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NEW YORK CORNER: INDOCHINE by John Mariani
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: The Red Wine Diet: A Book Review by John Mariani
Our Favorite Mansions
There is no formal dining room at Kingsbrae Arms in St.Andrews-by-the-Sea, in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. Instead, guests enjoy the enticing cuisine of Chef Marc Latulippe in three flower-festooned rooms in the comfortable setting of an English manor house. On chilly nights a fireplace glows in each room.Latulippe, a Montreal-trained chef who has worked on both coasts of Canada and teaches culinary arts in the off-season, sets the dinner table with a fixed trio of flavorful appetizers and a main course. Guests have only to choose from the dessert list, where he offers three possibilities. If there is something you don't care for on the menu, you can consult with your waiter who will inform the chef and make something to your liking.
On one typical evening, we enjoyed sturgeon, fresh and lightly smoked, nestled in a fennel salad, its licorice tones playing off a pungent, pale gray caviar sauce. The caviar and the sturgeon came from Canada’s first-ever sturgeon farm, just a few miles from the inn. Latulippe has been a major supporter of the aquafarming endeavor, which now supplies leading Canadian restaurants with smoked fish and caviar from the Atlantic short-nosed sturgeon, an otherwise endangered species in its natural habitat.
With it we enjoyed delicate lobster ravioli plated with organic shiitake mushrooms and a rich lobster ragoût. To complete the appetizer trio, Latulippe served organic greens grown by his wife Marina and picked from the garden that afternoon, mated with caramelized pears and embellished with Riesling wine vinaigrette. Wines are pre-selected for each course and our starters were accompanied by a crisp ’04 Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc.
A grand cru 2000 St. Émilion from Château Cantenac was chosen to complement our main plate, a nicely grilled chop of local wild boar paired with mashed new potatoes, made even more attractive by an eggplant onion sauce.
The dessert offerings that night featured local products and we had our choice of a maple sugar tart and buttermilk ice cream, a caramelized apple chocolate mousse topped by bourbon caramel sauce or one of Latulippe’s dessert specialties, a goat's cheese tart sharing a plate with stewed field strawberries and orange jelly.
This was one of our most memorable dining occasions, but it had been preceded a few nights earlier by an even more dramatic procession of products that originated in local farms and waters. Appetizers included a bright red tomato stuffed with a tangy tapenade and topped by roasted pepper and basil-infused oil; a seared Cobscook Bay crab cake, about 99 and 44/100ths pure crab served as a small pancake and set off by the bite of wasabi sauce, contrasting yin-and-yang with a and cheese-topped crêpe-wrapped white asparagus. The wine for this trio was a fruity and tart 2001 Grüner Veltliner from Schuckert Sunterra.
The main course that evening was a local halibut, with a red quinoa crust, accompanied by a smoked salmon and cucumber salad and couscous flavored by a mild, lemony-tanged sorrel sauce. We stayed white on the wine, enjoying a 2002 Meursault from Bouchard Père et Fils.
Every week, chef Latulippe sets forth a completely different menu each evening in a series of dazzling turns. Though you normally take three appetizers, a main course and dessert, the food is light and the portions generous, but not oversized, so you leave the table satisfied, never stuffed.
Latulippe’s five-course menu demonstrates artful restraint of a chef showing respect for the raw material in his kitchen, exercising a skillful light touch and allowing natural flavors to shine. “Food,” he says, "should taste like what it is. My job is to bring out the best in what nature provides.” An advocate of the slow food movement, Latulippe brings in his fish from nearby seas and lakes, while his free-range chicken, his Simmental cattle, and Pennfield lamb graze on Canadian farms.
Kingsbrae is unique in the Relais & Châteaux pantheon in that it qualified for membership, after just two years, an honor that usually requires five years of scrutiny. It is also unique in being the only Relais & Châteaux east of Quebec on Canada’s Atlantic Coast.
The comfortable inn was once one of the cottages—similar to the grand cottages of Newport, Rhode Island—built for wealthy Canadians who summered off the Bay of Fundy.
