They had me at "Taste a world-class wine for peanuts." They were Barrel Thief and every so often they open a bottle of $100 wine and pour tastes for five bucks until it's gone.
I've never had a hundred-dollar bottle of wine, so I decided to do something about that this evening. Being poured was a 2004 Domaine Jamet Cote-Rotie, a 100% Syrah from the northern Rhone. I swirled, I sniffed, I tasted. I liked. Now there's a surprise.
It was intense, with sort of a charred herb aroma and beautifully balanced, the kind of wine you'd want to drink with lamb or some kind of beast right off the grill.
Two women had come in to taste not long after me, so I got to hear their reactions to the wine and have a bit of social interaction.
One said, "It sure doesn't taste like Virginia red wine," providing the kind of informed opinion that made the rest of us laugh out loud.
No, no it doesn't. Our pouring host suggested that perhaps it's because we don't have the sixty-degree angled slopes where the grapes can bake in the Rhone sun.
With no lamb in sight, I couldn't see any reason not to go ahead and order a second tasting, to the amazement of the pourer and the women. When am I likely to have more of this wine? Okay, then.
That fine start to my evening was followed by dinner and live music at Olio, an event I've attended a few times in the past and always enjoyed.
Tonight's performer was the one and only Meade Skeleton, whom I knew of but had never actually seen or heard.
A good number of tables were occupied when I arrived and Meade was in full voice, so I sidled up to the counter to decide what to order, choosing the Italian picnic sandwich for its house-roasted turkey, Granny Smith apple slices, fig jam and Tallegio cheese with garlic aioli on a baguette.
As I waited to order, owner Jason riffed on our last encounter, here, by asking me to move aside so he could greet another newcomer instead of me. There's nothing like a smart-assed restaurant owner to ensure my devoted business.
To go with my sandwich, Jason recommended a bold white or light-bodied red and I deferred to his choice, the Montpellier Pinot Noir, with berry flavors and a nice acidity. It was a lovely accompaniment to my picnic baguette.
I've been on a Tallegio jag lately, having bought a pound and using it to make Tallegio/bacon grilled cheeses whenever I need a little something to tide me over(night).
I usually pair it with a Honeybell or a clementine to offset the sandwich's richness and it's heavenly at 2 a.m. when I need a bedtime snack after a long night out when dinner is a distant memory. But I digress (yet again).
So, yes, Meade Skeleton sang his heart out while playing keyboard, blessing the audience at every turn, but rarely looking at us, his devoted fan base.
He played all his classics, like "Sweet Tea" (an ode to a beverage I detest) and "Hipsters Ruin Everything" as well as some interesting covers like "Your Cheating Heart" and "Daydream Believer."
He even played one of the two jingles he wrote for a commercial contest for Folger's Coffee. He mentioned that his group, the Meadow Street Band (so named because they all attend Tabernacle Baptist Church), had been unable to join him tonight. I didn't even know Meade had a band; I thought he was just a keyboard whiz with a reverence for Elvis.
But then, I don't really know much about Meade except what I'd read a few years back on his blog, most of which had to do with his opinion that RVA's music scene was not receptive to his musical stylings.
And then there was that whole "Is Meade Skeleton a real person or just a parody?" online debate for a while. Oh, he's real, alright and I'm here to say that he was in fine voice tonight.
He told the audience, "Olio has great food, but not if you're on a diet like me," his weight being a subject I recall he blogged about often.
The irony there was that during the break, he had the traditional dieter's snack of a Coca Cola and bag of chips instead of one of Olio's superb salads. Hey, I'm sure it's not easy maintaining a country singer's figure on the road.
Good thing he couldn't see me scarfing down a chocolate souffle with more wine during his second set (they'd just run out of the pistachio gelato yesterday or it would have been even more obscene). I wouldn't want to be a bad example for someone trying to do the right thing.
No indeed. I want to be a good example for someone trying to do the fun thing.
Especially the fun stuff that only costs peanuts.