ANDREW DORNENBURG & KAREN PAGE's Web Log
Named one of GourmetFood.About.com's "Top 10 Food Blogs"
Named to MUG 400 for its "distinctive contribution to life in New York"
"If you asked me what I came into this world to do,
I will tell you:
I came to live out loud."
—Critic and novelist Emile Zola (1840-1902)
"There is nothing under the sun better for man than to eat, drink, and be merry. Go, therefore, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with cheer.”
Sommelier Roger Dagorn about to decapitate the Champagne
Success! Champagne starts to gush from the topless bottle
...washing away any glass fragments
(P.S. Nice knife!)
Roger (r.) fills the glasses of Cynthia, Andrew, Jeff and
(who's behind the camera, capturing the moment!)
We loved every bite and sip of our dinner, from our amuses
...through pastry chef Kate Zuckerman's desserts (w/candles!)
Sunday, August 26, 2007 — We've lost count of how many couples we know who have split up this past year (or maybe knowing the number was such a downer that we simply stopped counting). As a couple who works together in addition to living together, we know all too well just how much effort (not to mention luck) a marriage requires. Maybe that explains why we uncharacteristically went all out to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary yesterday.
Our hearfelt thanks to master sommelier Roger Dagorn, fromager Adrian Murcia, and the rest of the truly extraordinary team at Chanterelle restaurant (including chef-owner David Waltuck and his gracious wife and partner Karen Waltuck) for creating a truly unforgettable evening for us at one of the single most romantic restaurants in Manhattan.
Kicking off the evening with Champagne that had been opened for us by Roger Dagorn with one swift, deft motion of his saber-sharp knife ensured that we started things off with a laugh — and then we never stopped smiling all night....
Chanterelle is at 2 Harrison Street (at Hudson), Manhattan. (212)
966-6960. Web: www.chanterellenyc.com
There is a Web site dedicated to "the noble art of sabrage,"
or sabering a bottle of Champagne:
You can catch lifestyle author Jason Tesauro (The Modern Gentleman) "beheading a bottle of bubbly" in this 17-second video on YouTube:
From our emailbox:
"I am writing on behalf of David Strymish and the crew at Jessica's
Biscuit/ecookbooks.com. We've just launched our new and improved web
site, and are thrilled to host our own blog for the first time. I am
writing to let you know that we have listed your blog as one of our
To check this out for yourself, you can get to our blog landing page by using the URL http://ecookbooks.com/t-blogs.aspx
Wishing you all of the best,"
—Naomi Fisher, ecookbooks.com
Thanks, Naomi — what a pleasure to find our Blog at BecomingAChef.com in such good company on your Web site:
" B l o g s _ W e _ L o v e "
Naomi, you and your colleagues at ecookbooks.com
just made our day. Thanks again, and congratulations on the new Blog!
Our friend Jacqueline Novogratz of Acumen Fund gave a wonderful presentation in June at the TED conference held in Africa that was just posted to TED's Web site.
For 18 minutes of inspiring ideas on how to address the problem of poverty (hint: "patient capital" is part of it), click here.
What $7 million looks like in cold, hard stacks of $100s
(The good news: It takes a lot less to dine well at Patroon)
Pan Seared Diver Sea Scallops w/Vine-Ripened Tomato Coulis
and Melted Leeks on Patroon's $35 3-course dinner menu
Veering off Patroon's prix fixe menu to sample its classic
steak tartare with toast and a tangle of greens
Patroon's Roasted Fillet of Monkfish with Grilled Corn Chowder
with Bacon, Scallions and Shiitake Mushrooms was perfect
Patroon's Spit-Roasted Amish Chicken with Charred Roma
Tomatoes and Whipped Potatoes
Assorted Housemade Sorbets at Patroon
Rhubarb Glazed Cheesecake with Rhubarb Raspberry Sauce
was a standout: impossibly flavorful given its lightness
If chef Anne Rosenzweig's ears were burning the other night, it's doubtless because we were singing the praises of her exceptional cooking with owner Ken Aretsky at his restaurant Patroon. He rightly credited Anne as being one of the New American chefs ahead of the curve in the 1980s by featuring then-unusual ingredients (from kale to kasha) on her cutting-edge-in-its-own-subtle-way menu at Arcadia. We often long for the food of Arcadia — the corn cakes with creme fraiche and caviar, the lobster club, the grilled quail with molasses and fruit, the chocolate bread pudding — all paradoxically homey while elevated to four-star status by Rosenzweig's talents.
