Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hypocrite to Hero - The Stream 3.25.10

I'm sorry.

I just couldn't keep up with the Merlot strike. I'm no Ghandi, no John Lennon. I really tried to hold off for the full 14 days. I love Merlot, really I do. But it began with a little Champagne. Doesn't it always? And then a little Puligny--and then finally Pinot Noir. So since my hypocrisy knows no bounds, I need to do something seriously big things to redeem myself. Here goes the stream...

-On April 8th, Sylvain Bzikot is gracing us with his considerable light as we delve into the heights of Puligny Montrachet at the Pluckemin Inn. It will be an unbelievable night of food and wine. Make sure you are there.

-Read an ad in the Star Ledger today as I was perusing the classifieds offering "Excellent Asian Bodywork Massage, very discreet". The address listed below was a residence on my street. I'm speechless...

-I did a mini-offering on the Marcato Cabernet Franc, as we've got the 2008 in-stock. It is the best $12.50 (per bottle, by the case) that you will spend all year guaranteed. I love, love, love it!

-Tip for the Day - You should consider decanting high quality young Champagne a la Selosse, Rodez Grandes Vintages or Le Brun Servenay. What you lose in bubble, you'll be paid back in spades in flavor. And don't use a flute. Go for a white wine glass to snort up all those great aromas.

-Stevie Wonder Dripping with Funk! Circa 1973, this is just a stone cold jam!

Is that better?

JCB the 4th

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm on Strike!

Like all enlightened leaders of the world who realize that violence is not the best way to resolve conflict, I will now take a page from the book of those who came before me. Ghandi did it. The Tibetan Parliament did it. Now I'm doing it.

I will not resort to violence to get you to realize the greatness of Merlot. I will now go on a strike of 14 days where I will drink nothing but Merlot. You know know that I'm a slave to Burgundy, to the Rhone, to Piemonte, to the Nahe. But I will give it all up for you; for your benefit, for your enlightenment, and the richness of your wine soul.

Join me people! Rise up and make a statement that Merlot is not to be taken lightly, laughed at or poked fun of. It is a grape of nobility and complexity, on par with the greatest wines the world has ever seen. I loved the movie, Sideways, but its ripple effects are so deep and so broad that it rocked the American wine consumer to flat out reject one of the best grapes on earth. Who knew that Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church could wield such power? Sandra Oh (sexy!), perhaps, but those two guys? In the 80's, Merlot was the fashionable and sleek that you just had to be the one ordering a glass of Merlot while you rolled up the sleeves of your white blazer with a turquoise tank underneath. Now, if you order it, you get "sideways" looks and people wonder whether you slipped through a time/space continuum or you're just ignorant. You're neither folks, you're my friend!

This quest began because we profiled a wine, 2007 Chad Merlot Napa Valley, that is so delicious and so cheap, an outrageous value. Yet I sat at my computer and watched a few orders shuffle in. If this said Cabernet Sauvignon on the bottle, it would have sold through the roof! If I told you that it was actually a $40 bottle of wine for $15, would that matter? What if I just lied and told you it was Cabernet? But alas the ATF and my conscience won't allow me to do that, so I'll resort to this strike.

While Tim looks on in amazement as I purchase all the wines I will personally drink over the next 14 days, here is the list...

Spread my message far and wide! Join me! Viva la Merlot!

JCB the 4th

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Genius of Brooklyn Fare

I've decided to make some recollections of what I consider to be the greatest meal I've ever had. I know, a monstre-ously large statement to make and one that I can completely justify in my mind. I have certainly had more special meals (memorable romantic evenings) and I've certainly had more supremely complete experiences. I'll never forget the concert-like rhythmic movements of the staff at Le Meurice in Paris, the famed Michelin 3-star. It was so precise and the attention to detail elevated the already superb meal to legendary status in my head. But the food delivered on February 16th left me in complete awe.

Brooklyn Fare Kitchen is an amazing concept and is the genius of Chef Cesar Ramirez, a former exec-chef for David Bouley. It is called a "class" on their website but really it is the experience of being served the most precise and flavorful food by a master artisan chef live and up close. Having dined at Brooklyn Fare once before and loving the experience, I was eager to repeat it with my co-workers, so I made a reservation for the whole table back in November for February 16th. That's how tough a reservation it is, but believe me, persistence and patience here are well worth the reward you will receive.

