Tag Archives: wine

Wine With Friends

Gerard Bertrand collection

I love to nurse a great glass of wine, when out socializing at a wine bar or paired with a delicious meal at a local restaurant, but I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even a particularly voracious drinker. Mostly, I just know when I like something, and find it pleasing enough to drink an entire glass, and when I don’t.

Over the years, I’ve slowly become familiar with an array of winemakers and varietals, discovering some that I enjoy imbibing more than others. I tend to make my wine selections based on a few simple criteria: what I’m eating, temperature and season, country of origin, recommendations from the wine merchant or my fellow diners, and when all else fails, most artistic label.

When I’m feeling celebratory (or indecisive), I opt for the bubbly. Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava always make me a happy camper. This I know well. I typically prefer red to white wines, but sometimes a red is just too heavy, especially on a hot summer night, at which point, I’ll go for a nice rosé. I tend to like wines from California, France, Italy, Spain, Chile, and Australia, most of all. A broad range, it’s true. When I eat a certain regional cuisine, I’ll take the ‘when in Rome’ approach, and choose a wine from that same neck of the woods.

That’s about the extent of my novice wine selection thought process – when I’m flying solo. Which is why I absolutely love getting together with my dear friends, Kristen Siebecker, Certified Sommelier and epicurean event director, and Matthew Wexler, food/travel writer and seasonal chef extraordinaire, who know eons more about wine than I do. Not only are they tons of fun to drink with and hilarious conversations ultimately always ensue, but they’re both exceptionally knowledgeable about food and vino, so I actually end up learning a lot in the process.

Kristen and Matthew have a real knack for pinpointing the subtle nuances of flavors, that I’d never pick up on in a million years. I can usually identify a particular fruit, or a hint of spice that’s present, but I often struggle to put my finger on exactly what I’m tasting. Listening to them as they sip and grasp for the perfect adjective, gives my own palate a much clearer understanding. Thankfully though, they manage to talk about wine in a down-to-earth way that makes it engaging and entertaining, rather than highfalutin and stuffy. Kristen is a delightful story teller who gives each bottle a rich context. She manages to highlight some element of that particular wine and make it relatable to just about anyone. Her passion and expertise, coupled with her unpretentious style and enthusiasm for teaching, doesn’t leave you feeling like a total dunce, and makes tastings with her a most pleasurable experience. Not to mention, Matthew’s exceptional knack for pairing takes the whole culinary experience to another level entirely, coaxing flavors out of both the food and wine, which make both sing more sweetly.

So, when Matthew was recently tasked with the assignment of writing about three bottles from the Gerard Bertrand collection, it seemed like the perfect excuse for our threesome to unite around the table at Kristen’s spectacularly situated Midtown apartment once again, and conduct a taste test in the name of “research”. Matthew got to ball rolling, tossing out a few inciting questions, pen poised to paper. Kristen popped our corks and poured each glass to perfection. We settled on sushi as the cuisine du jour and each took turns in the driver’s seat, navigating the lengthy online menu in a quest for an appropriate pairing to suit the wines, as well as our cravings. They lobbed descriptive adjectives back and forth across the table, like a tennis match, and I stuck to what I do best: taking photographs!

And now, the results of our wine tasting collaboration:

2010 Cremant de Limoux
First up, the 2010 Cremant de Limoux. Kristen tasted: “light, clear, bubbly, crisp, and toasty! An excellent bang for your buck”. I spied: an emerald green bottle, spouting sparkly bubbles; a glowing champagne toast, afore a teal table setting.

Gris Blanc
Next, the Gris Blanc – Kristen tasted: “simple, nice fruit, easy to drink. Light for a rose, more of a peachy color. You could sip this at a summer picnic all day and night.” I spied: an aptly named wine for this cloudy day. The overcast back light perfectly illuminating the colors of this peachy flesh tone rose; the bottle mirroring a subtle silhouette of the Empire State Building.

Muscat
Finally, the Muscat – Kristen tasted: “a sweet wine with a robust lychee, coconut and tropical fruit nose, best served with dessert.” I spied: a royal blue label popping from golden yellow sweetness; when set on a blonde wood tray or against a cubist wine rack, moody romance ensues.

For Kristen’s full write up of this experiment, click here, and for Matthew’s post, click here. If you’re inspired to discover other memorable wines for under $20, also check out The New York Times : Food Section’s latest article.

Want to learn even more about wine in a fun, down-to-earth way? Or discover the perfect pairing of your soon to be favorite new wines and gourmet nibbles? Host an intimate gathering of friends at your abode or create a custom tasting at a local culinary hot spot! Contact Eye For Style Services and we’ll create a unique event with Kristen and Matthew, specially crafted for you and yours. Share your vision and leave all the pesky details to us. It’s never been easier to play the perfect host.

Also, be sure to stay tuned for more details about Wine With Kristen’s upcoming classes for beginners and experts alike, coming soon to Skillshare.

Cheers, mates!

