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

Monday, October 17, 2016

Travelogue - Weekend in Seattle

Despite having grown up in Northern California, I'm ashamed to say I have spent very little time in the Pacific Northwest.  With so much buzz in the culinary and wine scene, it's been on my bucket list of places to visit.  

I recently took a weekend trip to Seattle.  We stayed at the Crowne Plaza downtown, and while lacking in "boutique charm" it was comfortable, centrally located, and the price was right.  The majority of our activities revolved around eating; I insisted on walking as much as possible in between (although Seattle is not exactly a walkable city).  Picture heavy post below of where and what we ate!

I took an after-work flight from NYC which had me landing at 10pm.  The kitchens of most restaurants close up by this time so our dinner options for Friday night were limited.  We relied on trusty Eater for suggestions on late-night eats and ended up at Ba Bar.  "street food and cold drink" is their slogan:  best bites were the tofu and cabbage salad and the roasted chicken.         

We slept in and took a leisurely stroll for coffee at Slate and a pastry at The London Plane before looping back to the Pike Place Market.  I love food markets but this one was too much, overcrowded, over-hyped, over-sensationalized in every way left us disappointed and looking to leave as soon as we got there.  The flowers were pretty though!    

That buckwheat canele was money!

Original Starbucks
We hiked uphill to the Capitol Hill branch of Taylor Shellfish for lunch.  A glass of Muscadet and oysters, prawns, and seaweed salad!

After lunch we walked over to the Space Needle.  Gorgeous 365 degree views.

I forgot not to smile.
Almost everyone that made recommendations on where to go in Seattle mentioned Westward.  We settled in to the Adirondack chairs for an afternoon snack of rose, crudites and their famous chips and dip.    

Saturday night we had an amazing dinner at Canlis, it was so good it deserves its own post, coming soon!

Day 2 we started with brunch at Oddfellows (also on everyone's list of recommendations).  There was a slight wait for a table so I grabbed a huckleberry stuffed doughnut at General Porpoise to tide me over.     

After breakfast, we hit the Fremont Sunday Flea Market (meh) followed by the Ballard Farmer's Market (great!).  So many great produce stands and snacks, I wish I had been hungry!  We walked around Ballard a bit before returning to our hotel for a rest.  

We regrouped and headed out for dinner at Bateau.  We were a bit unsure about eating at a steakhouse (shouldn't we be eating fish when so close to the water??) but our meal was amazing, we totally made the right choice.  They butcher one whole animal per week.  Steaks are cut that day and written on the chalkboard, they get crossed out as they sellout throughout the night.  The staff was so knowledgeable about every cut and we got to try some new and different steaks that you don't see on the menu in every day steakhouses.    

Homemade mozzarella and the last of the summer tomatoes.
The most amazing chopped salad!  Give me alllll the pickled things!

Great fries and a side of summer squash with bagna cauda.
Peek-a-boo from the meat locker!
One serious cut of beef
The room was so light and airy, very different from your typical steak house restaurant.
Following dinner we made a trip to Molly Moon's.

Day 3 we started with Greek yogurt from Elleno's and coffee from Caffe Vita.  

The lemon cheesecake was amazing but I opted for muesli and mixed berry as it was slightly more breakfast appropriate!
For lunch, we braved the lines at Il Corvo.  They open at 11am on weekdays only and serve 3 types of homemade pasta with rotating sauces along with kale salads, charcuterie and amazing focaccia.  While the line seemed long, we were in and out in under an hour so it really was relatively fast.  The pastas were superb (as was that kale salad!).  

The best pesto I've ever had (and I don't even really like pesto) as well as a spicy tomato/anchovy/caper sauce with breadcrumbs and cauliflower!
After lunch we walked down to the water and hopped on a ferry to Bainbridge Island.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, high of 75 degrees (a bit unusual for Seattle in September but I'll take it!).  Once on the island, we walked through town and over to Harbour Public House.  They feature a bunch of different local wine, beer, cider, and spirit producers.  We had a quick Washington cherry cider before riding the ferry back.  

