7.23am, Sunday 29th January, 39th St between 8th & 9th Avenues, Manhattan, NY, NY
I have a couple of events from last week that were absolute stars, so I wanted to write them up before we get into the jobs for this week over in New Jersey.
The first one was with our Yalumba fortress in Annapolis – Wine Cellars of Annapolis. You’ll find them just outside the town centre on Forest Driv, in Clock Tower Place. Since we visited last, Patrick has added a sharp wine bar right next door – separated only by a solid beaten metal fire door that was salvaged in original condition from a tobacco drying warehouse from down in Virginia that was over 100 years old. It’s so heavy that they had to hang it on a heavy duty solid mild steel rail – and it looks great. We did a tasting in the wine store with Ellen and Vernon first that featured our new release triple act of the 2011 Y Series Vermentino, the 2010 Strapper GSM, and the new blend of old fortified material in the Yalumba 21 Year Old Antique Tawny. After chatting to a stack of folks about everything from Australian wine to American Rye Whisky, we adjourned next door to the Grapes wine bar – where our wines were paired up with several small plate dishes, and I got to stand behind the bar and tell stories for a few hours. On a Wednesday night folks, the place was packed – the counter and the tables. Must have everything to do with the top wine list and the combination of small plate, appetizer and dessert plate tastes on the menu – especially the artisanal cheese and charcuterie selections.
We did have most of Danielle’s family and some friends turn up, which was a top ‘rent a wine interested crowd’ to have on our side. Danielle is my colleague in wine who drove the ‘Mom Van’ with all our wines and gear during the Baltimore to DC / Elkton / Wilmington / Annapolis commute week. Through sleet, storms, across the state lines – nothing slows the Mom Van down. I can’t wait for our next trip to Danielle’s Mid Atlantic territory – nothing safer and more enjoyable than the Mom Van in a Dunkin Donuts drive through!
Any rate – back to the Grapes wine bar. Sorry about the quality of my photos – must have been the really soft romantic lighting.
Here’s the featured flatbread – Four Cheese & Mushroom – which went so well with the Strapper GSM. As did the Veal Osso Bucco with Polenta & Gremolata – where the slow cooked beef is stripped off the bone with a fork and is popped on top of the polenta cake, with the gremolata topping the lot! Not forgetting the mini Lamb Sliders with Local Tomato Jam, which should be illegal they’re so addictive!
Speaking of addictive, they have these paper cones of potato fries cooked off in duck fat and drizzled with truffle oil. I had two of them … yes, only two because I was pressured … .and I could feel that pound land! But gee they tasted good. Why is it do you think that everything that is so bad for you tastes so jolly good! And brussels sprouts that are supposed to be so good for you taste so forgettable. Another great mystery of the world!
I had the small plate Strip Steak Au Poivre and gave away the accompanying fries! This was also a winner with the Strapper GSM, plus the 2008 Patchwork Shiraz that we opened for a lad who knew Yalumba well from his time working in Western Australia. Sorry – no pic. Too busy talking behind the bar!
The other feature on the Grapes menu is the desserts – all made in house by the chef’s girlfriend. I recommended the Lemon Butter Pound Cake with Gelato & Berries to several people who liked the 21 Year Old Tawny (fortified with some lovely cool dry brandy spirit from Yalumba’s own pot still). Proof of the pudding were the clean plates that came back to the kitchen!
All in all folks, if you live in the area and like the whole food and wine combination thing, do yourselves a favour and drop in to Grapes … and don’t be in a hurry.
Put yourself in this picture … happy days!
Thanks Grapes and the Annapolis crew for being such a staunch Yalumba fortress – and hopefully we’ll be back to visit sooner rather than later, and we can do it all again. Until then, watch out for those duck fat fries!