Friday, February 25, 2005


retailers take note: your baristi are your business

once again the importance of the trained pro barista struck me as i read this charming little love letter to a barista in the student newspaper. in this case, the barista is clearly that business; the students go there to see a guy they obviously all think is really cool.

the time of the celebrity barista is really dawning, as you can tell from tim wendelboe's situation. and i think it's a great move for independent retailers to finally realize the value of real baristi to them.

my office is surrounded by mermaid outlets -- there's literally one out the front door and another out the back -- and many of my colleagues run in for a drink. but not a single one goes there because of any of the people-behind-the-counter.

they will choose one location or another based simply on which has the shortest line, since heaven knows it's ridiculously easy enough to walk back thru the lobby to the other side!

in other news, if i may digress, yesterday i had a very lovely dinner in the back room of the gramercy tavern. snowstorm? what snowstorm?

however once there i realized i had a double problem: a coffee problem and a wine problem.

i'm not often in a place where the wine and the menu seem truly well-thought out for pairing, you know? i often find that a surprising number of fine restaurants don't always offer the best wine to actually go with the food they serve.

i too often just see wine lists stocked up with well-reviewed, cult, or more popular wines, some of which might actually be a-clash with the specials that evening. i've never understood that.

i ran into that last night with the first course. everyone knows i have a serious foie gras addiction; i'm not proud of it, but it's true; i often really have to struggle to resist ordering it.

yesterday i gave in but was immediately faced with the wine problem. there was nothing on the per-glass wine list that would bridge from the foie gras to the second course, rabbit stew. (this is a winter menu we're discussing, after all.)

of course you could always follow the maxim that "champagne goes with everything," but actually the sparklers they had wouldn't have done the bridge well. (what is it with all this austrian sparkling wine that's all over town suddenly, anyway?)

i finally consulted with the waiter who suddenly produced another wine list, the dessert wine list -- i hate the practice of separating the wine list like this for just this reason, sweet wines can have other uses, you know! -- where i found a lovely wine that was better for the foie gras with sour cherries.

i ended up with a half glass of vin santo del chianti classico, san niccolo, castellare, d.o.c., which i found really pleasant with its strong aromas of vanilla, banana and pear.

another thing that made this a good choice was that i was then free to have a half glass of light red with the rabbit. i was thinking "oregon," but the waiter came at me with a classic connection from the southern rhone i might not have made myself, beaumes-de-venise, chateau redortier, 1998.

a light, fruity, wine with a little pepper feeling suited the stew nicely. it was just a very pleasant wine to drink, no doubt.

dessert was a simple warm chocolate cake, and long-time readers know i think the best wine with chocolate is banyuls. purists are probably going to be horrified at the amount of sweet wine i had; so what?

i really had no other choice because it was with dessert that i met the coffee problem: they were serving the yrgacheffee with cardamom and cinnamon in a cafetiére. i'm a new fan of carefully made turkish coffee, true -- newsflash: turkish coffee doesn't have to be bitter, burnt, and horrible -- but to take a lovely yrg and brew it with these spices?

i mean, if they wanted to serve a spiced turkish coffee, um, why not serve a spiced turkish coffee? hmmm?

everyone knows that yrg is one of my favorite coffees, and i just wasn't sure what the point was of adding these spices in this case. . .so i ended up enjoying a clos chatart banyuls 1993 gran cru, roussillon.

posted by fortune | 7:47 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

Links to this post:

Create a Link