Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Launch of Vending Machine Wines, Tuesday April 6th!!

Remember that crazy label I posted a few weeks ago? Well the time has come for the launch of an exciting new Napa Valley project by Vending Machine Winery. Less than 50 cases are made of each of these delicious, amazingly priced, high quality Napa Valley wines with rumors of an ultra premium pedigree behind them. This is the first ever launch of these 3 wines that are only available in New Orleans and our whopping 2 cases of each means there is not a lot to go around! The Crooked Mayor Cabernet, Loula's Revenge Chardonnay and Double Shotgun red blend will hit the shelves today so you should scoop them up as soon as you can...And while the labels are unforgettable, wait 'til you taste what's inside...So please join Monica and Neal of Neat Wines for a free tasting of the 3 current releases from Vending Machine Winery on Tuesday April 6th from 6:30 'til we run out of wine....be there!

Bargain Wines of the Moment

I've had a great week picking out some new wines for our cheap and tasty section as well scouting out other incredible bargains to fill you in on. Like the J Cuvee 20 sparkling at $19.99, maybe the best price in town on this festive, high quality California bubbly.

Paso Robles is always high on my list for high quality zins and petite sirah and these brand spankin' new to the market wines from Le Lapin at $9.99 are a steal!! A second label for Rabbit Ridge winery, they blend different vintages of the left over juice from their higher end wines to produce these deliciously fun wines for everyday drinking. So if ripe black fruit without being overly jammy, a little earthy spice, integrated tannins and a medium finish sound like your kind of wine, check out the le lapin mulitiplicity. We've also got the petite sirah in stock as well, equally as good...

It always amazes me that we can usually get higher quality wines from Europe at better prices than we can from the good old usa. A few things that have new spots on the shelf at the incredible $8.99 price from France are from the reputable Paul Bouchard "Burgundy-Style" Vins de Table & Vins de Pays. The white is dry and crisp Chardonnay blend while the red is rich and fruity with a pleasant bouquet of Pinot Noir, and a smooth, lingering finish.

An old favorite back on the shelves is the J. Moreau & Fils Blanc, an interesting blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc & Colombard. Fresh and round with golden apples on the nose and palate, it is the perfect New Orleans summer white, also $8.99!

And there is a lot more where this came from, so come over and check out our cheap and tasty bargains!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Savory Bites

...offering tidbits of information on interesting discoveries in the food and wine scene of New Orleans.

We took a short trip to the other side of the world this weekend, Uptown New Orleans, and discovered there really is cool stuff to do way over there...

If are a beer lover or have even a minor interest in the stuff, and are looking for really "fresh" tasting draft beer, the Avenue Pub is your place. They use a high tech system that uses a different mixture of CO2 and Nitrogen for each type of beer. That way ales taste the way they are supposed to, lagers taste the way they are supposed to, ciders aren’t flat and Guinness and other stouts turn out perfect each time. Its an expensive system and only three bars in the city have it but it makes ALL the difference in the product you taste in that pint glass. So with over 30 beers on tap and a great selection of bottled beers as well, knowledgeable staff, descent food and a very unseedy atmosphere for a 24/7 hour watering hole, you need to check it out. Our favorites for the evening? Dieu du Ciel Aphrodisiaque Stout and the Blanche de Bruxelles Witbier, look for both in the shop soon...

Another beer tip, Stein's Deli has the best selections of high quality bottled beer in town. Check them out and have a Reuben or one of the other specialty sandwiches while you are there. You won't be disappointed, we promise!

There's a woman running the kitchen and it shows...James Beard 2010 nominee for Rising Star Chef, Sue Zemanick at Gautreau's impressed us from start to finish with her beautifully balanced flavors, gorgeous plating, cooked to perfection fish and game and unique combinations. You must have the Duck Confit appetizer, the seared Halibut, and the Roasted Squab over fresh fettuccine, amazing stuff. Nice wine list, although organized a bit strangely, but we brought our own and paid a steep corkage fee of $25. H
owever it was well worth it as the gorgeous 2007 Occhipinti Il Frappato, made by another young female rising star, Arianna Occhipinti, shined with the food, it should be on the list!

