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I rarely dine out in Long Beach despite the amount of time I spend in the city visiting my parents, yet I still take note of many eateries along the way there, bookmarking all the hole-in-the-wall spots that I prize. Unfortunately, I neglect the eateries of Long Beach, in favor of the highly touted and trafficked places in Los Angeles because somehow I feel that they are proven, with the high volume of people eating there. But then reality sets in: You can have incredible food from anywhere (Bisbee, Arizona anyone?). Why is it that I seem to go out of my way for offbeat restaurants in Los Angeles and treat Long Beach like a second-class citizen? No good answer really but all that changed Sunday.

I started my day at 2 a.m., up-‘n-at-em like I always say (I don’t really say that), but happened to be working REALLY EARLY! Afterward, I spent the remainder of the day with my parents, catching the Ducks game and trying Louis Burgers III, a local hamburger joint located off Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Long Beach.

The outing had been pre-orchestrated and I had arranged to serve the burger with a bottle of 08 Clos la Coutale from Cahors (one of the five Kermit Lynch bottles I purchased recently), a blend of eighty percent Malbec and twenty percent Merlot that seemed like it would be a stellar pairing on paper.

My first trip to the Louis Burgers III, after passing by it numerous times was exciting. The joint was hopping, diners occupied all booths/tables and a long queue was forming at the door. Somehow I was a tiny bit disappointed because I had romanticized notions of a dingier burger joint that would still serve a fantastic burger.

The workers, clad in purple attire, were working at a furious pace, pumping out order after order. The epitome of efficiency. We ordered a burger and junior cheeseburger with some fries to go. About ten minutes later we had our food and were on the road back home.

We transferred the food to plates; poured a few ounces each into our goblets of decanted Cahors red wine and began eating. The burger was served with a ¼ inch patty painted beautifully with char marks from the griddle, shredded iceberg lettuce, raw red onion, pickle, tomato and a little spread. The first bite was very good and this night was going off without a hitch. The Ducks were up 3-0 against Edmonton by the second period (who knew the sort of cardiac they had in store for us later!), and I tried the wine with the burger, probably my best pairing since I have begun this mission of marrying burger and wine, everything working in concert. Even the French fries were above average, heavy on the potatoes (much like their Dutch /Belgian forbears).

The Malbec-heavy blend supported the weight of the burger, it was a remarkable pairing and it got better with each bite, both serving to make the other better, no spikes of heat or being out of balance. On its own, the Cahors red wine was very tannic and big bodied, taking on an intense bloodlike color in the glass with earth, ripe blackberries and faint speckles of vanilla on the nose.

If this is any indication of the caliber of foods Long Beach offers, then I might be eating a little more frequently in the fifth largest city in California. This past Sunday was one of my favorite burger outings of all time, the food and drink were in symmetry, the Ducks eked out a narrow victory with Selanne potting his 1300th point and I spent time with my parents. The vinometer whooshed by marker 486 on the quest-to-500. Just gathering momentum.

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