2009 OLD VINE ZINFANDEL – DRY CREEK VALLEY

Dry Creek Vineyard Signature Wines Old Vines Zinfandel

A terrific red with a real Bordeaux character. Lovely fruit and balance.

HISTORY
First coined by winery founder David Stare in 1986, the term “Old Vine” has special
meaning to our family.  We define an old vine vineyard as being more than 50 years in
age. In the case of our Old Vine Zinfandel, the vines for this bottling are an average of 90
years of age and in some cases, more than 110 years old! Old Vine vineyards remain the
most prized and historic of all plantings in the Dry Creek Valley.
GROWING SEASON
2009 was almost a perfect growing season, with the only blip a minor shortage of
water from light winter rains. Growing conditions were ideal with bud break and
bloom happening normally. Summer temperatures were moderate with minimal
heat spikes. Harvest conditions were superb and by the time the rains came in early
October most of our fruit was already harvested.
WINEMAKER COMMENTS
At first swirl, this prized wine presents a special aromatic profile that is distinctive and
nuanced. From the beginning, one realizes that this wine is going to be a cherished
experience. Layers of briary blackberry, raspberry, exotic spice and black and white
pepper come forward. On the palate, the wine is precise and expressive, building
layers of flavor with elements of bittersweet chocolate and roasted coffee. Several
more minutes reveal a bright earthy quality that is truly unique. This beautiful wine
is a seamless experience from start to finish. 
2009 OLD VINE ZINFANDEL – DRY CREEK VALLEY
89 Points
Wine Spectator Magazine
2008 Vintage
92 Points – EDITORS’ CHOICE
Wine Enthusiast Magazine
89 Points – BEST BUY
Wine & Spirits Magazine
RELEASE DATE June 2012
BLEND 86% Zinfandel, 14% Petite Sirah
APPELLATION Dry Creek Valley
HARVEST DATES September 28-29, 2009
ALCOHOL 14.5%
BRIX Average 26.3
FERMENTATION  Average of 20 days, pumped over twice daily.
BARREL AGING 18 months in French, American and Hungarian oak
PH 3.79
TA 0.56g/100mL
SOILS
Hillside vineyards, mixed gravelly soil. Decomposed granite
in certain areas
VINE AGE Average age is 90 years
YIELDS Less than 2 tons per acre
Scan here for more information:
DRY CREEK VINEYARD     3770 LAMBERT BRIDGE RD     HEALDSBURG, CA 95448     707.433.1000     FX 707.433.5329     DRY

 

Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

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DRY CREEK VINEYARD OFFERS QUALITY & VALUE

HISTORYDry Creek Vineyard Signature Wines 2011 Dry Chenin Blanc
For more than 25 years, we have sourced fruit from the Clarksburg appellation in the
Sacramento Delta. This area has provided us with delicious Chenin Blanc grapes that express our Loire Valley inspired roots. Most California vintners have given up on
Chenin Blanc. We believe this delicious varietal has a rightful place at the table. It is
the perfect aperitif wine, extremely versatile and food friendly, making it one of our
most beloved wines. 

GROWING SEASON
The 2011 season was fraught with many weather related challenges. Our viticulture
team however, was up to the task; carefully managing the vineyard and providing us
fruit with near perfect ripeness levels. Winter rains were plentiful and lasted well
into the late spring and early summer. The summer growing season was unseasonably cool. Harvest was temperate and canopy management was a key to achieve optimal ripeness in the grapes. Unwelcome rains came later into harvest – fortunately, much of our fruit was already picked and safely at the winery. 

WINEMAKER COMMENTS
Since our founding in 1972, we have produced a wonderfully crisp, incredibly
refreshing dry Chenin Blanc. The 2011 vintage perfectly represents our love for this
wonderful grape variety. Fragrant aromas of pineapple, white peach, melon and citrus
leap from the glass. A few swirls reveal an underlying minerality, even some chalky
notes, which are an ode to the variety’s Loire Valley roots. The palate expresses soft
apple characters, zesty citrus and a wonderful sense of balance and freshness. A perfect patio sipper, Chenin Blanc is summertime in a bottle!