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's Cocktail Season, almost...Kerry's Smokin' Caipirinha

We are seasonal cocktail drinkers. As the weather warms up here in New Orleans, I'm much more inclined to go for an interesting icy cold beverage before dinner. We are fortunate to live in a city where cocktails are an art and bartenders are sought after for their creative talents with a muddler, fresh local ingredients, herbs and interesting spirits.

Take for instance our latest trip to a Mano. As well as a great wine list they've got a really cool lineup of cocktails with a focus on Italian spirits. I ordered the Chinotto, a delicious combination of Junipero Gin, Averna Amaro, Local Bitter Orange Juice and Brown Sugar. A wonderful way to start the evening and I loved the unique flavor combination.

So on Sunday evenings in the summer we like to have a cocktail as we cook dinner and although it was not very warm last night we decided we would celebrate the first weekend of spring with one of our favorites, a Caipirinha. But Kerry got the brilliant idea to top it of with a little Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal, a combination of 10% roasted agave syrup and 90% mezcal made in the original, natural, handcrafted way. It is slightly sweet, with this incredible smoky, stewed fruit flavor that was absolutely incredible with the tart, limey Caipirinha. Very dangerous stuff here...you've been warned.

Kerry's Smokin' Caipirinha


* 1 lime, quartered
* 2 tsp fine sugar
* 2 oz cachaca
* splash of crema de mezcal


1. Place the lime wedges and sugar into a rocks glass.
2. Muddle well to create a paste.
3. Fill the glass with ice cubes.
4. Pour in the cachaca.
5. Stir well.
6. Top off with a splash of crema de mezcal.

el diablo...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sicilian Pistachio Cookies

Remember those Sicilian pistachio cookies we loved so much from that little cafe in Chicago? Well, I've been thinking about them ever since and have been scouring the web for a recipe that will give me that same delicious nutty flavor, natural greenish hue and somewhat chewy middle. So I settled on a recipe, went to whole foods to get what I needed and came home to experiment with my first batch.

Both Kerry and I agreed that the cookies did not seem to have any traditional wheat flour, so I found one made with almond flour, basically finely ground blanched almonds. When I mixed everything up, the batter seemed very reminiscent of what we had so I kept my fingers crossed and put them in the oven.

The shape isn't quite the same, but on the whole, they are so delicious and simple and perfect with coffee, tea or an after dinner drink.

Makes about 50 cookies

¾ cup (4 ounces) shelled, unsalted, raw pistachio nuts, plus 5o for garnish
2 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar
1 ⅔ cup almond flour ( I used Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour)
2 large eggs beaten
1/4 cup powdered sugar

In a small processor, combine the ¾ cup pistachios with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and pulse until the nuts are ground, but still a little chunky. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add the flour and the remaining 1 cup sugar. Mix on low speed to combine. On medium speed, add the eggs, mixing until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper (or use a Silpat). Scoop up spoonfuls of the dough and roll between your palms into little balls about ¾ inch in diameter. Arrange on the prepared sheet pans, spacing them about 1 inch apart. You should have 50 balls. Press a pistachio into the top of each ball, flattening the dough slightly.

Bake the cookies, rotating the pans back to front at the halfway point to ensure even baking, for 10 to 12 minutes or until they spread slightly and are lightly browned on the edges. Let cool on the pans on racks for 5 minutes. Put powdered sugar in a sifter, lightly dust the tops of the cookies and then transfer to the racks to cool completely.


Farm Fresh Southern Collard Greens

The beautiful weather on Saturday made for the perfect day to visit the Crescent City Farmers Market. As we were walking in I ran into our friend Bob who had a gigantic bag of greens in his hands and told me that the collards were amazing and that I needed to get some. I do love me some big leafy greens so we made a beeline to the back of the market and bought our own gigantic bag. If you are a vitamin K junkie like me, this is a great time to be shopping at the market. Loads of varieties of lettuce, kale, mustard and collard greens as well as broccoli and broccoli rape can be found from your local farmers.

