Monday, September 12, 2005

Basic Necessities: a Wine Country Flash Back

DucCat and a friend had gone on a manly motorcycle journey last Fall, full of RPMs, Chardonnay, and Pork Products. It was, from the sounds of it, a thing of beauty.

I couldn't go, or, wasn't allowed to go, not sure which. (ha-ha, DucCat, if you are reading this- you know that I am biding my time to go on one of these trips.) Regardless, they came back with entrancing tales of curving, dangerous mountain roads; eclectic folk met along the way, and one restaurant in particular that DucCat said I HAD to go with him to visit.

Upon our recent journey to Virginia's Wine Country, we just so happened to be in that same area. After a morning of farm markets, rolling hills, and tastes of Virginia wine, the 'Basic Necessities' were just what the doctor ordered.

Now, remember, I'd come upon this little holiday with only one camera battery that was rapidly going bad, so the pictures here are sadly few and far between. I wish that I could have taken more; it was truly enchanting.

Anyway, we came inside the vine-covered front porch, into a brimming full cul-de-sac of a wine-and-cheese shop. We were interested in having lunch, so were cheerfully led back through a narrow, picture-laden hallway.

I gasped at walking into the dining room. It was like a large 'Florida room', screened off at the last moment as an after-thought to insects and the like, but bursting with greenery, flowers, and pottery everywhere. The floor was old, Mexican ceramic tiles pressed into the earth... actually, DucCat just posited that it may have been some sort of lineoleum pressed wood. Without photographic evidence, we may just have to go back to check. Either way, it compltely fit the feel of the room; the differently sized tables bearing unique tablecloths, and vases of fresh, jubilent flowers. Vines twirled around the screens, and there was greenery everywhere. I laughed when I sat upon my chair- it was a beautiful place to be in, and around.

The room had only a couple of other tables seated in it. One, a family that seemed to be happily getting ready to go on their way, laughing vigorously, and chugging on cups of water and tea. The other table held an older-than-us-couple in funky clothes and metropolitan haircuts; they seemed pensive and edgey, and were picking at the food in front of them in an irritated manner.

Our young waitress was with us almost immediately, and we swiftly had waters and DelFosse Rose. Please forgive me not knowing how to make an accent mark. It was a great wine for a still-warm summer afternooon, full of strawberry, wafting like butterflies into the nose. Nothing too complex here, and that was just fine. Summer should not be as complicated as most folks make it.

The happy family left, we placed our orders, and the edgey couple were served their food. Almost immediately, Mr. Edgey took up both plates, strode back stiffly to the kitchen, snorting, while Mrs. Edgey took her carefully trimmed head into her hands, and shook it gently. DucCat and I exchanged a look.

Mr. E came back, murmured something to his wife, who got up and grabbed her things. Being shameless bumpkins, we stared, with a concerned and questioning look. Well, we may just be nosy, but Mr. E looked directly at us, and said, plaintively, "We love this place."

Mrs. E said, "We've waited two hours for our food. There was a rush earlier, and they couldn't get the food out quickly enough. Then they did, but to everybody else. We have no earthly idea what could ever take so long- all we wanted were sandwiches."

"We've been here before," continued Mr. E., "and have never had a problem. In fact, we just love this place. The food is great, the wine is great, the people are great." He cast a mournful look at his wife. "It always has been." And he sighed, and it was much like a last gasp. I think I paled.

"We've never had a problem here before," Mrs. E finally said. "This has always been a special place for us, we've come since the beginning. But after waiting two hours- TWO HOURS, and we're patient people- they brought us the wrong food."

And at that, they both shook their heads, and so did we. It seemed terrible. I almost felt like walking out in accordance with their suffering. Almost. It was just empathetic.

Mr. E steeled his eyes, and said, "But you, you've gotten here just in time. It will be okay now- they'll serve you quickly, especially after we've spoken to you. It's a good place, and I hope you enjoy it. We- we always have."

They joined eyes again. "We're never coming back."

And with that, they left.

DucCat and I looked at each other with wide, surprised eyes. There were birds chirping, the sun began to glimmer through the mountain mist, making the greenery come to life. As if on cue, our waitress swept out with our orders.

Our short, and informational, wait was quite worthwhile. DucCat got the Pate de Campagne, a coarsely-chopped pork pate, served with cornichons and salad. It's placed on the appetizer side of the menu, at least for lunch,but just take a look:
Sucker. That's no appetizer, that's a plate unabashedly full of pate, sausage, cornichons, and salad. Each element was tremendous, according to DucCat, who only afforded me one small taste.

Mine was nothing to sneeze at, either. I'd gotten the evolving cheese plate, which that day featured a brie-style cheese, a very sharp-styled cheddar, and something slightly stinky. The couple who had just left in the nicest, most politest huff I've ever seen- had surprised me enough that I neglected to mark down the names of the cheeses.

I can unabashedly say that everything was great, from the service, to the cheese, to the pate, to the salad. The tomatoes were incredible, and had apparently come from the garden of one of our servers.

Sometimes, you experience a meal that is the confabulation of all your senses, and I

think that this was ours. I can't wait to go back, and see the eclectic shop, with cheeses hanging asunder, and wines dangling precariously. The RC (restroom) is papered with funny little wine-and-food oriented comic strips. The staff all seemed knowledgeable, and like they had a sense of joie de vive. Not something I see so much in my day-to-day dealings with service individuals- they had a real passion.

No matter if this well-behaved, and obviously respectful, couple had problems with their visit; this was my first, and it won't be my last. I truly get the impression that the people working here would really like to make your visit a great one. Things happen. For us, they happend just right. We'll be back.

Visit the Basic Necessities website!


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