This week a couple of my articles written for Oregon Wine Press hit the newsstands, and you can also read them online.
Here’s a classic track from Larry Heard under his Gherkin Jerks alias.
Flog me with a Vlasic if it doesn’t sound crisper and funkier than most of the under-fermented techno being released today. Vinyl copies fetch in excess of $70, but you’d be wise to save your pickles. This tune and others are getting the re-master/re-release treatment > click over yonder to the ever-reliable Resident Advisor for the full dilly deets.
It’s a thin line between skinny bitch and fat bastard.
Dined at Ava Gene’s for the second time last night. Sat as far away from the kitchen as one possibly could, at the dreaded table behind the server’s station – thankfully, not a draft was felt from the front doors opening or closing. The lack of proximity to the kitchen was a bit of a bummer, considering reservations were made on OpenTable more than two weeks ago, but the room was near full when we arrived at 7pm, likely a case of early bird gets the worm, and not that anyone minded once food and drink was brought into the ring.
Our appetites danced around like Muhammad Ali, our stomachs flitting with butterflies, as we read over the menu for a good anticipatory while, Googling a variety of menu descriptors and interrogating our waitress, who provided descriptions with aplomb. We ordered a flurry of dishes at once and asked the kitchen to course it out.
Round one was delivered on a plank of wood girding a trio of giardini > carrots, pistachio, fiore sardo; beets, whipped ricotta, walnuts; radiccio, saba, parmesan. I could imagine a vegetarian ordering these three dishes and being completely sated. Crunch from the nuts, well-balanced with flavors of earthy sweetness from the root veg and saba, sour from the cheeses, and bitter greens. The antipasti set us reeling, our meal getting off to an auspicious start.
For the second round, the kitchen sent out the four pastas we spec’d > rigatoni, pomodoro, burrata; sagna riccia, lamb ragÚ, chicories; orecchiette, pork sausage, rainbow chard; and ravioli alla boscaiola. The lattermost was the only disappointment of the lot: same as the first visit, the ravioli were gummy parcels. But they were easy to overlook since the other three were utterly satisfying in their simplicity and perfect execution. Al dente noodles with just the right amount of bite and sauce.
Next, the four of us split two secondi: lamb leg, lenticchie, salsa verde; and peposo, Tuscan-style braised beef short ribs, plus a contorni of kale agrodolce. We probably could have eaten more, professional prodigious eaters that we are, but it was just the right amount and left us with ample room for dessert.
We tried three different flavors of gelato, which everyone thought left a somewhat unpleasant corn syrupy, palate-coating finish; chocolate sorbetto was the standout; and bonus treats of panna cotta and house-made cookies.
As noted previously, the wine list is a daunting read for someone, such as myself, uninitiated in the abbondanza of Italian wine regions and grape varieties. Picking a price point and style of wine (medium-bodied red to start, followed by a bigger meat-friendly wine paced to pour with the secondi) was all the info our waitress needed to lead the way, first into the foothills of Piedmont via Barbera D’Asti, followed on its heels by a bottle of Occhipinti SP68 from Sicily.
Service, once again, was friendly, yet demure. The decibel level of the music has been thankfully toned down, although stylistically the classic rock is still a bit of a disconnect. Would grunge be better? Probably not. Neither would opera nor electronic. How about some Morricone, Umiliani, et al?
All in all, quite a comeback from Round 1. Ava Gene’s has risen in rank to a valid contender for best new neighborhood restaurant. Stay tuned for Round Tre.