Favorite Wine Destinations
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 | Favorite Wine Destinations, wine events | No Comments
I sense there are a few of you out there dying to know what the good word is on Wine Dinners in the near future, so I’ve gathered my list, checked it twice and let’s find out who can handle some wine, once or twice….
Maybe one of these day’s I’ll have a calendar.
First Stop - Cafe Lola, Fairfield, CT
Cafe Lola will be hosting an Alsacian Wine Dinner on Tuesday, November 10th.
When: 7pm with an hor d’oeuvre reception at 6:30pm.
Cost: $55 / person (tax & gratuity not included)
**Call for reservations: 203.292.8014
Next Stop - Barcelona Wine Bar, Stamford, CT
Vinos de Terruno Wine Dinner
When: Wednesday, November 4th @ 7pm.
Cost: $60 per person*
*Dinner prices do not include tax or gratuity
To make reservations, please call the restaurant at (203)348-4800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This dinner will be celebrating the terroir-driven wines of Spain. As the wine world evolves quickly, ‘internationalization’ is blurring the lines between classic and modern styles. Terroir – known as Terruño in Spain – is becoming difficult to find even from Old World producers. However there are still those that strive to protect tradition by allowing the vineyards to create the wines, preserving the natural flavors of the earth. Barcelona Wine Director Gretchen Thomas will be leading discussion of the diverse soils and climates of Spain, and pairing her favorites with regional foods created by Executive Chef Larry Baldwin.
Cava, ‘Brut 21,’ Albet I Noya, Penedès NV
Oyster Stuffing in a Half Shell with Bacon, Celery, Onion, Parsely & Bread
Godello, ‘Clásico,’ Viña Somoza, Valedorras 2007
Grilled Quail with Kabocha Squash, Morcilla & Arrope
Petite Verdot, Casa de la Ermita, Jumilla 2003
Braised Short Ribs with Mashed Tarro Root
Cariñena/Garnacha, ‘Acústic,’ Acústic Celler, Montsant 2006
Garnacha/Carinena, ‘FA 206,’ Mas Igneus, Priorat 2006
Spanish Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
Monastrell, ‘Dulce,’ Casa de la Ermita, Jumilla NV
PLUS, don’t miss out on their ‘Wine Down Wednesdays’ at Barcelona New Haven.
Enjoy three delicious courses for only $29 and have a glass (or three) of their refreshing sangria or specialty cocktails.
For the lover of natures’ fine palate: Napa & Co., Stamford, CT
When: Wednesday, November 11th (call for time)
What: Four Course Truffle Tasting Menu
Cost: $100 and $135 with wine
Call for reservations: 203-353-3319
Info from their site: “The mention of truffles conjures up images of the expensive French black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) from the Périgord region of southwest France, used in making pâté de foie gras, or the renowned odorous white truffle (Tuber magnatum) of Alba, in the Piedmont district of Italy. They are among the most expensive of the world’s natural foods, often commanding as much as $250 to $450 per pound. Truffles are harvested in Europe with the aid of female pigs or truffle dogs, which are able to detect the strong smell of mature truffles underneath the surface of the ground. The use of pigs is risky, though, because of their natural tendency to eat any remotely edible thing. For this reason, dogs have been trained to dig into the ground wherever they find these odors, and they willingly exchange their truffle for a piece of bread and a pat on the head. Not a bad trade for the truffle hunter! with truffle spores, and when the sapling tree is established, it is transplanted to the proper environment, usually a barren, rock-strewn calcific soil. It takes about seven years before the first truffle begins to grow.”
Other Tastings Not To Be Missed:
- Beer & Malt Tastings at The Ginger Man - Norwalk, CT the last monday of each month. Sign up for their monthly email here.
- Strada 18 - South Norwalk, CT usually hosts a monthly wine tasting dinner. Sign up to receive email notifications here.
For next time… a rambling through some of Hudson Valley’s wineries, my recent review of Cafe Lola’s new Fall/Winter menu and new restaurants of Fairfield County in the scene… check back soon!
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.)
Friday, September 4th, 2009 | Favorite Wine Destinations, wine events | 3 Comments
Ok, long weekend coming up! So, what’s a wino to do with her/himself? Here are some ideas for you! Don’t complicate it, just grab a bottle of your favorite wine, some cheese and crackers and stay local.
Some fun wine-related outtings to keep you enjoying the weather, to keep it local and to help you discover new places.
Fairfield, CT: Get yourself out to Cafe Lola! This is a wonderfully shabby-chic, French bistro restaurant that always brings a smile to my face. The ambiance, the food, the staff, the music all make my heart sing. Bring a friend, a relative, a date, your significant other; they are sure to be delighted! Read my full review here.
Some recent food finds here are the Escargot, perfectly succulent little guys soaked in butter, garlic, fresh herbs with a melt-ability factor of 10 when they hit your tongue.
The Steak Tartar is an absolute MUST if it’s on the menu! This was done a tad differently than I’ve had it before. It was richer, tastier, great use of capers and the bread went fantastic to spread or dip with!
And make sure you get the FRIES! Whoa…. won’t say anything more here… just try them! Desserts were simple and very tasty. The Tarte Au Pommes Provençale (Apple Tart) I shared with my friend was surprisingly light, but FAR from disappointing. Pair up with some Madame Pigalles (Champagne, St. Germaine Liquor & Abolut Pears) for a wonderful finish.
Start Time: Monday, September 14, 2009 at 5:00pm
End Time: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 10:00pm
Location: 98 Washington St
City/Town: South Norwalk, CT
Milford, CT: Bistro Basque is toting a beautiful outdoor patio and it’s going to be a superb weekend for outdoor eats and wine! Romantic, but busy and close quarters.
My food recommendations if you go: Txiperones, Gambas al Ajillo, Pequillo Peppers, The House Fish Special and Duck Confit (falls right off the bone). Great wine selection by the glass and bottle, or you can have the owner, David, choose for you. The man has a wonderful palate!
Wineries to Visit:
Hopkins Vineyard (Warren, CT)- Bring a small picnic and sample their tasty wines. Sit out back on one of the picnic benches, or go down by Lake Waramaug for a stroll! Very bike and kid-friendly here! The Lady Rose wine is out and will make a wonderful accompaniment to most lunch-time eats and picnic fare.
McLaughlin Vineyards (Sandy Hook, CT) - LIVE Music on Sunday, 1-4pm, some hot Brazilian Jazz!
Pretty stoked about this one. they have a great wide lawn to bring a blanket to snuggle up on to listen to great tunes and share some fabulous wine. You can only get McLaughlin wines at the winery, so try to make it up there! It does cost money for the music scene ($15 online / $18 pp at the door). But a few clams will be worth it. Plus, hiking, winery tours available.
Jonathan Edwards (North Stonington, CT) -http://www.jedwardswinery.com/
Gouveia (Wallingford, CT) - LIVE Entertainment from 4-7pm, Sat, Sept 5th! Don Pierson will be playing. Bring your friends, family, book club, whatever and enjoy your own food with some great wine! Check out the sunset view!!
Sunset Meadows (Goshen, CT) - September 5, 6, & 7th: Sunset Meadow Vineyards will be at the Goshen Fair selling glasses of their award-winning wines. Stop by their booth and enjoy a glass! The tasting room will be open normal weekend hours, including 11 -5 on Labor Day.
Make sure to try their Cayuga white and also their Red blend. I enjoyed all their wines and one of owners, Judy, is just a delight. Do say hello!
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