Sunday, March 15, 2009

Three quarters of the world ‘round: Hanoi, Bangkok, SF, NY and Bordeaux in one week

It has been a hectic week since I’ve last written. A week ago Sunday, I was in Hanoi, Vietnam. The following Monday, I flew to Bangkok, Thailand, and that Tuesday, I flew from Bangkok via Taipei to San Francisco. On Wednesday night, I took a red-eye from San Francisco to New York. Two and half days later, I’m on a plane again. Tomorrow, I’ll be in Bordeaux. Within a one week period, I will have flown nearly three-quarters around the world and included two beautiful UNESCO world heritage sites, Ha Long Bay and Bordeaux. Whew!

I’m doing remarkably well with jet-lag . I’ve managed to sleep at least 3-4 hours a night and still wake -up refreshed in the morning. S accused me of being a jet-setter at dinner last night. Jet-setters don’t let jet-lag slow them down.

I’m not craving SE Asian food. Upon my return to the US, Tony took me to an authentic Mexican restaurant in the Mission. I miss good Mexican food from my Berkeley days and it is difficult to find in NY. On Thursday, I ate an excellent homemade hamburger. I find it funny that I’ve been craving American food but sometimes I like nothing better than a great hamburger or a thin crust pizza(chewy and crispy) with tangy San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella with a soft and firm texture, lightly sprinkled with Maldon salt and finished with fresh basil. Along those lines, I’m also craving a juicy medium rare rib-eye. That night, I also tried a rare 1973 Ridge Monte Bello Zinfandel with my burger. Blind tasting is always humbling; I missed the age of the wine, grape varietal and origin. The wine was showing very well for its age, had higher alcohol similar to Cabernet Sauvignon(CB) and Nebbiolo(NB) but lacked the high acidity and light color(thin skin) that a Nebbiolo might exhibit so I thought it might be a CB. Zinfandel has a thin skin but it is often blended with the thicker skinned petite syrah to add fruit and color. I also found a mineral quality to the wine that is more typical of wine with an old world or classic origin but Monte Bello is special. What a special treat as I haven't tried many zinfandels of this caliber! It was also my first time drinking wine in a month since I had decided not to drink wine in Northern Thailand, Laos or Vietnam -- this has been the longest break from wine in my adult life! On Friday, I had dinner with S at Apiary. To preface, I’ve never been a fan of Scott Bryan’s food but S wanted to go. I ordered the hamachi salad with fennel(a special) to start and the scallops with a side of brussels sprouts for my main. The kitchen sent out a comped hearty soup. The food was without fault – it was fresh and well prepared but lacked soul. The food lacked unami, or a savouriness, that made it compelling. I did like our wine, a stony 2007 Leitz trocken Riesling, attractively priced at only $30. Continuing with my NYC American food theme, I ordered an organic sesame seed bagel with light cream cheese and sable at Zucker’s this morning.

I’m arriving a day early to prepare for the Masters of Wine Students Educational Seminar in Bordeaux. A big thank you to the Conseil des Grands Cru Classes and the proprietors of the chateaux for generously sponsoring this trip. The seminar ends on Friday and I’m deciding between spending the weekend in either San Sebastian or Paris. I’m leaning towards the former as I’m craving Spanish ham(specifically Pata Negra), tapas and txakoli, the local, young, slightly sparkling wine. El Bulli, one of my dream foodie destinations, is not open until June. Hopefully, I can get a ressie at Arzak.

I’ve been playing with the way I punctuate my quotations and yes, I know some of the forms I've been using are incorrect.

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