Twelve years ago, a pair of New Yorkers, Harry Chancy and David Oxford, took on the task of turning a former sea captain’s home dating back to 1897, into a modern inn. They came to St. Andrews, a more relaxed fishing village and hideaway for Canadian notables, while still running a similar hostelry in the Hamptons on Long Island in New York and continued the New York –New Brunswick axis until 2003. Having enjoyed the pleasures and studied the potential of St. Andrews, they decided to put all their efforts into creating the kind of inn they would enjoy visiting at the Canadian site. The location, on a quiet street on hill overlooking the town, next door to a world-class, 27- acre horticultural garden, is the kind of site that innkeepers dream of finding.
The fishing village, while hardly Aspen, is a community in transition. A few years ago, a visiting executive from Dell computers in Texas grew enamored of the place, and became the first to pay more than a million dollars for a cottage on the heights overlooking the city and the bay. That sale was the impetus for a series of seven-figure transactions as others, Canadians and Americans began acquiring property in the community.
The visitor count to St. Andrews, fueled by its history as a refuge for British loyalists during the American revolution, its streets named after the children of King George III, the eponymous golf course, whale watching, sea kayaking , the dramatic tide reversal of the Bay of Fundy, and trekking along deep, verdant river valleys, is rising once again. On one recent weekend, all of Kingsbrae Arms was given over to a gathering of well-heeled Notre Dame Alumni, who arrived at nearby airports in a fleet of private jets.
Accommodations are luxury gone wild. There are three master bedroom suites, each with a separate sitting room and fireplace, each with sweeping views of the inn’s own gardens (above) and the ocean. Bedrooms offer king-sized four-poster draped canopy beds or four-poster queen- sized beds, period furniture and artwork from the 18th and 19th centuries, direct dial telephones and data ports, down comforters and pillows, and chocolate truffles at nightly turndowns. There’s a no-charge refrigerator and pantry with snacks and drinks available at all hours, super-modern showers and bathrooms with oversized cast iron tubs or whirlpools built for two.
St. Andrews is one hour from the international airport in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Rates: In-season modified American plan daily rates for two include full breakfast, dinner, pantry snacks, and VIP passes to adjoining Kingsbrae Gardens. Deluxe Queen Room, $585. Deluxe King Room, $685 both with fireplace and ocean view. Luxury one-bedroom suite with fireplace, tubs, ocean view balcony or garden patio, $835. Seven-day golf package for two includes six nights in a deluxe room, all breakfasts and dinners, and four greens fees including cart, $4,000.
NEW YORK CORNER
by John Mariani
430 Lafayette Street
When Indochine opened 23 years ago, it was the first Vietnamese restaurant to locate north of Chinatown in Manhattan, at a time when the Vietnam War had long receded in memory. Still, like Le Colonial uptown, Indochine wrapped itself in the more romantic reveries of French Indochina, so that entering from Lafayette Street, across from the Public Theater, you get a sense of those days when beautifully dressed Saigon women and their Eurasian counterparts mingled with men in white linen suits and spoke in accents thick with intrigue.
In its ambiance Indochine still retains that reverie, and, despite so many years in business, the decor of framed mirrored walls, leather banquettes, white tiled floors, and palm print wallpaper is still very beautiful. Right from the start, in 1984, Indochine attracted a fashionable and celebrity crowd that endures to this day, so that the local press still pops a flash at the stars who have premier and post-theater parties here. Apparently they can hold parties for 200. The bar (below) has a definite swank to it, and the lighting, though it can get too low, is quite romantic early on. What is not romantic is the noise level of bombastic, decidedly not Vietnamese music, that makes conversation all but impossible after 9 PM. Too bad, because the waitstaff is a cheery, congenial bunch; too bad you can't hear what they're saying.
As in so many Asian restaurants, the appetizers are the best items on the menu, and you can choose just about anything among soups, cold and hot starters, salads, and vegetarian dishes and share them with the table, though one dish will really only feed two people as a starter. Still, the prices are not high--$8-$15--so you can order a wide assortment and eat pretty heartily. I'd definitely recommend the Asian lump crab cakes with watercress-ginger sauce and the grilled eggplant with lime juice, ginger, and sesame dressing. The only trouble with the steamed Vietnamese ravioli--delicate wrappers containing chicken, shrimp, bean sprouts, mushrooms, and fried shallots--is that you'll want to make a meal out of them all by yourself. I also liked the crispy shrimp stuffed with asparagus and shiitakes with a pimento-plum sauce. Baby back ribs with an Asian spice rub have been a perennial favorite here, and it's easy to taste why; nevertheless, make sure the kitchen sends them out at a hot temperature; ours tasted re-heated.
