My idea of heaven, fine wine and a beautiful view.
I'm supposed to be the boozy epicure, and so far I haven't explained why. While this title may be overly dramatic (I am, in fact, not a drunk) I must admit that for me, when it comes to food, alcohol always goes hand in hand. And my alcoholic beverage of choice? Why, wine, of course.
Growing up, my family didn't really drink wine. I think we had Peach Riunite once at Thanksgiving and I thought it was sooo fancy. Fast forward to college - cheap boxed wine and wine coolers, and it's no surprise that wine didn't really hit my radar until later in life. When I graduated from college, I realized that I couldn't actually cook. Cooking at home meant reheating something, or opening a box and following instructions. At that point in my like, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was cooking to me. I had boxes of Stovetop stuffing and the ubiquitous packages of Ramen noodles in my pantry. Wine was foreign, fancy and just out of my league.
I was working my first job, watching food network, and intrigued by all the dishes out in the world I had never made, eaten, or heard of. That's when I became a foodie. I wanted to really cook, to eat at nice restaurants, try new flavors and ingredients, and be able to create meals for myself without relying on package instructions.
The aforementioned first job was doing PR for a museum in Rochester, NY. As a part of the job, I was sent on series of a familiarity tours to see the other tourist/entertainment sites in the Rochester area. One event was a series of winery tours in the Finger Lakes. I remember being excited to learn a bit more about wine, and my surprise that I actually like wine, and in particular, dry red wine. But at this point, I was just learning what a braise was, or what ingredients make chili taste like chili. Wine was officially on the backburner.
Fast forward almost a decade, to a little more than a year ago. I had come so far in my food knowledge and was very excited. My dear hubby and I were traveling to New York City to visit family and friends and I had scored us a reservation at Eleven Madison Park. It was enjoying excellent new reviews from the New York Times, Michelin Awarded it three stars, Daniel Humm had won a James Beard Award and I was eagerly anticipating the much praised new tasting menu. I was beyond excited. For fun, I bought an e-book, The New Short Course in Wine by Lynn Hoffman, to read on the plane since I was planning on adding the wine tasting to my meal and I wanted some background information.
That little bit of knowledge re-sparked an interest in wine that I had long forgotten. I was now looking forward to the wine pairings almost as much as the food. I bought another book, Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, and just devoured the information.
By the time we got to Eleven Madison Park, I was hooked. Dinner was wonderful (at some point I need to write about my favorite restaurant meals) and the wine pairings blew my mind. In some ways, I think the meal is one of my favorites simply because of the wine. It was my first ever taste of both Sancerre and Sauternes, and the pairings took the food and elevated it, both the wine and food being better because of each other. From that day forward, I have been an oenophile. I've read dozens of books, taken wine classes, hosted parties and tastings in my home, and travelled to Napa and Sonoma to cement my understanding and educate my palate.