Ahhh, Ludo -- I simply know, that if we lived in a different place in the time-space continuum, you would be the love of my life. You're simply the picture of talented chef perfection: hotness and mean technique with a knife. How can a girl resist? And now you're facing off tonight on "Top Chef Masters" against one of my other chefly-crushes, Rick Bayless (his margaritas are a revelation), and a long-time friend, Cindy Pawlcyn (whose Thai-Gin-Tini is equally revelatory). [Note: I haven't had the pleasure of hanging out with Wilo Benet.]
And, wouldn't you know it, my damn TV is not working. There's a giant tree in the front yard that, encouraged by our unseasonably cool summer, has enthusiastically outgrown its last haircut. That's right, no satellite. (Well, we still get the Sleuth channel.) So I'm going to sleuth a spot to watch Ludo where no one will notice if I hyperventilate. I telephoned Barney's Beanery across from my office, and while they definitely favor the sports (anyone catch today's US-España soccer final?), they can give me a table where I can tune my own telly. I don't know if they charge corkage at Barney's, but here's what I'll try to bring to take the edge off the unbearable tension of watching a Top Chef cookoff: 2006 Chateauneuf du Pape Chante Cigale. Wine Spectator describes it as "muscular but forward ... with a tight grip on the finish." (!!!) It also has flavors of tobacco and lavender, much like my favorite French men. And, when it comes to favorite French men, you're very high on my list, M. Lefebvre. Bonne chance, and thanks for representin' for your posse in LA. Now, where are my smelling salts?
I've learned a couple of things over the past few weeks: 1) Getting older means not trying so hard to be perfect (imperfect people are sooo much more interesting); and 2) if you let your ex-husband bring the wine to a party, he'll trot out some good stuff, but he also might try to drink it before you even get the canapés on the table.
My daughter graduated from middle school last week. (Please note that I became a mother when I was very young.) In this day and age, middle school graduation is apparently a very big deal, necessitating a ceremony, a diploma, a new fancy dress (underwritten by grandmother Carla), and a party (underwritten by me). Relatives rolled into town. Being a blended family, that meant a fairly large posse of admirers showed up to watch our favorite little Rose make the transition to high school, including my collection of male friends who serve as my daughter's stand-in dads in this crazy urban jungle called L.A.
Now here's the part about being perfect. Even though my mother was part of the posse, I refused to throw myself into the paroxysms of perfectionism that were my previous M.O. when it came to parties. Instead, I made a list and delegated chores. And then I ordered out. My target: tiny, delicious tartines from the newly-opened Pain Quotidien just up the street. My daughter and my best buddy Jeff accompanied me to pick them up. "But I thought you were ordering sandwiches!" she said, "These don't have tops!"
Indeed they don't. They look prettier that way. The dog would just snatch the tops off anyway, while we were looking around for the corkscrew. The sandwiches were perfect as they were.
The posse arrived, bearing their designated goodies: Fruit, cheese, sweet things. And the aforementioned ex-husband, with the case of wine. Sparkling and white, already chilled. Box hauled to the back deck, cheese and bread piled on the kitchen counter, tartines awaiting dispersal around the corner. I got to work, delegating.
When I finally made it outside, there was bubbly all around. "May I have a glass?" I asked. No answer. "Um ... may I have a glass?" I repeated. The clinking and the chatter continued unabated, until the lovely Marine captain in the corner finally noticed that I was looking rather parched, and poured me the very last glass of pink tasty goodness.
The bubbly? Schramsberg Mirabelle. Rosé for our little Rose, the elixir we always drink to celebrate the joy she brings us.
The ex, BTW, had already moved on to uncorking the next rounds: Graff 2007 Chalone Pinot Blanc (I've written about the wonderful Graff winery before), Estancia 2008 Pinot Grigio. A guest brought 2006 Kinter Collins Chardonnay. And the aforementioned lovely Marine captain and his wife brought me what I really wanted: 2007 Cline Ancient Vine Mourvèdre (they're invited back, anytime). We drank, snacked on tartines, and gave the dog what he wanted: leftover bits of bread. And my daughter and her buddies decamped to her room to do what they wanted: to text each other and chat on Facebook. After all, the point of the party was the tartines and the wine, yes? And all that random stuff that grownups talk about. After all, she already had the new dress and the diploma.
And me, I had that last glass of Mirabelle, a pleasant gathering with old family who are now old friends, and the satisfaction of knowing that, without even trying, I was enjoying the perfect afternoon.