Archive for October, 2009
Monday, October 26th, 2009 | Wine Tasting Notes | No Comments
In the world of Cabernet, nothing stands out as more recognized (at least in my circle of friends) as a Napa Cabernet. It’s the ‘go-to’ wine for any and all occasions. It’s food-friendly, BIG, fruity, good oak, and most people I know will sip on several glasses all night just for the fun of it.
In my world, I tend towards the European wines, but for the sake of giving everything a chance, I will present to you: Belle Cousine Cabernet from Hyde Vineyards in Napa, CA. It’s a Cabernet / Merlot blend from 2005. I was GREATLY impressed! Rich, velvety, luscious, jammy, chocolaty, black cherry flavors and full of body. This is a big RED! It’s about 14.7% alc. by volume (reminded me of some Zins I’ve tasted out of Lodi) and opens up moderately quickly. It was a good 30-60 minutes before the richness developed out of the alcohol.
While reviewing the new Fall/Winter menu at Cafe Lola, I enjoyed this wine with numerous dishes, including a house-made Gruyere Mac & Cheese that was OUT OF THIS WORLD. The smoky, cheesy flavors and texture of the macaroni made the toasty oak and smokiness gleam from the wine. But, cheese wasn’t the only thing one could sample with this wine. A Braised Lamb Shank and Boeuf Bourguignon accompanied my dinner, both lending to the richness of the dark chocolate flavors, aromas of mocha and earthy tannins.
Restaurant retail places this bottle around $50. A little steep, but delectable and delicious and you certainly won’t be disappointed!
Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 | Food Pairings, Wine Tasting Notes | 1 Comment
Marqués de Arienzo Rioja Crianza 2005 (SnoothRank: 0/5)
Spain > Rioja (October 2009)
What a FIND! Fantastic old-world Rioja style wine. 95% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano & Mazuelo. This had a wonderful nose of sweet leather, white pepper, some dried fruits, like fig and a little bit of dried leaves. Flavor of currants, oak, vanilla spice. Lovely tannins that balanced out well with food. I paired it with some whole-wheat pasta with melted chevre, asparagus played off the herbaceousness of the wine, and some garlicky chicken mixed in enhanced the body. Intensely drinkable! Dry and silky. myRating 5/5
Monday, October 5th, 2009 | Favorite Wine Destinations, Restaurant Reviews | 7 Comments
Within one week alone, about four of my quintessential foodie friends recommended that I try Molto. ‘Why?’, I said. (I don’t generally eat pizza.) ‘It’s different and the food is amazing’, they said. Feeling that it’s my civic duty to go out and investigate, I did. What I found was beyond my expectation.
This is not your run-of-the-mill pizza place or Italian restaurant. Sure, they have your classic Bolognese, pizza, antipasti, pasta and Tiramisu. But here’s what sets Molto apart from the rest of the restaurant rat-race: MOZZARELLA! Located right in the heart of downtown Fairfield (and next to the TREK store), is Molto. Molto is Italian for ‘Extremely’. Well, they should have named it Molto Stupore! Il cibo era sorprendente!
Walking in was an experience in and of itself. A bustling crowd surrounded the endless bar, and classic Italian music sang in the background. The ceilings are high, the lighting is dark and sultry, the red leather seats at the bar make you feel as if you’re walking back in time into a 1940s or ’50s Italian Bistro/Diner. A row of tables and dinettes for patrons adorn the left side, while a white marble-top bar spans the right through the entire length of the restaurant (36 feet of solid Carrara marble, to be exact). No line went unnoticed. The satiny black walls with blood-red leather, grommet edges and jet-black chandeliers are a sight to be seen. I was captivated by a huge movie screen on the far wall of the restaurant, where a black & white foreign film was projected. This only added to the aesthetics. Large vintage Italian prints fill the space of the room. The bar is beautiful with its large array of wine bottles, arches and mirrors. It’s trendy, cozy, eclectic and simply, very cool.
The menu does not fall short of the atmosphere here. It’s a large menu, but segmented well with choices for all to go around. Tapas, Pizza (thin / NY Style crusts), Pastas, Seafood, Meat… you name it! If you want a full sampling of the menu, it’s best to go in small waves. Dinner started with one of the house-made artisanal mozzarellas - Burrata - a soft and creamy, milky mozz, served on a plate with prosciutto, marinated eggplant and roasted red peppers. This was nothing I’d ever tried before. A very smooth texture, creamy and light. It paired very nicely with my Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio. For next time, I will have to try the smoky mozzarella and the bufala.
Something new for me were the Italian tapas. I’ve had my fair share of Spanish cuisine, but Italian? A wonderful portion for two of Grilled Shrimp, served nicely charred, but tender, accompanied a baby green salad lightly dressed. The Calamari Mediterranean was sliced long, sauteed in olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, some small red chilies and served with small cannellini beans. The flavor was tasty with a bit of a kick. I’m dying to get my hands on a Lamb Paillard for my next visit and the Sauteed Artichokes.
OK - PIZZA, very important here. The options were endless and i was tempted to get my hands on the California style that incorporated avocados! Alas, my weakness for spicy things took over my taste buds. Scarpiello Thin Crust Pizza it is! In one word: Distinctive. Mostly because you could literally taste each individual ingredient. It was really quite amazing. And, it was NOT heavy; a big plus in my book. It was just crusty enough with a slightly doughy middle, sausage, hot cherry peppers, fresh mozz and light tomato sauce. Not overdone; not too simple; just right. My wine pairing was a vibrant Montepulciano that really brought the oregano flavors to life. The wine helped to offset the spiciness of the peppers, but held up to the earthy flavors of the sausage and tomato sauce.
Finally, dessert - Tartufo. They were all out of the Chocolate Lava cake (Shocking!). A hard-coated chocolate-covered ice cream ball with a cherry in the center. Served with fresh whipped cream. Great presentation and a wonderful dessert for two or three. Next time I’m testing the Tiramisu - kind of like the compass of any good Italian eatery, at least that’s my opinion. A Pinot Noir from Lodi, CA was a nice pairing with the finale. Good ripe fruit notes and a bit of jammy strawberry flavor enhanced the dark-chocolate shell. Plus, it was nice to sip on after dinner.
And if you see a quirky, sophisticated gentleman in great, classic, dark-rimmed spectacles sitting next to you, that’s Nick, the owner. Do say hello!
**Lastly, one very important thing to point out: THE PRICES ARE SO REASONABLE I was floored! Thank You to the restaurateurs who are looking out for their customers right now! It’s highly appreciated.**
Move over, Stamford and Norwalk - There’s a new sheriff in town and it’s FAIRFIELD. Time and time again I am impressed with the food movement going on in this area that exists only 20 minutes from home. There is not one other town in my vicinity where I can get some of the best Sushi, amazing French cuisine, wonderful Greek delicacies, Spanish tapas and now PIZZA (all you Pepe’s fans can relax… I’m not stealing your thunder) & Tapas! What next?
1215a Post Rd
Fairfield, Connecticut 06824
Open 7 days a week, serving dinner nightly from 4pm
**Walk-ins only. Be prepare to WAIT! It can be up to 2 hours on a busy Saturday night. Sunday night held a great crowd and attentive staff.
P.S. (Pics next round, I promise… camera broke on the last outing.)
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