Back to Reality. With A Nudge from Orin Swift.

We all know that the post-vacation blues are real[1]. Re-entering the real world is rough; there’s no way around it, you just have to plow through and go back to work. I find that it’s easier to do this when you have a wine tasting to go to[2]. Friday evening rolled around and even though I’d only been back to work for three days, my mind was a bit mushy[3] and I was thirsty. It was clearly wine time.

File Mar 26, 9 23 00 PM

A local wine shop had been touting their Orin Swift tasting on Facebook all week, so I grabbed my girl Terry and headed over for a few swirls. Swift’s wine are something of a cult favorite; if you haven’t had the opportunity to try any, I would highly recommend it. So far I haven’t been disappointed.

Orin Swift’s wine origins go back to when Dave Swift Phinney “studied” abroad in Florence[4] in 1995 and fell in love with wine. In 1998 he founded Orin Swift Cellars and has been making wine ever since. He has quite a few brands under his umbrella; some have been sold off[5], and he continues to develop and innovate new products.

For the tasting we sampled six bottles of the Orin Swift 2014 vintage, starting with one of their “Location Wines[6],” Corse. This was 100% Vermentino, grown, produced and bottled in Corsica[7]. Ever since Anguilla, my brain and palate are ready for whites[8], and this was a great way to start the tasting. Definitely not one of those wimpy whites; there was almost a thickness to it, a lot of body. I got a hint of lemon, a bit on the sweeter side. I could see this going well with olives, ideally on the patio in Anguilla overlooking the ocean[9].File Mar 26, 9 24 01 PMNext up was Mannequin; a white blend, mostly Chardonnay with some Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne and Muscat thrown in for good measure. I got a really earthy nose out of this one. Almost a bit of straw, perhaps some charred wood. Very interesting, and certainly not your typical oaky, buttery Chard. I liked it enough to buy a bottle at $31, so you know it was good. Would also pair well with sand, ocean and the sunset.File Mar 26, 9 23 50 PMTransitioning from white to red, we landed next on the Fragile Rosé. Made from French grapes, mostly Grenache blended with Syrah and Carignan. Instead of Fragile, this could have been named Fraise[10]. Strawberry on the nose, strawberry on the palate. This was a strawberry wine. Don’t get me wrong. It was not strawberry in a bad, overly sweet and fruity way. More like a sweet, delicate strawberry, ripe for the eating. I didn’t get sweetness on the nose, and there was just a hint of sweetness on the finish. Light, crisp, perfect for a summer evening, on the beach. In Anguilla[11]. This is a new release for Orin Swift, and given rosé’s newfound popularity, I have no doubt it will do well, especially at the under $20 price point.File Mar 26, 9 23 15 PMNext up was Abstract, the first in a series of three reds. This is a blend of mostly Grenache with a bit of Syrah and Petite Sirah in the mix. Raspberry yogurt on the nose and on the palate. I almost got a hint of spice. It was a deep wine with nice body and a hint of soft tannins. Definitely a food wine; some cheese would have been perfect. Orin Swift wines are known not only for their fullness and flavor, but for the label designs. Abstract is a photo montage of famous and anonymous people alike, including the Queen[12], Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.

File Mar 26, 9 23 35 PMAbstract was followed by Palermo, a Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot and Malbec. This had a nice Cab nose; it was a mouthful of deep, bold berries with a touch of oakiness[13]. This is another new release but it felt familiar, probably because the label reminded me of The Prisoner,[14] a wine that was, at one point, Phinney’s flagship brand; it has since been sold.

We ended the evening with a taste of Machete, a big bold blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache. The nose was huge, but the mouthfeel was soft, almost light. Serenely smooth and luscious. Definitely left me wanting more[15]. This vintage was bottled with 12 different labels, a variation on a theme of a beautiful black woman in various seductive, if not violent, poses involving a machete and a white pimp mobile car[16].

No go on getting our wine tour guide to open up a bottle of Papillon, a Bordeaux blend that I hear is divine. It retails for around $70, so it’s not quite the price point one usually sees at a wine tasting, but maybe next time.

