November 29, 2004

Thanksgiving Day Roundup and Pictures


Above, you'll see my place setting for Thanksgiving dinner, though the picture doesn't really do the table justice. We had an absolutely great time in Schoharie this year over the long holiday weekend.

Dscn2343Thanksgiving dinner, prepared by FMIL, was delicious. The turkey, which you can see here, was perfectly cooked and accompanied by her famous stuffing (which was even better the next couple of days!). Keep an eye out for pictures of and a recipe for FMIL's awesome day-after turkey pot pie. It's her own creation and I highly recommend it to all of you!

Some of the great pictures from the weekend:

Dscn2357Dscn2311_1Dscn2328Dscn2319_1Dscn2327_1 Dscn2366Dscn2325 Dscn2362

November 29, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 24, 2004

LENNDEVOURS Live From Schoharie, NY


In just a few hours, Nena and I will be well on our way to her parents' house in Schoharie, NY for Thanksgiving weekend. Schoharie, though a tiny little town (with just one light...a blinker), is a beautiful, peaceful country setting for the holiday.

Nena's mom, known in these pages as FMIL, will be creating a spectactular meal for the big day...and her soon-to-be famous turkey pot pie Friday evening. Our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner is, expectedly, liquid in nature.

Saturday night, Nena and I are also whipping up a pile of appetizers/tapas/small bites to have as the main meal. We figured after two days stuffing ourselves with turkey, smaller servings would be welcomed. Of course, we're taking wine for that dinner as well.

All told, I think we have a case of wine in our car right now...and don't really expect to bring any of it back home. It should be a good weekend.

This post's title says "Live" because her parents recently purchased a wireless I'll be able to post easily while there...though it obviously won't be a priority.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November 24, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

The Philly Chronicles #2: The Shiraz/Syrah Showdown


In what has become a tradition when we see Paul and Sara, we put together a Syrah/Shiraz tasting for last Saturday. Our last one was rather impromptu...we had four Rieslings the last time.

The premise this time around was simple, each couple would contribute one bottle of "bargain" wine ($10 or less) and one more expensive bottle ($20 or more). We wanted to see if there was a marked difference based upon price and which we'd prefer.

Plus, four bottles and four tasters always makes for good times.

Nena and I contributed a bottle of 2002 Columbia Crest Two Vines Shiraz ($10)and a bottle of 1996 Pikes Clare Valley Shiraz ($25) that I picked up partially because the back label mentions that "...patience will be rewarded if you cellar the wine for 6 to 8 years." 1996 plus eight years is 2004!

Paul and Sara didn't follow the rules to the letter, but it's not really their fault. Their bargain red, 2003 Cave Claude et Nicole Jaume Cotes du Rhone ($10), was actually more Grenache than Syrah but that's the wine merchant's mistake, not theirs. Their other bottle was anothe French wine, 2002 Unti Syrah Petit Frere ($20).

Dscn2194 We didn't have paper bags, so afte rpondering using various decanters,  we decided that we'd just let Paul pour all the wines first and distribute them after making notes about their identity.

As you can see, he didn't want me peeking! Luckily, he really did forget which wines were in which he could participate in our blind tasting.

Dscn2199 So, with the wines poured, we sat down to taste...and it was amazing what we found.

I have to admit that I don't have my notes...after all this wine (we finished all of the bottles except one before leaving for dinner--where we had a few more bottles!). So, I can't offer detailed findings...but...

The Pikes was completely different from the other three, which isn't surprising given the difference in age. Paul and picked this one as our favorite while Nena truly detested the point that I finished her taste of it.

Nena and Sara chose the Unti as their favorite (it was liked by everyone and probably the overall "winner" because no one hated it).

The Rhone blend was popular, but was easily distinguished from the other wines because of it's light ruby color and light mouthfeel. Paul did love the tannic, peppery finish though.

The true loser of this tasting was the Columbia Crest...which goes to show you how much you can trust Wine Spectator--it got a 90 recently. None of us found it vile...but it didn't have the complexity or elegance of some of the others.

Paul and I did finish the bottle after we got back from dinner...watching Men of Steel (a show about the Pittsburgh Steelers) on NFL Network.

When Paul and Sara visit us next time (in February) we're doing a similar tasting...but this time we're heading to Tuscany...zoning in on Chianti.

