Meeting Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

I had an unexpectedly delightful evening last night.  First, it only took me 45 minutes to get to Pour on the Upper West Side…which made me feel bad about all the melodramatic grumbling I did about having to go “up there.”

I met my friend Ellen, and we were first to arrive (we were told by the genetically blessed women who work in the store that Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg were in a cab and on their way).  This gave us ample time to peruse Pour’s offerings.  I was mighty impressed.  It’s a small selection, which usually indicates that it’s carefully and thoughtfully chosen.  The whole set-up of the shop is boutique-y with a modern-yet-cozy atmosphere.  The shop is separated into categories, such as “Bright”, “Velvety”, and “Plush.”  And each wine has its own card hanging on hooks, and you can take the cards with you.  For instance, I bought a 2006 Lavradores de Feitoria Vinho Tinto, which was in the “Velvety” section.  It’s tasting notes describe it as “a little earthy, a little nutty, and sup

er silky”, and it tells you all the info about the varietals: “30% Touriga Franca, 25% Tinta Roriz, 20% Tinta Barroca, 20% Touriga National, 5% Other Varieties.”  I didn’t recognize a single one of these which, naturally, is why I bought it.  It is from Douro, Portugal and felt reasonably priced at $17.

So what about Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page?  Well, they arrived…Ellen and I played shy and intimidated and just hung around them…and eventually were shoved over to them by one of the shop ladies who knew we were there to meet them.  I’ll just cut to the chase and inform you that they were delightful: approachable, eager to chat, and very informative.  Among the gems I took away from our meeting, Andrew suggested serving Champagne close to room temperature as a pleasant surprise to guests: its Chardonnay qualities show themselves when served closer to room temperature.  Karen also whipped out this temperature gauge thing: it looks like a tire gauge, and you put in the wine glass just above the wine.  It takes the wine’s temperature but, lest you think Karen and Andrew pretentious, they proceeded to giggle about how much this gadget freaks out sommeliers in restaurants.  Karen asked us how much we get out to restaurants and, I had to admit, I don’t get out much between the job and the family.  So I whipped out that Rare’s burgers were some of favorite in the city.  Ends up that Karen knows it!  We waxed poetic about their fries and onion rings…and I felt so cool.  It wasn’t until the end of the evening that Andrew mentioned they live in Murray Hill so, naturally, they would know Rare.

Karen remembered (or faked it really well, anyway) my blog because I reviewed What to Drink with What You Eat.  As a thank-you, they signed an extra book for me, The New American Chef, which was fascinating reading on the subway ride home.  I also bought my own copy of What to Drink with What You Eat since I had previously been working from the library’s copy.

Lastly, I have a few other wine notes.  The shopkeepers asked Karen and Andrew what they wanted to open up, and they suggested a sparkling rosé wine, Bugey Cerdon.  It was initially sweet but had a pleasantly dry finish.  What was fun was how clearly Karen and Andrew enjoyed the wine – they were practically giggling over its effervescence, which was incredibly endearing.  Additionally, I bought a second bottle of wine from the “Bright” section of the store, and you’ll get a kick out of the tasting notes: “You’re going to think we’re crazy, but we get salty, fresh bacon on the nose of this wine.  Don’t worry – bacon isn’t the only aroma there; we also get boysenberry-like ripe fruits and earthy minerality.”  THIS is MY kind of wine store!  The wine was a 2006 Corte Rugolin Valpolicella Classico from Veneto, Italy ($21).

Overall, a fantastic night.  Much thanks to Karen Page, Andrew Dornenburg, and Ellen (who gave me some tips on my soufflé)!

Eat, drink, and buy a copy of What to Drink with What You Eat 

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