Why should we have been surprised to discover that Aretsky has tapped a chef with a similar palate and his own impressive talents to head the kitchen at Patroon for the past year in Bill Peet? Having spent 15 years in legendary chef Andre Soltner's kitchen at four-star Lutece, there's no way Peet couldn't be talented. We're just sorry it took so long for us to experience his cuisine, with its straightforward flavor pairings and virtually flawless technique — and we're thankful for Patroon's extended (through Labor Day) $35 three-course Restaurant Week menu that brought us to its dining room last week. Peet's cooking will bring us back.
Aretsky's Patroon is at
160 East 46th Street, Manhattan. (212) 883-7373.
Jean-Georges; Johnny Iuzzini
James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini of Jean Georges has launched his own Web site, which we think you should visit in honor of his 33rd birthday, which is this week. Or, you can visit to catch him covered neck-to-waist in what looks a lot like marshmallow fluff. Or, you can check out his conversations with Daniel Boulud, Tony Danza and Martha Stewart on his reel. Happy Birthday, Johnny!
Photo credit: Lois Raimondo
Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam
Now, why was it we found ourselves craving chef Michael
Lomonaco's food at Porter House NY?
Worth-every-single-calorie onion rings at Porter House NY
Hanger steak, fries + caramelized shallots at Porter House,
part of the $24.07 three-course lunch steal — er, deal
Open-faced skirt steak sandwich
with fresh herb sauce and
fries is part of the year-round $24 three-course lunch menu
The Best Creamed Spinach Of All Time, at Porter House NY
(What do you mean, you can't see the spinach because of
all that smoky thick-cut bacon on top? That's our point....)
Wayne Harley Brachman's desserts were some of the best
we've tasted this year, understated and perfectly balanced
Modern classic chocolate layer cake at Porter House NY
"Words make love on the page like flies in the summer heat."
— U.S. Poet Laureate (2007- ) Charles Simic
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 — We're at least glad we had the chance to take two weeks of vacation in 2005, as we haven't taken one since. But that doesn't stop us from enjoying "virtual vacations" whenever and wherever we can find them, including yesterday listening to newly-appointed Poet Laureate Charles Simic at his standing-room-only poetry reading in Midtown Manhattan, which was said to be his first since assuming the position this month.
But our late lunch yesteday at Porter House Steak in the Time Warner Center (which offers a version of its $24.07 three-course Restaurant Week lunch year-round, an amazing bargain) reminded us how quickly we can be transported by the power of flavor — aided then by the earthiness of Karen's glass of Bordeaux that accompanied her rare skirt steak sandwich. As we explain in this week's column in The Washington Post, even the homebound can be transported, too:
So much for our fantasies of jetting off on an exotic vacation; we haven't had our passports stamped once this summer. At least that hasn't stopped us from enjoying the next-best thing: a virtual around-the-world tour of casual foreign foods elevated by the right wine.
Our first rule of wine and food pairing — "Think regionally" — isn't much help when the country in question does not have a long tradition of serving wine. That's when we let our senses guide our choices as we strive to balance flavors.
While taste-testing an array of fragrant Alsatian white wines against appetizers from China, Vietnam, Thailand and India, we were most impressed by the food-pairing versatility and bargain price of the 2005 Alsace Willm Pinot Blanc ($9). The wine's off-dry pear fruitiness enhanced dishes from crisp spring rolls to shrimp dumplings to pad Thai.
Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches often feature duck paté, which, like foie gras, suggests a sweet wine. If you like your sandwiches with a little hot sauce, as we do, a sweet wine sounds even better, because wines with a hint or more of residual sugar can help tame the flames. We were happily surprised to find just such a delightful match in the 2006 Quady Electra orange muscat ($13), whose ripe peach flavor and light-bodied effervescence we've enjoyed only as a dessert wine until now.
Lamb samosas taste even better with 2005 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Beaujolais ($17), whose light fruitiness and soft tannins balance the ground lamb's slight gaminess. If you feel like splurging, the same samosas with a sweet and tangy tamarind dipping sauce are perfectly matched with an NV Rumball Sparkling Shiraz ($26). Served chilled, this big red stands up superbly to the richness of the lamb; its slight sweetness is a good match for the sauce; and its fun, sodalike fizziness complements the samosas' crisp fried crust.
