Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - 2014 Clotilde Davenne Saint-Bris Sauvignon

Last weekend I ventured to Astoria for a BYOB / pick-your-own seafood adventure at Astoria Seafood and paired this Sauvignon Blanc from Saint Bris with a buffet of fresh seafood and Greek specialties, it was amazing!

Head straight to the back to pick out your seafood, wait in line to weigh your catch, put your name in for a table with the lady in charge and then pop open a bottle while you wait!

Clotilde Davenne has been making wine for other world-renowned Chablis domaines for many years; 9 years ago she decided to produce wine under her own label.  Saint-Bris is the only region within Burgundy that is allowed to grown Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  Located close to Chablis, this wine contains many of the same properties as a classic Chablis:  refreshing acidity, minerality, stone fruit flavors and a slight herbacious finish.  The perfect wine for someone like me that prefers Chardonnay to Sauvignon Blanc!   

Wine:  2014 Clotilde Davenne Saint-Bris Sauvignon
Purchased:  Backlabel Wine (so sad they've since closed!)
Price:  $18

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Night At The James Beard House

Two dear friends introduced me to the James Beard Foundation last year when they gifted me a membership for my birthday.  I had no idea such enchantment lived a mere block from my apartment!  Over 200 nights per year, guest chefs are invited to cook dinner in the former home of James Beard; if you're lucky, you'll be sat in the elevated nook that was once his bedroom!

Ever since my first dinner I was hooked.  The comradery and enjoyment that flows throughout each night that I've attended a dinner renews in me a new love for this city I call home.

Earlier this week I celebrated Canada's 150th anniversary as a nation with a dinner showcasing the best of the region.  Guest chef Brandon Thordarson of Moxie's wowed us with each dish; our dining companions regaled us with stories of NY, as they've seen the neighborhood change over the 40+ years they've lived on Jane Street.

There is nothing more magical than beginning an evening in an enchanted backyard, passed appetizers and bubbles in my glass and ending it with a full belly and starry eyes for NYC and it's endless opportunities for culture, engagement and social activity!

You don't have to be a member to attend a dinner (although you do get discounts and other perks for joining).  Check out upcoming dinners here!

Canned tuna with "edible soil" - still trying to figure out what was in that soil but it was absolutely delicious!

Summer asparagus soup with crab and caviar.

"Mom's shake and bake" chicken with fois gras.  Paired with a beer that I actually enjoyed!

Strip loin with shallots, potatoes, and wilted garden greens.

"Canada loves the big Apple" - apple flan with maple bacon ice cream!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - 2013 Ladera "Pillow Road" Pinot Noir

How lucky am I to have a man who not only likes to cook, but felt it was necessary to add a sous vide machine to our kitchen arsenal??  AND he buys me delicious wine for the best date night dinners at home!

One such example was our inaugural sous vide experience:  duck breast with Brussels sprouts, butter lettuce salad and wild rice with morels, paired with a delectable Pinot Noir from Ladera Vineyards.  The Pillow Road vineyard is located in the Russian River Valley, southwest of Sebastopol.  Temperature swings and that infamous fog provide the perfect growing conditions, producing a wine that is bright and light but maintains a depth of fruit and flavor in the final blend.

The wine is very red fruit driven:  ripe strawberries and raspberries.  55% new French oak aging gives soft tannins and a hint of oak/spice.  

Purchased:  Winery
Price:  $50

Friday, June 30, 2017

Restaurant Round Up - June Eats

Thank goodness for my waistline I seem to have less eats to post from the month of June.....although a girls weekend in Marfa, TX (full of TexMex and queso) was certainly the opposite of health and restraint!

I started the month with a feast at Delmonico's Steakhouse, a NY Institution of fine dining!  The highlight was the maple-cured house bacon, absolute crack!  Full post detailing the delicious wine we drank here.

In the name of health, my favorite foodie friend and I attempted a vegan dinner at Vita.  While the food missed the mark, this beet salad was visually stunning.  The highlight was the vegan chocolate cake!   

I revisited perhaps NYC's worst kept BYOB secret, Tartine.  The spicy guacamole with chicken was just as good as I remember.  Mussels and arugula salads were also a hit!

Just a tease of one highlight from Marfa, the queso at Capri.  Full Marfa trip recap coming soon!

"Brunchkins" at Eggshop.  The most delicious little morsels of pure heaven - maple bacon doughnut holes, covered in cinnamon/sugar, fried, sprinkled with more cinnamon/sugar and drowning in a pool of burnt caramel sauce!

