February 11, 2011

Lunch at Carafe

My day job is in downtown Portland, near a number of terrific restaurants. One of my favorites is Carafe, which one co-worker has dubbed "Paris" because it's truly a Parisian bistro complete with the wicker chairs, two and three in a row at each table on the outdoor patio just like you see all over France. It's a perfect place for imaging your far away from home, and the food and pricing provide some of the best value in all of Portland. Don't overlook this place just because it isn't hyper expensive.

The other day I lunched at Carafe with a colleague who's a former colleague but also sort of a current colleague. Hard to explain. I guess that's the modern job market for you. She loves Paris and when we wanted to go to lunch, where else was there to suggest? So we met on a bright February day, blue sky overhead like I saw today in a picture another friend posted from the real Paris. And we talked about work and life and enjoyed some simple, delicious food. I also drank too much coffee at the end, which made me jittery, which I hate. That didn't used to happen to me.

So what did I eat? And what wine did we enjoy? Well, this being a modern workday lunch, we enjoyed no wine. Just water and, later, the coffee. And that's fine. I don't need wine at every meal and certainly don't need wine on a mid-week lunch when I have lots to do back at the office. I did enjoy an excellent omelette with spinach, creme fraiche and chunks of smoky bacon, with a side salad of mixed greens lightly dressed in a tangy mustard vinaigrette.

And why write about this here? Because Carafe is worth it, and because there are empty bottles of wine that inspired me to think about what pairing would be best. The '96 Rousseau Griottes Chambertin? Or '99 Clos de Tart? Who would turn down Grand Cru Burgundy with anything?

But I'd go with white wine for my dish, and the empty of '04 Joly Savennieres Clos de la Coulee de Serrant calls me. That's crazy, controversial essentially Grand Cru Chenin blanc from the Loire Valley, some saying it's still the best wine in that region, others saying Joly has gone overboard on biodynamic farming and oxidative wine making.

Me? I'd give it a go. Makes me think of the lone '05 I have in my cellar, which is nowhere near ready I'm sure, if it's ever going to be good. But my mouth waters at the thought of what it might be, what it should be. Must return to Paris soon. Who wants to join me?


barricas said...

It less like being back in the same saddle so much as a saddle adjustment. It's always a good idea to write about what you know and what's closest to your heart. With the move to WA, it would seem that the wine industry there is now the new obvious regional topic to focus on.

Steve-n-Melissa said...

Good to hear some positive words about Carafe. It's one of our favorites, but I've read some worrisome and negative reviews lately. Pascal really has carved out a little slice of Paris in downtown Portland, and I'm glad we have Carafe to turn to when we're needing a France fix.