Thursday, May 26, 2011

Goodbye, mate.

It was 2005 and Gwen Stefani had just come out with Hollaback Girl. I was working for Daniel at the namesake, and this dude comes in and the first thing he does he orders Clos Rougeard 1996 Poyeux and Bourg. Two seperate bottles. For a party of two. Nobody used to order Rougeard back then, it wasn't like it is today. So I'm like, Uhm, Excuse me? Who are you? Because my name is Levi and we should be friends, and that was how I met Michael Wheeler.

We became pals and he taught me a lot of stuff, the insider know how that he knows and how, and we had some epic meals together. There was the time we put on the Fiorano Fantasma, showcasing a deep vertical of Fiorano whites before almost anybody in this country knew that they were some of the greatest wines of Italy, and I feel like we had a giant impact on the market with that dinner, because now there are like 6 dudes out there who know that those are some of the greatest white wines of Italy, and that is like a huge multiple over zero when you think about it. He was there for Vallana. He introduced me to Cedric Bouchard. He contributed Pie in the Franco manner when the clarion call of Pie went out amongst the masses. And there was Santorini night. He showed the folks on the deck how to do it that evening. He was one of the few imbibers there to get home unscathed by the sheer number of bottles from the Greek isle that were opened. Also, I don't really know how many people would be interested in turning out for a Massandra dinner were one to be held again, but I know Mike and I were at the original.

Well, Michael is leaving for that other coast soon, so it was time for one last Hurrah. He got together some people for a lunch at Diner, in the fashionable part of town, and we did it up right like.

Everybody was there, let me tell you.

I always try to sit next to Rosette at these things. I feel like she's always got something to say. And she gets along well with everybody. She's a people person, know what I mean?

Jacques had this terribly sad story about getting sued for copyright infringement by P. Diddy and the Pope Benedict on the same day. How is that allowed to happen?

 Rougy!! Looking good, baby!

Noel said that his retirement is treating him just right, thank you. The people who think he is coming back, who do they think he is? Mick Jagger? Barbra Streisand or some kind of big shot? Noel said that if one more person tells him to sing Happy Days Are Here Again that he can't be held responsible for what happens. 

Raymond leads a charmed life. I mean for real. He was telling us about the time he visited the Price is Right as a member of the studio audience, and you know what happens? He gets called down to be a contestant on the show! And then Bob Barker asks everybody to guess the price of a Bucher Vaslin pneumatic wine press and Ray knew the answer down to the penny, because he had just bought one the day before. Seriously. I mean, who does that happen to? Raymond is the type of guy if he goes to a major league baseball game he catches the home run ball in the stands. That's just the way it is for him. It's amazing. There isn't a lot of major league baseball played in France, but still.

Old Mr. Laville showed up with Vanna White wrapped around his shoulders. Quite the entrance, I must say!

Party crasher.

Emidio, Emidio. How many times are you going to tell me that you have been around since before the day I was born? I've heard it before, man.

I dug how Ceretto got into the whole Williamsburg vibe with the retro threads. Well done, Sir!

When Egon Muller shows up, you know that it is going to be a party. The guy is a prince.

Auguste, you crazy for that one, son!

Anyway, as you can see, most everybody there was awesome. Total A-List peeps. It was a great lunch, the food was delicious, and there was even one or two decent bottles of wine there, too.

I'm going to miss you, Mike. Thanks for everything.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Visit to the new Roagna winery facility (under construction)










This agriturismo, owned by the Roagna family, is connected to the new winery facility.

Vineyard belonging to Roagna at the base of the new winery facility. I believe it is La Rocca e La Pira.

Sunday, May 22, 2011



        --------A SIMPLE Child,
        That lightly draws its breath,
        And feels its life in every limb,
        What should it know of death?

        I met a little cottage Girl:
        She was eight years old, she said;
        Her hair was thick with many a curl
        That clustered round her head.

        She had a rustic, woodland air,
        And she was wildly clad:
        Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
        --Her beauty made me glad.

        "Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
        How many may you be?"
        "How many? Seven in all," she said
        And wondering looked at me.

        "And where are they? I pray you tell."
        She answered, "Seven are we;
        And two of us at Conway dwell,
        And two are gone to sea.

        "Two of us in the church-yard lie,
        My sister and my brother;
        And, in the church-yard cottage, I
        Dwell near them with my mother."

        "You say that two at Conway dwell,
        And two are gone to sea,
        Yet ye are seven!--I pray you tell,
        Sweet Maid, how this may be."

        Then did the little Maid reply,
        "Seven boys and girls are we;
        Two of us in the church-yard lie,
        Beneath the church-yard tree."

        "You run about, my little Maid,
        Your limbs they are alive;
        If two are in the church-yard laid,
        Then ye are only five."

        "Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
        The little Maid replied,
        "Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
        And they are side by side.

        "My stockings there I often knit,
        My kerchief there I hem;
        And there upon the ground I sit,
        And sing a song to them.

