Chillin’ with Albariño in Silver Lake: or, How Getting Lost on the Way to Intelligentsia Coffee Prevented Jonathan From Being Mugged

10 Feb

After a week at LegalZoom, I need a good day of rest and relaxation. “Rest” for me means driving to two different wine shops, while “relaxation” means drinking wine.

I was joined by my college bud Jonathan Lewis, who seems to split his time evenly between Berkeley and Los Angeles. The plan was to visit Silverlake Wine, where I was to pick up four bottles of the Ampelos Rosé of Syrah for myself and some co-workers. I also wanted to visit Intelligentsia Coffee, a Chicago institution that had just recently headed west.

I had some time to kill beforehand, so I decided to take a trip down the 134 to Colorado Wine Company in Los Feliz first. Specifically, I wanted to pick up a bottle of “The Third Bottle” red from GustavoThrace. I paid my $9.99 + tax for the bottle and headed up the 2 to Silver Lake for my rendezvous.

This was the first time I ever visited Silverlake Wine. I was very impressed. The store is large and very well-laid out. The workers there are courteous, funny, and very helpful. There seems to be a steady flow of customers, and many of them have questions about wine pairings that the attendants seem to nail right away. They also have wine tastings, including one I just missed featuring Maynard Keenan, lead singer of Tool and A Perfect Circle. Apparently Maynard is a huge wine buff and has his own vineyard, where he makes his own wine!

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I was a bit early, so while waiting I had a bottle of the White Rascal Belgian white ale from Avery Brewing Company:

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It’s fuller than that other famous Belgian white ale, Hoegaarden, but has the same light, refreshing taste punctuated by orange zest and spice. Also, it was only $1.75 a bottle at Silverlake Wine, which makes for some good drinkin’.

Jonathan showed up and we got a bottle of the 2006 Martín Códax albariño. Albariño, for those of you who haven’t tried this delicious wine, is perhaps the most famous white wine from Spain. It hails from Rías Baixas, an estuary of the Galicia region of Spain.

I love albariño because it is crisp and acidic like a sauvignon blanc but is generally fuller bodied. It is tart and fresh. There are bright citrus and pear notes and a seaside minerality. Albariños are great with seafood–shellfish, white fish, squid.

Morgadio makes a good albariño, and I’ve had albariños from other producers. It seems that you can’t find a truly bad albariño. The Martín Códax was no different. It was a decent wine and reasonably priced at $11.99. It was lighter bodied than the Morgadio and had a more pronounced tartness that I found a bit distracting. I could imagine it would be better paired with food than as an aperitif.

Jon and I couldn’t finish the bottle right then (as neither of us had anything to eat!), so we decided to visit a place he had passed by on his way to Silverlake. Coincidentally, the place happened to be the newly-opened LA MILL Coffee boutique, which I had wanted to visit as well.

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LA MILL is an Alhambra, CA coffee merchant that had for years provided gourmet coffees in bulk to consumers. The Silver Lake location was its first venture into an actual sit-down cafe/restaurant.

Great place–very well decorated, faux-leather chairs, huge numbers of hipsters (some wearing sunglasses indoors, most others wearing at least one article of clothing from American Apparel). They have not one but TWO Clover coffee machines that make one cup each at a time. Jon had a vanilla latte and I had a cup of coffee: the coffee was good–very, very smooth, very light–but also like… $2.50. We also got a free orange cappuccino (apparently, they add orange zest to the foam or something!) because the baristas had made extra.

I had soft-scrambled eggs with dungeness crab, scallion, and tomato with four halves of brioche. I think there were like… two, maybe three eggs, tops. This was $12.00. I also had a glass of iced coffee with plenty of half and half and Splenda. The cream was served in a beaker, which was a nice touch. The iced coffee was strangely… flat… not as good as that of Buster’s in South Pasadena.

After “lunch” we went back to Silverlake Wine, finished the albariño, and split a White Rascal. Then, we went to Intelligentsia Coffee in two cars (yeah–true L.A. carpool fashion).

Or tried to. We got lost trying to find Sunset Boulevard but, after ten minutes or so of driving, managed to get back on track. This turned out to be a fortuitous development.

After he had parked and was walking down a hill to get to the cafe, Jon was approached by some guy who asked to use his cell phone because he was mugged by two dudes with a gun! This was like… one block from Intelligentsia! This man was telling Jon his story when some other guy came down from an apartment and was like, “Yeah, man, I totally saw you get mugged! Do you need a witness or something?”

At first, Jon thought this was one of those tag-team deals, but it turned out to be legit. Jon let the guy use his phone to call 911 then joined me at Intelligentsia for a cup of joe. I can only imagine that had we not gotten lost, Jon might have needed a new wallet! Close call, right?

At any rate, Intelligentsia also uses the Clover coffee machines. Cups of coffee were anywhere from $2.50 – $4.00. Again, a lot of hipsters. Really nice ambience, with covered outdoor and street side seating.

Silver Lake is a cool place: a strange mix of rich and poor, Latino and white and Asian, shabby and chic. It’s where you can get a $4.00 cup of coffee and, on the way back to your car, get mugged by two armed thugs. I’d give it… 91 points. Complex, with a gritty mouthfeel. Notes of chocolate and vanilla, cinnamon. And it can quite possibly get you messed up.

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4 Responses to “Chillin’ with Albariño in Silver Lake: or, How Getting Lost on the Way to Intelligentsia Coffee Prevented Jonathan From Being Mugged”

  1. dugpark April 20, 2008 at 9:03 pm #

    Ah yes, Avery did a good thing here. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did and I agree that it is similar but different in the right ways vs. Hoegaarden. 🙂

  2. Carmel October 28, 2008 at 9:46 am #

    Good for people to know.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Relaxation » Blog Archive » Chillin’ with Albariño in Silver Lake: or, How Getting Lost on the ... - February 27, 2008

    […] vinicultured added an interesting post today on Chillinâ with Albariño in Silver Lake: or, How Getting Lost on the …Here’s a small readingAfter a week at LegalZoom, I need a good day of rest and relaxation. “Rest” for me means driving to two different wine shops, while “relaxation” means drinking wine. I was joined by my college bud Jonathan Lewis, who seems to split his … […]

  2. How Getting Wisdom Teeth Pulled is Good for the Specialty Coffee Industry « Vinicultured: A Wine Blog - June 24, 2008

    […] 24, 2008 · No Comments I’ve written previously about my trip to Intelligentsia Coffee and how getting lost on the way prevented my good friend Jonathan from being mugged.  I should […]

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