Chicken satay with spicy-sweet peanut sauce might have no more magnificent match than a 2005 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer ($29), whose floral bouquet gives way to the taste of ripe cantaloupe with a hint of caramel. This grape's character makes it the perfect foil for spice-laden Indian and Ethiopian cuisines, and the distinguished Alsatian winery Zind Humbrecht consistently takes it to the zenith of its expression.
Chef Vikram Sunderam prepares modern Indian cuisine at Rasika restaurant in Penn Quarter while maintaining a fondness for lamb kathi kebab rolls, a take on the traditional street dish of northern India. Tandoori-style marinated and grilled sliced lamb is tossed with onions, tomatoes, lemon juice and mint chutney before being rolled into a whole-wheat roti (bread) and grilled; the result is a concoction Sunderam describes as an "Indian burrito." What to drink with the kathi? Sunderam credits Rasika's sommelier, Paul Ruttimann, with his favorite pairing of a 2005 Terredora DiPaolo Aglianico ($13) from Italy.
Executive chef Dennis Marron of the Grille at the Morrison House in Alexandria loves the Cantonese steamed or baked barbecued pork buns known as char siu baau — or as manapua in Hawaii , where he recalls seeing them filled with hot dogs or Spam. "They go with either rosé or sparkling wine, but I double up with an NV J Brut Rosé" ($30) from California's Russian River Valley, says Marron, who describes the salmon-colored sparkling wine as having "wonderful cherry and stone fruit flavors" that play off those of Cantonese barbecue, which is slightly sweet.
Kathryn Morgan, wine director at 2941 restaurant in Falls Church, is a fan of Peking duck rolls and mu shu pork — and of pinot noir's affinity for the hoisin sauce that typically accompanies both. "Hoisin's earthy-spicy-sweet personality mirrors pinot noir extremely well," she observes. "New Zealand pinot noir in particular has the right balance for this pairing because it can be as earthy as a Burgundy but with enough vibrant fruit flavors to match the sweeter elements of the dish." Morgan recommends the 2005 Seresin "Leah" Pinot Noir ($29) from Marlborough in New Zealand.
With Peruvian-style grilled chicken, Morgan reaches for well-oaked wines. She says: "The smoky grilled flavors of the chicken work well with oak flavors. And if I get the fried plantains, I have to drink a traditional Rioja," such as a 1998 Bodegas Lan Rioja Gran Reserva ($20). Morgan points out that traditional Riojas are typically aged in American oak, which imparts "a coconut flavor that is magic with the tropical plantains."
Savoring each of the extraordinary pairings mentioned above would take you through nearly a dozen countries: a challenge to hop a jet and taste in situ before Labor Day, yet an appealing task accomplished in the comfort of home.
To read more on these wines, and how to turn a bottle of Quady Electra into an icy summer dessert, click here.
Porter House New York is in the Time Warner Center in Manhattan. (212)
823-9500. Web: www.porterhousenewyork.com. Don't miss Chef/Partner Michael Lomonaco's $24 three-course lunch, which is an absolute steal. Side orders of buttermilk onion rings and creamed spinach are worth the splurge in dollars ($7) as well as calories — but be sure to save room for pastry chef Wayne Harley Brachman's desserts.
"It's a friendly thing, brotherly even, between wine and ‘wiches. A philia. Thank heaven it is attainable and not that tortuous eros thing, defined by desire and longing. Nope, slap something between two slices of bread, poink out that cork and, glub, glub, glub, satisfy your urge.
Last Wednesday, the 22nd...Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg 's WINE column in the Washington Post food section suggested a wine pairing for Vietnamse banh mi sandwiches. Speaking of quenching desire, Ms. Page and Mr. Dorenburg write, “wines with a hint of sugar can help tame the flames. ” See what I mean? Squirt on some hot sauce and then mitigate it with cool, sweet, viscous liquid.
The wine of choice for a banh mi stuffed with duck pate, “which, like foie gras, suggests a sweet wine”? The 2006 Quady Electra orange muscat ($13). A “delightful match….whose ripe peach flavor and light-bodied effervescence we've enjoyed only as a dessert wine until now.” Sounds like a love match to me.