November 17, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 15, 2004

The Philly Chronicles #1: Pat's vs. Geno's


An authentic Philly Cheesesteak. I'd never had one in 24 years living in PA. Of course I was in Pittsburgh, about five hours away, so I'm going to give myself a free pass. Surely I would have had one at 3 a.m. after a night of drinking had I grown up in Philly!

When we were in Philly last weekend, we decided to get cheesesteaks Sunday to eat as we settled into Paul and Sara's family room to watch our beloved Steelers destroy and embarass the Cleveland Browns.

But where to go? Anyone from (or who has lived in) Philly has an feelings on the topic...usually extremely strong ones.

When Paul wants one, he usually heads to Jim's Steaks, but that's at least partially because it's right around the corner from their house. For my first, he said we absolutely had to head to Pat's King of Steaks and to Geno's Steaks, the famouse duo that are across the street from one another in South Philly.

Of the two, Paul had a favorite, but he tried his best to not influence Nena and I. Of course, Paul can be an opinionated his choice was clear--he loves Pat's.

My own thoughts:

Dscn2221First, I had part of a Geno's "wiz with"...and it was just okay. The meat could have been cut up a bit more (it was kind of tough actually) and it didn't seem all that cheesy for a cheesesteak. Plus, I guess it didn't have many onions...the flavor was kind of flat. Lifeless almost. I ate it, but frankly, I didn't see what the big deal was. I did put a little hotsauce on it and "forced it down."

Next, it was time for my Pat's sandwich...again "wiz with." It was far and away the better of the two sandwiches...hands down. The meat was tender and chopped up nicely, gooey with cheese and full of oniony flavor. I still added hot sauce, but that's just because I like the pain.

Dscn2226This sandwich didn't last long at all...and I think I could have eaten at least one more. Just looking at this picture now has me hungry.

Now, it's time to return to my roots and give props where due. As good as the Pat's sandwich was, in my book, it doesn't even come close to a sandwich from Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh.

Primanti As you can see, a Primanti Brothers sandwich is on thick slices of Italian bread and features vinegar coleslaw and French fries (like any good Pittsburgh food should). Plus, if you're smart, you get it with egg. My favorite is the doubt. Oh, and definitely stay away from the "cheesesteak" at Primanti's a beef patty and probably their worst offering.

November 15, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 11, 2004

On the Road: LENNDEVOURS in the City of Brotherly Love


That's right loyal readers, LENNDEVOURS is packing up and moving his roadshow to Philadelphia...but just for the weekend.

Nena and I are heading down the NJ Turnpike tomorrow after work to spend the weekend with my college buddy, Paul and his still-new wife (May 2004) Sara. They are foodies and wine it is sure to be a weekend filled with LENNDEVOURS content.

A quick preview:

  • We're going to Azafran for dinner Saturday night. It will be our first visit to one of Philly's famed BYOs...and it's supposed to be one of the best in the city. Can't we're meeting Nena's cousin Kara and her fiance, Marc, there as well.
  • A Syrah/Shiraz Tasting. Each couple has purchased a bargain bottle ($10 or less) and a non-bargain bottle ($20 or more). Should be interesting to see which one we all like best...and if it's one of the higher-end ones.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers game on Sunday. Though Paul lives in Philly now, he still bleeds black and gold (much like myself). He's got a big TV and NFL Sunday we'll get to watch our boys decimate and destroy the Cleveland Browns. I even bought Nena her first jersey for the occasion.
  • Our first cheese steaks. Yes...born and raised in PA (though western) and I've never had an authentic cheese steak. Paul will take care of that I'm sure.

We're also going to a wine shop that they rave as you can see, I'll have a lot to write about when I get back!

November 11, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 03, 2004

Pumpkin Party Pictures

Just wanted to post a few pictures from the pumpkin carving party we went to last weekend...highlighting out jack-o-lantern and the delicious pizzas!
More Pizzas
Our wine-o-lantern!

November 03, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 27, 2004

On the Road: A Pumpkin Carving Party

PumpkinWe're headed to upstate New York again this weekend for a pumpkin carving party at my future in-laws'.

Even as a person more likely to be successful using a pumpkin for soup as opposed to a jack-o-lantern, I'm looking forward to the weekend away.

FMIL (Future Mother In Law) is making a slew of her soon-to-be famous pizzas for about 14 people...and of course Nena and I will be bringing wine!

