It’s tough being a student in DC sometimes. Unlike LA or Berkeley or NY, DC seems to have a dearth of good, cheap food. It’s sorely lacking in great street food (although there are a number of food trucks nowadays, like Wonky Dog and the Fojol Brothers) and has barely any serviceable $10-$20 dinner options. It does, however, have some excellent high end restaurants like, oh I don’t know, Citronelle.
So it’s nice to find a solid restaurant with well-executed food and great service. Firefly fits the bill perfectly. In a nutshell, it’s a wonderful place to have happy hour drinks with a few friends or take a date: it’s cozy without seeming small, social without being loud, and as comforting as a warm woolen blanket. It is a bit more expensive than it looks like it should be, but still worth the price.
Mary Kate and I went to Firefly for dinner this past weekend and it did not disappoint. We started with a cocktail each: she had the grapefruit spritz and I had the tarragon fizz. The grapefruit spritz was a glorified greyhound and a bit too sweet for my taste. However, the tarragon fizz was right up my alley, with tarragon-infused vodka and St. Germaine, fresh lemon, and topped off by sparkling wine. It was garnished with some sliced tarragon and was pleasantly herbal; it was a nice aperitif.
There are dichotomies in the world of wine and partisans for both. For instance, Old World versus New World, Burgundy versus Bordeaux, oaked versus unoaked. Another one that I haven’t read about online but have experienced frequently first-hand deals with Beaujolais: specifically, people tend to either love or hate Beaujolais. (Assuming they’ve had any Beaujolais to begin with.)
This is understandable. My first experience with Beaujolais was in 2005, when I was still an RA at Berkeley. I purchased a bottle of basic Beaujolais from Kermit Lynch. I chilled it, just as the KLWM staff recommended, and served it to a few guests. None of my guests liked it. It was too thin, too acidic, a washed-out excuse of a wine. I agreed with them to an extent, but there was something about it that I liked.
A few years (and a whole helluva lotta bottles of Beaujolais) later I’ve managed to articulate what I like about Beaujolais. It’s not just one thing; there are many great things that make Beaujolais one of my favorite appellations. For starters, it is inexpensive. You can buy some serious bottles for less than $25.00, and you can buy most for under $20.00. It is a joyful wine, one that you chill and gulp down, especially because Beaujolais is low alcohol (anywhere between 11-13% ABV). It goes well with a wide variety of foods, from roast chicken to fish, and even to red meats. Finally, it’s just tasty, full of fresh fruit but with some of the better examples featuring dark earth, minerality, and significant structure.
I’ve always wanted a wine fridge–you know, something in which I could store 16 or 32 bottles of ageworthy wine. There are three reasons I never took the plunge and purchased one, however. First, they obviously cost money. Second, it seemed sort of pointless to me to collect rare and expensive wines while I was in DC, only to have to move them–at great cost and effort, and taking them from the protective cocoon for which I would have shelled out a few hundred dollars–across the country upon my graduation. Third, many of the personal wine fridges do not control for humidity: they keep the bottles cool but at the risk of potentially drying out the corks.
Thus, my efforts to become a serious wine collector were put on hold for the past three years. BUT NO LONGER! ”How?” I hear you, my one reader, asking.
I am back at home now (though I haven’t been able to have much fun… “Spring Break” for law school means “catch up with all the work you haven’t done / do all the work you’ve been assigned over Spring Break,” and I’m also busy with my very late moral character and fitness application for the state bar and with studying for the MPRE) and, as breaks from work, I have been cooking quite often. For instance, on Monday evening I made choucroute garnie and on Tuesday I made roasted lemon chicken with roasted pine nut and lemon cous cous and sauteed broccolini. One of the standout wines from this week? The 2000 R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva, an 11-freaking-year-old rosé!!!
Made from 30% Tempranillo, 60% Garnacho, and 10% Viura, this wine is an absolutely gorgeous copper/salmon color. I am at a loss to describe this wine–there’s definitely oxidation from the long aging (four and a half years in barrel and five and a half in bottle before release!!!), something approaching savory and tangy, with metallic notes and just the suggestion of cantaloupe. I don’t think anyone else in my family really liked this wine: this is not a bottle you’d take to a casual barbecue. However, at $27.99, this is a fantastic wine to bring to a tasting of esoteric wines, and a terrific way to try a Gran Reserva at a very low price.