It's close to 8 p.m. and our panties are in a bunch. The shoulders are tight, the jaws clenched. Deep breath. Deep breath. Try to remember: We are alive and life is wonderful. After all, it's evening, and we're in Pomme Restaurant's perfectly lit dining room in downtown Clayton. The prettiest woman in the world is staring back at us, and we've been looking forward to this all day.
But you know how when you're really stressed or have a lot on your mind, something tiny something as inconsequential as, say, an out-of-date online wine list can explode your head and toss you into a valley of despair? Bam, just like that the world is ending and see you later?
We had our wines picked out before we entered Pomme. A friend who knows French wine had tipped us off to a few great deals on the list, and had e-mailed us her suggestions. Armed with a printout and no thought whatsoever to actually picking something ourselves, we skimmed the list looking for "i would say the Gigondas (which is a blend, primarily of grenache, syrah, mourvedre and some others), or the Chateau Grand Bert (Bordeaux, mostly merlot), the Carillon d'Angelus (also Bordeaux) and the Les Hauts de Pontet (yet another Bordeaux but from another area and a good buy)."
Sounds simple enough, but lo. None of them were on the list. We checked again. The server arrived to inquire about wine, and we said we needed a second, a little embarrassed that we were consulting a note. She left; we scanned again. Nothing. None of 'em. Dang. No big deal, right? Certainly nothing to get angry about, although by then we were lost in angst. Deep breath. Deep breath. If anything, Pomme deserves applause for keeping its list so fresh and of course wines will come and go. But things hadn't worked out the way that they were supposed to. There was a plan. Then there wasn't.
Our server returned, checking in. We showed her our note. She looked at the wines and confirmed that they were gone. Then, sensing our stress, she calmed us down, offered a few tips from the updated list and recommended a bottle of pinot noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley called The Four Graces.
Pomme is actually two places, both owned by Diane and Bryan Carr. One is a restaurant that serves French-inspired cuisine at night. It's not to be confused with Pomme Café & Wine Bar which is two doors south and serves breakfast, lunch, cocktails and wine. The café makes some of the city's best croissants, dense but fluffy specimens that rest on the tongue like silk, then melt away.
In Greek mythology, the Three Graces were daughters of Zeus, and represented beauty, mirth and charm. According to our extensive research (which entailed a sojourn to Athens and three different archeological digs), the less-known fourth Grace is patience, a trait that even more so than the other three we've been sorely lacking of late. Impatience muddies up the head, fogs your rational mind, fucks with your perspective. It's a task to resurrect patience once it's been buried, but it helps to breathe.
Another thing that helps is a bottle of 2005 The Four Graces Pinot Noir. It's a soft, velvety, fruit-heavy pinot, a youngster not ashamed to showcase its nubile beauty, the perfect weight for a spring night on the chilly side, hefty enough to accompany Pomme's lush braised ribs, gentle enough to work with a salad.
It's got this calming effect, an easy pinot noir like The Four Graces. It moves through us like a neck massage, thumbs working the spine, fingers stretching the shoulders, impatience giving way to beauty and a little bit of charm (or maybe that's the wine talking), to say nothing of the mirth.