We decided to have them that night, accompanied by a big, juicy, Justin Pitts burger. And since they were collards, the quintessential southern sauteed vegetable, I decided they needed a southern twist instead of my usual method. Well they were absolutely divine, so much so that the two of us ate ALL of them in one sitting! I'm not sure on the amount that we bought, but I'm guessing that 1-1/2 lbs. isn't far off...

  • 1 gigantic bunch of fresh collard greens from your local farmer
  • 3 slices of smoked bacon, cut into 1" pieces
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 small shallot, sliced thin
  • salt and pepper to taste
Put a big pot of water (about 1/3 full) with a teaspoon or so of salt, on the stove to boil. Meanwhile, trim the greens by cutting out most of the big stem and then slice across in 1-2" wide cuts. Prep your bacon, garlic and shallots while waiting on the water to boil.

Add the cut greens to the boiling water at cook for 10 minutes. Strain into a colander, rinse with cold water and then press out as much of the water as you can.

Put a large skillet on the stove at med-high heat and brown the bacon. You don't want it crispy, just brown on the edges with moist fat in the middle. Remove the bacon unto a paper towel and add a few tablespoons of olive oil, turning down the heat just a bit to medium. Throw in the garlic and shallots and quickly stir them around with a spatula so they don't burn. They will cook very quickly. Add the greens a little at a time and stir into the onion/shallots until coated with oil.

Once you've added all of the greens, throw in the bacon and mix in evenly. Season with salt and pepper, but remember the bacon is salty, so taste before you do so. Enjoy!

related recipes: juicy justin pitts burgers, sauteed kale
related posts: justin pitts, farming with a purpose

Savory Bites

...offering tidbits of information on interesting discoveries in the food and wine scene of New Orleans.

Farm Fresh Duck Eggs - We are fortunate to have access to farm fresh eggs brought into the Saturday Crescent City Farmers market by Mr. Justin Pitts. He has both heritage duck and chicken eggs right now and having never had them, we decided to give the ducks a try this weekend.

Besides the usual benefits of freshly picked eggs like the deep orange yokes and the more complex flavor, the duck eggs were delicious! With a slightly rubbery shell, not the quick crack you get from a chicken egg, big rich yokes that really "sit up" in the pan and a bit thicker egg white, there isn't much difference in taste. But definitely an overall richer texture. Give them a try!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Savory Bites

...offering tidbits of information on interesting discoveries in the food and wine scene of New Orleans.

Remember This Label - How could you not? Exciting, tiny production, Napa Valley wine with attitude; vending machine wines, coming soon to a wine shop near you...be ready.

Chef Dan's Delectable Dough - Besides trying Chef Daniel Esses' infamous pastas dishes every Friday night at Swirl, you can purchase his freshly made fettuccine, ravioli, gnocchi and tagliatelle as well as his homemade sauces at the Tuesday and Thursday Crescent City Farmers Market. Want to learn how to make it yourself? Join Dan on Tuesday, March 23 for his pasta demonstration class at Swirl where he gives you hands on lessons making 3 different pastas and sauces while we pair them with our favorite wines. Call us.

Wine of the Moment, 2003 White Rock Cabernet

It is Sunday night, I've had a great day cycling, taking Sangi to the park, playing frisbee with Kerry, working on the blog, and of course, making pasta! I had a little bit of the pork ragu left from last night's lasagna as well as another pound of dough in the frig, so I made some quick fettuccine, Kerry did a beautiful salad and we were in for a delicious meal. But, what to drink? Kerry was in the mood for beer, which I seldom am, especially not when pasta is involved, so I decided to do something very unlike me and drink a Napa Valley Cabernet with my Italian dinner! But it wasn't just any Napa Cab...knowing I would be drinking it myself, I chose one of the 375ml bottles of White Rock Cabernet that we have on the menu at the bar.

