Chefs & Champagne 2016

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This past Saturday, July 23th I attended the 26th annual James Beard Foundation’s Chefs and Champagne Summer tasting party. The event which raises funds for the philanthropic work of the Foundation, featured over 40 Chefs serving food many from JBF awarding winning restaurants. This years honoree was New Orleans Chef and restaurateur John Besh.

This event was held under the big tents at Wöllfer Estate Vineyards on 183 Sagg Road in Sagaponick, Long Island, just East of the town of Bridgehampton.

This year the free-flowing Champagne was sponsored by Baron de Rothschild which poured a NV Rosé, a NV Brut and a NV Blanc de Blanc. The wines were provided by Wöllfer Vineyards, beer from Goose Island and the Long Island Beer Co., and spirits by Tito’s Vodka.

It was a brutally hot day that cooled off nicely when the sun set, and my Kudos to the cooks that were manning the grills in all that heat. It was also a day of competing social events with several parties being held on this Saturday afternoon including Dan’s Taste of Two Forks which I felt took a little of the thunder out of this event. Still, it was an enjoyable afternoon of Champagne and tasty bites.


Some of what I sampled:

Roxanne Spruance: Fossil Farms Pork Belly with Nasturtium, Black Sesame and Cocoa Nibs

Christopher Cipollone: Madai Snapper Crudo with Avocado, Flowers and Farro

Angie Mar: Tomahawk Rib-Eye with Cherry-Garlic Compote

Cédric Vongerichten: Chilled Peekytoe Crab with Sesame Emulsion, Dukkah Spice, Avocado and Basil

Jonah Miller: Basque Dog, Chistorra Sausage with Piquillo Mostardo and Aioli

Dean Jones Max: Nantucket Oysters with Uni Vinaigrette

Julian Medina: Tacos de Pato; Fossil Farms Duck Carnitos with Charred Habanero-Tamarind Salsa and Micro Greens

Alex Bois: Smoke and Wood Bread; Local Flours with Whole Grains, Applewood Smoke Barley Malt, Roasted Shagbark Hickory

Tim Cushman: Kanpachi Sashimi with Vietnamese Mignonette, Fried Shallots, Thai Basil

Paul Kahan, Perry Hendrix: Grilled Octopus with Sumac

Damien O’Donnell: Montauk Fluke Crudo with Tomatillo Relish, Blue Corn Chips and Avocado Crema

Glenn Olsson, Marcus Widell: Shrimp Skagen 2.0

Anthony Lamas: Tuna “Old Fashioned” with Bluegrass Soy Bourbon Broth, Ginger, Pineapple and Orange

Eric Gabrynowicz: Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon with Gold Bar Squash. Tarragon, Tomato Confit and Corn

Brian Cheewing: Local Spicy Octopus and Corn Salad with Calabrian Chiles and Micro Cilantro

Maille Mustard: Watermelon-Feta Salad with Maille Mustard

Jiho Kim: “Ants On A Log”, Pumpernickel Cake with Rum-Raison Reduction and Peanut Butter Custard

Pichet Ong: Valrhona Chocolate with Cherry, Honey and Saffron

Alina Martell: Profiteroles with Strawberries and Cream




Uncorked Wine Fest New York


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This past Saturday afternoon, July 16th I attend the Uncorked Wine Festival which was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion located on 125 West 18th street in Manhattan.

This wine fest was one of several Uncorked wine fests held throughout the country. They are fun wine tasting events and this one featured over 50 wineries, food trucks and music.

While the wines were of mid-level quality for the most part, there was plenty of it and the crowd all seemed to be having a good time on this Saturday afternoon.


Some of what I sampled:

NV Tattinger Brut Rosé

NV Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee

2015 Jolie Folle Provence Rosé

2015 Starmont Sauvignon Blance

2014 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara Chardonnay

2014 Michael Chiarlo Gavi

2015 Azienda Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

2015 Fiegl Ribolla Gialla Collio

2014 Bret Brothers Macon-Villages

2015 Chateau Maris Picpoul de Pinet

2015 Patrice Moreux Sancerre

2014 Patrice Moreux Poully Fume “La Loge aux Moines”

2014 Proud Pour Sauvignon Blanc “The Oyster”

2015 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara Pinot Noir

2013 BonAnno Carneros Pinot Noir

2012 Starmont Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir

2014 Montinore Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

2013 Steltzner “Claret”

2013 BonAnno Cabernet Sauvignon



FIAF Bastille Day Fest

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This past Sunday on July 10th, the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) which is New York’s premier French cultural center, presented their annual Bastille Day festival. It was a three-block long party on East 60th from Fifth Avenue to Lexington Avenue in Manhattan celebrating the best of France in New York and the friendship between France and the United States. Bastille Day is France’s Independence Day

The block party featured food “à la française” from top rated French restaurants and bakeries, performances from cast members of the musical An American In Paris, can-can dancing and live music from the Hungry March Band and Myriam Phiro’s Accordion Trio.

And since no French party is complete without wine, there was a Champagne & Chocolate tasting featuring some of France’s most prestigious champagnes and fine European Chocolates, and a wine, beer, cocktails and cheese tasting with both events held at the FIAF building at 22 East 60th Street. There was also a VIP party hosted at Amali restaurant on 115 East 60th street which featured wines from the south of France.