My lunch encounter with banh mi is here. Love drinking wine off the hood of my car."
— Lisa Cherkasky, a Washington, DC-based food stylist, writer and cook, on Vinophilia
"This is 'As You Like It' as we like it."
— Virginia Heffernan, The New York Times
Tuesday, August 21, 2007 — Having had a few months ago the pleasure of seeing "As You Like It" at its New York City premiere seated in the row in front of star Kevin Kline and his wife Phoebe Cates, we're happy that others will have the opportunity to enjoy its televised debut on HBO tonight at 9 pm.
Our thanks to our friend Earl Weiner, chairman of The Acting Company, for his thoughtful invitation to attend the premiere as his guests.
Oh, and Happy Birthday, Earl!
Speaking of things "as we like them," The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia — the site of the greatest meal of our lives — shares the news that it has just completed renovation of a 3,200-square-foot cottage on its property to be known as The Claiborne House in honor of the late culinary author Craig Claiborne:
"The Inn at Little Washington’s Chef/Proprietor, Patrick O’Connell credits Craig Claiborne with putting The Inn on the international culinary map. Claiborne claimed to have had the best meal of his life at The Inn, and called the Seared Foie Gras with Black Eyed Peas 'the best thing I ever put in my mouth.' O’Connell feels that the house is an ideal way to keep Claiborne’s legacy alive. 'Craig was, along with James Beard and Julia Child, one of our first American culinary pioneers. We feel that this is a fitting tribute to his memory and something he would have enjoyed.'"
Stepping out for the perfect picnic in footwear a la pique-nique
Staking out our picnic spot along the Hudson River
Toasting our cups of chilled gazpacho to kick things off
Crab salad nestled in an Amy's Bread roll, with corn salad
The perfect wine to accompany crab: Riesling, of course
Post-picnic: Mixing up a batch of Jacques Torres cookies,
which we enjoyed with an Australian Zinfandel "stickie"
Post-pique-nique pleasures: fresh Jacques Torres' cookies
(Dancing in the kitchen to Cake tunes while the French Kiss
cookies are baking is optional, but highly recommended)
Monday, August 20, 2007 — Partaking in the perfect picnic is one of summer's greatest pleasures. Our thanks to our picnicing cohorts this past weekend for one of the best ever.
Reaching back to the past: Elvis Presley mural at SoHosp
Undeniably addictive onion rings at Southern Hospitality
Of interest: Gael Greene's review of Southern Hospitality in
this week's New York magazine. Her take was so dead-on, we had a sense of deju vu all over again after reading it.
Southern Hospitality is at 1460 Second Avenue (near 76th Street), Manhattan. (212) 249-1001.
Oh, and don't miss Gael Greene's round-up of 10-minute recipes (from leading experts including Daniel Boulud, Zarela Martinez, and yours truly) you'll want to whip up this summer after visiting her Web site at www.insatiable-critic.com.
Welcoming 100 NYC-area Northwestern alumnae last night
Sidley Austin LLP put out a lovely spread of hors d'oeuvres
Northwestern alumnae meet and greet one another
Alum w/C100 members Kate Welling (c.) & Lori Anne Czepiel
Cocktail hour #1: Marya Savola (l.), Eileen Schmidt (c.)
Cocktail hour #2: Nancy Kim (WCAS '96), friend, Mira
(WCAS, MMSS), and Shirley Crabbe (Music)
Cocktail hour #3 [photo caption TK]
Cocktail hour #4 [photo caption TK]
Karen Page welcomes guests on behalf of The Council of 100
C100 members Betsy Combier, Dr. Sue Sacks, Lori Anne
Czepiel, Kate Welling and Karen Page address the group
The conversation continues...with Shari Goldhagen (r.)
More conversation continues...with Lisa Trager (r.)
Karen Page chats with fellow author Shari Goldhagen
Thursday, August 16, 2007 — More than 100 New York area Northwestern University (NU) alumnae RSVPed to attend last night's well-received summer regional gathering of The Council of 100, a mentoring organization of 100 of NU's leading women graduates to which Karen was appointed as a founding member by NU's President Arnold Weber in 1993.
