Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - Jean-Francois Ganevat "Le Jaja du Ben"

Amidst a recent trip through the wine regions of Austria and Hungary (I promise a post coming soon!) we went rogue and ordered this Vin de France from Jura producer Jean-Francois Ganevat.  The name of the cuvee alone peaked our interest (although I still can't figure out who Ben is) and the wine did not disappoint!  

Jean-Francois took over the family estate in 1998, biodynamically farming their 17 different varieties across 8 hectares.  Made from a blend of Gamay from Beaujolais and a mix of indigenous Jura varieties, the wine was light and bright with a bit of strawberry band-aid funk!  Mouth-tingling acidity made it a great pairing with our delicious dinner at O'Boufes in Vienna.

Yes we were convinced we had to have 2 desserts and they were worth it!!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Restaurant Round Up - November Eats

It was a light month for dining out, between an epic Friendsgiving and spending the actual holiday in Budapest (post to come) we didn't find ourselves eating out much.  But I did manage to sneak in the below meals!  

Unfortunately with the endless supply of restaurants in NYC it's hard to repeat a meal at any one place; I revisited Speedy Romeo on the LES and was reminded that this should be a constant in the rotation.  The pizzas are solid, anything out of the wood fired oven is delicious, and they allow BYOB, what's not to love??

Classic Margarita

Wood roasted branzino
The folks at Reynard in the Wythe Hotel held a series of pop-ups with visiting chefs.  We went for the State Bird Provisions dim sum dinner.  I was a bad blogger and only took a photo of the below oysters with kimchi ice.  While everything was good, the real experience at the restaurant can't be beat!

A perfectly composed plate from our Friendsgiving feast!

I ventured out to Clinton Hill, a part of Brooklyn I'm not very familiar with, for dinner at Locanda Vini E Olii.  The restaurant focuses on northern Italian food, all pastas are made in house, and the setting could not be more cute and cozy in a converted old pharmacy.  Everything we had was absolutely delicious, makes me wish this was a little closer to my neighborhood!  

Cauliflower souffle 

Thyme maltagliati "ai funghi" - translates to leftover scraps pasta with a delicious mix of mushrooms!

The most delicious duck breast I've ever had paired with chickpeas and a fig chutney

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Holiday Entertaining - My Tips and Tricks

The hap, happiest season of all is officially upon us!  I love to use the holidays as an excuse to cook and entertain for my family and friends.  With a little strategic planning, holiday entertaining doesn't have to be stressful!  

It all starts with a theme.  This year, the man and I are throwing a little unconventional dinner party to celebrate with our friends:  Feliz Navi-Taco!  Because who doesn't love tacos?!  There will still be a tree and holiday music playing!   

I used Paperless Post to create an evite, they certainly make it easy!  All I had to do was type in "fiesta" and an assortment of taco-themed invites popped up, all readily customizable.  A few clicks later and you can enter event details and your guests' emails and send the invites off.  No postage required!  I use the Paperless Post App to track responses and message guests; having all of the information in one place makes it easy for both the guests and the hosts.

Next up, menu planning!  The most obvious tip, keep it simple, cook what you're comfortable with, and I always try to choose recipes that don't require a lot of last minute prep, I hate spending the night in the kitchen and missing out on the party! 

A playlist is key for setting the mood and I keep table settings simple with a few candles so that we can serve the food family style and guests can still see each other across the table!

And lastly - dishes can always wait until the morning.  Do just enough clean up to get food put away then get right back to the party!

 I'd love to know, what are your best entertaining tips?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - What I'm drinking for Thanksgiving

It's the best time of year!!!  My turkey-day pre-game was strong this year, we hosted 14 people in our apartment for a Friendsgiving feast.  Jared and I handled the turkey, gravy, and cranberry, while our guests really brought their A-game with allllllllll the sides.  

Two of my favorite wines from the evening are below, they just so happened to both be produced by third-generation winemaking families!  I think they both deserve a spot on your holiday table if you're looking for something fun and slightly off the beaten path. 

First up, 2013 3 Generations Riesling from Lakewood Vineyards.  We picked up this bottle on our visit to the Finger Lakes and have been saving for a special occasion.  Riesling is a classic Thanksgiving pairing as the bright acidity helps to cut through all of the rich foods and multiple flavors going on throughout the meal.  While Rieslings can range in sweetness, this one from Lakewood is bone dry, but with sweeter aromas of stone fruit:  peaches and pears cut with bright lemon zest.  It made for a particularly good pairing with our starter of maple bourbon butternut squash soup!     