Opening it up and putting my nose to the glass, I instantly remembered why I like the White Rock wines so much. They have a very distinct old world quality to them with their crisp acidity, spicy fruit, leathery notes and lower alcohol content and the 2003 Cabernet was absolutely gorgeous with the food. At retail, this is a $50 cabernet that you can enjoy at the bar for $14 a glass. While that may seem a bit steep, it is basically just a smidge above the retail price when you break it down and it is so worth the $14 and it gets even better if you buy the half bottle. But it is only available at the bar and quantities are extremely limited.

It was scrumptious and great to the last sediment filled drop. Gotta luv it!

Winemaker's Notes: “ The 2003 White Rock Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich and ripe vintage. It has a complexity of cassis, plum and dark fruit with undertones of oak and leather. It is textured and multilayered and its mouthfilling character remains throughout to a long full finish. Present tannins promise excellent ageability.”

Experience Italian Country Cooking with Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver was one of the first chefs I watched on a semi regular basis on television. I loved seeing him go out and shop in the local markets, buying up deliciously fresh produce and meats and then come home and prepare really incredible, creative dishes. I have a few of his cookbooks, my favorite, of course, being "Jamie's Italy" that he published a few years ago. It is my favorite because he really gets to the heart of what Italian cooking is all about, regional family traditions. He spent months traveling through the Italian countryside, learning, working, eating and with local farmers, village bakers, cheese makers, grape pickers, and pasta making mamas.

The Italians are more passionate about food than any other people on the planet, period. What we have found when traveling and taking cooking lessons is that they don't use a lot of hard to find ingredients (they only use what is fresh) or complicated preparations but their cooking can be very complex in the little touches, the age old techniques and intricacies, passed down from generations that help you achieve a certain flavor or texture. That is what makes their food so special and so varied from region to region and even village to village. And Jamie gets it. It is evident in his book that he experienced this first hand and his book is a testament to the fresh, country food of the local villages, but with his signature creative touches.

As with Lidia Bastianich's cookbooks, I find Jamie's recipes spot on in terms of measurements and preparations. Just follow his directions and you will achieve something special, I promise! I've cooked quite a few of the recipes from his soups, pastas, risotto, fish and meat dishes and have never been disappointed. (click here for this week's recipes, Porchetta and Lasagne alla Cacciatora, adapted from Jamie's book)

One of the other aspects of the book that really makes me miss Italy is the photos by David Loftus and Chris Terry. Not just the photos of the food which are gorgeous, but of the people he met on his journey. They really capture the soul of the Italian people, their pride and passion, and take me right back to the places we've visited over the years.

So if you are looking for a book from an outsiders view, someone who didn't experience these traditions from birth like Lidia, but who really threw themselves wholeheartedly into the experiencing what Italian country food is all about, this book is for you. I really like Jamie's quote on the back cover because it is absolutely how I feel about Italy:

"You know what? I should have been Italian. The truth is, when I'm in Italy, I feel Italian."

If you are interested in checking it out, click here Jamie's Italy.

Porchetta, Italian Pork Roast

This Porchetta is the first step in my Lasagne alla Cacciatore or you can make it as a stand alone meal with a light gravy. Jamie Oliver used a loin of pork on the bone for this, but I substituted a pork shoulder roast to use it in the lasagna, and I left out some of the vegetables he used. Here is a link to his recipe: Porchetta

• 1 3.5 Ib. pork shoulder roast, on the bone
• 1 tablespoons fennel seeds
• 1 small dried chilies, crumbled
• 1 tablespoons rock salt, crushed
• 2 bay leaves, torn
• 1/2 lemon, zested
• olive oil
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 onion, quartered
• 6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
• 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary
• 1 wineglass of white wine
* for gravy: 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (not needed for lasagna recipe)
Score your pork and place it on a cutting board. Preheat your oven to its highest setting. Using a pestle and mortar, a coffee grinder, or a metal bowl with a rolling pin, smash up the fennel seeds with the chilies and rock salt until you have a fine powder, then add the torn bay leaves and smash those up too. Mix in the lemon zest. Rub the mixture evenly all over the pork meat, covering it completely.