Sidley Austin LLP partner Lori Anne Czepiel was responsible for our conference space at 787 Seventh Avenue (where it's always a pleasure to view the gigantic — 68 x 32'! — Lichtenstein "Mural with Blue Brushstroke" on display in the downstairs lobby).
C100 members in attendance included Betsy Combier, Lori Anne Czepiel, Karen Page, Dr. Sue Sacks, Vickie Snoy, and Kate Welling. Eleven lucky guests took home door prizes of either our book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT or Susan Bulkeley Butler's BECOME THE CEO OF YOU, INC.
To learn more about The Council of 100, visit: http://www.alumni.northwestern.edu/c100/index.html
Note: Can you identify any of the guests in the photos above?
If so, please email the caption and names of guests to PageDornenburg@aol.com so they can be forwarded to the Northwestern alumni office for publication.
The Council of One Hundred
"I hesitated attending the C100 event because, between work and evening graduate courses, I've been extremely busy lately. But I have no regrets about attending: it was the most enjoyable and rewarding alumni event I've attended. The stories of the C100 members were inspiring and will continue to encourage me to seek my passion and success. The chance to be in a room with other successful, intelligent NU women was beneficial (in a networking sense), motivating, and also fun — in a way, it felt like 'coming home' to be surrounded by Wildcats again. I will definitely attend future events, and I am grateful for the opportunities and services the C100 provides to NU women. My only suggestion would be to encourage attendees to indicate their current industry or career interests on their name tags at future networking events, to further facilitate making career connections. Thank you for organizing such an enjoyable and helpful evening."
"Thank you and other Council members for hosting such a wonderful NU networking event! I was truly inspired by the stories shared that evening and felt well-connected to the local NU community. These events are instrumental to providing support to other talented NU alumnae and hope that you and the other members know that you are making a valuable committment to achieving that purpose. I also enjoyed speaking with you and your husband about both of your food and wine expertise. I will keep our conversations in mind when, one day, I transform my legal career to one in the culinary industry."
"It was great to meet you at the Council of 100 event last Wednesday. Thanks for your suggestion regarding the book THE TIPPING POINT. I love what I have read so far, and am looking forward to applying the book's concepts to my musical career. Regarding the meeting: Wow! Amazing! Inspiring! I am so pleased that I was able to attend.
I met so many talented, friendly and generous women. I made some contacts, got some advice and left feeling very good. Thanks to you and the Council of 100 for their hard work and commitment to the sisterhood of Northwestern. Looking forward to next year."
"I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed last night's event. I'm
amazed that with your hectic schedule, you had time to organize it.
I have started to read the Butler book [BECOME THE CEO OF YOU, INC.] which was a pleasant
surprise to win. I also like the idea of a wine tasting for alums
that you mentioned. I think that could also be fun as a coed event....Thanks again."
"Thank you for a most enjoyable and informative evening last night with the Council of 100....I welcomed the open invitation and am very glad I attended last night's event."
"Just a thank-you note for including me in this event. I really enjoyed meeting all the alumni I met. Thank you again for your consideration."
"Great program, great format, great evening!"
"The event was an absolute pleasure as always."
"What a great event!"
From Council of 100 member Kate Welling:
"It's always truly great to get together — and nice to see there's a real need for the sort of networking event we can put together."
Photo: Katherine Frey
Jaleo beverage manager Brian Cook
Wednesday, August 15, 2007 — Tomatoes that smell like tomatoes....Now that's a scent worth waiting almost a year to get another whiff of!
Our column in today's Washington Post celebrates the wines that celebrate fresh tomatoes:
We're purists when it comes to fresh tomatoes. After avoiding them for the better part of a year, we'll make up for lost time once they're finally in season, eating tomatoes every chance we get. Especially in light of our delayed gratification, we want to make sure the wines we pour with them only add to the experience, celebrating their flavor and rewarding our patience.
Ripe tomatoes' juicy sweetness reminds us that they are technically fruit, and our first instinct is to match them with equally fruity wines. But the driving factor is more often tomatoes' natural acidity, which can be quite high even before they're dressed. That's when we return to our pairing maxim that "acid loves acid."
Wine's acidity creates structure: too little, and a wine is perceived as "flat" on the palate; too much, and it's unpleasantly sour.
