Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - 2015 Wind Gap "Soif"

I'm late to the game but I just discovered the Tavern at Gramercy Tavern.  It's the perfect spot for a casual lunch at the bar or after-work drinks.  I first visited the restaurant when I was visiting NY with my family my freshman year of high school.  I really wish I appreciated food and dining back then as much as I do now!  

My dad and I have added the Tavern to our rotation of lunch spots when he's in town.  The trick is to get there by 11:50am as the bar typically fills up with those in the know as soon as they open.  Now you're in the know ;-)

On our last visit, we tasted this interesting red wine by Wind Gap that was on the by-the-glass menu.  "Soif" is the French word for "thirst".  The wine is a blend of 7 different grapes from vineyards planted between 1881 and 1975; it was served slightly chilled and would make for a great summer sipper for those red wine only drinkers out there.  It was very light in color and a bright, cherry red tint.  The nose was full of cherry and strawberry with a hint of spice.  The palate had a great acidity that was enhanced by the slight chill of the wine.  It was a great pairing with the Tavern burger.      

Wine:  2015 Wind Gap "Soif"
Purchased:  Gramery Tavern 
Price:  $29 retail

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - Champagne and Lobster: Agrapart & Fils "Terroirs"

What are everyone's thoughts on Valentine's Day?  Just another day?  Something to be celebrated?  I've always liked the holiday.  I see it as an excuse to bake up sweet treats and a reminder to express my love to those around me.  In my single days it was wine, cheese, and chocolate nights with my galentines; this year, my man went all out to treat me to one of my favorite meals "lobster rolls and french fries".  This is in quotes because I'm currently on an elimination diet and can't really eat like normal so it was extra special to have an indulgent, yet clean meal!

The extra special cherry on top was the Agrapart & Fils Terroirs Extra Brut Champagne that we shared.  I've been slow to come around to understand the nuances of Champagne.  It wasn't until our trip last spring and being introduced to Blanc de Blancs that I really gained a true appreciation for what Champagne could be.   

Agrapart is considered the gold standard of grower Champagne in the Avize region.  The Agrapart family has been making Champagne since the late 1800's.  Growing and wine-making practices remain mostly natural and organic with minimal intervention both in the vineyard and in the wine. 

The "Terroirs" is a cuvee of 100% Chardonnay from 4 different Grand Cru vineyards from the 2010 and 2011 harvests.  The wine was bottled in 2012 and aged for 4 years.  The wine is full of Chardonnay characteristics:  stone fruit, white flowers with tight, tiny bubbles that perfectly coat your mouth.  Notes of toast and yeast are some of my favorite characteristics and why I love Blanc de Blancs so much.  It was a lovely pairing with the rich lobster.      

One review I read called it a "poor man's Clos du Mesnil" which I think was a great description.  A lovely Champagne that is great for special occasions but doesn't break the bank.  That's a Valentine's treat I can totally get behind!  

Wine:  Agrapart & Fils Terroirs Extra Brut Champagne 
Purchased:  Verve Wine
Price:  $70

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - Cioppino Night

I can't think of anything better than a rich, hearty, seafood stew on a cold night, unless that meal is paired with two lovely red wines, now we're talking!  Family friends treated us to homemade cioppino.  We brought an Italian Cabernet Franc and they opened a Napa Malbec and an older vintage of one of my favorite Zinfadels.  It was a feast of epic proportions!

Anyone know the origin of "cioppino"??  Supposedly this dish originated in San Francisco, the fishermen would all "chip in" from that day's catch to a big pot of tomato based stew, and the "chip in" turned into "cioppino" and there you have it!   

As for the wines:  we started with the 2013 Cabernet Franc from Le Monde.  Hailing from Fruili Grave in Italy, the wine was light, bright, and acidic which helped to cut through the rich tomato-based sauce.  The wine is also fermented and aged in stainless steel (no oak) which keeps it light and fresh.    

Next up, Hendry 2014 Malbec.  Based in Napa, Hendry will often bottle small lots of single Bordeaux varietals.  The wine was an intense dark purple color with earthy, leathery notes.  I found the tannins overpowering in this one, not my favorite of the night.  

Last but certainly not least, this 2005 Ponzo Vineyard Zinfandel from Nickel & Nickel.  I had the 2009 last spring and loved it, this was even more delicious!  The vineyard was located in the Russian River Valley, so cooler climate and 80+ year old vines make way for low yields, concentrated fruit and flavors.  Even at 11 years old, it was still very fruit-forward with ripe, jammy flavors that coated the mouth in the most luxurious way!  A touch of oak and spice rounded out the finish.  It was perfect to cap off the night with Ina's brownie skillet, homemade caramel sauce (salted and rosemary flavors) and quite possibly the best ice cream out there!

2013 Le Monde Cabernet Franc - $18 retail
2014 Hendry Malbec - $29 retail
2005 Nickel & Nickel Ponzo Vineyard Zinfandel - $40

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wine Wednesday - Mid-90's Christmas

Another win from the bargain bin at Benchmark Wines, we served this 1995 Bordeaux Blend from Chateau Guiraud Cheval Blanc with Christmas dinner and it was delicious!  Not to be confused with this Cheval Blanc, but still good in it's own right!  

The wine was most-likely a blend of predominantly Merlot mixed with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, typical of blends from the Cotes de Bourg region.  I'm not sure if it was the aging or this wine in general, but it was rather light, in both taste profile and color vs. a typical weightier Bordeaux (could also be attributed to the age).  The fruit was still there:  dark cherries and hints of more savory fare (black olives) but the acid was starting to fade.  This wine probably won't last much longer, so if you come across it, drink it now!  

The label may be a little worse for wear but the wine was still tasting great!

