Archive for the ‘Bottoms Up’ Category

Findlay Market: June 5, 2010

     A guitar strummer in a straw hat. Voice higher and sweeter than his aging, portly persona would suggest. Black boy sawing away on a violin like the child in Fitzcarraldo. The open violin case fills with dollar bills. The child is garnering more support than the old guy.

     No shopping carts, no acreage of processed and frozen food, no Muzak. Am I remembering this right? It has been so long since I’ve wandered the aisles of a corporate supermarket chain that I’m not sure. I no longer worship at the Cost Cutter alter.

     Everything that I need is here at Findlay Market. Well, almost everything. I must deal with Walgreen’s for prescriptions and toilet paper. And Findlay desperately needs a saloon, Mike Maxwell’s Market Wines with yummy tastings and the temporary Moerlein Beergarten not-with-standing. A deeper and more permanent watering hole is required where the pathos of the drinkers is a torrent rather than a trickle.

     A mechanical pony outside the soon to open Urban Feed Market (pet food store). Little blonde girls lined up with their quarters. The horse rocks and plays a jaunty tune. Neighs while one girl rides beaming and the others bounce on the sidewalk awaiting their turn. Findlay breathes, sweats and smells like something alive. People meander and talk and sit and watch. The antithesis of the zombie death march through the aisles of Kroger where dead people fill carts with dead food; sustenance for a dead, air conditioned existence. A hermetically sealed mausoleum.

     Krause’s cheese. Fresh pecorino, the most fabulous snacking cheese  known to man. Unfortunately, no idiazabal  or garrotxa, so manchego instead. Black forest salami shaped like a flower. A meat flower. Blue oven bread. If you’re not here by at least 10:00 a.m. you’re too late. A loaf of Bad Boy loaded with fennel. The Saigon Market for fresh ginger and garlic. Frank’s Fish for escolar (also known as white tuna or butter fish), super high in oil to the degree that some people can’t tolerate it. Did I mention that you must buy your toilet paper elsewhere? Ohio City lemon pepper and cilantro lime pasta from Brouchard’s. The broiled escolar will top the cilantro lime angel hair. Olives and feta on the lemon pepper.

     Market Wines is tasting beer instead of wine. I’m in the mood for wine today but beer will suffice. Troeg’s Sunshine Pils, a light but flavorful lager. Zesty and refreshing. Dark Horse Brewing Co. Boffo brown Ale, malty but also light. Fort Collins Brewery Wheat Wine Ale, a vague sweetness but not cloying. Slightly effervescent and tingly on the tongue. Brew Kettle Red Eye Pale Ale, nice fluffy head. An Amarillo hopped, grapefruit orgasm from a Cleveland brewery I need to visit. Southern Tier Mokah, bitter chocolate. My usual tasting compatriots are otherwise occupied so I talk with Cary, seated next to me. She is a transplanted Minnesotan. Dark and athletic with beautiful blue-as-the-sky eyes. Cary, on the rebound, loves wine but her new boyfriend, who lives in Fairfield with all that that entails, doesn’t. Not a chance in hell for those two I’m thinking. Cary and I compare notes. Pinot grigio for her, astringent sauvignon blanc for me, blended reds for her, assertive single varietals for me. Cary doesn’t care for the Brew Kettle or the Southern Tier. She likes the Pils best. Not a chance in hell, I think.

     German Fest or German Day or German Something. A band plays traditional polka music for a bunch of old Germans in lederhosen and dirndls in the Moelein Beergarten. Little hats with bushes sticking out of them like the Martian on Bugs Bunny. “Being disintegrated makes me soooo angry.” I’ve carried my black bean burger (I’ve considered vegetarianism but then I’d have to give up the meat flower, wouldn’t I?) from the outdoor stand at Eckart’s to be paired with a Northern Liberty India Pale Ale, the best Moerlein Beer.

     Prosit. Oy! Oy! Oy! Lots of enthusiastic German being spoken. An uncostumed dark haired beauty with exquisite wrists has settled in beside an aging matron in a dirndl with a garland of flowers crowning her grey hair. The dark beauty, long-waisted and with a small boyish behind, reminds me of a former lover and fiancée. The beauty with dark eyes and a prominent but attractive nose looks Jewish. Has the world forgiven Germany for the two world wars? I’m not sure. I’m looking over at Leader Furniture. Maybe proprietors Gary and Jerry Malin have taken refuge in the attic.

