Tag Archives: Amanti Vino

PRINCETON, OFF THE BEATEN PATH; WINE EVENTS GALORE; A UNIQUE DINING CONCEPT

Think You Know Princeton? Think Again!

Cafe Vienna strudel

Cafe Vienna strudel

You’re probably familiar with the town’s bucolic campus, lively downtown centered around Palmer Square, and its legendary historic sites (cue the American Revolution & Albert Einstein). But scratch around the edges and you’ll discover (among other things): a new bike trail, entry to a locked cemetery, a dive bar, an authentic Viennese cafe, and a sit-in Frank Gehry sculpture inside a futuristic dining hall.

NJ Monthly cover october 2015That and more in my “Offbeat Princeton” story, here in the October issue of New Jersey Monthly.

All Wine (& Beer), All the Time

I could devote an entire month’s worth of posts to the many wine and/or beer tastings, dinners, and festivals happening around our fair state in the coming days and still not be done with it! In the interest of time and space, here are 3 that caught my special attention:

You’ll have to hurry, but I understand there are a few seats left for Agricola’s Frog’s Leap Wine Dinner on Monday, October 19, featuring founder & winemaker John Williams. If you don’t think this will be worth your time and $$$, I strongly suggest you (a) check out the hilarious annotated history of that legendary winery here and (b) take a gander at the evening’s menu here.

Gary’s Wine & Marketplace has expanded its annual fall fundraiser to a 3-day event, including a symposium moderated by Karen MacNeil, who is kicking offer her book tour for the 2nd edition of The Wine Bible. Plus, wine dinners with guest vintners at Jockey Hollow, the Ryland Inn, and the Bernards Inn. Plus the Grand Tasting event. Plus in-store wine tastings with vintners & winemakers in Madison, Bernardsville, Wayne, and Hillsborough.  All for 5 beneficiaries, and all happening on October 26, 27, & 28. Details here.

Amanti Vino’s Wine & Beer Throwdown with Skurnik Wines and Firestone Walker Brewery

Cru vs Brew 2015

Cru vs Brew 2015

I can’t think of a wine distributor/importer who I admire more than Michael Skurnik, nor a beer maker more than Garrett Brown, who is now with Firestone Walker. These two heavyweights have selected pairings that will go head-to-head on each course of a benefit dinner mounted by Montclair’s Amanti Vino wine shop that will be prepared by chefs from 5 of Northern NJ’s top chefs, including Ariane Duarte (Ariane Kitchen + Bar), Corey Heyer (Bernards Inn), and James Laird (Restaurant Serenade). This title match – Cru vs. Brew 2015 – takes place on Thursday, Oct. 22 in Upper Montclair. Menu & details here.

Think You’ve Seen Every Dining Concept Under the Sun? Think Again!

I thought I had seen it all, ad nauseum. But this new concept by 3-Michelin-star chef Corey Lee (of Benu fame) that’s slated to open this spring at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is truly innovative while at the same time proudly derivative.

Corey Lee, "Benu Cookbook," www.phaidon.com

Corey Lee, “Benu Cookbook,” www.phaidon.com

As this in-depth profile in the October issue of WSJ.Magazine explains, “For his new restaurant…Lee asked the world’s top chefs to reveal their culinary secrets so he could copy their signature dishes exactly. And they said yes.” In other words, his menu is literally curated – just like an art exhibit – with acclaimed masterpieces from the likes of Thomas Keller, Rene Redzepi, Daniel Boulud, and Wylie Dufresne. What do you think? Would you give it a try?

 

Too Many Fall Events; Dining in San Francisco (part ii)

I know summer is really and truly over when…

…my inbox overflows with food & wine events. Here are some that captured my attention for one reason or another – like for being good deals; having big-time names associated with them; generously aiding important non-profits; or all of the above. See if you agree. btw: My good buddy Rosie Saferstein maintains a complete, definitive list of upcoming statewide events on Table Hopping with Rosie at www.njmonthly.com.

champagne wikipediaStarting Wednesday, 9/18 Elements in Princeton is featuring Sparkling Wednesdays. Ladies will be offered a different complimentary sparkling wine or sparkling cocktail. I am so there!

