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!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - An evening with Rivers Marie

I threw a dinner party just before Thanksgiving kickoff and poured one of my favorite producers, Rivers Marie.  We started with the 2014 B. Thieriot Vineyard Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast, the perfect compliment to Epoisses cheese (a Burgundian cheese that pairs wonderfully with Chardonnay).  With just 20% new oak, this wine is crisp and clean while also achieving a roundness on the finish, aka my perfect balance.  

Dinner consisted of my pinch-hitter roasted chicken, "panty-dropper potatoes" and salad.  For red wine, we opened the "Gioia Vineyard" Pinot Noir, also from the Sonoma Coast.  Classic notes of red fruit and spice carried us from dinner all the way through dessert, which was a delicious chocolate mousse with homemade whipped cream.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Charles Joguet 2012 "Clos de la Dioterie" Chinon

It's taken a turn towards true fall here in NY, with a rainy day that would not quit yesterday!  I pulled out this Chinon for steak night and it was just the cozy, warming wine we needed.  We started with a steak from Hudson and Charles.  This Cabernet Franc hails from the Chinon AOC.  The Joguet family had been growing grapes in the Loire Valley for years when son Charles decided to establish the family name in a domaine all their own in 1957.  This wine from their "Clos de la Dioterie" single vineyard is made with their oldest vines, hand-tended and harvested last so that grapes come to full, ripe, maturity.  This wine is aged in oak for 1-3 years and is something you could sit on for several years to come.  

That being said, we may have jumped the gun a bit because the oak was certainly present.  But fruit, acid, and overall taste were all delicious and indicative of what this wine will only continue to become.  A nose of "violets and bandaids" and a palate of black fruits and plums.  Definitely a good match for the steaks, but if you come across this wine, I'd say buy a few bottles, try one now, and lay one down to try again in a few years!  

Wine:  Charles Joguet 2012 "Clos de la Dioterie" Chinon
Purchased:  Kermit Lynch
Price:  $52

Monday, November 7, 2016

Travelogue - Dallas and What I Ate At The Texas State Fair

Why Dallas you may ask?  Not exactly the most exotic location, but I had some dear friends move to the "Big D" and I was long overdue for a visit.  The man and I flew in on a Friday night for a quick 48 hours.  Our main event was the Texas State Fair.  The fair is now over for this year but I highly recommend putting it on your bucketlist to visit some day.  Those deep-fried cookie dough balls will forever haunt my dreams.  It's also some of the best people watching I've ever experienced!  Pictures below highlighting everything we ate (because that's really all we did).

My first experience with true "queso" and authentic breakfast tacos at Torchy's Tacos.

Post-tacos, we headed to the fair.  I highly recommend going with a group of 4, as we were.  This allowed us to sample many different things; all you really need is one bite.  

"Best Taste" award winner - fried Jello, I seriously beg to differ as this was my least favorite item

My first Corny dog (and first corndog period)!  

My personal favorite and a previous best taste winner:  fried cookie dough bites, seriously amazing.  

We searched high and low for this year's "most creative" - cookie fries.  Creative, sure, but tasted a bit like dry bread.

Followed by a smoky bacon margarita - not good at all!

Had to get a pic with Big Tex
The infamous turkey legs - we didn't partake in trying these but everyone else seemed to enjoy them!

Not pictured but also sampled:  fried jambalaya bites (best tasting savory thing we had) and fried zucchini (which I didn't try because I was just too full at that point).  

After a nap and a stomach pump (kidding) we ate a delicious dinner at Filament.  I couldn't stomach much more than these deviled eggs but they were yummy!  And that's a lie, because I did order the beet salad and the chicken, both were very good!   

On Sunday with a clear head and fresh stomachs, we headed to BBQ, because we're in Texas and isn't that what you do?  

Pecan Lodge and Lockhart were the two most recommended spots.  We headed to Lockhart favored by our hosts to be slightly more authentic and less of a line.  We ordered literally a little bit of everything.  My favorite was the beef "shoulder clod" and the pork ribs!  The chicken was surprisingly good as well.  

After a walk around the Bishop Arts neighborhood, we finished things off with a slice of "smooth operator" pie from Emporium Pies, a la mode of course!  

Pretty much sums up our weekend.  I'm never eating again......

