Acclaimed Parisian Chocolatier Christian Vautier Launches US Debut on the Lower East Side

Chocolatier Aditi Malhotra of Christian Vautier Le Concept, the newly opened chocolate boutique and café, has been busy in her underground chocolate factory crafting scrumptious Easter packages.  Featured within are the shop’s sublime and artistic house-made sweets, like white chocolate truffles hiding bursts of tart and fruity raspberry, lime and passion fruit fillings, as well as other exclusive-for-Easter treats, including dark chocolate eggs filled with surprising treasures and dark chocolate rabbits.

Three different package options have been crafted for your holiday celebration and are available at Christian Vautier Le Concept, beginning Friday March 30.  They are as follows:

Petit Package


Dark chocolate egg filled with surprising treasures, atop a bed of dark chocolate hazelnuts

Dark chocolate rabbit atop a bed of dark chocolate hazelnuts

Passion fruit & mango jam

Moyen Package


Dark chocolate egg filled with surprising treasures, atop a bed of dark chocolate hazelnuts

Dark chocolate rabbit atop a bed of dark chocolate hazelnuts

Passion fruit & mango jam

6-pack of white chocolate truffles in raspberry, lime and passion fruit, all coated in coconut

Mendiants – milk and white chocolate discs topped with nuts and dried cranberries

Grand Package


Dark chocolate egg filled with almonds, atop a bed of dark chocolate hazelnuts

Dark chocolate rabbit atop a bed of dark chocolate hazelnuts

Passion fruit & mango jam

6-pack of white chocolate truffles in raspberry, lime and passion fruit, all coated in coconut

Mendiants – milk and white chocolate discs topped with nuts and dried cranberries

White chocolate covered chocolate crispy cereal

Grignotines – milk, dark and white chocolate clusters of almond, puffed rice cereal and orange peels

Christian Vautier Le Concept is located at 254 Broome Street on the LES and is open daily from 11 AM to 11 PM.  Call 212-473-3200.

Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


If You Missed Easter . . . .

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While a $25 SRP may be a celebratory wine to some Americans, to others it is the benchmark, where retail wines become agreeably drinkable. Fitting tin that category, we are always delighted to discover a $25 wine that is better than many carrying a $50 (or more) price tag. And while Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi is hardy a secret in the wine world, it is reassuring to know there re names we can trust and depend upon.

All you ever want to know and more can be found below, but the truth is in the bottle and it is terrific now and will last some years. Make sure it is cellar temperature and opened a good 2 hours before drinking. We loved the generous fruit, structure and subtle tannins. Great with chicken, beef, lamb, medium firm cheeses.

Highly Recommended. We plan a tasting of the complete line one of these days.

Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Releases ‘Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni’

Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi launches its first wine in the US market bearing the family name, ‘Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni’. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (30%), Cabernet Franc (12%) and Sangiovese (8%), Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni comes from the original Frescobaldi family estate, Castiglioni, located approximately 20 kilometers west of Florence, in Val di Pesa, along the Arno River. The wine (2009 vintage, SRP $25), which has been marketed under Tenuta di Castiglioni previously, will be available in the US from January.

President of the company, Marchese Leonardo Frescobaldi asserts, “We found it was appropriate to add the Frescobaldi name to this exclusive wine because it comes from the oldest estate where my family began to cultivate vineyards and produce wines over 700 years ago. Since that time, the family passion has flourished and continued to the present 30th generation.”

“The soil of the Castiglioni estate is located southwest of Florence on gentle hills,” he continues, “and is characterized by a mixture of sand, clay and limestone. The land offers a fitting home for the different vineyards cultivated with perfect exposure. The wine is very much characterized by this particular terroir and offers a great intensity of fruit with a long lasting finish, elegance, and its richness is extremely stylish.”

Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni expresses the typicity and character of the territory of its origin and is consistent with the philosophy and mission of the family to ensure that each estate’s wine maintains its unique identity. The Frescobaldi family traces its origins back to the 11th century in the area where the Castiglioni estate was established in the 14th century. The vineyards at the 513-hectare estate are 200 – 250 meters above sea level. The local climate is warm and dry and the vineyards, completely replanted to high densities in the 1990s, favor the production of wines that display rich aromas of wild red berry fruit, classic to this Chianti area.

Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni is understated and refined, much like the Frescobaldi family itself, with a rich, deep, ruby-red color that is striking to the eye. The bouquet is fragrant with dark fruit that blends with notes of cocoa powder and roast espresso beans. The tannins are well integrated and offer a warm, lingering finish.

Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi, the leading wine producer of Tuscany and one of the most historic and respected wine companies in the world, combines centuries of tradition with progressive winemaking techniques and practices. Founded in the 14th century and a supplier of wines to the royal courts of Europe for generations, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi is still a family-owned company today. Comprised of nine distinct estates totaling approximately 1,100 hectares, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi produces wines utilizing only the grapes grown in its own vineyards. The company continually upgrades and modernizes its grape growing and winemaking operations, maintaining a relentless focus on producing unique wines that express the individuality of each unique terroir from which they are produced

Tasted again in 2013, it still can use 2 years, but is a remarkable value now. Delicious and classy.

Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.



IL Tesoro Holds Court In An Iconic New York Space

IL Tesoro

IL Tesoro’s Beguiling Main Dining Room

IL Tesoro is located at 1578 First Ave. and 82nd St., New York, NY 10028. Open Sunday-Thursday 5-10pm, Friday-Saturday 5-11pm. For reservations, call (212) 861-9620 and visit The wine cellar room is available for private events and live music. At the start of warm weather, expect al fresco dining on the restaurant’s outdoor patio.

The Upper East Side. New York’s Newest Old-Dining Destination

il tesoro downstairs

Downstairs Wine and Event Room

Seasoned restaurateur and esteemed chef A.J. Black has taken over the Yorkville space that housed the legendary Primavera Ristorante, breathing new life into it with IL Tesoro, an innovative “new classic” Italian restaurant. Recognizing the eternal mark Primavera left on the neighborhood, Black took great strides to preserve its memory by restoring its original decor and revamping its bloodline, the kitchen. These changes have revived the space and recaptured the well-heeled Upper East Side crowd.

Black grew up in the family restaurant business and becoming a chef and restaurateur came naturally to him. He attended the Italian Culinary Institute and then took an internship at Rome’s Grand Hotel before later honing his skills at Le Cordon Bleu, where he trained under Paul Bocuse. At the age of 19 Black opened his first eatery, Café Roma, in the Laterno District of Rome, before coming to the United States and opening several restaurant ventures in New York and Florida. Today, Black’s restaurant group encompasses IL Tesoro Bistro and cafe Dolce Tesoro in Florida’s Sanibel Island, and IL Tesoro at the Terrace in Martha’s Vineyard, which was featured in Relais & Chateaux’s 85 Inspirational Chefs, among other prestigious toques, like Thomas Keller and Jean Georges Vongerichten.

Now with IL Tesoro on the Upper East Side, the bones of Primavera shine anew. Rich wooden panels and chic black and white French tapestry, lining the walls, adorn the interior. The space also sports elegant marble columns that match the intimate marble-topped bar in the front room. To add rustic warmth, Black illuminates the restaurant with delicate lights in antique sconces and urns bursting with exquisite flowers. In the basement you can see the centuries-old iron gates covering racks of wine bottles, a clever design that gives the space a wine cellar vibe, which, combined with a piano for live music, makes it perfect to host private parties.

Il Tesoro 2

As Good As It Looks: Carpaccio di Salmone e Tonno

Turning to the cuisine, Black—inspired by his gastronomic culinary background and childhood in Sicily—incorporates his “new classic” style of Italian cuisine to the menu, taking classic dishes and ingredients and using them in modern ways. With that concept the dishes pull you in, starting with appetizers like the thinly sliced Carpaccio di Salmone e Tonno, a fresh dish with sushi grade tuna atop North Atlantic salmon drizzled with a light champagne vinaigrette. A hearty Antipasto del Giorno consists of traditional antipasto nibbles like grilled eggplant and roasted red peppers, alongside artichokes and rotating cheeses, including a superbly creamy Gorgonzola and Parmigiano. On the hot appetizer side, the giant Scallops Antica stun with a dark, blood orange laden sauce, a perfect marriage to the shellfish’s sweet meat. Showing a bit of his modern side, Black deep-fries lobster tail and shrimp in the Agrodolce (Pictured Below), which melds lovingly with a sweet and sour sauce.

