Betty Crocker Through the Ages
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MISSING ITS MOJO?
by Henry Togna
YORK CORNER: Two
West Side Newcomers--Naima and
Bagatelle by Edward R. Brivio
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: Perrier-Jouët Lets You Make Your
Bubbly by John Mariani
MADRID MISSING ITS MOJO?
are where architects are allowed to let themselves go--design and
function theoretically being the key words. When arriving at Madrid’s
spectacular Barajas Airport (airport code: MAD), allow plenty of time
its echoing vastness, and bring trainers for mile-long walks through
multiple levels. Terminal 4, designed by Richard Rogers
Partnership, was recently called by The
New Yorker's architecture critic, Paul Goldberger, one of the
great new airports in the world. And it’s only 9 miles from the city
after a John Coltrane composition that in turn had been named for his
wife, as well as for a reserve bottling of
Aglianico grapes from the De Conciliis winery in Campania, Naima
the restaurant is owned by two jazz buffs, Samir Jahdadic and
Roberto Vuotto, with Chef Julio Aquilar, has been pleasing diners
since its opening in 2005. A large garage door, now glazed with
rectangular panels of glass, recalls the space’s former incarnation as
a parking garage. Small but inviting, the bar off to the left as you
enter welcomes you into an industrial-sized room that’s more NYC
Japanese steakhouse than ristorante
or trattoria, with its red-and-brown color scheme and a back wall that
looks like nothing so much as
an oversized shoji
lunch and dinner. Antipasti:
$9 to 18; pastas: $12-$18; main courses $19-$34.
this 90-seat Parisian-style bistro in the Meatpacking
expect downtown-chic. Bagatelle's unassuming façade in no
way prepares you for
the elegant white-on-white interior, with (thank heavens!) tablecloths,
serving pieces all immaculately white, set off by dark wood bistro
chairs (bent-wood and wicker) and the equally somber tones of the
serving staff’s uniforms, all aglow in soft lighting from crystal
chandeliers and flickering candles. It’s a mix of upper Eastside
elegance and Left Bank informality; certainly none of the dishes
we enjoyed at a recent dinner did anything to diminish that effect; nor
did the all-around affability and professionalism of the staff ever lag.
What’s a bistro without impeccable fruits
mer? As we looked over the menu we shared a half
dozen Caraquets, (cold-water, farm-raised
oysters from New Brunswick, Canada), small, plump and sweet, and just
about as fresh as could be. We should have ordered a dozen.
is open for dinner every night. Brunch Sat. & Sun. Appetizers;
$10 to 20, main courses: 24 to 36, sides: 8, desserts: 9.
Edward Brivio is a freelance writer living in New York.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
PERRIER-JOUËT LETS YOU MAKE YOUR OWN BUBBLY
by John Mariani
In a world where luxury has been so watered down and just so much mass marketing, the idea of having something "tailor made" still carries enormous appeal, not to mention prestige. Anyone with a couple of grand can buy an Armani or Ralph Lauren suit good for s season or two, but for about the same money one could have a suit made by a Savile Row tailor that will last a decade. As Oscar Wilde observed, a cynic is a man "who knows the price of everything and ghe value of nothing."
And until now, the idea of having one's own Champagne made according to one's own preferences and personality seemed like a ridiculous conceit in an industry that turns out millions of bottles made in a house style. But this is the exclusive new idea behind Perrier-Jouët's custom-designed Champagne, called Perrier-Jouët By and For, and only 100 cases have been allocated worldwide.
Those who like the idea of “bespoke” Champagne will have a chance to visit the P-J headquarters in the beautiful city of Épernay to meet Chef de Caves, Hervé Deschamps—the seventh in a line to have held the position in the last two centuries.
The idea goes beyond the concept of the Prestige Cuvées other Champagne houses produce, which are their top-of-the-line vintage Champagnes specially blended to a unique house style. Indeed, the Champagne houses pride themselves on making bubblies that are very specific in style, year after year. So the idea of allowing an individual to have a hand in the production of his own special cuvée is certainly unique.
That individual--called a beneficiary--will pay between $92,000 and $105,000 for a package that begins with airfare and transport to Paris for him and four guests, a night's stay in a Paris hotel, a chauffeured drive to the lovely city of Épernay in the heart of the Champagne region, and four-course lunch at P-J's exquisite Maison Belle Époque (above), a private guesthouse that dates to 1811 and which contains one of the finest collections of art nouveau furniture and artwork from Master Glassworker Emile Gallé, who in 1902 designed the famous white anemones that adorn each of the prestige Perrier-Jouët cuvées.