2011 DRY CHENIN BLANC – CLARKSBURG
DRY CREEK VINEYARD     3770 LAMBERT BRIDGE RD     HEALDSBURG, CA 95448     707.433.1000     FX 707.433.5329     DRYCREEKVINEYARD.COM
RELEASE DATE April 2012
BLEND 100% Chenin Blanc
APPELLATION Clarksburg
HARVEST DATES September 13, 2011
ALCOHOL 12.5%
RESIDUAL SUGAR  0.6% (Dry)
FERMENTATION  Stainless steel fermented at an average of 55˚F for
approximately 30 days
pH 3.53
TA 0.63g/100mL
SOILS Flat, sandy delta soil
VINE AGE 10 years on average
YIELDS 6-7 tons per acre

SRP: $12

Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

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Ember Room, Where The Scene Is Hot And The Food Is Excellent

Embers Room Int1

                             Ember Room

647 9th Avenue
Between 45th and 46th Streets

Website

T 212.245.8880


With no big signage or neon signs, Ember Room is hidden in plain sight near the corner of West 45th St & Ninth Avenue. Suspended above the entrance are four thousand authentic handmade Thai temple bells, whose soothing and resonant tones are said to create a peaceful and meditative state. Designed by internationally renowned Thai chef Ian Chalermkitticha, Ember Room’s menu takes on an existing culinary trend in Bangkok: described as "progressive Thai comfort food", the menu is both firmly rooted in Thai tradition and seamlessly adapted to the selective integration of other culinary cultures. Signature dishes range from Italian-influenced Green Curry Lasagna, with fresh mozzarella and parmesan baked with a rich green curry Bolognese, to Chef Chalermkitticha’s signature Chocolate Baby Back Ribs grilled with surprising and irresistible BBQ Belgian chocolate glaze. They are fork-tender, absolutely delicious and a steal at $7(all of the carefully cooked dishes are fairly priced).

Ember Room is the latest venture of New York City-based restaurateurs Ace Watanasuparp and Chatchai Huadwattana, founders of Chace Restaurant Group, whose recent successes include Spot Dessert Bar, Obao, and Reserve wine Bar.

The restaurant design, boldly envisioned by internationally acclaimed hospitality designer Roy Nachum, mixes rustic and contemporary through the use of rich colors, distressed wood, and brushed metals. Near the white-veined black Carrera marble bar, the Marble Poet’s Lounge is a floor-to-ceiling 25-foot wall of 200 year-old reclaimed wood, overlaid with oversized gold-leaf Chinese calligraphy-the characters point out that sharing food and company is the greatest form of wealth. Downstairs, the focal point is the Ivory Prince Terrace: a raised dining area with symmetrical walls of mirrored bronze, stacked with metal frames evoking authentic Asian lanterns, and lit with Edison light bulbs. The room unites around a striking original painting by Nachum of a child in a forest, protected by an elephant. Upstairs, an open Mezzanine overlooks both the Marble Poet’s Lounge as well as the restaurant’s floor-to ceiling façade, with its view of the lights and bustle of Ninth Avenue.

 

embers room int2

“EMBER’S GEMS” include such SMALL PLATES” as Koi Tuna Tartare, fresh tuna, roasted ground rice, crispy tortillas, chili-lime dressing ; “Yum Hoi” Pomelo Scallops, 
seared “diver” scallops, chili jam glaze, pomelo salad, roasted pepper-lime dressing; Terra Cotta Fish Cakes, crispy rice-crusted red chili paste fish cake, ember room sauce and the aforementioned Chocolate Ribs.

ember room menu1

Signature ENTRÉES offer Lobster Pad Thai, Bangkok street-style pad thai, herb-poached lobster;  a divine Red Chili-Glazed Sea Bass, freshly baked, sweet and spiced glaze, celery root puree, gailan and Heritage Pork Belly, chaing mai spiced braised pork belly, root vegetables, asian herbs, fresh ginger.

