Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crawling to Riesling and Music

I once did a pub crawl in the mid-90s and it involved jello shooters at a place that no longer exists in the Bottom. Alrighty, I decided, I'm just not the crawling type.

So naturally when I heard there was a Riesling crawl, I figured it was much more my speed. The only problem was that it was happening on an evening when I had non-negotiable music plans, so how far I could crawl was to be determined.

Inviting a friend to join me ("What the heck? Life is too short," she acquiesced), we parked mid-Carytown and sauntered over to Ellwood's Cafe for the first offering, a NV Wegeler Riesling Brut from Germany. We took our glasses and some housemade cheese puffs to the patio where other crawlers were sipping in the sunshine.

Since it was the first sparkling Riesling for both of us, we had nothing to compare it to, but it was nicely dry and a festive way to begin our evening.

My friend called it a good breakfast wine and I could see her point. We savored our bubbles before meandering down to Amour Wine Bistro to see what they had in store for us.

The answer was lots. They were doing "A View From Above," a Riesling flight, so, what the heck, we each got one. Naturally they were from owner Paul's beloved Alsace and offered a nice contrast to what we'd just had.

The 2008 Trimbach Ribeauville was the featured Riesling (for those unwilling to do the flight), no doubt because of the winery's major presence in the region. I loved its floral nose and long finish.

The 2009 Pierre Sparre had a nice acidity but a quick finish. The 2008 J. Fritsch was from a small producer, obviously made by a devoted winemaker and easily the most elegant of the three, soft and round with a lingering finish. Yes, we could drink this all night we decided.

Amour was also offering food pairings and we had the shrimp gratin with Pernod (obscenely rich and ideal with the Rieslings) and the smoked salmon in a pastry shell.

When my friend complained that her pastry shells weren't nearly as good, Paul offered to teach her the secrets.

He and I also got off on a tangent about dating since I'd heard from the mare's mouth that he was doing just that, causing him to ask me if I was. You haven't heard anything about me, I assured him.

By the time we finished the food and the flights it was 7:30 and, while we had enjoyed four different Rieslings, I had music looming on my horizon, so we never made it to the last two stops, Can Can and Secco.

The former is no big deal but I'll definitely need to stop by in the next few days and see what unique bottle Secco had chosen to pour. I can't not know or taste.

As seems to be the new norm these days, the Listening Room at the Firehouse was mobbed. I took a front row seat with the charming author to one side, the quiet musician on the other and the busy photographer a chair away. Now the show could start.

The Great Unknown offered up further proof that the City of Brotherly Love has a terrific folk scene as the Listening Room continues to bring them down to demonstrate.

Their harmonies were to die for but I was also totally captivated by the hand drumming (it's why I fell in love with Guster all those years ago), such a unique sound.

They've worked with schoolkids and collected phrases for lyrics and performed such a song tonight. They'd recently done the same with Martha Reeves (minus the Vandellas) at the Apollo Theater.

Jonathan Vassar had told me that his band had played an early-on show with Athens, Georgia's Hope for Agoldensummer years ago and been influenced by them.

A trio of two girls and a guy, their set tonight was testament to the power of siblings singing together; the two sisters' voices were magical in harmony. And easy on the eyes, according to the male on my right.

They covered Timbaland (to much laughing approval) and "Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own" (including a lyric alteration that sang "Antonia's so sweet," a nod to everyone's favorite vintage dress wearer and songbird) and did both really well.

Last up were the Green Boys from Fredericksburg with alt-country and a little bluegrass pickin' thrown in for good measure.

They were young and handsome and included a set of brothers (seatmate nudged me and asked, "So how do you like him?" no doubt to make himself feel better about ogling the sister act ).

I liked the warble in his voice a lot. I like that instrument trading went on. A friend liked the drummer's facial hair. There was plenty to like about the Green Boys.

All of whom, I might add, were much too young to remember the days of jello shooter pub crawls.

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