      Fabulous and nearly fabulous make their way through the crowd. Both women have sunglasses perched atop dark hair and mousy brown hair respectively. Both have great legs. Nearly fabulous is a little thick in the upper arms but she has a softer, more vulnerable and searching face. Given my druthers, I’ll take nearly fabulous.

     A dancing couple are light on their feet. Her heels never touch the pavement.

      My fish and cheese shouldn’t be spending this much time in the sun. I’m going to have another Northern Liberty anyway, as I wonder how much fun the Supermarket crowd is having.


Bockfest Bender

Bockfest.  Arnold’s at 4:00 p.m. on Friday to make sure that I get a seat at the bar except there are no seats, the stools have been removed to maximize space and give people better access to the bar. The kegs are tapped: Schoenling Bock, Hudepohl Bock, Spaten Optimator, Moerlein Emancipator, Maibock. A pitcher is the best deal. Amanda gives me a taste of the Schoenling and Hudepohl. Schoenling it is.

A pitcher is a lot of beer for a guy who weighs in at 154 so I share with Judge Mark Painter. His lovely wife, Sue, joins us so it’s not very hard to knock off the pitcher. That should be that, but Mark buys another pitcher. Judge Painter is serving on a United Nations Tribunal with offices in New York, Geneva and Nairobi. Sue has just finished a book on a local artist whose name I don’t recall. They are off to Geneva tomorrow, I think. Sue prods Mark to go to dinner. They have no plans. I suggest Nicola’s. They leave me with a half-pitcher of beer.  It is 80 degrees in Nairobi.

The bar is very crowded. Laura and Jack are having trouble keeping up. Lydia to my right has an empty glass so I fill it. Twice. There is a parade outside. A giant wooden goat on wheels is being pulled down the street. Men dressed in Monk’s robes. I think Monks meditate and drink Bock beer. If you drink enough Bock beer the meditation takes care of itself.

Joined by MaryBeth, Cheryl and Missy. Missy has discount Ballet coupons and stickers that aren’t sticky unless you apply them to the inside of a car window. We learn this because Lydia tries to apply one to her breasts (over a sweater). Shortly after MaryBeth and Cheryl leave, a third pitcher appears as if conjured by Monk’s. Did I mention that it’s 80 degrees in Nairobi?

Home on foot. Lamp-post to lamp-post. I awaken in bed with my fedora. How does a man get undressed for bed and fail to take off his hat? At least there are no strange women, farm animals or cheese whiz.

I think of bailing on my standing Saturday appointment for the Market Wines tasting but a commitment is a commitment. Discussing the Fucker Supper Club (a tale for another time) with Megan and Eric and MaryBeth and Cheryl over Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, something else red and something else again red. Megan points out that if the Fucker Supper Club features chicken it would be the Clucker Fucker Supper Club. I take the Leerdammer cheese that I purchased at Krause’s from my bag and we have it with Blue Oven bread. Groups of people outside are racing with shopping carts. Jim Tarbell told me that Bockfest Hall was cranking last night so our group decides to meet up there later in the afternoon.

Joe, Christian, Megan, Eric, Cheryl and MaryBeth. Chico and a version of the Dancing Pig Band sans Keith Baker, last spotted in a Monk’s robe, wander through the tables with fiddle, saxophone, clarinet, trombone and a washboard vest. They look like a band of Gypsies.  I spend a few minutes visiting with Marge and Smith Hammelrath.

Sunday. My hair hurts. I return a copy of Fitzcarraldo to the public library as soon as the doors open. I’m checking out a Leonard Cohen c.d. when MaryBeth texts. She is back at Bockfest hall with Ian and Amy. W.T.F.

 An over-amplified band of old German guys in Lederhosen play while women twirl. Big red skirts flare, showing an occasional fetching thigh. The Arnold’s crew (Bret, Ronda, Pam et al), at the other end of our table with Tim the Monk (Friar, I am corrected). Mike Cromer visits and we reminisce about the Barrel House days. I’ve been told that Cincinnati is the only city of its size that does not have a homegrown Brew Pub. As much as I like Rock Bottom (it’s a chain and doesn’t count), that is just wrong. Bockfest Hall is set up in the old Hussman potato chip factory.  We need a year round Beer Hall in Cincinnati. I’m craving barbecue pork rinds.