SMALL PLATES purport Grilled Japanese Eggplant,  smoked salt, cilantro, red miso glaze , Bamboo Chicken Curry Dip, pan-fried roti, chicken, green curry, bamboo shoot, eggplant ; Thai Tacos, shredded chicken, bean sprouts, chives, peanut, tofu, coconut,
sweet chili sauce; “Nam Prik Ong” Lettuce Wrap, northern thai-style bolognese, fresh vegetables, crispy eggplant and that Green Curry Lasagna with green curry bolognese, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, ground beef.

 
There are fun plays like the Thai Chili Mac & Cheese, thai chili jam, smoked bacon, onion, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, and house-made breadcrumbs and  a not-to-be-missed concoction called: Thai Pastrami Meatballs, ground pork, bacon, sweet tamarind glaze, chinese mustard’. The chef is a master of mussels and oysters, whether Steamed “Icy Blue” canadian mussels, lemongrass, spicy and sour bouillon, garlic bread or beautifully presented Half-Shell Fried Oysters, crispy fried oyster, sautéed bean sprout, garlic chive, and a zesty sriracha sauce.

For a twist, check out the fun Ember Original Lobster Roll,  with homemade sour cream, chili jam, celeriac, shallots, mango served with crispy 7-spice fries and mayonnaise.

Soups and salads are expectedly excellent and bigger appetites will love ENTRÉES
like the Had Yai Volcano Chicken (a mere $16) for oven-roasted turmeric-coconut marinated chicken, green chili sauce, brined for three days and served  flaming.

Service is surprisingly benevolent and there is is short and attractively priced list of wine, beer, sake and such.Cocktails are generous and well constructed, and the hose versions are fun.

Don’t miss the Thai iced tea (lavender tea is also terrific), nor fabulous desserts, including all homemade iced cream (the chocolate Grenache is to die for); a light and lovely Meyer lemon layered crepe cake; or  a rich and decadent caramelized coconut cheesecake.

Certainly the definitive choice for creative Thai food near the theater district, Ember Room is one of the best Thai restaurants in Manhattan. Rating A Major.

 

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Two Delightful Whites From Different Parts of the Worlds for $20 and Under.

The World Is Your Winelist

Whitehaven® 2010 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Whitehaven 2010 Marlborough Sauv Blanc 750ml

The Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2010 embodies the quintessential Marlborough style: Full-flavored and medium -bodied with fragrant notes of citrus, gooseberry and ripe tropical fruit followed by freshly cut herb undertones. A brilliant straw color, this rich and elegant wine refreshes the palate with a clean, crisp, long finish. We recommend enjoying our 2010 Sauvignon Blanc while it is young, but the wine is capable of developing nicely over the next two years if carefully cellared.

Description
Established in 1994, Whitehaven Wine Company is a small, privately-owned winery located in Blenheim, New Zealand. Whitehaven winemaker, Sam Smail, has earned a reputation for turning our brilliant, distinctive and critically acclaimed premium Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from the world renowned Marlborough region of New Zealand. Located across the Wairau and Awatere Valleys of Marlborough, New Zealand, our Sauvignon Blanc vines are pruned to four canes each and trained along our standard trellis system, with vertical shoot positioning for maximum exposure to sunshine and fresh breezes. The canopy is carefully manicured to achieve open, healthy vines which produce balanced, full-flavored fruit during the growing season.

Viticulture Notes
Although it did not appear promising to begin with, the 2010 season outperformed the superb 2009 vintage in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. The latter half of the growing season experienced high temperatures and ripening advanced rapidly, delivering the harvest on time. From late December on the season was warm and dry. The harvest was short and sharp, rarely interrupted by rain, providing for stunning structure, amazing depth and flavor along with balanced ripeness.

