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NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: Is Sancerre France's Most Versatile White Wine? by John Mariani
By Bob Lape and Joanna Pruess
a bustling Southeast Asian country of 28 million people, is going
make its food more of a player on the world stage. The sub-tropical
nestled against Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore offers a vivid array
tastes, textures and colors to tempt the palate. From a cornucopia of
indigenous spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits, including the
dreaded/desired durian, Malaysian cuisine is a felicitous blend of
Indian, native Malay, and nyonya
(Chinese-Malay) food. European influences are also found in the
choices of larger cities and towns.
government, through its MATrade arm promoting exports, is
seeking to win hearts and minds through the belly, as it were, in a
ways. It is inviting food journalists to visit and sample the nation’s
Martha Stewart has done a show there for fall viewing and sent forth a
of blogs. The
government also seeks to enlarge the Malaysian restaurant footprint in
Through MATrade and its Export-Import Bank, it is offering loans to
in the U.S. who will open new Malaysian restaurants here or expand
ones. There are some 55 in the Tri-State area surrounding New York City.
Roti canai at Saravanas Bhavan
Joanna Pruess has written about food and travel for the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press and Food Arts. Her husband, Bob Lape, is heard daily on “Dining Diary” on WCBS in New York.
NEW YORK CORNER
my, has it really been seventeen years since Terrence Brennan
opened this elegant restaurant
across from Lincoln Center and
named after a green Mediterranean
olive? At the time it was one of
very, very few restaurants in that neighborhood that aimed higher than
pre-theater salads and light fare, and its only real competition was
the now-defunct Café des Artistes. Indeed, Picholine's
presence and eminence helped draw better restaurants to the area, which
now has Bar Boulud, Telepan, Ed's Chowder House, and the new Lincoln.
Through two decades Picholine was always a fine dining and quite
sophisticated restaurant, despite changes in culinary fashion, and
Brennan's 2006 redesign of the premises have only made them more
now done in soft gray tones, with swooping lavender velvet draperies,
gray mohair banquettes, a grand chandelier, and very comfortable
You are always cordially received here by one of NYC's most professional dining staffs, the wine list is thick with selections in every category, and the cheese service is bettered only by Brennan's own Artisanal restaurant--which is cheese driven--off Park Avenue South.
Brennan (right) has never wavered from melding French haute cuisine with New York accents, which means incorporating flavors from around the world. The bread is excellent, the butter is top quality, and Chef de Cuisine Carmine DiGiovanni offers a wide array of flavors that are at once savory and tangy, always with a little edge or bite. So you might begin with plump sweetbreads with celeriac, mushrooms, grapes and Brussels sprouts that are a good autumnal concept, or perhaps hamachi, raw and pristine, with avocado marble, citrus "caviar" beads, and a shot of jalapeño. Foie gras comes in a "shabu shabu" style (below), cooked in broth that has sweet and sour elements, slowly poured into the bowl, with root vegetable pearls for texture.
There are four pastas on the menu, a nod to tpeople's unalloyed appetite for that farinaceous component, and here it can range from the hearty chestnut flour tagliatelle with a game bolognese and "snow" of shredded walnuts to a fine wild mushroom risotto with fall squash, crispy, salty duck cracklings, and the lagniappe of truffle butter.
As a main course, skate wine comes as a cured pastrami, with red cabbage and a tangy mustard-laced fondue, and now that game season is here, you may revel in the wild birds brought in from Scotland (all U.S. game served in restaurants must come from farms), a partridge cooked to tenderness and succulence, with the menu note, "Birdshot may be present." I also enjoyed a special of hare, richer in flavor than rabbit. Picholine is not the only restaurant serving such game birds right now, but it is among the few who know how to prepare and cook them so well.
Most people who book a table at Picholine are well aware of its cheese cave, so almost everyone waits for the cart to be rolled out and the selections explained, which is always fascinating, with nothing listed that is not out of the ordinary, every round in impeccable condition and at ideal temperature, from Welsh Caerphilly and Burgundian Charolais to Rogue River Blue from Oregon and Constant Bliss from Vermont.
Then again, the desserts here are splendid (and part of the four-course prix fixe), so guests tend to order them too, or split one of two, like the crèmeux of pumpkin with a walnut sable and smoked maple ice cream or the pear Belle Hélène in a chocolate soup with almond financier and mascarpone sorbet.
Brennan's dedication to this kind of refined cuisine is especially admirable at a time when so much heat-and-gimmickry passes for culinary creativity. And there's a lot to be said for basking in the serenity of Picholine. By the way, if you need to get to the opera or ballet, Picholine will make sure you do, exemplifying grace under pressure with the bonus of good taste.
