This past week has been one filled with lots of fun, family, friends, food and fantastic wines.
|Hot & Sour Soup|
|Chengdu Cold Noodles|
I enjoy either a crisp Riesling or a silky red Burgundy with the food here. Tonight my choice was 1999 Domaine Chezeaux Griotte Chambertin. Made by famed winemaker Laurent Ponsot of Domaine Ponsot, this is a beautiful classic Burgundy with an enticing bouquet, a round and velvety palate that finishes with finesse and elegance. Ponsot makes the wines for Domaine Chezeaux as the result of a 1982 metayage agreement which provides for the cultivation of land for a proprietor by one who receives a proportion of the produce, as a kind of sharecropping. Thus these are the same wines from the same fruit that are bottled by Ponsont at his Domaine Ponsot, only at half the price. While not inexpensive at about $150 a bottle, they represent a great value. New York Winewarehouse, NYC
Sunday: Our entire immediate family (14 of us) gathered at Rare The Steakhouse in Little Falls to celebrate my birthday (I know again) and our grandson Nicholas upcoming 4th birthday. Our appetizers consisted of deftly Fried Zucchini Flowers, Chilled Alaskan King Crab Legs, and Fresh Jersey Tomato and Onion Salad. The tomatoes were from owner Gregorio Polimeni’s garden and were ripe and delicious.
Our entrées included a mammoth 28 oz Cowboy Steak that brother-in-law Ed diligently and with great gusto did justice to. Prime NY Sirloins, juicy and tender, were the choice of son-in-laws Nick and Andy. A moist Grilled Swordfish caught the attention of my sister and my wife Carol. The kids and my girls selected Penne with Basil and Tomato and Penne ala Vodka respectively, while Carol’s mom and I enjoyed a delicious homemade Lasagna.
|Giacosa Riserva 2000|
Monday: Along with friends Cosmo, Jerry, Giorgio and Gregorio I made my first visit to the Jersey shore since the devastation of hurricane Sandy. It was quite a sight to see so much destruction on one hand, but invigorating to see the rebuilding that is taking place. My good friend Tony P has a home on the beach in Normandy Beach, and was among the fortunate ones who did not loose his house. He had some damage, but it has been repaired and so we visited him for the day. I brought along a magnum of 2001 Ronchi di Cialla Ciallabianco for us to sip as we sat on his deck and enjoyed the beautiful day. This delicious white is a blend of Ribolla Gialla, Verduzzo Friulano and Picolit. It is crisp with a terrific focus, finesse and elegance. It went down very nicely as we munched on the appetizers Tony set out for us. While this vintage will be hard to find, 56º Wine has the 2010 for $35 in stock.
Tuesday: Dinner with friends at Divina Ristorante, Caldwell. I have written about the great food here on numerous occasions previously and tonight was no exception. Alas I did not take any photos and I do not recall what anyone else had, but I enjoyed a Fresh Jersey Tomato & Onion Salad followed by one of my favorite specials, Shell Pasta with Hot Sausage Ragu. This is a great dish with just the right amount of heat, perfectly cooked pasta that is not over sauced. Unfortunately the photos I took all came out to blurry to post. Sorry Mario.
As for wines my friend, who is a wine writer and has a great palate, brought along a bottle of 2011
Wine Legend, Livingston, NJ.
Thursday: We were in the mood for fish, so we headed over to Fin Raw Bar and Kitchen in Montclair. The fish here is always fresh and expertly prepared by executive chef Michael Juliano. A new summer menu has replaced the standard menu and I am happy to say that while I missed the excellent New England Clam Chowder the new items brought smiling nods to our faces as we partook of them. I began with my usual ½ dozen of pristinely fresh and briny Naked Cowboy Oysters. Along with this we tried Fish Tacos made with Mahi/Mahi that were marvelous...
...and a delicious grilled cheese that was comprised of Gruyere Cheese, tomato, bacon and slices of boiled lobster. A different combination for sure, but it was finger lickin' good.
Our main courses consisted of a Grilled Shrimp and Lobster Combination (not pictured) and 7 Spiced Big Eye Tuna with Soba Noodles, a very addictive dish.
A bottle of 2001 Eduardo Valentini Trebbiano was the perfect accompaniment to the food. It possessed gorgeous golden hue, earthy bouquet and spectacular focused fruit on the palate. The wine kept evolving with each sip and finished with finesse and elegance. A wine with soul!
Friday: La Cucina di Giorgio: Due. In July I posted La Cucina di Giorgio, in which I wrote of the wonderful meal he prepared at my house. On this Friday, his brother Jerry invited Carol and I to his house for another superb meal prepared by Giorgio. Not only was it another spectacular meal but, in addition to Jerry and I, charter "C" Team member Louie C. joined us making it a truly special evening. I will not bore readers of this blog with the histrionics of the "C" team, but suffice it to say that we were not members of the exclusive "A" Team that was prevalent a number of years back. While the "A" Team has long since vanished into the past, the "C" Team is still very much in tact, and for good reason. While many felt that "A" and "C" stood for a position on some status scale, in reality "C" stood for and still stands to this day, for "Camaraderie" as was evident in spades on this evening. What then did "A" stand for? I will leave that up to the reader's imagination.
|The "C" Team: Jimmy, Rob, Jerry, Bucky, Me, Louie|
Sorry if I digress. Let's get back to Giorgio's magic. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few such as delicious, fantastic, rustic, amazing, etc., etc., etc.
|Melanzane (Eggplant) with tomatoes|
|Spaghetti con Vongole|
|Pollo al Forno (Oven baked chicken w/ Potatoes)|
|Coniglio - Pan Fried Rabbit|
Saturday: Time for Pizza and a couple of new wines, so Carol, her mom and I headed over to Bivio Pizzeria Napoletano in Little Falls for their authentic and fabulous pizza. Earlier in the day I picked up a couple of new wines from 56º Wine in Bernardsville that owner Chris Cree suggested. Chris knows my palate, and he assured me not only would I like them, but also that they would go well with the pizza we were having that evening.
The white was a crisp and delicious 2011 Filippi Castelcerino Soave. From the Veneto region of Italy and made from the indigenous white grape of the region, Garganega, it was crisp with fresh fruit on the palate with a very pleasant finish. At $15 a bottle this represents a fantastic bargain.
The red he suggested was 2011 Domaine Comte Abbatucci Ajaccio Rouge "Cuvée Faustine” from the island of Corsica. I love discovering wines and grapes that I have never tried, especially when they turn out to be as good as this was. Biodynamically made by owner Jean-Charles Abbatucci from the indigenous grapes Sciaccarellu (70%) and Niellucciu (30%), this was a wine with lots of soul. In the glass the gorgeous translucent red hue sparkled while the pristine fruit danced on the palate in harmony and balance before finishing with length and elegance. The $38 tariff is proof that one need not spend a lot of money for good wine. Both are available from 56º Wine. Oh, and by the way, both went magically with the pizza.
Yes, it was a very good week!