We were so looking forward to seeing our Argentinean friends and colleagues again in Austin. It just so happened that the only night to enjoy cocktails and fine dining with them during their visit was October 31. So it was that I left my son with a (gourmet) pizza and I headed out for my first cocktail-tasting stint at Second and Bar Congress, followed by steak, lobster, and more steak over at Ruth's Chris.
Here is a good rule of thumb when dining with Argentineans, especially those from the wine-growing province of Mendoza.
Do not think they get plenty of great Argentinean wine at home so they won't want to have it here. Wrong. They want it here too. And so it was that although I was so very ready and very willing to order my second "Congress GT" at Bar Congress....whoa that's a good cocktail....
C O N G R E S S G T
Amarillo Hopped Gin · House Tonic · Citrus + Hops Bitters · Seltzer 9
...I ended up having what they were wanting to have. White wines. Our costumed server pulled us out of a bind -- they had no Argentinean white wines -- by selecting just the right wines to make them happy. They were so happy I asked her to write down the names of the wines. (How secretly delighted was I that one of them was French.)
(that's my bad writing down below there)
Then it was time for a nice walk in the cool night up Congress and over to 6th to Ruth's Chris. Knowing the wine issue already...they came through for us here at Ruth's Chris too, bringing out for review and debate every single wine they had of Argentinean origin. After lively debate about every single option, in that lovely Italian-esque sounding Argentinean Spanish, and some not too kind words about a Chilean winemaker who had a place in Mendoza (which did NOT count as an Argentinean wine), we settled in with two good choices that made our esteemed guests very happy. Whew.
Things just got even better. I learned I can still manage, sort of, dinner party conversation in Spanish. I learned a lot about the steak prep and presentation (double broiler used; 500 degree plates used for serving); I learned that in Argentina "salad" is never a first course; I learned that there is a special word in (Argentinean) Spanish for when one tastes wine; and I learned quickly that our several orders of spicy lobster on my recommendation (based on that tasting back at the Austin Film Festival Food event thing), were a huge hit among the carnivores.
Dinner was then over, but of course one must have les digestifs. They wanted scotch mostly. We would walk to The Driskill.
I say "we" - but it was really they and I straggled in later to find them. I would get lost and stranded en route. I was stranded and lost at first because I was walking around dumbfounded by the spectacle of downtown Austin, 6th and Congress in particular, and all up and down Congress, and what this looks like on Halloween. Yes, I do need to get out more.
I never in a million years would have chosen to go downtown on Halloween if I had any idea it was like this.
But because our Argentinean friends could only make it this one night, there we were.
And the Driskill was just the right touch to cap off the night for us.
Not appropriate to post here what I saw at the Driskill in terms of the costumes on those many persons milling about and sitting and standing all around us. Especially cannot post what I saw in the Ladies Room....
But the walk back to the car at Second, where the nice valets had told me 5.5 hours earlier that I had until midnight to get the car (barely made it), did yield share-able G-rated scenery.
No question but that I was not going to drive.
I could not walk home either from Second - well, actually I probably could....if I had 1.5 hours or so and better shoes. I could take a taxi, assuming I could find one, but then the car would be left there downtown.
So I got a ride, for me and my car. My trainer Angie started a company - Sober Monkeys - that, like other services like this, provides a service for getting you AND your car home. I was starting to realize this dilemma earlier in the evening so gave Angie advance warning to put me on her probably/almost certainly list.
Angie drove me home in my car, while a second driver followed in her car to follow me/us home. Sure there's some paperwork in advance involved. Sure it's a tad more expensive than a cab ride. Maybe not more expensive. But getting you, your car, and keeping everyone safe on a crazy night? Priceless. Use it.
Angie did not even berate me on the way home for wasting away in one night all the pending good efforts of healthy eating and good workouts to get back into shape.
- Thank you Argentina for giving us the lovely wine-growing province of Mendoza
- Thank you Bar Congress for hustling up the just-right white wines for our guests
- Thank you Ruth's Chris for cooking up ribeyes to please several discerning Argentinean men
- And, most of all, thank you Sober Monkeys for a safe ride home.