by Marcello Dudovich, 1922
Sailing the Queen Elizabeth
by Brian Freedman
NEW YORK CORNER
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
Greek Wines Soar as Greek Economy Sours
by John Mariani
Sailing the Queen Elizabeth
Part Two: Into the Fjords
by Brian Freedman
Readjusting to normal
life after a particularly enjoyable journey is always
difficult. The first day home, all those quotidian
annoyances that we had managed to avoid while
away--the bills, the laundry, the loud neighbors--seem
particularly onerous. And, indeed, the morning after
our flight landed in Philadelphia, after a week-long
cruise of Norway on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth,
my wife and I struggled to internalize the fact that
there would be no smoked salmon at breakfast, no
choice of two types of bacon, no excursions to look
forward to beyond heading to the post office and
collecting the stacks of mail we’d missed.
The biggest success story of the summer in terms of sheer buzz is Rosemary's, a wide-open big 74-seat room with room for 40 at the wine bar that could not be more packed to its pretty rafters than it was from Day One. Its location is prime; indeed the West Village is where a great deal of exciting restaurant action is happening these days, and, more important, has attracted a lot of veteran restaurateurs whose track record in drawing crowds is undeniable.
In the case of Rosemary’s owners, led by Carlos Suarez, they also run the very popular Bobo in the same neck of the woods, and Rosemary’s big open room on one of the Village’s finest stretches of real estate acts as a beacon of light and the sound of people enjoying themselves. And while it can get louder as the night progresses, from about 7 PM to 9 PM, it’s more than tolerable. And if you need a breather, ask to see the rooftop garden that provides Chef Wade Moises with a constant supply of fresh herbs and vegetables.
It’s a very attractive crowd, the kind that makes its own scene, and in one sense, not taking reservations for less than parties of six makes it a more democratic venue than, say, Minetta Tavern; the wait can be long if you just drop by, so go on the early side or have a glass of wine or beer at the bar (they serve no booze).
For a room this size and with this crowd, the menu may be a tad long, but they keep the pastas down to half a dozen, allowing the kitchen to make them right and carefully to keep them al dente. You might order a plate of vegetables, including a fine eggplant caponata, $5 each, three for $12 or for a table of four, five for $20. There is also a selection of seafood appetizers, including a superb octopus salad (above) that is tender, briny, sweet and sour. Calamari come with celery, almonds, raisins and a dash of chili oil. Then there is a selection of good salumi, two of them housemade—the pork testa is really good--and cheeses, including freshly made ricotta. There are also four focacce, including Rosemary’s with, of course, rosemary and olive oil, and one with strips of lardo fat. The chopped Siciliana salad is an excellent choice, with escarole, artichoke, olives, and much more.
We come to the pastas—priced at a remarkable $12-$14 at a time when most places are charging $20 and up--and every one we tried was a success and very correctly prepared, from a hearty chitarra alla carbonara to a very fine cavatelli with fresh mint, sweet peas, and ricotta (left)—two Roman dishes. Orechiette came with garlicky braised greens and housemade sausage, and the big winner of the evening was linguini with preserved lemon, pickled chile, and a dousing of Parmigiano.
Moises worked at Babbo and Lupa, so he’s very good at getting the lusty, rustic flavors of the trattoria right. That means the porchettina with fennel and mostarda will be juicy and nicely seasoned, the skirt steak well textured, with crispy potatoes and balsamico, and the fish of the day expertly grilled, with radish tops, snap peas, and cherry tomatoes.
The desserts are good if not out of the
usual hazelnut semifreddo and tiramisu. The basic wine list is
solid, with plenty of bottles under $50, but some of
them are way too pricey. The reserve list
heads into the stratosphere.
Rosemary’s is the kind of trattoria NYC can never have enough of, despite the scene seemingly being sated with them. If the no-rez policy is a problem (and it definitely can be), go for lunch or brunch, but do go and get into the swing of things. You’ll have fun.