Sunday, 9/20, 7:30 pm: Slow Food Northern NJ is screening “La Cosecha” (“The Harvest”), a documentary about the estimated 300,000 children who work in American fields harvesting 20% of the foods you and I eat. Shameful and important. At the Ethical Culture Society, Maplewood. Suggested donation is $5. RSVP (by 9/18?!) to slowfoodnnj@yahoo.com.

Grape ExpectationsSaturday, 9/28, 6:30 to 11 pm: NY Times wine critic Eric Asimov will headline “Great Expectations,” a fundraiser for the Montclair Public Library Foundation, along with Montclair’s leading chefs and Sharon Sevrens of Amanti Vino Wines. There are 2 events and 2 prices. Details here.

Sunday, 9/29, 1 to 4 pm: The 13th annual Epicurean Palette at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. VIP tickets have already sold out, but you can still sample the 40 restaurants (from NJ & PA) and 25 wine, beer, and spirits wineries/vendors/importers on the stunning grounds of this 42-acre sculpture park.  Details here.

Shane Cash of Rat's, Epicurean Palette 2012

Shane Cash of Rat’s, Epicurean Palette 2012

Monday, 10/7, 7 pm and/or Friday, 10/13, 6 pm: How fun is this? On 10/7, chef Anthony Bucco of the Ryland Inn will take over the reins of Fascino in Montclair from Ryan DePersio for 1 night. Then, on the 13th, the tables (and stoves) will turn, when chef DePersio takes over the Ryland for the night. Each will offer a prix fixe 5-course meal for $75. Call Fascino at 973.233.0350 for reservations for the 10/7 dinner and the Ryland Inn at 908.534.4011 for reservations for 10/13.

Shoot It Eat ItTuesday, 10/8, 6:3o to 9:30 pm: Admit it: like me, you’d jump at the chance to get professional help with taking food pics. Here’s your chance – while enjoying a terrific 3-course meal. Eno Terra in Kingston and professional photog Frank Veronsky of Princeton Photo Workshop are teaming up for “Shoot It, Eat It.” Each course will be specially plated and lighted so you can learn the tricks of the trade before devouring your salad, 3 main dishes (served family style), glass of wine, and dessert. Cost: $159 includes photography lesson, shooting, dining, tax and gratuity. $75 for your dining-only guest(s). To register click here.

Nopa: Restaurant Envy in San Francisco

NopaHere are just a few of the thoughts running through my head as I enjoyed dinner at Nopa (shorthand for NOrth of the PAnhandle), which last year the New York Times termed “a cult favorite” in a city full of cult restaurants:

“Any restaurant in New Jersey would kill for Monday night business like this!”
All of its 110 seats were filled early on – and people were lined 2-deep at the very long bar.

“Why can’t restaurants back home offer food of this caliber at these prices?”
Nopa’s contemporary “rustic California” cuisine embraces organic, farm-to-table, wood-fired and Mediterranean elements. The food, drink, and setting are exciting but not stuffy; painstaking but not precious. Here are some of the “bargains:” $14 for the best hamburger of my life. And it was grass-fed and came with pickled onions and fries. $9 for a starter of baked duck egg, romesco sauce, summer squash, and shaved pantaleo (a hard goat cheese from Sardinia by way of Cowgirl Creamery). Likewise, wood-baked butter beans, feta, oregano pesto, and breadcrumbs.

“Why can’t restaurants back home offer cocktails and wines of this caliber at these prices?”
Interesting, well-concocted cocktails made from premium and housemade ingredients, all at $9 and $10, like the Summit: St. George Terroir gin, grapefruit, lime, and honey. And a nicely curated international wine list plus reasonably priced by-the-glass options like Daniele Ricci “El Matt” 2010 Bonarda, $9.

“How can I get NJ restaurants to adopt Nopa’s “Monday Magnums” program?”
Every Monday they crack open a different magnum-format wine and offer it by the glass. On my visit it was a 2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine Monpertuis for $16.

“How lucky am I to have found myself here?”
It wasn’t by virtue of my own research, or the recommendation of any of my food-world friends, or serendipity. It was through my brilliant future son-in-law, Ryan, who lived in NoPa when the restaurant opened, knew a good thing when he saw it, and watched it bring about the transformation of this neighborhood.

