Daniel Powell 7 a.m., March 28
My thoughts on wine lists delivered via iPad.
Last night, I journeyed up to Del Mar to check out a tasting menu from the new-ish chef at Pacifica. Since I got the invitation to visit the place, I can’t deliver a binding verdict considering that I usually dine on the sneaky-sneaky. I will say that most of the meal wasn’t up to the level I’d expected, though that’s probably because the restaurant had press dinners while they still had their restaurant week menu out.
The wahoo with tarragon remoulade was excellent. A melange of herbs, briny olives, and deep green sauce surrounded the tender fish, but the most exquisite touch was the inclusion of a few little raisins, nuggets of chewy sweetness hidden in the dish and adding a stroke of genius to an otherwise great plate. Kudos. More of this, please, and less undercooked pork belly and overcooked scallops.
For now, it’s a “wait and see” situation for Stephanie O’Mary-Berwald wearing the big hat at Pacifica.
What I really want to talk about, is the iPad wine menu. I’ve somehow missed out on the experience during the past two years.
My verdict? Wine as a video game isn’t all bad.
Because the data storage for an iPad is effectively limitless (as far as wine cellars are concerned), app developers can put a huge glut of information a mere finger-swipe away from diners. That’s huge for people who are intimidated by austere paper wine lists and the arcane knowledge of estates and bottlings. Plus, it’s just fun to flip through the digital pages and pick a wine. It’s like, wine Pokemon, or something: “California chardonnay, I choose you!” Maybe, in all that flipping, people will absorb a little knowledge. At the very least, it emboldens the timid and entertains the callous.
On the cynical side, I do worry that the experience is cheapened somewhat, as if the cartoonish appearance of the wine list on an iPad encourages people to falsify their knowledge to the point that they’re ordering the simulacrum of the wine instead of the wine itself. Imagine, if you will, that the iPad claims a certain bottle of wine has “smoky tobacco over blackberry and vanilla flavors, great to pair with wild boar sausage,” or whatever. Something tells me that people risk embracing the sizzle, as it were, and forgetting the steak.