Thanks for going on this tasting with me. It certainly helped in my transition back to winter reality. Until the next glass!


Lawyer Footnotes

[1] Even Wikipedia knows it’s true. Some people call it Post-Travel Depression or PTD.
File Mar 26, 9 25 36 PM[2] Or a trip to France in less than 10 days. #FancyinFrancey
[3] That may explain why I took almost no photos.
[4] Nobody really does much studying during study abroad (just kidding Mom #London04); Phinney even admits this himself.
[5] Like the Prisoner and Saldo.
[6] Phinney has hand-picked vineyards all over the world and makes wine from the local grapes. Remember, the Shatter Grenache from a few months back? That was another of Phinney’s location-based wine projects.
[7] Corsica is a French island in the Mediterranean. We’ll pretend we all knew that already. #geography
[8] And Rosé. Obviously. #RoséAllDayFile Mar 26, 9 35 19 PM
[9] But I digress. #PTD
[10] That’s French for strawberry.
[11] Sorry. #takemeback
[12] So obviously I bought one of these too. The wine was really good though.
[13] Turns out that Microsoft Word does not recognize “oakiness” as a word. I think it’s a word, do you? #AddtoDictionary
[14] One of my gems I crossed off my Wine Bucket List.
[15] Don’t worry, Terry and I continued on to a tapas bar where we continued our evening.
[16] If I didn’t have mush brain, I would have gotten some photos of said labels, but alas, it was mush.

Island Tasting Round 2: Cap Juluca

File Mar 21, 7 47 48 AMDriving up to Cap Juluca, it almost seemed as if we had been transported to a private island. Flames at the gate greeted us as we weaved around a bay of water lined with palm trees casting their silhouette against the setting sun. The view was utterly breathtaking.

File Mar 21, 7 50 17 AMBy time we made our way to the restaurant, the neat row of cumulus clouds that had been sitting over the island all day were lit with the most stunning colors. A team of Hollywood designers couldn’t have made it more magnificent if they were constructing a movie set[1].

File Mar 21, 7 50 39 AMPimms Restaurant seems to be a tribute to the Greek isles; stark white walls touched with that Greek blue accent. Walls were forgone in favor of Mediterranean arches that led straight to the sea. The building, it seemed, sat on a bed of coral over which the waves constantly lapped, and sometimes crashed, to give us a faint spray of salt water. Above the relaxing sound of the waves, Sade was softly serenading us[2], the mood and ambience was utter perfection[3]. Chef Juan came out to introduce himself and we told him we’d be happy leaving our dining fate in his hands[4]. Whatever mood struck him, we were up for an adventure.

File Mar 21, 8 26 33 AMDining on the island, I’ve quickly found that when you start a meal with rum punch, something in you is forced to relax. Your shoulders drop and you take a deep breath. Life is good mon. That’s how our evening began, along with an amuse-bouche of green pea soup[5] which we enjoyed with our cocktail. The soup was topped with the tiniest scoop of what appeared to be a fresh salsa of tomatoes, onions and cilantro. A great way to get the taste buds stimulated.

File Mar 21, 7 51 06 AM
If you thought that silver dome in the middle was a service bell, you’d be wrong. It was the butter. #ithoughtitwasabell

File Mar 21, 8 12 37 AMThe first course was a palate cleansing fresh salad, complete with alfalfa sprouts, watermelon, edible flowers and various heirloom tomatoes grown on the island, all surrounding a healthy scoop of avocado sorbet[6]. File Mar 21, 7 46 54 AMThis was followed by a local lobster bisque. Now, when I think lobster bisque, I think calories; thick heavy cream with a dollop of crème fraiche on the top. But this was different. Not a clear broth, but it was certainly not cream-based. All flavor, almost frothy. A large succulent lobster ravioli resided in the middle, the meat was tender and flavorful. We couldn’t quite place the flavor we were tasting[7], and we found out that Chef Juan adds a healthy serving of cognac to the bisque, after it’s cooked, to give you that warm belly feeling. Yum. File Mar 21, 7 47 19 AMOur bisque was paired with the super light 2014 Bouchard Pere & Fils Bourgogne Chardonnay, which really allowed the flavorful bisque to tickle our mouth senses. The wine was crisp with almost a hint of sparkle. Heavy grapefruit on the nose with a touch of minerality on the palate.

