Friday, August 10, 2012


You know how sometimes you eat a wonderful dish or drink a great bottle with friends and although you want to share the joy, you just never seem to work it into a post on your blog? Me too, I know exactly how you feel. Here are some things from the past few months that I haven't managed to write about, but are worth sharing:

Earlier in the summer in a Japanese restaurant I ate this small appetizer plate of young bamboo shoots. They were probably simmered first, or maybe parboiled, and dressed with a Japanese herb the name of which I do not know. And the rest of the dressing - I have no idea. I have felt frustrated that I didn't ask more about the dish, but I didn't - that's that. I still think of it though because whoa, it was so good. Next year early summer I will go back and in general, I will eat more bamboo.

I know I just mentioned Bodegas Tradición Palo Cortado last week, but that was a glass pour at a restaurant. Thinking that the wine is not imported to the US (the Oloroso and Amontillado are, but not the Palo Cortado for some reason), I brought a bottle home in my luggage last October. I opened it when some one was over for dinner, and then had a small glass every day for a over a week - you don't need a lot in one sitting. The wine is great, my favorite of the Bodegas Tradición wines, but it takes a few days to unfurl after the bottle is open. There is almost none of this wine in the US, and I'm telling you, if you like Palo Cortado comprised of very old wines, you should try this. It's amazing in it's richness and depth, and whoa - it has so much finesse. A bottle will run you $90 but think for a moment before you say "no way." You're going to have 10 glasses minimum, so it actually becomes cheap considering what it is you are drinking. Crush has 3 bottles as of this writing, for the few and the bold among you.
A generous person brought this bottle of 2000 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses to a dinner, just to get things started properly. This was a Barolo dinner and there were a few blue chip wines on the table, including wines by Giuseppe Mascarello and Francesco Rinaldi. The Clos des Goisses was the wine of the night for me. It clearly showed the ripeness of this very fine vineyard, and also its elegance and detail of flavor. Whoa, a special treat.

Recently I decided to drink red wine while having dinner at home, a rarity these days. I opened my last bottle of 2007 Filliatreau Saumur-Champigny La Grand Vignole, and it benefited well from a scant few years in the cellar. I love this wine with a couple years on it, particularly in the vintages that are not 2005 or 2009 hot. Whoa, the 2007 is in a great spot right now, very fresh but there are prominent leathery and earthy notes too, and the minerality is strong on the finish. A lovely under $20 wine and a great candidate for mid-term cellaring.

This is bluefish crudo. Whoa, raw bluefish. I ate this not long ago on Martha's Vineyard at a dinner hosted by Chris Fischer, the former chef and current farmer who I believe sells produce to several hip Brooklyn restaurants, including the Andrew Tarlow joints. Anyway, bluefish is oily and very strongly flavored and isn't something that I think of eating raw. But this fish had been caught earlier in the day and it was beautiful, simply served with lemon, olive oil, salt, and herbs - full of fresh and complex flavors. Memorable.

Peter came for dinner one night and brought these two 375 ml bottles of Manzanilla: Equipo Navazos 'I Think' and Valdespino Deliciosa. Drinking these bottles next to one another, whoa - that is a particularly interesting experience in that it highlights the impact of filtration on Manzanilla Sherry. Deliciosa is bottled from a solera in the great Sanlucar bodega called Miseracordia. 'I Think' is a blend of selected wines from that same solera, including barrels from earlier criaderas. It is bottled unfiltered. I think both are great wines and drinking them together like this was fascinating. Deliciosa has a fineness that 'I Think' does not achieve, and 'I Think has a complexity and depth' that Deliciosa does not achieve. You can perform this little experiment yourself for less than $40 at Tinto Fino, the shop devoted to Spanish wines in the East Village. They are the only retailer to carry 'I Think,' and they also carry Deliciosa.
A friend had a BBQ the other night and one of his pals brought this fine old bottle of 1987 Quintarelli Valpolicella to share. Whoa! I've had Quintarelli maybe three times in my life and this is by far the oldest bottle. It was wonderful wine. So much to say, and although much of it was in a language that is foreign to me, there is no mistaking the quality here. The wine is detailed and expressive and fresh as a daisy at 25 years old. After some time I began to notice what I thought might be dried grape flavors. Should that be - isn't the Valpolicella the dry wine in the stable? I contacted my buddy Jeremy who sent me an informed and amusing set of messages about the wine and the idea that dried grapes could have made their way in there. I could almost hear him laughing as he discussed this, and it seemed to me as though he was saying that there are rules against this, but who knows what really goes on sometimes. "The Valpolicella can be made with up to 70% ripasso wine, wine that has been aged on the lees and solids of Amarone" Jeremy wrote. "So the answer is yes, although not directly." Jeremy also said that wine originally destined to become Amarone was blended into the Valpolicella in some vintages. And as he said, "who's complaining?" 

Lastly, I just want to share the wonder of this old bottle of Cream Sherry. Not old as in old wines at bottling. Old as in Whoa, I found it in my parents' liquor cabinet and my mother maintains that she bought it over 10 years ago and periodically uses it for cooking. It has not been refrigerated in that time and it was a little more than half-full. I had to try it. It was actually not so bad, I enjoyed a glass. I swear, I'm not kidding.

1 comment:

Kelly and Angie said...

Bamboo shoots? That sounds quite interesting to us! We are both vegetarians and are getting tired of the same old meals. It does get quite expensive for organic or non meat meals. Maybe we will give bamboo shoots a try. Also, the Palo Cortado that you mentioned seems alarmingly good and it is so sad that you can not find in the states. Seems like we need to take more trips! Thank you for the wonderful posting, we will check back often.