A weekend in the country is much needed at this point. Work has been extremely stressful and hectic...and the fresh air and relaxed tempo of Schoharie is always the perfect remedy.

October 27, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2004

Cape Cod Cocktail Hour


One of the best parts of our long weekend on Cape Cod was that we did a cocktail hour each night...with wine tastings set up by yours truly.

I really liked this picture...taken the first night we were all there. We compared Wolffer Estates Rose and Comtesse Therese Rose. I love them both, but Wolffer won out as the favorite for serving with food...but as an apertif, Comtesse Therese won going away.

October 13, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 08, 2004

Three Tastings for Cape Cod

RedwinesToday's the day we head to Cape Cod for a weekend with our parents (their second 'meeting'...on the one-year anniversary of their first!)...

Just because I think it will be fun, I've planned three comparitive wine tastings for the trip(which means we're also taking our own glasses...can't rely on the condo to have anything beyond tumblers!).

First, we'll be comparing a dry Rose from Wolffer Estate with one from Comtesse Therese. These are, honestly, two of only three or four Roses I've ever had that I actually liked...probably because they are dry, crisp and anything but White Zinfandel.

I've also set up two tastings of Long Island reds, the first comparing Wolffer's newly released Cabernet Franc with one of my favorite Cab Francs, from Broadfields Wine Cellars.

The second is a battle of two Pinot, again, from Wolffer and the other made by Broadfields under The Tasting Room label.

You'll notice that Wolffer is prominent...that's because I'm doing a column on their wines that's due right when we get back from the Cape!

October 08, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 07, 2004

On the Road: Heading to "the Cape"

CapecodTomorrow after work (I'm cutting out a little early in fact) Nena and I are heading to Cape Cod for a few days.

My parents traded in their timeshare in Florida for a week on the Cape and we'll be staying with them...and Nena's parents will be joining us Saturday morning as well. I'm really looking forward to getting away for a few days and I think all involved are very excited.

Saturday night, we have reservations at the Five Bays Bistro, which looks interesting and is pretty close to our condo.

We're also splitting up some "cocktail hour" duties while there. Nena's mom, Kathy (otherwise known as FMIL for future mother-in-law) is whipping something up for Saturday before we head to dinner. And my mom is putting something together for Sunday before a dinner that Nena and I cook (with FMILs help I'm sure).

I also have some wines to review for my Dan's Papers column, and, because the column is due Monday night, I'll be forced to uncork the wines on my family. I think they'll enjoy it though ;)

I'll have to do my best to dodge the deluge of seafood that is sure to commence upon's a real shame to have a shellfish allergy and a seafood aversion when one travels to "the Cape."

October 07, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2004

On the Road: Latest Trip Upstate

What a weekend! As always happens when we go upstate to visit Nena's family, our days and nights were filled with delicious food and good drink. I'll do some more involved posting over the next day or so, once I get the digital pictures from Charlie (we forgot our camera here on the island), but I wanted to share the highlights

Saturday, after a day of lounging by the pool and getting some sun in between the rain clouds, we had a terrific meal at Sweet Thyme Cafe in Schoharie, NY. We got to meet and talk to the owner a little bit...and our meals were absolutely great.

Sunday, we headed to North Syracuse for Nena's family reunion. What a buffet of delicious you would expect at any large, Italian, function. Charlie took some great pictures of the many tasty treats...which I'll share soon. The only drawback: it was a dry party. Who would ever think that 50-plus Italians could get together without one drop of vino. Shocking.

Yesterday, we took the long way home to Long Island so that we could stop at a few Hudson Valley wineries along the Shawangunk Wine Trail. The highlight of the train was definitely Rivendell Winery, home to the New York state wine of the year--their dry Riesling.

As I said, I'll write more stay tuned.

August 17, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2004

On the Road: Heading to Upstate New York

Nena and I are heading to upstate New York this weekend, first to visit her parents in Schoharie and then to attend her mom's (otherwise know as FMIL) family reunion in Syracuse.

Nena hasn't been to the family reunion in years and it will be my first experience with the crazy Italian family. I have a crazy Italian family of my own (though much smaller), so I'm sure I'll do well. I've heard all about the reunions though...a big picnic will lots of food and fun. I'm looking forward to it. I just hope the weather holds out!

