Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Le Turtle

When dining out I typically order off of the bottle menu; it's more economical and let's not kid ourselves, I typically want more than 1 glass.  But when dining with friends with different taste preferences, I'm relegated to the by the glass list.

I was excited to try Le Turtle, a new wave "French" restaurant on the Lower East Side in NYC.  I scored a reservation for 8pm on a Friday night and invited 3 girlfriends to join me.  While the other girls preferred red, I wanted a white to pair with their infamous roast chicken.  I was faced with 4 options, the Chardonnay option was a white Burgundy, and something I knew I'd like, but I was unfamiliar with the other 3 options.  I wanted to take this opportunity to expand my horizons beyond my typical White Burgundy (I also wasn't too keen on paying $19/glass).  So I asked our waitress for some help and suggestions and if I could sample to see if I liked what she suggested.  I was met with disinterest and disdain.

After a little back and forth, one taste, and being made to feel like a bother, I caved and ordered the Chardonnay because I knew I'd like it.  

My complaint is this; if you're going to have obscure bottles on your by the glass list, the staff should welcome the opportunity to educate the consumer.  

The meal was ok, the infamous chicken was....chicken, albeit beautifully presented in a cloud of smoldering hay.  When there are countless options in this fine city of ours, I won't be rushing back here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 Kips Bay Decorator Show House

I spent an afternoon on the Upper East Side touring the gorgeous Decorator Show House.  Each year, interior designers transform a Manhattan home into a showcase for their brilliant craft.  The house is open for tours and ticket sales benefit the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club.  When can I move in??

The home is open for tours every day through June 9th.

Custom gold leather, so up my alley.

This room was covered in chalkboard paint and the molding and ceiling details were all hand-drawn in chalk!

This might win out as my favorite room, the walls were the most gorgeous emerald green.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Birthday Dinner Dream - The Restaurant at Meadowood

Although I've been celebrating this new decade for more than a month, my man took me to The Restaurant at Meadowood for an official start to the birthday week festivities.  

My family have been members at Meadowood for over 30 years (before me!).  I fondly remember Easters hunting eggs on the golf course lawn, hours in the pool, and casual Sunday dinners at The Grill before heading back to SF for the week.  Sitting poolside is still one of my most favorite places in the world, my true happy place!

With such a long history and memories associated with such a special place, I didn't think it could get any better, but our experience with dinner at The Restaurant was so amazing and only added to the fondness I hold in my heart for Meadowood.

The food was outstanding, but what really stood out was the service.  Each and every member of the team was so personable, efficient (how did that spoon get there?!), made us feel welcome and put a more comfortable/casual spin on the experience vs. a formal, stuffy affair.  We once again win for longest diners that closed down the restaurant after 4+ hours, and I could have honestly sat there for 4 more!    

We started with prom pics before my mom driving us over, we sat in the back seat just for fun ;-) she's a great Uber driver!
After a cocktail by the fire in the bar, we were seated in the main dining room.  I apologize for the lackluster photos, the lighting was a bit tough and to be honest I was more focused on the experience than capturing every shot!

One of the first courses was their play on caviar service, but instead of caviar, they present pickled okra seeds for a build-your-own blini experience.  One of my favorite dishes of the night!  

Now to a bit of true caviar, with a chilled avocado soup.

Another favorite of the night was this abalone dish with brown butter and Rancho Gordo beans.

Whipped potatoes with crispy potato skins - the potatoes are cooked in beeswax to alter the starch content, making for a mashed potato like no other.

Cabbage hearts layered with roasted cod.

A preview to the main course, a broth of spring lamb.  So good, we had seconds!

Spring lamb with artichokes and purslane.  The "pita pockets" they served on the side of this were so delicious.  This could possibly be my favorite dish.

Perfectly grilled duck breast with "duck fudge" which I can only describe as a rich, chewy, savory fudge.

And now to the cheese course.  Contralto goat cheese coated in a layer of "grape-mite" and grilled lightly.  Served with an amazing slice of toasted bread and more "grape-mite".

Black apple bites filled with sweet walnuts and kefir gelato.

An obvious focus of the food and experience of The Restaurant is their use of fresh, local, seasonal produce.  Most of which is grown at the nearby farm, which also happens to be located on the property of my elementary school!  Candied beet, rhubarb, carrot and grapefruit!

Full and happy!
This may just top Sadelle's as the best chocolate babka!

Because it was my birthday we got one extra special dessert, chocolate+caramel torte with sea salt, I mean could they know me any better?!  A handwritten, personal note under the cake made these small touches feel extra special throughout the evening.

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the wine pairings but highlights included Domaine Latour-Giraud "Genevrieres" Mersault Premier Cru 2013 and 1992 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon.  The perfect marriage of my two favorite wines (Chardonnay + Cabernet Sauvignon) and two of my favorite places (France + Napa Valley).

We poured ourselves into a cab for the short ride home.  Hats off to Chef Kostow and team, 3 stars very much deserved!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Nickel & Nickel 2009 Ponzo Vineyard Zinfandel

They say Zinfandel is the ultimate BBQ wine.  I tested out that theory when I paired this 2009 Nickel & Nickel Zinfandel with pork ribs.  I can't take credit for the ribs, the manfriend owned the dry rub and 2 day process of marinating, baking, and finishing off on the grill.  I can't really take credit for the wine either as a friend brought it.....but I helped!

This wine has a bit of age on it but you would never know.  The nose was full of spice but the palate was juicy fruit, raspberry jam, and a hint of vanilla from the oak.  A supple, smooth finish, this Zin was a great match and proved the BBQ theory right! 

*This wine came from a friend's cellar.  Unfortunately it looks as though N&N no longer sources Zin from this vineyard.  They have been high on my list to visit for a tasting,;will have to check out their lineup next time I'm in the Valley and will report back! 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Birthday Bonanza - #Thisis30

It's over, officially.  My month+ long birthday celebration culminated in the most amazing weekend surrounded by family and friends at home in Napa.  I've thought about this "big birthday" celebration for many years now, imagining how it would be and feel.  This was everything and more.  I feel so lucky to be at this place in my life right now, I really couldn't ask for more and that is the most amazing feeling!  I spent most of my 20's thinking I "should" be doing this or that, wanting for what I didn't have, not feeling comfortable in/with myself.  I now feel more at ease and confident in who I am and where I'm going; I feel like I'm in exactly the right place doing exactly what I want (for the most part, I do have my days).  

Thank you to all who helped me celebrate, I'm so lucky to have such amazing people in my life!  

So many candles, so many desserts......

Starting off my birthday morning with the most amazing homemade breakfast spread, worthy of the finest B&B!
Prom pose; my boo took me to The Restaurant at Meadowood - full post to come!
Family celebration at my favorite restaurant Farmstead, with an amazing line-up of some favorite wines 
How lucky am I to have the Dunn Vineyards 1986 Cabernet two years in a row!  
Each meal seemed to have at least 3 desserts......
Six girlfriends flew in for the weekend.  We enjoyed a full day of wine tasting at Franciscan and Duckhorn.  

Allll the desserts at Mustards
We enjoyed a lovely evening of wine, bocce, and bbq at a family friend's beautiful home.

Throwing it back with a classic Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake!
No trip to the Ranch is complete without a ride up to the top of the hill!

The main event was a lobster feed in the barn, celebrating with my favorite meal, with my favorite people, in my favorite place!  

Signature cocktail with liquid gold!

Ending the evening dancing at Ana's Cantina!

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