From there you enter the wine caves for a discussion with Deschamps as to your palate preferences, along with an extensive Q&A about your “wider tastes and desires.” Deschamps then selects a variety of different Champagnes for you sample, and on that basis he will craft a personalized Champagne. He begins with samples of Perrier-Jouët Fleur de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2000 cuvée from the village of Crémant’s two finest vineyards, Bourrons-Leroy and Bourrons du Midi. He then creates a “liqueur d’expédition,” changing the different combinations of wines blended with different proportions of sugar to show different possibilities and degrees of dryness, fruit, sharpness, acid, and so forth, he belives matches your personality and tastes.
In the subterranean caves 100 alcoves (left) have been specially built to hold the cases of 12 bottles, one for each future owner, whose name will be placed on the alcove., which already contains some impressive celebrities. Then, the waiting begins: Already seven years old, the Champagne will age an additional year to allow the liqueur d’expédition sufficient time to marry with the Champagne. You are then invited to co-sign with Deschamps each bottle, which will be delivered in a special case (below, left) to your door. (The case of Champagne alone, without the whole package, goes for about $72,000.)
To commemorate the launch of By and For, P-J asked Maison Van Cleef & Arpels to create a spectacular brooch based on the Gallé anemone. Made of white gold and set with 450 round diamonds, the brooch will be available in several of Van Cleef & Arpels boutiques around the world.
To make even more of a splash of the release of the new Champagne with as much bang as possible, P-J also held a grand gala at the Paris Opéra Garnier, to which an array of buyers, celebs, and journalists, including this reporter, were invited. I must say that, having attended more than a few of these kinds of affairs (and avoiding many, many others along the way), I was astonished by the luminous glamor of this one, which began with a flashbulb-popping procession of guests up the staircase into the hall of th house, where a video of grande dames associated with the refinement of the Champagne--including actresses Sophie Marceau and Gong Li in attendance that evening --was thrown onto vast screens as silvery confetti poured through the hall.
Then it was upstairs to a long dining room (right) that resembles a gilded hall at Versailles. Men in black tie and women who seemed quite used to ballgowns sat on both sides of two long, mirrored tables as waiters presented a menu of questions similar to those Master Deschamps would ask his By and Four patrons--"Do you think you are more forest or sea?" "More Mozart or Rossini?" Remarkably these menus reflected options for dishes to be made with certain ingredients, which would seem to task a restaurant of 50 seats. But here were seated more than 200 people, and the chef catering the evening was Anne-Sophie Pic, whose famous restaurant Pic in Valence has three Michelin stars and who was chosen Chef of the Year for 2007.
The dinner was astonishing for its excellence, probably cooked in the Sous-Vide process and assembled with garniture at the Opéra. On the basis of my answers to those personality questions, I was served foie gras blonde (chicken livers) crème brûlée, then a lovely velouté of wild mushrooms with a whole egg yolk, then pheasant rollatine in a reduction of its broth, with a julienne of vegetables. An array of chocolate desserts followed.
Of course, we were drinking principally P-J Champagne, which seemed both appropriate and lavishly decadent. It was quite an evening, as glamorous as any I've ever been part of, even if I could never afford to be a P-J beneficiary. So, the only thing left to do, it seemed, was to head for the Hemingway Bar at The Ritz and have a nightcap or two.
For information on Perrier-Jouët's By and Four package, Call 914-848-4743.
President Richard H. Schwartz of The Jewish Vegetarians of North America wrote a letter to the Union of Concerned Scientists that stated, "We applaud UCS for their important initiative. But they, like most scientific groups, are overlooking 'an inconvenient truth' that even Al Gore has not sufficiently addressed--a November, 2006 report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization documented that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all forms of transportation worldwide combined (18% vs. 13.5%). The group urges rabbis and other Jewish leaders to consider how a shift toward plant-based diets would: improve the health of Jews and others; show the relevance of Judaism's eternal teachings to current societal challenges, thus helping to revitalize Jewish life; and, most importantly, help move an imperiled world to a sustainable path."
WHAT A BOW WOW!
