We began with lunch from Midway Steak House in the center of the Seaside Heights Boardwalk. For a good part of my 72 years I have been enjoying the incredible Italian Sausage and Pepper sandwiches from Midway. Last year my sons-in-law had me try their cheese steak. I was hooked after the first bite. This was as close to Pat’s Cheese Steaks in Philly as I have ever had. I opted for the Cheese Steak this year (I'm saving the sausage and peppers for my next trip). Like Pat’s, it is a thinly sliced fresh rib-eye steak (not the paper thin frozen kind), loaded with peppers & onions and smothered with melted cheese sauce. An ice cold Becks Beer complemented the sandwich to perfection.
For my birthday dinner we went to Charlie’s of Bay Head, the latest addition to the dinning scene in the Point Pleasant to Seaside Heights corridor. I would categorize Charlie’s as a casual American Bistro with good food, courteous service and a better than average wine list. Located on Twilight Lake, the space is large and handsome and a couple of earlier in the year visits did not disappoint. After perusing their wine list on line, I called the restaurant the day before and spoke to General Manager Mark Bernard regarding my selection. I requested a couple of bottles of 2010 Roagna Paje Barbaresco to be opened and decanted 3 hours prior to our arrival. Mark graciously complied.
The name Pajé is derived from the local dialect, which historically were used to name each parcel of land. Pajé is one of the historic vineyards of the village of Barbaresco and it located in the center of the area planted to vines. It is particularly rich in calcareous marl soil with a high content of active limestone. The vineyard covers a total of 1.83 Ha (4.52 Acres) with unique soil and microclimate. Pajé is a small strip of land facing South West.
The vines for this wine are between 25 and 50 years of age and today the average ages of the vines is over forty years old. The roots are sourced by used the massage wood system by using only clippings that we have pruned from the Paje vineyard.
The harvest takes place in October by hand usually in the morning once the fruit has reached perfect ripeness. Before being made into wine we manually select each berry in order to have perfect fruit.
Fermentation takes place exclusively in large wood casks thanks to a pied de cuve created from indigenous yeasts. This lasts for ten days and then the ancient technique of maceration is used by splinting the submerged cap process which lasts for at least two months, (60 – 70 days). The wine is then aged in a neutral oak barrel for approximately 5 years. The production of bottles is limited to less than ten thousand bottles per vintage and each bottle is numbered on the label.
While the 2010 vintage in Barbaresco does not reach the heights of 2010 in Barolo, this wine made by Luca Roagna was wonderful. The 3 hour decant allowed the wine to open and it drank beautifully from the first sip. While still young, the wine was round and delicious, displaying a gorgeous earthy bouquet with a complex and velvety palate and a lengthy and elegant finish. While the 2010 Barolos will require a lot of patience, this is ready now with a few hours of air time. $90 Wine-Searcher.
For the white wine, I selected a couple of bottles of 2015 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Sec Les Argiles. Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, the initial sip was a bit acidic, but after 30 minutes in the glass, the pedigree of the wine emerged. Nice balance and complexity with a clean crisp finish. A couple of years of patience will be justly rewarded. $30. Wine-Searcher. In my opinion, Francois Chidaine is one of the top producers of reasonably priced Chenin Blanc from Vouvray and Montlouis in the Loire region of France.
It was a great day, and to reiterate my earlier comment, I am grateful and blessed to have been able to celebrate it with my family.