Il Tesoro 3

Lobster Agrodolce

Black also features tender Risotto Milanese along with the umami bursting Risotto con Porcini. Pastas include the decadent Paglia Fieno Trevisana, which whets the palate with a combination of white and green capellini in a lush truffle cream sauce with mushrooms, sweat peas, prosciutto and cheese baked on top. IL Tesoro’s Rigatoni Bolognese reaches the height of classic Italian and delivers it well using pulled, braised beef, a succulent tomato sauce, and perfectly cooked noodles.

If you seek the traditional Italian experience it won’t just be the white linen tablecloths that give it to you, main dishes including a braised Lamb Osso Buco with spicy eggplant sauce over risotto (Pictured Below) and the Scaloppini Favola, a veal dish with white truffle cream, will satisfy your craving. Black also serves sizeable plates of Duck Braciole, a roasted duck breast stuffed with spinach and smoky Scamorza cheese, with a Barolo wine and wild mushroom sauce..

il tesoro lamb osso bucco

For something really special, call in advance and order a Whole Animal Tasting or a seafood tasting dinner. We were delighted with Suckling Pig, as a pivotal ingredient for the four course feast. First Course offered Suckling Pig Confit Crostini  with Crispy pork belly topped with melted Scamorza cheese. This was followed by a Second Course of Wild Mushroom Ravioli, filled with Suckling pork tenderloin and chanterelle mushrooms in a heady white truffle cream sauce. The Third Course was the Roasted Suckling Pig in all its glory . . . moist within and topped with a crackling skin that melted in your mouth. It was served over risotto and finished with a blood orange and Cognac sauce .

For dessert, confections include Black’s Tiramisu, a variation on the classic dish that incorporates his own special liquor blend. Equally decadent is the silky white chocolate Crème Brûlée was as good, if not better than Le Cirque’s iconic version.

il tesoro dessert1

A Chocolate Fantasy

IL Tesoro’s wine program features an extensive list of reserve bottles, housed within the cellar, and include a Bruno Giacosa 2004 Barberesco and a Gaja 2006 Rennina. For the regular drink menu Black organizes his widespread bottle selection based on grape varietals and serves an ever-changing list of wines by the glass. Some you may encounter include reds like the prestigious Ruffino 2006 Chianti C. Riserva Gold L. and a woodsy Zenato 2008 Valpolicella Ripasso. Off the white menu, IL Tesoro offers a smooth and fruity Bertani 2010 Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc blend, a superb Bruno Giacosa 2010 Arneis ($70) and the crisp Cake Bread Cellars 2010 Chardonnay. There are lots of good bottles in the $40 to $70 range and a fine Perrier Jouet by the glass.

Add to this, some of the best martinis in town, lovely table and glassware and guiding, well-informed and nurturing service and you will realize that you needn’t travel below 23rd street to be rewarded with an exhilarating restaurant experience. The Upper East side, once a mecca of fine dining venues, is making a comeback. Try IL Tesoro and you’ll see what we mean.


Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


Continue reading “IL Tesoro Holds Court In An Iconic New York Space”

Celebrate Easter at IL Tesoro

  In addition to chef/owner A.J. Black’s standard dinner menu of new classic Italian fare, enjoy a special Easter Lamb tasting menu on Easter Sunday (April 8).  Black has prepared a four-course prix fixe for $65 per person, which allows you to savor lamb in different ways.  Dishes include Lamb Milanese, served with heirloom tomatoes […]

Luxury Has Never Been More Affordable With New ‘Ultimate Luxury Package’

Pictured above:  Lobby of The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt

Business Class Airfare, Five-Star Hotels, and Chauffeur-Driven Touring From Just $2,799 Per Person Round-Trip Including All Taxes and Fees

Imagine traveling to Ireland in Business Class round-trip on Aer Lingus, staying at five-star hotels across the country, and enjoying private chauffeur-driven touring between cities — all for less than $3,000 per person round-trip for a six-night getaway. This dream trip is now a reality for travelers who book the new "Ultimate Luxury Package" from the Aer Lingus Vacation Store.

