After much effort and planning, paired with lots of eating and drinking, supported by some traveling, defined by tons of recommendations from chefs, bartenders, sommeliers, pitmasters, baristas, wine producers and food purveyors... the F.E.D. iPhone app is now available in the app store. Download it, use it, travel with it, but most importantly: Find. Eat. Drink. Repeat.
By the time Friday evening (well, truth be told, Friday afternoon) comes around, it feels like it's time for a cocktail. Sometimes the mood swings to following a recipe, either strictly or loosely, and sometimes it'll be total free-form. This cocktail started as a riff on a Negroni, but the excitement of returning from London with a bottle of Braulio Amaro Alpino turned it into an even more bitter-focused, herbal-tinged cocktail. The elements of a Negroni are still there, but maybe this is a more Fall version. Definitely, bitter, but balanced and clean. Glass: Coupe Ice: Cubes For Stirring Garnish: Lemon Twist Ingredients - 2oz Citadelle Gin - 0.75oz Vergano Americano - 0.75oz Carpano Antica Formula - 0.75oz Braulio Amaro Alpino (maybe a touch less)
Directions 1) Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. 2) Stir until well chilled. 3) Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. 4) Garnish with a lemon twist.
Cappellano's Barolo Chinato is the yard stick by which all Barolo Chinatos are measured -- it's loved and adored.
Anyone who's had the chance to visit Cappellano and taste some of the older (and very old) Chinatos immediately falls in love with the possibilities they can bring.
Levi Dalton writes a wonderful piece on Cappellano's Barolo Chinatos.
I tried this cocktail after reading Jim Meehan's article in the NY Times. I basically followed the recipe, but double the quantities. It really is a delightful summer cocktail: tart, bright, refreshing and it allows all the components to sing their own notes while being harmonious.
Glass: Martini / Coupe Ice: Large Cubes (for shaking) Garnish: None
Ingredients - 1.5 oz. Citadelle Gin - 0.5 oz. Dry Curacao - 0.5 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth - 0.5 oz. Cocchi Vermouth di Torino - 0.5 oz. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice - 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Directions 1) Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake vigorously. 2) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
A delectable dinner paired with the generosity of friends. The dinner consisted of homemade smoked trout rillettes, cheese (Bra and Gorgonzola Dolce) followed by fish pie of the Nigella Lawson Blakean Fish Pie variety with sauteed Lamb's Quarters and baby spinach, and then homemade almond cake with lemon curd and fresh fruit.
And the wine... oh the wines:
- Frantz Saumon La Cave Se Rebiffe Petillant Naturel
- Fuenmayor 1959 Rioja Gran Reserva
- Bodegas Riojanas 1970 Monte Real Rioja Alta
- Prager 1998 Riesling Smaragd Weissenkirchner Klaus
- Bodegas Cesar Florido Moscatel Dorado Chipiona
- Chateau Nairac 1981 Barsac-Sauternes
- Domaine Huet 2009 Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Sec.
La Cave Se Rebiffe
A perfect way to start the evening. A sparkling rose made from Gamay from Montlouis with some Cot and Menu Pineau from Touraine. Lovely cranberry, raspberry fruit with balanced acidity.
Prager 1998 Riesling Smaragd Weissenkirchner Klaus
Paired just magnificently with the fish pie which was made from salmon, cod and rock shrimp with a saffron cream sauce under mashed potato. The exotic fruit, minerals and acidity all jumped with the pie.
Fuenmayor 1959 Rioja Gran Reserva
Brick colored and the nose started a little on the madeira side. But on the palate, this was a stunning wine with sweet fruit and a delicate feeling.
Bodegas Riojanas 1970 Monte Real Rioja Alta
The complete opposite of the Fuenmayor -- beefy, strong, structured and earthy with a delightful nose.
Domaine Huet 2009 Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Sec
Light colored with minerals, flowers, citrus and pear.
Bodegas Cesar Florido Moscatel Dorado Chipiona
Sweet, honey, tropical fruit, floral and a lovely companion to the almond cake. Most of the Moscatel grapes in Chipiona are sold to the larger houses, but Florido is only one of two bodegas producing Moscatel wines independent of the local co-op.
Chateau Nairac 1981 Barsac-Sauternes
My last of four bottles I bought in auction a while back and this one had held up well. Caramel, dried fruits, a little botrytis.