"9 PM (Food Network) RACHAEL RAY FEEDS YOUR PETS. Not only is Ms. Ray passionate about food, but she is also passionate about animal, preparing homemade meals for her dog, Isaboo, whose feeding frenzies seem to be a testament to their tastiness. In this hour special, Ms. Ray shares her recipes, tours a New England bakery for pets and visits dogs living on a cattle ranch in the Colorado Rockies. She also offers practical morsels on safe and nutritious food for furry members."--TV Listing
all public relations people: Owing to the amount of press releases
regarding Mother's Day Day dinners, I regret that it is impossible to
list any but very special events
* On April 29 in Los
Angeles, Stefano Ongaro, owner and wine director of All’ Angelo Ristorante, and Dalla
Terra Winery host “A Night in Tuscany”--a celebration of Northern Italy
in a series of regionally-focused wine dinners at All’ Angelo. Chef
Mirko Paderno will showcase Northern Italy’s gastronomic heritage and
his refined talents with three menus that highlight regional culinary
traditions complemented by Ongaro’s pairings from Della Terra . $145
pp. Call 323-933-9540.
* In NYC beginning May 6 Hearth will hold the Spring Series
of Wine Dinners with Wine Director Paul Grieco. Call 646-602-1300 May
6: The Greatest White Grape in the World: Chenin Blanc;
May 7: Charlie Brown Grapes: Zierfandler, Scheurebe, and Ruché;
May 13: Beer. For further events visit
• On May 6 in L.A. Grace celebrates 5 years in business by offering a 5-course menu reflective of executive chef Neal Fraser’s own personal signature favorites.
On May 7 at Alto! in NYC an Italian Winemaker dinner and Champagne Taittinger Reception will be held, for $350 pp. Call 212-308-1099.
* On May 8 In Highland Park,
IL, Carlos and Debbie Nieto of Carlos’
Restaurant and Tom Jiaras of International House of Wine And
Cheese will host a special wine tasting and 4-course dinner with
Argyle Wines, featuring winemaker Rollin Soles, at $85 pp.
• On May 9
in Newport, RI, Castle Hill Inn &
Resort, presents a wine dinner featuring selections from
Champagne Pommery with Champagne expert Geoffrey Loisel , with a
4-course dinner by Executive Chef Jonathan Cambra. $125 pp. Call
401-848-0918 x 150 or visit www.castlehillinn.com.
* On May 16 & 17 in Washington DC, SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience will feature a reception-style sampling of 35+ sweet and savory appetizers and 96 craft beers from 48 breweries served by the luminaries of the craft beer industry. Tix are $85 to each of the 3 tasting sessions. Seminar topics incl. “Beer vs.Wine; Cross Drinking without social stigma” and “Craft Beer and Cheese and Beer and Food.” Visit www.savorcraftbeer.com.
*On May 16 & May 17,
Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson will hold her her “Weekend Immersion Wine & Food Course”
at Mandarin Oriental, New York, with structured lessons, an intricate
series of food and wine pairings, and helpful tips and tastes of wines,
all paired with cheeses. Package rates range from $2,420-$3,195. Call
(866) 801 8880. Tix to the wine course without
accommodations are $795 pp. Call (707) 535 6742 or visit
* On May 17 & 18 The
Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers
Alliance (SVVGA) will hold the second annual "Passport to Sonoma
Valley" at more than 40 wineries throughout Sonoma. Visitors will be
issued a "passport" providing them unprecedented access to the wines
and wineries, with exclusive VIP tasting bars offering special pricing
and wines available only at the wineries. A portion of "Passport to
Sonoma Valley" proceeds go to the SVVGA Scholarship Fund. Advanced tix
$50/weekend, $45/day and $10/designated driver. Call 707-935-0803 or
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." This week, EXPLORING ALASKA'S INSIDE PASSAGE.
Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991). Click on the logo below to go to the site.
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani, Suzanne Wright, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Brian Freedman, and Dotty Griffith. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin .
John Mariani is a columnist for Esquire, Wine Spectator, Bloomberg News and Radio, Diversion., Forbestraveler.com, and Cowboys and Indians. He is author of The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink (Lebhar-Friedman), The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink (Broadway), and, with his wife Galina, the award-winning Italian-American Cookbook (Harvard Common Press), and other books below..
Any of John Mariani's books below
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