The evening that we were in Sarasota, we ended up visiting the great shopping destination of St. Armand’s Circle. The Circle is an island or one of the many keys in the area, and it seems like one big open air shopping center, but fancier. I was clearing out a section of files and found some notes, wine labels, business cards and even a handmade matchbook, and thank God, that somehow I managed to save a lot stuff without ever realizing that I would be writing years later.
Café L’Europe was this nice restaurant that we had dinner at, and they favored continental cuisine. When I asked for a book of matches, they handed me a blank book of matches, so I wrote the restaurant’s name and the date on it, how is that for a keepsake? Call it serendipity or happenstance, but the restaurant was in the building that originally held the real estate offices for Ringling, and we were at his museum earlier in the day. My Bride had started off her meal with Ahi Tuna; she is very partial to it, especially if they have some Wasabi to go with it. I was less daring and went with a classic dish of Escargot in butter and garlic. She and her girlfriend had Sea Bass, which was very popular at several restaurants that we have been to in Florida, while her husband had a steak, his main entrée request it seems almost where ever he goes. Of course I am not much different because I had Crispy Roast Duck, but it is because it is a dish that we do not make at home. I think one should get something out, that one does not get at home, and otherwise it does not seem special.
When we travel, if we are staying at a home like we were, I take my one spatula that I have had for years, to help me soak labels off of wine bottles, some come off easily and others are pretty atrocious, but it saves me from bringing back empty wine bottles in my luggage. We had a pretty good bottle of wine that night, and yes it was a Pinot Noir. We were enjoying a bottle of Hospices de Beaune Premier Cru Cuvee Hugues et Louis Betalt 1997. The Hospices de Beaune is the entity that has the auction every year to raise money and at the same time, the auction determines for the most part the price of Burgundy wines for that vintage. I am not sure how many different Cuvees that they own, but over the centuries they have been bequeathed some of the most valuable real estate in France, and sometimes the property is only one row in a vineyard. Hugues Betalt was a Squire and Counselor-Secretary of the King of France, who saved the Hotel-Dieu in the Seventeenth Century and donated some property to the Hospices and later his brother Louis, also made a donation. This particular Cuvee is a blend of Beaune-Greves and Beaune Clos de Mouches, both being Premier Cru properties, as from all that I have learned is one has to be quite learned to know where one Premier Cru ends and another begins. I am kind of amazed that I have had more wines from the Hospices de Beaune then I would have thought; I really should get more organized.