never actually met before.
Rather than trying to take Joe on a two-hour whirlwind tour of Philly or heading for one of the city’s trendier dining destinations, I decided to go with one of Philly’s strengths – its BYO culture. And I kept it old school, opting for lunch at Nan, West Philly’s Thai/French amalgam that’s one of the old guard in town and, conveniently, happens to be open for lunch. It’s not the most exciting spot – the menu’s barely changed in the last fifteen years – but it’s reliably good and quiet enough for leisurely conversation. It’s also perfect for tasting a little wine. It’s always tough deciding what to pour for a fellow wine guy. I opted for a couple of things that I suspected Joe might not have access to in Frisco and for bottles with a couple of years under their corks. Ratzenberger’s 2002 Steeger St. Jost Riesling Spätlese trocken had changed drastically since I’d last tasted it, shedding much of its steely nerve and grapefruity citrus character. It’s now broad and roundly textured, less of a wow wine than in its youth but more clearly showing the blue and black slate pungency of the St. Jost vineyard. Many consider Aldo Vajra’s Dolcetto d’Alba “Coste e Fossati” to be his top wine. If it’s any indication, the 2004 is still a baby – profound, rich, structured and balanced. It was impressive straight off for its fruit concentration and brooding flavors but it wasn’t until it after an hour of airtime that its aromatic finesse really started to show.
Anyway, enough about wine. This is really about the pleasure of meeting and getting to know new friends. It’s weird how much you can intuit about someone via the wine and food blogging culture. I’ve always been a little freaked out by the cyber meeting place, whether it be social media, instant messaging or chat rooms, but our little corner of the blogosphere somehow seems more natural. Thanks for the brotherhood, guys.
Restaurant's mentioned in this post:
229 W. Broadway
New York, NY 10013
124 Hester Street
New York, NY 10002
4000 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104