To gauge a wine's acidity, first check the label. Many include the wine's pH level, which typically falls between 2.9 and 3.9 for table wines. More commonly, white wines have a pH of 3.0 to 3.3 and red wines a pH of 3.3 to 3.8. The lower the number, the higher the acidity. Second, simply taste the wine. As a general rule, the more a wine makes your mouth water -- literally -- the higher its acidity.
Our foremost pairing maxim is to "think regionally." To accompany pasta tossed with crushed fresh tomatoes, we poured a delightfully zingy 2006 Lagaria Pinot Grigio ($11). "Italians, tomato specialists if ever there were any, often drink a white wine like gavi or pinot grigio, or a red like Chianti or Barbera -- all wines that are high in acidity -- with fresh tomato dishes as well as tomato-sauce-based dishes," noted Karen MacNeil, author of the acclaimed book "The Wine Bible" (Workman, 2001), in a recent e-mail to us.
The Spanish love their tomatoes, too. Chef-restaurateur José Andrés devotes an entire chapter to tomatoes in his passionate book "Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America" (Clarkson Potter, 2005). Andrés, whose holdings include the three area Jaleo tapas bars, prefers dry La Gitana manzanilla sherry to accompany chilled gazpacho. With raw tomato dishes, Jaleo executive chef Terri Cutrino is a fan of any cava or of an albariño, such as Nessa or Nora. Jaleo's beverage manager, Brian Cook, recommends a 2005 Pazo Señorans Albariño ($23 retail) with Jaleo's cherry tomatoes stuffed with crabmeat.
To read the rest of our column, click here.
Enjoying the view at dusk at Southampton's Lobster Inn
Our plastic bibs at The Lobster Inn in Southampton
A plate full of steamers at The Lobster Inn
The Lobster Inn's specialty: Splat (a seafood combo)
Planting our feet in the sand on the beach on Sunday a.m.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007 — After two days of computer snafus, we'll forget our wonderful long weekend in Southampton altogether if we don't take the time to remember it now....
The Lobster Inn is at 162 Inlet Road in Southampton, Long Island. (631) 283-1525.
Photo credit: James A. Parcell
Maj Capps, left, and William Holby
Friday, August 10, 2007 — We just returned home to New York last night after delivering a keynote at The Flavor Experience held at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego — where we unfortunately didn't have time to even step foot on the sand. But we're hoping to finally have an opportunity to plant our feet in some for the first time this summer over the weekend out in Southampton with friends visiting from Los Angeles.
We were happy to return to a number of emails from readers who enjoyed our column in Wednesday's Washington Post "Insider Tips of the Century" on joining the Wine Century Club. Here's hoping you enjoy it, too:
Pinela . . . Rebula . . . Hadn't we tasted these Slovenian wine grapes in the alluring 2003 Batic Valentino ($65) dessert wine that had been selected and poured for us by sommeliers Annie Turso and Emilie Garvey, then of New York's Mandarin Oriental Hotel? Bingo! The recollection managed to push our life lists of wine grape varieties sampled over the 100 mark -- and qualified us as two of the more recent inductees of an elite-yet-not-at-all-elitist organization with just 258 members globally.
The Wine Century Club, as we mentioned in our column April 18, admits as members anyone who has tasted at least 100 different wine grape varieties. Since then, founders Steve and Deborah De Long report that the WCC online membership application (at http://www.winecentury.com) has been downloaded 1,400 times, netting 47 new members. They include wine educators, bloggers, importers, sommeliers and restaurateurs, along with scores of avocational wine enthusiasts in North and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, Russia and Australia.
Want to join, too? We tapped some Washington area members via e-mail for their tips on expediting the process of sampling 100 grape varieties:
· Walt Rachele of Westminster, Md., advises joining a wine tasting group, such as the local chapter of the American Wine Society or the Washington-based Wine Tasting Association. He also suggests visiting local wineries and attending as many wine store tastings as possible. He's a fan of Austrian Blaufrankisch, Swiss Chasselas and Spanish cava (which by law includes Macabeo, Parellada and/or Xarel-lo)....
You can read more tips in the rest of our column here.