It will also be great to meet Nena's uncle for the first time...he's a Texas resident and doesn't make it north that often.

I'll have the camera with me...and I have a feeling there will be some great food to shoot and write about on Monday.

August 13, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2004

Don't go to AOC in the West Village (NYC)

I'm really annoyed. Seriously. I'm not sure why her post has me so fired up but please don't eat at AOC. VittlesVamp's post about the terrible treatment she received from this West Village bistro tells me that I'll never set foot in the place. Ever.

Maybe it's because of all the weddings Nena and I have been involved in lately...weddings where everyone we dealt with was gracious and appreciative of our business. Or, maybe it's that we're planning our own wedding for next summer and we're finding people to be similarly great to work with.

I can't think of any reason or justification for how VittlesVamp was treated...especially considering it was for a bachelorette party. This is someone's (hopefully) only bachelorette party. Why would anyone act that way? Especially at a little bistro that should be thankful for a table of seven that is likely to drop some serious cash.

The food blogging community needs to stick together...and while I'm on Long Island and likely woudln't have gone to AOC anyway, this type of attitude and treatment shouldn't be tolerated by anyone.

There's so many great restaurants in just keep walking past AOC.

July 13, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

On the Road: Nena's on her way to Spain

DSCN1396In just a few hours, the future Mrs. LENNDEVOURS will be leaving the States to tour Spain with her singing group. I wish I were going with her...but saving up vacation days for our wedding/honeymoon next year makes it impossible.

I'm going to miss her and saying goodbye was tough today...but there are some upsides as well.

First, I know that the love of my life will be picking up lots of good Spanish wine to bring back. I've also asked her to see if she can find me some Spanish smoked paprika...which is supposed to be amazing.

Secondly, if I know my woman like I think I do, she'll have some great stories of her own culinary endeavors on the Iberian peninsula. She loves seafood...especially I'm sure she'll love the cuisine.

And she's already heard of a couple great tapas bars where they'll be. Can't wait to hear all about them!

July 13, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 06, 2004

On the Road: George Mann Tory Tavern (Restaurant Review)

toryFriday night, after an afternoon visiting with Nena's family, we were lucky enough to have dinner at George Mann Tory Tavern Restaurant in historic Schoharie, NY. It was a dining experience like none other...truly unique.

This is far from the first time I've been to Schoharie...since it is where Nena grew up and where much of her family lives today. It is a small town 30 miles or so west of Albany...and it definitely has a charm and a warmth all its own. Maybe it's because everyone knows everyone else (at least it seems that way) or maybe it's just because life is so much more relaxing there than it is here on Long Island. Either way, I relish my time spent there...even if I enjoy teasing Nena about how rural it can feel sometimes.

We decided on this particular trip upstate that it was time to finally eat at the Tory Tavern. Nena has been there many times, but this was my first step back in time. Our rehearsal dinner is being held I have to make sure the food is up to snuff--don't I? The owner of LENNDEVOURS can't have his reherasal dinner somewhere that serves mediocre food!

The food and the experience were both far beyond mediocre.

ourtableOur reservation was at 7 p.m. and we got a great table down in the tavern--the original kitchen for the restaurant, which dates back to the 1700s. The upper dining rooms are are more formal, featuring copper chandeliers, stencilled walls and beautiful woodwork. Both areas are beautiful settings for a fine meal.

If you've ever been to Williamsburg, you've probably eaten at one of the "historic taverns" there, but they lack the authentic feel of the Tory Tavern. To me, they seem more Disney than revolutionary. More contrived than honest. But, even without the incredible setting, the Tory Tavern is a destination for great dining. Chef/owner, Ralph Buess is a graduate of the CIA and prepares hearty American food with interesting, contemporary twists.

To start, Nena had and artichoke and cheese concoction served with bruschetta-like toasts. Salty, creamy and crispy together...a delicious start to her meal. I, always on the look out for a new or interesting appetizer, chose the homemade grilled bockwurst with a warm tomato salsa. The bockwurst, which is also called Weisswurst (white sausage) was mild yet flavorful. And the slightly acidic salsa was a perfect foil to the sausage's richness. Delicious.

Next up for me was the smoked chicken and corn chowder. I'm not usually a fan of creamy soups/chowders, but I never pass up smoked chicken when I see it on a menu...and this chowder certainly didn't disappoint. It was rich, exploding with flavor and, because of perfect portioning, not too filling. Nena went with the tavern salad and creamy peppercorn dressing. It was good as well...and the dressing made the salad more interesting than the field greens would have been otherwise.

