Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Landmark Vineyards' Harvest Fest + Lobster Feed + Chardonnay = Fall Dream

My affinity for Chardonnay is clearly no secret, nor is my love-affair with lobster (as documented here, here, here, and here).  Lucky for me these two pair so perfectly together!  

One of my favorite Chardonnay producers, Landmark Vineyards, is hosting a lobster feed this Friday September 30th at their winery in Kenwood, CA.  I'm in NY this weekend but for anyone in the Sonoma region, you should definitely attend!  I served Landmark Chardonnay at my birthday lobster feed back in May and I can assure you, it's a match made in heaven (insert heart-eyes emoji here).  

If you're not able to make the lobster party, Landmark is also hosting their Harvest Festival this Saturday from 11am-3pm where you'll be able to taste through their current releases paired with bites from local vendors.  
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These are the times when this whole bi-coastal thing makes me wish NYC/Napa Valley were a bit closer than a 6 hour plane ride and 2 hour car ride apart, I'd be at both of these events in a second!

I found out about both of these events by searching Eventbrite for "Harvest".  Eventbrite makes it so easy to search for fun activities and events in your hometown, you can search by region, activity, and date.  They also make it a cinch to plan your own fall events should you feel inspired to create your own lobster feed or harvest festival wherever you may live!  

Tickets can be purchased on the Landmark  events page as well as on Eventbrite,  If you go, please have a lobster claw and a glass of Chardonnay in my honor!

Photo via
Photo via

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Marc Pesnot 2014 Nuitage

It's no secret that Wildair is one of the best new restaurants in NYC, BA even says so.  I first visited towards the end of last year and it's become one of my favorite new spots in the city as well.  

In addition to delicious small plates and shareable snacks, they have a very diverse wine list and offer several different choices by-the-glass, often being poured from magnums, how fun is that?!  While at first glance the list is a bit intimidating, but the staff is super knowledgeable and helpful.

I greatly enjoyed the 2014 Nuitage from Marc Pesnot.  Made from 100% Melon de Bourgogne grapes, same as Muscadet, and hailing from vineyards near the city of Nantes in the Loire Valley.  Marc practises organic farming on his 13 hectare vineyard.  The grapes for this wine are left in contact with the skins a bit longer than normal (overnight), imparting additional depth in color and texture.  This gives the wine more weight and body than your traditional Muscadet and makes it a great food wine.         

Traditionally paired with oysters, Muscadet is known for having a saline characteristic and mineral depth as well as bright acidity.  This wine was no different.  The acid in the wine was actually a great match for the acidity in the tomatoes and fatty tuna in the signature tuna tartar dish. 

We enjoyed a whole host of other dishes including the fried squid, burrata, romaine lettuces, grain salad and their delicious homemade bread.  I can't write a review of Wildair and not give a shout out to the desserts:  we sampled both on offer, a chocolate hazelnut tart and a berry panna cotta with the most amazing granita topping and crumble that makes it taste like a cold creamy combination of cheesecake and sorbet, amazing!

Just look at that perfect sea salt flake!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2015 Triennes Rosé

Earlier this summer, I took advantage of a quiet weekend in the city and snuck into Pasquale Jones for dinner.  We sat at the bar and kicked off our meal with a bottle of rosé from Triennes.  I first learned about Triennes after returning from Provence last year; my mom politely declined the pink-wine fad until I taught her what it could be when done well.  She came home to discover Triennes at her local wine shop and it was her go-to wine last summer (proud daughter moment).  

Pasquale Jones is employing the no-tipping philosophy, which I will admit, felt a little uncomfortable when our waiter dismissed us for asking about the specials of the evening.  He eventually warmed up, but overall I felt like prices were reasonable on certain items (pizza at $22 feels normal) but then felt incredibly high on others (a bowl of beets for $18).  Knowing this wine retails for $14 made it slightly hard to swallow paying $55, but at the end of the meal, everything seemed to even out to normal pricing had we ordered and tipped on our own.

Back to the wine, it's an easy summer-sipper.  Made primarily of Cinsault and blended with Merlot, Syrah, and Grenache it had a slightly floral nose.  The palate was red fruit, strawberries, nice bright acidity and a pleasant finish.  