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Feast of Good at The Brooklyn Kitchen

When: March 14, 2011, 6:30 – 9:30 pm

Where: The Brooklyn Kitchen

Price: $75.00 USD

You are cordially invited to join Eye For Style for a spectacular evening at Brooklyn Kitchen. Good Commons is bringing their signature culinary experience to New York City for one night only, and you will have the unprecedented opportunity to indulge in creations from four chefs, who will each take the reigns for a delicious, seasonal dish, along with wine pairings from a seasoned sommelier. The open kitchen gives you an insider’s peek as the chefs prepare each course, and the communal table promises to provide a stellar setting for uncommonly good food, friendship, and community. Wondering what’s on the menu? It’s a surprise! Fear not though – the menu has been thoughtfully designed to accommodate a variety of palates and gluten-free guests.

Your host for the evening is GOOD COMMONS, a boutique retreat located in Plymouth, Vermont. Originally built in the 1840s, it first operated as a general store. Lovingly restored and fully renovated in 2007 by radiant owner/hostess, Tesha Buss, Good Commons has quickly become one of the premier travel destinations in the Northeast. They host a series of weekend getaways throughout the year that draw from the bounty of the region, ranging from culinary immersions, food & wine weekends, yoga retreats, health & wellness events and outdoor adventures.

THE BROOKLYN KITCHEN is the culinary brainchild of Taylor Erkkinen and Harry Rosenblum, who saw the need for kitchenware stores in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. What they’ve created is a neighborhood hotspot that includes an eclectic collection of kitchen supplies and local products. Within the store is the Meat Hook, an artisan butcher counter and charcuterie; as well as Brooklyn Kitchen Labs, two dedicated spaces for cooking workshops, classes and special culinary events.

Your Chefs for the evening include:

MATTHEW WEXLER is a partner in the Good Retreat Company as well as a private chef and food, travel & lifestyle writer. When not cooking at Good Commons, Matthew is a regular contributor to EDGE Media Network, offManhattan, and Endless Simmer. He is currently writing the Good Commons food memoir, Uncommonly Good: Stories of life, food and the Birth of Good Commons, as well as his own blog, http://www.roodeloo.com/.

BRENDAN MCDERMOTT is a New York City native who currently dwells in Brooklyn. An acclaimed chef and instructor, Brendan has honed his skills at some of NYC’s most notable restaurants, including Mesa Grill, Olives, and Patria. Trained at Peter Krump (now The Institute of Culinary Education), he shares his knowledge and passion for food throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. His knife skills class at Brooklyn Kitchen was named by New York Magazine as “Best Cooking Class” and he is also featured in the up-and-coming cooking show, Working Class Foodies.

APRIL STAMM is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute. As a freelance food writer, April has written for a wide range of publications including Pastry Scoop, an online pastry magazine, and The Nibble, a gourmet product review and foodie information site. April has made numerous appearances as a guest chef at Good Commons and also teaches home cooking classes.

MARTIN HOWARD has had a lifelong passion for great food. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America where he studied all areas of cuisine, he went on to lead some of the top pastry kitchens in New York, including the legendary Rainbow Room atop 30 Rock. He has competed many times on the “Food Network Challenge”, winning top honors for his sweet creations. Martin’s first children’s story/cookbook “Tina Cocolina, Queen of the Cupcakes” was recently published by Random House.

Sommelier, KRISTEN SIEBECKER, has been a great fan of viticulture and vinification since her first illicit sip of Boone’s Farm wine beverage in her formative years. More recently, she completed the Advanced Certification program from the WSET with distinction, and is certified in Advanced Blind Tasting by the American Sommelier Association. You’ll find Kristen at the NYC East Side Best Cellars wine shop, advising customers and assisting in the store’s ‘Sommelier for an Evening’ program. Kristen’s current favorite varietal is Gruner Veltliner.

Have we whet your appetite? Seating is limited, so act fast! PURCHASE TICKETS here.

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Good Spirits at Le Poisson Rouge

When: January 25, 2011 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Where: Le Poisson Rouge
Address: 158 Bleecker Street, NYC, 10012
Price: $41.99 USD

Edible Manhattan’s Good Spirits!

At Good Spirits, Edible’s seasonal cocktail pairing event, we match mixology-minded chefs and food artisans with spectacular, storied spirits (plus some beer, wine, and coffee for good measure), asking them to strive for liquid symbiosis.

In our estimation, the resonance between tastes and tipple goes far beyond mutually beneficial flavors.

We believe getting to know craft spirits at your neighborhood speakeasy or dive bar is no less relevant than following your cauliflower back to the farm, or your bagels, lox and cream cheese back to the baker, fishmonger and dairy.

Enjoy dishes and cocktails from the following vendors:

Tuthilltown ~ Prairie Vodka ~ Macao Trading Co

Compass Box Scotch Whiskey ~  Comb Vodka and Gin

Northern Spy ~ Fette Sau ~ St. Germain

Warwick Distillery’s American Fruits ~ Palo Santo ~ McClure’s

Don Q Rum ~ Karma Tequila ~ Tumbador Chocolate

Fonda ~ Nonino ~ San Honesto

Huckleberry Bar ~ Death’s Door ~ Fee Brothers

Clean Plates ~ Wolffer Estate Vineyards

Dallis Coffee ~ SerendipiTea

Verterra ~ and more!