File Mar 21, 7 49 09 AMNext we were surprised with a healthy portion of paella filled to the brim with shrimp, more local lobster, rice, peas and a perfect chip of smoky chorizo. To complement the smoke and spice of the paella, we enjoyed two glasses of the 2012 Ramón Bilbao Albariño Rias Baixas Valiñas.[8] Definitely more body than our previous glass; this had notes of peach with a touch of sweetness, offsetting the spicier dish perfectly[9].File Mar 21, 8 12 54 AM

For the grand finale, Chef Juan prepared two meals, one for me, one for Husband. A perfectly designed dish of lamb chops and eggplant ash was placed in front of me, complemented with an absolutely heavenly 2010 Chateau de Lavagnac Bordeaux, a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. The nose was the iconic, flowery bouquet of rich Bordeaux fruit. With my first sip I swooned. Husband had twin chicken tenderloins served with vegetables, most notably, local aloe which was brined and cooked slowly to take out the bitterness[10]. The chicken went with a glass of cult favorite, Decoy Chardonnay 2014, a rich, oaky Chard that was a perfect complement to Husband’s lighter fare[11].File Mar 21, 8 14 01 AMWhen you get to this point in the meal, the amount of food one can consume drops dramatically. I tried my hardest to refuse dessert, but I knew ultimately that would be a bad idea, and the Chocolate Fondant sounded just too divine[12]. Husband opted for a more subtle chocolate sorbet, but it turned out to be more like a decadent scoop of hot fudge, taking rich and creamy to a new level. With our sweet conclusions, we were treated to drams of Graham’s 20 Year Tawny Port, a perfect ending to a beautiful evening.File Mar 21, 8 15 00 AMWhen all is said and done, there’s nothing that can beat Pimm’s beautiful location and ambience. The varied menu and local fare is well enjoyed in nature’s beautiful theater.File Mar 21, 8 11 06 AM

Until the next glass, Cheers!

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From the entrance you can see right through to the water

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Mother Nature #forthewin
[2] Just to be clear, Sade wasn’t actually in the restaurant, though that would have been next level.
[3] Have I mentioned I love this island? #nevercominghome
[4] We were asked at least three times if we had any dietary restrictions; perhaps their over concern was a result of some past lawsuit? #glutenfree #shellfish #lawyerlife
[5] Perhaps a nod to Jolly Old England? Anguilla is, after all, part of the British West Indies.
[6] Yes, avocado sorbet. It was like avocado ice cream people! Genius. Pure genius.
[7] We thought maybe curry? Cardamom?
File Mar 21, 7 49 47 AM[8] This was one of those bottles where I had to just take a photo and find out later what we were really drinking. To break it down, Ramón Bilbao is the winery, the region is Rías Baixas and the grape is Albarino. I don’t have much experience with Spanish wines, so I’m definitely open to exploring more of this area and varietal!
[9] My notes after this course read “Dress tight.” At first I couldn’t recall why I’d written this. Then I remembered. My dress got really tight. Something about all this island food seemed to have made my dress shrink, can you imagine!? I’m hoping it goes back to normal when we get home…
[10] Husband was fascinated by this as one of the first orders of business when we arrive on Anguilla is to find the nearest aloe plant and harvest a bit for our inevitable sunburn. Even if we escape unscathed, the soothing aloe is better than the most expensive hand cream in the world. #allnatural
[11] We obviously tasted each other’s meal and wine, even though it probably impaired our palates. #roughinit
[12] Who can refuse a flourless chocolate cake with a warm chocolate center and a scoop of vanilla ice cream? #notthisgirl

Island Tasting Round 1: Cuisinart

Get ready to settle in for this epically long post. I promise you, if you make it to the end, it’ll be well worth it.[1]

File Mar 17, 1 27 01 PMWe landed in paradise a few days ago, and I was open to whatever amazing possibilities awaited me. Given the cold, gloomy rain where we came from, every moment here is one to be savored and enjoyed. Last night kicked it up a notch in a way that’s almost indescribable, but I’m going to try my hardest.

