Monday, October 30, 2006

Weekend Wines and Eats

Before sharing comments about this past weekend's food and wine, I want to mention a great series of posts I came across while searching online for help planning our Burgundy trip. A German guy, I think, and his coworker at something called Black Ink visited Burgundy each year for 5 years and lovingly describe their wine and food experiences. Worth reading, although I warn you - you may feel compelled to visit Burgundy afterwards.

Now, the weekend's wines. I had four very good wines this weekend, 3 of which cost under $20, one of them under $15. We had some yummy food, and an expensive bummer of a very poor meal at a popular and supposedly excellent Brooklyn restaurant.

Friday night BrooklynLady and I went to visit Deetrane and Pristine and their new 4-day old baby. We need practice holding newborns, yes, but this was also a great excuse to eat Deetrane's delicious cooking - he made simple but utterly delicious tagliatelle with a sauce of thick and lusty heirloom tomatoes. I contributed a bottle of 2003 Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo, $18. I know basically nothing about Italian wine, but this producer is a winner. I read about Montevertine in Eric Asimov's NY Times blog and as I often am when reading his blog, I was immediately sold. He could probably convince me to buy a hundred dollar bill shredder.

2002 Pian del Ciampolo was in stores until a few months ago and it was graceful, light bodied, but pretty intense wine. Sort or reminded me of a Pinot Noir, actually. 2003 is supposed to be far superior to 2002 in Tuscany and I was excited to try the new vintage. It just showed up at Chambers Street a few weeks ago. It is just delicious! Fuller bodied than the 2002, intense smokey cherry and leather flavors, very earthy. A pure feeling to the wine too, no appreciable oak or anything else to get in the way of the fruit and soil.

Saturday night after seeing The Science of Sleep (so-so at best), BrooklynLady and I had a some friends over for dinner. Our menu:

Fried green tomatoes with home made green goddess dressing
Pan roasted hanger steaks with piri-piri sauce
Roast pink potatoes
Boiled magenta radishes with butter and salt

We had the 2005 Huet Vouvray Demi-sec Clos du Bourg, $34 with the tomatoes. I wanted to cut through the rich green goddess dressing, but also to echo the sweetness of the fried tomatoes. I am more and more impressed with the 2005 vintage in the Loire, and this wine was a show stopper. Absolutely pure and clean, with well delineated aromas of ripe melon, pears, and perfumey white flowers. Well balanced with mouthwatering acidity and a mineral backbone, clean flavors of sweet ripe fruit, lemon, and rainwater, with that touch of honey at the end that identifies the wine as a demi-sec. This is a cellar selection, in my opinion, as I am certain that the flavors and aromas will become more complex in time.

We opened the 2005 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny, $14 with the steaks and sides. I have posted about Thierry Germain's wines here before - I am a real fan. This is his entry level wine and its meant to drink young. Juicy with fresh blackberries and plums, and some underlying funky-animal, something vegetal from the soil, that adds complexity and makes it a great food wine. And at this a case and show it off to your friends - they'll think you're breaking out the expensive stuff.

BrooklynLady and I had an unexpected dinner out Sunday night at Stone Park, a hot spot on 5th Avenue in Park Slope. Our friends who can't go out much due to their 3 year old called us, and although we traditionally cook for the week on Sunday nights, we couldn't pass up the chance to hang out with them. I've been to Stone Park 4 times now and each time I am less and less impressed. The first time we had marrow bones (boring, sadly), blue fish cakes (excellent), a thick and wonderful grilled porkchop, and a nice piece of fish. Each time I return, something goes downhill. But I go back because its supposed to be so good, and who am I to disagree, right? Wrong. I need to learn from this.

This time was absolutely the worst and I will not go back. In fact I would go so far as to recommend that people not go there. Expensive food and drink, and not well executed, with some holier-than-thou service to top it off. They had nothing non-alcoholic to offer BrooklynLady to drink, and were helpless to come up with something. I practically had to climb behind the bar and mix her a mocktail myself. I ordered a $10 cocktail called a Pegu Club, a mixture of gin, cointreau, and lime juice. I've had good versions of this drink (at a bar named Pegu Club in Manhattan) and it's bracing, tart, and refreshing - a great aperitif. This one came in a half empty martini glass (fill that puppy up for $10, pal) and was utterly flat andway too sweet. A bad omen.

Our thick pork chops were burned tasting and black on the outside, and raw on the inside. BrooklynLady's steak was rare although she asked for medium, and although she politely sent it back for more fire, it returned in the same bloody state. The corn gratin it came with was cold, right out of the walk-in or something. Our friend's salmon was also raw on the inside with tough and inedible chinese broccoli. They then forgot the candle that we asked for when ordering the desert, and served us cold "warm chocolate cake" and cold tart tatin.

When the bill came our lovely bottle of 2005 Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir, $33 ($18 in a store?) was not there. That's nice, I thought - comp us the wine after a clearly screwed up dining experience. I let the waiter know I appreciated this gesture, and he took the check and added the $33, thanking me for my honesty. Never again, I tell ya!

At least the wine was good. Light, simple, red cherries and a bit of earth in a glass. A pleasure to sip while trying to find the edible areas of our food.

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