Thursday, June 28, 2012

Memories of Flavor 1.0

The other day a customer was telling me about his memories of his first bottles of great wine. As it happened, they were Bordeaux. So were mine. In a different time, in a different economy.  Acquisition was based on knowledge rather than economic status. But I don't want to gripe about prices, I'm interested in memories.

What was driving my customer was his memory of the experience. That memory is there whenever he opens a bottle of wine. Flavor is part of the equation, but so it's mainly a kind of magic, a kind of time-travel if you will. I'm told Proust wrote a long book about it.

Memories like my customers drive me as well.

A number of years ago I was in the Bay area with my wife and one of my sons. We were driving through Berkeley when we passed Chez Panisse and on a whim we stopped to see about lunch and a little later we were seated next to an open window. We ordered plates to share. Some I can't recall, but I remember the depth of the salmon served with a fresh relish of corn and multicolored pepper. I remember this toasty discs of goat cheese on the mixed green and I remember the fresh flinty aromatics of the Pouilly-Fume that tied the meal together.

Many's the time I've created versions of that meal. Sometimes I get close.

Last Sunday was the most recent. I tossed corn cut from cob with red bell pepper, green onion,  tomato, fresh oregano from the backyard and dressed it with lemon juice and olive oil. I grilled a salmon fillet and we had a bottle of Chateau de Sancerre Cuvee Connetable, a barrel aged Sauvignon Blanc. Chez Panisse? No, but pretty damn good!

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