About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lunch at Maialino

I love Maialino. It is another fantastic dinning spot by Danny Meyer (Union Square Café, 11 Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, etc.), Maialino is a Roman-style trattoria located in the Gramercy Park Hotel on Lexington Ave. in NYC. Executive Chef Nick Anderer prepares wonderful classic Roman dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To compliment the food there is a fantastic and very reasonably priced Italian wine list to enhance your dinning experience.

Along with good friends Cosmo and Gabrio I had another memorable meal there a couple of weeks ago. We began with Fried Baccala (Cod) and Trippa alla Trasteverina. I cannot go to Maialino without ordering the Baccala. Lightly battered and fried to perfection it is simply delicious. While I am not a fan of tripe, I tried a bit of Gabrio’s and I must admit it was very good. Made with Pecorino and mint, Gabrio enjoyed every morsel of it. BTW, when in season the fried artichokes ala Judea with anchovy sauce are an absolute must.

For pasta we licked our chops over the Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe and Malfatti al Maialino.
Calcio e Pepe is a very traditional Roman pasta dish made simply with Pecorino cheese and coarse black pepper. The texture and spiciness of this pasta is incredible. Each bite threw a party in our mouths. A link to chef Anderer's recipe for this great dish is an the bottom of this post.

The party continued with the Malfatti, large homemade pasta squares, sauced with braised suckling pig (from the leg) and Arugula. This was magnificent. Perfectly sauced with perfectly al dente Malfatti, this is a pasta I will never forget and will be sure to return to it when I next visit Maiailino. No description can do it the justice it deserves; it must be tasted to be appreciated. I have yet to be disappointed by a pasta dish here. In the past I have enjoyed such Roman classics as Spaghetti Carbonara (Italian version of bacon and eggs) and Bucatini alla Amatriciana.

Gabrio, owner of DeVino Wine Boutique in NYC, is one of the most knowledgeable wine people I know and so we deferred to his selections. To accompany the pasta dishes he selected a 2006 Marion Valpociella. Gabrio had introduced me to Marion Amarones a few years ago (the 2001 is simply magnificent) and I was impressed with their purity, balance and elegance. This was my first taste of Marion Vapolicella and I was equally impressed. The wine was terrific. A traditionally made wine with great balance and purity. Like their Amarone, it was a wine with soul. I guess this is not surprising when you consider that Celestino Gaspari who was the wine maker at Quintarelli for 20 years makes the Marion wines. It is the closest to a Quintarelli Amarone and Valpolicella than any other Amarone or Valpolicella I have tasted. And it sells for a fraction of the price. $64 on the wine list. An absolute bargain. Available at DeVino.

Onward to our main courses which we also shared (after all we are trying to mind our waistlines, well at least Gabrio and I are). We devoured a Porchetta Panino. Succulent and tender pork, served on a freshly made Ciabatta roll along with a bowl of pork Jus to dip it in, man oh man oh man it just does not get better than this. From the Jus to the mouth to cries of ecstasy around the table, this was decadently moist and delicious.

We also shared a plate of Pollo alla Diavola (Peppered Chicken, Arugula & Chili Vinaigrette). Another simple yet divine preparation, the chicken was perfectly cooked, moist and had just the right amount of spice on the palate. We enjoyed a delicious side dish of sautéed Italian Broad Beans with the chicken.

For these entrées Gabrio selected a 1995 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva. Located in the heart of Chianti Classico, I have always enjoyed the wines of this legendary producter. I had not tasted the wine in a few years and so this was a treat. The wine soared from the glass, danced on the palate and finished with a velvet elegance. It is drinking beautifully right now and should continue to do so for at least 5 years. It was round and delicious. $86 on the wine list, another great bargain. Available at DeVino, NYC.

We finished with espresso and drove home with a huge smile on our faces.

For a copy of chef Anderer’s Cacio e Pepe recipe click here.

Until next time,


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