The idioblog and the inner light (a food and wine blog for one)

Above: This photo of super-sized okra in Arkansas is just one of the many idioblog posts I receive every week.

One of the notions that intrigued me the most when I studied language was that of idiolect: “The linguistic system of one person, differing in some details from that of all other speakers of the same dialect or language,” from the Greek idios, meaning own, personal, private, peculiar, separate, distinct (OED).

In linguistics, the term idiolect is often used to denote a language spoken by only one person. In the twentieth century, for example, as western culture pervaded their nations, elderly South Pacific islanders sometimes found themselves in the peculiar condition of being the last living speakers of a their island’s language. In the moment there is a sole speaker of a language, that language becomes an idiolect.

Poets are very much interested in idiolect: the greatest achievement of any poet is that of creating a new language (at the moment of its creation, it is an idiolect, a language spoken by only one person).

I wonder if other food and wine bloggers share this experience: I often receive emails from authors of what I have come to call “idioblogs,” i.e., blogs read by one sole individual and one individual alone (namely, me). I’m not sure why friends and family — sometimes folks I don’t even know! — feel compelled to author these “blogs for one” but I, for one, enjoy them immensely. (In all fairness, sometimes a few other addressees are included but never more than three. These are not technically idioblogs but rather what I call Three Musketeer blogs, dispatches composed in the spirit of “all for one, one for all.”)

Here are some of the more thrilling reports recently dispatched. From France, New York, Los Angeles, and Arkansas.

Arkansas idioblogger weighs in with:

    check this out….it’s my okra…10’9″…..and still growing!! [see photo above]

A texting idioblogger gives realtime dispatches of his meal at Milos in NYC:

    @ milos right now. Balada and chenin blanc. Super good

    [Thierry] Germain Saumur Chenin Blanc excellent value

One of the more idiosyncratic of the idioblogs is authored by a Hollywood aesthete and epicure. He idioposts anonymously but I think I’m on to his identity:

    Green beans hazelnuts mustard

    Shrimp tacos from La Taquiza; Soave from Suavia (via K&L)

But the top idioblogger is a rock star whose Herculean dispatches are as mimetically inspirational as they are enviable. The following idioblog post was accompanied by the above image of frogs legs.

    there was “K” from Dard et Ribo

    somewhere in there, around the time of the K, the incredible chef, who is from Benin, served up bowls of frogs’s legs cooked in persillade that n***** and i tore into with wild abandon. so delicious and soulful.

    laughs were plentiful, glasses were broken… a real party.

Okra in Arkansas, balada and Saumur in NYC, shrimp tacos and Soave Classico in LA, and frogs’s legs and Dard et Ribo in Brussels… As George Harrison once wrote:

    Without going out of my door,
    I can know all things on earth
    without looking out of my window,
    I can know the ways of heaven.

    The farther one travels
    the less one knows
    the less one really knows.

    Without going out of your door,
    You can know all things on earth
    without looking out of your window,
    you can know the ways of heaven.

    The farther one travels
    the less one knows
    the less one really knows.

    Arrive without travelling,
    See all without looking,
    Do all without doing.

Happy Sunday ya’ll!

Soldera Rosso 91 backstage at Diana Krall

From the “Good wine bloggers go to heaven, bad ones go back stage” department…

Franco is not the only one who gets to go see Diana Krall thanks to his connections in the wine world.

Most of the folks who visit my blog know that blogging has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me, professionally and personally, bringing me into contact with a wide range of people, from all walks of life, whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

I probably would have met Anthony Wilson — wine dude and jazz master (I’m not kidding) at one point or another: as it turns out he and I have a ton of friends in common (including my old friend John Mastro who manages our band Nous Non Plus). We met “virtually” after Anthony stumbled upon a post of mine on López de Heredia, one of our shared enophilic passions, and we made the connection of all the folks we knew in common.

Above: Pre-show dinner with the gang at Pt. Loma Seafood, around the corner from Humphrey’s by the Bay where Anthony played with Diana Krall. The name of the venue is SO 70s!

