Monday October 4, 2010
Wine + Market = awesome
Rosco and I went to Wine + Market last week for our port brownie photo shoot. I noticed, however, that Rosco’s lense kept gravitating away from the brownies and toward the room itself. He’d make small exclamations of excitement here and there as he snapped pictures.
I joked, “It’s like you’ve never been here before.”
“Actually…I haven’t. I just figured…”
He trailed off, entranced by the oversized jars of whole spices. He crouched down, framing a shot just so.
I just let him go. If Rosco and his wife Katie had never made it to W + M before, how many other Lexingtonians have let this amazing gem slip past their collective culinary radar?
When I say that it’s one of my favorite places, I mean: period. Not just in Lexington or Kentucky. I’m not alone on that call, Food & Wine magazine named it one of the top five natural wine shops in America (here’s a link to their article).
Wine + Market represents a dying tradition: the local market. A small shop, owned and operated by a husband-and-wife team who live just around the corner. Go more than twice and you’ll be greeted by name when you walk in the door.
If you live in Lexington and have not got around to visiting W + M in the two and a half years since it opened, you need to amend that. Asap.
Behind the marble topped front counter, spindly baguette from Sunrise Bakery poke haphazardly from wicker baskets. An antique cake stand, piled high with flaky chocolate croissants from Bluegrass Baking Company, sits next to tray of artisan chocolates. An assortment of cookies, cupcakes, scones, and other treats populates the rest of the space, along with specialty jams and spreads, jars of retro candies, and a vase of fresh flowers.
They have a huge cheese case filled with wheels of fromage in various stages of demise: some brand new and waiting for their first cut, others missing only a chunk, and some no more than a chunk. Each one is cut to order, wrapped in paper, weighed and labeled by hand. No bar codes here.
By the front window two neat rows of glass jars, filled with whole spices and various dried fruits, gleam in the sunlight. Stacks of local magazines and newspapers, free for the reading, sit next to an old wooden crate filled with empty glass bottles. Next to these, a reach-in cooler boasts every beverage from Orangina to Stella Artois (there’s a magnetized bottle opener clinging to the side). Beyond that, a smaller cooler laden with butter and cream.
You’ll also find most pantry staples: twine-tied bags of legumes, boxes of pasta, a modest selection of olive oils and balsamics. Brown paper sacks of flour, stitched closed with string, from the beloved Weisenberger Mill next to glossy bags of vacuum sealed whole bean coffee roasted at Caffe Marco in Paris, Kentucky.
There’s a cherry red espresso machine should you wish to have aforementioned coffee turned into a latte. Or you could head across the room to put some of their cheeses to the test in one of W + M’s signature sandwiches. #5:Duck Confit, Mountain Gorgonzola, Kentucky Pear, Quince Preserve Panini. Not using hyperbole when I say this is the best sandwich on the planet.
On the “Wine” side of the building, bottles of red line the far wall and bottles of white the opposite. Various spirits from Hendrick’s to Poire William rest on the glass shelves along the back wall. Piles of china, antiques, and food related accessories fill a massive wooden table in the center of the room.
Given how much awesome the owners have managed to pack inside these four walls, I’d love W + M even if it were a total dive. But it’s not. It’s like an expertly styled movie set for the archetypal market.
From the design of the space itself, the graceful curves of the hand painted mural, the vast selection of cheeses both classic and unexpected, to the very intentional use of local products at every turn, Wine + Market defies expectation.
As a person whose nine-to-five life revolves around food, I think of this place as a culinary safe haven: no harm will come to my taste buds here. They stock everything I want to eat. And drink. And weekly introduce me to addictions I didn’t know I had via the Wine + Market Facebook group, which posts the details for the current free Friday night wine tasting as well as other events and menus.
I just wish the FB group included a pronunciation guide to help me navigate my way through the cheese case. In spite of my CIA background, I’m still at a total loss pronouncing various cheese names. I find my self mumbling and pointing and otherwise hoping to bluff my way through. I need a good online resource for fromage pronunciation.
Also, speaking of questions of pronunciation. I say “Wine AND Market” because I always think of the movie Romeo + Juliet, obviously pronounced Romeo and Juliet. But I’ve heard “Wine Market” from some of my pals. How do you say it?
Whatever your answer, if you’ve been to Wine + Market before, shout out with a comment to let them know Lexington loves them! Also, I want to hear about your favorite cheese, local product, or wine. What culinary finds make the shopping experience fun for you?
Visit W+M on Urban Spoon, if you’d like to read other reviews or add your own:
(Update, December 2010: At the time I wrote this article, bankrupting myself on cheese and wine at W+M marked the extent of my involvement in the place. But now, I find myself in their employ at sister restaurant Table 310, where I make the desserts for dinner service. I also make various goodies, from chocolate chip cookies to brioche, which we then sell over at W+M. )
3 comments and counting
Oct 05, 2010 · 11:56 PM
I say “Dubya-n-Em” or, more often, just “Krim’s” when I’m referring to Wine+Market. And I’m 10,000 percent with you on just how beautiful and photogenic and good to be in this place is. I particularly love the photo with the round lights in the room and mirror, Rosco. So fine!
· Rona Roberts · http://www.savoringkentucky.com
Oct 06, 2010 · 9:41 AM
Rona, I am totally with you! 99% of the time I’m, “Gonna stop by Krim’s for a bottle of wine.” I think that’s the sign of how much you love a place.
Oct 06, 2010 · 1:12 PM
Toby and I went on a photo expedition in Lexington two years ago and stumbled upon that place. I photographed the windows from the outside. Sadly, they weren’t open and every time I seem to be in the area they aren’t. I will have to make a point of going to a tasting! Your article of the place is lovely!
· Angela · http://uneasyorembarrassed.blogspot.com/