Husband’s family and I have been coming to the island of Anguilla for 50 years,[2] and we seem to be stuck in a few ruts in terms of where we go once we land. Trying something new doesn’t always go over well with my travel partners who are incredible creatures of habit. Now, I’m all about going to my favorite restaurant when we get here, but bring on the new experiences, the new chefs, the new beach bars; show me the beaches I’ve never seen![3]

File Mar 17, 1 26 28 PMLast night we entered the world of the CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, a place we must have passed a hundred times in the past but never ventured in. We took a tour with Davida and Devon, taking our golf cart around the massive property. Ocean view suites here[4], hydroponic garden there, then there was the world class spa, Japanese restaurant, infinity pool and beach bar, complete with Justin the singing bartender[5], having a grand old time.

File Mar 17, 1 25 41 PMOur tour wrapped up and we were delivered into the beautiful open air lobby where Chef Jasper met us to prepare us for dinner. He explained that each Wednesday he prepares a private Chef’s Table for parties from 2 to 16 guests, using the freshest and best of what he has on hand that day. Each of the eight courses are described on the menu by just one word; the preparation method and accoutrements are left up to the chef’s interpretation. We had about an hour before the extravaganza began, so naturally we opted for some pre-dinner refreshment; Husband with a rum punch, I with some bubbly[6]. The service was impeccable[7].File Mar 17, 1 24 45 PM

Time passed quickly, with the sun setting and the crowd beginning to get lively. We ended our “first course” with a dram of the house-infused ginger rum, which gave us the first inkling of the exceptional experience that was to come. The rum was fresh, bright, almost creamy. Perfection!File Mar 17, 2 01 45 PM

Natalie came to get us to let us know that Chef was ready for us; she would be our server that evening and would attend to our every need[8]. The room was beautifully set, with a perfect view of Chef’s workspace, complete with candles and flowers romantically adorning the table.

File Mar 17, 1 24 21 PMWe were formally introduced to Chef Jasper Schneider, a native New Yorker who came to Anguilla in 2013[9]. Since then he’s been handcrafting the cuisine at Cuisinart with a passion that vibrantly comes through in his creations. Cuisinart’s head sommelier, Bernel Richardson, had exquisitely paired each of the eight courses with wines equal to their food counterparts. A native Anguillan who found himself pouring wine several years ago, wondering what the deal was with all this expensive nectar; Bernel told us how he’s honed his wine skills and abilities through extensive tasting and travel, and now realizes what the fuss is all about.File Mar 17, 1 23 49 PM

The meal began with an aperitif cocktail concocted by the bar manager; fresh picked sage and tomatoes muddled with Tanqueray, tomato and lime juice, simple syrup and angostura bitters. A deliciously refreshing way to cleanse the palate before we set sail.

File Mar 17, 1 23 29 PM If we’d only had the first course, this would have still been one of the best meals of my life. A bed of Arctic Char graced the bottom of our bowl. It was topped with freshly chopped radishes and chives, sprinkled with a few oyster crackers and a very healthy dose of caviar. Thank you. End of story. I was done. This was only my third experience with caviar, but each time I experience it, it reinforces my belief that it should be a staple of my diet[10]. This beautiful first course was paired with the fine, delicious bubbles of a Brut Ruinart Champagne, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier[11]. The rich salt of the caviar met its match with the silky soft char; mixed with the bubbles, it was heavenly. Like I said, I would have been perfectly satisfied if the meal stopped right then and there.