As noted, entrees are not quite as delectable as what precedes them, but you won't have any trouble enjoying glazed duck breast with bok choi in a baked Vidalia onion broth. By all means order a side dish or two of sticky rice, which is addictive. Also good was a crispy whole red snapper with sautéed fennel and a spicy sweet-sour pimento sauce, but a filet of sole with coconut milk and lime leaves, steamed in a banana leaf, was a very tame dish indeed. So, too, chicken breast stuffed with shiitakes, and served in coconut milk scented with kaffir lime leaves, with water spinach and lotus root chips didn't taste particularly Asian or French. A special one evening of hanger steak was closer to the French mark.
As are the desserts, although the roasted banana wrapped in sweet rice with coconut milk tapioca was a delightful sweet, and the Asian pear wontons with four dipping sauces fun to eat. More traditionally French was a coconut creme brûlée and a luscious hazelnut mousse cake with walnut crust and chocolate sauce. Don't fail to end off with Vietnamese iced coffee.
Indochine has endured because it's been consistent, both in its food and its its decor. Now if they can just turn down the music, it will be all the more appealing to those who want good Vietnamese food and enjoy conversation with their friends.
Indochine is open nightly for dinner. Appetizers run $8-$15, main courses $20-$28.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
A Glass of
Red Wine a Day May Keep the Doctor Away
by John Mariani
Back in 1954 a book called The Drinking Man's Diet: How to Lose Weight with a Minimum of Willpower contended that a good weight loss program should include a regular two-martini lunch with steak and Béarnaise sauce. The book sold 2,400,000 copies in 13 languages.
Now comes The Red Wine Diet by Roger Corder (Avery, $15.95), which insists drinking red wine regularly is good for just about everything that might otherwise ail you, including heart disease, diabetes, even dementia.
The book is an outgrowth of a 2006 article in Nature Magazine by Corder, 51, a cardiovascular expert and professor of therapeutics at
Corder insists there is so little resveratrol in wine that you would have to drink hundreds of liters of wine per day to get any benefit, while a nice half-bottle (375 ml) a day gives you all the procyanidins you need for the same effect. That’s about three generous glasses, though two will do the trick for women.
Many of his findings come from a research trip to
He also reports on two small Northern Italian villages, Crevalcore and Montegiorgio, where 97 percent of the men drink wine only, mostly red; Non-smokers had the highest life expectancy, while “sedentary men who did not drink or only drank occasionally had the lowest life expectancy, six years less than those drinking a bottle of wine a day.” Corder notes that tannins derived from oak aging in barrel do nothing to improve health, and he contends that as wines age procyanidins decrease in the bottle, but not significantly until ten years or older. So drink up your old
Despite the arcane chemistry of the subject, Corder manages to make sense of why we should all be drinking wine on a daily basis—not bingeing--while never cutting out good foods. Indeed, without a healthy diet, no amount of procyanidin will improve your medical prospects. Wine, he insists, is but one of the elements of a moderate lifestyle that should include “a mix of foods for their carbohydrate, fat, [and] protein content.” Happily these include procyanidin-rich chocolate made by a new process pioneered by Mars in the 1990s. Corder recommends one ounce a day.
The meat of the book is in Corder’s extensive use of the most up-to-date, as well as historic, research on wine and health. He begins by citing 5th century B.C. Greek physician Hippocrates, who used wine as an antiseptic, diuretic, and sedative. While acknowledging the destructive effects of alcohol abuse on society, Corder shows how, in the 20th century, American physicians risked controversy if they advocated the health benefits of wine. So when French scientist Serge Rénaud appeared on TV’s “Sixty Minutes” in 1991 to expound on The French Paradox, the news, says Corder, “shook
He then discusses which wines, like tannat, are the most beneficial, even the point of recommending specific bottlings—awarded one to five heart symbols--like the Malbec Riserva from Altos Las Hormigas from Argentina, Chateau Montaiguillon and especially those French wines made with tannat grapes in Madiran. The best American wines rated are Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Reserve from California and Washington State’s Matthew Cellars Red.