Eye For Style readers can purchase special discount tickets, while quantities last, here.

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Eye For Style Recommends: Food, Wine, & Rejuvenation Getaway

@ Good Commons
Plymouth, Vermont
http://www.goodcommons.com/

I really can’t recommend this place enough for anyone in search of a quiet, relaxing East Coast getaway. My first visit to Good Commons was for their Labor Day Food, Wine, and Rejuvenation Retreat which lucky for me, also fell on my birthday. I was in the market for an affordable weekender that didn’t require a ton of planning, but had all the makings for a memorable, pampered adventure. After checking out the Good Commons website upon the recommendation of a good friend, I was confident I’d found exactly what I was looking for. The fact that all I had to do was show up at a convenient Midtown Manhattan location and “get on the bus” was a major selling point. Their retreat packages (typically in the $400 – 700 range depending on your choice of accomodations) are all-inclusive: food, lodging, activities, AND roundtrip transportation from New York City. Can’t beat that! Guests hop aboard the Good Bus, a veggie oil powered jitney, stocked with homemade munchies and various wines chosen by the weekend’s sommelier, for what amounts to a mobile wine tasting drive from the Big Apple to the Green Mountains. A mere 5 hours later, you’re greeted by one of the most amazingly warm and fiercely generous women I’ve ever met in my entire life, Good Commons’ owner and hostess, Tesha Buss. She lights up a room on impact and immediately makes you feel like her casa es su casa. A champagne toast kicks things off right, followed by a light yet hearty dinner, and a welcome circle that encourages all the participants to set their intentions for the days ahead.

They have plenty of activities on tap throughout the weekend: hiking, cheese making and brewery tours, music festivals, picnicing and paddleboating at the lake, exercise and movement classes, and so much more. But one of the things I like best about Good Commons is, you can choose to partake in everything under the sun or absolutely nothing at all. The vibe is so relaxed, you’re under no pressure to do anything other than what your heart prompts. If you’re feeling sendentary, curl up with a good book in the hammock, or in an overstuffed chair in the cozy upstairs living room. Soak in the jacuzzi all day and then schedule a private massage with the on-call therapist in the healing arts loft. Nestle into a bench on the hill and daydream as you overlook the epic, rolling greenery of Vermont or feel free to take off on a solo nature walk. Wi-fi is available if you just can’t tear yourself away from your laptop. If you’re feeling more active and social, jump on board the Good Bus and they’ll whisk you off to the day’s scheduled outings along with the other fabulous guests, who will undoubtedly become a few of your new best friends after the weekend is over.

The best part is, of course, the FOOD and for their F, W, & R getaways in particular, Good Commons pulls out all the stops. A four-course meal with wine pairing is on the agenda for both Saturday and Sunday night. Yes, TWO nights of multi-course gourmet dining. Memorial Day’s getaway will feature an incredible seasonal menu by resident chef, Matthew Wexler, as well as visiting chef, April Stamm (both seasoned culinary school grads who trained under by Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill). These two talented chefs exhibit their own unique approach to weekend’s decadent dinners, utilizing the best of Vermont’s seasonally freshest, local ingredients, emboding the concept of “farm to table” in the truest sense of the term. Since coming to GC, Chef Wexler has been deeply committed building relationships with the local specialty food purveyors and farmers in the area, making each of his menus an experience you’re not likely to find in any other region of the country.

Each menu is never the same twice and carefully crafted to feature the bounty of beautiful Vermont ingredients at their peak of availability. Breakfasts are a mouth-watering buffet of handmade pastry treats, baked egg dishes, local artisanal bacon or sausage, with bottomless pitchers of fresh juices and coffee, served at the long family-style table in the light-filled dining room. Dinners are carefully constructed individual courses, illustrating a particular theme which nicely build from one to the next, and perfectly straddle the fine line between a work of art that’s almost to pretty to eat and accessible comfort food that you can’t wait to tuck into.

As the last course concludes, guests tend to make their way outdoors to the back deck, nightcaps in hand. Smores are roasted around in the fire pit and hilarious storytelling ensues, until the evening slowly winds down into quiet fireside conversations and killer stargazing. Tip-toe through this maze of a house and slip into your pillowy bed, where you’ll peacefully drift off to sleep, feeling like you’re in the comfort of your own home and any memory of urban chaos is a million miles away.

Yep, choosing this place as one sweet little vacation destination is a no-brainer. But don’t be shy, there are only a few coveted spots left for Memorial Day. If you already have plans, check out their calendar of upcoming retreats that abounds with many other opportunities for blissful getaways throughout 2010. Be sure to tell them that Eye For Style sent you (there’s a special offer in it for you) and ENJOY!

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