Thursday, June 29, 2017

100 BEST RESTAURANTS-Wine Enthusiast's Toast the Top

La Sirena/Maritime Hotel (yes on the list)


 Perfect weather, combined with a spacious outdoor setting (the Cabanas) -Rhone Valley wines (new releases, white, reds, rosés), Italian fare -and hosts Wine Enthusiast's celebratory best 100 restaurants issues= a pretty perfect Monday evening.

Terroirs
Press/professionals in the biz gathered for an interesting pre-tasting panel on trends in restaurants -and their wine lists-food, customer wants, and we would say updated attitudes about all of the aforementioned.


WE Food Editor Nils Bernstein on far right hosted the round table...(l-r) Four Horsemen (Brooklyn) and Executive Chef. Nick Curtola (from that borough's popular Franny's), Victoria James, Chef Sommelier at Piora-a certified sommelier at 20 years old and winner of Ruinart Sommelier Competition and Best Sommelier of Languedoc-Roussillon - and an author-of a book celebrating Rosé (now 26!!!), and far left-Michaël Engelmann, MS, Wine Director at The Modern for three years -a native of Alsace, was the Wine Director at award-winning Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney, Australia. When he passed the Master Sommelier exam in 2011, he was awarded the Krug Cup for passing all three parts on his first attempt—one of only 14 individuals in the history of the Court of Master Sommelier...


Topics covered:
..the obvious-influence of social media...which Engelmann finds helps him 'think' like their guests too. Notably, customers are now more wine savvy and willing to seek out lesser known, smaller regions-  and 'try the unfamiliar.'  Rosé wines, as an example-went from yech to yummy in the past few years. 
By the glass options now include pours from magnums that do a better job of aerating red wines.
Simpler foods using less complex ingredients...more approachable dining options taking the "crazy nineties stuff" out of it.
Even the visuals are now refreshed...with food served on  white plates-"with immaculate ingredients... prepared in innovative ways"...showcasing global flavors.
Wines promotions- that are accessible  and fun-which we see  all the time-usually by country/region...
 Old school return to fine dining. Standard of service is there without being stuffy-a friendlier vibe-especially service -wise-because a better educated diner expects more.
For tasting options-we've noted an openness to pair wines from different regions with foods from different continents...as James cited the open fire cooking-fine dining Korean cuisine of Piora - with guests sharing the celebratory experience of cooking together as a team- with the results paired with Bordeaux wines- and cocktails.
At the Four Horsemen- 'natural' wines are highlighted...and all noted a cult worship of these wines made without additives...because back in the day, these selections focused on quality versus what Engelmann observed "some of the stuff they used to do." (Including major $ priced labels like a 'Sancerre' we could all figure out which lol.).

"Natural" wines....focused on quality and were a "pushback to mass market swill" added James. 





























For go tos eats/drinks at home-
varied responses included fish and chips and champagne, Victoria James cited her bare fridge and has."eggs and whatever is opened..." and  pasta, bad Chinese delivery-and negroni & vodka. No smoothies ha ha.
Another observation was the evolution of wine lists by grape -region -price point- with an emphasis on pricing- 'charisma' and diversity of the selections. Even casual guests want diversity...plus the organization of the list needs to be readable and more slick... "no Beaujolais,,,say Burgundy..." -
Highlight flavor profile of the wines...not getting bogged down in the details. IMO-guests, even the knowledgeable ones (Engelmann can tell who they are...) need to relax- without TMI.

Factoid...-Four Horsemen =from the founder of LCD Soundsystem James Murphy 

Tastings and games...
Six games of chance paired with 6 tasting stations....including Jenga...no way we'd have the skill for this.
At one station-the 'game' was a blind tasting of what one just sipped...palate testing...


Italian light fare-antipastiand passed bites...tapas bar -inpiration by Anthony Sasso of Casa Mono acclaim. La  Sirena is from the winning duo Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich
to play with besties-still brings out the competitive spirits these ladies...
TOP PICK we are not ROSÉ people---but this delicious selection-managed to change our minds about this summer staple. La Compagnie Rhodanienne 2016 Les Combelles (Tavel)...60% Grenache. 25% Consult, 15% Syrah