My craving for Greek food was temporarily satisfied at Taverna Kyclades.  Literally the best octopus I've ever had!

Another attempt at balance:  the hanger steak salad from Made Nice and a rosé picnic!

The tapas bar of La Sirena (including the beautiful patio) offers unlimited Paella on Sunday from 3-8pm for $20!  The highlight for me though was the below churro ice cream sandwich with coffee ice cream and cocoa nibs!

I finally tried the infamous Clafoutis from Le Coucou.  Topped with seasonal blueberries and crème fraiche, so so delicious!   

Le Coucou remains one of the most beautiful restaurants I've ever seen, I enjoyed even more for breakfast than I did for dinner.  The prices were much more reasonable and the food was great.  Keep this in your back pocket for a "treat yo'self" breakfast or brunch, they don't take reservations but we had no problem just walking in vs. the hype and difficulty around dinner.    

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - 2009 Ardèvol Coma d'en Romeu Priorat

One of the highlight meals of the past month was at Delmonico's in downtown NYC.  The restaurant was founded in 1837 and was the first fine dining restaurant in the country.  Quite a bit of history and tradition are embedded in the walls, I'm sad it's taken me so long to make it there!

I was prepared to be underwhelmed by another "steakhouse" meal, but I was blown away.  I had to go for the "Delmonico's steak" - a cut made famous around the world but originating in this restaurant.  It was so tender and delicious, dripping in butter!  Apparently they were the first to serve Eggs Benedict (1860) as well as Baked Alaska (1867)!  Not surprising that the oldest restaurant in the country would be the birthplace of so many firsts!

We enjoyed a bottle of 2009 Ardèvol Priorat.  The Ardèvol family has been growing grapes in the village of Porerra since the 13th century, located about 2 hours southwest of Barcelona.  They practice organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking, allowing the true "terroir" of Priorat shine through.  The Coma d'en Romeu vineyard is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, with a bit of Syrah, Grenache  (Garnacha), and Merlot rounding out the blend.  The wine was aged for 16 months in oak barrels, giving it a hint of savory spice to round out the dark fruit, black cherries and blueberries that command the palate.  It was juicy yet structured, and absolutely delicious with my steak.  What might have been high tannins in 2009 have softened to a very pleasant sip!

Classic Wedge done right

Crab salad

The best steakhouse bacon I've ever had, seriously like crack!

The Delmonico steak!

Baked Alaska - from the description I never would have chosen this as a dessert but it was delicious!
Wine:  2009 Ardèvol Coma d'en Romeu Priorat             
Purchased:  Delmonico's
Price:  $22 retail

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - Grace Winery

In between all the eating during our 36 hours in Philly, we had a chance to head out to the country to visit Grace Winery.  It was a beautiful sunny day, and just a 40 minute drive had us feeling like we had truly escaped.  

The property is home to a few acres of vineyard, a variety of livestock, a 15-room inn, and winery tasting room.  Named for Grace Kelly, who was once the owner of the property and a relative of the current owners.  We enjoyed the afternoon bopping around from one perch in the sun to another, and even took an inaugural hay ride on their new (old) tractor!  

You must be wondering, how good is wine made in PA?  I was pleasantly surprised!  With a winemaker from Bordeaux at the helm, they've actually made very nice wines despite difficult growing conditions.  I especially liked the 2013 Chardonnay and 2015 Rose.  

They have light bites and live music in the tasting room on Saturdays and Sundays.

The winery and inn are also available for private cellar dinners and weddings/events.

I'd love to check in to the Inn for a night away in the country!  Great wine at my fingertips is a bonus!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Travelogue - 36 Hours in Philly

One of my favorite things about NYC is its proximity to other destinations.  Case in point, we recently headed to Philadelphia for a 36 hour foodie tour.  Amtrak was having a sale so it was a quick and painless 1.2 hours from Penn Station and we were walking through the City of Brotherly Love.

When I say "foodie tour" I mean it, we didn't have much on the agenda besides where we wanted to eat!  We checked in to the Club Quarters Hotel in Center City, a basic hotel but the price was right and it was the perfect location in the center of it all.  

After dropping our bags we made a beeline to Elixr Coffee for nerdy pour-overs and a chocolate babka muffin.  