Before we get to the second course let’s talk about the butter. Yes, the butter. Flown in up to four times per week on the daily Air France flights into St. Maarten, direct from Brittany, France. Hand-crafted especially for Cuisinart, according to Chef Jasper, the dairy farmer he deals with does INSANE things to butter and yogurt. A perfectly round pat of this most delicious butter sat between Husband and I, and it took all my willpower not to steal it and devour it on my own. Each course was also paired with a different bread, hand-made in house, and the sweet, salty butter added an extra layer of heaven. God I love bread and butter[12].

File Mar 17, 2 02 32 PMSalad course came next, and every bit of what appeared on our plates had been handpicked by Chef that morning, grown on the grounds in the hydroponic farm; basil boils, nasturtium leaves, and a whole host of other veggies I’d never heard of, complete with a local “cherry” a literal hybrid of a cherry and a tomato, with the tiniest pit seed inside. This garden snapshot was paired with the 2014 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. I got a bit of vegetable on the nose, then it opened up to be a fruity mix of melon, peach and kiwi with a hint of a stone minerality, typical of this style of wine. Perfectly crisp with the devastatingly fresh greens, which were topped with a French strawberry vinaigrette. File Mar 17, 1 23 10 PM

File Mar 17, 1 22 24 PMNext came white asparagus from Europe, cooked in brown butter and lemon, expertly dabbed with a healthy helping of basil gel. Perfectly crunchy, just the way asparagus should be. Bernel paired this with a 2013 Campogrande Orvieto Classico Santa Cristina which hailed from Umbria, our favorite Italian haven, so of course we loved this juice. A blend of Procanico[13], Grechetto, Verdello, Drupeggio and Malvasia[14], the wine was perfectly light with a hint of citrus, it let the asparagus and basil gel shine. This course went with the house ciabatta; Cuisinart’s head pastry chef, Collin Yearwood, has perfected the art of bread making by lowering the temperature and cooking it longer. I piled on another scoop of butter and savored the fresh baked loaf.

File Mar 17, 1 22 51 PMNext came the diver scallop. Oooo the scallop. Fed-Exed down from Maine earlier that day, it was one of the largest, freshest scallops I’ve yet to encounter[15]. Chef Jasper’s secret is that he cooks them only on one side. It literally melted in my mouth. Served atop a small bed of horseradish and dill that had been infused into grapeseed oil, it tasted like a fresh garden with the heartiest of scallops. We sipped on a 2014 Château de Maligny Petit Chablis as we enjoyed this meaty delicacy. A clean Chardonnay with a touch of oak, with notes of melon and apple.

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Yes. That is a truffle shaving.

When I come to Anguilla I eat snapper. Snapper with peppers, snapper with rice, snapper with lemon. I’ve had it all. But until last night, I’d never really had snapper. The snapper served next was perfect. Fresh from the ocean outside, it was served with a smattering of whole hazlenuts. On top was a thick layer of shaved black truffles, then literally drenched in a black truffle sauce, and on top of the entire plate, the healthiest round of fresh black truffle shavings I’ve ever had. Ever[16]. Again, the fish was cooked only on one side, giving it a perfectly caramelized top with an untouched underbelly. I looked over to Husband and told him to look away while I licked, literally licked, the sauce off my plate. Exquisite.

File Mar 17, 1 22 04 PMWhile you can’t really compare any of these courses to the other, the snapper was a show stopper. Bernel knew it and so he paired it with a showstopper of his own, a 2001 St. Supery Dollarhide Estate Chardonnay. Hello heaven. Well balanced, the color of deep golden hay. Opened up with tropical fruits, yielding to a bit of yeasty bread on the finish[17]. The consistency was heaven, thick, smooth, it coated your whole mouth. Bernel shared that this was his Last Bottle of this vintage, and knew that it would be a special addition to the meal. He was so right.

By this time I needed a break and Bernel showed me to the little girl’s room[18]. I didn’t really think the meal could continue on its upward trajectory, one course after another, exceeding my expectations, introducing my mouth to another unique experience. I figured we’d begin our descent after our break. Well that was stupid of me. Because next came the pièce de résistance, the course I’ll remember until the day I die. Foie Gras. If you read me on the regular, you may have gleaned that I’m a fan of this stuff, but this took it to a whole new level. After my first taste, it gave me goosebumps and I had to close my eyes to take it all in[19].