Considering the hype surrounding Pasquale Jones, I was a bit underwhelmed.  The atmosphere was great and everything was tasty, but maybe my expectations were inflated, I just didn't find myself loving anything in particular.  It was my first time trying clam pizza, and I gotta say I'm not really a fan, it tasted like clam chowder on a pizza, which was just weird to me.  

Said beets, a bit disappointing for $18
Cucumber and smoked trout salad
Infamous white clam pizza, the crust was my jam, but I wasn't so into the flavor.
Wine:  2015 Triennes Rosé
Purchased:  Pasquale Jones, NYC
Price:  $14 retail

Monday, September 12, 2016

Lakeside Morning Granola from Geneva On The Lake

One of my favorite parts of any getaway is the hotel breakfast.  I prefer to stay at inns and B&B's for that very reason.  I love nothing more than starting my day over a cup of coffee and a breakfast outside of my normal smoothie or eggs routine.  Bonus points if breakfast can be taken outside.

The breakfast spread at Geneva On The Lake checked all the boxes:  great coffee, lots to choose from, and a gorgeous setting overlooking the lake.  

The granola in particular was delicious:  crunchy, not overly "oaty" and a perfect balance of sweet/salty.  I had to get the recipe to try and recreate these peaceful vacation mornings back at home.

Lakeside Granola

1.5 cups pumpkin seeds
1 cup flax seeds
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup dried cranberries (or dried fruit of choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients and quinoa together.  Microwave honey for 30 seconds and stir into dry ingredients.  Stir in canola oil.

Spread mixture onto a baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway.  After 20 minutes, stir in cranberries and return to over for 5 minutes.  Once everything looks toasted and golden brown, remove from over and let cool.  Crumble into chunks and store in an airtight container.  

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Seneca Lake Wine Trail

As I mentioned in my first Finger Lakes post, we visited some great wineries along the east and west sides of Seneca Lake.  As I also mentioned, there are dozens and dozens of wineries in the region, and not all are created equal.  

Our first day we stayed on the west side, traveling from Geneva down towards Watkins Glen and then working our way back up.  Our first stop was Lakewood Vineyards.  Originally a peach and apple orchard, the Stamp family moved to the area in 1951 and planted grapes that they sold to other wineries and grape juice companies.  In 1988, they started making their own wine and today they are home to more than 80 acres of planted vineyards with a winery and tasting room open for daily visits.  

What's interesting about the Finger Lakes wineries is that they offer a range of both dry and off-dry (sweet) wines, something you don't really see on Napa tasting room menus. 

At Lakewood, my favorites were the Chardonnay (no surprise) and the Candeo, a lightly sparkling, fruity, ever-so-sweet wine that is the perfect "patio pounder" for hot summer days.   

An old map showing some of the original vineyards on the lake, there are now over 30 wineries on the wine trail.

For lunch, we headed to FLX Wienery, the perfect pit-stop between tastings.  Run by a husband and wife team that have spent years in the wine/restaurant/hospitality world who also own and run Element Winery as well as FLX Table, which unfortunatley wasn't open yet during our visit.  Christopher is a Master Somm so he stocks the fridge with some amazing wine choices from local as well as international top producers to enjoy alongside your burger, hot dog and fries!

This was no ordinary "burger and fries" situation:  K-Town burger, the "local" fixin's on a house-made brat, and garlic fries
 Post-lunch, we continued up the wine-trail to Hermann J. Wiemer Winery.  Hermann emmigrated to the US in 1960's and is one of the pioneers of establishing the Finger Lakes region as one of the preeminnant Riesling-growing regions in the world.  

The winery building and tasting room gave me serious #barngoals.  

After our trip to Alsace, I have a new appreciation for Riesling.  It was great to see an American producer doing it so well.  

  Our last stop was Fox Run Vineyards.  I'm not sure if it was the time of day (late afternoon) or a one-off experience, but we did not enjoy our tasting here.  Wines were decent, but service was lackluster.  I know tasting room staff are used to the majority of winery visitors just looking to wet their whistle, but I enjoy engaging with tasting staff and learning more about the winery and operations through conversation, that just didn't happen here.  

Day 2 of wine tasting took us down the eastern side of Seneca Lake.  First stop was Hosmer Winery.  Another family owned and operated winery that's been growing grapes in the region for over 40 years.    

We heard brunch at Stonecat Cafe was not to be missed, so we headed there after tasting.  Food was delicious, service was once again, seriously lacking.  On Sundays they have a nice jazz brunch on the patio, be sure to make a reservation as it get's crowded.   

