Friday, November 6, 2009

Whole Foods Speaks Truth to Power

I'm not a slave to trends, but I do like to try new things, if only to keep my taste buds up the date.

So, earlier this year, when I read that Ferran Adrià—the supposed super-genius behind El Bulli, the Michelin three-star restaurant in Roses, Spain, where you need take out a third mortgage and deliver over your first born in order to get a reservation—had created a beer "to drink with food, from a wineglass,” I made a mental note. Several mental notes, actually. One was, "in a wine glass? Really?" How precious. The second was, "to drink with food? What does he mean? Can't all beers be drunk with food?" But, the guy is noted by all and sundry for his creativity, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I wasn't in a huge hurry, so it wasn't actually until this past August that I thought to buy the wine/beer. I was walking down Second Avenue when I saw the Whole Foods beer store on Houston Street. I recalled reading that the beer, called Inedit, was carried at Whole Foods.

As a side note, let me just say here that I had never been to the Whole Foods beer store until that moment, because, well, because I hate Whole Foods. It's so expensive and bourgeoise and pretentious. But I have to say that beer store rocks. The selection is fantastic and the help are informed and friendly and independent-minded. How do I know this? Because they told me their genuine opinion of Inedit.

I didn't have much time, so I just went right up to the counter and asked if they had that new El Bulli wine. The man didn't exactly scowl, but he's didn't smile, either. He just led me joylessly, silently to the beer, grabbed one and handed it to me. I then took the beer to the cashier, another young man with a beard. He didn't seem too enthused by my selection, either. Something was up. I ventured a question. "So, do you like this stuff?" They looked at each other, silently agreeing to spill the beans.

"No," said the first clerk. "I think it tastes like cheap Champagne. Only not as interesting." Ouch. "Sorry, but you seemed like a nice guy," he explained. No, no, no! The truth is always appreciated. They then when on a mild tirade about how they found the maker's assertion that Inedit was the first beer to be drunk with fine food insulting and idiotic. I put the Inedit down and asked what they recommended instead. They steered me toward two other beers, one local and one foreign. They were both great.


iconoclast said...

I have had this with a variety of foods, and had to say, it worked with most of them. Nothing great, but pretty good. It is not something I plan on buying again. Your whole foods clerks are right. It is an ABSOLUTELY ridiculous assertion that this is the first beer designed to be enjoyed with food.

As a beer on its own, it was a little boring. It had a little wit beer spice, but was lacking in the hops/malt/yeast character department.

With food it worked just well with everything I tried it with. Nothing really clicked with it. My thought was that it would be a nice thing to bring to a dinner party when you don't know whats on the menu. skip it. bring the pinot noir or muscadet.

PL Underwood said...

Excellent post, sir (and I've found the same to be true during my trips to the WF Beer Shop). But you left us hanging: What were the beers you had instead?