Winemaking Notes
The fruit was machine harvested in cool evening conditions, destemmed, must chilled and lightly pressed with minimal skin contact. The free run juice was settled to achieve a high degree of clarity. The clear juice was fermented in upright stainless steel fermenters with selected yeast strains to preserve the inherent fruit flavors. Winemaking techniques and handling were reduced to promote the natural fruit flavor and intensity found in Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Varietal Content:
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Varietal Origin:
Marlborough, New Zealand
Titratability Acidicity:
0.77g/100ml
pH:
3.41
Alcohol Level:
13.38%
Residual Sugar:
0.34g/100ml
UPC:
008500001201

Wine Description
Vibrant peach, tropical fruit and gooseberry aromas and freshly cut herb undertones. A brilliant straw-colored wine with lemon tones, this wine refreshes the palate with a long, clean finish.

This wine is superior to others that sell for a few buck less and the smooth balance, gentle acid and easy-going fruit prove our point. A real delight with sushi, oysters, goat cheese and chicken.

Whitehaven 2010 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc = $20.00


Martin Codax® 2010 Rías Baixas Albariño

Region: Rías Biaxas, D.O.

Martin Codax 2010 Rias Baixas Albarino 750ml
In the local Gallego language of Galicia in Northwest Spain, the name Rías Baixas means “the lower fjords, referring to the narrow fingers of deep water that stretch far inland. The white Albariño grape thrives in this region of rains and mists. Locally, Albariño is called “the wine of the sea” (and is, unsurprisingly, a perfect match for seafood).

Description
Produced under the stringent rules of the Rías Baixas Denominación de Origen (DO), Martín Códax Albariño is thoroughly food friendly, and designed to be consumed young. This is an aromatic wine, elegant, dry and crisp on the finish. The key aromatic and flavor notes are pear, passion fruit and apple. Acidity is bright and integrates well with aromatic elements into a balanced whole.
Albariño stands on its own as an aperitif but reaches its glory stage when matched with food. This is not only because of the firm acidity, but also because of the wine’s mouth-engaging fullness. Seafood, poultry, light salads, and lightly-sauced pastas are only a few of the many possibilities.

Viticulture Notes
The summer of 2010 was on the hot side with little precipitation. Following an excellent flowering season, we saw correspondingly high yields and good ripening among the grapes, all the while maintaining desirable levels of acidity (and lower levels of malic acid). These conditions were ideal for the production of a well-structured, well-balanced Albariño with floral and stone-fruit notes.

Winemaking Notes
Winemaker: Katia Alvarez
For this 100% Albariño wine, grapes were hand-picked in mid-September 2010. Grapes were de-stemmed but not crushed, which allowed whole berry membrane pressing to preserve varietal character. After juice settling, fermentation occurred in stainless steel at 18º Celsius for three weeks. Approximately 15% of the blend was allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation, leading to enhanced flavor complexity while preserving the acidity. Following fermentation, the wine underwent light sur lie aging for four months, with no oak contact.
Varietal Content: 100% Albariño
Varietal Origin: Rías Baixas
Titratable Acidity: 0.65g/100ml
pH: 3.34
Alcohol Level: 12.82%
Residual Sugar: 0.25g/100ml

Wine Description
A refreshing food friendly white wine, crisp, elegant and dry, showing aromas and flavors of pear, passion fruit and apple with bright acidity.

We love the wines of Spain and this is one of our secret favorites. Always dependable, you’ll feel like you are drinking a wine worth double the price. Enjoy it with seafood paella, poultry, veal and oysters.

Martin Codax 2010 Rias Baixas Albarino = $15.00

Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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Japanese American Pub Brings Ramen to Tribeca

zutto-room1

Zutto is located at 77 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013. And is open for lunch Monday-Friday 11:30am-5:30pm, dinner Sunday-Thursday 5:30-10pm, Friday-Saturday 5:30-11pm. For more information, please call (212) 233-3287, and visit zuttonyc.com.