Then it was on to explore the Reading Terminal Market.  Holy moly this place was overwhelming!  There were lines everywhere, and while some things looked good, the crowds deterred us.  We decided to keep walking and made our way to Chinatown for dumplings and hand-drawn noodles at Nan Zhou.  I had the roast duck with shaved noodles, Jared had the pork with hand-drawn noodles.  We split an order of the pork and chive dumplings.  Overall the food was tasty and the price was right ($27 with tip!) but I wouldn't return.  


We continued our walk to Independence Hall for a quick view of the Liberty Bell and a walk through the visitors center.  

We then made our way to the Barnes Foundation.  This was the one cultural aspect of the trip that I was super excited about and it did not disappoint.  The Foundation holds the largest private collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern paintings, collected by Mr. Albert Barnes, a Philly native.    

After our tour, we attempted to visit the "Rocky Steps" of the Philadelphia Art Museum but they were under construction, so we snapped a quick pic of Rodin's "Thinker" and then jumped in an Uber to our next eats destination!

In 2015, I earmarked Bon Appetit's article heralding the "best pizza in America" knowing one day I'd head to Philly.  The rules and regulations regarding this pizza were a bit off-putting:  Joe Beddia and his one helper make 40 pizzas a night, people start to line up as early as 3pm, they open the doors at 5:15 and start taking orders.  If you're last in line they'll tell you to come back in 4 hours to get your pizza, they're cash only.  Despite all this, we were determined!  We got in line by 3:50 and were 4th in line.  I set off to find us waters while we waited...and stumbled upon an ice cream shop with perhaps the best ice cream sandwich I've ever had!

One of my favorite SATC quotes is "sometimes life is what happens when you're waiting for a table". Or in this case, waiting in line.  We met some really friendly people who made the hour in line fly by.  They even let us cut so we could get our pie sooner (and therefore get to our real dinner reservation!).  We ordered two pies and were told to come back in 40 minutes.  We went next door and enjoyed a glass of wine with our new friends while we waited. 

This was just an appetizer "snack" - we had dinner reservations at 9:30!  So I limited myself to half a slice of each and the rest came home with us (all the way to NYC) for leftovers!
After a quick regroup back at the hotel, we met some friends for our real dinner at Vedge.  Another "best of" winner I had read about in BA.  A completely Vegan restaurant that would fool even the biggest meat eater.  Highlights were the radish tasting, rutabaga fondue with soft pretzel, eggplant braciole (both pictured below) and the salt baked beets.  I didn't get a pic of the dessert but the chocolate chunk thingy was to die for.  Service was lackluster which tarnished the overall dining experience, while good and certainly different, I probably wouldn't go back.   

Are you tired of reading about food yet??  

On to Sunday! Upon waking it was another coffee at Elixr before heading to meet our friends at South Philly Barbacoa.  Half a kilo of barbacoa and all the fixings easily fed us 4, with 2 orders of the amazing consomme.  Don't miss the fresh squeezed orange juice (a weird combo but it works).     

The fresh sauces and salsas were so delicious!
Thoroughly stuffed, we headed out to Grace Winery for an afternoon of wine tasting.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, another post to come on our wine experience!

We headed back to the city for our final meal, I wasn't sure I could possibly eat another bite but I somehow made it through.  After discovering Dizengoff in NYC, we knew we had to try Zahav, the original restaurant from Michael Solomonov.  We didn't have a reservation so we took our chances of walking in.  We got there at 5:30 and ended up waiting almost 90 minutes.  It was so worth it (and gave me time to get hungry again).  Literally one of the top 10 best meals I've had.  We opted for the Mesibah or "party time" tasting menu which allowed us to taste almost everything on the menu.  And our wonderful server shared some must try items to round out our experience.  The service was impeccable, combined with outstanding food, at fair prices, made it all the better.  

The salatim - 6 daily vegetable salads to share + that infamous hummus!
From left to right, top to bottom:  Turkish hummus with butter and garlic, lamb kibbe, grilled duck hearts, stuffed grape leaves, tuna crudo, grilled haloumi, off the menu falafel balls, branzino, the most amazing "haystack" dessert.  Not pictured:  the roasted lamb shoulder with pomegranate and chickpeas, it was just too dark to photograph!   

I literally took the final bites of dessert while our Uber arrived to take us to the train station.  We made our train with minutes to spare, the delicious tastes still in our mouths.  I'm already dreaming of our next visit!

Coffee custard with dark chocolate, blood orange, and almonds.
Until next time Philly!

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