Sensory Symphony

At the home of a client, recently, I received a gift. It went like this: I’d dropped by for a work session, and we’d spent a productive hour at her kitchen table, when suddenly it was time for lunch.

“I have nothing but eggs,” she said.

“I love eggs,” I replied, knowing that from this particular client an egg would not just be an egg. She has a stupendous food sensibility, and buys only the finest of local, sustainably raised ingredients.

“You do like eggs?” she replied. “Hmm …” This pleased her. “I’m going to have to make you an egg in a spoon. And that means I have to build a fire.”

This woman has a fireplace in her California kitchen, a country-farmhouse-style fireplace at counter height, to allow for cooking. A cast iron Tuscan grill allows her to move food around, raise and lower it, and shuffle the coals. She clearly enjoys doing this, so she built a fire with oak logs.

When they’d burned down, she began poking and scraping with various fire tools, cobbling together a bed of embers. Then she fussed around in a drawer until she’d found a large copper spoon with a deep bowl and a very long handle—made, apparently, for just this purpose. She rubbed the inside of the spoon with olive oil, then cracked a beautiful little farm egg into it.

Sprinkling the egg with sea salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, she carefully extended it deep into the fireplace, holding it just over the embers. Very quickly, the egg puffed up like a soufflé, and then she slipped it onto a piece of sourdough toast and set in on my plate.

While I wasn’t looking, she’d apparently also pulled together a salad of tiny arugula leaves from her own backyard garden, and tossed them in a garlicky vinaigrette with her own vinegar, made from odds and ends of white wine left over in various bottles.

“Eat, eat,” she said gently. “Don’t wait.”

So I did, bringing the egg to my mouth and catching the softest scent of oak and taste of smoke as I bit into the absolute best egg experience—one of the best food experiences, period—of my life. I took bites of those perfect, just-picked greens in between, and then noticed that she had poured me a glass of rosé. So I broke my no-wine-at-lunch rule and drank deep, and it all came together in one of those rare little sensory symphonies.

2006 Domaine de Fontsainte “Gris de Gris” Corbières Rosé
Grapes: 60 percent Grenache Noir and Grenache Gris, 15 percent Syrah, 10 percent Carignan, 10 percent Mourvèdre, 5 percent Cinsault
Wood: None
Alcohol: 12.5 percent (according to the label)
Price: $13 at Kermit Lynch
Detail Worth Passing Along: Kermit Lynch has been importing this wine for almost 30 years.
My Tasting Notes: If I tried to tell you something precise about this wine, you’d have to assume I was making it up. After all, I drank only one glass, from a bottle open for who knows how long, with food, and in a state of rapture. So I will offer, instead, this memory: It was the absolute perfect wine to serve with an egg cooked over wood embers and accompanied by arugula in a garlicky dressing. It was fruity and bright and utterly fabulous. If Kermit Lynch has a few bottles the next time I visit, I will definitely buy them. I pass these “Tasting Notes from the owner of the Domaine” along, too, as gleaned from Kermit Lynch’s import office (in part because this description resonates with my memory): “A crystalline salmon color with superb amethyst tints. Wine immediately gives off notes of raspberry, cherry, and freshly picked strawberry followed by exotic aromas of pineapple and mango; on the palate, the density of fruit mingles with a vivid acidity. Very persistent.”

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