The Wine Drinker

This is the Dead Letter Office of my wine writing. These stories ended up not fitting on our company's Facebook page (Piedmont Wine Imports) or website,, for reasons that I think are clear once you scroll through a few posts. Less professional musings, impressions that ultimately never got past the rough prototype stage. Um... enjoy!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Day one: NYC

Day one: NYC

Who books a 6am flight on leap forward day? After 78 time changes in a lifetime these terrible, existentially unsettling days still strike without warning.

Discounting the tossing and turning and every–ten-minutes alarm checking it begins at 4:30am, mute waiting by the back door of my house with an empty–but-sturdy bright orange suitcase for company. The rugged neon thing is for stuffing with wine samples, it rests on top of a ubiquitous mid-size black rolling suitcase now heavy-enough with clothes to hurt my wimpy right elbow. Four hours earlier the black bag felt pared down to essentials. I stink at traveling light.

It’s a 12-day trip. It’s too early for coffee. My ride is late (and a different-than-expected driver, another story) and I mill in the darkness, drinking orange juice and keeping quiet, feeling preemptive sadness at leaving home for so long. This small old house has been home for 48 hours and is a shattered mess of boxes and improbably placed necessary items. One child’s sock on the stove, an assortment of sauces for an absent kimchi pancake in the vacant fridge.

On the ground in NY at 8am on a Sunday I have Manhattan to myself, except for the 100-yard line to buy cro-nuts. That guy must feel like a genius.  It is cold and I wander by The Dutch on the path to another brunch, which suddenly feels too far uptown for my pale blue fingers. It’s March and I am perpetually guilty of optimistic clothing selections. After a Soho coffee stop (it’s a beverage! It’s a hand-warmer!) I successfully kill enough time to be on Sullivan St. precisely at 10, when The Dutch opens. It is a popular place, vast by NY restaurant standards, but I have table anxiety. From hunger.

The food is really perfect in several ways. At once it feels decadent (I’m eating fried rice topped by two fried eggs with a side strip of pork) and reasonable. The eggs are perfectly cooked, eating them reminds me of how intermittently I nail the sunny-side up egg at home, and after all, eggs are good for you. And the rice is mixed with a generous but not aggressive amount of kimchi, which always makes me feel good. Driving back-and-forth to my new house the other day, with a 100% crap-laden car, the phrase “Kimchi: food of the gods” pops into my head. It’s not a very good slogan, but it does indicate how my subconscious feels about kimchi. Many levels of me like it.

Critically, the portion size is just right. I start with orange juice and coffee (because it is Sunday Brunch and that is the law) eat six oysters because I like oysters and appetizers, then have the fried rice. I leave feeling great, like an eating genius. Because portions are so blown up in the USA this dish arrived looking appealing… but a small ”where’s my mound of food dammit!” thought bubble pops up in my peripheral temporal lobe when the waiter delivers it. Halfway through the course I consider the causes of my super-size food eyeballs. It’s a bowl of egg-and-meat covered fried rice. That dish should only be served big to professional rugby players and small family groups.

Other than some healthy snacks (quinoa, anyone?) that I pick up in the village to avoid the air fare and get straight to sleep post-boarding, The Dutch served my last American meal for quite a while. Italy, the gauntlet is thrown down! For some reason Italy does not look intimidated….


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