I revisited a favorite dessert recipe, this red-wine pear tarte tatin which was a huge hit.  Seriously, make it, serve with a delicious red wine, and your guests will be singing your praises!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - 2014 Hibou Pinot Noir

They say your tastes change as you age, and I can say I'm starting to appreciate more lighter-style reds vs. the bold Cabernets I favored in my "youth".  Pinot Noir has become a go-to, it's food friendly and crowd-pleasing; a win-win.  

I recently tried this 2014 Hibou Pinot Noir; a small production Pinot from the the Russian River Valley.  It was absolutely delicious.  Maybe I liked it so much because it had darker-fruit tones (blackberries, black cherries) vs. typically lighter red fruits of most Pinots.  There was a touch of spice but mostly fruit, which I prefer.  It was smooth and velvety and perfectly balanced in every way with little tannin and a clean finish.  I'm literally still dreaming about this wine; it left a lasting impression on me!  Unfortunately we started our night with this wine and everything else paled in comparison from then on!  

Wine:  2014 Hibou "Soulajule" Pinot Noir
Purchased:  Lucky recipient of a gift
Price:  $59 retail but looks to be sold out, 2015 is now released to their mailing list only

Monday, January 23, 2017

Travelogue - Offseason Overnight in Sag Harbor, NY

After 8 years (8 years?!?!) in NYC, I've been lucky to explore much of the east end of Long Island.  I realized late this fall that this past summer was my first summer with no trip out East and I missed it!  My mom came to visit so I used that as a perfect excuse to pop out for a quick 24 hour trip to hit all of my favorite places.  

So unlike me, but I left this trip up to spontaneity, we knew we wanted to escape the city for a night but didn't have a set plan or agenda.  I woke up on Sunday morning and started calling places for availability.  It happened to be Columbus Weekend and was the Film Festival in East Hampton so prices weren't as much of a bargain as I was hoping for in the off season.  We found the last room at The American Hotel in Sag Harbor, a reasonable deal at $200 for the night.  I had also considered Baron's Cove and the Sag Harbor Inn but I'm so glad fate would have us at The American Hotel, it was much more central in town and had a charming, old-world feel.  The restaurant also came in handy as we were there in the midst of hurricane Matthew and we were able to practically wear our slippers downstairs to the dining room for a lovely dinner.       

We rented a car and made the drive out east.  I drove us straight to The Lobster Roll, I needed my fix of a perfect lobster roll and sweet potato fries!!  This restaurant is now prominently featured in the show The Affair, and they've certainly exploited their newfound fame, with show paraphernalia all over the restaurant!  My mom's heard me talk about this place for years so was fun to finally show her.  We split one hot and one cold lobster roll and those perfect fries!  

After lunch, we explored the shops in Amagansett, East Hampton, and finally made our way back to Sag Harbor.  After a day of rain that would.not.stop. we were thrilled to see our cozy attic room.  While the hotel is certainly old, the bed was extremely comfortable and the bathroom was nicely updated.  The stairs to the attic were quirky but fun.   


I was considering dinner at The Beacon or Dopo La Spiaggia but due to the rain we decided to take advantage of the restaurant downstairs.  I'd been for lunch before but never for dinner.  It was charmingly old-school (from service to the food).  They have an incredibly extensive winelist.  We enjoyed a lovely Chablis alongside our shared entrees of scallops with truffled risotto and blackfish with lobster in a tomato vinaigrette.  

Dessert was not to be missed!  Bananas foster for 2!

The next morning we woke up to clear sunny skies and took a walk around the village of Sag Harbor.  We ended with a stop at Grindstone Donuts, I'm a shameless fan of Michael Symon and when I heard his son opened this coffee and doughnut shop I knew I had to visit.  As luck would have it, the very minute that I was in line he was there with his wife and parents!  I was too shy to ask for a picture, but I've now seen in person 3/5 hosts of The Chew! (Nerd alert).  

We tried the lemon poppyseed and cinnamon sugar doughnut holes!
We returned to the hotel for breakfast in the atrium.  The continental options were minimal but sufficient alongside our doughnut haul :-)

We spent the day strolling through Sag Harbor, which in my opinion has the best selection of reasonably priced shops both old and new.  

We had one last lobster roll lunch overlooking the water at The Dock House followed by a final scoop of my favorite ice cream at Big Olaf's (their cookie dough topper is unreal). 

All in all a successful overnight getaway from the city.  Word of warning, while many places in the Hamptons are open year-round, some were starting to close for the winter season so if you plan to head out double check opening dates and times!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Looking Back on 2016 - And That's A Wrap

I know, I'm a little late to this whole "2016 recap" thing and apologies for my absence in the past month.  I took full advantage of being truly present and enjoying every minute of my favorite season, surrounded by family and friends, with so much good wine and food and travel.  2016 really ended on a high.  Below are my #bestnine posts from Instagram in 2016.  I can't wait to see what 2017 has in store!

1.  A weekend in Amsterdam:  part I and part II (all about the eats!)
2.  One of the best dishes I had all year: bombolotti with 63 degree egg at the James Beard House
3.  Finally tried the "Black Label" burger at Minetta Tavern
4.  I love going to Wildair for delicious small plates and fun and interesting wines.  One visit included this Melon de Bourgogne from Marc Pesnot
5.  Enjoyed a summer full of rose including this one enjoyed over dinner at Pasquale Jones
6.  Decadent dessert and a favorite Pinot Noir from Rivers Marie
7.  Where to drink , eat and stay when visiting the Finger Lakes
8.  I consumed my fair amount of ice cream this year
9.  Hosted another successful #friendsgiving; this year with a whole bird!

Cheers to a happy and healthy new year!


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