Monday, March 21, 2016

Ranch Hands

You've got to get up pretty early in the morning if you want to have dinner in Paris.

We were at Boxwood Estate Winery by midday for Rose release weekend, all the staff in shirts far pinker than the pale salmon of the 2015 Rose.

After tasting through the Topiary from 2011 and 2012 and the Trellis 2012 and 2013, we toured the sleek space, admiring barrels in the cave, the Italian bottling and labeling machinery and the tank room with an annoying child rolling around on the floor.

I will never understand why people think it's a good idea to bring kids to a winery (or restaurant or bar...).

Driving into Delaplane Cellars, where a sign stipulated "No buses, no limos," I commented that I only wished it included "No children." Lo and behold, as we approached the tasting room, there was a sign stating, "Must be 21 to enter. This includes children."

Hallelujah, a winery that isn't afraid to forbid children at a place catering to adults. I liked them immediately for that and the panoramic view of mountains, farmhouses and fields didn't hurt either.

Of the six wines we tasted through, I fell hardest for the 2014 Traminette for its gorgeous nose and flavors of rose petals and lemon/lime, prompting bad 7-Up jokes for those of us old enough to remember long-ago commercials and tolerate corny humor.

A couple came in while we were tasting, notable because she had the most perfect Farrah Fawcett feathered hair you could hope to see post 1980. Chatting with them as they threw back their tasting in record  time, we learned that they'd met in Winchester when he'd walked into a bar to find her enjoying sex on a piano (that's a drink, by the way, as dated sounding as her do).

What we all had in common was the magnificent Handley Library in Winchester, making for that surprising moment when you find strangers know about something obscure you do, too.

After they left, we drank glasses of Traminette at a table overlooking the view as the winery began to fill up with people trying to make it to the tasting counter before the winery closed.

You know: hurry, we're not drunk enough yet!

We wound our way back to the Marriott Ranch, amazed to find cows lining the entrance road, something we'd never seen in two previous visits. They were bold, too, a mother cow and two young 'uns giving us the stink-eye when they were situated in the center of the road and we wanted to pass them.

To paraphrase Neko Case, cows gotta lotta nerve.

At the ranch - if you can call an elegant brick building that serves as a B & B a ranch - we got comfy on a couch in the library to enjoy a cheese plate and the rest of our Boxwood Rose while discussing the horror of our current political climate.

Every time I find out about another black man I know - or of, because this time it was a friend's father - being stopped by police, forced to the ground and treated like a criminal simply because he's black, I feel a little more discouraged about the direction we're heading.

The mood was lightened considerably when we flipped through Cowboys and Indians magazine (a little surprising, no?) to an article about Kurt Russell, who has an interest in winemaking. The result was one of the best lines of the day ("I'll stop the world and blend with you"), assuming '80s music puns are your thing.

Just so you know, they are mine.

For dinner, we went to the Ashby Inn, a place a friend had gone for an important anniversary dinner and been wowed enough to recommend I go. As in, he brought back a menu for me to reel me in.

His opinion was seconded by the woman pouring for us at Delaplane, who said it was the go-to for all of the staff when they wanted a fabulous meal. The fact that Maple and Pine's chef had come from there was icing on the cake.

And it's in Paris.

The 19th century Inn itself was charming, and our table on the glassed-in porch looked out over beds of daffodils in bloom and the Schoolhouse, which now housed more guest rooms.

The sommelier was happy to deliver bubbles in the form of Sokol-Blosser "Evolution," a wine I'd first had on a trip out west (but not to a ranch and not with a cowboy or Indian) and perfectly lovely with an amuse bouche of salmon mousse inside a rolled up slice of French radish, both ends dipped in chopped chives.

We soon had company on the porch: a family group with three prep school type sons, a Dad who began with a martini and a Mom who looked very high maintenance and a four-top from New Zealand who took pictures of everything (once almost knocking over the sommelier in the process) and expected the chef to come talk to them.

Everyone had been right. Everything about the food worked, from my earthy deep-hued lobster soup with potato and leeks and best of all, oyster and lobster beignets bobbing in it, to tilefish with artichoke, fingerling potatoes and pearl onions in a parsley pistou.

From across the table, I got tastes of chilled shrimp and a fat ribeye before taking my food coma to the next level with a chocolate "bar" covered in spiced almonds with chocolate sorbet. My date opted for red bubbles with a glass of Rosa Regale, the suggested pairing for my dessert and a perfect one at that.

By the time we left Paris, stuffed and happy, it felt a long way from Jackson Ward this morning.

But sometimes you just gotta stop the world and drive to where there's still snow on the mountaintops, whether or not you intend to blend.

No comments:

Post a Comment