Monthly Archive for May, 2006

Wine, Wine and More Wine

So this weekend we went wine tasting in the North Fork of Long Island, and it stirred up my wine bug. Recently, I have realized that going into a wine store is generally a tedious and uninformed process, and when I come home with a forgettable $15 wine, I feel cheated when I finally drink it, because of opportunity cost – i.e. could I have gotten a better $15 wine? Its the classic problem of wine pricing – the fact that no one knows if they are getting a good value.

Thus, I started going online. The Interweb is the best thing to happen to good wine stores, because they can cross reference their prices with commentary, or even better, Wine Spectator or Robert Parker ratings. This makes wine selecting feel less like a complete shot in the dark.

I started to use Morrell’s Wine because (i) a friend recommended it, (ii) it’s the most famous one, and (iii) it has a section on there telling you what the most popular wines being sold on the site are. That is invaluable to me – it is sort of like an IMDB rating for wine (which they need to start sometime). This way, I can let other, smarter, more informed people tell me which wines are worth buying.

The wines I ordered from Morrell were

Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2005, $7
Fontenelle Premieres Cotes de Blaye 2000, $7
Reserve Saint Martin Chardonnay 2004, $7
Reserve St Martin Cabernet Sauvignon Val dOrbieu 2003, $7
Babich Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2005, $12
Clos Robert Cabernet North Coast 2004, $12
Chateau Vieux Champs de Mars Cuvee Johanna Cotes de Castillon 2000, $15
Prosecco Rustico Nino Franco Italy, $15

The only one worth getting, in my opinion was the Babich Sauv Blanc. That wine is terrific. The rest were all meh. Look, I know my palette is not so developed that I can tell the difference between a $100 wine and a $200 wine. I can probably tell the difference between a $10 wine and a $40 wine at this point though. And generally, I stay in the sub $30 range.

In any case, I found that many wines that I want that I’ve had in restaurants or elsewhere weren’t showing up on Morrell (I am still looking for a wine store that carries that Big Fire Pinot Gris I was talking about the other day). So what are the other good NY Wine stores? Dr. Vino, a wine guy, has a great resource – a New York Wine Stores Guide using Google Maps.

So I tried Astor Wines, Vintage Wines, and Union Square Wine, but no those websites are just ok. Dr. Vino also mentioned PJ’s Wine Warehouse, and I actually just made an order. PJ Wine might replace Morrell for me. Like Morrell, they have free shipping over $100. Often, I found that the same wine was cheaper at PJ than at Morrell. Finally, they have a top value page for different price ranges. I got some of Dr. Vino’s reccommendations, and I bought some of PJ’s recommendations as well.

In addition to getting more Babich Sauv Blanc, these are the wines I ordered:

2004 Sorbus Malbec, Blend with Cabernet, $6
2004 Pillar Box Red Blend, Cab, Syrah Blend, $9
2004 Andalhue Malbec, Organic, $10
2003 Artazu Spanish Red, Artazuri/ Garnacha, $8
2005 Columbia Crest Riesling, $7
2004 Finca Luzon Spanish Red, Jumilla, $8
2005 Finca Luzon Spanish Red, Jumilla/ Monastrell, $6
2004 Wiest, Rudi Riesling, Rhein River, $9
2005 Hogue Riesling, Johannisberg, $7
2004 Ste Michelle, Chateau Riesling, Johannisberg, $8

I’ll let you know if any of them are worth trying.

Children of Bellevue Benefit

A friend of mine offered me a very expensive ticket to a charity held for the Children of Bellevue Hospital. So of course, I took it.

They had some amazing offerings, from all of the best restaurants in the city, including Sumile, Hearth, Public, Sapa, Per Se, Peasant, Craft, Telepan, and Tabla The best dishes in my opinion were the sardine on fried chickpea by Public, the cuttlefish by Hearth, the yellowtail preparation by Telepan, and the Tuna Sashimi by Craft. The most shameful dish was offered by none other than Per Se which was trying to pawn off – I shit you not – popcorn. Popcorn. They weakly submitted that it was “black truffle infused,” but no one was buying. I think they managed to give away three little bags of popcorn. Totally weak man, pony it up for the kids you cheap bastards.

In terms of boozing, there were tons of fantastic wines and I tried them all. While it is impossible to list all 70 wines offered, notable mentions include: the 2004 Vidal Icewine from Niagara Peninsula and the 2003 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine (Morrell only has the 2002) the 2004 Chablis Champs Royaux, William Fevre, and the 2003 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helding Riesling Spatlese, frum Rudi Wiest. The biggest surprise however, came from Zyr Vodka, which had their namesake vodka on tap. It was AMAZING. They filter it more than their competitors so it is far smoother than even Grey Goose. I had heard of guys writing about how they could take crappy vodka and turn it into something smoother than Grey Goose with a Brita Water Pitcher, but it looks like Zyr took the idea and really ran with it. Zyr is now the official vodka of Virtual Obscurity!