Place the pork in a snug-fitting appropriately sized roasting pan. Drizzle a little olive oil over the skin and season with salt, rubbing it into the scores. Place in the preheated oven, close the door, and immediately turn the oven down to 350°F. This way you will start the crackling off really hot and fast and the skin will puff up. The reduced temperature will then cook the meat through nice and evenly, keeping it moist at the same time. It will need to roast for about an hour and a half, or until a meat thermometer reaches 165°F - feel free to leave it for a bit longer if you like. It just means the pork will be a bit drier but it will still be tasty.

When the meat has been cooking for half an hour, add the onion to the-pan with the garlic, the whole rosemary sprigs, and the wine. Give the pan a shake to get some fat onto the veg. When the pork is cooked, remove it from the pan and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.

*Stop at this point for the lasagna dish or continue if you just want to eat roast pork!

You'll have some nice roasted root veg and sticky goodness left in the bottom of the pan from which you can make your gravy. Pour off the fat and add a little of your stock, then give the gravy a stir, making sure you get all the lovely sticky brown bits off the bottom of the pan - you may not need to use all the stock. The Italians tend to keep their gravy light and more natural if using any, so this is the consistency you're after. Carve into thin slices with a sharp knife to serve.

Lasagne alla Cacciatora

I've been eyeing this recipe from Jamie's Italy for quite sometime, but wasn't sure when I would have the time or the occasion to attempt in. A dinner this weekend at our friend Rachel's house with a group of friends gave me the opportunity to give it a shot and the result was pretty darn fabulous!

While traveling through Italy doing research for his book, Jamie stayed on the Petrolo estate in Tuscany during harvest and cooked lunch for the grape pickers. His Lasagne alla Cacciatora is not a complicated recipe, but as I talked about in my post on Italian cooking and this book, one with many steps that allows you to achieve something really special in a simple dish like lasagna.

This is not something quick that you could throw together with short notice. It takes time and planning and by making it this weekend, I learned a few tips I can share with you that Jamie did not talk about. I've also adapted quite a few things so the recipe is not word for word like his. One thing that is great about it is that it is really three recipes in one, roasted pork, ragu and a white sauce could all be prepared on their own or combined as they are in the complete recipe.

Called Hunter's Stew because it contains a lot of wild game, I chose to use roasted pork instead for the meat. The first recipe is for the pork which can stand alone as a great recipe as well. Roast your pork the day before you are going to make the lasagna.

1. Step One - Day before, roast the pork. Click here to go to the Porchetta Recipe. Once the pork has cooled it needs to be shredded and kept refrigerated until you need it the next day.

2. Step Two - The morning of, make your pasta dough and let rest until you need it later in the afternoon. I used fresh pasta for this as Jamie did in his recipe, but you could use dried noodles as well. Click here to go to the Fresh Pasta recipe.

3. Step Three - While pasta is resting, make the tomato sauce. This can be started anytime during the day. If you are going to wait do it all together you will probably need a good 3 hours in the kitchen before you serve the lasagna. If you make the sauce ahead of time, it will help you with timing later when you are trying to put everything together.

Tomato Sauce Ingredients

-olive oil
-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
-a sprig of fresh rosemary
-3 bay leaves
-3 14-oz. cans of San Marzano tomatoes
-1lb. 6 oz. roasted shredded Porchetta

Heat a pan with a splash of oil. Slowly fry the garlic until lightly colored, then add the rosemary, bay leaves and tomatoes. Cook gently for 45 minutes with a lid on. Add your shredded meat to the tomato sauce with a little hot water if it is too dry, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 more minutes, stirring every now and then. Remove the rosemary and bay leaves. Turn off heat and cover until you are read to start preparing the lasagna.

4. Step 4 - Two hours before dinner, make the white sauce. Again this is a beautiful Bechamel style sauce that can be used for other dishes as well, including serving it over pasta.

