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I am reminded of Lou Reed’s Perfect Dayas I recount Tuesday’s activities, chock-full of stimulating events, it became my favorite of the New Year thus far. A day that witnessed a lot of fun happenings: Hanging out with my family, browsing the antique malls, grabbing lunch at my favorite BBQ place in Southern California and an All-Star roster of Bordeaux in my wine course, all the while shaving off another nine bottles from my Mission-to-500.

My day broke in Long Beach, waking to an overcast morning and an excited petite chienne, Maggie, ready for her morning walk. Visiting my parents on my day off from work and getting an early start. Not too long after rising to my feet, I received a text message from my brother about plans to grab lunch (hours later) at Bludso’s BBQ around noon.

During the interim, I accompanied my mother to her favorite time-off-jaunt—a trip to 4th Street in Long Beach. The area is replete with vintage/thrift/antique shops that reward the patient and savvy shoppers with a bounty of loot. My mom fits in that category; we loaded her findings into the car and headed out to meet my Brother and his associate from work in Compton.

Now I don’t go gaga for barbeque but I do relish each opportunity to go to Bludso’s because they are consistently producing excellent foods and serving them with gracious hospitality. Bludso’s ranks high among foodies; a culinary stalwart in Compton (a city worth examining if you are a gastronome) that dismantles all the stereotypes or the expectations you may foster before heading there. Pitch perfect meals.

I have hosted many a voyage to the BBQ pit and have yet to be disappointed; this time was no different, aside from the rain that acted as a palate enhancer. This was my mom’s introduction to one of my favorite eateries in Southern California. We ordered the “Texas Sampler” with two heaping sides—everything was ample, affordable and extraordinary.

After the lunch, I brought my mom back and departed for Los Angeles still under the spell of off-and-on rain, to beat traffic and get ready for my wine course where another welcomed surprise awaited.

Once inside the class I spied a good size lot of Bordeaux, of various vintages, lined up before my professor. We were going to taste through these exceptional wines and I was going to re-examine Bordeaux—an area about which I was beginning to feel more comfortable and knowledgeable.

The only caveat I had with eating barbeque before the tasting is that my hands retained the scent of smoked meats and sauce—the whole night I reeked of hotlinks. Nobody was close enough to notice.

We tasted the following wines:

93 Ch. Clerc Milon

98 Ch. Larrivet-Haut Brion

06 Ch. Calon-Segur

05 Ch. Brane-Cantenac

05 Ch. LaGrange

98 Ch. Larmande

05 Ch. Gombarde Guillot

06 Larrivet-Haut Brion (White)

95 Hubert Baron de Montesquieu Moelleux

A sumptuous tasting, sopping with cherry, leather, spices and other tremendous flavors for the olfactory and on the tongue; none of the wines were duds, though some of them did less for the crowd.

The 93 Chateau Clerc Milon showcased a beautiful bouquet of leather, cherry, cedar and strawberry and possessed gracefully smoothed out tannins. The 05 Chateau Brane-Cantenac portrayed some big ripe cherry and cassis with an added spiciness on the palate accompanying its drying tannins. We sipped through the collection and marked the differences of cocoa on the Calon-Segur and the softer plum and candied notes of the Gombarde Guillot.

As our palates began to show signs of fatigue and my teeth took on the deeper shade of prune purple, we traded the overpowering red wines with the white wines of Bordeaux. A necessary reprieve.

Both of the whites showed well too. The 95 Baron de Montesquieu rocked my taste buds with notes of orange marmalade, white tea and vanilla, it was an interesting wine and capped the evening in a light manner. It was still sprinkling after class, which made it easier to give a sigh of contentment as the day drew to a close with the refreshed urban air.

I now stand 418 wines away from my tasting projection on the year; I can only hope that many of the future tastings will be this enjoyable though I might think twice about an offer to eat barbeque the next time I am in a tasting group because I could not shake the smoked meats.

In Compton—a city, cloaked in unnecessary falsehoods and wild ideas of a rough landscape—there is an over-achiever, when it comes to barbecue. Bludso’s sits on South Long Beach Blvd, providing the hole-in-the-wall- atmosphere synonymous with “good eats.” I recently amassed a group of twelve (members of the Better Burger Bureau) to get some take out with wine, meanwhile introducing a few people to the fine smoked meats and heavenly sauces made to taste from Bludso’s.

Despite the restaurant’s petite frame, the production is colossal; two massive smokers in the back are forcing connective tissue and other tough meats into a tender submission, nearly all day. As a result, they have a deep menu.

With a group as large as ours, we simplify ordering—placing them in groups (divisible by factors of three)—by choosing the “Texas Sampler” for an affordable twenty-eight dollars, per group. * The sampler provides two sides, and a large smattering of meats: ribs, rib tips, chicken, hotlinks (two varieties) and brisket. It covers all bases and like the name implies, it is a great way to acquaint one’s palate with the house style of BBQ.

Bludso’s is keen on service too, amiable and very accommodating—I often come with bigger groups than can be supported at the four seat bar—they also sweeten the deal by adding in a free side or throwing in a drink of water.

The ribs are first to go, crowned on top of the piled-high plate of meats and poultry, which must be parceled out to get to the other items of the sampler. It is a generous portion, roughly five to six pounds, insulated by aluminum foil. The glazed ribs voluntarily separate from the bone. The hotlinks have a nice kick (mildly piquant), a little crunch from the casing, and a coarse texture that makes them satisfying but not for everyone. The chicken, from breast to legs was smothered in rich sauce and still maintained moisture in the white meat, which can be notorious for its dryness. The ultimate food item in the sampler was the brisket, buried under the other items on the plate. The brisket was fatty (in the best way) and melted on your tongue, with sweet and smoky flavors adding complexity. Truly, saving the best for last.

We paired the samplers offerings with California zinfandels: Blackstone, Stryker Kights Valley 04 and one French import:  Cote-du-Rhone from Domaine Charvin 07. The pairings yielded typical results—Charvin stood up perfectly to the rich sauce. Domaine Charvin exhibited the largest backbone (significant structure), a big full feeling across the palate and was coupled with an intense bouquet of black fruit and pepper. The zinfandels were both enjoyable but unfortunately could not support the weight of the food and the richness present in the sauce.

While Compton is not filled with poodles or kids skipping on street corners, it is not deserving of it rough and rumble reputation, at least not where food is concerned. Instead, Compton represents a value in food and it also houses a barbecuing lodestar. Bludso’s consistency and service are unparalleled in Southern California and I cannot wait to return.

* I alluded to it already, but the value in food (amount and price) cannot be rivaled. Approximately $31.00 for that much food will double at another eatery, and while I am not a fan of just going for cheap eats, the food is of high quality and worth seeking out.

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