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2013 Viticoltori de Conciliis "Donnaluna" Aglianico

These days, my favorite Saturday nigh activity is a nice dinner out with my girlfriends.  One recent Saturday with the true chill of fall in the air, we wanted something cozy.  I think Sarah's specific words were "a cozy wine bar with comfort food".  We chose Dell'Anima and bellied up to the bar in search of wine and comfort food.  With so many restaurants to choose from, Dell'Anima had fallen off my radar, I hadn't been since dinner once within the first year of moving to NY (7 years ago!).  They also have a great wine bar next door with small plates, where I had this wine a few years ago.    
In sticking with our "theme" of cozy and comfort, we each ordered a glass of the 2013 "Donnaluna" Aglianico from producer De Conciliis.  This was a varietal I knew I had come across at some point but couldn't remember exactly what it was most similar to.  It's known as one of the higher-quality red grapes from the Campania region in southern Italy.  The De Conciliis Estate is slightly closer to the Mediterranean, providing a milder climate that gives this wine a softness and finesse that isn't found in all Aglianicos (some have higher tannins making them suitable to aging but not meant to be drunk young).  I would equate it to a mix between my favorite characteristics of a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was bright and fruity but had a luscious, slightly jammy, round finish and hints of earthiness that was exactly what we were looking for.  Paired with a kale salad and the hanger steak and we had our perfect night out.  We were tempted by dessert (the chocolate cake sounded right up my ally) but decided on another glass of wine instead, I guess this is adulting.  

Purchased:  Dell'Anima
Price:  $22 Retail 

Monday, October 31, 2016

More Seattle - A Very Special Food and Wine Experience at Canlis

As I mentioned, one of the highlights of my Seattle trip was dinner at Canlis.  Run by the 3rd generation of the Canlis family, this is fine dining at its peak, in a beautiful setting with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Seattle.  We arrived a bit early to have a drink in the bar, which we also learned is a great, more affordable way to experience Canlis as they have a small menu of bar bites and snacks.  The piano player was fabulous, playing everything from Justin Bieber to Elton John and everything in between.      

The drinks at the bar are true works of art!
We settled in for dinner with a perfect table facing out over the dining room and the views beyond.  We opted for the tasting menu and put ourselves in chef's hands.  We chose one classic wine pairing and one somm pairing so we could truly experience all they had to offer that night.  

First bite:  the famous Canlis Salad
Wine:  2011 Chateau Carbonnieux, Pessac-Leognan, France

Followed by a selection of amuse-bouche:  shishito pepper with lardo, buckwheat cracker with nasturtium, and an oyster.

Heirloom tomatoes with tofu and dehydrated beef fat
Wine:  NV Mathieu-Gandon, Rose de Saignee Extra Brut, Baslieux-sous-Chatilion, France

Chanterelle mushrooms with prawn broth
Wines:  2008 Mitchell, McNicol Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia
2012 Punta Crena Mataossu Vignetto Reine, Colline Savonesi, Liguria, Italy

My favorite dish of the night:  summer squash with Dungeness crab and basil oil
Wines:  2009 Vodopivec Solo MM9 Vitovska, Venezia-Giulia, Italy
2011 Walter Scott Cuvee Ruth Chardonnay, Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon

Another infamous dish "Cabbage Pierre" - named for the restaurants founder and his original dish of "Steak Pierre" which he thought was much better than "Steak Diane"
Wines:  2013 Chignard, Fleurie, Beaujolais, France
2005 Bodegas Ontanon Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain

Aged duck breast with barley porridge, plum and shiso

For the main course of the tasting menu, you get to choose.  We had one of each:  

lamb saddle with green tomato and yogurt  + dry-aged beef with cucumber and romesco
Wines:  2011 Betx, La Serenne Syrah, Yakima Valley, Washington

For the pre-dessert, a delicious savory granola with figs.

Followed by the real dessert:  coconut semifreddo with lime, saw leaf, and cucumber.  I don't even like coconut flavored things but could not get enough of this!  The saw leaf is native to Central America and is similar in flavor to cilantro, it added just the right note to this dish! 

Wine:  2010 Domaine Bru-Bache, Jurancon, France 

We couldn't fit another bite, but they twisted our arms with these earl grey and s'mores macarons.  

It's hard to believe Canlis doesn't have any Michelin stars, the food, service and experience certainly rival some of my better dining experiences (it's been quite a year as seen herehere, and here).  If you find yourself in Seattle celebrating something special, or looking for a perfect dining experience, don't hesitate to book here!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2015 Nittnaus Heideboden Pinot Blanc

This might be my unofficial Pinot Blanc month, with 2 posts toting this sometimes sleeper varietal.  It's become a favorite, often offering a reasonable price-point on many wine lists and is typically very food friendly making it a great choice when dining out.

I recently had this 2015 Nittnaus Heideboden Pinot Blanc with one of my favorite meals in NYC, the burger at The Spotted Pig.  The wine was a bit fuller bodied than some Pinot Blancs, but with a nice acidity, helping to stand up to the rich, juicy burger and salty fries!  The palate was mostly fruit, a hint of citrus, and a bite of earthiness which also made for a nice pairing with such a rich meal that you don't always get with a white wine.

The winery is located in "Burgenland" on the shores of Lake Neusiedl in the north east corner of Austria.  A typically challenging growth environment, these wines are organic and biodynamic.      

Wine:  2015 Nittnaus Heideboden Pinot Blanc
Purchased:  The Spotted Pig
Price:  $16 retail / $55 in the restaurant

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