Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Gourmet Monday

After the paella affair of Saturday night, it was nice to be invited over to someone else's house for a fancy dinner. The occasion? Why, the season finale of The O.C., of course. My co-worker T. is as big a fan of this pile of soap suds as I am, and he arranged for a good friend of his (with a GIANT plasma TV) to Tivo the last two episodes so we could all watch them together.

I only really know our host through friends, but Portland is small enough that we've met, personally and professionally, a bunch of times. I knew he was a graphic designer and all, but holy cow -- his apartment was a temple of modernity. Dinner was served on rectangular white plates, with each item placed separately -- from left, seared spinach and garlic, smashed potatoes, seared lamb and roasted red onions. It tasted fabulous and looked amazing.

The thought of plating food like that never occurs to me -- I'm all about family style, about asking people to wander into the kitchen and rummage through the cabinets to find the right glass for the wine, which, when they open it, could they pour me one, too? So to be a guest at a home like this -- gorgeous and comfortable, and oh-so-chic -- was relaxing, if a bit formal. Dessert, for crying out loud, was individual tartes tatin. On a Monday. For The O.C.

Our host said we didn't need to bring anything. So we stopped at the corner store to get a bottle of wine. I used to think that our corner store had a good little selection of wine, but that was before I started reading Meg's site. Now that I pay more attention, I notice that they mostly stock the big California and Australia vineyards -- the same stuff I can get at the grocery store and that, if I really taste it, just isn't that good. But we were running late, and so I stopped in and hunted for something that looked vaguely interesting. (I don't pretend at all to know how to pick out good wine, though there are a couple places in town whose judgment I trust, not least because they're always finding tasty wine bargains. So, yes, I'm the worst kind of snob -- the uneducated kind.)

I can't tell you exactly what I picked out, but it was a $10 pinot from California, which I thought would be good with the lamb. I figured that at least it wasn't as recognizeable as Jacob's Creek or Rosemount, and that maybe it'd be ok. To my surprise, it was the fanciest and best wine of the evening. Our host served us Yellowtail, of all things. It seemed so incongruous -- the fabulous house, the impeccable meal, and then the purely mediocre wine. And it cracked me up that I was the wine snob of the evening. Ha. Meg, I think this is all your fault.