White Sauce Ingredients
-1-3/4 pints of milk
-a sprig of fresh parsley
-a pinch of nutmeg
-1/2 onion, peeled and sliced
-6 black peppercorns
-6 tablespoons of butter, plus extra for greasing
-1/2 cup all purpose flour
-5-1/2 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
-sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the milk, parsley, nutmeg, onion and peppercorns into a pot. Heat to just below the boiling point.

While milk is heating take a deep pan and melt the butter. Begin to slowly add in the flour and stir until it is totally mixed in. By this time your milk should be ready. Take it off of the stove and strain out herbs and onions. Begin adding the strained milk to the butter and flour a ladle full at a time mixing it in completely before you add another. You should have a very smooth white sauce. Bring to a low boil, simmer a few minutes and then take off the heat. Mix in the Parmesan and season.

5. Step 5 - Preheat you oven to 350 degrees F and butter a large baking dish. Put a big pot of salted water with a good glug of oil on the stove for the pasta.

6. Step 6 - Reheat your pork ragu and put your white sauce back on the stove at a very low heat, just to warm it and make it easier to work with.

7. Step 7 - Roll out your pasta dough and prepare lasagna.

Remaining Ingredients
-1 lb fresh egg pasta dough
-Parmesan cheese for grating
-2-5 oz. balls of mozzarella
-a handful of fresh sage leaves
-olive oil

Pasta Directions
My recipe makes 2 lbs of dough so you can either cut the ingredients in half or use the rest for some fettuccine or other type of pasta. You want to roll out strips of pasta that are about 3 x 10 inches. Blanch 2 or 3 strips at a time in the boiling water and cover the bottom of the baking dish with pasta strips, letting them hang over the edges. Put down a layer of meat sauce, then some white sauce and a sprinkling of fresh Parmesan and repeat the layers until you run out of meat. But keep back enough white sauce for a final layer on top.

Fold the over the pasta ends from the edges and top with the white remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan, tear the mozzarella over the top, scatter your sage leaves and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the preheated over for 45 minutes or so until golden.

Prepare to "wow" your friends and family...

We served this with our last bottle of the 2001 Poliziano Asinone Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. A fabulous pairing, we're sad to see it go, but have many fond memories of it over the past few years.

Silent Auction for the Remaining Works of Rudy Rowell

The tragic death of artist Rudy Rowell in December marked the loss of a wonderful man who fiercely loved New Orleans and the south. His colorful works were a passionate display of that love and touched so many people. Many have expressed interest in purchasing his remaining works and we will make them available through a silent auction. There are 16 pieces at Swirl hat will be included in our silent auction to benefit Rudy's mother. The bidding on the items will take place over the next 2 weeks with the final night of the auction being Tuesday March 30th, Rudy's birthday.

Here are the details of the auction:
  • the 16 pieces are all numbered and minimum bids are stated on the piece as well as the bid sheet
  • bids must be increased in $25 increments
  • you can bid anytime we are open in the next 2 weeks
  • bidding will end on Tuesday, March 30 promptly at 8pm
  • credit cards will be accepted, although cash and/or checks are preferred
  • you do not have to be present to win
  • if you have won and are not present, you will have 24 hours to respond to our phone call and/or email before we accept the next highest bid

    Please feel free to call or email me with any other questions, beth@swirlinthecity.com, 504.304.0635

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chicago, Day 2 in the Big City

Yesterday we crammed in sooooo many things that today we just decided to focus on a few important items:

#1 Find really good coffee. Mission accomplished! Coffee snobs that we are we have a very difficult time drinking coffee other than our home roasted, freshly brewed espresso blends. But, through a little research on yelp!, Kerry found the "Italian Coffee Bar" in the 680 Lakeshore Drive building where we had absolutely delicious cappuccino and Sicilian pistachio cookies. So good that we will go out of our way again tomorrow to have it again.

#2 Find a hip neighborhood to poke around it. Again a success! We hopped on the blue line to Wicker Park where we wondered into 2 small, eclectic wine shops (Cellar Rat, Red & White) where we saw lots of familiar labels and others we'd love to try.

