Maria’s affinity for station wagons began in 1989 with the classic Camry in the finest powder blue available. From family beach trips to sports practices, carpool lanes to dinner in Baltimore’s Little Italy, this finely tuned piece of front-wheeled engineering was as crucial a part of Patt's childhood as it was representative of the melting US - Japanese tensions following WWII, when the now ubiquitous automotive giant was first welcomed into the American market in 1957. (If you’re currently reading this and wondering why you are getting a poorly phrased automotive industry lesson from someone who is supposedly contributing to a food/lifestyle blog, we assure you there is a reasonably sober-minded analogy around the corner.)

In 1999, Patt posed a hypothetical scenario to his mom that elicited a particularly intense look of “please tell me you didn’t do what I think you just did.” It was the height of summer and a Dubai-like heatwave had ground to a halt over his hometown of Towson, MD. Like any over energized, under responsibility laden 9 year old, he took to the neighborhood in search of something worth investigating. Inevitably, his Lawrence of Suburbia explorations fizzled and he returned to the comfortable, garden hose conjured oasis of his front yard.

Somewhere between homemade slip-and-slide #2 and root beer float #4, he found himself drawn to the powder blue chariot sitting in the driveway, now relegated to occasionally transporting his older brother to and from senior year after Maria’s recent Volvo upgrade. Specifically, it was the dark abyss of the tailpipe that had cast him into a state of deep philosophical contemplation. Where does it lead? How far does it go? What could possibly be hiding in there? He grappled with this most recent pre-pubescent existential crisis as the water lapped unattended onto the plastic lawn tarp, and then, as suddenly as the predicament had emerged, a reasonable solution fit for a savant cut through the noise – thread the garden hose into the tailpipe and turn it on full blast.

Like some sort of diabolical automotive endoscopy (err.. colonoscopy), he did the unspeakable. Pausing to reflect (water still blasting), he casually strode into the house to present the “hypothetical” situation to Maria. Needless to say, she was not impressed by his impulse control, and he had effectively answered his initial question, “Where does it lead?” - directly to an evening studying the walls inside his bedroom.

But where exactly does this leave the analogy in the context of a food/lifestyle blog? Well, while the inquisitive, untethered, and “what-if?” spirit of his childhood often led Patt down the road to perdition, it would seem that same exploratory, gut following instinct rarely leads him astray when it comes to life in Charlottesville. In a town of constantly evolving culinary and cultural offerings, playing it safe is a surefire path to missing out on what this city extends to residents and visitors alike. Much to the delight of Patt's 9-year-old self, it would seem that here you really should thread the garden hose into the tailpipe and turn that shit on.  

The wine scribe Charlottesville needs, not the one it deserves, Patt is Wine Editor at Pen + Knife.