Even before we opened Gastronomie 491 in March 2012, I wanted to work with Andy Besch, the owner of West Side Wines, the shop just a few doors down from our soon to open, market/café hybrid. It seems almost too intuitive, Gastronomie was set to have a great cheese counter and well cheese and wine are a natural, right? But my connection to his shop went deeper than that. I knew from the first time I went in that West Side Wines wasn’t like the other nearby wine shops. The other shops look a little too much like wine supermarkets, perfectly as happy to sell you a bottle of Yellow Tail Chardonnay as they are a bottle of Gevrey Chambertin as if the only difference was price. Andy’s shop was different. They don’t carry Yellow Tail and there’s a clear passion for wine that you feel from the moment you walk through the door. In that regard, we were kindred spirits. We don’t sell the cheese equivalents simple, well distributed wine, and I hope our passion is obvious too.
So after Gastronomie got past the usual growing pains, I suggested collaborating on an event with Andy and he immediately agreed. Then I got worry. Just because we share a philosophy about our primary items doesn’t mean we’ll work well together as co-instructors. For instance, there’s a wine instructor whose demeanor I despised, yet we were great together in front of a class. Would the opposite effect happen in front of our class? It turns out I needn’t worried. Andy and I have contrasting styles, I’m eager to get in everyone’s face (or at least dominate their attention span) with information about cheese in general and in particular about the cheeses we’re serving. Andy, on the other hand, is low key. He draws you in with his vast knowledge, teasing out little nuggets that click hours or even days later about the rudiments of a wine’s composition, the personality of its maker, the idiosyncrasies of its terroir or how our experience of a particular wine has changed over the years.
Our first tasting last autumn was such a big success that we had to do it again in the winter. Our second tasting also worked wonderfully. So here we are again, Tuesday October 8 at 7 at Gastronomie 491, 491 Columbus Avenue (between 83rd and 84th), to see if we can make it three in a row. This time, there is no doubt. We’ll pair six great wines with six amazing cheeses. It’s only $20. Tickets are available via this link, http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/476092