By Dinkinish O’Connor
We’d been sitting down for fifteen minutes when my date (Gary) noticed a distinct raisin-like mole on the back of another diner’s head. It was his brother-n-law-Dave. And he wasn’t alone. Dave was caught. Not just caught, but Kim-Kardashian-and-Ray-J-caught. While dining at North Miami’s NuVo Kafé, Gary and I watched as Dave fed pieces of tassot goat — fried goat strips ($9) — to a more rundown-looking version of Keisha Cole — the butterfly tattoo on her upper backside fighting to spread its wings through a mural of stretch marks. Fearing an eruption, I looked urgently for our waitress. I was glad when two glasses of the house red finally arrived as Gary fumbled with his phone.
But the wine was super bitter. I wasn’t expecting Châteauneuf-du-Pape-quality, but I was hoping for Concha Y Toro-tasty. "Dinki, this tastes like medicine," Gary snarled at me, staring holes through the back of his brother-in-law’s head. So he ordered a Corona ($4) and I asked the waitress if it would be okay if I drank my own wine, as I expected that the grape juice in all their magnums were now deep-fried from lingering in the hot kitchen space. She agreed and so I raced over to a bodega for what I like to call a "wine spliff."
When you’ve only got $2 allotted for your wine budget (and it happens to the best of us), there’s nothing like walking into your local bodega and getting one of those 175ml bottles of Merlot, Cab-Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay or, for me back in the day, Beringer White Zinfandel. I usually go to Food Shop Beauty Supply (1691 NE 148th St., North Miami ) annexed to Angels (14811 West Dixie Hwy., North Miami; 305-945-4018), a North Miami strip club, a quiet habitat of old, pendulous breasts when I was growing up. However, over the last few years, Angels has suddenly morphed into a wannabe Club Rolexx-Bentleys and broken-down Masdaz squished into the tiny parking lot most evenings — rap video-looking girls and winos everywhere.
The more affluent your neighborhood, the more sophisticated the wine spliff selection. Some bodegas even have spliffs of Black Swan, Freixenet and obscure Spanish wines. However, in the $2 price range, Sutter Home is most consistent in providing bold, tasty dark berry flavors, even if the bottle has been sitting in a moldy refrigerator for months; I like their Merlot the best. Next is Concha Y Toro Frontera Shiraz and Cab-Merlot blends. Again, super tasty, racy, black cherry flavors — fun and delish and great for scandalous emergencies, like your date’s brother-in-law showing up at the restaurant with his video ho.
I settled on the Sutter Home Merlot, though I noticed my Bangladeshi wine purveyor now had a fresh selection of Alice White red and white. However, Alice White is way too bootleg-tasting; the reds are watery. Yellowtail, on the other hand, would be a fun 175ml to have on hand, though I’m not sure the size is available in that brand.
So I raced a few blocks north on West Dixie Highway back to NuVo Kafé, and as I parked, I realized Gary was outside with Dave. Gary was calm, even friendly, talking to his brother-in-law who was dressed in a nipple-squeezing, light blue T-shirt, tight blue jeans and pointy, aqua-colored alligator skin boots (breaking every cardinal rule of every black, Caribbean cocksman’s dress code).
Gary introduced me and I shook Dave’s hand with one hand, paper bagged wine spliff in the other. "Why don’t you go to the other bar?," he asked, hoping, I suppose, that we hadn’t seen his lady-friend who was now noticeably irritated, having charged through the restaurant entrance and plopped inside his new BMW.
At this point I was ready to go anyway, so we decided to pick up some griot (fried pork chunks) from Madame John’s (975 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-892-9333) and chill at Taylor Park on Northeast 18th Avenue.
I asked Gary if he was going to tell his sister, and he explained that she already knew about Dave’s infidelities. "I don’t want to get mixed up in their drama, but he better not give my sister a disease," he exclaimed as we tore through the tender, juicy pork flesh that has made Madame John so famous. The Merlot’s concupiscent, ripe blackberry flavors stood up to the fried pork effortlessly, and since the bottle was chilled, it was a refreshing contrast to the pikliz — a vinegary scotch bonnet and cabbage slaw served with most Haitian dishes.
Gary wanted a Guinness, so we went back to Food Shop Beauty Supply, walking distance from the park. Being a horny Caribbean man, Gary couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go into the strip club. Against my better judgment, I agreed to accompany him. "Maybe there’s a story," I thought. As soon as we walked in, we saw the rundown-Keisha Cole (naked) holding a glass of red wine, her bare, fuzzy flesh pressed up against Gary’s brother-in-law.
"Do you think these ladies drink wine?" I asked Gary, pretending not see what we both saw. "Hell yeah, maybe not the stuff I can’t pronounce, but I know they drink Moët and Dom or whatever the dude’s paying for." So, I walk on over to "Kiesha," smiled, tried not to stare at her freckled, bare chest and asked, "So what are you drinking?" She winked at me, leaned forward and whispered, "Cabernet Sauvignon. I think this one’s from Napa."