Then a fabulous lunch at the Birchwood Cafe packed with people and a great menu focused on local ingredients and products.

#3 Do something touristy. We went to the top of the John Hancock building and took in the 360 degree view of the city from the 94th floor, then up 2 more floors with our new friend Irina for a drink and great conversation.

#4 Find a place that could "wow" us for dinner. Slow Food Chicago recommended "Coco Pazzo" and we were not disappointed. By far the best venison I've had since Anne Kearny left Peristyle, the food was phenomenal from appetizers to handmade pastas, entree and then probably the best dessert either of us has ever had!

Tomorrow we will run around a bit in the morning and then head to the tasting with Marco de Grazia at the Ritz. Since this is a work thing, I'll take lots of photos and notes and share them on the blog.

A presto!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Let The Feeding Frenzy Begin!

We're running around Chicago this weekend, in town to meet and taste with Marco de Grazie, one of our favorite Etna wine producers and importers. The event is on Monday so we have two days to pack in all of the food and wine stuff we want to do! We took a 6am flight out of New Orleans and hit the streets here around 11am. Our first stop? No trip to Chicago would be complete without eating a big deep dish, stuffed pizza! Getting up as early as we did we knew alcohol would put us under the table so we just dug in to fuel up for the rest of our adventure.

Needing another type of fuel, we stopped at the Lavazza Cafe for a double espresso, trying to pretend we were standing at a bar in Italy. As you can see by Kerry's expression, it didn't work...

We spent the rest of the day doing "research" and checking out different bars and shops:

From Binny's wine warehouse.....the "little Italy" section...

...to Pastoral Wine and Cheese...more of our kind of place. The wines were organized by what type of cheese they would pair with. Great charcuterie, lots of local as well as international cheeses, olive bar, laid back, lots of atmosphere, no case stacks!

looked like a great place for lunch, but the pizza did us in, for quite a while....

Finally ready for a little beverage, we stopped at Pop's for Champagne. With over 100 champagnes on the menu, we were in heaven. But we needed something to take the chill off so we settled on a French 75 for me and a Glemet 1992 XO Grande Champagne cognac for Kerry.

Both delicious and warmed us up for the next stop. Kerry's pick this time....

The Clark Street Ale House which has tons of hand crafted American micro brews and over 40 types of whisky on the menu. We did 2 flites of 3 beers each, trying things that aren't available to us at home. What a shame they were pretty amazing...

Back to the hotel now for a quick nap and off to find some good ethnic food for dinner. I'll keep you "posted"!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Savory Bites

...offering tidbits of information on interesting discoveries in the food and wine scene of New Orleans.

a Mano - I was wowed again for the second time by Chef Adolfo Garcia's (a finalist this year for a James Beard award) southern Italian restaurant in the Warehouse District. A packed house on Saturday night, we sat at the bar and enjoyed creative cocktails, a great wine list with a southern
focus and some incredible food by Chef-partner Joshua Smith including one of their handmade pasta dishes. And yet to come, we will be holding our annual Tre Bicchieri Italian Wine Dinner here in May! We'll keep you posted...

Sante Fe - New ownership has taken over and many changes are happening! Besides the new exterior renovations adding a terracotta roofed patio with tons of atmosphere, amazing things are happening in the kitchen. While currently the menu is still the old Sante Fe standards, a major increase in quality has be brought to the food due to the standards of the new owners and their CIA (Culinary Institute of America) trained chef in the kitchen. But listen to me when I tell you to order from the daily special menu! They will soon release a completely new menu, but the specials are where you get an idea of what is really happening here. I'll do an interview with the owners and chef soon, but seriously check them out!

Herbsaint - a big thanks to these guys for hosting an outing for the DC 8 (Matt and Lucie just had a baby so they missed the big night). They designed a fabulous 4 course special menu for us including a cool, refreshing cocktail and amuse, and put up with our loud and somewhat ridiculous behavior. Next up for the DC? Comfort food!


Related Posts with Thumbnails