At the wine, beer and cheese tasting I sampled a trio of rosé:

2013 Gérard Bertrand “Thomas Jefferson Brut” Cremant de Limoux. Salmon in color, big bubbles, closed nose of cotton candy, crisp citrus at the finish.

2015 Gérard Bertrand “Gris Blanc”. Copper color with strawberry notes on the nose.

2015 Espitalet des Anges “Villa des Anges” Mostly Cinsault, salmon in color, closed nose, tight with bitter cherry notes on the finish.

Champagne & Chocolate Tasting:

NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé. Light pink in color with an earthy nose.

NV Brimoncourt Blanc de Blanc. Lime notes, bread dough on the nose with the bread dough notes on the fruit.  

NV Piper-Heidsieck Brut. Bread dough on the nose, crisp and tart.

NV G.H. Mumm’s Brut. Bread dough and earth on the nose with lime and earth notes on the finish.

At the VIP party:

2015 La Grezette “Le Rosé de Julie”

2015 RS “Rosé Seduction”

2015 Chateau Lamartine Cahors

2010 Chateau Bouscasse

2015 Domaine de Pellhaut

2013 Chateau de Jonquieres

2013 Domaine du Moulin



Summer Fancy Food Show 2016

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The Summer Fancy Food Show is a bi-coastal, bi-yearly event that is America’s largest specialty food and beverage show. With over 46,000 industry professionals, 2,500 exhibitors and over 180,000 products, it is the place to find the next big product, next big company and next big trend in the food and beverage industry.

The show took place on June 26-28 and was held at the Jacob Javits convention center on 655 W 34th street in Manhattan. This years partner country was Tunisia.

I attended Sunday for an afternoon of grazing on cured ham, cheese and chocolate and sampling mostly Italian wines.


NV Arunda Brut Rosé. (Alto Adige). Light salmon in color, crisp.

NV Arunda Brut. (Alto Adige). Dry and crisp with an oily finish.

2015 Ugolini Valpolicella “Pozzeto” (Veneto). The entry-level wine in a trio of excellent Valpolicella, medium to light red, red berry and tree bark on the nose, bitter cherry on the balanced finish.

2012 Ugolini Valpolicella “Rippaso” (Veneto). 100% Corvina, light brick in color, red cherry and leather on the nose, silky red cherry fruit, nice acidity and balance.

2013 Ugolini Valpolicella “Amarone” (Veneto). Dark red with black cherry and bitter almond on the nose, bitter almond notes on the fruit. Don’t taste the 16% alcohol.

2008 Tommasi “Ca Florian” Riserva Amarone (Veneto). Dark brick in color, dark leather on the nose, bitter almond/cherry and leather notes on the great balance.

2015 Francesco Malena “Bianco” (Cirò).  Calabrese wines, this one mostly Greco Bianco, medium gold with dried flower notes on the finish.

2014 Francesco Malena “Rosso” (Cirò). Mostly the Gaglioppe grape, brick in color with leather on the nose with bitter almond and red cherry on the finish.

2012 Francesco Malena “Pian Della Corte Riserva” (Cirò). Dark red with a brick robe, barnyard notes on the nose, concentrated fruit followed by big tannins at the finish.  

2012 Francesco Malena “Cutura Del Marchese” (Cirò). Dark brick, closed nose of roast meat, mouth coating tannin with bitter cherry and fuzzy tannin on the finish.

2013 Carra Di Casata “Arcòl” (Emilia-Romagna). Dark red to black, roasted coffee on the nose, concentrated, silky with roast nut notes on the balanced finish.

2011 Prima Pietra Toscana Rosso (Tuscany). Bordeaux blend, dark red with smoky, roast bacon on the nose, tight dark fruit, black licorice and bitter cherry on the finish.

Cantina Formigine Pedemontana. A co-op in Emilia-Romagna producing Lambrusco with is an excellent low alcohol red wine served  chilled for a Summer day.

NV Rosso Fosco. Made from the Grasparossa clone, purple, dry, crisp black berry fruit, balanced.

NV Sorbara. Sorbara is another clone for Lambrusco I don’t see often, pink in color, crisp and refreshing with some tannin coming through at the finish.


NV Harkamp Rosé Brut. Light pink with a strawberry nose, crisp with light strawberry flavors on the finish.

NV Harkamp Sauvignon Blanc Extra Brut. Don’t have a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc very often, light yellow in color with roast nuts on the nose, grassy finish.  


2014 Habla Winery “De la Tierra”. Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon blend, dark purple with dried red fruit and herbs on the nose, tight, firm red leather and earth on the finish.

2014 Habla Winery “Del Silencio”. A blend of three grapes, dark red with crushed red fruit and violets on the nose, tight with firm tannin and dried herbs on the finish.

2012 Habla Winery “N° 14”. 100% Syrah, dark red to black with a purple robe, closed nose of berries and leather, tight and concentrated with dried herbs on the firm finish.

2011 Habla Winery “N° 13”. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, dark red with a closed nose of roasted meat, tight with big tannin and herbs on the finish.