Lobster | ABC Seafood Restaurant, St. Petersburg, FL
I really love this place. The lobster was freshly cooked from the tank. Chopped up and cooked, shell still on.
Trust me -- just order seafood or something challenging. Don't go boring and order chicken with black bean sauce. You'll be uninspired and say bad things about this place. Try a whole fish. Yep, it's by the pound and might be a little expensive, but split it with everyone.
Eel | Before And After
Another suggestion at ABC -- the Salt And Pepper Eel with fried backbone included. The crunch of that fried backbone is just fantastic. The eel comes with a ton of hot peppers and scallions. You'll be scooping up that good stuff all evening long.
Grilled Octopus | Mykonos, Tarpon Springs, FL
While shopping at B-21, one of the best wine shops in the Tampa Bay Area, we asked around for some local recommendations. They suggested Mykonos in the touristy section of Tarpon Springs.
The grilled octopus and shrimp were very well executed. The octopus was the perfect combination of charred, crispy and soft. The souvlaki was pretty messy and not subtle - I much prefer the simplicity of the souvlaki at Souvlaki GR in NYC.
Greek Coffee | Hellas Restaurant
I took my coffee exactly the way she suggested -- black, a little sugar, and gritty. That grit was coffee grounds and it was just as it should be. Strong and sweet. For a more local feel bakery with no seats and no coffee, but excellent pastries, walk around the corner to National Bakery on Athens Street.
Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish | St. Petersburg, FL
Try the local mullet or the mackerel. There are other fish, such as salmon, but why go obvious, when you can go local and traditional. They were out of the mackerel, so we ordered the mullet. This ain't no dainty piece of pan fried fish, this is a whole smoked mullet. And it's just brilliant. Really smokey, a little boney, juicy, fatty in parts. Pick through it and sip your beer.
The other must-order item is the smoked fish spread. But be warned, it's so good you'll devour the saltines and the spread -- save room for that mullet.
Apparently, the burger is worth a shout-out too, but when you are eating at a place called Famous Smoked Fish, I have a problem ordering the burger.
Baked Farm Egg | Prato, Winter Park, FL
The baked egg with Delta asparagus, house coppa, parmesan was pretty spot on, as was most of the food at Prato. It's a fun, busy spot with a casual atmosphere. We also tried the Funghi pizza with roasted mushroom, radicchio, charred onion, balsamico which was really great fresh out of the wood-fired ovens, but not as good as left-overs.
It's definitely worth a stop if you are around Winter Park. And the town has an old charm about it. Work off you lunch by walking down the block and then picking up a gelato!
Boondocks | Port Orange (Daytona Beach), FL
On the water, seafood focused, totally casual and chill. Get some oysters and a pound of the spicy steamed shrimp, drink a cold beer and you won't be disappointed.
Sometimes you drink a bottle of wine for the name, the producer, the vintage. But sometimes it's about a memory -- remembering the person that bought the bottle back in the day.
This was one of those bottles, with no expectations as to storage or vintage or how it was going to taste. The cork crumbled to tiny bits. I poured the wine through whatever hole I could create in the cork and decanted it through a strainer.
The nose was sublime -- just how you'd expect a Bordeaux from a well-known producer to taste -- cedar, cigar box, woodsy, graphite -- all the classic notes. And it wasn't half bad at all; it had held up well considering what it could have tasted like. And the vintage -- not good at all, which would explain the high acidity and minimal fruit.
But it wasn't about the wine. It was about remembering the person that purchased the bottle. Talking about them. Smiling. Reminiscing. Sometimes that's what wine is about.
Even the most bored and jaded person can find something fun and interesting when walking around NYC on a bright sunny afternoon. In the middle of the tiny street, Charles Lane, you'll find a many colored wall.
I popped into Blue Bottle Coffee in Chelsea for a quick macchiato the other day and while waiting for my coffee, I chatted with the barista making some pour-over coffee. Here are some quick tips and notes I gleamed:
- they recommend using different amounts of ground coffee depending on the origin.
- for richer style roasts, use slightly more ground coffee
- specifically, for single origin coffee, they use 25 to 26 grams of ground coffee
- for other coffee, they use 30 grams of ground coffee
- you'll see them pour water over the filter first -- this keeps the filter in place and warms up the cone.
