Berkshire Chefs @ JB House:15 seats left!

Before Farm-to-Table was even a phrase, chefs in the Berkshires were living it. On Friday, March 2nd, seven chefs will collaborate on an unprecedented feast of cured, smoked, canned, and preserved treats. Here’s a sneak peek at the some of the menu items:

—Nicholas Moulton (Mezze Bistro + Bar): Pork Croutons with Dried Cherry Tomatoes, Winter Kale & Mayo
—Jeremy Stanton (The Meat Market): Pigs’ Head Three Ways
—Daniel Hardy (Allium Restaurant + Bar) Arctic Char Crudo, Bok Choy Kim Chi, Shiitake Veloute & Shiitake Chips
— Dan Smith (John Andrews a Farmhouse Restaurant): Roasted Squash & Ricotta Ravioli
— Lester Blumenthal (Route 7 Grill): Rabbit with Squash Puree & Squash Butter
—Joji Sumi (Mezze Bistro + Bar): Pork Roulade, Garlic Sausage, Pork Confit & Crispy Pig Ear, Root Vegetable Puree & Pickled Vegetables
— Brian Alberg (The Red Lion Inn): Sweet Corn Panna Cotta, Candied Bacon, Berkshire Blue Cheese-dusted Organic Popcorn

See the full menu with sources, and purchase tickets, at this link. Photo above: behind the scenes at Red Lion Inn Chef Brian Alberg creates candied bacon. See more of Brian's prep shots at this link.

Portuguese Wine Tasting: 5 men from Douro

Douro, an area known for port, has five families that are intent on making a splash with their wines. The Douro Boys came to Manhattan armed with their selections, spawned in the scenic terraced vineyards that tower over the Douro river. Old fashioned foot maceration is still in use for creating some of the wines, the preferred method for releasing the juices without smashing the pits. The tasting was quite educational, see the details below.
I liked nearly all of the wines from this winemaker. Winemaker Miguel Roquette is holding my top taste of the event, Vinha Maria Teresa Quinta do Crasto 2009, one of only 90 bottles produced. It’s available in select restaurants around the city. If you see it on a menu, get it! Also worth mentioning, Quinto do Crasto Touriga Nacional (very soft, complex, deep) and Quinto do Crasto Reserva Old Vines 2009 (elegant).  There was also a very nice white on the scene, very sparkly, with a lot of bounce, Crasto 2010.

Winemaker Cristiano Van Zeller seen behind one of my faves: the Casa de Casal de Loivos 2009, which I described as, “super sweet nose, smooth, even, light, elegant, soft,” and similarly, the Quinta Vale D. Maria Douro 2008, from the same vineyard.

My favorite port of the tasting also had a super cool package. Porto Niepoort Vintage 2009. Very complex, very syrup-y. Charme 09 was one of the wines created by stomping. Complex, nice to drink, soft and round.

Another fantastic port: More caramel than berry, clean, high-level, sophisicated. Vallado Adelaide Vintage Port 2009.
Super sweet, with a strong alcoholic feeling, my second favorite of the ports. Quinta do Vale Meão Vintage Porto 2008.

Serafina UWS debut

This restaurant is on a major expansion tour. No only have they just opened a new Serafina on Broadway and 77th, they have plans to open in Tokyo, Moscow, and Mumbai, spreading the taste of Italy with authentic Italian ingredients to all corners of the globe. The opening party was a melee of attractive, well-dressed, Italian-speaking guests who mingled and munched on pretty pastas and thin-crust black truffle pizza. Festivities began with a pasta-cutting ceremony, performed by the Consul General of Italy (who surprisingly happened to be a woman) Natalia Quintavalle. Gigi, a high-energy electric violinist entertained the crowd. Serafina UWS will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I predict this will be a popular spot, because of its great location, comfortable vibe, and oversized banquettes. If Italian is not enough for you, attached to this venue is Geisha Table, a 23-seat eatery featuring sushi and an extensive sake list. I shall return... see more photos from the night at this link.

weight loss report

It hasn’t been all fun and games. Since the beginning of the year I have consistently restricted my daily caloric intake to 1200 or less calories. The only exception being my birthday—which I looked forward to for a week, dreaming about which cocktail I would order. 1200 calories is quite a lot of food. If you prepare all your meals, as I have been doing, it’s really not a problem to stick to the plan. What really gets tough, though, is GOING OUT!! I have put event attending to a minimum, and the ongoing Friday-night-dinner-series has been cancelled for the time being. Wine tastings are easy to get through, no swallowing allowed. At the Serafina opening I did not drink, and had exactly one bite of the two pastas, plus one small slice of pizza (I waited an hour for it!). Things would be a lot easier if my days were not packed with constant reminders of what I am missing. If I’m not designing a cookbook filled with luscious photos of food, I am on my Facebook page where I am surrounded by fantastic chefs and mixologists showing off their wares. Friends want to catch up, meet for drinks, have dinner. Don’t get me started with email! It seems like every 15 minutes another new product, restaurant, spirit, or festival is beckoning. But the good news is, due to working out like a mad woman, I am nearly halfway to my goal! And my clothes, once tight, are now hanging a bit. So, for the mean time, food and drink will have to remain a wistful musing. 


