Does anybody draft the big trailer rigs for protection from Smokey & saving some gas on fairly long Interstate hauls anymore? I managed to fall in behind one big refrigerator truck not long after I hit 64 West out of Richmond-- (Virginia, not California!) For the hour or so until I took 81 South I followed, tailgating somewhat obnoxiously for some stretches, easing back for breathing space now & then, holding to a steady 75-80 miles an hour through periods of gusting showers alternating with breaks in the clouds. Nice adrenalin, minus breakfast-- by the time I'd reviewed email & wasted some time in fruitless efforts at crafting this followup to the short write-up below, called Budget Rent-a-Car about a pick-up, & made it out to the Holiday Inn lobby, it was a few minutes past eleven, the kitchen had just closed & there was nothing for it except maybe percolating some coffee back in my room before I checked out. Never mind... I think I need to regrow some backbone-- apart from this arguable slight lapse in hospitality on the part of America's Innkeeper, after declining some insurance package from one of Cheap Tickets' partners online, I let myself get talked into Budget's own offer rather than being firm in insisting my card would provide more than adequate coverage. This casual yielding to 'practicality' actually doubled the total estimated cost of my rental. It's noon already & I'm running late again. The drive to Maverick Farms is a great deal more scenic-- meaning, of course, that it meanders along turning, climbing, winding roads-- & I would like to stop at one of two wineries in Floyd as I start out-- Chateau Morrisette are pioneers in the region-- let's see (--as in taste) what they're doing...!
I thought 10 bucks to yellow-cab-crawl across New York town from the Carlton Arms to Penn Station was nuts until I ended up spending 24 smackers to get from Amtrak's Richmond stop to a Holiday Inn with an available room for the night... Because I needed to be within five miles of the Budget Rent-a-car lot to be elegible for a pick-up tomorrow, & further deliriously fantasized I could, in any case, lug my three bags on foot as a vigorous morning constitutional if I was close enough. I guess I was thinking Paso Robles in California. I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe arriving in Staunton (Danville? Charlottesville?) sometime near midnight would have been better. Maybe I didn't choose any of the alternatives because Orbitz, Expedia, Hotwire & Cheap Tickets all seemed to have such a hard time locating rental vehicle deals in any of the smaller towns-- I forget. Maybe I can start off way earlier than the post-midday pick-up I've arranged, so that I'm finished with highways in time for a nice, fairly long run around David Sower's neck of the Blue Ridge woods in Floyd, Virginia-- a four to six hour drive Southwest of Richmond... (continuará...)
Met up with Terry Hughes, who's been so encouraging & generous to me as I embark on this particular form (genre?) of writing... here's a link to his write-up of our dinner meeting at a great place on a very, very different Avenue B from ummm-- 25?? 15? years ago when I last strolled around & had a bite & after-dinner drink at what may have been the earlier tenant at the storefront Alberto runs Barbone in... He tells it much better than I could-- Salute!
The anger & frustration I want to release in writing about the living cultural contradictions I inhabit add to & harden the very blockage in front of itself... TAKE TWO:
I don't know enough about wine-- will I ever? But the wines that seem most appropiate to the near-year-long humid heat of Puerto Rico & our somewhat extreme cuisine elements (--such as raw seafood ceviches & cool, marinated root vegetable salad 'escabeches' on the one hand, long-stewed or roasted meats & rice-based 'asopaos' on the other; deep-fried dishes & fast food somewhere in between...) -- are the ones which oxidize or otherwise deteriorate and age prematurely in the inadequately, stingily climatized warehouses of the big distributors on the island... I just drank a bottle of Guigal's 1998 Condrieu over the last three days. As I finished it up today, my sense-memory & metaphor 'fichier' finally meshed & I thought there was an interesting, complex but (clashing) umm-- unfocused? disjointed? --nose & palate of bitter orange, orange blossoms & something like muskmelon or cantaloupe adding rich but slightly sour, & to this half-trained palate, somewhat oxidized notes. It's funny & interesting-- & somewhat heartening-- that the wine cohered in a more definite, characterful manner after a few days open in the refrigerator. To try to set off or bring out characteristics & sensory associations, I've been mostly pairing it with variants on fairly Italianate cannellini with escarole stews-- tonight more bitter chicory than the last of the escarole, some squash & wine-soaked shiitake & wood ears for balance & chicken sausage with basil & pignoli for substance-- ah, & a few rice-flour rotini added in for fill at the last minute. I soaked the mushrooms in some of Jean-Luc Colombo's 2001 'La Belle de Mai' St. Péray-- 100% Rousanne, I believe. This baby is falling apart somewhat differently... (to be continued, again, bien entendu!)