A group of four travelers will experience true Irish hospitality with incredible elegance and unparalleled luxury throughout this six-night vacation which includes stays in four of Ireland’s most exclusive properties where many of the world’s famous actors, athletes, politicians, and royalty have stayed: Four Seasons in Dublin, Glenlo Abbey in Galway, Muckross Park Hotel in Killarney, and The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt. And to make it even more exclusive, the private driver lets travelers see it all in style and comfort!

Here is how the itinerary works:

Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved. Disclosure

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Rodney Strong Is The Name To Remember For Affordable Wines of Dependable Quality

Here’s a red duo you’ll like. Both different; both delightful.2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County

2009 Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.00)

WINEMAKER     Rick Sayre
ALCOHOL     13.5 .
TA     0.58gm/100ml
PH     3.66
APPELLATION     Sonoma County
CELLAR & FERMENTATION 20 months in oak, 85 American, 15 French

Over thirty years ago Rod Strong observed that the cool, foggy nights that
regularly enshrouded the winery, though crucial in the ripening process of
fine pinot noir and chardonnay, were less than ideal for growing cabernet
sauvignon. For that, Rod would have to look north, to the Alexander Valley,
where the days are warmer and the strong influence of the cool Pacific
Ocean is diminished. Today they farm their estate vineyards of prime cabernet
sauvignon in the well-drained alluvial, volcanic, and uplifted shale/sandstone
soils on the benches and hillsides of the celebrated Alexander Valley.


For the third year in a row, the 2009 vintage started off with a dry spring,
which typically produces smaller clusters, smaller berries, and less canopy
overall. Spring was mild enough to ward off frost this year, and vines
affected from the previous year seemed to rebound. The main growing
season was cool to warm and without incident. Picking commenced toward the end of September, and all of the cabernet was harvested by November 3rd.

The final blend was RODNEY STRONG
82 cabernet sauvignon, blended
with merlot and cabernet franc for
roundness and additional complexity.

Aromas of blackberry, cocoa, and
currant lead to a rich, layered
mouthfeel, replete with black cherry,
cedar, and cassis, and structured
with lush, mature tannins. Enjoy this
seductive cabernet sauvignon now
and over the next several years.

A perfect steak wine!!

Click Here For Their Website


2009 Rodney Strong Estate, Knotty Vines Zinfandel ($18.50)


2009 Zinfandel, Knotty Vines Estate Vineyards, Northern Sonoma


Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.



Continue reading “Rodney Strong Is The Name To Remember For Affordable Wines of Dependable Quality”


The New York Palace on Madison Avenue


Junior Suite in The Towers at The New York Palace

Gold Chocolate themed package, decked-out Lindt Chocolate Brunch and oversized LINDT GOLD BUNNY figures fete the arrival of spring, while supporting Autism Speaks at this luxury hotel

New York Guests at The New York Palace will taste the sweetness of the spring season with the Gold Chocolate Package, celebrating Easter and the 60th birthday of the iconicLINDT GOLD BUNNY. The month-long initiative begins March 24 to coincide with the start of spring, and features premium Lindt chocolate experiences, allowing guests to indulge during their stay. A themed hotel package, a custom-created Gold Chocolate Weekend Brunch featuring the LINDT GOLD BUNNY in restaurant Istana, and giant LINDT GOLD BUNNY figures greeting guests from the hotel courtyard all help to usher in the Easter season and spring weather.

The Palace’s Gold Chocolate package gives guests yet another reason to revel in New York’s warm spring weather and Easter celebrations. The package is comprised of luxury accommodations and a myriad of ways to enjoy premium Lindt chocolate, including a $100 daily food and beverage credit, which can be used towards the Gold Chocolate Weekend Brunch, and an iconic LINDT GOLD BUNNY and special welcome amenity.GILT Restaurant at The New York Palace

Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.