Last week, for the first time in several years, I was really sick. I didn't have a drop of wine for five days. Sounds crazy, but it's true. Imagine not drinking wine for five whole days! You'd have to be in prison, or shipwrecked, or completely knocked out with the flu.
My cold was bad enough so that I didn't even miss wine, actually. But one must eat and drink, even when sick. So what does a guy like me think about ingesting when he's on the sick-wagon?
Phở. Chicken soup might be more traditional for us Americans, but when I'm sick I immediately think of Phở, the traditional beef noodle soup of Vietnam, and the most comforting food that I know of. It warms the body and soul, and if you garnish with the right amount of chili paste, it clears the sinuses too. My favorite bowl can be found at Cong Ly in Manhattan, at 124 Hester Street between Chrystie and Bowery. Great Phở is distinguished by the quality of the broth and the toppings. There is no better Phở broth in NYC than at Cong Ly, I assure you. There are many toppings to choose from, some better than others. When I'm sick, I just want the simplest version, Phở Tai, topped with thin slices of eye-of-round, a medley of herbs, charred onion slices, bean sprouts, and fresh lemon juice. Just look at that bowl in the picture above, as of yet untouched by my waiting chop sticks.
Good bread. Almondine bakery opened an outpost not too far from me and sells what I think is the best baguette in NYC. Crusty and a bit chewy on the outside, light and flavorful on the inside, irregular and lumpy, this is a beautiful thing. Eating one makes me understand the endurance and and ubiquity of the baguette - most are just terrible, but we keep buying them because we once had a great one, and we continue to search for that experience. In Brooklyn, here it is. More on the new Almondine spot soon.
Good reading. Dr. J's recent writings reminded me that I hadn't yet read Kermit Lynch's classic book, Adventures on the Wine Route. I tore through it during these five days and it was perfect - completely engaging but not terribly demanding, perfect for reading with a slight fever at 1:30 AM when you can't sleep. That sounds like a slight, and I don't mean it that way at all - this is a classic for a reason. The book is informative, inspiring, entertaining, and Lynch's passion is contagious. Kermit Lynch is definitely a pioneer. Do you remember when you first heard of Domaine Tempier? Of Charles Joguet? Of Vieux Télégraphe?
While I was sick I thought of many wines I wanted to drink, and the meals that I would enjoy with them. Yet what was the first wine I drank when I was able? A simple country wine, a Gamay from the Côte Roannaise, and it was delicious. I need to drink simple wine more often.