File Mar 17, 2 29 26 PMChef Jasper had reduced maple syrup into rock powder form[20]. The duck liver was encrusted with the powder, together with pickled shallots. This was incredible. The most succulent, perfect, wonderful, orgasmic foie gras plate I’ve yet to devour enjoy. Bernel sucker punched us by pairing this delight with a 2009 Château Roûmieu-Lacoste Sauternes. As with all the other Sauternes I’ve sampled so far in life, spicy mustard prevailed, and it was a perfectly lovely complement to the dish.

File Mar 17, 2 02 47 PMOur final course before dessert, or so we thought, was interrupted by a surprise course that came out of left field. Irish steel cut oats, yes the kind you eat for breakfast. Chef reduced these with a rich mushroom stock, more decadent black truffle shavings and what must have been a pound of shaved pecorino cheese. The result was a thick, hearty, divine scoop of porridge. It was like magic; one of the most intense foods I’ve ever tasted[21]. Bernel paired this with the first red of the night, a J. Vineyards Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley[22]. The Pinot was a perfect choice, as the perfect lightness of the wine allowed the deliciously opulent oats to overtake your senses.

File Mar 17, 2 30 49 PMFinally we reached the final food course which was described only as “Ribeye” on our tasting menu. This was a beautiful cut of meat that had been house dry-aged for 28 days; it was accompanied by a parsley puree, and a homemade Worcestershire sauce aged for 2 years. The steak was perfectly pink with caramelized edges, crisped to perfection. And then there was the wine. A 2010 Shafer One Point Five Cabernet from Napa’s Stag Leap district. Bernel had decanted this before the meal started; it was one of those deep ruby garnet Napa Cabs that make me tick. It had that Cabernet nose I know and love, with tannins that made you chew. Direct quote “This is why I drink wine.”

File Mar 17, 1 19 51 PMNow I could barely stand, let alone continue eating, but I do regret not finishing every bite of the ribeye. That being said, I ALWAYS have room for dessert. But we were in for another surprise course with Collin’s “Hazlenut Pre-Desert” a sweet, nutty, satisfying poof of deliciousness. Intensely flavorful and satisfying. We kept drinking the Cab, not only because I never wanted to stop, but because the deep wine went well with the airy palate cleanser[23].

File Mar 17, 2 02 58 PMAnd then we arrived to what was really our last course. Collin’s Lemongrass Coconut parfait accompanied by a shot glass of ginger lemongrass and lime tea, which reminded me of a sweet lemonade. The merengue chip was a breath of fresh air. The whole plate balanced out the previous nine courses[24]. We couldn’t have asked for a better ending, not only did it satisfy my ever-present sweet tooth, but it cleansed us in a way that eliminated any hint of over-fullness[25].

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Collin, Wine Esquire and Bernel

We ended the evening with hugs,[26] laughter and a quick visit to Bernel’s wine tasting cellar room, where he brought out Cuisinart’s extensive wine list and showed us some of his hidden gems.

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I just can’t say enough about this experience; one of the most memorable and delicious of my life. Cheers, bravo and thank you to all who made it possible, and to all of you, dear alleged blog readers, if there’s anyone still reading!

