Ask and ye shall receive (champagne)! A few weeks ago I rambled on in this column about silver champagne straws and what a bummer it was that I hadn't seen individual bottles of bubbly anywhere. What I should have said was that I hadn't been offered an individual bottle of sparkling wine in any of the seedy rock clubs I hang out in. (As if I would order anything but Pabst or bourbon!) A passel of classy readers called, e-mailed and came by to let me know that I would have found mini champagne bottles all over town--if I'd bothered to look in wine shops. Jubilation, Quarters, Sunflower Market and Cost Plus World Market all stock at least one brand, but I hear Cost Plus has a selection of eight or nine choices. Most commonly available are Freixenet (say FRESH-uh-NET), Cooks, Pommery Pop and Mumm, but look for the fancy pants Sofia Coppola blanc de blancs in pink aluminum cans. None of them are exactly cheap (they're at least $2.50 each), and most are on the sweet side. What can you do? They're trying to market the stuff to trendy girls in fancy clubs in big cities. Whatever. I still think it's cool. Thanks to Jeff and Sandra for tipping me off, and to Angela for actually bringing in a little bottle of Freixenet!
First, the casualty list. I am getting really tired of reporting on all the great local restaurants that are closing around town. I only wish people got tired of eating chicken strips at Bennigan's. Nouveau Noodles, the multiethnic East Mountains restaurant that was much mentioned in our last Readers Choice Restaurant Poll, has closed. Last week, owner Robert Griego sent a farewell e-mail to his loyal customers, saying, “As many of you may know (or have seen when you are here) that business has steadily declined, and the trends are getting worse rather than better.” The closure means Griego is looking for a new location in which to hold the series of wine classes he had planned for Nouveau Noodles. I expect we haven't seen the last of Griego, who was formerly a manager at Blue Corn Café and Brewery (now known as Chama River Brewing Company).
I get a kick out of this place, and it's not just from the kitschy, retro décor and memorabilia that lines the walls and fills the curio cabinet, or even the music that rockets me back to my adolescence, putting me in the mood for '50s fare. The space is a former gas station that's been converted into a mini malt shop with a short counter and just a few tables, including a couple put out in the parking lot during warmer months.
Any time you enter a beer joint or beer store in the South, you're likely to find a big jar of pickled eggs on the counter next to the beef jerky, the pieds de porc à l'écarlate and all the other Bubbas that belly up to the Southern sideboard. Pickled eggs are tainted by their dissolute company and brutalized by mass marketing.