The Dressing Room at the Westport Country Playhouse
Tomato and peach salad accompanies perfect fish cake
Tobago Wild Vermillion Snapper with sweet corn and shoots
Dressing Room Special barracuda with grilled watermelon
Andrew (& Karen) say hello to Michel, Jason and the team
Blueberry tart, coconut crumble, lemon verbena ice cream
Well-manicured Sharon shows off our S'mores-esque dessert
Sunday, August 5, 2007 — Our thanks to New York real estate queen Sharon Baum and her husband author Stephen Baum (What Made jack welch JACK WELCH) for treating us to an evening of delicious memories last night in Westport — including at the Dressing Room, where we were broken-hearted to see that chef Michel Nischan was broken-footed (after a climbing accident). It didn't seem to slow him down in the least in overseeing his talented kitchen team (including Jason, whom we were pleased to learn was a fan of our book CULINARY ARTISTRY) in preparing a delightful dinner for the four of us. As fans of Nischan's cooking at Manhattan's Heartbeat restaurant, we still pine for his crispy chicken with Sicilian pistachios — but we were very happy to have the chance to taste some new favorites.
Dresing Room is at the Westchester Country Playhouse at
27 Powers Court (off Post Road) in Westport, Connecticut.
(203) 226.1114. Web: www.dressingroomhomegrown.com
Saturday's article mentioning WHAT TO DRINK in the Freep
Thursday, August 2, 2007 — Karen has been invited more than once to represent the Harvard Business School as an alumna speaker addressing prospective MBA applicants. (She's also been a featured alum in the MBA program brochure sent to prospective applicants.) At these gatherings, some audience members' questions have had to do with the "cutthroat" stereotype of Harvard MBAs, and what the people who attend HBS are really like.
One of the stories Karen likes to tell is how less than five years after graduation — when her back went out and she was laid up at home for days — one of her sectionmates stopped by to see her and brought her a homemade roasted chicken with 40 cloves of garlic (an old but great James Beard recipe). Another sectionmate also visited, bringing her a CD of soothing New Age Enya music.
Both sectionmates just happened to be guys.
Over the years, Karen has been very lucky to have had some terrific human beings as classmates, as was proven yet again today: In the afternoon's mail arriving from the Detroit metro area were two nearly identical 10 x 12" envelopes, both containing copies of Saturday's Detroit Free Press article that mentioned our book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT. One was from her fellow Sterling Heights H.S. Class of 1979er David Weaver, a wrestling and cross country star who still impresses her with his marathon times, who thoughtfully sent a copy along with a note. The other was from S.H.H.S. Class of 1978er Tom Stanton, author of this year's critically-acclaimed book Ty and The Babe (a must for all you baseball fans!), who wrote, "I thought you and Andrew might appreciate this clip. Your latest book is mentioned in stories on pages 1 and 4. Congratulations!"
Our sincere thanks to Tom and Dave for their incredible thoughtfulness. What great guys!
Photo credit: Lois Raimondo
IndeBleu sommelier Saeed Bennani
"Once moribund, over the last 12 years, [M. Chapoutier] has become one of the reference
points for nearly all the Rhone Valley appellations since the brash yet
immensely talented Michel Chapoutier took over in the late eighties. The single
vineyard offerings are as good as Rhone Valley wines can be."
—Robert M. Parker Jr., wine critic
Wednesday, August 1, 2007 — We make every effort to at least skim every press release that is sent to us (no small feat!), and there it was, the very last line of a publicist's July 2nd email: "Pinhal da Torre was the first in the wine industry in Portugal to label with Braille on the bottle." It caught our eye because, other than the famed example of the Rhone Valley's M. Chapoutier, we weren't aware of any other wines featuring Braille.
It turns out that there are in fact a growing number of wineries (and at least one brewery) around the globe featuring Braille on their bottles — which aids visually impaired consumers both in selecting their wines at retail as well as knowing what it is they're pouring with dinner.
You can read about them in our column "Vintners Who Share a Vision" in today's Washington Post by clicking here. We'll even get you started:
Maurice de la Sizeranne, blinded at age 9, went on to become an activist, writer and publisher for the visually impaired, inventing and popularizing the first abbreviated version of Braille.
Seventy-seven years after his death, in 1994, a French winemaker placed the first-ever wine label in both Braille and regular text on his Monier de la Sizeranne Hermitage wine as a tribute to the Sizeranne family, which had previously owned the vineyard.