Before our entrees were served...we were treated to a small scoop of delicate rasberry sorbet...though I thought it was blackberry. A nice interlude indeed.

Nena was in a steak mood on this occasion, prompting her to select the sirloin with gorgonzola cheese. I agree with her that sometimes you just crave the beefy flavor of a sirloin. This one was cooked perfectly and the cheese was nicely melted without being messy. Excellently done.

After some indecisiveness (too many good choices), I went with the pork medallions in a creamy horseradish sauce. This was easily the most tender pork I have ever had the pleasure of cutting with just my fork. Tender, delicious and featuring just enough horseradish zing...this was a great entree deserving of high praise.

Both entrees were served with sauteed veggies and a potato dish that falls somewhere between mashed potatoes and homefries...buttery, full flavored and tasty.

To finish our meals, Nena and I, expectedly, took different paths.

She had the white chocolate lemon cheesecake...which was creamy, tart and spectacular (I admit it...I had a few nibbles.) Instead of ordering from the dessert menu, I picked the Prejean Late Harvest Chardonnay from the Finger Lakes region. It was light, sweet and crisp...though not as delicate or complex as some LHC's I've had. A nice ending to a splendid meal though...and I'd have it again.

Schoharie is, obviously, a bit off the beaten path...but for a meal to remember, it is well worth the trip. Just steer clear of the Finger Lakes reds on the wine list...we experimented with one and didn't enjoy it very much. I'd recommend a Finger Lakes Riesling to anyone any day though!

July 06, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 29, 2004

On the Road: Tao (Restaurant Review)

As promised...I'm going to start to get some of my friends to review interesting restaurants that I just don't have the time to get to. Can't expect me to eat in EVERY restaurant, can you?

114472129_135Anyway...this review comes to LENNDEVOURS from a 9-5 co-worker, Dawn. She and her mother went to Tao in Manhattan (on 58th ave. Between Lexington and Park Ave.) last week. They definitely seem to have enjoyed themselves...and she keeps telling me that Nena and I have to go.

The atmosphere at Tao is very dark and sensual, like being transported to Asia itself. There wasnt a wait to get a table because we were there for an early dinner but I would recommend reservations. I've been there before and on the weekend it is difficult get a table without one. You can either sit on the floor level or the balcony which is lead up to by a glass stair case. No matter where you sit, your view will be dominated by the 16-foot Buddha sitting in the dining room.

I began the meal with a Tao-Tini.This was so delicious! It was a mix of Absolut Mandarin, raspberry vodka, Malibu Rum, cranberry juice and fresh lime juice. It was served with two fresh raspberries. Yum. It better be at $10 a pop. Other drinks on the menu included the Saketini, Tao Love Potion #9, Orange Dragon and Blue Zen.

The menu at Tao is very unique. Every appetizer, salad and entre looked so great that we decided to get a few of them and share. The menu is a combination Chinese, Japanese and Thai creations. It was hard to even pick a few things to share because we wanted to try everything.

For starters we got the lobster dumplings with Shiitake ginger broth, pork spring rolls with a thai chili dipping sauce and krispy Tuna Sahimi rolls served over Edamame, which was served with a wasabi mayo. This dish was very good. The outside was seared which seemed to cook the inside fish a bit, which I didnt like. I would rather have the fish completely raw..since we orderd sashimi. The pork spring rolls were my favorite appetizer.

For an entre we shared the miso-glazed chilean sea bass with wok vegetables. Be prepared, the portion sizes are small and the dishes are pricy.

After dinner, we dove into a chocolate molten cake. It was a small round cake and when you put your fork in it a soft warm fudge-like chocolate spilled out. It was served with coconut ice cream and garnished with shredded coconut and edible chocolate chopsticks. Its definitely for the chocoholics out there.

The last time I ate there I had the fuji apple spring roll, which is served with vanilla bean ice cream. If you like apple pie this is the dessert to get. The deserts were great. I can't wait to go back and try the other ones.

I had a cappuccino with dessert. It was served in a large Asian bowl with was very unique and definitely added to the experience.

