Sunday, June 24, 2012

Like with likes

When I was a kid I used to think that it would make more sense for museums to specialize. Not that it would make more sense for some of them should specialize, but that they all should. The thought was that it would best for all of the works of Degas to be in one place. And in another place there would be Velazquez. And somewhere else the Rembrandts. I mean all the works, the entire production of the artist, in total. A small city might support the Whistler Museum. A large city might have the Picasso Foundation. Everything, every etching, every mural, every sculpture, and every oil on canvas from a particular artist would be in one geographic location.

Think about it. All the works would be in context. Wanted the progression of a theme through an artist's work? There it would be. Wanted to know how many times he painted a particular model? All the canvases would be there. Changes in technique, or in formal concerns? You would see them and when they started. Wanted to learn a little or a lot about a particular artist? You'd know where to go. Wanted to speak with every expert who had written a book on that artist? You'd know where they worked. The people who knew the subject in depth would be there, and so would all the works, so that you could learn from them to whichever degree you decided was best.

They look like they would be absolutely charmed to be joined by all of their friends.

Of course it wouldn't work for art. It's all too expensive now, and there is no way to get all the pieces moved around the global patchwork of museums in a way that would link them up all together. But I am ready to say it would be better for wine if a similar scheme were in effect for restaurants.

Imagine it for a second. The Jayer restaurant. The Raveneau restaurant. The Mascarello restaurant. Each restaurant in the world could choose one producer of white and one of red. A menu would be designed solely with those wines in mind. A menu which could cut across culinary boundaries, just so long as the food was designed for those house wines. Whole Dover sole on the menu of the Raveneau restaurant? Sure. But also crudo. A fresh Chevre might also be offered, not far the simple linguine tossed with lemon bread crumbs and clams. Any dish that might complement the wines, nothing that wouldn't.

A staff that knew the wines expertly, inside and out. No one off bottles. No guesses. This is what they do, they open up Lopez Rioja. They can tell you precisely how a 1968 is drinking, because they have opened five already this week, and two of them were with that dish, actually. A sommelier who wants to learn about the wines of Gouges? He goes to stage at the Gouges specialist for awhile. He works with a team that knows all about Gouges. Young Gouges, old Gouges, red Gouges, white Gouges. Gouges decanted, Gouges from a cradle. They do it. Then maybe that sommelier writes a paper up about Gouges, something for the community to read, before moving on to assume lead sommelier duties at the Simon Bize restaurant.

Think about it. It could be wonderful. You plan. You save. You go to the Rousseau restaurant for your anniversary. You are guaranteed of provenance. The buyer there knows the labels of Rousseau like he knows his own face in the mirror. This is his profession, the wines of Rousseau. Nothing out of place makes it in. Rousseau family members stop by now again to taste in the cellar, to chat with the chef about ideas, maybe drop off some of the latest late release. This is the restaurant that represents them to the world, of course they take a strong interest in what happens there. So does every producer with their own respective venue.

Want something different? Tired of drinking at that same Madiran place near your house? Bring in corkage. But don't say it isn't nice to drink in context.

Really, it's not so silly.

1 comment:

Brooklynguy said...

I really like this idea. I wish there were a practical way to implement it. How would we decide which continent and which city gets to house the Rousseau restaurant, for example? And would it be possible for that same city to also have Roumier, or would there be a rule that only one blue-chip producer from any region is allowed in each country.

I think you;d have to auction off the producers, like radio airwaves or something.

If you can get funding from various governments, I'd like to work on solving this problem. Great idea, pal.