The name Zutto may be familiar to connoisseurs and Tribeca locals as it was the first sushi restaurant in the area 30 years ago. Now, while the name and location remain the same, the new chef Joshua Smookler has recreated the core concept and turned Zutto into an Japanese American izakaya-inspired pub. Yes, they still have sushi, but the real star is seen in the Japanese menu, which draws from Smookler’s French culinary training and includes an extensive wine, beer, shochu and sake program.

Chef Smookler, a Korean raised Jewish who grew up in New York, came into the professional kitchen world in an unusual way. After he finished his bachelor’s degree, Smookler was supposed to study medicine. But, he decided first he wanted to see more of the country. He got as far as San Antonio, Texas before he needed to stop driving and work. He saw an ad for wait staff at the French restaurant L’Etoile and went in for the position dressed in a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. Lucky for him the owner was Jewish and when Smookler started speaking to him in Hebrew, he got the job.

Pork-Belly-Buns-150x150

The Amazing Pork Belly Buns

His training can be seen not only in the stunning way he plates his food, but in the solid flavors and innovative bites he offers, especially in his Japanese pub-style food. Take the Steamed buns (but go easy . . . are terrific), Smookler whips up variations that include a classic Asian style pork belly with miso-mayonnaise, tender and sweet short rib, and a Kobe beef patty with hijiki, his version of an American slider. Other menu items also speak to the izakaya style like the finely pounded fish that gets breaded and fried to create salty fish “chips” with a side of spicy edamame and jalapeño dip. The result is a deceptively simple and memorable creation.

Lobster-Roll-150x150

Lobster Rolls

For the signature ramen, the chef’s favorite dish, Smookler starts by making the various broths, a process that takes almost two days to complete. He pours the rich, velvety liquid over long, tender noodles made from Smookler’s own recipe and tops the dish with various ingredients. Start with the tonkotsu classic bowl, which comes with smoky chasu, sweet pickled ginger, sesame, and kikurage, also known as wood ear mushroom. It is the star.

For heftier fare, go for  Smookler’s take on steak frites, which uses tender Kobe beef ribeye. The portion isn’t huge, but the quality is superb and the fries are wonderful.

While their menu remains sophisticated, the giant communal table in the center, cozy bar, intimate banquette seating, and soft Japanese lanterns hanging overhead helps create the down-to-earth vibe Smookler wants. It’s easily a place where you can pop in for a great bowl of ramen, a snack, and a glass of beer or wine. Actually, the beverage list alone is worth the Tribeca trek as it features Asahi on draft that is actually brewed in Japan and shipped here. In bottles they offer spiced Schneider Weisse, rich Allagash Dubbel, and light and nutty brews by Hitachino Nest’s.

zutto food 1

On the wine menu Smookler taps into his years working as a wine director and has created a masterpiece of whites, reds, and sparkling from all around the world. He arranges on the menu from lightest in body, to the heaviest. For example the list of whites starts with a Hautes Noelles’ 2010 Muscadet Sur Lie and ends with Le Vieux Donjon’s 2010 Rhone blend. For reds he features over two-dozen bottles including CVNE Imperial’s 1999 Tempranillo and Kenzo Estate’s 2007 Bordeaux blend. All wine prices are value oriented and lower than many places charge for the same bottles.

Another feature on the drink list is the flushed out sake list. Where the original restaurant offered few, the new Zutto has around 60 including unfiltered Hakushika “Snow Beauty” Junmai, earthy Shichida, and the pear tinged Yaegaki Mu. Loyal Zutto customers will also find the classic sushi list re-imagined save for the traditional triangle shaped Tribeca roll, which has been on the Zutto menu since the beginning. Other rolls Smookler has created to express the more wild side of things including the animal roll, a feisty maki with short rib, jalapeño, garlic, and a sweet and savory soy glaze, which gets served on the bone from which the beef came. Also innovative is Smookler’s bright yum yum sae woo, which is made with a thin, lime-green tofu skin and wrapped around tempura shrimp, lettuce, and crab, giving it a crisp texture and more of a summer roll feel than traditional sushi.