The United Homeless Organization

Number 2 in my multipart series, Things for Suckers.

Anyone that gives money to the the United Homeless Organization, or UHO, is an utter chump. I’ve always suspected that it was just a scam run by a bunch of homeless people to get you to give them money. Today, I did some surfing around on the internet and found out I was right.

Basically it works like this: A suspicious individual sits at a table with a water jug with the letters “UHO” on it and begs you to spare a dime, a nickle, EVEN A PENNY! to help the homeless.

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So you reach for some loose change, but what you should realize unless you are a complete sucker is that any fool with a water jug could do this, and that your money is not going to help the homeless, but this homeless guy right here. If you really want to help the homeless, try donating to a reputable charity. According to the NY Post, (alt link) 80% of the money goes directly to the guy who is aggressively bellowing at you. Its nothing more than organized panhandling. You have to feel sorry for the homeless people involved in this scam, but the shame goes to the UHO itself, for profiting off of the panhandling of its “employees.” It is a complete racket, and smacks of a pyramid scheme. Someone should investigate their finances.

Taste of Tribeca

So this weekend we went to the Taste of Tribeca Event. For $35 (a friend got a discount through work – tickets were normally $40), we got to taste six dishes from various high end restaurants in Tribeca.

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We tried:
Chanterelle: Rhubarb Consomme over Honey & Yogurt Creme (my friend thought this was better than I did – he raved about it)
Edwards: Chili Hot Dogs (its a hot dog)
Scalini Fedeli: Porcini Mushroom Ravioli w/Truffle Cream Sauce (I never got to try this but heard it was the best thing out there)
Dylan Prime: Prime Rib & Rock Shrimp (the Prime Rib was like salty roast beef, but the Rock Shrimp was great)
Acapella: Mushroom Ravioli (damn good)
Bubbys: BBQ Brisket Sandwiches (this was the most filling dish)
Duane Park Patisserie: Magic Cupcakes (meh, I think all cupcakes are overrated)
Cercle Rouge: Chicken Wings w/ Blue Cheese (this in my opinion, was the best dish – they take off one of the bones and roll down the wing, then deep fry it. It was awesome.)

Then we got sauced at the wine tasting at Tribeca Wine Merchants. They served a wine out of this special vacuum sealed cylindrical box (NOT FRANZIA!) that was actually a suprisingly good chardonnay. The rest of the wines were not that great.

The little puppy who wouldn’t let go of its owner was the highlight of the day. I want a bulldog.

SAPA

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Last night I went to SAPA, a gorgeous French/Southeast Asian restaurant located on 24th and Broadway. The food was good but not as spectacular as the decor. The waitresses were equally beautiful. For appetizers, we had the Roasted Beet and Grapefruit Salad with goat cheese and toasted filberts, as well as the Peking Duck Salad. The duck was not as delicate as I had hoped, but the salad it came with was quite good. For entrees, we had the Cod Roasted in Parchment with porcini mushrooms, and the Lamb Porterhouse. The cod was light and also pretty good. I thought the Lamb was a bit overcooked (they never asked how it should be prepared) and I was turned off by the char on the outside. Also, the cut that was given, which was sort of two t-bones, was unwieldy. I suppose the thing that struck me the most was that none of the dishes we had seemed very characteristic of French/Southeast Asian cuisine. The wine we had, however, was terrific: a Pinot Gris – Big Fire 2004 from Willamette Valley, Oregon. Another saving grace: there was a waiter who would come around periodically with the most delicious chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven (he served them off the baking tray). We thought that was fantastic and I hope other restaurants follow suit with similar little “treats.” Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for dessert, but based on the cookies, I’ll bet they would have been the best part. As for service, the waitress was great, but there was an long gap between our appetizers and our entrees. Though that can’t be blamed on the waitress, it was a bit annoying.

The damage? about $85 per person.
Tomorrow, we are going to the Taste of Tribeca. Featured restaurants include Landmarc, Nobu, Megu, 66, Chanterelle, Bouley, and more. I can’t wait!

The Shows I Watch

May Sweeps is in full swing, and every show is pulling out all the stops to have spectuacular season-finale’s. However, in my opinion, May is a retarded month to have sweeps, because the weather is so nice these days. February sweeps would make a lot more sense to me.

In any case, there are a TON of shows that I watch on my DVR. (As you know, I do not watch TV in real time because that, my droogs, is for suckers). Just keeping up with all of these shows is practically a full time job:

Lost
24
My Name is Earl
Grey’s Anatomy
Scrubs
Sopranos
American Idol
How I Met Your Mother
Family Guy
South Park
Colbert
Jon Stewart