Friday, March 31, 2006
Thursday, March 30, 2006
We get into the town of La Caunette at a decent hour, check into our hotel, and unpack. We then walk right across the street to Francoise and Pascal's fire pit. As many of you know, I'm not the biggest seafood fan. They've got mussels and oysters, sardines and prosciutto. And white and rose wine. I devour the pork and wine. Fantastic. It's cold out, but the fire is toasty warm...
We then walk across town (the fire pit at the office and Francoise and Pascal's home are literally at opposite ends of town, but it takes less that 10 minutes to get there). Pascal opens a bottle of 1978 Calvados as we all have a little pre-meal aperetif.
With dinner, we taste all their current release red wines (which are all exceptional), the 04 Bastide, 04 Vignals, 03 Granaxa, and 03 Orience).
The meal is the real treat, though. But I am getting ahead of myself...
Before the Calvados, even before the fire pit, we are given a tour of some of the vineyards. We head up in their 4 wheel drive vehicles, as our station wagons will not make it. In advance, I have rough roads in mind, but we end up totally off road, on a limestone cliff, overlooking the town and other Minervois vineyards. I can't believe grapes grow here. Rocks, rocks, and more rocks. No dirt anywhere to be seen. Pascal shows us around 3 vineyard plots, one that is newly cleared, one young vine grenache vineyard, and the vineyard shown here, a roughly 5 year old parcel of Syrah. Pascal tells us how the wild hares nibble the shoots of the vines and cause some real damage, and that their vineyard worker shoots them upon sight. Notice the little green bushes between and under the vines? Herbs. There is thyme, rosemary, and lavender (among other things) growing wild in the vineyard. Amazing.
So, back to dinner....
We're all sitting around, drinking. I am fairly sure there is a salad served, but my notes do not reflect it. There is also bread. Pascal's buddy is a farmer, and he is growing this ancient, nearly extinct grain. Pascal got some, and made bread that day for our dinner from it.
And then, the main course. "Lievre de nos Vignes, au Granaxa." Yep, Wild hare from Our Vines, with Grenache. Mmm. So, the vineyard guy had shot three hares that morning (roughly 3 to 4 kg each). These were put into is pot, and a stew was made. Potatoes, onions, herbs from the vineyard, hare from the vineyard, and wine from the vineyard. Talk about a sense of place. Stunning. Bones and a little buckshot. I certainly had seconds tonight.
Then the cheese plate (platter is more like it) arrives at the table. Believe it or not, I am getting a little cheesed out at this point, so I pick the 2 most interesting looking goat cheeses and take a little. Pascal is sitting next to me, and asks if I feel sick. I say no, why, and he says I don't have enough cheese. He begins cutting giant hunks of cheese, cow, goat, sheep, and putting them on my plate. I haven't had this much cheese in a long time. It is all very good, and accompanied by more the the ancient grain bread.
Finally, dessert. Oreitta. Not sure I've got this name correct. I know it derived from the French for ear (oreille), but it certainly had a 't' in it. At any rate, it was an elephant ear. Francoise's mother had made these for us, so we were instructed to eat until they were gone. And there were a lot. We all had 2 or 3, and there was still a half a box left. We didn't finish them off, obviously.
I left in great spirit and slept like a baby until the alarm went off in the morning, and we were back on the wine road...
All horizontal photos by me, all vertical photos from Mike Daniels (east coast, represent).
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I mean, holy shit. Who knew? Why didn't I know? And then I start to wonder if Tommy is touring behind a new album. A new album that I a) don't have and b) am unaware of. A quick search on Google leads me to Guerrero's new web page, and indeed, there was a new EP released in December, 'Year of the Monkey.' I check iTunes, eMusic, etc, hoping to just download, but no dice. I need tickets to the Destroyer show and, now, Guerrero's show as well, so I hit Music Millennium, pick up '...Monkey,' and get my tickets (May 16th, by the way. Yes, I am going. Yes, you can come along too).
You all do know about Tommy Guerrero, right? Old school skateboarder (from the Bones Brigade, for christsakes!) turned astute instrumental musician. Not ringing any bells? Here's a link to Beggar's bio... http://www.beggars.com/us/tommyguerrero/index.html
The new EP is really great. Only 5 songs, which I had to shell out $10 for, but whatev...
The opening track, 'archaic days,' could be my summer theme song. Slim E. here in the office says it is THE perfect summer song. Opening with a great drum beat, followed by shimmering, fast chords, and a tight catchy riff, this song makes me wish I was cruising in my car with the windows down on a warm evening with my sweetheart.
'knives fighting guns' could easily be an out-take from the new Beck album (but better, no doubt). A hint of 'The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly' in the lead guitar, this song moves well. The whistling is a nice touch, too. Again, fairly upbeat compared to Guerrero's previous releases.
'dead water' lives up (or down?) to it's name. A great track, but very languid, it features a haunting wood block put through a ton of reverb. The 4th track, 'spider and the monkey,' starts out solid, but about midway through, a cheesy trumpet riff is put in. Unfortunate. And track 5, 'by fist and fury,' is a just plain great. A little like old school Cake, before they began to suck. Great guitar, drums, the whole thing.
While this may not be the best intro into the world of Tommy Guerrero, it is certainly a great collection of songs. Definitely worthy of $10. For the first timer, though, I'd recommend 'Soul Food Taqueria.'
Monday, March 27, 2006
I picked up the new Destroyer record, 'Destroyer's Rubies,' a few weeks back. I'd heard about Destroyer for years, from friends, from the music press, from all over, really. So when the new album was released, and was touted as one their best to date, I figured it was time to step up and check it out. Plus, they are on Merge Records. Seems you can always trust Merge.
Upon first listen, I was so appalled by Dan Bejar's voice that I thought I'd never listen to it again. It was already on my iPod (I copy new discs right away and then listen in the car or at home), but I went right back to the store and sold it back. How could everyone be so wrong? I gave it a second shot a day later, with the same reaction. Whinny, overly flourished, high pitched, awful. It reminded me of a mix of Robyn Hitchcock, Johnny Rotten, and William Shatner (with his take on 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds').
Then came the third listen. I'm not sure what made me cue it up again, but I am glad I did. I could not have been more wrong about this record. Lush melodies, dense (in a good way) lyrical complexity, a bit of crunchy guitar in just the right spots. And the songs, yes the songs. Simply amazing...
Some of the more brilliant moments on the album...
- the baritone sax/shaker breakdown near the end of '3000 Flowers'
- when the guitar 'solo' kicks in on 'European Oils,' right after the line 'the fucking maniac'
- the lovely, haunting vocals and guitar combination on 'Rubies' that immediately follows the line about giving up cargo to the sea
- the line in 'Looters' Follies' that refers to itself
- the bluesy, lovely 'Sick Priest Learns to Last Forever'
Really, get this album. Make sure you give it at least 3 listens. Don't give up. Oh, and word is that the new, touring line-up is exemplary. They make a stop in Portland at the Doug Fir on May 6. Anyone wanna go?
Here's a link to the Pitchfork review that convinced me to buy...
And for fun, the Destroyer drinking game...