Until the next tasting[27] au revoir!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Or at least I hope you think so.
[2] It hasn’t quite been 50, more like 16, but Husband’s estimation seems to grow each time he tells someone new.
[3] I try to sneak in some new places each time, but God forbid if it’s a dud!
File Mar 17, 2 41 11 PM[4] Walking into the suites was beautiful; I haven’t felt air conditioning like that since we got to the island, a refreshing twist since I’d just blow-dried my hair, another island first, and was almost reduced to a puddle.
[5] When we walked by, Justin was literally climbing the pole in the middle of the bar, singing to his captive audience.
[6] Per usual.File Mar 17, 1 25 10 PM
[7] Not knowing what to expect, I came armed only with my iPhone, a phone charger booster and some lip gloss. #amateur Given our debriefing, it became clear I was going to need something to write on. We asked the concierge for a pad and paper and when one did not immediately present itself, they put a makeshift pad together for me, stapled neatly along the side, appropriately delivered in a legal sized manila folder. #lawyerlife
[8] Husband recognized her from past trips to other restaurants, and it turns out that we’d seen her at the beach earlier that day.
[9] He’s always on the lookout for pumpernickel bread and bagels from home in case you’d like to bring him a treat.
File Mar 17, 2 03 13 PM[10] Not sure how that would affect things like cholesterol levels, but I’m sure it’d be fine. I’m willing to take the risk.
[11] I’d never heard of this varietal; Meunier is apparently one of three main grapes used in the production of Champagne and represents approximately one third of the vines planted in the region.
[12] #carbaholic
[13] Also known as Trebbiano.
[14] Yea, these were pretty much all new to me.
[15] Chef works with and swears by the variety and freshness of their products.
[16] My notes say INSANE! Complete with all caps, exclamation point and underline.
[17] Again, my notes say INSANE! By this point my ability to take notes was slightly deteriorating…
[18] Since we’ve been coming to Anguilla, I’d say at least 75% of the faucets I encounter have only one working handle where water comes from one side of the spigot; water pressure is also hard to come by. Not so at Cuisinart where both water spigots gave forth strong streams of the clear stuff.
[19] My notes here say TOP. EVER. ONE. OMG. Not sure what all of that means, but clearly this was good.
[20] This by itself is culinary genius.
[21] As I side note, by this time, I’d finished off the butter. I think I may have had more than my fair share, but Husband didn’t seem to notice. All’s fair in love and butter.
File Mar 17, 1 18 30 PM[22] That’s in California.
[23] If you refer to a dessert as a palate cleanser, it means there’s no calories
[24] God, we’re gluttonous.
[25] Not that there could possibly have been any over-fullness after that extravaganza. #sike
[26] I always get huggy after drinking for hours on end.
[27] Which is happening tonight. Stay tuned.

Journey to Paradise

File Mar 14, 12 16 47 PMWe woke up Saturday morning at 3 a.m. and began our trek to JFK. Previous such experiences left us running asthmatically through the airport[1], which is not the way you really want to start a vacation. So we left plenty of time for mishaps, traffic and forgotten shoes[2]. We arrived, checked in, got rid of our bags, and settled down for breakfast, with an hour and a half to spare. We all know it’s just not an airport meal if you don’t have some booze, so we went with sparkling cava to pair with our overpriced eggs[3], excited and ready for our adventure.

File Mar 14, 12 19 12 PMThe flight went smooth[4], our stewardess Laura was a hoot[5], and we found ourselves in St. Maarten with all of our bags. We were greeted by Iris, the taxicab driver we found on this same journey six years ago. Iris is now 74 years old, she no longer drives at night, and she always has a few pearls of wisdom for us. Inevitably it’s drizzling when we get to St. Maarten, but she tells us, in her thick island accent, that “You can’t have da flowers if you don’t have da rain.” A valid point.

File Mar 14, 12 36 38 PMNext comes the ferry; get in this line to pay the tax, this line to get your ticket, leave your bags unattended here[6], and head right this way for Sailor Jerry’s Famous Rum Punch. Yes Please. Sitting up top is the only way to go; “The salty sea air, the wind blowing in your face. Aaah, the perfect day to be at sea!”[7] The rain had stopped by time we boarded, but the waves were a touch rough. Our captain told us to hold on, and while it may have been a touch bumpy, not a drop of rum punch was spilled[8]. #victory

