Scenes from an East Texas 4th of July

Watermelon lady Maria gets her melons from Pitkin, Louisiana, where the sandy subsoil and high potassium content are ideal for the cultivation of tasty watermelons, she said.

This sweet lady made her patriotic vest herself.

We saw this license plate on our way over to Port Arthur. Translation: “Oklahoma University girl.”

Tracie P and I went bowling with nephew Brady to celebrate his birthday (4th of July).

Purple hull peas, cooked with okra and served over crumbled cast-iron-skillet-fired corn bread was the highlight of dinner at Uncle Tim and aunt Ida Jean’s house on Cow Bayou. I had two servings of Tim’s award-winning potato salad.

Sunset on Cow Bayou. I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th!

On deck for tomorrow: the origins of the word “bric” and “bricco.” Stay tuned…

Impossible wine pairing? Chex Mix (stinky Jura wine and Cory’s thoughts on tasting notes)

Above: What to pair with Chex Mix? Stinky, oxidized Domaine de Montbourgeau 2006 Chardonnay (with a little Savagnin). What else? Now, how’s that for fusion? Photos by Tracie B.

Do you think that Dr. V minds that I borrow his “impossible wine pairing” schtick? I’m sure he doesn’t (do you, Dr. V?)…

Tracie B and I love this wine (which we paired last night with Mrs. B’s Chex Mix). It’s got that irresistible oxidized stinkiness that we love. Not everyone will like this wine (man, does it stink!) but at roughly $28 in our market it’s one of our favorite “Saturday night” wines. If I’m not mistaken, the first time I tasted this wine (probably the 05) was at a dinner in Los Angeles where wine guru Paul Wasserman was charged with picking a wine that Alice would like unqualifiedly. He chose it because it was “the most oxidized wine on the list” (we were at Palate)!

Above: It also paired extraordinarily well with Mrs. B’s pulled pork, topped with mayonnaise and sliced red onions.

Our far-out pairing of stinky oxidized wine from the Jura in France (an über-wine-geek wine) with some southern comfort seems all the more a propos today in the light of Cory’s excellent post from the other day On Tasting Notes. I’ve long maintained, borrowing a phrase from the great Italian twentieth-century writer Carlo Emilio Gadda, that tasting notes are the “lice” of wine writing. Just read the comment thread to the post: those who defend the obscene practice of fanciful, capricious tasting notes only prove Cory’s well-made point!

The best wine writing (in my book) is about context, people, and pairing: whom with, where, when, and why you opened a given wine and how it made you feel — not the supercilious virtuosismo of strong-armed tasting notes where certain wine writers and bloggers (and we all know whom we’re talking about) seem to thumb-wrestle the notes out of the wines they taste.

In other news…

Above: Tracie B took this photo with her new Blackberry!

Tracie B and I are in Orange, Texas for the first of her wedding showers. I’ve been itching to see more of Lousiana (yes, it’s Lou-siana ’round these parts) and so Tracie B had promised to accompany me across the border (which is also the city limit) to one of the gambling joints. I’d never gambled before in my life and it was fun to have a drink and blow ten bucks on video poker (although, man, it was smoky in there!).

Above: It’s illegal to transport beautiful Texan women (before marriage) across the Lousiana border but Rev. B gave me permission in this one case.

In the glow of our upcoming wedding, Tracie B is more beautiful than ever! To borrow the phrase that Franco has already taken to calling her, she is a simply gorgeous sposina. :-)

We’ve also been having fun planning our honeymoon. Guess where we’re going? You guessed it! MUMBAI! ;-)

You had me at hello: Cajun-style oysters at Cochon in New Orleans

Above: You had me at hello… The oven-roasted gulf oysters at Cochon in New Orleans.

The food at Cochon in New Orleans last night was fantastic. The wood-fired-oven-roasted gulf oysters, sprinkled with Cayenne pepper, paired beautifully with a bottle of Charles Joguet 2007 Chinon Les Petites Roches. The vegetal notes in the wine were perfect for the spiciness that adorned the oysters and the chewy mouthfeel of the wine was wonderful with the sexy texture of oysters. Oysters and Chinon? Call me crazy but the pairing worked brilliantly.

Above: Moon River…. I’ve only traversed the great Mississippi river a few times in my life and its grandeur always impresses me. I’ve read Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn countless times, one of my favorite books.

I’ll be glad to get back home to Austin tonight but New Orleans is a blast — great folks, great food, great wine, great music, beautiful city — but the people down here are still hurting four years after the disaster. Nearly everyone I’ve come into contact with on a professional level has in some way referenced Katrina. Yesterday we visited the warehouse of a major distributor. The warehouse manager told me how he had to destroy everything he had in stock following the hurricane. “We know a lot about destroying bottles,” he said with a sigh. Today, they’re up and running but using a skeleton crew and bare-boned allocations.

If you are looking for a food and wine destination, check out New Orleans. The folks down here need our support and the food and wine scene is great…