The somewhat lukewarm New Yorker review of Francesca's located in the old Frankie's space on Clinton didn't bother me, but the writer's take on drinking there made me do a double take.
The most notable risk that Francesca takes is encouraging patrons to drink sherry with dinner instead of wine (one waitress joked, “It’s not your grandmother’s sherry,” as if that were a selling point). There’s nothing wrong with simplicity or grandmothers, of course, but suggesting that diners forego wine in favor of the sweet stuff bespeaks an eagerness bordering on impatience to show off what Francesca knows about Spain.
From the look of it right now, Francesca's does not have a destination-worthy selection of sherry, though they do have some very interesting looking sherry cocktails. However, if you go there for a copita check out the Byass ($8) and El Maestro ($11). (There had been better offerings over at The Beagle (closed for renovations) hope they keep up the good work when they reopen. $24 will get you a copita of La Bota 30 @ Tertulia, and I think Casa Mono might have some better options, at least by the bottle.)
But getting back to the matter at hand, I wanted to call the writer up and just let her know that sweet sherries are the minority. "Really, you can be sure, no one was suggesting you drink a PX with your Fideuà."
But, such is the reality the makers of sherry have to deal with. I wanted to guide the writer to Eric Asimov's tone poem to the wines of Jerez. I wanted to point her to the writings of Peter Liem. And also wanted to tell her about my evening with the wonderful Jancis Robinson. This past May, after tasting many saperavis with some Georgian friends at Jancis Robinson's home round table she graciously insisted we stay for dinner. When she insists, if you're smart, you obey. We did.
But first Jancis had a big problem to solve. She knew the Australian riesling wasn't going to work for me. "What am I going to give you to drink." (It sounded more like , what the hell am I going to give you!)
No problem there: she played sure-footed sommelier as she said, "This is the only thing I can think of." She then disappeared and emerged with what could have been my personal bottle of Gonzalez Byass Palmas fino, but it was not too be. The other's loved it too.
How wonderfully thoughtful, and I hope to one day return the favor. I might have polished off the 500ml myself, enjoying everything as a pairing. Herring and fino? Excellent. (by the way, the herring rivaled Russ & Daughters.)
But meanwhile, over at The New Yorker, there's no range of sherries, there is only the equivalent of Harvey's Bristol Cream, a syrupy, one note aberration. I could cut the publication some slack, blame the gaffe on a summer intern syndrome, but even if it was the fault of a sub-drinking age word-picker, the assumption flags the issue at hand: most people don't know shit about sherry.
Now, it's fine if the writer doesn't like sherry, but that she doesn't know there's a wide rainbow of ocean-air-like sherries under the categories of Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso and Palo Cortado, was not due diligence, even though it is the tragedy of sherry. But the good news it is finally starting to reclaim its reputation, because we live in the age of the oxidative wine revolution. Maybe one day, she'll learn what she missed: the angular, salty, nutty, umami side of the Palomino grape.
I shouldn't be too harsh, though. After all, if I were given an assignment to write about baseball, I too could make this kind of mistake, afterall, aren't the Dodgers a New York team? But you know, the chances that I'll ever cover baseball......