There were only 2 of us, that's an order of fried chicken "for the table"
Our last stop was at Wagner Vineyards and Brewery.  It started to downpour just as we walked inside, so we took respite first in the brewery where we did a tasting of their beers.  Not my thing but I did appreciate some of the beers including the maple porter and oatmeal stout.  The wines were forgettable and the tasting room was full of drunk bachelorettes.  Were it not for the rain, we probably wouldn't have stayed.   

We wanted to catch the sunset at Two Goats Brewing but the rain soiled that plan.  Other wineries in the region that were recommended:  Damiani, Bloomer Creek, and Shaw Vineyards.

And there you have it, two full days of wine and food options should you find yourself in the Seneca Lake Region!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Travelogue - The Finger Lakes and Geneva on the Lake

Is it just me or is anyone else extremely bummed about summer's official ending?  How does it always seem to go so fast??  The only thing to do is plan more adventures to look forward to and I have the perfect weekend getaway for those in the tri-state area.  

The NY Fingerlakes, or New York's "other" wine region, is the perfect fall weekend getaway.  Harvest is upon us, the fall foliage is sure to begin any day, the region is producing some top-notch wines (as well as craft brews) and is home to some really great farm to table dining as well.  I visited earlier this summer and learned that while there is a lot of great food and drink, there's also a lot of bad in between.  Lucky for you I sussed out the best of the best and mapped out the perfect weekend getaway.

We hit the road on a Friday at 1 pm and made it in 5 hours flat, just in time to hit the wine and cheese hour at our hotel and home base for the weekend, Geneva on the Lake.  

The setting was absolutely gorgeous, with sprawling lawns overlooking Seneca Lake.  The main building was a private villa built in 1914 and modeled after Villa Lancellotti in Frascati, Italy (one of my favorite wine-producing towns in Italy).  

After our first sips of local wine, we settled in to our room.  A 2 bedroom suite with a full kitchen and a view of the lake!

After a long drive we were thrilled to take advantage of the candlelight dinner with live music in the Lancellotti dining room; a total throwback to the formal dining of a bygone era.  It was fun to dress up and walk downstairs to dinner.

We settled in for a feast including shrimp cocktail, spinach salad, rack of lamb and filet.

The wine list had a surprising selection of great choices beyond the Finger Lakes.  We decided to go to Bordeaux for this meal with a 2008 from Chateau Paloumey.  

As for dessert, a table-side bananas foster is about as classic as it gets.

Thoroughly stuffed, we headed back to our room to rest up for a day of wine tasting. 

After a great night sleep, we woke up and Geneva on the Lake was ready and waiting to feed us again!  Breakfast each morning was an absolute treat, with a choice of complimentary continental breakfast or à la carte egg dishes.  

The local fuji apple and tart cherry juices from Red Jacket Orchards were amazing!
 We set out along the west side of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, making stops at Lakewood, Hermann J. Wiemer, and Fox Run.  Full post to come on our winery visits.  

It was hot, so it was really nice to be able to come back to Geneva on the Lake and dip in the pool overlooking the lake; I felt like we were staying at our own private villa in Europe!

We ate dinner at Kindred Fare in Geneva which was really great and a fun, modern environment.  We had snacks at Cebo beforehand because we had planned to eat there on Sunday night but learned shortly after arriving in Geneva that almost all of the restaurants that were recommended to us are closed on Sundays.  I couldn't believe I hadn't thought to look ahead or check opening times, but here I was trying to "wing it".  

Snacks at Cebo:  candied bacon nibs with rosemary, deviled scotch dutch egg, and house pickles and paté
Other recommended restaurants that I'd love to try next time:  Graft in Watkins Glen and Red Dove Tavern in Geneva (both closed on Sundays FYI).

On Sunday, we made our way down the east side of the Seneca Wine Trail, stopping at Hosmer and Wagner, with a stop at the Lively Run Goat Dairy to sample some cheese and meet the goats.

The misfortune of not having a place for dinner Sunday actually led to one of my favorite moments of the trip.  We assembled a picnic of local cheese and wine and set out our spread on our Adirondack chairs overlooking the lake.  Guess winging-it works sometimes after all!

Stay tuned for Wine Wednesdays with details of our wine tours and tastings!

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