Dessert is an experience unto itself as Smookler comes up with all sorts for fun creations like the salty-sweet chocolate-caramel crème du pot and a melt-in-your-mouth caramelized brioche with grilled bananas and homemade vanilla ice cream, which is so airy and light it’s hard to believe it’s really ice cream. He used to offer a dish called a tasting of three chocolates and rum, which consists of a molten chocolate with three chunks of chocolate, paired with three amazing single barrel aged rums from different parts of South America.On our visit, it wasn’t available, but we adored “coffee and donuts,” a fabulous coffee semifreddo with foamed cream and zeppole donuts. It would put any Italian restaurant to shame.

zutto interior use

Whether you come to Zutto for a light snack and a drink, a full dinner, or for lunch, grabbing a seat at the community table or outside, once they open their glorious French doors, gives you the full Japanese pub experience with an international twist.

Service is friendly and the ramen is as good as it gets.

Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

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Two Winners From Rodney Strong For Around $20

2010 Chardonnay, Estate Vineyards, Chalk Hill

2010 Chardonnay, Estate Vineyards, Chalk Hill

In 1965, founder Rod Strong was the first to plant chardonnay in what would later be recognized as the Chalk Hill American Viticultural Area (AVA), established officially in 1983. He recognized the region as distinct from the rest of Russian River Valley for its unique chalky white soils, which impart a subtle mineral character to wines grown there.

The 2010 vintage started with a cool and fairly wet spring that remained mostly frost free. The late rains generated a healthy canopy, but one that required careful management to avoid green flavors. The cool spring evolved into an exceptionally cool summer, punctuated by a three day heat spike in August which reduced yields in many varieties. September started out warm and ended the same way, giving us the ripeness we were waiting for, and we harvested the last of our Chalk Hill chardonnay on October 8th.

Barrel fermentation in new and seasoned French oak added toasty vanilla and spice complexities, and during 9 months of barrel ageing, we regularly stirred the "lees" in barrel, which adds a creamy texture and increases richness on the palate. Encouraging secondary fermentation adds additional complexity, and in the glass the wine is both creamy and crisp, with ripe apple, Meyer lemon, wet stone, and spiced vanilla flavors. Enjoy over the next 1-3 years.

SRP: $20 is excellent value. A lovely example of what California can do with Chardonnay. Loved the clean, fresh melon hints and food friendliness.


2010 Pinot Noir, Estate Vineyards, Russian River Valley

2010 Pinot Noir, Estate Vineyards, Russian River Valley

Rod Strong was among the first modern wine pioneers with a vision to plant pinot noir in the Russian River Valley. In 1968 he planted our heritage River East Vineyard in the alluvial clay-loam soils adjacent to the winery in Healdsburg. Today the Russian River Valley is well established as one of the premier pinot noir growing regions in the world, and we continue to rely on the original River East Vineyard as a core contributor to our estate vineyard bottling.

The 2010 vintage started with a cool and fairly wet spring that remained mostly frost free. The late rains generated a healthy canopy, but one that required careful management to avoid green flavors. The cool spring evolved into an exceptionally cool summer, punctuated by a three day heat spike in August which reduced yields in many varieties. September started out warm and ended the same way, giving us the ripeness we were waiting for, and we harvested the last of our Russian River pinot noir on October 7th.

Soft and silky, with intriguing floral and crushed pomegranate aromas, this medium bodied wine was aged for 11 months in small French oak barrels, which added a hint of toasty vanilla and spice complexity. Ideal for current enjoyment, this pinot noir will hold nicely over the next 2 to 4 years.

SRP: $20. Soft, easy going and perfect for chicken, light seafood and goat cheese.

