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Big T Chardonel 

Blue Water Grill 343 S. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood; 314-821-5757.

The moon and crazies are linked to the very root of the words themselves: lunar — of, or on the moon — is derived from Latin's luna. From there, it's only a short etymological hop to "lunacy." We know plenty of obstetricians and a couple of psych-ward nurses who'll swear they know they're in for a long night when the sun's nocturnal counterpart comes out to play, pulling strong and full and bright.

Making a night of the total lunar eclipse and things unknown, we go out to catch "flying saucers" at Kirkwood's Blue Water Grill. This Monday-night phenomenon has been occurring with the reliability of the lunar calendar for some eighteen years, and is so named for the way tapas plates (saucers, get it?) fly from the kitchen. Just to add to the mystique, we order the UFO: four small plates of the chef's choosing. The waitstaff isn't allowed to divulge what the night's selections are.

We're similarly intrigued by Blue Water Grill's 2005 Big T Chardonel: Its label features a smiling, balding man's face that's surrounded by an orange sunburst. He looks so happy, like a friendlier Mr. Clean, so we ask our server about him. Maggie tells us it's Mr. Thebeau, a retired teacher who lives near Ste. Genevieve. He sold some of his farmland — where the hearty chardonel grape grows — to Chaumette Vineyards' owner Hank Johnson. The fruit is a marriage between the chardonnay and the hybrid seyval blanc grapes, and it makes the most of Missouri's climate, sweating it through the summers and toughing it out through the winters. (Much like us, we think.) Johnson named the wine after the teetotaler Mr. Thebeau, who tasted his eponymous drink and liked it so much that to this day it's the only alcoholic beverage he's ever had. We think that's light years cooler than sharing your name with a sandwich, and we make a mental note to start hanging out with some vintners.

Like the rising moon and a good red wine, the Big T is full. We can detect the promised hints of pear and it accents our UFOs — which turn out to be bread salad, blackened monkfish, summer-vegetable risotto, scallions-and-potato fritter, trout — beautifully. It doesn't make us pucker like so many Chardonnays are wont to do, and for $30 ($20 uncorked), we think it is money well spent.

Driving home, we marvel at the moon's luster and will ourselves to wake up in the middle of the night to watch the lunar eclipse. We do. We creep out of bed and look out our bedroom window. At first, the moon is just starting to become shadowed, like it's bruised. We stare at it until sleep takes over. Hours later, we get up again and stumble onto our porch. According to the news, it should now be wildly colored, and we search the sky for the moon's red belly, like a celestial summer Santa. We look through the trees, and turn in a full circle, but we can't see it.

But we suppose it's just as well. Perhaps the eclipse, like the dinner we ate and the wine we drank, is a unique occurrence meant to be enjoyed in the moment — even if there's nothing left over in the morning.

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September 30, 2020

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