File Mar 14, 12 23 44 PMFinally we get to Anguilla, depart in our rental car[9], and make our way to the grocery store[10]. There we find everything you could ever want; dried salt fish, a gas oven, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, a wine chiller, locally grown tomatoes, even my morning essential, Naked Juice. Then we found the booze aisle; beer, amaretto and tequila on one side, a wall of wine on the other. I was a bit skeptical as to what I would find, but I walked away with a Mondavi Meritage, a lovely Barton & Guestier Veuvray and a Jadot Beaujolais-Villages[11]. As I finish my stroll down the aisle, lo and behold, I find twelve bottles of 2011 Chateau Lynch Bages staring me in the face. What?! File Mar 14, 12 24 04 PMThe price tag of $675.88EC each, or $250.33US[12], is apparently no big deal in Anguilla. Where I come from, that ish is locked up. Not to mention, it’s just hanging out, in a store that’s roughly 80 degrees, standing straight up. #winestorageproblems

We leave with our loot, and head to the villa. We were told it would be ready for us, but when we arrived, the house was dark, the patio furniture was missing[13] and it was locked up tighter than Fort Knox. I suggested we go out to one of the “main roads[14],” wave our arms and ask the first person that stopped if they knew Veronica, our native caretaker. Lucky for us, Louise walked by wanting to know if we were burglars. She had Veronica’s number and gave her a ring. We moved our haul under the covered patio as a quick rain burst opened up, and lickety split, Veronica arrived, as stressed out as anyone I’ve ever seen. “I’m so ‘shamed, I’m so ‘shamed. Mr. Taylor told me you’s a comin’ on da 18th! I’m so ‘shamed!” We tried to calm her down, but she was just too upset. “No flowers, I’m so ‘shamed. I’ll be back first thing in the monin’.”

File Mar 14, 12 24 29 PMLuckily the villa was already pristine and there wasn’t much for her to do the next day. The pool mon came by to Skimm, and we had a lovely day, relaxing in the sun. I sipped my Vouvray as I allowed my translucent skin to burn to a crisp soaked up the Caribbean rays. A lovely crisp and refreshing bit of juice; slightly fruity, hints of green apple and peach, but not too sweet, perfect for an afternoon pick me up. I’m not sure how many ECs I paid, but in the US it goes for between $9 and $13 a bottle. A slam dunk in the world of white wines!

File Mar 14, 12 16 25 PMWine Dossier
Barton & Gustier is a brand I’ve heard of, but not one that I remember seeing in stores near me. The company started from unlikely beginnings when an Irishman, Thomas Barton, settled in Bordeaux in 1725 and began exporting wine to Europe, starting with Ireland of course[15]. His grandson continued in the family footsteps, partnering with Frenchman Daniel Guestier in 1802. The company continues under the same name today, though the original families are no longer involved. You may recall that Vouvray is actually a region in the Loire Valley; the grape variety used for this bottle was Chenin Blanc.

Until the next glass, cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Turns out they’re sticklers for that “arrive 2 hours early” rule.
[2] Once I went to The Firm’s Christmas party wearing my house slippers. Forgetting shoes is no joke. #tears
[3] Which we ordered from an iPad. Same thing when we checked in for our flight. Is it just me, or are humans becoming scarce?
[4] I was asleep before they came around with the beverage cart. Something about moving vehicles; it’s like they’re a natural Ambien for me.
[5] She was de-boarding until her next flight to get some chicken patties, booze, cigarettes, and some Z-paks…#priorities
[6] One of those fancy shmancy four-way roller luggage bags almost ended up in the ocean…just saying.
[7] Name that movie and you get a prize.
[8] We also picked the right side of the boat; our next door neighbors walked out like they’d just gotten off the Log Flume at Disney. #soaked
[9] What appears to be a 2001 Toyota Tercel, complete with missing gas cap, worn seat covers and various holes throughout.
[10] It’s called Best Buy. #trademarks
[11] This is just to start; don’t worry.
[12] It retails for about $110 at home. #islandmarkup
[13] Gasp!
[14] Anguilla thinks street names are overrated, so the “main roads” are the ones that have been paved relatively recently and have two way traffic. #islandlife
[15] Who knew the Irish drank things other than Guinness and Jameson? #stereotype