 

 

 

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THE LEOPARD AT DES ARTISTES IS A VISUAL and CULINARY TRIUMPH

leogard The Parrot Girl

THE LEOPARD AT DES ARTISTES

THE LEOPARD at Des Artistes is located at 1 West 67th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. The restaurant is open daily for Dinner from 5PM-11:30PM. Lunch is served Monday – Friday from 12PM-3PM and brunch hours are Saturday and Sunday from 11:30AM-3PM. Reservations are recommended: 212-787-8767 or www.theleopardnyc.com.


Historic New York City Landmark Serving Southern Italian Cuisine Sets a New Standard For Luxury Italian Dining

Housed in one of New York’s most legendary and famous buildings, the Hotel des Artistes, THE LEOPARD at Des Artistes offers Southern Italian cuisine inspired by the area once known as “The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.” Restaurateurs Gianfranco Sorrentino and his wife, Paula Bolla-Sorrentino, who brought New York the successful Il Gattopardo (Italian for The Leopard), and the former Sette MoMa Restaurant at The Museum of Modern Art, have totally renovated the former Café des Artistes space. The restaurant’s breathtaking murals were given a much-needed restoration to their original colors, to bring back their atmosphere of romance and fantasy.

leopard.interior1

Architects Roger Hirsch and Myriam Corti renovated the restaurant to create a sophisticated and comfortable dining experience. Classic and modern details are subtle and refined in homage to the artful spirit of The Hotel Des Artistes. Diners are seated at roomy and luxurious banquettes situated throughout the dining rooms, which boasts a combination of terrazzo floors complete with large, playful zinc circles, and rich walnut floors. Walnut-clad columns bring dramatic warmth and refinement to the interior, and a new lighting system accentuates the mythical murals’ beauty. The overall effect is clean and airy, creating a contemporary elegance in which to enjoy memorable cuisine.

leopard owners chef

Executive Chef Vito Gnazzo, who is also the executive chef at Il Gattopardo since its foundation, along with Chef de Cuisine Claudio Cristofoli, created the Southern Italian menu that finds its roots in the culinary traditions of the regions of Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, Apulia, Sardinia, and of course Sicily. His genius lies in his ability to utilize traditional recipes and maintain culinary honesty, while keeping is creations light and toothsome. Everything tastes authentic; nothing tastes old fashioned. “Taste” being the operative word. Chef  Gnazzo’s hand with seasoning is awesome.

Guests may begin dinner with appetizers including Eggplant and Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella timbale with spicy tomato sauce; Sardinian “fregola” with clams and mussels in a shell fish broth and Fennel and Orange Salad with Nocellara olives dressed with olive oil and white wine vinegar (below).

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We adored melt-in-your mouth Grilled Octopus and celery potato salad with olive oil and lemon dressing, and green olives. Imported White Asparagus (a special) was the best we have ever tasted this side of the Atlantic. All ingredients are the finest quality, whether imported or sourced from local purveyors.

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Homemade pappardelle with roasted rabbit and seasonal mushrooms: Images Credit: Melissa Horn

Ravishing pastas include Bucatini with sardines, onions, wild fennel, peanuts and raisins; Rigatoni “alla Norma” with sautéed eggplant and aged ricotta cheese in a tomato sauce (pictured below) and remarkable Ravioli filled with braised artichokes and burrata in a light tomato marjoram sauce.

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Signature entrées consist of Filet of Mediterranean “Branzino” wrapped in parchment paper with baby vegetables and herbed olive oil; Lamb Loin sautéed in a red wine and tarragon sauce, served with braised pearl onions and carrots and Roasted Berkshire Tender Pork Loin in its own sauce, served with fingerling potatoes, mushrooms and artichokes.