        "And often after sunset, Sir,
        When it is light and fair,
        I take my little porringer,
        And eat my supper there.

        "The first that died was sister Jane;
        In bed she moaning lay,
        Till God released her of her pain;
        And then she went away.

        "So in the church-yard she was laid;
        And, when the grass was dry,
        Together round her grave we played,
        My brother John and I.

        "And when the ground was white with snow,
        And I could run and slide,
        My brother John was forced to go,
        And he lies by her side."

        "How many are you, then," said I,
        "If they two are in heaven?"
        Quick was the little Maid's reply,
        "O Master! we are seven."

        "But they are dead; those two are dead!
        Their spirits are in heaven!"
        'Twas throwing words away; for still
        The little Maid would have her will,
        And said, "Nay, we are seven!"

William Wordsworth wrote We Are Seven in 1798, when he was 28 years old. I’ve read that he had the poem’s final line already in mind as he composed those preceding it, while asking his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge to pen the opening stanzas. We Are Seven is a young girl’s explanation of her family, as well as her attempt to keep each member close, despite the departure and death of siblings. As we hear her tell her story, there is less the thought that she misunderstands separation and death, and more that she understands what it is to cope with those. She embraces optimism instead of grief, and relates an assuredness about her bonds. She maintains relationships meaningfully past their supposed loss, and shows how we could do so also, if allowed.
There is in We Are Seven a longing for a sort of immortality, I think. A sense conveyed of relationships that might endure without end, resilient. There is the possibility held out of seeing through the pain of loneliness without rancor. The poem contains a kind of acceptance that is also close to forgiveness. I often think, when I read this poem, that forgetting one another is how we are the most unkind to others.

The focus of We Are Seven is on the little girl and her steadfastness, but I often wonder who the older man is that is so patient and then so pleased with the young lady? Why does her beauty make him “glad”? How is it that he has come to find her in this way? I would suggest that the young lady - "my little Maid" - believes the man in the poem to be her returned father. She is recounting for him not only her strong family connections, which she says are not diminished, but also the history and whereabouts of her siblings. Because here, she thinks, is not only her father but theirs as well. That is why her gaze towards this man is "wondering," I think. She wonders if this is her father come back home, and she makes an effort to relate how she has loved all of her family. She seeks his approval.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile, in the context of my “dad” theory, to mention that William Wordsworth fathered a daughter with a French woman of the name Vallon in 1792. Wordsworth, an Englishman, was separated from both Mme. Vallon and his child by The Reign of Terror, during which period of several years Wordsworth lived away from them in England. In 1798, with his daughter by then several years old, Wordsworth wrote the poem above. In 1802, with the poem completed, Wordsworth finally returned to France and to his daughter. It may also be relevant that William Wordsworth had himself a very distant father, and that although Wordsworth was very close to his sister, he was also separated from her for a period of years early in his adulthood. For me, and maybe I misunderstand, Wordsworth was seeking a sort of redemption with this poem, and a sense of connectedness with his own family that had in a very real sense eluded him. He was holding out a hope (or seven) for that connection.

Tonight is my first night back working again for Daniel Boulud. I began my New York career as a sommelier for him 7 years ago.

Well, the votes are in...

Here is the corkscrew I purchased for my new job:

A big thanks to everyone for helping me decide! Without your input I probably would have gotten something impractical.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Help me pick the color of my wine key!

Well, tomorrow's the big day: I'll be returning to the sommelier world and working the floor. It's official.

So I'll need a new wine key. I prefer to get a new key when I start a new gig. It's a ritual, and I think it brings good luck.

Usually, I get the plain black double pulls, but this time I thought I might offer out a vote. If you think I should spring for green, maroon, or dark blue, please leave your pick in the comments.

With your help I'll select the correct color.

Vote early and vote often. I'll post a picture of the winning key tomorrow.

On the day the world ended

On the day the world ended we drank champagne and thought about what our wish would be for the other side. Sandee said he'd enjoy to share loud laughs with Marcel Marceau, which sounded like fun. I admitted that I really hoped to be in that car race with James Dean, the one where the young girl jumps into the air at the starting line. Sandee felt that that was a good one, but didn't I always refuse to drive? I replied that for a special case I would figure it out.

We both thought that everything would be fine as long as we weren't subjected to endless Shirley MacLaine theatricals, because definitely she would be there and she probably knew everybody involved already. Sandee wished that if we were going to go around one more time that he could be smarter, which is what the smart ones always want, and I said that it would be fine with me if reality TV were a little less popular.

Sandee raised a toast to Civility, to a picture of Alexis Lichine, and to a good show from Balanchine, whilst everyone agreed that it was a very pleasant evening.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vineyards and a Mapmaker

In between two plots of Cascina Francia

Cascina Francia

Cascina Francia

Cascina Francia

Rionda in the middle distance

The Monvigliero cru of Verduno in the middle distance.

Mr. Masnaghetti, the mapmaker of Piemonte.

Levi Serafino