Rosemary’s is open for lunch,
Mon.-Fri., for brunch Sat. & Sun., and for
dinner nightly. Appetizers run $5-$14, pastas
$12-$14, main courses $18-$24.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
Photo above by Galina Dargery
are worse ways to spend your euros than sitting at a
taverna on the Greek island of Santorini (above) when the
dry northern meltemi
wind blows though the Aegean in August.
On Santorini alone, which is only 28 square miles in size, there are 13 core wineries, most notably Boutari in Megalochori, which produces about 900,000 bottles a year there, mostly from imported grapes. The indigenous grape vines were never affected by the phylloxera plague that ruined European vineyards, but there are not enough even to satisfy local consumption.
The story of Greek wine is ancient but, until recently, not very illustrious—one reason the ancient Greeks were delirious to make settlements in Italy, which they called Enotria, ”wine land.” Once known primarily for its resinous wines and ouzo, Greece has now put a great deal of effort and capital into capturing some of the global market, as well as planting international varietals like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon aimed at Greece’s young winedrinkers.
According to George Athanas, manager of the All About Greek Wine promotional campaign on behalf of the Greek government’s New Wines of Greece bureau, between 3.5 and 4 million hectoliters of wine are now made annually, 60 percent consumed in bulk domestically. Although total exports have slipped by almost half from a high point of 787 hectoliters in 2002, exports to the U.S. brought in 6.3 Euros last year, an increase of a million Euros over the last decade.
The reason, says Athanas, is that “Greece is making a major effort in the U.S. market for younger wine drinkers more willing to try new things. Greece is promoting its best wines and aren't sending the kind of oxidized schlock they did in the past.”
It is increasingly easy to find a wide range of modern Greek wines in U.S. stores, especially in Greek and Middle Eastern neighborhoods like Queens, NY, where Grand Wine & Liquor stocks dozens of Greek bottlings from grapes like moschofilero, muscat, xinomavro, agiorgitiko, roditis, and limnio, along with new blends or chardonnay, cabernet, merlot, and syrah.
Of these last I am not much impressed: the international varietals don’t taste much like the grape, and if blended with Greek grapes, tend to mask the character of the indigenous grapes.
Sampling an array of whites and reds I bought at Grand Wine and Liquor, I found all of them clean and well made, none showing the slightest oxidation. I expected the whites to be good but was really delighted with the new reds. Of the former, the Tareti 2010 from Ktima Biblia Chora ($30) had the characteristics of modern assyrtiko, a varietal that originated on Santorini, showing its brisk minerality and acid that allows it to age beyond most white wines’ peak.
For something more floral, and aromatic, try the Alpha Estate Axia 2011 ($18) made from malagouzia grapes, an ancient varietal now enjoying renewed interest for its full body and richness.
True to form, the moschofilero varietal shows its brassy-pink color and complexity in Domaine Spiropoulos 2010 ($15), made from organic grapes, an excellent wine with all seafood or Greek mezes appetizers.
Two reds were outstanding: Saint George Aghiorghitiko 2010, which Homer might have had in mind when he wrote of the “wine dark sea” and Zorba the Greek meant when he said, “You drink the big red wine and, lo and behold your soul grows big . . . and challenges God to a fight.” It comes from southern mountain vineyards and has the tannins and complexity you rarely get in $15 red wines.
As for the curiously named Red Stag 2009 ($15) from the producer Spiropoulas, Cary Grant might exclaim, “Juicy! Juicy! Juicy!” At just 13 percent alcohol it manages to carry both power and voluptuous fruit in an ideal balance based on the agiorgitiko grapes grown in Nemea.
Blood: Eats Drinks, and Bites From Bon Temps DRINK
YOUR SOUP BEFORE IT CLOTS!
YOUR SOUP BEFORE IT CLOTS!
by Gianna Sobol, Alan Ball and Karen Shalett
has just been published, with dishes like
"Stake and Eggs" and "Another Dead Chick-en Sandwich."
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