Reservations are hard to come by at Nopa, which currently has 3,291 reviews on Yelp, but if you find yourself without one, know that the bar (and communal table) open at 5 pm and serve snacks til 6.
Nopa on Urbanspoon

All Good Stuff: Cardoon; Next Generation NJ Farmers; Sinskey Wine AND Food in NJ; Free Eats & Drink at Canal House

Do You Know Cardoon?

This hard-to-find member of the artichoke family (also called cardi or cardone) was a cherished part of my Italian-American childhood. Read how I found a local source for it – and recreated my father’s long-lost recipe – in my latest column in the Princeton Packet.

A Literal Grassroots Campaign

State fruit - Tomato

State fruit – Tomato (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People like you and me can put our money where our mouths are (literally) by contributing to a genius Kickstarter project of NOFA-NJ. The NOFA Beginning Farmer Incubator helps secure that down the line we will have more local, organic products than ever in our markets. Even a small contribution goes a long way toward making that happen!

Robert Sinskey Wines & Maria Sinskey at CulinAriane

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

You’re probably familiar with the acclaimed biodynamic wines of Robert Sinksey Vineyards, but unless you’ve visited the gorgeous Napa winery you may not know that his wife, Maria, is a terrific chef and cookbook author (The Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Seasons). So when Sharon Sevrens of Amanti Vino announced a five-course dinner in Montclair on November 7  by Ariane Duarte of CulinAriane featuring Sinskey wines and Maria as special guest, it’s no wonder it sold out within minutes.

Naturally, I wouldn’t be telling you this unless there was hope that you could sign up. Sharon, Ariane, and Maria have changed the original time to allow for a  second seating. The first is now scheduled for 6 pm; the second at 8:30. Since some guests switched to the latter, a few seats are up for grabs at both. For menu, prices, reservations, and other details, click here.

Open House Celebration at Canal House Cooking DUE TO HURRICANE SANDY THIS EVENT HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18 FROM NOON TO 4 PM

To celebrate the publication of what Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hersheimer are calling their Big Red Book, they are opening their gorgeous second-story studio along the canal in Lambertville on Sunday, November 4 from noon to 4 pm. “Come by for a nibble and a liquid refreshment,
and buy a signed copy (or a pile of them as holiday gifts),” the invitation reads. The book, just out, is Canal House Cooks Every Day. Its 250 new recipes and 130 photographs have garnered accolades from everyone from Lidia Bastianich and Christopher Kimball to Jamie Lee Curtis.

The Canal House is at 6 Coryell Street, Studio B. If you think you might be able to make it, rsvp to mail@thecanalhouse.com so they can have plenty of bubbles on ice. Tell them Pat sent you.

Upcoming: Sizzlin’ Chefs, Cheese Curators &…Haute Hair?

Seriously Accomplished Chefs Sizzling at Summer of Chefs Series at elements in Princeton

Scott Anderson has lined up a phalanx of accoladed chefs to create cutting-edge cuisine alongside him and his crew this spring and summer. The third installment in the dinner series is set for this Sunday, June 10, when Michael Cimarusti of the two-Michelin-starred Providence in L.A. comes home, so to speak. Cimarusti, who you may have seen on Top Chef, grew up in Pennington. Before establishing Providence he worked for, among others, Larry Forgione, Paul Bocuse, Roger Verge, and Wolfgang Puck.

Check out my story on The Summer of Chefs in the June 6 issue of US 1 for info on how to score reservations. In it, I interview Anderson about  what he and the each of  the guest chefs have in common, what spawned the idea for the series, what has transpired so far (one example: California abalone with foie gras and seaweeds), and what guests can expect both this Sunday and for the last dinner in the series on Friday, July 13. That final one has two guest chefs, one of whom is Shawn Gawle of Corton in NYC, named Food & Wine‘s Best New Pastry Chef of 2012.