5th Annual New York Wine Expo: GO!

Here’s your chance to speak directly with your favorite wine makers and discover this year’s trends. The 5th Annual New York Wine Expo presents 170 wineries from around the globe, so you can sample offerings from local wineries and offbeat varietals that you’ll be adding to your regular repertoire.

I talked to Mark Oldham, author of Brave New World of Wine, and judge on The Winemakers, a PBS reality show featuring a competition between winemakers. You can meet him at the expo where he will be doing a seminar on the wines of the Rhône Valley. He gave me some advice on  tackling the show.

HHNYC: There’s a lot of wine being poured at this event. What’s the best way to do the show?
MO: This show provides you with a risk-free environment to experiment, so, as in my book, I encourage people to try some wines they are unfamiliar with. Or, pick 2 or 3 regions you love from the grand list. It might sound corny, but I usually carry some crackers in my pocket to reset my palate, in case I am not near any food.  

HHNYC: Which wine areas should we watch now?
MO: Greece, despite their economic troubles, will be well represented at the show. Their small producers continue to make wonderful wines and offer better values. Instead of your usual white, get a taste of Moschofilero or Assyrtiko. Showing up with a bottle of this at your next gathering will definitely impress your friends. (hhnyc: Check this website to learn more about Greek varietals.)
—Over the past 10 years the Finger Lakes have been steadily improving the quality of their wines. If you like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, or Pinot Grigio, you should try the wines from there. Red wine lovers should get a taste of the Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon. (hhnyc: Check this article from the NY Times at this link to learn more.)
—Brazil will also be bringing some wines to the show. Like Argentina, they have a long wine making traditions. Go for the sparkling wines, or the Malbec.  (hhnyc: for more info click here)
—For another great value, and to taste wines with lots of flavor, sign up for my seminar covering the Rhone Valley. Since the area is warmer than Burgundy or Bordeaux, the wines have spicy, rich, “roasted fruit” flavors.

The show is held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from March 2nd to the 4th (trade only on Sunday, March 4). For tickets, visit NewYorkWineExpo.com or call 800-544-1660.

to your health: cookbooks

Health seekers can delight in 2 new cookbooks. For those who are looking to incorporate the maximum benefits of nutrient-rich superfoods, Superfood Cuisine is the perfect guide. Learn what you can do with chia seeds—soaking them works as a thickener, with the added benefits of protein and fiber, in the recipe for Tomatillo Chia Salsa. Hemp Hummus blends chickpeas with hemp seeds, thus adding a complete protein and all three Omegas. Twist up a sugar craving with a Cabbage-Pomegranate Slaw sweetened with yacon syrup or No-Bake Brownies, made from dates, cacao and walnuts. Many of the recipes use ingredients from the company Navitas Naturals, whose company specializes in making beautifully packaged super ingredients. I was always tempted to buy them, but not sure what to do with them once I got them home. Problem solved! Julie Morris makes it easy to incorporate these unfamiliar foods into your lifestyle.
For those with an astrology bent, or just wanting some new healthy fun recipes, get a copy of astrologer and Celebrity Chef Sabra Ricci’s new book. Twelve chapters focus on the astrological element each sign represents. • Aries’ focus is on brain food—stay alert with Artichoke Heart Hummus. • The thyroid is the focus of the Taurus chapter, treat your bull friends to a tasty Zucchini Bread with Toasted Brazil Nuts. • Gemini represents the lungs, and the recipe for Grilled Mahi Mahi with Orange and Ginger Beurre Blanc will have everyone rapidly breathing. • Cancer’s focus is on the stomach—start off a meal with a Green Tea, Pineapple, and Ginger Martini for Two. • Leo brings heart-happy recipes to the mix, with Heirloom Tomato and Bufala di Mozzarella Napoleon. • Virgo offers recipes for soothing the nervous system, as seen in Grilled New York Strips with Portobello Mushrooms and Horeseradish Sauce. • Kidneys are the focus for Libra. Get assistance with Roasted Cauliflower and Maui Onion Gratin with Smoked Gouda. • Scorpios’ reproductive organs can benefit in more ways than one with the Caviar Party for 2. • Sagitarius’ livers will thrive on the Lobster Guacamole. • The bones of the Capricorn stay strong with Pumpkin-Bran Muffins with Pepito Seeds. • Aquarians can get their blood pumping with a Creamy Coconut-Carrot Soup. • Pisces’ immune system gets a bonus from Crab Cakes with Julienned Mango and Red Pepper Aioli. •  The book also contains fun facts about each sign, how they like to cook, and what kind of guest they make at a dinner party. A totally fun read.