Old school eggplant “parm” with top Texas wine blogger

Managed to catch up last week with top Texas wine blogger Russ Kane and his delightful wife Delia for some old school eggplant “parmigiano” and a Texas vs. Italy vinous showdown at the legendary Patrenella’s in Houston.

Russ is a fascinating guy and his experience as a veteran technical writer in the energy industry gives him some interesting insights into the technical side of winemaking. And when it comes to the Texas wine industry, Russ is the MAN and his blog is the top resource in the field.

Patrenella’s is as old-school Italian American as they come, a kitschy Coppola movie set with all the classics of the gastronomic category. When I asked the waiter if they had spaghetti and meatballs, he rolled his eyes and said, “did you look at the menu?”

O yeah, and the showdown? Ubi major minor cessat: see Russ’s post here.

Orange Macabeo and inky Sumoll from Spain and Alice Feiring bids Texas adieu

Above: My super good friend Joe Pat Clayton (right) was as geeked as me and Tracie P to taste natural Spanish wines last night with Alice Feiring (right).

Alice Feiring hit the Groover’s Paradise like a Texas tornado. The few days she spent her with us were filled with honkytonking, two-stepping, great parties and great friends and lovers of natural wine, and a superb fish dinner prepared by Chef Esteban Escobar paired with a flight of Spanish natural wines last night at Vino Vino (the best little wine bar in Texas).

The two wines that impressed me the most were the Laureano Serres 2009 Abeurador Macabeo (above, 100% Macabeo grown in clay soils, vinified with 2 days of skin contact, no added sulfite [note by importer José Pastor]) and the Els Jelipins 2004 Sumoll (Sumoll with a small amount of Garnacha, grown in clay and limestone soils, whole-cluster fermentation in open-topped barrels, no added sulfite).

The Macabeo was rich and unctuous, tannic and chewy in the mouth and unbelievably delicious.

The Jelipins 2004 Sumoll was mind-boggling good. Impenetrably inky and viscous on the palate, a stilnovo sonnet with alternating rhymes of earth and fruit.

Chef Esteban’s excellent cooking has been reaching new heights lately but last night he took it over the top (especially considering the Herculean effort necessary to create a wine dinner using only Kosher fish and vegetables).

Kim and SO Alfonso also came down from Dallas expressly for the event.

Above, from left: Alice, Lewis Dickson (Texas Hill Country natural winemaker), Tracie P, Jeff Courington (owner Vino Vino), and Russ Kane (author of Vintage Texas, the top Texas wine blog).

And so this morning we took Alice to the airport (she stayed with us, of course). It was a great visit and we were sad to see her go. She certainly made a profound impression on the Texans she met. And I’d like to think that they also impressed her with the Texas-sized welcome they gave her.

We’ll miss her but somehow I think she’ll back sooner than later. Once you’ve danced to the rhythms of Dale Watson at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon, there’s no turning back…