Les and Kathy have rolled out the Winter Menu, which has the American Napoleon on it, which is basically an egg and sausage breakfast item, but with more pizazz, and a tuna steak, which was not ordered, but sounded pretty interesting, and a falafel sandwich special, which I did order, because falafel always reminds me of the little joints in the Marais.
All of which is completely beside the point. We like the food at the Usual, but that's not why we go there. We go there to drink wine!
Elaine saw the Nikolaihof Hefeabzug Gruner Veltliner '06 on the list last week, and was obviously pining for it, so we had some. The nose was typical, in that it had some citrus notes, and a touch of ginger, and a hint of smoke (Elaine complained that she had a hard time detecting smokey notes when cigarettes were in the vicinity. I reminded her than on January 2nd that problem would go away.) and quite untypical because there was this fugitive aroma of what I thought of as red fruit and Elaine specifically identified as lychee fruit. "Not the stuff in syrup, but the fresh fruit," she said. We got earthy pear fruit on the palate, kind of Bosc pear, the kind with the brown skin. And after the wine had been open about 20 minutes, this Concord grape aroma came up at us. Bizarre.
Then we went to the Domaine du Clos du Fief 2007, made by Michel Tête, who has a 17-acre-plus vineyard in the Juliénas cru of Beaujolais. On the first encounter, it had that big bubblegum aroma that causes the word "amylic" to form on my lips. I mean not just a note, but a big ol' snootful of Bazooka Joe. Fortunately this subsided, to be followed by a pleasing note of bing cherry. "Bing cherry but more acidic," said Elaine. There were some mineral notes, too. (In light of the Big Controversy over "minerality" in wine, I ask you to resist the urge to make snarky comments about what kind of aroma rocks have, and how they get into wine. Let's just say that it's wicked complicated, and nobody can explain it exactly, but, you know, if you can't smell rocks in a great Chablis, then you shouldn't be drinking it. Actually, step right up and make snarky comments. They're better than no comments.)
Have we actually tasted the wine yet? Yes, we have! Gorgeous red fruit: strawberry, raspberry, cherry, fresh and ripe--all the stuff that makes Beaujolais so appealing to everyone except a bunch of stuffed shirts who don't think wine is Serious unless it contains bludgeoning tannins and etc. And those of you who, through no fault of your own, know only Beaujolais Nouveau, which used to be a charming harvest wine, and now is just a way for Georges Duboeuf to sell his inventory lickety-split.
Then there was an interval during which we paid attention to the food, and Karl was able to get a few words in edgewise.
"The fruit is falling off. There's less focus. Maybe it will come back."
Then we passed around a wee dram of Balvenie DoubleWood, and it was 10 o'clock, and we adjourned.