“…any food product that feels compelled to tell you it’s natural in all likelihood is not.”—-Michael Pollan
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Valentine's Day at Restaurant Gougé
It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Don’t panic. There are still plenty of tables available here at Restaurant Gougé, and we’ve got something very special planned for you and your Valentine. Chef Juan Toque Oberdelein has created a special menu, which will be paired with wines from our famous Wine Spectator Grand Award of Markup Excellence. Restaurant Gougé is very proud of our wine list, which has received countless kind reviews on Yelp.
“When we asked Sommelier Larry Anosmia, MS for a Champagne recommendation, he asked if I was going to use it to christen the old tugboat I was with. Nice touch.”—Barry M. Enema
“I didn’t recognize a single bottle of wine on the list. When I mentioned that to the sommelier, he said I should be grateful not to know how much the wines were marked up. ‘Imagine how happy you’ll be when you go to a wine shop to buy another bottle and it’s 80% cheaper!’”—Sam N. Ella
“I asked the sommelier to describe what Trousseau Noir tastes like. He said, ‘Like you’re an utter failure.’ He was right.”—“Red” Blotch
Your Valentine’s Day dinner at Restaurant Gougé begins with a celebratory glass of sparkling wine. Let’s hope you’re the one who gets here first and gets to drink it. Latecomers get a celebratory handshake. Then you and your Valentine will be treated to Chef Oberdelein’s signature appetizer of candied vinegar, water and cranberry juice—that’s right, his legendary Amuse Douche. Now you’re ready to steal a kiss!
You’ll love the romantic ambience of Restaurant Gougé. All the rooms are candlelit, and, so you know, we did, too, pay our fucking electric bill. And for Valentine’s Day, we’ll have strolling street musicians wandering the restaurant for your enjoyment. All we ask is you remember to check the back seat of your car before you drive home. The valets often let the street musicians sleep there. Yes, your Valentine’s Day will be one to remember if you’re wise enough to make a reservation at Restaurant Gougé.
Valentine’s Day is a day we look forward to every year. Yes, it’s a lot of extra work printing up menus with higher prices, and Chef Juan Toque Oberdelein spends all morning making certain the portions are smaller than usual, but it’s all worth it to see the looks on the faces of the people who don’t know any better and dine out on Valentine’s Day. It’s that stunned look of recently bolt-gunned cows, perhaps the very ones you had for dinner, that restaurant folks really enjoy.
We strongly recommend that you choose to order Master Sommelier Larry Anosmia’s wine pairings to go with your Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu. Working with Chef Oberdelein, Larry has selected only the finest Natural, Authentic and Certified Sensitive® wines to accompany each dish. But we’ll let Larry tell you a little bit about how he selects the appropriate wines.
“As Restaurant Gougé’s sommelier, it’s my feeling that most of the people dining with us on any given evening are here to meet me and be educated about wine. Dining, and conversing with loved ones or business associates, is obviously secondary to learning all I have to teach them about wine. So I’ve assembled a list of wines that guests are certain to be unfamiliar with in order to insure that they spend their money on the right sorts of wines, wines I like. I don’t buy wines based on scores, or cult status. I buy wines that make me look smart to other sommeliers. I could give a shit what customers think of me. For the wine by-the-glass program, I select only the finest closeout wines. Receiving deep discounts from importers and distributors eager to move wines otherwise dead in the water allows me to expose customers to wines they’d never be able to taste otherwise, because local wine merchants and prestigious discount chains won’t buy that crap. Our guests taste adequate wines, and Restaurant Gougé upholds its long tradition of outstanding profit margins. It’s a Win-Win!
“For Valentine’s Day, I was lucky enough to acquire some seriously discounted wines which are all from Natural Wine producers. What’s important when it comes to pairing wine with food is inconsistency. Just as every course from Chef’s kitchen comes out quite a bit different every time, a tribute to his ability to substitute lesser ingredients at the last minute, so will each bottle of these Natural Wines taste very different. Yes, occasionally two bottles in a row will taste remarkably consistent, but, for the most part, each bottle retains the right to taste different from the others in the case. By not adding sulfites to their wines, these fine Natural Wine producers take the guesswork out of trying to figure out what wines from their appellations taste like, no need to wrestle with that ol’ bugaboo Terroir, while at the same time providing a kind of Wine Lottery—and we all know humans enjoy a lottery! Heck, even I’m not sure what these wines were intended to taste like. Aside from bacteria soup.”
You and your Valentine are in for gustatory Nirvana here at Restaurant Gougé. Many of you have called asking for a copy of the Valentine’s Day menu. We’re guessing it will be exactly the same as last year’s menu, but for slightly higher prices. We’ve asked Chef Juan Toque Oberdelein for the menu, but he’s busy defrosting several courses from the deep freezer labeled “2/14/2013.” Rest assured that your Valentine’s Day feast will be one you’ll remember for a lifetime, and one your soon to be ex-Valentine will eventually laugh about.
Just remember, you have been gougéd until you’ve been Restaurant Gougé’d.
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"...With sometimes crude analogies and occasional droppings of f-bombs, Washam cleverly uses satire to expose the underbelly of the wine business. It's often hilarious stuff as long as you're not the one being lampooned. Washam takes no prisoners in skewering all that is silly, stupid, frustrating and pretentious about wine, and his favorite targets are other bloggers and writers. No one is immune."
--Linda Murphy in "Vineyard and Winery Management"
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity." --JancisRobinson.com
"As serious as the world of wine is, it does allow time for humor. Each Monday and Thursday, Ron Washam customarily posts a commentary on his needling wine blog HoseMaster of Wine. Washam, a former sommelier and comedy writer – he might say they are closely related – is the most opinionated, humorous and ribald observer in the wine world. His body of work is irreverent and remorseless. It’s almost always satire and parody, though he occasionally drifts into straight commentary, sometimes even with tasting notes. This past year, one of his posts was named the best of the year in the Wine Blog Awards. His success has spawned several imitations, which in their awkwardness show just how difficult satire is."
--Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/21/6089630/dunne-on-wine-wine-blogs-and-bloggers.html#storylink=cpy
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."
--Reign of Terroir
Robert (Joseph) was/is funny unlike HoseMaster who wasn't/isn't.