For something really special, go for one of the best  Grilled dry aged rib eyes, in New York,  served with crispy rosemary French fries (serves two people) . You may never visit you favorite NY steak house again.

leopard food1

Shellfish ragout served with organic couscous

The “temptation” menu was crafted by Gnazzo and Cristofoli and includes delectable desserts such as a crunchy Cannoli filled with sheep’s ricotta milk, chocolate chips and Bronte pistachios; Warm Bartlett Pear over puff pastry with caramel sauce and Warm Lava Chocolate Cake served with a side of artisanal ice cream. Best of all, Traditional Zabaione with fresh mixed berries, is whisked tableside and is perfection.

THE LEOPARD BAR AND APERITIVO PARLOR

leopard bar

Diners can also enjoy drinks and light bites at the newly redesigned bar.

Gianfranco Sorrentino, who also oversees the beverage department of THE LEOPARD, collaborated with Sommelier Marco Irato to create the restaurant’s wine list, which offers over 160 bottles of Italian whites and reds, fifteen of which are by the glass. A sprinkling of French Champagnes also have a presence on the menu. Signature cocktails include a Neapolitan Martini with Limoncello and Vodka and Donnafugata Campari shaken with Grand Marnier Orange.The wine list is admirable and affordable. We were delighted with a sprightly Manzoni Bianco 2011 “Villa Brunesca” at 14 the glass and a lovely Super Tuscan 2007 “Poggiassai” Poggio Bonelli, which was $21 for a glass. Cocktails are expertly constructed and generous.

Service at the THE LEOPARD at Des Artistes is exceptional, from reception to waiter and bus-staff. And considering the extraordinary dining experience, prices are not out of line. In fact, there is a $28 Prix Fixe lunch Monday to Friday and one of our town’s most delightful brunches can be enjoyed Saturday and Sunday.  As one of Manhattan’s most rewarding Italian restaurants, THE LEOPARD at Des Artistes is an absolute must. Rating: A Major

leopard dessert canoli

Traditional Sicilian cannoli (Above)

leopard swinging girl

 

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Two Chardonnays at Affordable Prices Make Ideal Summer Drinking: William Hill and Frei Brothers Excel.

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What a delicious wine.

Frei Bros. Reserve 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, at a suggested retail price of  $20.00, goes beautifully with seafood, light cheese, chicken and Japanese cuisine.

The balanced fruit and good acid make it the ideal wine for summer drinking.

At Frei Brothers Winery, they craft wines in a gentle, traditional style enhanced by the use of modern techniques to produce a wine that is both varietally accurate and reflective of the terroir of the Russian River Valley.  Chardonnay grapes are whole cluster pressed to eliminate bitterness and maximize fresh fruit characters. The wine completed malolactic fermentation, which resulted in a plush texture and deep, layered flavors that express the terroir of the Russian River Valley

This 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay is a soft and complex reflection of one of Sonoma’s most renowned cool-climate regions. This wine displays flavors of green apple, orange zest and apple pie, complemented by notes of butter and toast. The rich, nutty flavors in this Chardonnay lead to a silky finish and a plush mouthfeel.

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Wine On Line Suggested


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William Hill 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay at a suggested retail price of $25.00 is another option. Somewhat more graceful, you’ll love the medium-light body and subtle finish. You’ll also adore it with shrimp and shellfish as well as goat cheese and duck.

This 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay reflects a transition to a new contemporary style by revealing elegant ripe tree fruit flavors of baked apple, supported by layered notes of toasty oak, caramel, and brown spice. The wine has a moderate mouthfeel and sweetness balanced by refined, juicy acidity.

The 2010 growing season in Napa Valley can be described in one word: uneven. A cooler and wetter summer delayed harvest, and an August heat wave drove temperatures from the temperate 70s to a scorching 110°F or higher in some areas. To cap off the irregular nature of the vintage, unexpected heavy rains blanketed the valley in late October. Chardonnay grapes were largely protected from the excessive rainfall because they were harvested prior to the unusual downpour. Despite the challenges, wines from this vintage are displaying great quality and refined structure.

Wine On Line Suggested

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