The service was not that great though...the waitress seemed more interested in catering to the larger tables for the most part. Despite the service I have to say that this is definitely one of my favorite restaurants. I am looking forward to the next time I go. I want to try the dim sum tasting with soy-scallion dipping sauce. Their version of pad thai and the Giant Filled Fortune cookie filled with white and dark chocolate mousse. It sounds incredible!

June 29, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2004

On the Road: Marseille (Review)

NYC Summer Restaurant Week presented us with so many great dining options for our trip into the city on Wednesday that it was hard to choose. After knocking around a few ideas with our dining companions, Jason and Sarah, we settled on Marseille on the corner of 9th and 44th in Manhattan. It was Sarah's pick...and I have to give her credit where credit is was an absolutely euphoric dining experience.

Because Nena and I were in the city early, we arrived at the restaurant at around 5:15 p.m. for our 5:45 p.m. reservation. Rather than just wasting time prior to our friends' arrival, we decided to go in, head to the bar, and have a pre-dinner cocktail.

Before we even got to the bar, we were very impressed. Stepping into the dining room was a bit like walking into the set for Casablanca with warm Mediterranean tones and dramatic use of copper and stainless steel (including the bar). It was gorgeous and the room, paired with the uber-friendly host hinted at the kind of dining experience that was in store for us.

We were greeted at the bar by a friendly bartender, a nice selection of imported beer on tap and a very impressive wine list. As Nena sipped on a French rose' and I enjoyed a dark Belgian draft, we perused the dinner menu...and we were REAL close to ordering some meze (small plages similar to tapas) because they sounded so interesting, including a spinach and goat cheese cigar, Meyer lemon spiced calamari ceviche and fried paella with saffron tartar sauce.

Just as I was about to break down and order something, Jason and Sarah arrived and we were whisked away to our table...for a truly unique and pleasureable dining experience.

For $30.12, we were to enjoy a three-course menu (two choices for each course)...and an ear-to-ear smile spread across my face when I noticed that for an extra ten dollars, we'd get wine with each course. Jason, Nena and I were sold...and Sarah ordered her amaretto sour. One of these days we'll get her to like wine. It's one of my new goals for the coming months.

cuketom2After we ordered, without warning, the kitchen sent out a pre-appetizer for each of us...cucumber salad with sundried tomatoes and fresh tomato sorbet. In a word, delicious. The crisp cucumber and the smooth, sweet tomato sorbet were perfect together. What a treat. Perhaps the chef new that LENNDEVOURS was dining with them that night. Okay, maybe not. Okay, definitely not. Maybe it was just because the ladies in our group are just so lovely.

soupOur tastebuds were primed and ready to go...ready for the appetizers that came shortly thereafter. Jason and I both picked the Jerusalem Artichoke Veloute with Fried Black Chorizo Ravioli. It was delicious...creamy, rich and fresh. The addition of the chorizo ravioli was a nice touch. Paired with this delicious soup was 2001 white Burgundy (Chardonnay)...and it was a nice, though unspectacular wine. I would have liked a bit more crispness and acidity to cut through the richness of the soup.

salad Nena and Sarah shunned our choice, instead going for the Haricot Vert Salad with Endive, Radicchio, Walnuts and Blue Cheese Vinaigrette. If you read this site, you know that Nena loves these types of salads (blue cheese, walnuts...etc.) and this one did not disappoint. Nena got to enjoy a glass of 2001 St. Joseph Domaine Courbis along side...and she liked the pairing very much.

The wonderful thing about the entrees we had to choose from is that I know I would probably never order either from the regular menu. That's one of the fun aspects of a set menu. Call it forced adventurism.

fishentreeNena and Jason, being the seafood lovers that they are, picked the Shrimp Mousse Stuffed Brook Trout with watercress and carrot purees, radish herb salad and orange/bergamont essence sauce. They both loved the dish and the wine served with it, 2003 Domaine De Gourgauzaud Languedoc (Viognier). I didn't taste the fish itself, but the purees were powerfully fresh flavored and the salad's crisp tartness was nice with the sweetness of the carrot puree (and probably the shrimp-stuffed trout). A well composed entree if ever there was one.

porkentree Sarah and I were in the mood for a more meaty entree, deciding to try the Braised and Smoked Pork Belly with green lentils, apple puree and truffle sauce. Talk about an interesting interpretation of the classic combination of pork and apples. The smokey pork belly was tender, flavorful and delicous over the firm green lentils. I found myself swiping nearly every bite of pork through the apple puree, and before I knew it, I was looking at an empty plate. The wine pairing, a 2001 Cotes du Rhone, was only slightly disappointing...but not overly so. I wanted a bit more "pow" in a wine paired with smoked meat.

