Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pinot Noir

I've been spending a few days working at Michael's and I've noticed something pretty interesting--kitchens don't really need clocks. In fact, you don't need anything but your nose to tell the time. Every morning I walk in and am greeted with the smell of fruit and herbs, Hedy's making jam, 8 AM. A cold breeze and the smell of produce, Manny brought todays order, 8:45. The smell of bread baking for short rib panini's, 9:15. Tomatoes, harissa is cooking, 9:30. Potatoes frying, 9:45. Altinor is standing next to me cutting pastrami, 10 AM. Servers start arriving, bring out onion dip for service, 10:30. Albert cooks some bacon for his burgers, 10:45. Soup of the day, 11 AM. Chirp-chirp-chirp, first ticket comes in, 11:30. Once lunch starts, things can get tricky. However, my clock is reset by meat. Around 1 PM the short ribs come out of the oven (I can't really describe what they smell like, but it's noticeable). 2 PM is pork belly--a sweet, funky smell. 2:30 is duck--rosemary, thyme, duck fat. 3 PM is octopus. Lunch starts winding down around three, and the PM shirt arrives between 3:15 and 3:30. By 4, most of the AM cooks have left, and for a few minutes the kitchen smells like, well, nothing.

Michael's kitchen (excluding the open part, which houses the wood burning oven and pastry station)

All right, Pinot.

I recently had a Pinot (a 2006 Clos du Bois), and prior to drinking, my only knowledge on the wine was that quote from Sideways,
"Uh, I don't know, I don't know. Um, it's a hard grape to grow, as you know. Right? It's uh, it's thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It's, you know, it's not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it's neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot's potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they're just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and... ancient on the planet."

Paul Giamatti wasn't far off. Pinot Noir is a grape predominantly used to make red wine. Pinot is hard to grow. It is sensitive to light, cropping levels soil types, and pruning techniques. Once in the winery, the grapes are sensitive to fermentation methods, types of yeast, and the slightest change in region produces wildly different tasting wines. Jancis Robinson, a British wine critic, refers to Pinot as "a minx of a vine."

Even though temperamental and hard to grow, Pinot Noir's are extremely popular. They are smooth, fruity (containing notes of black cherry, raspberry, and currant), and light.

**Yes, I used the term "note" in the previous sentence. Please don't make fun. It is hard to describe wine without sounding pretentious.

Pinot has been described as "sex in a glass," and "a seductive yet fickle mistress."

Pinot thrives in France's Burgundy region, but is grown in pockets across the world, from Moldova to New Zealand.

The Pinot I tried was much more pleasant than the Malbec. Much smoother (there wasn't any sort of bite to it) and fruitier (you can actually taste cherry and raspberry), it began to approach sex in a glass status.

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