Moore St. is lined with police cars but the cops are just milling about and talking. There are only about a dozen people, not counting the workers, lingering at Bockfest Hall. They are trying to blow out the rest of the Bock so it’s only a buck a glass. An old guy who looks like a street person with a “died and gone to heaven” expression on his face topples from his folding chair onto the floor. He is unharmed. Alarmingly, I do not feel the least bit drunk. Leonard Cohen’s Closing Time is rattling around in my noggin.

                              Yeah I missed you when the place got wrecked

                              By the winds of change and the weeds of sex

                              Looks like freedom but it feels like death

                              It’s something in between, I guess.

                              It’s CLOSING TIME


Categories: Bottoms Up

Burnett Ridge Wines @ Market Wines

Notes from a tasting of Burnett Ridge wines at Market Wines with Burnett Ridge owner and wine maker Chip Emmerich on November 14th 2009.

 A taste of 5 wines for $5.00.

Burnett Ridge Sauvignon Blanc from Patianna Vineyard                                           $16.99

I’m a Marlborough Man when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, as in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. I’m hooked on that aggressive mineral-grapefruit thing. Chip’s California version is softer and much less assertive. A little more apple and melon than grapefruit and a lot less citrus-astringent character.   People being weaned off Chardonnay will like this version. Muted and quaffable. Just enough acidity.

Russian River Dry Rose (Rose of Pinot Noir)                                                                   $17.99

Pretty, blush color. Very dry and crisp. A little tart. Subtle berry (strawberry, cherry and raspberry) notes. Nicely acidic. An option to serve with the Thanksgiving turkey.

Forchini (that’s pronounced fork-eeny, people) Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 $25.99

Classic Pinot floral and ripe cherry aromas. Light and quaffable. Serve it just a little chilled on a hot day if you like. A bit of pleasant tannins. Nicely acidic. Throw all that white vs. red wine food pairing nonsense out of the window. This is a very good acidic red that will pair nicely with the rich, white meat of a Thanksgiving turkey without overpowering the meal. Or just drink it as an aperitif before the meal.

Purple Trillium 2007? (I forgot to note the vintage)                         $25.99

All of the Bordeaux blending grapes are here (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec) instead of the Trillium of earlier expressions. Pretty dark ruby red in the glass. A little earthy and leathery on the nose but with plenty of fruit. Big, deep flavor. Nicely tannic and mouth filling. Trilliums are cellar worthy so put it down for a while if you can defer gratification. I can’t. This remains my favorite Burnett Ridge wine but I like the Super Tuscan and the Three Kings almost as well.

Zinfandel North Coast   2006     $18.99

I love big, jammy Zins. This one isn’t huge but there is a lot of plum and spice here. Fruit forward enough but nicely balanced. A little musty in the nose. The problem with a 5 wine tasting, where you actually drink the wines instead of chewing and swishing them and spitting them out, is that your palette is pretty much shot by the fifth tasting. I like this wine but I probably didn’t fully appreciate it in this setting.

 Chip has a dilemma. He does not have a vineyard so he sources all of his grapes from California and has the juice shipped here to Ohio. This puts him at a considerable cost disadvantage over the estate wineries on the coast. Burnett Ridge wines are good and sometimes excellent but they are not value buys. You can usually find a comparable California wine for a few dollars less. You should buy Burnett Ridge wines anyway and support a quality, local business.

Market Wines at Findlay Market on Elder Street conducts wine and beer tastings every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Saturdays are hectic so if you like to have more room and fewer competing elbows at the bar go on Sunday. I rather like the hustle and bustle and sociability of the Saturday tastings so I make sure I arrive early to get a seat. Typically you taste four wines (two white and two red) for three dollars. It’s a steal so buy a bottle on your way out.

Market Wines is a small wine and beer shop with loads of character. It’s in the old Elder Café and has the original bar and non-functional telephone booth. Mike Maxwell, the proprietor, knows his stuff and loves to talk wine and beer.

 See you there.


November 2009

Categories: Bottoms Up