Calling all Cheese Hounds

First Amanti Vino, the wine store in Montclair, announced that they have added a cheese case with a curated selection of 12 artisanal specimen from NYC’s respected Artisanal Premium Cheeses. Now they’ve add this related event:

Cheese School 101

Cheese School 101 (Photo credit: niallkennedy)

“Author and cheese expert Max McCalman (of Artisanal Cheese in NYC) will be at Amanti Vino for a master class on pairing cheese with wine (and maybe some beer, too). In this single session class, Max provides illuminating evidence in support of his claim that cheese is a “near-perfect” food, especially when it is paired appropriately with wine. We’ve all heard about the wonderful aspects of the “Mediterranean Diet” and the “French Paradox.” This class provides point by point explanations of how it all comes together, all while you enjoy a variety of these remarkable cheeses paired with fine wines. Class will run from 4-6pm on Saturday, June 16th.  Seats are $40 each.”  To book a seat, email sharon@amantivino.com.

Calling all Hair Hounds?

Gee…that doesn’t sound right, does it? What I mean to say is, there’s a great event that involves beautiful hair for a beautiful cause coming up this Sunday, June 10.  And there is a restaurant connection, too.

Care Couture is the non-profit behind the 2nd Annual Hair Art Runway Show. Leading salons like Joseph-Jeffreys in Newtown, PA and Godfrey Fitzgerald in Princeton showcase cutting-edge hair designs, with proceeds from the $25 ticket price going to a Capital Health Foundation program that funds free wigs for cancer patients in financial need. This year’s event starts at 6 pm at Rho Ristorante and Discoteca in Trenton. For info and tickets, click here.

The chef at Rho, a new Italian restaurant in the space that had been Katmandu, is Luis Martinez, who gained a lot of fans as the longtime chef at the perennially popular Teresa’s Caffe in Princeton. (He is also a heck of a nice guy.) I haven’t dined at Rho yet so here’s Trenton Times reviewer Susan Yeske’s report.

A Blind Tasting of NJ Wines & Results of My Llama Meat Experiment

wikipedia

The March issue of NJ Monthly is all about wine. As part of it I was invited to be a judge in and to chronicle a blind tasting of NJ wines. The heady group of experts I was thrown in with were:

*Sue Guerra, marketing director, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace

*Nicholas Harary, chef/co-owner, Restaurant Nicholas (and, btw, former sommelier at Jean Georges)

*Brian Hider, wine director, The Pluckemin Inn

*Tim Hirsch, wine consultant, The Wine Library

*Dr. Gary Pavlis, NJ wine expert & specialist, Rutgers University

*Sharon Sevrens, proprietor, Amanti Vino

*George Staikos, wine consultant, educator & proprietor of The Educated Grape

Click here to find out how we rated 50-plus white, red, and fruit wines submitted by 25 wineries from every corner of the state. The good, the bad, the ugly. And feel free comment here with your own opinion on the state of our state’s wines. Salute!

 As I reported in a previous post, I recently purchased two pounds of ground llama meat from WoodsEdge Wools Farm in Stockton. I cooked it three different ways over three nights, the upshot being that while some experiments worked better than others, I’m happy to make llama meat a part of my life. Why, you ask?

Well, it’s a tasty, lean red meat. As Jim Weaver of Tre Piani had told me, it does indeed resemble pork in texture. But it has its own unique flavor – pronounced but not overpowering, simultaneously tangy and sweet. The first night I made two versions of pan-fried burgers, one with only truffle salt and pepper. It was OK, but when I topped it with First Field Jersey Ketchup, the flavor rounded out beautifully. For the other version I smeared a plain burger (regular salt & pepper) with some herb butter I had left over from a salmon dish the night before. When the butter melted into the cooked burger, it was a match made in heaven.

The next night I created a quick-and-dirty Stroganoff of the llama, sauteed onions and sliced portobello mushrooms, and sour cream. The richness of the sour cream proved a perfect foil; I will never use ground beef for this weeknight go-to dish again.

With the remaining llama I made mini-meat loaves in muffin cups, adding bread crumbs, fresh herbs, minced red onion, an egg, a squirt of lemon juice, and (I’m a bit embarrassed to admit) one finely diced mozzarella stick. This was my least successful dish – bland and a bit dry – although more of that Jersey ketchup helped.

In the end, I realized that any recipe I now have for pork can be substituted with the same cut of llama. (I’m particularly keen to try stew.) Since llama has tons more flavor than most pork, while being leaner, I think it’s a win-win. And here’s a scoop: Plans are in the works at WoodsEdge for offering yak meat by the end of March.