I had the chance to eat at Jungsik in Tribeca this past weekend with some friends. The food is modern and unique Korean food and it definitely lives up to that bill. Not in a weird, off balance kind of unique way, but in an elegant, balanced, delicious way. They use enough spice to know that it's there, but not enough that it's all you taste. The service is as elegant and precise as the food.
It's not a cheap night out, but if you are looking for an upscale, but friendly night out with some full flavor, give Jungsik a whirl.
On this particular night, one of our dinner companions generously brought along a bottle of Selosse Substance and a bottle of Roumier 1998 Bonnes-Mares.
It was my first experience with Selosse and now I see what all the excitement is about. The Substance is a glorious bottle of wine that sang with the food. From the importers website: "Avize’s essence in a single wine, without regard to vintage variation. Made from a solera started in 1987. Profound." It was woodsy, floral, fine, delicate and very exciting.
Next came the Roumier 1998 Bonnes-Mares -- another first for me. It was showing well, but still seemed on the very young side -- even after being decanted for a couple of hours. Balanced and concentrated, structured, but in a elegant masculine kind of way. Lots of dark fruits and spice.
Spring kicked in officially this week in New York, so the idea of rose popped into my head. We started the evening with the Pascal Cotat Lot 2007 Chavignol Rose -- paired with pork rillettes from Dickson's Farmstand Meats and homemade smoked trout rillettes. The wine was lovely -- bright and minerally with lots of strawberries.
Next up was the Gravner 2002 Venezia Giulia Ribolla Gialla -- this just seems to be getting better and better. Less of the tannins - more integrated with delicious tart orange fruit.
Next up on the food front was slow cooked pork belly, roasted chicken with garlic and parsley, celeriac gratin, and roast spring vegetables.
While finishing up the Gravner, which worked well with both courses, we moved on to the Boasso 1999 Barolo Serralunga. This is aging nicely as well -- not too structured, but a good traditional barolo. I picked up a few of these after visiting Boassa back in 2007 and hadn't tasted it in a while. It's turning out wonderfully for the inexpensive price.
Our dinner guest (the wine importer Jose Pastor) brought along a wine from a producer I have been looking forward to trying: Arnot-Roberts. The Arnot-Roberts 2009 Syrah from the Alder Springs Vineyard is not your average California Syrah -- so I can see what everyone's raving about. You won't confuse it with old school French syrah, but then again, you won't automatically label it nasty California Syrah. Light, bright, balanced, almost delicate, fresh, slightly peppery.
It's always great when you can have friends over, open some wine, enjoy a lovely meal, and share interesting ideas. That's what it's all about.
Earlier this week, Chambers Street Wines sent out their email introducing the line of Varnelli products. Since I love unique and interesting products -- especially those that have a sense of place and originality -- it piqued my interest.
Not wishing to drop the $50 to $60 on either of the amari listed, I logged the name in some small part of my brain and filed the email for future reference. I wish it was available in smaller sizes than the 1 liter bottles.
And then later in the week, I was having cocktails at the Beagle in the East Village (an excellent cocktail and food spot) and I noticed they had a fine amari selection, including the two Varnellis. After sipping and munching my way through a chunk of the Beagle's menu, it was time for some relief -- in the form of Amaro Dell'Erborista.
Both CWS's email and the bartender pre-warned of the extent of the bitterness. Varnelli call it: "the best expression of the company's wide experience in the field of herb preparation." It contains a mixture of herbs and roots, sweetened with honey.
Yep - the predominant expression is bitter, but definitely not in the extreme style of a Fernet Branca. The honey provides a balanced counterpoint to the bitterness, but you won't sense a broad sweetness at all. Overall, it's a really fantastic amaro that's definitely on the bitter side of the scale and sometimes that's exactly what you want (even if you don't know it) at the end of a meal.
Looking for more amari recommendations? Read this article with recommendations from sommeliers.
100% tempranillo from the Rioja Alta, specifically the villages of Villalba, Briñas and Labastida. Still some sense of the new oak, but well integrated and aged well. Pretty tasty stuff -- and anything out of magnum is pretty festive.
Sake is not just about the actual drink, it's also about the vessel. Kajitsu serves its sake in classic Japanese delicate glassware and they are such a joy to drink from. When you order the sake pairing each is served in a different glass.