The Winemaker

I became an assistant winemaker in first grade.

My Uncle George was the winemaker. He had torn up his suburban front lawn and covered it with a foot of horse poop to create “the farm.”

The real point to the horse poop was to drive his neighbors to madness.

It worked.

We planted blueberries in the horse poop.

It turned out that blueberries love horse poop. We had boatloads of blueberries.

George figured out that if we made wine from the blueberries then he could call himself a “winemaker” and he would be a “vintner” and he could call his yard a “vineyard.”

That blueberries that grew on bushes and not vines was of no consequence.

George was overjoyed when I asked how wine was made. He loved all things outrageous. “It’s called fermentation. These little yeasties drink the sugar in blueberry juice and then pee alcohol until they pass out in the alcohol. They also pass gas.”

It sounded a lot like one of our Irish birthday parties.

It occurred to George as we were bottling the wine that if he added a little extra yeast and sugar he might get more alcohol.

“More Alcohol” was always good.

George had discovered second fermentation.

He had invented blueberry champagne.

The story of champagne’s creation is as crazy as my Uncle George.

The invention of champagne is credited to a couple of monks; Dom Perignon, a big tall guy, and Dom Ruinart, his little helper. Dom Perignon was a cellar master in a monastery in Champagne. He probably stumbled upon making champagne by putting wine in a container that had leftover sugar in it. That started the second fermentation and the bubbles. After the good father mastered the basics of bubbles he tried to keep it a secret, but his little helper Dom Ruinart skipped off down the road to the next monastery and started making his own champagne.

The bubbles were on the loose.

The champagne the Doms made had stuff floating around in it. It looked more like homemade cloudy beer than bright and sparkling champagne. It took a woman to make champagne beautiful. The neighborhood widow, Mrs. Clicquot – in French the veuve Clicquot – radically improved the look of champagne by inventing the riddling rack.

A riddling rack is a rack with holes in it. You stick the bottle of champagne sideways in one of the holes. All the junk slides down to the bottom side of the bottle. The bottles are turned and increasingly inverted until the bottle is upside down and the junk is in the neck. Then the neck is frozen, the frozen junk is removed – degorged – and the bottle gets a little more sugar, is recorked and wired shut again.

The widow’s portrait is still on the famous orange label of Veuve Clicquot. She is kind of scary looking. She spent a lot of time in the basement.

When George invented blueberry champagne he left out the wiring-the-cork-shut part.

The bottles did not blow all at once. The cataclysm was spread out over a few days. Most of the bottles blew in basements and sheds so it wasn’t too bad. One unfortunate bottle exploded in Aunt Mary’s dining room. There were light purple fleurets all over her yellow room.

George and I loved the early tie-dye look but Aunt Mary was of a more sober inclination.

Mary damn near killed Uncle George.

Riddling Racks at The Doctor’s Office

About twenty or thirty years ago the champagne houses converted to automated, metal riddling racks.

The old oak racks began to find their way to this country – 3×5 oak racks blackened with decades of use.

I thought they were cooler than hell. It might have been a subliminal link to my horse poop winemaking days with Uncle George.

I began to buy them up.

They currently adorn the ceiling at the Doctor’s Office as racks for art. We also used the racks to make the neat sliding barn doors at the Doctor’s Office.

Riddling Racks at The Doctor’s Office

Riddling Rack Doorways
To The New

“Bistro Bar Menu”

Those riddling rack doors have become the doorways to a rebirth at the Doctor’s Office. They open onto the revised dining space at the Doctor’s Office, the coolest little dining space on the island since the Bistro Bar.

We have begun to plate and serve the “Greatest Hits” from that Bistro Bar menu — The Real Caesar Salad, Blue Tomato Soup, Lobstercargots, Nova Scotia Smoked Salmon and Smoked Salmon Pizza.

For the heartier palate the menu also boasts Doctor’s Office Bacon Specialties, because Bacon is always good for you, and the Port-Braised Prime Short Rib, the rib that inspired Sean’s “Table Four and the Big Roll-Up” story (watch the movie clip below for a visual).

All plates and service are designed for sharing.

A couple of chefs from the Beach Bistro All-Star team have joined us at the Doctor’s Office and are beginning work on the “Helluva Grouper Sandwich” and other Bistro “Greatest Hits.”

The Glory Days of the Bistro Bar are coming back to a Doctor’s Office near you.

Enjoy one of our favorite movie scenes, the big fold-up, from Burnt starring Bradley Cooper.

Sean Murphy is the Head Coach – recently “somewhat retired” – of the incredibly talented team that ran the Beach Bistro and now runs The Doctor’s Office.

The “Table Four Story” with a cut from Brad Cooper’s “Burnt” and some “Tales of Uncle George” have begun to stumble onto the Doctor’s Office website.

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Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy

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