Our weeks-long heatwave finally broke early this morning with a cool downpour. Heavenly. The rain didn’t last long, and the heat is going to climb back up, but it was lovely to have a respite. To celebrate, and to bring us into the weekend in good shape, I hit the wine store attached to the Whole Foods on Columbus. I love that place. Wine stores in New York tend to be small and cluttered and limited—everything’s small here, there’s just no room to sprawl—but the Whole Foods one is roomy and calm, with a wide selection. In general, I’m not a huge Whole Foods buff (the prices make me shake my head sadly), but I’ll go out of my way for that wine store.
We’ve had the Hess Cabernet before. I have an anecdote about it, but first I’m going to have to back up and explain the concept of Kilimanjaro Coffee: A few years back, for her fortieth birthday, my friend Heather decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was, as you’d imagine, a test of will and strength and internal fortitude, filled with injuries, sickness, exhaustion and hallucinations, the usual. After the descent, Heather and her fellow climbers stopped in a village in rural Tanzania, where she was given the best cup of coffee she’d ever had in her life: grown from local beans, immaculately roasted, ground by hand, exquisitely brewed. A rich, flavorful elixir. Sick and weary, Heather rebounded from drinking this coffee. It was magical. Eager to share the magic with her husband, she purchased a few pounds and took them back to the States with her.
And… well, back home in Los Angeles, the coffee was no good. In fact, it was bloody awful. It was only the experience of drinking it under those particular circumstances, in the shadow of Kilimanjaro following the grueling, life-changing experience of the climb, that had made it taste so glorious. So after Heather’s experience, Ingrid and I coined the term “Kilimanjaro coffee”, which we use as a verbal shorthand to describe anything that was great in the moment due to a special set of circumstances, but is disappointing when you try to recapture that original magic.
We’d thought the Hess Cabernet might turn out to be Kilimanjaro Coffee. See, we first had it in January, on the last day of our most recent visit to Los Angeles. It’d been a bit of a stressful trip—I’m still carrying around a great deal of emotional baggage about Los Angeles, a city that I like more than it likes me—made worse by our hotel, which was a… I’m trying to find the best way to describe it, and I think I’m going to go with “shithole.” Yes. It was a shithole. I mean, in some ways it was a classic old-school Hollywood dive motel—picture hard-bitten women in bathrobes sitting in lawn chairs and chain-smoking in the courtyard, where the swimming pool had long ago been filled in and covered with Astroturf—which is entertaining in a Raymond Chandler kind of way, but our room was just depressing. The plastic-wrapped mattresses had large brown bloodstains on them, the bathroom was covered in spidery tendrils of black mold, and the radiator filled the room with the stench of old urine whenever we turned it on. We’re pretty unflappable when it comes to scuzzy hotels, but that one taxed our patience. Anyway, we had an early flight home, so we’d booked a room at a very nice hotel near LAX for our final night. We walked to a nearby Trader Joe’s for bread, Boursin, salad, raspberries, and the bottle of Hess, then hid inside our quiet, calm, nice-smelling room and unwound while sipping the wine from chunky glass tumblers. And it was the best bottle of wine we’d had in a very, very long time.
So when we returned to New York, we thought this might be a case of Kilimanjaro Coffee—in other words, that the Hess Cabernet only tasted that good because we were so relieved to be away from our dive hotel. I found it at Whole Foods a few months back and picked it up… and it was great the second time. It’s just a very good wine, smooth and rich and robust. Late summer isn’t the best time of the year for a strong red wine, but if it stays coolish tonight, maybe we’ll crack it open.
As for my other two purchases… That cava was $5.99, so really, I’m just aiming for “drinkable”. Or at least “drinkable when mixed with fresh orange juice to make a nice mimosa”. The Riesling is from the Max Ferd. Richter vineyard in Mülheim; I picked it up because we’ve been experimenting more with Rieslings for summer, and also because it had “Richter” on the label in a fancy German font.
Ingrid and I saw Star Trek Beyond last weekend and enjoyed it, which was a relief; we both really liked the 2009 Star Trek reboot, then absolutely hated Star Trek Into Darkness, which was less of a movie and more an unending string of bad creative decisions. Anyway, Star Trek Beyond has already drifted almost entirely out of my memory cells, leaving behind only a hazy but pleasant feeling of enjoyment. That’s all I require from my big summer movies.
Here’s a video to take you into the weekend: Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark with “Enola Gay”. Kind of a terrible video, but it is very eighties, and I like the song:
Bonus video! Yazoo (aka Yaz) with “Don’t Go”, which was a song I entirely forgot existed until it came up in YouTube suggestions just now and which, like “Enola Gay”, has a damn catchy synth line:
Enjoy the weekend, and stay out of direct sunlight.