Favorite Summer Sippers

There are many things that I love about the warm weather and the start of summer. Vacation for the kids, the beach, the pool, dining al fresco… You get the point. But here are some of my favorite libations to sip on the hammock, pool-side, at the beach, or at one of my favorite picnic spots!

2008 Quinta da Aveleda Grinalda Reserva DOC, Vinho Verde – From the Vinho Verde region of Portugal, this producer makes a vibrant, fresh, and crispy wine from the grape varietals Trajadura, Loureiro, and Alvarinho. This is the perfect summer sipper… I wouldn’t mind some fresh seafood to pair with, but it’s great on its own!

2008 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet “Les Gras Moutons” Sur-Lie – “Crisp, stony, briny, and spiny” are the words used to describe this wine which hails from the Muscadet region in the Loire. 100% Melon de Bourgogne (the grape varietal found in Muscadet wines,) this wine has amazing length and versatility. GREAT with oysters from Metropolitan Seafood, or, if you wish, on its own.

2008 Lydie and Thierry Chancelle Saumur Blanc – Chenin Blanc is one of my all time favorite grape varietals. The resulting wines from good producers are so versatile, ranging from dry varieties to just off dry, to almost “dessert wine” sweet. All the while, displaying notes of stony minerality, fennel,  citrus, acacia blossom, and such balanced acidity and length. I love this wine with Seared Scallops and Summer Fennel Slaw with Citrus Tarragon Vinaigrette.

ROSE’! My favorite Rose’ to date (sadly, I am almost done with my stash… sigh) is the 2009 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis Rose, Provence. This is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Mourvedre. Mineral, dry, long finishing,with berry goodness. The perfect accompaniment to my steamed mussels with Chorizo Broth. A close second is the 2009 Domaine des Haut Cances Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne Rose or the 2009 Janasse Rose Vin de Pays Principaute d’Orange.

2007 Alain Corcia Bourgogne Rouge Reserve Grande Classe – The perfect light red to accompany a summer meal! Juicy enough for sipping on the deck too… and a great pairing with grilled salmon!

The Kachumber Cooler – Made famous at Danny Meyer’s restaurant, Tabla, in NYC, the Kachumber Cooler is a refreshing gin-based cocktail with the additions of cucumber, cilantro, green pepper, and lime. The “Bardolia” version adds a little ginger infused simple syrup (instead of regular) kicking it up just a notch.  We served these addictive cocktails with an Indian inspired bbq menu!

Summer has officially BEGUN. Enjoy!! 🙂

Date Night

Manish and I celebrated 14 years of marriage on May 26th! We visited two amazing hot spots, an here is our story….

Despite a hot and sweaty trip in (don’t ask!) I was greeted by Manish at one of the most unassuming venues in Manhattan. On the Lower East Side is a hot dog joint (more like a hot dog dive) and upon descending the stairs into said “hole,” you hang a left and push open the telephone booth. You then call the hostess on the opposite side of this mysterious booth, and VOILA! You are in PDT (stands for “Please Don’t Tell.”) Reservations at this speakeasy are highly recommended, but then again you might get lucky if you get there exactly at 6pm on an off night. As I mentioned before, I had experienced quite the nasty trip into Manhattan that evening, so seeing Manish sitting at the bar with that adorable grin on his face made every hassle worthwhile. I knew that I chose the perfect venue to begin our evening’s adventure. 🙂

Don’t bother going to PDT if you are not going to try one of their signature cocktails. The bartenders are geniuses, creating the most balanced concoctions I’ve ever consumed. I ordered the Aztec Mule (or something like that) which from the description sounded like a refreshing drink containing the likes of top of the line tequila, cucumbers, ginger, and fresh squeezed fruit juices. It was divine. Not at all sweet (which I LOVED) and just the right amount of zing and heat (they garnished it with a sprinkle of cayenne.) Manish ordered the Benton’s Old Fashioned – a harmonious blend of bacon infused whiskey, maple syrup, and bitters. Oh, and if you are as much of a geek as I am about ice cubes, you would be in heaven here! Perfect little cubes were either placed in the chilled glasses, or they were tapped and broken slightly, or if you had Manish’s drink, the cubes themselves were extra large (size of a fist,) and they fit the double old fashioned glass perfectly.

We then walked a few blocks to our dining destination. Degustation was the venue, and the ten course tasting menu was the plan (they also offer a five course tasting menu.) We were not only wowed by the meal, but also by the fact that we had the best seats in the house! The final prep station, where two of the many talented kitchen staff were diligently “creating,” was smack dab in front of us. I highly recommend getting a set around the open kitchen and doing one of the tastings. I remember that midway through the course, Manish and I were “arguing” about what one of the ingredients was that the prep cooks were plating. I thought that it was a chive blossom, and Manish thought it was some sort of celery. The talented one looked at us, and said, “Spring onion blossom and Celery root.”

On a side note, the wine list was OK… A few great bottles amongst a bunch of stuff that I personally found to be way overpriced. We decided to order by the glass, but nothing really stood out for us. We did take some photos here and there, but only with our cell phones, so the quality was quite compromised. The courses were executed with refinement and elegance, I just wish that it lasted longer (as soon as we finished one dish, the next course was brought to us.) I guess then again we could have slowed down a bit instead of quickly shoveling in every last morsel… 😉 Here is the rundown…

Ham and Apple Croquettes; Spanish Tortilla (amuse bouche)
Razor Clams with Bacon and Oyster Foam
Asparagus, Morel, and Strawberry Salad with Pea Puree ( we were the first ones to try this!)
Monkfish liver with white radish and dashi broth
Seared Skate with dehydrated pea crust, and clam broth
Terrine of Rabbit
Crispy Duck Confit with Scallions and Balsamic reduction (our favorite!)
Rare Wagyu Beef “Cheese-steak”
Duck Egg Custard (in the egg shell) with maple syrup and lamb bacon
Juicy tangerines with raspberry gelee and “pop-rocks”
Can’t remember the name of this last dessert – but it was a bread pudding with a caramel bruleed topping with fresh citrus fruit on the side. DELICIOUS – to die for!

Amuse Bouche
Razor Clams with Bacon
Crispy Duck Confit
Caramelized Bread Pudding

Fourteen years hasn’t changed us at all! We enjoyed the evening thoroughly – and the best part is we enjoyed it together. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about our date night, and I can’t wait til our next one! Lots of love to you, MKB!! xoxoxo