Mt. Rainier in the distance

As we didn't fly out til 8pm, we had time for one last meal (I warned you, it was a marathon of eating).  Another recommendation that was on everyone's list, The Walrus and the Carpenter.  Touted as being very "quintessential Seattle" this is the original restaurant owned by Seattle legend Renee Erickson (she also owns Bateau and General Porpoise).  We settled in for happy hour in the gorgeous, light-filled space.  Oysters, Muscadet and so much more, the perfect end to a fabulous weekend!  

I just can't resist a photo of a big pile of butter!
The most amazing tomatoes with puffed rice

Grilled sardines with parsley walnut brown butter

Steamed clams with chorizo, escarole and cannellini beans.
One last bite before flying out and not pictured - a makeshift sundae with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and a s'mores cookie from Hot Cakes.

Seattle really sealed the deal with a show-off sunset for our drive to the airport including Mt. Rainier painted the most unreal shade of pink.

While it may seem like we did our fair share of eating, there are still SO many places that were recommended but we didn't make it to.  I will for sure be back sooner than later!  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Travelogue - Amsterdam Pt. 2: The Eats

I was not only shocked with how much I fell in love with Amsterdam, but was also blown away by the food.  Every meal we enjoyed had me proclaiming my love for this place!  Prices were so reasonable (granted I come from NYC) and we experienced some of the most inventive, fresh, and true farm to table cuisine I've ever had.  

As I mentioned in my first post, we landed and were to the hotel just in time for breakfast.  After a quick shower, we headed to Greenwoods and posted up for coffee and brunch along the canal.  The food was so good this became our go-to for breakfast throughout the trip.  The homemade soda bread and butter were to die for!  That seems to be a running theme throughout this trip, the bread and butter every where we went was so so good.    

The "Keizer's Veggie" and side of homemade soda bread - so much food this lasted me all day!
My favorite meal of the trip was dinner our first night at Balthazar's Keuken.  They offer 1 set menu per day with a choice of entree between fish or meat.  Everyone starts the meal with a mix of shared starters.  The house wine was delicious and cheap, the lamb entree had my dining companions (who don't eat lamb) proclaiming their love for lamb, and the homey setting sealed the deal as the perfect evening.  To top it off, it was an amazing value, wine and the 3-course meal cost less than $50 per person.  

The restaurant is small; most tables have a full view of the open kitchen.
5 tapas-like appetizers to start the meal
That lamb!  Also served with roasted sweet potatoes and the most amazing reduction sauce I've ever had.
Dessert was a simple deconstructed take on Bananas Foster
Our second night we dined at De Kas.  A friend had recommended this as "the best meal of his entire life" so I had high hopes.  Unfortunately we weren't able to book the chef's counter (always my favorite seat in the house) and sat in the heart of the dining room which was absolutely stunning.  The restaurant serves one menu per night, focusing on produce grown in their adjacent greenhouse and nearby farm as well as local meats and fresh fish.  It was a fun dinner, a bit more pricey (menu is 49.5 Euro + a supplemental cheese course that we opted in to).  I also did the wine pairing which offered 4 wines poured throughout the meal for 27 Euro.

Dinner was great, but not my favorite, perhaps it was the high expectations.  I would rush back to Balthazar's Keuken, I think I'd only go back to De Kas if I could book the chef's counter.      

Cutest little corn on the cob, and I'm pretty sure these were the only greens we consumed the entire weekend!  #carbsforlife
Fish and grilled cabbage - not my favorite
I just can't resist a cheese plate!
Dessert was the best part of the meal - their take on pecan pie with basil sorbet and raspberry.
A gorgeous setting

After dinner we walked through the adjacent greenhouse, a lovely melon was ready to be picked!

We ate our third and final meal at Eatmosfera.  Reasonably priced and tasty pizza but nothing life-changing.  We had a tasty lunch/brunch while shopping at Buffet Van Odette, picked up sandwiches for our bike ride at Cora which was right by our hotel, had drinks at the gorgeous hotel bar at the Hotel Pulitzer, and a great lunch at Breda.  And let's not forget that apple pie......   


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