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Water sommelier: Now I’ve heard everything

Fiji water

Fiji water Credit: handout

Here on Long Island we’re often a few months (to years) behind national dining trends. But here’s one I’m happy to be behind — may it never catch up to us!

The L.A. Times reports that Ray’s and Stark, the restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, now has a water sommelier: Martin Riese, who is also the general manager.

Riese’s menu features 20 waters from all over the world, priced from $8 to $20 a bottle. Waters include Fiji water from Fiji, Voss from Norway, Badoit sparkling water from France and Berg from Canada.

Here’s a description of Riese in full water-nut mode: “He pours a glass of Fiji water and swirls it like a glass of wine. He then takes a sip, puckers his lips and chews on the water for a bit before swallowing. He then pours a glass of Voss water and follows the same tasting procedure. ‘Fiji is more in the smooth area and very light when I'm tasting it,’ said Riese. ‘Voss has more of a bitter taste to it.”

Obviously, Voss is better for salads, Fiji for dessert.

Now, in all fairness, unlike the New York area, California is not blessed with great-tasting water. (Riese disdains the chlorine-treated stuff that comes out of his tap: “When you have good food, good wine and good spirits, you don’t want to contaminate that with this water.”) But I can’t help thinking that future generations will feel the same about water sommeliers that we do about Roman vomitoriums.

Ray’s and Stark is owned by the Patina Group which, according to the L.A. Times, plans to introduce the prototype water menu to other Patina Group restaurants if it is successful.

Patina runs a number of restaurants in New York including Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse just above Penn Station. Let’s hope the water menu doesn’t make its way via the LIRR to Long Island.

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