Another fun wine, the Lettere from Paolo Palumbo has a light effervescence and is slightly off-dry.  Paolo is a third-generation winemaker, located in the hills surrounding Naples.  Lettere is a DOC town that is known for wines made from a blend of native grapes:  Piedirosso, Aglianico, and Sciascinoso.  The nose was rather herbal, with notes of stewed plums and meat jerky on the palate!  I loved the texture; the bright acidity and slight bubbles paired nicely with our turkey, stuffing and root vegetables during the main event.    

I'm forever thankful for cheese!

Herbed butter bird

We've come a long way from the 4 girls sitting around my tiny kitchen table in my old apartment!

It's become tradition that everyone must write down what they're thankful for, we had some creative entries this year!

Wine:  2013 Lakewood Vineyards 3 Generations Riesling
Purchased:  At Winery
Price:  $20

Wine:  Paolo Palumbo Lettere Red Wine
Purchased:  Bottlerocket
Price:  $16

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - 2016 Benevolent Neglect Riesling

It's no secret that every somm in NYC loves to hit up Peking Duck House in Chinatown.  The restaurant is BYOB making it the perfect place to geek out on perfect pairings.  One such pairing is Riesling, which we decided to follow-suit and brought along the 2016 Riesling from Benevolent Neglect.  What makes Riesling a go-to pairing for Chinese food?  Typically there is some residual sugar (a lot or a little depending on style) as well as bright acidity which help cut through the spice and richness of Chinese dishes. 

This Riesling is lower in RS (more to my taste) and very well balanced.  Notes of citrus and tart green apple are rounded out with a silky, honeyed finish.  The winery only makes 50 cases of this wine and unfortunately the 2016 is now sold out but you can buy the 2017 here.   

Wine:  2016 Benevolent Neglect Riesling
Purchased:  gifted
Price:  $28 retail

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Restaurant Round Up - October Eats

Highlights below from a delicious month!

So happy to finally check out an authentic "red-sauce" joint on Arthur Ave in the Bronx.  Tra Di Noi was really delicious - especially the calamari and lamb gnocchi!  Read about the wine we drank here!

Another trip upstate for a hiking adventure led to a hot dog lunch at Forrest's Sidestreet Cafe.

I caught a cone from Dominique Ansel Kitchen on the last weekend for their seasonal soft-serve window, the cold brew flavor was delicious!

Another NYC dining institution can be crossed off my list - the Peking Duck House is a great group dinner option with reasonable price-fixed menus and BYOB!

I was asked to join the dining committee of Parlor and finally tried their weekly seasonal chef's tasting menu at their new location.  Presentation and ambiance get an A+, food could use some work.

It's been so nice being back in the city on weekends, took advantage of ourdoor dining weather for brunch at Cafe Gitane.  This is the first place I recall ever hearing about avocado toast, they were certainly on the forefront of that trend!  Happy to report it's just as good as ever.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wine Wednesdays - 2011 Travaglini Gattinara

This past weekend was full of firsts including a trip up to the Bronx for dinner on Arthur Ave followed by the Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden.

We enjoyed dinner at Tra Di Noi, I especially enjoyed the wine we drank, the 2011 Gattinara from Travaglini, a family-owned winery in the Piedmont region of Italy.  The wine is 100% Nebbiolo (the same grape that is used in Barolo and Barbaresco) and a perfect "red sauce" kinda wine.  While Nebbiolos in Barolos and other red wines can be overpowering and highly tannic, this wine was soft, velvety and delicious!  A beautiful garnet color with aromas of red fruit, vanilla, and spice; the palate was full bodied with notes of cherries, plums/prunes and more spice notes (likely due to the 3 years of aging in Slovenian oak).  Relatively low alcohol at 13% makes this an easy sipper!  

Fun fact - Travaglini wines are easily recognizable by the unusual bottle shape which fits the curve of your hand, said to help catch sediment during decanting!    

As for the food - we had burrata and the calamari salad with tomatoes and onions (I don't even like calamari and this was amazing) to start followed by gnocchi with lamb ragu and veal scaloppine.  The roasted potatoes that arrive with entrees were perfection!

We walked off the delicious food and wine with 20k steps around the Chihuly exhibit.  This is the last weekend of the exhibit and tickets are sold out so see below for highlights!

Wine:  2011 Travaglini Gattinara
Price:  $29 retail


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