The later chapters contain a very sensible two-week sample menu plan followed by 50 pages of recipes.
Corder’s book is a much needed and comprehensive update of the research on a subject not treated in depth since To Your Health: Two Physicians Explore the Health Benefits of Wine by David M. Whitten and Martin R. Lipp, 13 years ago.
For a confirmed winedrinker The Red Wine Diet is an easy book to love, one you want to shake at your teetotaling friends who still believe any and all alcohol consumption is cause for all sorts of maladies and social ills. If Corder had his way, he would print wine’s health benefits right on the label: “I see no reason why in the future it should not be a legal requirement to include a statement of procyanidin content. . . [and] I predict that sooner or later we will be told exactly which healthful benefits we can expect from a glass of wine.”
I’ll drink to that.
John Mariani's weekly wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books, and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis, and some of its articles play of the Saturday Bloomberg Radio and TV.
WHY DOESN'T THE JERK JUST TRY MOUTH-TO-MOUTH RESUSCITATION?
HEY, YOUR SANDAL'S UNTIED!
The Rome Cavalieri Hilton has launched a new “gladiator training program,” a two-hour mortal combat fitness class taught by members of the Gruppo Storico Romano, an historical reenactment group that runs a “gladiator training” academy in the
* Throughout September Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar's restaurants will celebrate California Wine Month by featuring 3 flights of
* On Sept. 21 in NYC Morton’s The Steakhouse will host an evening of 4 sparkling wines from Domaine Chandon of
* On Sept. 24 in
* On Sept 26 Bijoux Restaurant in
* On Sept. 27 Chef Shaun Doty will host a Georgia Harvest dinner at Shaun's restaurant in
* On Sept. 27 at the Puck Building The Joy of Sake comes to NYC for the fourth time, this year featuring 300 sakes, many not otherwise available in the U.S. NYC restaurants incl. Nobu, Megu, wd-50, Geisha, 15 East, SushiSamba, and more will serve dishes to accompany the sakes. $75 ($90 at the door) and can be purchased by calling 212-799-7243 or at www.joyofsake.com.
* ENO wine room, located at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, now holds regular "ENO-versity" classes, a series of wine, cheese and chocolate makers joining ENO sommelier Holly Smith. Sept. 29: Paige 23 Wines, Chris Keller/Winemaker; Oct. 27: Darioush Vineyards, Darioush Khaledi/Owner and Allen Pape/Winemaker. $35 pp. Call 949-240-5008.
* McCormick & Kuleto’s announces its 14th Annual Shuck & Swallow Challenge to benefit The Marine Mammal Center in
* On Oct. 5 & 6, the first annual Talbot International Food & Wine Festival of Easton, Maryland, will be held, with 6 restaurants will representing 6 countries to showcase each country's cuisine and wine, incl. The
* This October, Muriel's Jackson Square in
* From Oct. 11- 14 The
Resort at Paws Up in
* From Oct. 12-14 the
* In Dixville Notch, NH, The Balsams resort will hold its annual Visiting Chef Series on weekends, priced from $139 pp per night, with reception with the visiting chef; cooking demo, wine tasting, 5-course dinner, and Sunday jazz breakfast with the Rick Erwin Band; complimentary resort activities. Oct: 12-14: Culinary Alumni Weekend; Oct. 19 – 21: Carlo DeMarco, 333 Belrose Bar & Grill, Philadelphia, PA; Oct. 26 – 28: Rob Evans, Hugo’s Restaurant, Portland, ME; Nov. 2 – 4: Gerry Bonsey, York Harbor Inn, ME; Nov. 9 – 11: Jack Chiaro, Associate Culinary Prof. Johnson & Wales U.; Nov. 16 – 18: Ben Smith, Tsunami, Memphis, TN; Nov. 30–Dec. 2: Martin Breslin at (866) 380-6798 or visit www.thebalsams.com.
* To celebrate the 7th Annual Pushkin Golden Autumn Ball on Oct. 13 in St. Petersburg,
* On Oct. 17 in
* On Oct. 21 in
or call 707-255-2332.
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