As some may know, Pinot Gris is the same grape as the Pinot Grigio grown in Italy. For some reason, in my opinion, the Pinot Gris grown in Oregon is much more enjoyable. It’s either it’s relative crispness or maybe the overall flavor – either way, I like it more. With that said, this Erath Pinot Gris is a great example of the Oregon product. It’s a bit citrusy and light as well – it went well with our roasted mushroom risotto last night (more to come on that soon).
Whitehall Lane is always a must stop for us on our trips to and through the Napa Valley. The people there are great and their wine is consistently enjoyable; we always bring some home. On an early visit to the area, we picked up two 2004 Cabernets, one, the Silver Anniversary and the other, a simple vintage bottle. On this occasion, we opened the ‘basic’ 2004 bottle and decanted it to help it open up a bit. Wow – this was a big fruit blast without being overpowering. I found abundant blackberry/cassis flavors with the smoothness of a vanilla/cocoa powder backbone; it wasn’t tannic at all. We enjoyed this taste of Napa.
We’ve had some late nights over the last few months and Trader Joe’s has been major league clutch. For dinner, in the frozen section, we found the duo of quinoa. This vegetarian product combines red and white quinoa and some veggies with a low sodium, yet very flavorful spice combination. Just add water to the pot, add the bag of goodies and cook for 7 minutes. I like to add a browned low-fat meat like organic ground turkey or beef to increase the protein level.
On the breakfast front is my new favorite – the apple smoked (what is apple smoked exactly? It seems like a marketing gimmick), thick-cut, nitrate free bacon. I recently started baking this rather than pan-frying it and found that it holds the flavor better and is less fatty. Set the oven to 375 and (if you have a convection oven use the convection setting) cook for 10 minutes, flip the bacon, and cook for another 5-7. Take it out and drain on a plate/paper towel as you would normally.
With 85% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, this Red from Tuscany is an awesome deal for $11.50. Wine Spectator put it in their top 100 wines in 2009 and I can see why. Aromas of raisin with the light flavor of currant and a little lime, this gem is a great deal and was solid from the first taste to the last. It was a little spicy, but when it opened up, the true chianti character came out and we really enjoyed it. Grab it if you can find it.
Last night, the wife and I got home in time to grab a 6 pack at the local deli (2 strongbow ciders, 2 left hand milk stouts, and 2 yards philly pale ales). We wanted to watch the Phillies game and not fight the bar crowds. So, we ordered via DiningIn online and had our dinner delivered. DiningIn has a partnership with StarrRestaurants and we’ve ordered multiple times from Continental Midtown before with success. Last night was all about the comfort food. We had thanksgiving dinner, complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and also a meatloaf – also with more mashed potatoes and peas. As if we didn’t have enough comfort, the baked mac and cheese also called our name. The turkey dinner was good – turkey was pretty moist and stuffing pretty good, though my Aunt (you know who you are) still makes the best stuffing around. The meatloaf was flavorful with a bbq/ketchup sweet and spicyness and mashed potatoes were certainly fresh and more fluffy than dense. The mac and cheese was uber creamy and had that nice crispy crumble top. It’s been at least a year since I had mac-and-cheese, but this was a treat that was very good and I’m glad that it was just a small side dish as that could have been it for me…I hope my cardiologist doesn’t read this post.
For those in the DiningIn coverage area, their service is really solid and the time they project is usually spot-on. Food arrives warm, sometimes needs a quick zap in the microwave, but their restaurant selection is pretty good.
Last night, the wife and I took my mom out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. We brought the 2008 Cline Cashmere, a GSM blend – Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre. This is a silky smooth wine as the name suggests, but with a little spicy kick on the finish. It’s definitely got a bit of raspberry and stone fruit, but the pepper on the finish is quite noticeable…not very cashmere-like after all, but enjoyable nonetheless. We visited Cline on our last Sonoma visit and while they’re probably best know for their Old Vine producing Zinfandel (which is very good), this is a good find too. It’s a relatively balanced wine, so if you’re planning a dinner with someone who isn’t a fan of overly tannic or even dry wine, this is a good pick.
This 2004 Cave Blend is from our first visit to the Napa Valley and represents a blend of a great Napa vintage. This Del Dotto blend, not a meritage is composed of 44% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Sangiovese, and 8% Cabernet Franc. The nose of this wine and mid palate was all cab-franc with the big bold fruits balanced nicely by the other grapes. Initially, I’d have called this a fruit bomb, but after it opened up, it really balanced well and the sangio flavors came through with the overall body of Merlot/Cab. We’re out of Del Dotto cave blends now, so I’m planning a return trip to stock back up…
Last night, the wife and I visited the Pub & Kitchen (1946 Lombard St) which is under the keen direction of Chef Jonny Mac (@chefjonnymac).
We were able to secure a table with a quick 5min wait at 8:45 on a saturday which alleviated the need to find another spot – never fun once the #1 is unavailable. We both enjoyed our drinks – she, a tequila sunset and I, a bourbon cherry wishniak. This drink was a nod to the Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak and I appreciated it for that and the taste.
Our server recommended the Churchill burger as it’s from Pat La Frieda meats – a custom blend for P&K. I inquired if it was the same purveyor that supplied Shake Shack in NYC and was given a somewhat ambiguous answer which included a reiteration that this is the only one of its kind in Philly and the meat is a custom blend for P&K. So, maybe this wasn’t a fair question on my part as I knew the answer already, but just wanted to see if they did. The burger craze has vaulted Pat La Frieda further into the mainstream as this article suggests. The burger itself, beyond the discussion was very good (not sure if it was $18 good though). The meat was clearly a ‘cut above’ (pardon the pun) and exuded the combination of flavors from the source cuts. It was flavorful without being overly fatty. The wife enjoyed the melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi and I only tasted one, so I’m not in a position to comment beyond saying they were outstanding.
I’m not sure how we had room, but thoroughly devoured the banana bread pudding which has the consistency of the inner most part of a cinnamon bun (sans cinnamon) with the addition of caramelized banana and the largest cannelle of ice cream on top that I’ve ever seen. I think it was made with two full size cooking spoons. Bread pudding can be mushy, creamy, dry, etc. – - but this one was perfect and if it’s on the board when you visit, don’t hesitate (the waiter steered us in this direction and he was spot on).
I really like P&K, both for its approach to food and the quality. Their menu changes a bit every time we visit, so there are old standbys to rely on and something new as well.
Our friend at Le Volpi e L’uva, Giancarlo recommended this Pian dell’Orino Rosso di Montacino based on what we enjoyed while in his care in Florence. This red, 100% Sangiovese was unlike any Sangio-stateside wine we’ve had. It was fruity and silky without the giant red berries we’ve come to expect in our new world wines: in a word, it was balanced. So, cheers and ciao to the best wine bar in Europe and our guide, Giancarlo.