Happy with our entrees and quite comfortable (the portions at Marseille are perfect and the pace of the meal was equally exact), we were ready for our desserts, both of which looked interesting.

pbtartSarah and I proved continued our mutual selections by both selecting the Crunchy Peanut Butter Tart with celery sorbet and raisin sauce, paired with 2002 Muscat De Rivesaltes. Sarah realized long before I did (which she was quite pleased about) that this was a unique take on celery with peanut butter. As a foodie, I was ashamed to have not realized! It was better than any celery with peanut butter I've ever had though. The dense, sweet tart was lightened nicely by the mildly sweet celery sorbet. Add the sweet dessert wine, and this was the perfect Lenn dessert. Bravo.

rhubarbcustardNot feeling up to the celery sorbet, Jason and Nena went with the Rhubarb and Ginger Custard with creme fraiche pudding and Thai basil granite...served with a fabulous glass of 2003 Cascina Giovinale Moscato D'Asti from Piedmont. Nena, always a fan of rhubarb, loved this dessert. The slightly tart rhubarb blanketed by the pudding was like a dessert from her dreams. She didn't care for the Thai basil granite though (Jason did) I ate it for her. I've always loved Thai basil and getting to enjoy it this was was quite a treat.

Nena loved the slightly sparkling D'asti so much that she ordered a second glass and when our waiter returned, we got four more glasses...on the house. The perfect ending to one of my top dining experiences.

The food was excellent. The services was attentive without being overbearing. And the wines were well above average (especially given their price...10 dollars for three glasses). Plus, any place that gives us a taste of a new appetizer...and a glass of more than okay in my book. I rarely say this about any restaurants in Manhattan (just because there are SO many that I want to explore)...but I think we'll go back one day. I'd love to try some of those meze.

June 25, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 08, 2004

On the Road: Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse

daviosI've been to a few rehearsal dinners in my day...from BBQs with family (my personal favorite most of the time) to bland fare served buffet style at a fire hall (not my favorite, honestly). But, I've never been to a rehearsal dinner like the one we attended at Davio's for Paul and Sara's wedding.

Unfortunately, we didn't have our camera (I would have felt even more dorky than usual taking pictures of the food at this function anyway)...but the food was spectacular. We were treated to a full table of cheeses, italian meats, and vegetables to start. And, as mentioned earlier, some great wines.

The entrees were really what made this rehearsal dinner one for the books.

I had a filet mignon over delicious risotto (which Nena snared at regular intervals from my plate) and she enjoyed a grilled lobster tail over seafood ravioli (which I couldn't snare because it was shellfish laden).

Sadly...beyond telling you that it was delicious and that we had a great time, I can't say much more about the entrees...apparently I can't drink Bombay Saphire before any meal that I'm going to write a review for....especially not followed by several glasses of Merlot. You can take my word for it though...the food was great and the service was equally spectacular.

Lessoned learned: If you want to be a food critic some day...lay off the liquor.

June 08, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 02, 2004

On the Road: Paul and Sara's Wedding

Last weekend, Nena and I travelled to Philly so I could be in my friend Paul's wedding to the lovely Sara. We had a wonderful time in Philly (my first time there!). I've posted some pictures from our weekend.

We ate some great food and enjoyed some truly delicious wines...stay tuned for more about them.

June 02, 2004 in From the Vine, On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 03, 2004

On the Road: LENNDEVOURS New Orleans

Honestly, we didn't eat much at all when we were in New Orleans. As a group of 12 guys there for a bachelor party, hurricanes and beer seemed much more important. But, we did go out for one great meal. One of the guys, Bill, did a little research and talked to someone at our hotel to find Cafe Sbisa, on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. It was absolutely to come soon.

Other than that, we didn't do much New Orleans eating. Two things I wanted to try but didn't: beignets from Cafe Du Monde and a po boy from Mothers. For a variety of reasons, neither happened, which just means Nena and I will have to go back sometime and sample the culinary delights of the French Quarter.

May 03, 2004 in On the Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack