Monday, May 29, 2017

The Met

Amazing afternoon...

Degas The Dance Class

Henri Rousseau  Repast of the Lion 1907

Van Gogh

Monet  Garden at Sainte-Adresse

Paul Cezanne  The Card Players


Renoir Still Life with Peaches  & Grapes 1881

Irving Penn

Renoir  Woman in Chair by the Seashore





A girl in

Sunday, May 28, 2017



Pasquale Jones
Spoon Table & Bar
Charlie Bird
Spotted Pig

Parker & Quinn
The Plaza Hotel
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
Ruffian Wine Bar & Chef's Table
Pearl & Ash

Chelsea Market
Bergdorf Goodman
Lord & Taylor
Saks Fifth Avenue

The Met

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Blue River

Oh the river she knows your name
From the brazos to the wabash to the seine
No two journeys are ever quite the same
But the river knows your name
Oh the river knows your name
~John Haitt

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Blind Tasting



Buying and selling wine is what I do. I buy wine for our shop/wine bar, and I sell wine to other shops and restaurants in my mountain town community. I am the boss of my own shop, and I have a few bosses at the wine distributor company I work for.  One boss was a GM who loved being at the center of attention. Super nice guy, don’t get me wrong, but he loved having all eyes on him and pacing the room. 20 or so of us (wine reps from around Colorado) would sit attentively watching him, responding to him and participating in his presentations, (every other Friday for the two years that he worked for the company). He was into it. He transformed our meetings into elevated environs for those 4-5 hours. He was fit and a fairly little guy…tight hipster jeans made him appear even smaller. But he had lots of energy, and certainly filled the room. A big monitor loomed in front of us with sales numbers and quotas for the month, it was no surprise now who was performing in their respective territories, and who was lagging behind.   This technique certainly had me (the quiet perfectionist) selling more quota wines and Howell Mountain Cabs than ever.  A girl has to save face in-front of her peers.

Our meetings take place at “the loft“(a well-appointed meeting space with two large conference tables, full restaurant caliber kitchen and $15-20k’s worth in an Italian prosciutto slicer and espresso machine…this company takes food & wine very seriously). These meetings are always intriguing and informative, but they were especially animated and intense under this particular GM. At some random point in the meeting, never fail, this GM would dash into the backroom and come back armed with a bottle in a paper bag (otherwise known as Blind Tasting Time). I saw it as another way to challenge myself, to prove myself as a worthy wine-rep in the shark infested waters of competitive wine-sales. My heart would start to race and my mind would immediately begin the sleuthing process.  What kind of shape was the bottle? Burgundy, Bordeaux? My inner discussion commenced into overdrive. What wines are currently on quota?  What wines are important to our company? What category were we not performing with? Which specific winery needed our attention and a quick turn-around in sales?  What containers of wine had just landed with a boatload of wine sitting in the warehouse that imminently needed our attention and depletions?  Generally there was a motive behind each blind tasting choice. 

He would walk around the room clockwise and pour a small amount into each of our glasses. My mind would begin to churn with the deductive tasting protocol. I learned this method from the Court of Master Sommeliers 19 years ago as a fledgling wine rep (a baby duckling really). I took the 1st level in Aspen after my first year as a wine rep and it has come in handy throughout my career.  Deductive tasting is how to taste wine…how to gather information from the wine in the glass in front of you, how to go through a series of logical and progressive steps and come to a reasoned conclusion based upon such evidence.  Sight. Nose. Palate. Conclusion.

Is the wine red or white or rose? Is it clear or murky (i.e. unfiltered)?  Does it appear light or dark? Can I see through the wine or is it opaque? All of these things give me a preliminary sense for the wine.  I ponder what I see. I swirl. I stick my nose in the glass.  (By the way, cardinal rule in the wine world is that you never wear perfume or cologne as it interferes with your olfactory receptors.  I haven’t worn perfume in 20 years!)  What do I smell?  Where does it take me? To a fruit? To a vegetable? To an oak tree?  To a memory of wine or a specific herb that I’ve tasted or smelled before? To a moment in time in a particular place?  The flood gates start to open…

I take a sip. Does the taste match what I was expecting from the sight and the smell?  What is the texture of the wine? Is it gritty with tannin or silky with clean fruit? What are the flavors I am getting? Which fruits? Red fruits, blue fruits?  Raisins? Peaches? Gooseberry? Cat pee? Jalapeno pepper? Dill? The sweet vanilla of toasted Hungarian oak? Where is this leading me? Does it have acidity? How much? Or is it soft and round? Is it New World (bright and cheery, full flavored from the sun) or Old World (more reserved, subtle in its nuances…more pensive)?  Is it heavy or light on its toes? Is it a pinot noir or a mencia? Where is it from? How old is it? How much does it cost? So many questions.  The more you drink, the more you think you know! (Sometimes you are right, a lot of times you are close, sometimes you are totally wrong.)

I have nailed the wine a few times.  I was the only one to claim Lewis Russian River Chardonnay.  It was dark yellow, full of nutty oak, pineapple, butter-scotch, weighty.  Some people guessed Rousanne, others were flummoxed. But I reasoned it was super distinctive, very full of personality and that there weren’t many wines like this one in our portfolio…and I made an educated guess.  Another time it was an earthy Patagonian Malbec that I had had recently. And another time I said “cool climate pinot noir” and everyone looked at me cross-eyed. It turned out to be a Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir from Austria). Once I guessed El Nido…it was a cloudy full bodied, layered and complex red, full of expensive oak and I knew I had never had this wine before…but had an idea of what it might be.  And I was right!  Everyone, including the GM, was aghast. J

There is something so satisfying in that moment. You have to think about what is in your glass. I believe it helps to have a history with wine, a myriad of experiences that aid in your summation. I have learned to ponder the wine, the setting and the circumstance…and go with my instincts. I have learned to listen to what people around the table say, to weigh and consider their opinion like Sir Francis Bacon.  Ultimately, I have learned to come up with and trust my own conclusion.  After 20 years in the wine business, I have learned to have faith in my call. Although that GM no longer works for our company, I will forever be haunted by his blind tasting sessions in our meetings. It is intense. You are on the spot. Everyone is looking at you. What will it be? 2014 AOC Chablis or 2013 Friulian Sauvignon Blanc?  

Monday, January 2, 2017

I am Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

On New Year’s Eve I had a nook of time, so I took it to finish the novel I had started reading earlier in the week: Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton.  I had enjoyed her previous book: Olive Kitteridge. I had found a familiarity with that book.  Elizabeth Strout grew up in Maine and so did I.  While reading Olive Kitteridge I could picture the faces of the characters, I knew the settings, I could smell the ocean… I could envision the roads they drove on, the houses they lived in, the doctor’s offices, the shops, the places they went, the way the protagonists moved through their surroundings and their lives.  It was all so familiar, so real, such a part of my Maine upbringing and fabric.  So there was a certain comfort zone when I picked up My Name is Lucy Barton, a sense that we had a common ground.  At least three “notably avid readers” in The New York Times’ “The Year in Reading” Book Review recommended the book as one of their favorites of the year.  I was intrigued, I was compelled and I was looking for a book that could keep my interest all the way through.  It seemed the books I had picked up as of late couldn’t keep my attention.  (There are at least 8 novels and memoirs by my bedside ½ or ¼ read.)  I saw it on the shelf in the bookstore during my week of Christmas shopping, and I instantly grabbed it.

In one of the reviews someone had mentioned crying when they reached a certain page in the book. For me, it was page 164. It is not a long novel, 209 pages and can be read in an afternoon. Some chapters are a succinct paragraph.  I zipped through it, totally engrossed …flipping the pages in a flurry until the end. Her relationship/ bond with her mother is such a strong one, not unlike my own. Her mother is a force in her life, but she is not a woman who hugs, or tells her she loves her, or comforts her in that way.  I don’t know if it is a generational thing (maybe it is just a mother/ daughter thing), but my mother and my relationship with my mother (and my father too) is like hers in a way that it pulled at my heart strings and had me weeping on page 164. It rang so true. It is a relationship hard to define, hard to describe, but Elizabeth Strout seems to capture it. I too spent 8 weeks in a hospital bed (waiting for my son to be born), and my mother flew out to visit me and sat with me on two separate occasions during that time.  Not sure I will write a novel about that time, but it had me reflecting, remembering and understanding that relationships with our mothers are complex… and as Lucy Barton says, they are ok.

I am Lucy Barton made me recall and reflect on moments in my childhood…moments in my neighborhood with my childhood friends, moments with my brothers and my parents that were hiding in a deep chasm in my memory, in my heart.  This book also touches on how we treat others, how not to judge people, and the various relationships we have with our doctors, colleagues, people we look up to for mentoring, friends, our husbands and our kids.  But it was the complex mother/ daughter relationship/ bond that really struck me.  I loved this book, the way it rocked me.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

My Morning on the Mountain

Got in a quick 5 laps on the t-bar this morning before jetting to work.   I was skiing solo…and rode each time with a different companion:

Rider 1) Lived in Maryland but his wife grew up in Breck. She was raised in the house across from the Breck post office and her sister in a longtime friend who lives in Alma and works at our vet’s office.

Rider 2) Asked to ride on the left and when we got on I asked if he had a knee issue. Turns out he had knee surgery in Vail (a patellar graft) a year ago, is a former competitive slopestyle kid who now mainly to skis in movies… and used to ski with my brother when he coached moguls for Team Summit. He is headed to the north island of Japan in February…and has competed in La Clusaz, France among other places.

Rider 3) Was an organic ice cream food truck owner from Denver…but he grew up in Cumberland, Maine down the street from my parents’ house. Also a proud Sugarloafer!

Rider 4) Was maybe 28…from New Jersey but made a bunch of money in finance in Manhattan, had spent the summer in South America trekking and had moved to Breckenridge to ski. He told me he had saved enough money and didn’t need to work anymore.

Rider 5) Was a kid from Houston who parents own a house in Genesee near the wacky spaceship house you can see from i70 that was in the Woody Allen movie. He was a junior in college (studying computer science). I asked him if he was considering moving to Breckenridge…I think I may have messed with his head. J  

Canterbury Tales of the T-bar…so good to be back up there and the skiing was great…steep and fast. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Don't tell me how old I am...

Cause I don't feel it. Where did you go 30s? You are breaking my heart. Sometimes you just need to have your picture that reality sets in. Whatever your reality may be.  :)

Anyway, this is how I feel...

"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was*?"
~ Satchel Paige (1906-1982)