On Monday, Tracie B and I picked up Anthony (second from right) and took him to dinner at Pt. Loma Seafood, where we drank 2007 Soave Classico by Suavia and Lini Lambrusco Cerasa Rosé with our dinner (no corkage!). Pt. Loma Seafood is a San Diego classic and the freshness of the materia prima is second to none — highly recommended. That’s our friend Frank Sciuto, owner of Tio Leo’s, sitting next to Jon and Jayne, center. When I mentioned to Frank that we were going to see Diana Krall, his mouth dropped to the floor and his wife Violet said, “Diana Krall is Frank’s freebie.” So we just had to take him along.

Above: Soave Classico 07 by Suavia and crab louie paired like the warm tones of Anthony’s Clark amplifier and the tender notes of his custom Monteleone archtop guitar.

I have to confess that I hadn’t really done my due diligence. I knew that Anthony was a wildly talented musician but it wasn’t until I ordered some of his disks from Amazon and started listening to his music that I realized he is one of the jazz greats of our country (and the son of legendary band leader Gerald Wilson).

Above: Jon said it was the most “rock ‘n’ roll” label he had ever seen, hence the headbanger’s homage.

I really wanted to thank Anthony for being so generous with tickets and passes and so we smuggled in a bottle of 1991 Soldera Rosso Intistieti. I couldn’t figure out the origin of the name Intistieti and so I asked Franco to write to Gianfranco Soldera, who answered that Intistieti is a highly localized dialectal form that means terra tra i sassi or literally land among the stones. The soil is stony and poor and thus unsuited for growing crops other than grapes destined for fine wines. I had never tasted one of Soldera’s declassified wines, i.e., a wine that he felt didn’t rise to the quality of his Brunello di Montalcino, but a wine he felt should be released nonetheless. He is one of Italy’s most exacting winemakers and I knew this would be great. The Pegasus on the label was inspired by the notion that his wines rise above mediocrity — and indeed, they do. This wine showed gorgeously and was shining example of how Sangiovese can age gloriously when made in traditional manner (I’ll do a post on my mind-blowing visit to Soldera last year and his unique approach to winemaking.)

Above: I brought a bottle of Lini Lambrusco Labrusca Rosso for Anthony to take on the buss with him that night for a night cap. That’s him, left, with bassist Robert Hurst (also, a super nice guy). Lambrusco, so low in alcohol, light, and refreshing, is a great end-of-the-night wine.

Thanks again, Anthony, for a truly unforgettable night and a great way to celebrate the success of the San Diego Natural Wine Summit on Sunday. And thanks to Winnie, who was the first connection that Anthony and I made, and who suggested that I write a blog so many moons ago! I am amazed, over and over again, how wonderful surprises continue to emerge from the world of blogging. As the virtual world grows smaller, so the real one seems to be richer every day.

Sublime: tuna tartare, avocado, and Soave

From the “life could be worse” department…

The acidity and minerality in the 2007 Soave Classico by Suavia and the rich flavors of raw tuna and fresh avocado made for a sublime pairing the other night at the happy hour at Trio, the steakhouse at the Four Season in Austin. When I’m not on the road hawking wine (mostly in San Antonio and Dallas these days), you’ll often find me there, hanging with my buddies chef Todd Duplechan and wine director Mark Sayre (Mark just passed the third level of his Master Sommelier. Right on man!).

Believe me, the wine trade isn’t always as glamorous and fun as it sounds but it’s kinda cool when you get to rep a wine like the Suavia (which I do).

Above: That’s where the grapes are grown. I visited Suavia in Soave Classico in April after Vinitaly.

Today, I’m heading to an “undisclosed location” in Arizona for reasons I am not at liberty to discuss.

Tracie B will be meeting up with me tomorrow in San Francisco and then we’ll head to Napa where we’ll be tasting at some of the wineries the company I work for represents in Texas. I am exhausted after three days on the road hawking some excellent wines from Friuli but, honestly, life sure could could be worse.

The highlight of our trip will be the Kermit Lynch portfolio tasting in San Francisco and the winemakers dinner the night before.

I’m posting from the Austin airport and I gotta run to make my plane. Stay tuned…