Things might have ended at that. But the winemaker was the legendary Rhone producer Michel Chapoutier, whose commitment is so unwavering that every label of every bottle of wine he has sold since 1996 has included key information in Braille, which has helped to spur a growing trend worldwide.
His M. Chapoutier winery has been joined by others around the globe — in Australia (Sandalyn Wilderness Estate), the Czech Republic (Galant), Italy (Ciavolich), Portugal (Pinhal da Torre; see "In the Wine Aisle" below) and South Africa (Bon Cap) — and even beer producers (Germany's Uerige) in using Braille on at least some of their labels. Since 2005, winemakers in South Africa's Worcester wine region, home for more than a century to the Institute for the Blind, have offered the world's first wine bottles with Braille characters molded into the glass as a way to help Worcester wines stand out in a crowded global marketplace.
Chapoutier has been a pioneer in areas other than labeling. After taking over his family's ailing winery — established in the Rhone Valley nearly a century ago — in 1990 at the age of 26, Chapoutier embraced biodynamic practices in the cultivation of his vineyards. His efforts have produced more than a half-dozen wines earning perfect 100-point scores from wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr., not to mention impressive wines more easily within the reach of mere mortals.
The 2005 M. Chapoutier La Bernardine Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge ($38) took us on a journey from its floral nose through its ripe cherry and plum flavors to its earthy, almost gamy, finish; it provided an ideal complement to rare lamb. We were surprised to discover that its equally finessed white counterpart also paired respectably with lamb, which is no easy task for a white....
Click here to read the rest.
The seemingly Braille-inspired wall design at Tiffin Wallah
Assorted Tiffins for 2 at Tiffin Wallah
Tiffin Wallah's masala dosa is served with two sauces
We greeted the publication of New York magazine's 2007 Cheap Eats issue with great enthusiasm, given how many fabulous meals Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld's recommendations on the 2006 list steered us toward. We were surprised to see that the pair didn't appear to duplicate any of last year's listees, as coming up with another 100 equaling last year's caliber would be a tough task, even in New York City. Indeed, the first two spots we tried on the 2007 list were duds, with our visit to Resto to taste "the year's best burger" especially disappointing.
But we were very happy to be guided to Tiffin Wallah, a restaurant in the Curry Hill neighborhood around the corner from Kalustyan's, where we sampled some of the tasty namesake Tiffin starters as part of the Assorted Tiffins for 2 ($8) before sharing a delicious crispy Rava masala dosa with spinach ($8.50).
We asked about the wall design, which appeared to be in Braille, but the staff just smiled and shrugged. No matter — the food, service and ambiance combined to make this a spot worthy of "Cheap Eats" status, and hopeful again about making our way through much of the rest of the 2007 list.
Tiffin Wallah is at 127 East 28th Street (bet. Lexington and Park Avenues), Manhattan. (212) 685-7301. Web: www.tiffinwallah.us "Tiffin Wallah translates as 'one who carries the box.' Tiffin is an old English word for a light lunch, and also the name of the multi-compartment metal lunch box that carries it."
Upon hearing the news of a death in our best friends' family, and their forwarding information on where the funeral services would be held today in Boston, we didn't think twice about our long "To Do" list and rented a car, planning to leave last night so we could attend this morning's 9 am service. However, upon learning of this, our friends (who know the length of our "To Do" list almost as well as we do) wouldn't hear of it.
So with our hearts already with them in New England, it wasn't much of a surprise to find ourselves craving a lobster roll, which we enjoyed last night at Rebecca Charles' Pearl Oyster Bar. It's as perfect as always, as was the Caesar salad and blueberry pie. Afterward, we couldn't resist picking up a few dark chocolate-covered pretzels at Varsano's, our favorite downtown chocolatier. We hope it was a case of "great minds think alike" that the customer following us, whom owner Marc Varsano introduced to us as an NYU professor (specializing in artificial intelligence), placed the exact same order as us.
Pearl Oyster Bar is at 18 Cornelia Street (bet. West 4th and Bleecker), Manhattan. (212) 691-8211. www.pearloysterbar.com
Varsano's Chocolate is at 172 West 4th Street, Manhattan. (212) 352-1171. www.varsanos.com
An advance look at tomorrow's Christian Science Monitor, and its mention of Pearl Oyster Bar in the article
"A Bitter Recipe for Lobster Tales":