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

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!  

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