Chris Cree did a great job of documenting the extent of culinary wizardry we experienced. Check it out here. Cesar does not allow photos any more and discourages note taking, which is a shame and also completely understandable. In the blogosphere in which we live, the last thing a chef as creative as Ramirez needs is to see digital pictures of his intellectual property out there for other chefs to steal. But it certainly robs food geeks like me of remembering (especially after the 6 magnums we downed, more on that in a bit) everything presented. And I want to remember. I want to file it away in my memory banks, so when I have a moment to daydream, I can recollect, reminisce and draw inspiration from it.

6 courses and 12--no typo--canapes to start. One after another of magnificence on a plate, I have never muttered the word "Wow" so often in one evening. The warm beet soup with Hudson Valley yogurt with a shave of citrus zest was so inviting and welcoming. The Bluefin Toro with a hint of mustard and crisped leeks was luscious. The Kumamoto oyster with grapefruit creme fraiche and oyster juice gelee was breathtaking. The King Crab --stolen photo at right, sue me--with caviar, vanilla and pineapple was explosive. Hell, I even ate Duck testicles (no bullshit) and loved it; fried into a crispy little "ball" that he conveniently didn't tell us what it was until everyone had already eaten it! And how could anyone forget the Cod creme with a mountain of shaved black truffle, so much so that Cesar let us know that the cost of the shaved truffle is more than what we paid for the meal. It is probably the simplest, yet most complex and thoroughly satisfying things that has ever caressed my palate.

The wines were all mags and all tasty...

NV Eric Rodez Champagne Brut "Cuvee des Crayeres" Ambonnay
NV De Meric Champagne Brut "Catherine de Medici" Ay
2001 Domaine Bzikot Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres 1er cru
1999 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru
2006 Robert Sinskey Pinot Blanc Carneros
1999 Thomas Levet Cote Rotie Chavaroche
1986 Raymond Lafon Sauternes

I urge you to check this place out for yourself, as alas, the times are a changin' at Brooklyn Fare. This summer, they plan to expand, increase the price which is currently $95 per person and add a liquor license which will end the BYO practice. I volunteered to run the wine program for Cesar in exchange for food. Still waiting to hear back...

JCB the 4th

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Stream of Inebriationess from March 5th...

Probably more appropriate as a series of tweets but I wanted to get some short thoughts out...

- What in the world is up with restaurant markups on wine? Seriously, as someone who knows exactly how much these joints pay for this stuff, it's grotesque. I don't want to hear about glass breakage, insurance costs, license aquistitions or any other nonsense. Next time I see Ramey Larkmead Cabernet for $198 on a wine list (we just sold it retail for $55), I'm standing up, slapping the maitre'd in the face with the winelist and walking the *%#& out!

- While I'm on restaurants, why such laziness with selection? Please, for the sake of your customers, do a better job at having something of interest to wine lovers who frequent your establishment. A self-proclaimed winebar I recently visited had just one Riesling by the glass...from Kendall Jackson. Just what I envision when I thirst for Riesling, don't you?

- I was at a tasting last night. I love how polarizing wine can be, and I use the word "love" in the truest sense. Two wines poured next to each other drew visceral reactions from the crowd, some preferring the first and others the second. I guess that is why they make chocolate AND vanilla. When I was asked which I preferred, I simply responded, "Depends on what's for dinner..."

- Because I'm selfish, can suppliers please stop having portfolio tastings on Mondays? It's my one weekday off and tough to get to. I'd like you to all shift your events to Tuesdays, please. Thanks so much.

- I still eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like I'm a six year old. They actually go well with Tawny Port. Don't tell anyone I do this...

- 2007 Chateauneuf hype is the biggest perpetration committed against the wine public in quite a while. I've now plowed through enough of them to render an informed opinion that 2006 is better by a wide margin. Ask any truthful CdP producer and they'll tell you that 2006 is a better vintage. I have and haven't found one yet who prefers 2007. I'll keep searching.

- You should recognize the greatness of 2007 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Granite de Clisson. It might be the greatest white wine ever made that goes for less than $25. I also think you'll live a better life once you get some. I know I have...

Le Monstre, OUT!

JCB the 4th