Sunday, November 22, 2015

Worth My Barking Dogs

No one gives me a Saturday night quite like Mr. Fine Wine.

For that matter, no one serves a pre-dance party dinner quite like the one my couple date and I ate through at Metzger, but only after I had to defend my thesis (potatoes don't belong in anything called nachos) and break from their wine choice (I don't start an evening of dancing with Meinklang Pinot Noir, I begin it with Casas del Mar Cava).

We had the last reservation of the night and even as we ate, every time a table around us was vacated, it was cleared and moved outside, the better to create a dance floor from the tiny restaurant. This wasn't my first Fine Wine rodeo, so I knew the drill.

Considering how much we ate, I'd say we did a fine job of doing it in the relatively brief span we were allotted. Borscht salad got its kick from sauerkraut vinaigrette; my fried sweetbreads currywurst-style tasted so enticing that even sweetbreads-averse Beau had to admit they were fabulous; a rich stout-braised pork pie would be an ideal dish on a cold, wintry night; scallops and mushrooms over a chestnut puree was pure perfection; and the evening's special was an enormous plate of steak and potatoes that fed all three of us amply.

By this point, there were only a few tables left standing around us, but that didn't prevent us from ordering chocolate and squash, a seasonal take on my requisite ending to a meal.

Beau was so impressed with the Kuri squash cake that he said he'd eat it by itself, while I far preferred having it adorned with chocolate mousse, chocolate malt, sage ice cream and divinely crunchy candied sage leaves.

Then, and only then, fully sated and with Mr. Fine Wine cranking up the turntables, did we relinquish our table. The chef ducked out the back door, telling me she was going home to put on her face and change clothes before coming back to join the party.

With Mr. Fine Wine, everybody's all in. "Thanks for coming," she said. "You never miss one of these, do you?" Sure don't.

The next three hours were an absolute ball. We began with a bottle of Paul Direder Gruner Veltliner but by the time Pru and I returned from our first dance-off up next to the turntables, it was clear water was going to be as essential as grape if we were to go the distance. And lots of it.

With Mr. Fine Wine, it's a marathon, not a sprint, especially as the room began to fill to capacity (and beyond?) and heat up. As usual, I didn't hesitate to go over and open a window to allow the cold night air in.

At one point, Pru looked at the mass of humanity quizzically and asked if I knew anybody in the room. Are you kidding?

Let's see, besides the oenophile taking the first level of her sommelier tests this week who greeted me when I arrived before they did? Other than the guy who came over to our table to hug me and tell my friends that he only runs into me at the coolest events?

Well, I congratulated the former freelancer and now reporter while ordering wine. The electronic musician/visual artist gave me a hug and told me to come dance with her. Familiar foodies and servers were rampant, especially representing the Church Hill contingent.

Even Grandma Muriel, aka the talented sax player who calls bingo at Gallery 5 wanted to chat, although he was noticeably without his peignoir and mask tonight.

But some of the best conversations and dances came courtesy of strangers. I love how when Mr. Fine Wine is spinning, there are no formalities.

A guy is dancing next to you one minute and the next he's bumping hips and circling around you. Or you're just standing there catching your breath and you feel a hand on your back inviting you to dance.

Naturally, this also results in some pretty spectacular conversation. Coming back from the loo, I rounded the corner and a smiling stranger grabbed me to dance. When the song ended and another seamlessly began, he didn't let go.

"I know you're older," he says between twirling me. "What, 41?" Trying not to laugh, I answer a question with a question, curious about where he falls in the 20-something continuum. He's coy about admitting it, but already on to other things. "Do you like cocaine?" and suggests we adjourn to his car.

I pass. Give up one minute of Mr. Fine Wine? It is to laugh.

Reaching down for some lip gloss, I find an empty Underberg miniature and have a pang of regret for not finishing our rich meal with the German digestif bitter. Next time.

It's so crazy crowded around 1 a.m. that when Pru goes out for a cig, she's gone for so long Beau gets worried. Then he's gone for ages. Turns out - and I had no idea because I was too busy dancing with others in their absence - that we'd reached critical mass and were on a one for one policy. They'd both had to wait for someone to exit the restaurant before they could be re-admitted.

All those sweaty bodies meant it was so hot that even Mr. Fine Wine had to shed his colorful cardigan and was spinning in his t-shirt. With only a dress on, I didn't have that luxury.

We were still dancing when lights came on to signal closing time, but I couldn't leave without telling the DJ what a fantastic evening he'd curated. I'd also been really impressed with one of his recent radio broadcasts, a tribute to Allen Toussaint, and mentioned that.

Taking my hand and thanking me, he said, "We met last time, didn't we?" We certainly did, not that I'd expected him to remember. As if I wasn't already high enough, my evening ended in the best possible way: leaning over the turntables still playing, talking to Mr. Fine Wine.

Hella good night...


  1. It was a fantastic night! Haven't cut that much rug in ages. LOVED it.

  2. It's time to take you further out in the world and dance some more. I have just the smarmy '80s band for you...just ask Pru!