Picholine is open for lunch, Wed. - Sat.; Dinner nightly. The 4-course dinner menu is $89, 5 courses for $105, 7 courses for $145, a 12-course tasting menu $165, and 16 courses $195. There is also à la carte dining, a vegetarian option, and both pre- and after-theater menus.
north of Union Square, restaurant i
is one the newest culinary
additions to the
Flatiron District. Its lowercase i, lest you
were wondering, according to
owner Charles Chong and executive chef Andy Seidel, stands for
and “impressive.” The restaurant
opened in early September of this year, putting together a contemporary
American menu with strong hints of Asian flavor and ingredients. I dined on a Friday night just a few
weeks after the opening and was happy to see the restaurant’s two
quite full, along with a bustling bar crowd, who all seemed to be in
opened for lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. for both lunch and dinner,
closed Sunday. Appetizers run
$6-$16 and main courses $17-$29. Wine list
is very reasonably priced with wines starting at
of wine run $8-$14.
To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
Sancerre France’s Most Versatile White Wine?
absolute right wine for a particular dish is a useless exercise, not
individual wine seems to go particularly well with a specific food
with Port leaps to mind) but because so many good wines go with so many
different foods. To my mind versatility is one of the principal virtues
wine, and for that reason and in moments of indecision—nine times out
go with a good Sancerre.
John Mariani's weekly wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News.
DISHES WE'LL PASS ON
DAYS HE SPROUTED
✉ Guidelines for submissions: QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes. When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below. Thanks. John Mariani
NOTE WELL: OWING TO THE NUMBER OF THANKSGIVING-RELATED EVENT ITEMS SUBMITTED TO THE VIRTUAL GOURMET, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO INCLUDE ANY BUT THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY.
* On Nov. 16, BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier in Alexandria, VA, will host a French Themed Wine Dinner. Lead Dedmon, BRABO, and Olivier Lotterie, Vineyard Brands, will lead guests through each selection with a 5-course menu by Executive Chef Robert Wiedmaier and Chef de Cuisine Chris Watson. $75 pp. Call 571-482-3308 or visit .braborestaurant.com.
Nov. 17 (Champagne), Nov. 24 (White Burgundy), Dec. 1 (Red
Burgundy), Dec. 1
(Red Burgundy), The Grand Del Mar in
San Diego, CA will
host the Grand Cru
Tastings in Le Salon at Addison. Jesse Rodriguez presents a collection
Cru pours and tastings in a fun and educational way. $30 pp.. . . . On
Nov. 26 – Dec. 30, The Grand Del Mar hosts "Grand
Gatherings for Holiday Afternoon Tea" in the Lobby. $42 pp. Call
858-314-1988. . . . On Dec. 4, The Grand Del Mar will host
"Winter Wonders Mixology
Class" in Le Salon at Addison. Mixologist, Mike Guest will demonstrate
of preparing tantalizing seasonal cocktails. $25 pp. Call
Nov. 18, in Naples, FL, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars will host
an intimate wine
dinner at Strip House, pairing its 2007 vintage, being heralded as one
Napa's finest, with John Schenk's steakhouse cuisine. $130 pp. Call
239-598-9600 or email email@example.com.
* On Nov 18, The Plaza Food Hall in NYC will host a “Happy Holiday Hors d’Oeuvres” cooking demo by Chef Todd English on how to prepare Lobster Popovers, Plaza Food Hall Prime Rib Sliders and Chestnut Soup with Nantucket Bay Scallops. The hotel will also launch Happy Hour Mon-Fri and feature draft beer/$5, Valdo Prosecco/$6, a weekly selection of red and white house wine for $7/glass and a featured/holiday cocktail for $7. The menu incl. $2 oysters as well as 2 sliders and a draft beer/$12. 10% retail discount on all branded merchandise on Nov 18. Visit theplazafoodhall.com.
* On Nov. 20, La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, CA will host “Holiday Soup and Homemade Hot Chocolate” demo by Twenty6 Chef Michael Vaughn. Participants will sip La Quinta Nectar and be given tastes as well as recipes to take home. $15 pp ($10 for PGA West members and resort guests). Call 760-564-7259. . . .On Nov. 27, La Quinta Resort & Club will host "Pancakes on the Plaza" and Family Entertainment. Enjoy All You Can Eat Pancakes and Bacon Buffet; live entertainment by children’s entertainer Shannon Tanner. $13 pp. . . . On Dec. 4, La Quinta Resort & Club will host “How to Select, Prep & Cook a Roast” Interactive Demo. Participants will sip La Quinta Nectar and be given tastes as well as recipes to take home. $12 pp ($5 for resort members and complimentary for resort guests). Call 760-564-4111 x 7259.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." THIS WEEK: COSTA RICA
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org. Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991).
of travel with
children. Founded by business professionals John Manton and Kyle
McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family
travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide
its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and
practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy,
safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children
who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of
adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.
nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist, BusinessWeek.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.nickonwine.com.
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
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